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[personal profile] shadowkat
1. There's an horror/sci-fi novel out there entitled Amish Vampires in Space and according to smartbitches its not that bad and not a parody.

The plot seems to be about a transport crew that picks up a cryogenically frozen scientist and her wrecked lab along with a bunch of Amish colonists, out in the reaches of space. One of the crew members fiddles about in the scientist's lab and gets bitten by something -- which turns him into a vampire. He feeds on the livestock and most of the passengers and crew, until before you know it -- you have Amish Vampires in Space.


2. I couldn't think any more or focus on anything or listen to anyone by the end of the work day. Felt a bit like I'd been hit by a Mac Truck. So nixed going to the Psychology Lecture - entitled Mad World. (I honestly didn't care, I wanted to go home and be a vegetable.)

Tried to write some during downtime, but brain fog made it difficult. Haven't been sleeping well, which may be part of it. Don't know.

3. Current state of politics is confusing and headache inducing, so I've been ignoring it for the most part.

I honestly can't tell if last night's snap election in Great Britain turned out well, or if its up in the air. One thing tells me that Labor Won, another that no one won, another that the Conservative party is still in charge and now a nasty alt-right party got seats at the table. (Apparently they are the party from Northern Ireland -- sigh, why hasn't Britain just let Northern Ireland leave already...they appear to be more trouble than they are worth. I never understood why the Brits couldn't let go of Northern Ireland. I honestly think if Great Britain (and other European countries) had been a little less into imperialism and colonizing, they'd have had a lot less problems later. All that colonizing seems to have come back and bitten them on the royal rear-end. Then again, I probably wouldn't exist if they hadn't done it. Oh by the way, we have a schedule in our Federal and State construction contracts where a contractor legally confirms that they aren't doing business with and/or investing in Northern Ireland, it's required the MacBride Act. Somewhat dated, but still there. Also have an Iran divestment schedule.)

And I've no clue if the Comey hearings will get Trump impeached or just continue the status quo such as it is at the moment. The problem with Comey is...he was a bit of an idiot in how he handled things regarding Trump and Clinton. So, it's hard for anyone including the media to take him that seriously. Although it's not like he hasn't said anything we don't know already. The whole thing reminds me of the Watergate hearings, which I have a vague memory of, considering I was maybe five or six at the time.

My mother keeps saying he won't get impeached. But she didn't think Nixon would be impeached either and look how that turned out. (Technically he didn't, he resigned before they could impeach him and Gerald Ford pardoned him. I'm sort of hoping they impeach Trump and horse he rode in on. Best case scenario, he dies in prison for treasonous acts against the US. But I realize this is wishful thinking.)

All of this just makes me want to go hide in a cabin up in the mountains or do a Thoreau. Hell is other people.

3. Riverdale

Well, the season finale surprised me. The resolution of the Jason Blossom mystery didn't, I sort of figured out who killed him some time ago. Although they did plant a few clever red-herrings.

The show is sort of a hybrid of various genres, noir, mystery, teen soap, and a bit of the Surreal Twin Peaks/Graphic novel. The parents or adults are the villains in the piece.
With their kids navigating the stormy waters of their secrets.

I'm sticking with it. Rather enjoyed it. Doesn't require that much attention, I like the characters, and find their subversion of the bad trope interesting. Jughead is the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, but he's wickedly bright, not strong or tough at all, and a bit of a nerd, who loves to sit in a corner and write. A sensitive soul. And slight of build. Betty Cooper is the quintessential good girl next door, except she has a dark side, and her own secrets.

None of the kids look like kids of course. They all look like they are in their 20s. I think Stranger Things might be the only television series I've seen that employs actual teens.

4.) I have written 279 pages and 147,700 words on my novel to date. Which could prove problematic when I decide to publish it. If I publish it. At this rate, it may well clock in at a little over 350 or 400 pages and 199,000 words or thereabouts. I tend to write books about that length.

I am not a short story writer. And, while I dabbled with fanfic, I find it difficult to write.

I discussed it with my father once, who is also a writer. (I think it's the Irish blood, half of his side of the family are frustrated self-published writers). Anyhow, he said that he couldn't do it either -- he found it difficult to write about someone else's characters, world, or plot. It felt like you were playing their house with their toys, and there was just something almost...weird or discomforting about it. (It's probably worth mentioning at this point that neither my father nor I like to stay with people. We feel like we are imposing on their space. If he visits people, he will often insist on staying in a hotel and not with them. And we're both just a little uncomfortable in another person's space.)
So if you consider or think of fanfic as invading another writer's house or space without their say-so, it's like that. I have written it, and I've read a lot of it of course, but I always feel a little uneasy about it. The uneasiness is not helped by my background in copyright and intellectual property law -- which for the most part permits fanfic, just not for commercial purposes unless the work in question is in the public domain.

