March 27, 2012

Greasing My Spindle Regurgitated

Hatched by Dafydd

To recap, John Hinderaker at Power Line sporatically adds to a series he calls "slucing my spindle" or "polishing my pole" or somesuch (I forget), wherein he collates several quick hits on newsy items that either don't warrant a full post, or to which he was too lazy to publish in a timelier manner.

Since I'm even lazier than he, I have heisted the concept complete, and now I pretend that it's my own and hope nobody notices. Thus...

A twelve hundred mile reality gap

This one is too delicious to pass up: Trying to "deflect" the ire of Americans over four-dollar gas -- set to rise to five-dollar gas this summer -- President Barack H. "Gas Passer" Obama has finally, if reluctantly, embraced the Keystone pipeline from Canada to Texas. Yazoo, yakima!

Oh, wait; it was the part over which the president has no authority... and he "authorized" only the half of it anyway: Obama is willing to "jump start" the (already scheduled) project to build the southern half of the pipeline... you know, that part that doesn't connect to the oilfields in Canada. So this authorized/unauthorized pipeline can just sit there as a monument to liberalism at its smirkiest:

"Despite numerous attempts by Republicans to compel the president to approve the Keystone permit, Americans are still left with a 1,179-mile (1,897-km) gap between the oil resources and this southern portion of the pipeline," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, referring to the full Keystone XL project.

Well! Who could argue with that Solomonic compromise? We build half the pipeline -- the half that doesn't connect to anything but an oil storage depot in Cushing, Oklahoma. As the saying goes, a man should not commence vast projects with only half-vast ideas.

I wonder if voters will get the joke.

BFF in the UK

There are some Progressivist ideas that simply scream for a mass "WTF?" Such as:

Teachers are banning schoolkids from having best pals -- so they don't get upset by fall-outs.

Instead, the primary pupils are being encouraged to play in large groups.

Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said the policy has been used at schools in Kingston, South West London, and Surrey.

She added: "I have noticed that teachers tell children they shouldn't have a best friend and that everyone should play together.

What could go wrong?

Say, why don't we extend the policy to adults, as well? The British government could ban men and women from falling in love; think how painful it will be if they break up or get divorced!

And of course, they should ban career planning because of the severe shock if employees don't get promoted... or in Britain's case, employed at all.

I love the idea; it's so efficient: Rather than waste time and effort improving one's lot, isn't it better just to reject hope altogether? That way, you'll never be disappointed again.

Eurosocialist Progressivism: Leading the free world in institutionalized despair as public policy!

John Paul III he ain't

Pope Benedict XVI (no relation to Napoleon the XIV, as I understand it) courageously announced today that Communism is no longer working in Cuba:

His remarks on Friday were at least as forthright as any made by his predecessor, John Paul II, on a groundbreaking trip to the country 14 years ago. Answering a question about his visit to Cuba, which has remained a communist bastion for more than 50 years, the pope said: "Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

Actually, I suspect that Pope John Paul II might have been a skosh more forthright. He might have inquired, after Benedict said Communism was no longer working, when did it ever? Yes, it was working like gangbusters for the first few decades; then something went terribly, terribly wrong!

Or he might have quoted his famous friend and simply left it at, "there you go again!"

Zimmerman's dreadful mistake

The current stories dominating the news the last few days, anent the confrontation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, hold that it was Martin (the "victim") who first assaulted and then battered Zimmerman (the "assailant") -- rather than the other way around. Zimmerman claims that Martin punched him in the nost hard enough to knock him to the ground, then straddled him and repeatedly banged Zimmerman's head against the sidewalk. It was only then, emerging evidence suggests, that Zimmerman drew and shot Martin at point-blank range.

Aren't we glad that the President of the United States has already weighed in with his support for Trayvon Martin (and subtextual judgment that George Zimmerman is a despicable racist and murderer)?

Assuming the current claims prove correct -- and the police have admitted that the physical evidence seems to back Zimmerman up -- then I would have to say the plain implication is that Zimmerman did indeed make a terrible, and ultimately deadly mistake.

He should have drawn his gun earlier.

Zimmerman should have drawn his concealed pistol as soon as Martin began to approach him in a menacing manner. Had he done so, Zimmerman could have controlled the situation better; it's even possible that Martin would have backed off -- and Trayvon Martin might be alive today.

So the lesson for today is... if you are armed, and if a situation begins to develop that warrants an act of self defense (or defense of another), then earlier is better than later. The longer you wait, the less control you likely have over events.

Hey -- it's just like war! As Winston Churchill noted (paraphrasing Machiavelli), if a nation puts off a war that is inevitable (think Iran), a very likely outcome is that when the war finally comes, it will be significantly harder to win and much more devastating.

Something to think about; even the smallest stone thrown into the most local lake can create ripples of national and even international import. And on that pompous yet sententious note...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 27, 2012, at the time of 11:32 PM


The following hissed in response by: West

Wrong. You should never pull a gun to "show" it to someone in hopes of forestalling a fight.

