Saturday, April 18, 2015

Teaser


Almost finished the beta draft of the sequel to 'War To The Knife'.  Look for this one in mid-May.




It's been tricky to make it work, because I've had to cover the process of a small resistance group rebuilding their off-planet resources from scratch, developing a fleet presence with warships and the mercenary crews necessary to operate and fight them, and beginning to take the war back to the enemy.  It covers almost eighteen months in time and moves between several planets.  The third volume of the Laredo War trilogy, 'Knife To The Hilt', scheduled for publication in November, will describe the final resolution of the conflict between Laredo and Bactria.

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I have writing it.

Peter

A bad week for professional hunters in Zimbabwe


The job of a professional hunter (formerly known as a 'white hunter') in Africa is difficult.  He has to shepherd parties of foreign hunters around a landscape that's usually foreign to them, in the midst of animals who regard humans as lower on the food chain than they are, in pursuit of individual beasts who are often more than capable of expressing their displeasure in physical terms.  If a visitor wounds an animal, it's the professional hunter's job to track it down and kill it.  If the wounded animal is a dangerous one, that makes the job even more important, as a wounded predator becomes very dangerous to all human beings if its injuries mean it can no longer hunt or forage as normal.  It takes out its pain and suffering on those animals who are least able to defend themselves.  In Africa, that usually means tribesmen.

This week two professional hunters in Zimbabwe ran out the odds on their success.  The first was tracking a wounded Cape buffalo, with tragic results.  (EDITED TO ADD:  I'm sorry - this report dates from 2012.  It was republished after the report below it, which obviously drew attention to the earlier one.  Apologies for the confusion.)

A British man working as a professional hunter on a private game reserve in Zimbabwe has been killed by a wounded buffalo he was trying to shoot.

Owain Lewis, 67, had been tracking the animal for three days to finish it off after it was shot and injured by a visiting American hunter he was escorting.

Paul Smith, the owner of Chifuti Safaris in the lower Zambezi Valley, said Mr Lewis was "very tough and experienced" but had been caught unawares when the buffalo charged from the undergrowth and tossed him in the air.

"It turned on him and attacked him and unfortunately the apprentice hunter with him could not shoot the animal as Owen's body was in the way," he said.

"It was a very tough fight. Owain's neck was broken but the apprentice did manage to kill the buffalo.

"We are very shocked. This is the first time we have had an incident like this."

There's more at the link.  Buffalo are renowned as being among the most dangerous animals in the world.  I'm afraid Mr. Lewis met one such animal too many.

Only a couple of days later, another professional hunter working for the same company had a fatal encounter with an elephant.

A young bull elephant killed professional hunter Ian Gibson early on Wednesday as he tracked a lion for an American client in a rugged part of north-east Zimbabwe.

Mr Gibson, 55, one of Zimbabwe's best known big game hunters, died scouting for prey in the Zambezi Valley after a young bull elephant charged, then knelt on him and crushed him to death.

"We don't yet know the full details of how 'Gibbo' as we called him, died, as the American client and the trackers are still too traumatised to give us full details," said Paul Smith, managing director of Chifuti Safaris' which employed Mr Gibson for the hunt.

. . .

Mr Gibson's trackers said the young bull had been in a musth period, which means it was producing much more testosterone then usual.

"We know 'Gibbo' shot it once, from about 10 yards away, with a 458 [rifle]. He would never have fired unless he had no alternative. He was a hunter, yes, but he was also a magnificent wildlife photographer and conservationist.

"He was so experienced and this is a most unexpected tragedy."

Again, more at the link.

I know that part of Zimbabwe from when it was still Rhodesia, and the 'game' to be hunted there frequently shot back with AK-47's.  It's wild and rugged and utterly beautiful for those who know the African bush . . . and full of things with teeth, claws, horns, tusks and hooves, none of which hold humans in high regard.