There is by the way a lot of commercially published fanfic out there, from works currently in the public domain (of course). Recently saw a novel entitled "Mr. Rochester" -- basically his life story, before Jane Eyre. There was also a book about his first marriage - The Wide Sagrasso Sea. And there have been novel's written about Moby Dick's wife, Mr. Darcy, PD James wrote a mystery novel starring Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. And don't get me started on the wide number of Sherlock Holmes fanfic novels that have been published, the latest that I saw, was by Sherry Thomas, entitled Lady Sherlock. About a female Sherlock Holmes. Or rather a female sleuth named Holmes, who is called Sherlock, with her own Watson.

I think they've saturated the field with Jane Austen fanfics, Sherlock Holmes fanfics, and Everybody's Human Erotica Twilight fanfics (seriously you would not believe the number of Twilight inspired everybody's human AU erotica books that have been published.) I think the trend lost some steam. I no longer see shelves devoted to them in Barnes and Noble.

Anyhow, I think this why I'd have troubles writing for comics, television or being a hired fiction gun - script doctoring, ghost writing, or game writing for someone else's verse. I couldn't write a novelized version of a film or television series. Because I don't like being hemmed in by someone else's rules, boundaries, and world guidelines, it makes me twitchy. My Dad said the same thing. (So maybe this is genetic too somehow? I wonder sometimes how much of our personality is dictated by DNA.) I want to make my own when I write. I want to create my own characters, with their own voices, and shapes and sizes, I want my own crazy assed world. And I an extent, it's about my characters speaking to me. They don't always or do it in spits and stretches of time. Someone else's characters don't speak to me as well.

The fanfic I've written, always felt off somehow. Discordant. Like some rhyme or beat was out of sync.

A friend told me once that he envied my discipline to sit down and write, and I responded, it's not discipline, it's a drive. A need. A craving. An itch. I get edgy if I don't. My Dad wrote on airplanes, hotel rooms, and trains when he was working 120 hour weeks. Traveling to and from meetings and consultations. He had a family, wife, a full-time job, but he had to write. And he's written until he can't any longer. He can't now. My heart breaks for him. But my Dad isn't a whiner, he seems to accept things, and just plow on. For me? I've written on trains, on planes, at my desk at work, in the bathroom, and at home. Sometimes I'll plot it out in my head and then jot it down later.

Writing for me is a bit like breathing or eating or sleeping. It's not..something I decide to do so much as must. I don't even know sometimes if it is any good or that any one will read or care about it. Just that I must write it. And when the muse gets blocked, the story stops, I feel this sense of...being stuck or constipated or at odds. Creatively backed up somehow.

It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't feel the same way. I think the drive to write sometimes is a curse. I was actually a better drawer/artist/painter than writer when I started out. But somewhere along the way, I fell in love with painting with words...far more so than colors or crazy drawn lines sketched haphazardly across a page.

I am a professional writer. I do a lot of writing for my workplace and everyone at my workplace views me as an excellent writer. Which makes me happy. It's not fictional writing per se, but it is writing.

Date: 2017-06-16 03:30 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I think we will eventually find how to tweak the system so recessions no longer happen, or no longer happen with such severe consequences, but we are not there yet. Also, we need to find ways to stop the adverse effects of the recessions without losing the vital stimulus of creative destruction. To some extent we have to think of recessions like wolves in an ecosystem - nasty but keystone.

Socialism won't work because it never has all the other times it has been tried. If it was going to work some country would have found a way by now that didn't result in poverty, slavery and horrific levels of oppression and want. And those aren't unfortunate mistakes because people have been doing socialism 'wrong', they are inevitable structural results of the system. Marxism/communism/socialism has been responsible for over 200 million deaths already, I'm not willing to give it another field test in the naive belief things would turn out differently next time. I put it in the box marked 'evil' and hope we can persuade enough other people it never gets taken out again.

Although this partly depends on how you define socialism of course - the Scandinavian countries are often called socialist but they rely on very free markets to support the high levels of social support. So that can work but it doesn't count as a replacement for capitalism since they rest on very firm capitalist foundations.

