Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It MattersMen on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream - and Why It Matters by Helen Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Misandry.

mis•an•dry mĭ-săn′drē►

n. Hatred or mistrust of men.
n. Man-hatred; a bad opinion of man, as being unfair or oppressive toward women.
n. Hatred of men. Contrast misogyny and cf. misandrist.

Let me be clear here. I believe in equality.

This should not be a lot to ask for. Back a hundred years or more ago, there were popular and populist groups that made a point out of making laws EQUAL for both men and women.

Unfortunately, the original movement has passed by equality and has swung, like a pendulum, until the tables have turned.

If you don't believe me, you haven't been paying attention.

I repeat: I believe in equality.

When boys are not allowed to be anything but defective girls in schools (going on 40 years now), when the rate of suicide for boys between 15-20 has risen to 4 times that of women, and 6 times that of women for those men between 20-25, when fewer and fewer men are going into college, or once there, learn that they are despised, and never graduate, it should be a warning sign.

A simple little warning that something might be wrong.

Men aren't stupid, no matter what the media, their teachers, or their wives might say.

If I were in an auditorium right now, speaking with a large group of men, I would ask them to raise their hands to each of these questions, and put them down if it didn't apply:

"In the last year, have you been subject to verbal abuse from women or suspiciously feminist-sounding men such as 'all men are idiots', 'all men are assholes', 'don't be a man-child,' 'grow a pair', or, 'don't talk to me about your patriarchy bullshit' in person, the media, or by the little voice in your head?"

I'd wait, and see every man's hand go up. In my imagination, it'd be a stadium. Then I'd ask:

"How about the last month?"

All hands would remain up.

"The last week?"

Maybe a few hands would go down, but the rest would remain up.


Why don't we see men complaining about this? Because we're taught to be self-sacrificing, to put up with it, to not rock the boat, or because we're afraid of losing what few rights or privileges we might have left.

Ignoring the rate of suicide or the fact that men are NOT getting married all that often anymore, that somehow all the good men have disappeared, I have to ask:

If they're all such idiots and assholes, then why are they dropping off the workforce, the bedroom, or the classroom? Only 16% of teachers are men and it's dropping. Any kind of unfounded accusation can turn good teachers into unemployed teachers. The same goes for students on campus. There is no rigorous examination of proof, and public opinion is against all men anyway.

If we are rational about this, we can draw certain conclusions about people in general. Bad ones are pretty much cropping up at the same rate regardless of the sex of the offender, be it sexual abuse, prejudice, or just plain mean-spirited behavior. Assuming this is true, and there is a TON of evidence that it is, then the likelihood that men or boys are actually BAD PEOPLE is approximately the same as it has ever been. So why is 90% of the population of prisons just men? A corollary is of course the higher proportion of BLACK men, but the fact is there for all to see.

If most men are good, decent, and caring people, (WHICH THEY ARE), then we must assume that it is perception bias that is now fully arrayed against them. If all the teachers are women, and even if most women MEAN well, it only takes one teacher to ruin the life and/or prospects or the basic HOPE of any boy.

Add to this the obvious facts of MANY support groups and self-esteem seminars and pro-bono legal assistance and basic PUBLIC OPINION that is showered on girls and women, it might seem like society is doing really well for itself.

But there are few to none of those same support groups for boys or men. Not even the Boy Scouts is open only to boys any longer. Boys are derided for playing video games with other boys. They're no longer allowed spaces in public to hang out or they will automatically be broken up. They are isolated, ridiculed, and even if they work their way through this ... nastiness ... they are still forced to deal with natural biological desires in a world where women hold all the cards.

Look at it realistically. There is a double standard. Women are attracted to alpha males. Asshole loners who aren't alpha males are often mistaken for alpha males. But women only want alpha males. If they can't have one, they only want a man from the OLD patriarchal standard that will work themselves to death to support them.

Everyone else is pretty worthless. It's been over forty years since this turnaround began. Economically, socially, women are not only working more, they have SURPASSED PARITY with men. If we ignore the top 3% of the population making ungodly amounts of money, we're left with an economy with MUCH less opportunity for men than women. Almost all of the growing fields are designed for women. Check out how many hold positions that control hiring or middle management. They are encouraged to be the gatekeepers. Look at reality as it is now, and not what we believe it must be from how the media spins it.

