One More Commentary on the Dragon Awards

dragon

Image found at DragonCon.org

I’m new to the whole hype over awards for science fiction and fantasy, well, ever since last year when I learned about the controversy involving the Hugos and the so-called Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.

However, I’ve been paying attention to the Dragon Awards. Unlike most other awards of this type, anyone who has internet access can register for no cost and be able to vote for their favorite authors, books, television shows, and so forth (in other words we mere mortals). I even voted myself, but unlike others, the purpose of this blog post isn’t to share who I favored.

I discovered at least three other commentaries on the Dragons: File 770‘s Mike Glyer, Camestros Felapton‘s, an apparently associated blog which I’ve just started following, and Richard Paolinelli’s SciFiScribe.

They all had slightly different takes.

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Using Climate Change to Illustrate Debates Based on Data vs. “Feels”

facts feels

Yes, this is Ben Shapiro appearing with one of his quotes. Don’t panic.

Relax. The point of this blog post isn’t to say that climate change is a hoax or to deny that it’s possible for human beings to damage the environment in any manner. The point is that when you want to convince someone of something, the way NOT to do it is to appeal to their “feels,” at least not when your point is supposed to be based on observable data and repeatable results from scientific experiments.

Case in point: climate change. The most liberal member of my immediate family, one of my sons, says that it’s possible for what we are currently observing to be “human assisted” climate change. He’s pretty smart and reads a lot (okay, reading and podcasts), so even though we don’t always agree, I can depend on him to present his point of view logically.

Now relative to climate change, he agrees with me that it’s not like the Earth has never been hotter than it is right now.  For instance, during the Cretaceous Period, according to LiveScience.com:

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When Banning and De-Platforming Becomes Censorship

censorship

Image courtesy of Bill Kerr via Flickr

I always get some blow back when I post anything political on this blog, and I’ve been actively trying to avoid it for the past several days (which is why I have twitter and Facebook). However, I was very impressed by an article published by “The Federalist” (yes, they’re conservative) I read today titled The Stigma Against My Conservative Politics Is Worse Than The Stigma Of Being Gay written by Chad Felix Greene. In my opinion, Greene successfully compared his being bullied when he came out as gay at age 16, and how he is sometimes harassed online now that he’s adult and his political views have become increasingly conservative.

You can click the link I provided above to read the whole article, but I want to focus on one thing he brought up. Greene quoted from a story published on “Vox” (which is heavily biased left and not considered all that accurate) called Milo Yiannopoulos’s collapse shows that no-platforming can work. Now before anyone gets upset, I have no use whatsoever for Yiannopoulous. When I first heard about him and the various panic attacks being experienced on college campuses where he had spoken or wanted to speak, I looked up some of his content, and the guy is way over the top.

news source biasHowever, as “Vox” reports, removing all of Yiannopoulous’s online support essentially sank his career, and therein lies the tale.

There’s quite a bit of buzz in certain conservative circles about content bias against conservatives on social network and crowdfunding platforms. Yes, they all have “Right of Use” policies, and if you legitimately violate said-policies, your account can either be temporarily suspended or permanently banned. However, are those policies always applied impartially?

At “Business Insider,” I found an article called A top Patreon creator deleted his account, accusing the crowdfunding membership platform of ‘political bias’ after it purged conservative accounts it said were associated with hate groups. Highly successful liberal, atheist author and podcaster Sam Harris deleted his very lucrative Patreon account (nearly 9000 paying patrons) because he said the platform unfairly discriminated against conservative creators. That earns him “hero of the month” in my book. Too few people are willing (including me sometimes) to look past their politics to see that if it’s unfair, it’s unfair no matter if you do it to a conservative or a liberal.

However, the problem is much worse than what we might see on the surface. I found the BI article on Facebook, and a responding comment said:

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Which “Echo Chamber” Should I Choose?

loomer

Laura Loomer

Disclaimer/Trigger Warning/Whatever: This is a rant. Feel free not to read it.

I’ve got time on my hands so, I decided to “get political” again. I just read a Daily Wire story (yes, they’re conservative) called WATCH: Laura Loomer Banned From Twitter For Criticizing Rep. Ilhan Omar, Islam. Here’s Her Response.

Up until a few minutes ago, I had no idea who Laura Loomer was, and I’m a little surprised that both twitter and Facebook banned her for life for criticizing Ilhan Omar. After all, political figures are criticized on social media all the time without such a drastic result. I myself have criticized Ms. Omar for her anti-Israel and antisemitic positions, and yet I am allowed to remain on social media.