It's terribly sad for one safari company to lose two hunters in the space of a few days like this, but it's not unprecedented.  As the old saying goes, "In Africa, everything bites";  and, as old hands there will tell you repeatedly, "Africa always wins in the end".  I'm here to tell you that it usually does.

May the dead men rest in peace.

Peter

The Beatles - wrestling with octopi???


I had to laugh at an article in the Los Angeles Times, recalling what critics said about the Beatles during their first tour of the USA in 1964.  For example:

William F. Buckley Jr. - Boston Globe

An estimable critic writing for National Review, after seeing Presley writhe his way through one of Ed Sullivan's shows ... suggested that future entertainers would have to wrestle with live octopuses in order to entertain a mass American audience. The Beatles don't in fact do this, but how one wishes they did! And how this one wishes the octopus would win...

The Beatles are not merely awful; I would consider it sacrilegious to say anything less than that they are god awful. They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as "anti-popes".

There are many more reviews at the link.  Good for a giggle through the lens of music history.

Peter

Historic World War II aircraft carrier rediscovered


The sunken wreck of the USS Independence, lead ship of the class of light carriers named for her, has been found 2,600 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean near the Farallon Islands.

The Independence and her sister ships were a stopgap measure to help swell the numbers of US aircraft carriers at the beginning of the Pacific War.  By mid-1942 the US Navy had very few operational aircraft carriers, and the majority of the new Essex class of fleet carriers (CV's) would not enter service until 1944 or later.  Something had to be done to provide more carriers in a hurry.  They had to be fast enough to operate alongside existing and forthcoming CV's and battleships in task forces.  The answer was to convert nine hulls originally designed as Cleveland class light cruisers.  One of them, originally to have been completed as the cruiser USS Amsterdam, became USS Independence, first of the so-called 'light aircraft carriers' or CVL's.  She's shown below during her wartime service.




The CVL's were very successful stopgaps indeed.  They operated fewer aircraft than the big fleet carriers (their design capacity was 30, but they frequently carried up to 20% more;  CV's carried up to 100).  However, they could be built much faster than the bigger carriers, since they were smaller and their hulls were already under construction when the decision was taken to convert them.  Independence was commissioned in January 1943, only a month after USS Essex, the name ship of the new class of fleet carriers.  All nine CVL's were commissioned during 1943, whereas most of the Essex class came online during 1944 and later.  As a result, for most of 1944 and well into 1945 many carrier task groups comprised two (later three) CV's and two (later one) CVL's.  An interesting and entertaining account of life and combat aboard another CVL, USS Belleau Wood, may be found in the book 'Paddles!', which I highly recommend.




(Former President George H. W. Bush served aboard another CVL, USS San Jacinto, from whose deck he flew the mission on which he was shot down during September 1944.)

Independence had an active wartime career, taking part in many of the major battles of the Pacific War from 1943-45 and suffering severe damage from a torpedo hit in November 1943.  She was repaired and rejoined the Fleet in time for the assault on the Palau Islands in August 1944.  However, by the end of the war there were enough CV's to replace all the CVL's, and the latters' limited aircraft capacity meant that they were uneconomical to operate.  Most were soon decommissioned.

Independence was used as a target in the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests of 1946, known as Operation Crossroads.  Her sturdy construction meant that she survived both atomic blasts, despite severe damage to her flight deck and exposure to high concentrations of radiation.  She's shown below moored at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard near San Francisco after the tests, where she was used as a radiation laboratory and study ship for decontamination procedures.




The US Navy eventually decided that her high levels of radioactivity made it necessary to dispose of her.  She was scuttled off the Farallon Islands in 1951 after being loaded with several hundred barrels of additional radioactive waste generated by Operation Crossroads.  This has been a source of controversy ever since, with some alleging that the sinking (and subsequent dumping of additional nuclear waste in the area) resulted in radioactive contamination of the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found traces of the ship during an earlier exploration of the refuge, and mounted an expedition last month to survey the wreck using underwater remotely operated vehicles.