When I was getting my degrees in college, I was astounded to see that I was only a single man out of ten women in my psychology courses. I thought this was a fantastic improvement. I thought the horrible patriarchy was going down.

It's true. I bought all the narratives. I even considered myself a feminist, always choking on the "extremist feminist movement"'s words and repeating to myself, "I believe in equality. I believe in equality." Of course, certain personal experiences made me believe I was an outlier, just someone who got some bad luck with women. I still believed in the ideals even if I couldn't trust the kinds of hate-speech coming out of the media or mainstream books.

I started shutting down and withdrawing from all the hate. I just had to believe that it was a passing phase. I withdrew from women. I was scared of them and the power they held over my reproductive rights. Even now, there are one million men in America who, even with proof that the children they're paying for are NOT EVEN THEIR OWN CHILDREN, the law is against them. They are forced into bonafide slavery. 400,000 cases of men being put into prison because they aren't able to pay child support in a modern-day version of debtor's prison is PERFECTLY NORMAL, right?

Divorce court automatically sides with the woman regardless of the situation. Men are guilty unless proven innocent and even that doesn't mean a thing. Infidelity by a wife makes no difference in child custody. For the 60 pro-bono support groups for women with legal or marital issues, there are a grand total of zip, zilch, and nada for men. If you want legal recourse, you have to pay out the nose.

Is this equality? A total disregard for both facts and basic decency?

Wait, isn't this just a few examples? Is it just America?

No. It's all around the world.



It might be time to ask a question: "Is there a problem here?"

Or better yet, maybe it might be time to opening up dialogue with men if you actually profess to love them.

Switching one horrible social problem with the reverse is not a solution. We all f***ing need each other.

So what about all those men who have given up? They are isolated, have no spaces in their own homes, are threatened by divorce by their wives and when they realize it is all a complete no-win situation for them, they GIVE UP. They withdraw. Or they have lots of anger that they try to anesthetize using WHATEVER.

Men aren't idiots. They all know something is deeply wrong. If you ask where all the good men have gone, I recommend simply ASKING them. That might require actually LISTENING to them, however.

I say we need to demand respect. If you want to have respect, you must give it. No more hurtful comments. No threats. The threats are REAL and they cut DEEP. Because I'll let you in on a little secret:

Men love their children. This is REAL. It goes against ALL the other narratives. If you drive them into a corner and make them feel helpless, because the law is entirely on YOUR side, then you've just made an enemy.

Respect your men. Understand that you cannot push them so far into a corner that they either give up on life or choose to avoid all women in the future. No one wins here. No one should ever have to go on strike or give up on their own lives.



Stop the very real misandry.






I totally recommend this review of this book... I probably wouldn't have read the book otherwise.

This Review

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The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give, #1)The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just reading this book without the social context, I think it's a fantastically interesting and entertaining tale. I cared and I even cried. I recognized myself and empathized and very much raged right along with the tale.

But WITH the social context...

The novel sunk me. A torpedo to the chest.

If I had been reading this before the recent protests, I think I would have been encouraged to BE there for the protests despite being anywhere near the action. It's not just the basic ongoing injustice. It's not the slow realization that things will never get better without speaking up.

It's the visceral realization that it is HAPPENING. People ARE and SHOULD be upset.

WHAT we do about it is the big question. And at this point, it's the only question. And this is where the novel really shines. Staying silent is death. But so is indiscriminate rage. So is giving up and going away.

We are our communities. We are our own support system. If we forget that, then we can all be picked off.

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Monday, August 10, 2020

The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about ItThe Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about It by Warren Farrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cannot overemphasize the importance of this conversation.

And because this topic often becomes a target of both ridicule and dehumanization, I must reiterate:
This is an important and real conversation we must make.

Boys, and men, are suffering. I can take and use statistics from outside of the context of this book, but even this book spells a lot of it out.

There are no free consultations for men's health or mental health despite the fact that 4 times as many boys between 15-20 commit suicide as compared to girls. That rate increases to 6 times between 20-25.

Our culture tells us we must self-sacrifice for everything we do.