If there is a system that is better than capitalism, it certainly isn't far-left socialism and it probably hasn't been invented yet. My own feeling is that when you look at the amazing achievements of capitalism - the truly astonishing reduction in global poverty, improvements in health, education, access to clean water, and all the rest of it - then one has to be mad to say there is anything wrong with capitalism beyond a few problems at the edges.

I assume you are familiar with the elephant curve? (Although the most recent work has disputed some of it.) We need to look more closely at what is going on at the bottom of the trunk - that is the lower paid people in advanced countries. We need to work out why their growth has stagnated when everyone else is doing so well. Probably the answer will involve reducing immigration of the low skilled (not PC to say it, but there it is) and measures to help the training and flexible skilling of that sector of the workforce. Welfare transfers will also have a part to play but they need to be better targeted and avoid creating poverty traps. I am an optimist, I am positive it can be done. But the danger is that the people will grow impatient and be attracted to the seductive easy answers being dangled by the hard left. Without a proper knowledge of history and economics (and sometimes even with those things) they are dangerously alluring.

But a lot of people can be hurt, if you don't have governmental regulations and controls on housing, bio-tech, and environment.
For managing common resources like the environment and safety, I find some of the latest ideas about commoning systems quite exciting. The idea is to find a half way house between private and public ownership, so you can get the best of both worlds. In traditional common systems, ownership was not public because it was restricted to a fixed group of commoners, but that group of commoners was large enough to manage the resource as a whole. This maintains a sense of property rights and thus avoids the tragedy of the commons for resources that cannot actually be held privately.

You could almost say you can see that happening at the moment with the individual U.S. states responding to the Paris climate change agreement. Each state is essentially becoming a commoner management group for its own energy generation, and can proceed to conserve regardless of what its neighbours are doing.

There is hope. Humans are infinitely adaptable and very clever so there is always hope. But we really do need to learn from history or what is the point of keeping records.

Date: 2017-06-17 06:41 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Having slept on it, I think we agree here on the majority of points and are in danger of quibbling over fairly fringe issues of terminology and exactly where lines should be drawn. I certainly am not a right-wing anarchist favouring some Ayn Rand style stateless system. I believe we need nation states and we need those nation states to act as regulatory referees and to provide a cushion to help even out the rises and falls in the market and those who fall through the system.

But my personal experience and knowledge of history and economics also tells me that governments are no better at running industries and services than private industry, and when the government creates a monopoly for itself that is just as bad for the consumer as a private monopoly. So I am certainly not convinced that nationalisation will solve any problems and I foresee it will create a lot of new ones.

So as I say, it is a matter of where one draws the lines. Most politics in most advanced countries is a back and forth about exactly how much can be taken from the system in tax before it damages the economy too far, and how much regulation is too little or too much before it damages society and the environment. That is really all the battles between normal left and normal right amount to. What is scary is that for the first time in my life there is an extremist hard left party within reach of power. They do not just want to adjust where the normal lines are drawn, they want to completely overthrow the system and change it to something non-capitalist. They call that socialism, not communism, but that is a PR trick since their version of socialism amounts to the same thing. So when I see ordinary mainstream left people denouncing 'capitalism' it scares me. It makes them seem like they are preparing the way for the hard left to introduce the alternatives to capitalism, which are far, far worse.

Now if you see your soft left version of capitalism as an 'alternative to capitalism', that is not so scary. But the problem is to anyone listening it sounds like you are denouncing all capitalism, all free markets, all of the basis of the western economic system. The nuance that you don't like the extremist forms of capitalism but support the moderate ones is getting lost. When Doctor Who says things celebrating the overthrow of capitalism in some future society, there is nuance, no sense that this was an extreme form of capitalism or capitalism gone wrong, because they just used the word capitalism. And if people go around demonizing the system that keeps us all fed, housed, educated, healthy and in luxury our non-capitalist ancestors could not imagine - then is it any surprise when the young who don't know any better turn out to vote for extremists who have promised to overthrow the system? The West needs to start standing up for capitalism, all of us, or we will find the young want to replace it with communism.

Date: 2017-06-17 02:53 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Yes, this is what I have realised in the course of our conversation - we are viewing things through different ends of the lens but are actually pretty close in terms of what we want out of it all :)

Date: 2017-06-17 02:43 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Yes, I realised that was where you must be coming from shortly after I posted.