Resting in 2,600 feet of water off California's Farallon Islands, the carrier is "amazingly intact," said NOAA scientists, with its hull and flight deck clearly visible, and what appears to be a plane in the carrier's hangar bay.

. . .

"After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes," said James Delgado, chief scientist on the Independence mission and maritime heritage director for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. "This ship fought a long, hard war in the Pacific and after the war was subjected to two atomic blasts that ripped through the ship. It is a reminder of the industrial might and skill of the "greatest generation' that sent not only this ship, but their loved ones to war."

. . .

Scientists and technicians on the sanctuary vessel R/V Fulmar followed the AUV as it glided 150 feet above the wreck and successfully surveyed the carrier's nearly intact hull. The survey determined that Independence is upright, slightly listing to starboard, with much of its flight deck intact, and with gaping holes leading to the hangar decks that once housed the carrier's aircraft.

There's more at the link.

Here's an image of the ship as she was during World War II, and as she is today.  Click it for a larger view.




More and much larger images may be found here, and are available for download.

I'm glad Independence has been relocated.  She and her sister CVL's had a proud record during World War II.  They, and those who served aboard them, deserve to be remembered.

Peter

Friday, April 17, 2015

The perils (and funny side) of police dogs


Courtesy of a link over at Bacon, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, I was led to a Reddit thread that began with this YouTube video of a police dog taking down a bad guy.





The champion comment in the thread that followed was this one.  It's profanity-laced, so I'm not going to reproduce it here, but Miss D. and I were laughing aloud as we finished reading it.  Very funny indeed, and recommended reading.

To add to the fun, a later commenter said:

I have a friend who breeds and trains police dogs, and she breeds belgian malinois along with shepherds. You're right. They're like a smaller, faster shepherd on pcp. Always a lot of good stories from the department's who had her dogs. Most of the dogs don't have any canine teeth because repeatedly biting the Kevlar arm sleeve during training leads to them breaking, so one of the departments that bought a dog from her had a veterinary orthodontist create stainless steel implant canines for their dog. That was the baddest ass dog I've ever seen in my life.

Not to be outdone, another respondent actually linked to this image of a dog with metal canines:




Uh . . . yeah.  If I saw a mouth like that in hot pursuit of me, I'd want something very large and powerful in my hands.  A shotgun full loaded with half a dozen bear slugs should suffice . . . maybe?




Peter

A blizzard leaves havoc in its wake


You may have read about the blizzard that caused a major pile-up on Interstate 80 in Wyoming yesterday.  Here's video footage shot by someone at the scene.  The language isn't polite at times, but it shows how trucks colliding at speed can wreck each other - and anything and anyone that gets in their way.





It certainly looks like a very long, very cold job lies ahead for the crews untangling that lot.

Peter

The best overview yet of the Hugo Awards controversy


Author Eric Flint has done a bang-up job of summarizing and synthesizing the Hugo Awards controversy.  Here's an excerpt.

What I’m going to be dealing with in this essay is a reality that is now at least tacitly recognized by most professional authors—and stated bluntly on occasion by editors and publishers. That’s the growing divergence between the public’s perception of fantasy and science fiction and the perception of the much smaller group of people who vote for literary awards and write literary reviews for the major F&SF magazines. There was a time in fantasy and science fiction when the public’s assessment of the field’s various authors and the assessment of its “inner circles” was, if not identical, very closely related. But that time is far behind us.

. . .

What’s involved here is essentially a literary analog to genetic drift. Biologists have long known that the role played by pure chance in evolution is greater in a small population than a larger one. The same thing happens in the arts, especially those arts which have a huge mass audience. The attitudes of the much smaller group or groups of in-crowds who hand out awards or do critical reviews are mostly influenced by other members of their in-crowd, not by the tastes of the mass audience. Over time, just by happenstance if nothing else, their views start drifting apart from those of the mass audience.

This is by no means peculiar to F&SF. In just about every field of literary or artistic endeavor—hell, just plain hobbies, when you get down to it—you tend to get a division between the interests and concerns of the mass audience involved in that field and the much smaller inner circles of aficionados.