Example: if we have a medical problem, we don't go to get it fixed either because we are less likely to be covered with medical insurance. It might also have something to do with a little voice in us saying that we just need to "push-through" despite winding up with stupidly aggravated conditions.

Self-sacrifice is pervasive. We are told that we must sacrifice ourselves for our country, for our family, for EVERYTHING. As a man, I can attest to this. I also rebelled against it. And in rebelling, for years, I discovered that there was no sense of purpose to replace it.

In the past, it was cynically transactional. Men bring home the bacon while women rule the home. Most of these roles have either been overturned or are widely ridiculed for more than 40 years now. Kids who grew up in feminist-idealized schools are now middle-aged. Boys grew up learning that their natural biological drives are nasty and brutish and dehumanizing to women. I know I did.

Every man was a potential rapist if he isn't a source of income to support women.

Be honest. Whether you are a man or a woman. How would you feel if you were only seen as either a servant or a threat?

Of course, all the old roles are overturned. Women are super unhappy and it may have something to do with their having to work as hard as men ever had to. They also generally reject the idea that working more than 70-hour work-weeks, (a general prerequisite for higher positions,) in favor of their families.

In the meantime, men have not received any attention to altering their own roles.

Think about that. To attract mates we must be Alpha Males. But Alpha Males are not the type of men that are allowed to thrive in schools. Male teachers make up only 17% of the workforce. They are generally driven out despite real cause, or because they teach in ways that don't align with the political environment. After all, let's face it: all men are fundamentally evil and the patriarchy rules everything.

The same thing is true for the field of psychology. When I was getting my degree, only 1/10 students were men and there was a very heavy focus on women's health. There was no focus on men. At all.

I am absolutely certain that the list can go on and on. Let's ignore the top 1% of any field for just a moment. Exceptions are not rules. Look at any profession you care to. Do you see the current roster of jobs being particularly welcoming to men? How about becoming a nurse? (Most are women.) An agent? (Most are women.) A teacher? (Most are women.)

Dangerous jobs that have a regular loss of life or a sharp decrease in quality of life is still open to men. Garbage collectors. (Most are men.) Military. (Most are men.) Truck drivers. (Most are men.)

I'm just spitting a few of the more obvious ones out.

But none of these explain the increase in the rate of suicides in the past 40 years. It may hint at it.

It also hints at the huge drop in academic achievement and the widespread loss of opportunities or support systems.

Because we are told it is a man's world, none of us look at the reality of the world.
It does not follow. Divorced men are 10 times as likely to commit suicide than women.

There are tons of studies that say, outright, that men want to be a part of their children's lives. That their one regret was in working so much to make ends meet, that they would have given it all up in order to have that one purpose in their lives.

We can all look at the popular stories these days to see the deeper issues. Courts systematically rule in favor of women in custody hearings. Public opinion always automatically sides for women because, obviously, men are evil. Even when confronted with facts to the contrary, public opinion keeps piping up with massive assumptions that always ends with, "It's a man's world."



I postulate that abuse swings like a pendulum.

One-time victims will become victimizers. Just look at the dehumanization aspects.

Are men appreciated for what they do? Soldiers commit suicide once every 65 minutes. Older men commit suicide because they've come to the conclusion that their death-insurance will mean more to their family than their own life.

Men no longer have purpose. Few are actually able to follow their bliss. They are expected to make money. Period.

Before, in the bad old-times, they relied on a purpose of supporting their family. Showing love by self-sacrifice while suppressing any other kind of sensitive emotion because it just doesn't FIT with the purpose of self-sacrifice. Now, women are independent. Unhappy, but independent. Divorces strip away a man's purpose, just turning him into a paycheck that must put up with cultural abuse such as being called a deadbeat dad, or being emotionally stunted, an idiot, or just plain malicious.

I'm being general here. But damn if I don't see JUST THIS THING everywhere I look.

Assume, just for a moment, that most men are decent people.

If we consider the fact that both men and women are abusers at the same rate, while only one sex has the social support system to speak up about it, the imbalance is very real. Are children the patriarchy?