Apparently even political scientist and columnist Ian Bremmer, though not a supporter of Loomer, commented on twitter that banning her seemed a little harsh. Of course there were many others, including The Jewish Voice who were more critical of twitter’s and Facebook’s actions.

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On Elizabeth Warren, DNA Tests, and Native American Heritage

warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren – Image found at the Washington Examiner – no credit listed

As many of you know, I’ve gotten “political” on this blog from time to time, and have occasionally taken criticism for it. Fair enough. If I couldn’t take a little criticism, I should probably stick to safe subjects such as cute kitty videos.

Thus, we come to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D – Mass) statements that she has Native American ancestry. These claims began in the 1990s when, according to this CNN story:

Harvard Law School in the 1990s touted Warren, then a professor in Cambridge, as being “Native American.” They singled her out, Warren later acknowledged, because she had listed herself as a minority in an Association of American Law Schools directory. Critics note that she had not done that in her student applications and during her time as a teacher at the University of Texas.

In the same article, Warren is quoted as saying:

“I am very proud of my heritage,” Warren told NPR in 2012. “These are my family stories. This is what my brothers and I were told by my mom and my dad, my mammaw and my pappaw. This is our lives. And I’m very proud of it.”

“As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage. What kid would? But I knew my father’s family didn’t like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware, so my parents had to elope,” she said.

Admittedly, Warren has taken a lot of heat over these claims, especially since 2012 when Scott Brown, who, at the time, was running against Warren, accused her of lying about her heritage, and things got ugly from there.

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Seeking Kindness in the Aftermath of Kavanaugh – It’s Not Easy

violence

Screenshot of a video on twitter showing a young woman grabbing and destroying signs made by a conservative students group.

It occurs to me that there is a certain inconsistency in promoting kindness and then, at least to some, coming off as politically snarky. Okay, it wasn’t my intent, but I can see how some folks might take it that way.

Today’s the day when the full Senate votes on whether or not to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Frankly, I don’t think either the Republicans or Democrats come away from this clean, and the result, as I said yesterday, is that American politics has officially become a denizen of the foulest sewer, like a mythical alligator.

As I also previously stated, no matter which way the vote goes, we all lose. Oh sure, some people will feel like they’ve won, but look what had to happen to achieve “victory.” Each side accused the other of some pretty vile political tricks, not to mention what ordinary people said and did. Both sides tried to destroy a human being. Both Kavanaugh’s and Ford’s reputations were dragged through the fecal matter, along with their families and anyone who might corroborate their stories, and even children were plagued with death threats.

Anyone who has ever been sexually assaulted or had a family member assaulted in such a manner absolutely projects all of their emotions onto Kavanaugh, as if confirming him to SCOTUS is tacit approval of all sexual crimes, and a total discounting of all victims everywhere.

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Are They Windmills or Giants?

windmills

© C.E. Ayr

“Don Quixote?”

Wendy hadn’t visited her Uncle Brian’s place in Idaho for years but Mom finally “guilted” her into making the trip from California.

“I keep it as a reminder.”

They had been going through old keepsakes in his spare bedroom where she’d be sleeping, looking for family photo albums when they came across it.

“Of what?”

“That we can be easily deluded about what is and isn’t real.”

She thought this was as good a time as any. Wendy loved the old man but he had some pretty archaic ideas. “I brought you something.” She reached into her open suitcase, pulled out a book, and handed it to him.

“The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood,” he read from the cover. “I’ve heard of it.”

“I thought it might help you understand me better now that I’m grown up.”

“I’ll promise to read it on one condition.”

“What’s that?”

He left the room and came back a few minutes later with a dusty hardback he had obviously owned for decades. Taking it, she read the cover. “Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.”

“Right, Wendy. I’ll read your book if you read mine. Maybe you’ll learn to understand me better, too.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for January 21st 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 199.

The image is obviously the iconic scene of Don Quixote in Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s 17th century novel tilting at windmills which he imagined to be giants.

Yesterday was the Women’s March of 2018 which, like the same event a year before, was largely a protest against the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump. I have mixed feelings about how some portions of it were executed, especially the fact of some protestors dressing in costumes designed to mimic female genitals.

Other women however, dressed as characters from Atwood’s novel which has now been developed as a television series.