Forget high-faluting literature, for a moment. Consider...

Dogs.

Hundreds of millions of people own dogs. If you ask those people what constitutes a “good dog,” you will get a range of answers but they will mostly focus on a dog’s behavior toward the humans they deal with.

But now go to a dog show, attended by the comparatively tiny number of people who are hobbyists when it comes to breeding and raising dogs. Most of the criteria by which Dog X or Dog Y gets chosen as “best dog of show” are going to be criteria that the average dog-owner around the world thinks are esoteric at best and often downright silly or even grossly wrong-headed.

. . .

What the mass audience wants, first and foremost—and this has been true and invariant since the Sumerians and the epic of Gilgamesh—is a good story. Period.

“Tell me a good story.” Thazzit.

But, sooner or later, that stops being sufficient for the in-crowds. At first, they want more than just a good story. Which, in and of itself, is fair enough. The problem is that as time goes by “more than just a good story” often starts sliding into “I really don’t care how good the story is, it’s the other stuff that really matters.”

Eventually, form gets increasingly elevated over content. “Originality” for its own sake, something which the mass audience cares very little about—and neither did Homer or Shakespeare—becomes elevated to a preposterous status. And what withers away, at least to some degree, is a good sense of what skills are involved in forging a story in the first place.

There's much more at the link.  Go read the whole thing for the best article yet on the subject.  It's long, but well worth the expenditure of time for those interested in the field.

(I might add that Eric Flint is an excellent example of one who's trying with might and main to avoid becoming polarized or one-sided.  He's a card-carrying socialist and trade union activist.  I'm a political centrist with libertarian tendencies and conservative morals.  However, I suspect he and I would get along just fine over a beer and a steak, because neither of us would be out to get the other at all.  We'd be talking and listening with mutual respect . . . something that's been sadly lacking among all too many commenters in the Hugo brouhaha.)

Peter

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A very deep encounter


Dr. Robert Ballard and his team are currently engaged in the 2015 Nautilus Expedition, described as follows:

In 2015, Dr. Robert Ballard’s Exploration Vessel E/V Nautilus and its Corps of Exploration will embark on their most ambitious expedition season yet, exploring sites ranging from the Gulf of Mexico to British Columbia through late September. Over six weeks of the six-month expedition will be dedicated to exploration and mapping of the Galapagos Rift and the site of the first hydrothermal vent discovery in 1977. The six-month-long 2015 season marks the transition of the vessel and operations of the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) to the west coast of the United States and the Pacific Ocean, concluding over two years of research in the Gulf and Caribbean regions.

There's more at the link.

Earlier this month, while diving in the Gulf of Mexico, one of Nautilus' remotely operated vehicles had an unexpected encounter 1,962 feet below the surface.  Watch the video in full-screen mode for best results.





Isn't that absolutely cool?  I didn't know that sperm whales entered the Gulf of Mexico at all.

Peter

Doofus Of The Day #830


Today's award goes to a motorist in Long Island, NY.

"He said he had bedbugs in the car, and someone told him if he saturated them with alcohol, it would kill them," said arson Det. Sgt. Edward Fitzgerald.

"So he went and bought some alcohol, he poured it all in there and he sat in his car and lit a cigarette."

The intense heat from the fire heavily damaged two other cars, police said.

Kemery was able to escape his burning car on his own, police said.

He remained in the emergency room Tuesday night.

There's more at the link, including a picture.

Well, to be fair, I guess he did get rid of the bedbugs . . . right along with the car!

Peter

How did Silicon Valley get started?


Steve Blank gives an interesting talk on the real roots of Silicon Valley, which date back to the invention and development of radar during World War II and Cold War innovations.  It's an hour long, but for those interested in the technology behind so much that we take for granted today, it's very interesting.





Fascinating stuff, isn't it?

Peter

Throwing their toys out of the pram?