Evolutionary psychology is also real. Boys and girls CAN learn the skills of the others, but one comes naturally, and the other does not. Teaching boys to express themselves is useless when they know their concerns will not be heard. Competition is not patriarchy. Neither is roughhousing. It is a major point of learning in emotional intelligence. Getting a thick skin is ADAPTIVE. Girls can do it, even if, on the whole, they generally don't prefer it. That doesn't mean it isn't true for boys. And yet, this is what even *I* was taught in the '80s. Remember the statistic on men being teachers?

Corrective assumptions have made the pendulum swing way too far in the opposite direction.

Great progress had been made, but reform turned into retaliation. Punitive measures.

Here's a little thought experiment: 87% of the prison population is men. Black men are 4 times as likely to be incarcerated, true, but they are all still men. If men still had a purpose, their aggression could have been channeled into something positive. Don't we say the same thing about boys?

Then ask yourself: if the total situation is still getting worse and worse, where men feel hopeless and cast adrift in their own lives, then WHY AREN'T WE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION?

Fact: if men and women keep alienating each other like this, we are all going to suffer. The grand majority of man and womankind still wants healthy heterosexual relationships. Oddly enough, this isn't a reactionary backlash statement designed to antagonize the LGBTQ+ community, either. Nor is it designed to antagonize radical feminists who would like to see total segregation of the sexes.

I'm merely saying that people still want healthy relationships and MOST of them happen to be hetero.

By dehumanizing one half of the population, we have an epidemic of depression and suicide. Of existential crisis. Of PURPOSE. And it only gets worse when we all get defensive.

Strangely enough, one of the things that men do very well is in providing a safe space for children to roughhouse and have teachable moments. It also teaches children to have expanded empathy with those who they fight with. Evolutionary psychology does NOT favor this behavior with women. And yet, it is still essential for learning how to cope and adapt to any kind of antagonistic situation.

So I can also postulate that these last 40 years spent dehumanizing men have also created an environment of people unable to cope with any kind of antagonistic situation. Cancel culture IS real.


I may not agree with every point this book makes, especially when it derails at the end with highlights on the ADHD phenomenon, but Farrell obviously cares a lot about our well-being and he is trying to be as all-inclusive as he can be.

I think he does a fairly good job of illustrating a lot of the other points. Men's health, both physical and mental, are almost completely neglected. Try looking up any programs to help out men who are suffering and you might just find Alcoholics Anonymous.

Women will have pages and pages and pages of free support systems.

What would YOU feel if you happened to be male? Neglected? Ridiculed? Unappreciated? Belittled?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make anyone wonder why there is so much anger and resentment. What I'm really surprised about is why there isn't MORE resentment.

Maybe it's because most men are good people. Maybe it's because they genuinely care about their wives and children. They may be in a bad position and they are told they will not hold any more power, but most keep on trying.

This is a two-way street. At least acknowledge that there is a problem. Purposeless kills, and it's hitting our boys the most. They see how hopeless it is. Give them credit. They may not be able to voice these concerns, but they sure as hell see the problem.

Addictions, whether drugs or video games, risky behaviors of all kinds including extreme sports, apathy, failure-to-launch, obesity, and anxiety are just a handful of the warning signs.

If you hear, "What's the point?" then know it is being said EVERYWHERE. Every western country and it is growing everywhere else. It is not isolated to America. Not by a long shot.

Have these conversations with your loved ones.

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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Psychological Warfare (WWII Era Reprint)Psychological Warfare by Paul M.A. Linebarger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let's set the stage for this one.

This 1948 publication was first and foremost designed to be a manual. It was not a rigorous academic study. It was designed to teach intelligence operatives the basics and intermediates of psychological warfare.

He even makes no bones about intersecting and sometimes outright conflating Public Relations with the field of Psychological Warfare. Indeed, their purposes are often the same, in many cases written by the same people.

Similar things have been going on since there were people gathering to make cities. The examples in this particular book draw from many WWI and WWII real examples from America, Russia, and China.

Now, I'm pretty certain everyone has seen something of this in our modern life. You may even make a huge hobby of pointing out gaslighting in politics, obvious falsehoods told by ideological enemies internationally or right in your own country.

If you do, then you know that this book is old news. There is no difference between Psychological Warfare and Public Relations. We lie to our own side to maintain morale and we lie to the other side to reduce theirs.