Both Atwood’s and Orwell’s novels, written decades apart, predict a dystopian future where society is ruled by a totalitarian government. Orwell created a cautionary tale about what life would be like under a communist/socialist dictatorship, while Atwood took the opposite approach casting her totalitarian regime as conservative and Christian.

I used the image of “tilting at windmills” to illustrate, based on the manipulation of news and social media, how easily we can lose track of what is factual and what is not. If we simply believe what we’re told, then we can allow ourselves to blindly follow one ideology or another without considering the stability of the foundation upon which those beliefs are based.

So the younger and more liberal Wendy will make an effort to understand her Uncle’s perspectives while the older and more conservative Brian will do the same.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Caged

cat

Snow leopard

They think I’m inferior because I’m in their cage. I’m inferior because I look differently, act differently, have different morals and values than they do. They think they are so superior and they laugh at me, calling me names because to them I’m just an animal.

I want revenge. I want to strike back, shove their vile lying taunts down their flabby throats.

No. That didn’t work the last time when we were the superior ones and they were in our cages. It never works because one or the other always suffers.

There are only two options. The desirable one is to co-exist, to treat each other with mutual respect and dignity. But how? We are so different and we are being driven further apart by radical extremists who each say one side must win for anything to be good. But that means the other side much be crushed under the victor’s heel.

The other choice is mutual annihilation. Let God sort out the bodies and start anew. God. They hate me even for that, believing they are the ultimate moral and creative force in the universe.

They may have me in their cage but we’re all in a prison.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of January 14th 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire writing a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

Normally, I’m pretty literal in my interpretation of the prompts, but lately I’ve been inundated with politically and socially driven rhetoric from both sides of the fence (as if there were only two sides). That, plus the false alarm stating that Hawaii was under missile attack really set me off.

Both conservatives and liberals seem to think that their side must “win” in order to save their country or the world or something. That means, they have to marginalize, denigrate, and “cage” those who aren’t exactly like them.

Sure, there have been differing political and social opinions ever since there has been civilization, but it seems like the past eight to ten years or so in the U.S. that it’s gotten much, much worse. I sometimes feel I’m on one or more groups’ “hit list” because of my views, or just because I’m old, white, and male, but I don’t doubt that others feel the same way.

So what options are there? Like I said, there are two. The first is to make an effort to understand each other and allow the moderate position, which is currently being violently choked to death, to grow larger again. Really try to see the other person’s point of view and why they feel so concerned about whatever issues are important to them (it doesn’t mean we’ll always agree, but at least we’ll understand that we’re all human).

The other is to destroy ourselves and let God or Mother Nature or whatever force larger than humanity you believe in (unless you believe humanity is the ultimate moral force in the universe) to take over and start again.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Book Review of Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!

righteous indignationA few weeks ago, I went to my local public library and checked out Andrew Breitbart’s book Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!. Actually, my wife checked it out first, but she said she couldn’t get into it. I returned it for her, then put a hold on it so I could have first crack at checking it out again on my own library card.

I can see why she had a tough time with the beginning of the book. It’s a bit of an autobiography of Breitbart’s youth growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood. In his early life, he’s shallow and self-absorbed and the first chapters tend to drag.

But as I pressed on, I realized he wanted the reader to know about how he was as a teen and young adult so we could witness and understand his evolution into a “Tea Party Protector.”

I learned quite a lot, especially about the century-long growth of the liberal news media and university system and why they, along with the liberal entertainment industry, are so hard to refute. They seem to be the voice of our nation, defining good vs. evil, and stating that if we don’t let them program our thoughts, our words, and our actions, then we are evil, racist, sexist, homophobic, throwback neanderthals.

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At Gunpoint

gunpoint

Image: International Business Times UK

“Admit it. You voted for Donald Trump. I know you did.”

These were the first words Colton heard as he woke up. Angelique was pointing a .45 caliber handgun at his face.

“Wait. What? What are you talking about?”

Angelique and Colton lived in a four bedroom flat on the second floor of a building in San Francisco’s Richmond District along with two other “flatmates.” The election was a week ago. It seemed like the City, Oakland, and several other Bay Area communities, along with major population centers across America, were burning figuratively and literally with hate and fear over a Donald Trump win and what everyone thought it would mean.

“God damn you, Colton, how could you? I thought we were friends.”

Colton’s head had cleared thanks to the sight of the firearm pointing at him from less than three feet away. “What the hell are you doing with that thing, Ang?”

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