Two recent cases have emerged of rich property owners, denied the ability to do what they want with their property due to the opposition of neighbors, instead doing something even less desirable to the latter.

The first is George Lucas in Marin County, California.

After George Lucas ran into a buzzsaw of opposition from his wealthy Marin County neighbors when he tried to expand his Skywalker Ranch studio, the filmmaker might be getting some payback with plans for one of the largest affordable housing projects in the Bay Area.

. . .

“George Lucas said, ‘if I’m not going to do what I wanted to do there, what can I do that would be really beneficial to this community?’” Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey said.

There's more at the link.  Needless to say, Mr. Lucas' wealthy and exclusive (and dare I say 'snooty'?) neighbors are said to be furious at the prospect of affordable housing in so unaffordable an area.

The second case is in London.

Locals in one of London’s most exclusive areas are up in arms after accusing a neighbour of painting a £15 million house like a ‘beach hut’ in an act of petty revenge following a planning dispute.

. . .

Rather than fitting in with the other Georgian townhouses, the three storey property resembled a garish football strip with eight inch wide red and white stripes covering the entire front.


The paint job came after the owner, multi-millionaire property developer, Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, 66, lost out in a planning to dispute to turn the house into a so-called ‘iceberg mansion’ with a huge mega-basement.

Mrs Lisle-Mainwaring, who is thought to now live in Switzerland, had applied to have the house – which is currently used to store antiques - demolished and replaced with a five storey property boasting an underground swimming pool and cinema.

But neighbours objected, complaining that there would be too much disruption and the excavation work could lead to structural problems with their own homes.

Residents of the upmarket address accused Mrs Lisle-Mainwaring of turning the house into an eyesore in retaliation for their opposition to her plans.

Again, more at the link.

I guess both cases are examples of the sense of entitlement that the rich get about themselves.  They're used to being able to buy anything they want, and when denied, they get petulant.  "If you won't let me have my way, I'll make you suffer for it!"

Come to think of it, I guess that's the root of the problems with the Hugo Awards at present, too.  Clearly, the rich aren't the only ones suffering from entitlement syndrome . . .

Peter

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thoughts on Tax Day and Buy A Gun Day


Today is Tax Day in the USA.  I had the dubious pleasure this morning of mailing off two very substantial checks, one covering taxes owed for last year and the other my first quarterly self-employment tax payment for this year.  Together they added up to enough to buy a new car - a small one, admittedly, but even so, that ain't pocket change.

It may sound odd, but I actually didn't mind paying that amount.  As I wrote in 2013:

I can foresee the day when I’ll earn enough from my writing to be able to terminate my disability pension. That means a great deal to me. I was raised to believe that one shouldn’t ‘suck on the public teat’, as my father rather picturesquely put it, except in dire need, and then only for the shortest possible time. Back in 2004, a neurosurgeon predicted I’d never recover sufficiently from my injuries to earn a living through my own labor. I may not have recovered any better than he foresaw, but nevertheless, the prospect of proving him wrong is very satisfying!

This year I expect to earn enough from my writing to support myself.  That means a great deal to me, to be once again contributing to society through my taxes.  It may seem silly, but after all those years of hard work it's a good feeling to see them bearing fruit.

Today is also known as Buy A Gun Day among firearms enthusiasts in the USA.  I haven't bought one today, but I did arrange to trade one of mine for one owned by someone else, plus some cash.  We'll finalize the deal and make the exchange over the weekend.  Did any of my readers get anything interesting in the shooty goodness line today?  If so, let us know in Comments.

Peter

Classy responses to an impossible situation


I was very sorry to hear this afternoon that Marko Kloos, whom I consider a friend, and Annie Bellet, whom I don't know personally, have both withdrawn their works from the Hugo Awards shortlist for 2015.  You'll find their statements concerning the matter at the links provided.