We tell the truth mixed with little lies to get the other side to READ our propaganda, but subtly twist it to know when and where enemy combatants are using your information. Like a footprint.

We promise the world. Peace, happiness, prosperity -- to our own AND to our enemies... if they only come over to our side.

What we don't do is make things unspecific. Generalities are laughable. Details and compelling.

We don't tell our enemies that we will crush them. Such tactics only entrench the other side. Rather, the point is to soften their resolve. Show them how well you're doing. How strong you are. How capable.

The point is to be effective. Most of the time it's a hit-or-miss game, but when information is EVERYTHING (whether in peace or in war) every gambit counts.


Now, for anyone who ISN'T already aware that we are utterly surrounded by psychological warfare RIGHT THIS VERY INSTANT, you might want to check your assumptions.

It never stopped. The whole Cold War should be proof of that. The whole American lifestyle, all of Western Thought, any political faction in any country, all corporations, and all media brands down to YouTubers and your local church gathering is an example of it.

Whether you are consciously aware of what you're doing or not is another matter.

You position yourself and your group to be seen in the best light, do you not?



First, make yourself appear like them, either literally or ideologically. Make them trust you by being a part of their in-group.

Then make them trust you by being a reliable source of news.

Then, start poisoning the well.


It's pretty simple, after all. Anyone can do it, right, Twitter? And best of all, ANYONE can do it!

There's a great book called Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media that spells out many of the best time-tested methods.

Repeat your message over and over. It won't matter whether it is true or not. As long as you have total saturation, enough people will pick up on it and repeat it. It worked back in WWII. It works WONDERFULLY in America.

Give people a horrible setup, then offer them a way out.

If the media won't play along with you, then call them all liars and set up your own media outlets.

If the other side calls you on your bluff, make a smokescreen.

At all times, muddy the water. A tried and true method is to accuse all your enemies of what you've been doing yourself. Usually, because you've been doing it first. (Some people are MASTERS of this kind of deflection. It's not a psychological pathology. It's an outright wartime tactic. Tried and true.)

But above all, be sure to use the six Moral Foundations if you want to get the most bang for your buck:

Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm
Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating
Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal
Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion
Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation
Liberty: opposite of oppression.

If you see your in-group pumping up all six of the positives while attributing all the negatives to the other side, you know they're doing a FANTASTIC job with their propaganda.




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Saturday, August 8, 2020

The House of StyxThe House of Styx by Derek Künsken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've honestly not had much experience with many SF titles that directly deal with Venus, so this is a very nice treat for me.

Yeah, sure, I've read some older titles that have been made laughable by the ACTUAL conditions on the planet, the huge pressures, the deadly acidic atmosphere, and any number of technical difficulties that would make anyone consider this planet a HELL rather than any sort of love goddess.

Fortunately, I had a really good time with this one because it directly deals with those issues. We get terraforming, survival in the clouds, and the full colonial (and anti-colonial) experience.

It is very much a modern novel in all respects. Our main characters transform this into a family drama that touches on everything from economic disparity, identity politics, how we treat the disabled, all the way to a secretive rush toward a *spoiler spoiler* exciting goal. :)

I enjoyed this quite a lot. There were definite tones of, say, Iain McDonald's Luna series. The technical detail is very much in line with the classic Arthur C. Clarke. But the story... well, the deeper over-story... that is also rather Clarkish. :) That's a good thing, btw. No spoilers, but that part is very, very fun.



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Friday, August 7, 2020

The Breach (Travis Chase, #1)The Breach by Patrick Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Picking up and putting down this book, I'm left with a huge impression that this was designed to be a video game.

Action, shootem-up, video game. Along the way you can pretend you're the MC of "24" and you go from one bloody step to the next bloody step as the otherwise fairly high-concept SF trope driving it gets revealed.

Like I said, a video game.

Unfortunately for me, I like role-playing video games much more than the straightforward shootem-ups. I want to feel the consequences of my actions, not just move on from one horrific scene to the next in a glorified homage to bullets and guns and explosions.

But hey! This is what Western Civilization is known for, right? This is the epitome of what we're good at! Building beautiful things to provide a backdrop to kill lots of people. Oh, and explode it.