It is easier for me to see the flaws in soft socialism because I have endured them all my life, and I can see it is certainly not the land of milk and honey you are painting it as. It means a loss of freedom and choice and a feeling of great helplessness because the forces that control your life are beyond your influence. It means poor services like health care so only the very rich can have good health care. I know bad health care is better than no health care but there are plenty of countries that do better than either of ours and most of the ones that do well seem to have a lot of private and charitable provision, not state provision. I fear the hard left because it will magnify those bad things a hundred fold.

I also am genuinely baffled that you do not seem to acknowledge and celebrate the enormous achievements of capitalism. You seem to take the achievements for granted as if they would somehow have occurred without capitalism, and only focus on what happens on those occasions capitalism goes wrong. That is very at odds with how I view the world. I see the natural humans state as one of poverty, ill health and the constant spectre of famine, and it is capitalism that has rescued us from all those things. I admire the simple complexity of capitalism, and the beautiful things that result from it, just as I admire an ecosystem.

Date: 2017-06-25 11:18 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
It is very hard for us to cross these cultural barriers of different experience. If you want some understanding of where I am coming from you could perhaps start by googling the 'Three Day Week' and 'Mid Staffordshire NHS scandal'. They will give you some flavour of the socialism based horror stories I could counter yours with.

Maybe the thing to focus on is to ask yourself why Thatcher was so popular and is still held in such high regard. It is because she gave people freedom and opportunities that they could never have under socialism. In a socialist system the only way to advance is to belong to a favoured interest group. Tories see the world more as a continuous tapestry than isolated blocks of special interests (that is what One Nation Toryism is all about - I would describe myself as a One Nation Tory). Thatcher took a country that was broken and stagnating and turned it in the course of a few years into a successful and confident one. For me personally this is always symbolised by watching London on my trips there over the years. When I was a child, after 30 years of socialism, London was run down, still with bomb sites from the war everywhere you went. By the 80s those bomb sites were beginning to be built on, with new colourful buildings. By the 90s Canary Wharf was there, representing the new city and what it would grow into. The London of today is one of only two world cities, and completely unrecognisable. I do understand that the rise in housing costs has hit native Londoners hard, just as the rise has effected everyone throughout the south, but it is hard to look at the transformation and see it as in any way a bad thing. Yes, there are problems, some of them very serious ones, that need to be solved, but I cannot see how returning to the 70s style could ever be the answer.

I understand what you are saying about the difficulties of recessions, and I am sorry you have had to go through those experiences. Recession is part of the capitalist system at the moment. Personally I am optimistic that as our economies grow and change ways will be found to limit the effects of recessions, although I do not believe they will ever be eliminated entirely. And it is perhaps worth pointing out that a soft socialist system certainly does not reduce the impact of recessions, it actually worsens them since the more things are dependent on tax revenue for investment, the more suffer every time that tax revenue is cut by a recession. The more varied and flexible a system is, the more robust it is.

So from my point of view, what you are describing is not a failure of capitalism as a system, but a failure of social service provision. Services are prone to market failure because they are commonly purchased as a subscription - which weakens the positive effects of those who shop around to improve the system and makes for a monopoly or cartel culture. That is why the best systems are a mixture of subscription (insurance or nationalised) and direct payment (cash purchases and personal savings accounts), with a charitable backup to catch any who fall through the net. Such a system is robust, flexible, and utilises the best of market systems to be constantly improving. It is less vulnerable to the economic cycle than a purely nationalised or insurance based system. Personal health/pension/social care accounts also allow ordinary people to build up assets which can be used as capital for other purposes. A nationalised taxation based system leaves most people asset poor, which is a major problem for those on low incomes throughout the West.

How either of our countries gets from the current failed subscription systems to a mixed approach, is the question that needs to be asked. Unfortunately in both our countries it is one question that almost nobody yet dares to ask, because the bulk of the population is too wedded to tinkering with the current system than stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. I am worried that the crises will need to get even worse before we face up to what needs to be done.

Date: 2017-06-25 11:30 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Where we disagree, and possibly strongly, is on regulating corporations, regulating the market, and providing affordable health care to everyone.

We may disagree less than you think. I am a British Tory, not a US Republican. I believe the state is necessary and forms the foundation of property rights upon which all capitalism relies. Those property rights include regulation to prevent monopolies or cartels, abuses of common property (environmental regulations) and the rest. I also think provision for universal health care, education, pensions and the disabled is both affordable and, therefore, a moral duty in our societies. Oh and I hate corporatism as much as you do - one of the reasons I voted Leave was because the EU is one of the worst examples of crony corporatism on the planet and I want us to be as free of that as we possibly can be. I accept that big corporations can bring advantages and are necessary for really good advancement (and some basics like avoiding famine!) but I also accept that they need to be monitored and regulated at all times or corporatism breaks out.