I've been even more sorry (not to mention very angry!) to read some of the comments left on their blogs by those who disagreed with their decision.  They show a lack of class, consideration and courtesy.  Such decisions are the authors' alone to make, and should not be second-guessed by those who aren't in their shoes.  Under the present highly politicized circumstances surrounding the Hugo Awards, I daresay more than a few of those nominated have had to take a long, hard look at the situation and ask themselves, "Is it worth it?"  I can't for a moment blame Marko or Annie for deciding that in their cases, it wasn't.  Indeed, had I been nominated in the extraordinarily bitter, biased and controversial circumstances prevailing at present, I might have been tempted to do likewise.  Thankfully (and I really mean that!), the situation did not arise.

I've known Marko for the best part of twenty years, initially online when we were both members of the same Internet forum, and later in meatspace through our mutual friendship with Tamara.  We have several things in common;  we're both veterans of foreign military service, both immigrants to the USA, and both of us have married American ladies.  I enjoy his military science fiction, and expect to continue to do so.  I don't know Annie Bellet at all, but based on her response to such difficult and trying circumstances I intend to buy at least one of her books.  It's the best way I can think of to thank her for the classy, polite and respectful manner in which she's handled what must have been an almost impossible situation.  I wish some of the extremists on both sides would learn from her example, and from Marko's.

I wish Marko and Annie every success with their future careers, and I hope they each receive future Hugo nominations untrammeled by political correctness or partisan discord.

Peter

Could this be called an an-teak car?


Some great handiwork here.





I don't know how crash-proof a teak body would be, but it's probably not bad compared to the tinfoil they seem to use in most modern cars.  Splinters, on the other hand . . .

Peter

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

We need to remember Glenara Bates


This is one of the most horrific crimes I've come across lately.  Don't read further unless you have a strong stomach.

When 2-year-old Glenara Bates was taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center last month, she had more than 100 wounds to her body, officials said. She weighed only 13 pounds.

. . .

Glenara had broken teeth, bite marks, and numerous lacerations as well as marks from being whipped with a belt, officials said Wednesday at a news conference announcing murder charges against her parents.

They face the death penalty.

"There's no doubt in my mind that his child was tortured for most of her ... pitifully short life," said Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco. "She was, literally, skin over bones."

. . .

Andrea Bradley, 28, of East Walnut Hills, and Glen Bates, 32, of College Hill, have been indicted on charges of aggravated murder, murder and child endangerment. They are being held at the Hamilton County jail.

They were arrested March 29, the same day Bradley brought the girl to the hospital, said Prosecutor Joe Deters. Glenara – one of Bradley's seven children – was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Both Bradley and Bates admitted severely abusing Glenara, according to court records.

. . .

Glenara, he said, slept in a bath tub filled with feces and blood.

"It's horrific, what was going on," Deters said.

There's more at the link.

I don't have words to describe the anger in me as I read about this case.  That anger is certainly directed against Glenara's parents, but even more against social services who knew that her mother had severe mental health issues and had repeatedly investigated past problems with her other children, yet still returned Glenara to her.  Their 'officialese' apologies leave me cold.  I submit all those concerned - everyone who failed to live up to their responsibilities - should face the same punishment as the parents.

I fear that baby Glenara will soon be forgotten, yet another faceless, unremembered victim of the plague of nanny state neglect that's so common today.  She deserves better of us in death than she received from our society in life.  Let's remember her.  Let's make sure that Child Protective Services and similar agencies are never allowed to forget her life - or her death.  Let's hold them accountable to ensure that there are no more Glenaras.  That's the least we can do for this unspeakably tortured, neglected, abused little girl.

May Glenara rest for eternity in the peace she was so cruelly, viciously denied in life.

Peter

Ain't it cute?


To clear the nastiness of the Hugo debate out of our mouths, here's something to make us smile.  A baby elephant decides to get cuddly.





I've had that happen to me with a baby African elephant.  To get them to back off is difficult, because they weigh as much as an adult human after no more than a few weeks' growth - and they don't understand the meaning of "No!"