If you pull it, it should be to use it.

George handled this correctly, as far as I can tell- he did not pull the gun until he was in actual fear for his life (i.e., Martin was banging his head on the ground).

The above hissed in response by: West [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2012 10:16 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


So you really think it a good defensive technique to wait until you have already been beaten, knocked to the ground, and held down by your enemy, who is currently engaged in bashing your head repeatedly against the concrete sidewalk... before attempting to draw your pistol?

Speaking for myself, in the several instances in which I have brought out a gun, I did so before I was nearly helpless and semi-comatose; I controlled the situation before it got out of hand... and I never had to actually shoot the bad guy.

Was I prepared to shoot him? Sure. Did I have to shoot him? No, because in all three cases, the bad guy decided taking to his heels was the better part of valor.

Well, to each his own. But have you considered the possibility that once you're in such a position, laid out like a bowling pin after a strike and with stars and birdies swirling your vision, you may no longer be able to draw and fire your weapon? You might not get an assailant who is kind enough to leave your gun hand free.

Just a thought.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2012 2:29 PM

The following hissed in response by: West

Thanks for the response, Dafydd. Having been in more than a few 'tense' situations myself, I can only say that my rule from experience is to never escalate until you have to.

Combat would be another story, but we are talkng about street situations here.

In any case, analyzing the situation without all the facts is pretty much pointless. Since you have been in a few similar situations yourself, I am sure you know that when bad things happen, they happen fast and if we had a video of the event, in hindsight, we could always pick out the point where we could say "He should have pulled out the gun there!", but second-guessing is always easy.

The real point is that so far the facts we have indicate that Mr. Zimmerman did not escalate until necessary, and was within his rights as defined by law when he did. On the other hand Mr. Martin seemingly had plenty of opportunity to de-escalate, and did not avail himself of the option.

So, if anyone handled this badly, I'd put the onus on Martin, not Zimmerman.

BTW, I'm a pretty regular lurker here, and enjoy your stuff. I read one of your stories a long time ago, and it has stuck with me ever since.

The above hissed in response by: West [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2012 8:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Which one?

I have a massive novel I'm trying to sell now, trying to get back into the fiction game; but SF publishing has become a lot more difficult, particularly for books that don't fit one of the "twelve iconic book covers," as a writer friend of mine theorizes.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 1:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: West

"The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, A Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk"

Astoundingly good, if a bit downbeat. (The fall of Man, rise of the Animals, and the onset of true Democrazy).

Thanks for writing that. I think I read it in a Gardner Dozois edited anthology. Or a "Best of XXXX anthology. Whatever, it stuck with me as did "Eurema's Dam" by R.A. Lafferty.

"only a sick cow makes a new path"
and (paraphrasing from memory )
"The first tool was not a stone axe or knife, it was a crutch, and it wasn't made by a hale man."

Your story is a little harder to quote from, though.

The above hissed in response by: West [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 7:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: West

Oh yeah that one doesn't fit onto one of the "twelve iconic book covers," not a freakin prayer.

Best of luck, though. If you get the book out, reserve one for me.

The above hissed in response by: West [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 7:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

The Keystone pipeline issue brings to mind the outrage over “tax breaks” oil companies are supposedly soaking us for. It’s somehow supposed to be related to high gas prices.

But note that if we take away those selfsame “tax breaks” the oil companies will undoubtedly view this as, from their perspective, a tax increase. To a business, taxes are just another expense, like labor, materials and overhead.

When you increase a business’s expenses, they normally try, if possible, to compensate by increasing selling prices. To the Administration, this is not an unintended consequence.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2012 2:11 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


That's my favorite short-form story of mine. It's actually sort of a sequel to an earlier story, which appeared in one of Baen's New Destinies bookazines: "LaToya Is Wounded."

"Coon Rolled Down" came within inches of winning both Hugo and Nebula; alas, it fell just short of each. I forget what won the awards that year; oh, wait, it's the internet age: The Nebula winner in 1990 in the novelette category was Ted Chiang's "Tower of Babylon;" while Mike Resnick, who hates me to the bottom of his soul (though I've always rather like him anyway), won the Hugo for "the Manamouki" that same year. (Actually, the award was awarded the next year, 1991, but for stories published in 1990. Ya fallah?)

I never read either story. I'm sure they were perfectly dreadful, far out of keeping with the normally brilliant fictioneering of those two illustrious raconteurs.

The new novel is huge. I'm hoping that its sheer weight will compel some editor to snap it up, on the theory that only a blockhead would write something that big unless it was also that spectacular.

Hey, it worked for Harry Pothead!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2012 3:14 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Harlan Ellison also despises me, at least so I infer. William Sanders prays nightly for my long and painful demise. Half of SFWA plots to keep me unpublished and impoverished, while the other half says, "Dafydd ab Who?"

And more than a couple of editors are driven to a frothing rage at the mere sight of me, even in caricature.

There is something to be said for being the most hated iconoclast in one's chosen field; unfortunately, it's not a very nice something!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2012 3:23 AM

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