I think we really only differ in our personal experience of how socialism works and therefore how we view the exact balance of the two systems.

Date: 2017-06-25 01:09 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I just read TCH's post and he is mostly correct in what he says (he is wrong about the Liberals supporting working class rights in the 19th century, that was actually the Tories) but he leaves out a lot about the exact nature of the relationship between the Tory party and the countryside, and about the visceral hatred felt in rural parts for the Labour Party. It is also worth remembering that the present day Conservative and Unionist Party has absorbed earlier version of the liberals on at least two occasions. Some would say they did it again at the end of the coalition period when they annihilated the 'Orange Book' strand of the Liberal Democrats, but there still remains strong support for the remnants of the Liberals in parts of the countryside, especially the West Country and Scotland. So the modern Conservative Party has a very complex history, incorporating many strands, and nothing is entirely clear cut.

The examples you give around housing do not reflect the reality in southern England, nor to some extent the wider UK. House prices here in the rural south are somewhere around £350,000 for an average house. That's $447,895.00 at today's exchange rate. But there are hardly any houses priced that low in the truly rural villages - £500,000 is about the cheapest in my own village. There are perhaps three properties worth as little as that. And any small property that does come on the market is liable to be bought by a developer and enlarged into something worth £1,000,000+. The housing crisis is an ongoing nightmare for everyone. And it is caused, incidentally, by immigration and environmental legislation - everyone agrees about that, they just don't know what to do about it.

State schools and the NHS cost the same for everyone, private schools and medicine (to the extent private medicine exists at all in this country) are available to everyone at the same price and convenience since they always require travel so are not dependent on locality.

So although my rural outlook affects a lot of how I see the world, I don't think it is operating in quite the way you envisage.

One obvious difference between rural and urban life is that rural life is far more mixed, with friendships across the classes and ages being normal. I think that gives everyone a different outlook. The age profile is also older than in cities, and many people develop more right wing views with age.

The thing about rules and regs does probably apply. In rural areas, things are done more by custom and incomers are sufficiently few they can be assimilated, and thus written rules are seen as more intrusive. I can imagine in urban areas you need written rules or the constant flux of incomers would drive everyone mad all the time by not knowing what the rules were.

Date: 2017-06-25 05:09 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Interesting. It is sad that my instant reaction is 'wow, that is cheap!' because compared to the south of the UK as a whole those are very cheap prices. Compared to London those are really, really, really cheap.

But in my area, property taxes are $14,000 out in the Island, and many coworkers consider $550,000 fairly cheap.

Surely that isn't taxes of $550,000 per year???? Even $14,000 per year is an awful lot. Most property taxes in this country are a few hundred to a few thousand per year, and then a variable percentage on the purchase price when the property is sold (but crazily the stamp duty is paid by the purchaser, not the vendor - I have no idea why). So it looks as if our purchasing costs are much higher but then annual taxes are lower.

Date: 2017-06-26 06:34 am (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I was allowing for the exchange rate.

The French Tech came over and bought up my old neighborhood and the prices sky-rocketed.

It is interesting hearing you say this. My immediate reaction was to have little sympathy for urban people who have to move. I see city dwellers as people who have shallow roots and thus little to lose if they shift from place to place. Everything I have read tells me that they celebrate mobility and openness to outsiders and a constant influx of new people around them, and that they not only welcome this culture for themselves but wish to impose it on everyone else. And yet my personal observation is that urban people do in fact feel strong affection for their particular neighbourhood within the city, and can be just as hostile to external forces as other folk. It is as if the 'openness' story is to some extent a story you tell yourselves to try to convince yourselves. Maybe to try to make the constant barrage of strangers and change a little more bearable?

Date: 2017-06-17 02:49 pm (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
Oh, by the way, the Tory Party is the nickname for the Conservative Party, they are the same thing. I tend to say 'Tory' when speaking to Americans because the word Conservative has a lot of baggage and gives the wrong impression.

As far as I can tell, the Tory party is in about the same place on the economic spectrum as your Democratic Party, or only fractionally to the right of it. There isn't really any British party as far right as the GOP. We do have some people who describe themselves as Libertarians who are about that far right, but they don't have an organised party.


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