Peter

A last word (for now) on the Hugo Awards controversy


An anonymous commenter to my previous post (thank you, Sir or Ma'am!) left a link to a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece by Jared Diamond titled 'America needs to study the enemy within'.  Here's an excerpt.

... we have become stuck in political gridlock. Our citizens are split by deep disagreements about basic economic, social and political issues, including government interventions, immigration, investment in education and infrastructure, and inequality of income and opportunity. Our economy is decidedly sluggish.

Meanwhile, our politicians have been increasingly unwilling or unable to craft compromises. The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill couldn't agree even on matters that should have been noncontroversial, such as funding the Federal Aviation Administration and confirming the nominations of judges and second-level government officers. And American democracy is being eroded by partisan measures aimed at preventing registration or voting by citizens likely to prefer the other party, and by massive distortion of elections by big money.

. . .

We Americans today are focused on the wrong threats to American democracy. We are obsessed with threats from overseas: from terrorists and Islamist extremists, and from other countries. But realistically, while terrorists and Islamists and other countries will continue to cause trouble for us, the chance of their ending American democracy is nil. The only real threat to American democracy comes from Americans themselves. If our politicians continue to yield to pressure from extremists not to compromise and remain mired in gridlock, the majority of decent Americans may in frustration come to view an authoritarian government as the only solution to political gridlock — as a lesser evil that has to be tolerated.

There's more at the link.

The author basically echoes, in the broader political sphere, the argument I've been making concerning the Hugo Awards controversy.  Neither side is willing to listen to the other;  neither is willing to concede that the other might have at least some elements of truth in what it says;  and neither is willing to concede an inch of ground.  We have two dogs barking across a fence at each other, each secure in defending what it sees as its territory.  Take away the fence, and bloodshed is likely to result.

This is no way for civilized people to behave . . . but civilized standards are being and have been eroded on both sides.  Those of us who've seen what happens under such circumstances have, I think, more than a little cause to be concerned about the future of science fiction and fantasy, if not in the wider sphere as well.  It's even visible in the comments to my previous post, where one commenter persisted in saying that I'd said or implied something that absolutely is not present in my words.  He could not or would not read them as they stood, but insisted on interpreting them through the 'filters' of his own perspectives, prejudices and perceptions.  One can't argue with that.  It's like a man looking at the world through a set of red lenses.  When you say "Clouds are white", he responds "No, they're not - they're red".  Unless he's willing to take off those lenses and see facts as they really are, you won't persuade him that what he perceives is, in fact, wrong.  There's a lot of that going around at the moment in the Hugo debate.

Some argue that if one side won't compromise, there's no point in the other side being 'gentlemanly' or courteous or civilized, because such approaches won't be reciprocated.  Rather, the other side must respond just as forcefully (if not more so) in order to overcome resistance to its 'legitimate demands'.  To them I can only say, look at human history in any sphere you like:  academic, literary, cultural, economic, political, military, whatever.  When such attitudes prevail, breakdown and destruction tend to take over.  What is lost - often irretrievably - is some, if not all, of the good that existed prior to the breakdown.  The baby is thrown out with the bathwater.  The good is destroyed along with the bad.

I'm trying very hard to prevent that happening here.  I fear it may be a losing battle . . . but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort.  I only wish some of the more partisan elements in this debate could see it that way.  In the end, if things come to a showdown and I have no choice but to choose a side, I'll go with those with whom I have the most in common.  That will be my friend Larry Correia and the 'Sad Puppies' campaign that he started, because I believe Larry was (and remains) correct in his analysis of the problem and his attempts to restore balance to the field.  However, I'll mourn for the good on both sides that will be undone or destroyed in the resulting conflict.  The field of science fiction and fantasy as a whole will be the big loser.

I won't write any more about the issue at present.  I've said what I believed needed to be said.  Now it's up to those on both sides to decide whether they're going to go to the mattresses, or behave like civilized people.  If anyone isn't sure who needs to take the first step in that process . . . look in the mirror.

Peter