Like I said -- there are a lot of people who would probably love the hell out of this. A part of me has spent years watching similar movies or playing similar video games, so I guess I used to be one of them. Maybe I'm a bit over it, now.

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Yurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and BehaviorYurugu: An African-centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior by Marimba Ani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes, I run out of words. I want to write a book on this book and disseminate it among the masses. I want to encourage everyone and anyone who is interested in seeing a full -- a rather awesomely full, detailed, and well-reasoned -- critique of Western Thought.

Let me be clear: this is a critique of Western Thought while USING Western Thought in conjunction with African spiritualism, zeitgeist, and practical/historical experience with the invasion OF Western Thought. It is a synthesis, but it is also a rather piercing indictment.

AS a personal reaction to the book, I'm flabbergasted as to why it isn't HUGE and widely discussed in ALL academic communities or popularized to the public at large in bite-sized chunks.

Many anti-colonialists already do. Many counter-culture philosophers also do.

Few, if any, actively show us a NEW (or if you please, extremely OLD) zeitgeist, worldview, to see through.

Let me break it down. There are a few terms that are absolutely essential. To discuss other cultures - or your own - you need to accurately define them. If your entire worldview is enmeshed with your descriptions of other peoples, you automatically see-through your own lens no matter how objective you might want to be.

From this point, almost any argument you might make will be colored by your preconceptions. This is the real value of this book.

Asili is the idea of a cultural essence. What kind of world-views does it hold highest? Humanitarianism? Christianity (whatever flavor)? How does it hold the idea above all other values? It defines itself against what it RESISTS. Everything else is lower, less valuable, even worthless. That's asili.

Utamaroho is the drive. A culture's will to power. It's the direction and flavor of what the culture tries to accomplish. World dominance? That's utamaroho. World saviors? That's utamaroho.

Utamawazo is cultural thought process, the rationalization that allows the culture to propagate. How about bringing the convenience of 50's American zeitgeist to the rest of the world, showering everyone else in the love and harmony of the nuclear family unit? That's utamawazo. Progress? A world community? All the pretty things we say we want that paint such pretty pictures of ourselves even as we know we will betray those same ideas? That's utamawazo.

So what's the point? It's this: we have a framework of thought to work within that is NOT Western Thought. We are free to discuss how a culture thinks of itself, how it feels of itself as if it is a real person.

We can use psychology on it. We can ask the hard questions and compare how it perceives itself versus how it actually behaves. We can examine its cognitive behaviors and pinpoint the logical inconsistencies. The hypocrisy. We can judge it by what it ACTUALLY accomplishes versus its stated goal.

When seen from the outside, Western Culture is freaking INSANE.

I mean, most of us already know this. We see bits and pieces and shake our heads. Sometimes we say it's just a bunch of bad apples and sometimes we say it's just huge groups of misguided men and women.

But this book breaks it down in unflinching terms. From Plato, we get the idea of objectivism. We get the idea of dichotomies. We get the idea that we, as individuals, are separated from our actual selves. We split the mind from the body. Instead of having a single real, living creature that we call us, we now have abstract terms that are completely divorced from the living person. We may put them back together and see if we come back with something more or less like Frankenstein's monster, but in the end, it is a divorce from reality.

When you take these ideas and forget that the Terrain is NOT the Map, it's very easy to start objectizing everything. Today, I have a very easy time watching people get blown up or die in horrible ways on tv, but always have a very difficult time watching a puppy get killed in the same show. Why is that? Because we, as a Western asili, are so used to the maps we make of people that we forget that they are ALSO REAL PEOPLE. We're shocked out of that complacency at random times when we see something that is JUST as real but doesn't jibe with what we expect.

We are comfortable with tons of dead people but not a dead puppy because we have dehumanized ourselves.

What does this mean for someone who values being a Humanist?

Disconnect.

Now let's not forget all the times when western countries invaded foreign lands under the banner of god, country, or progressive economic equality. The utamawazo, the reasoning, matches our asili, our self-conception. What doesn't match is our will-to-power, our need to dominate, to exploit, or just destabilize foreign nationals because they might prove to be just as rational as you but use a different system of government/economic-system/god.

The stated claims, even for those who are missionaries propelling god's truth, do not match with the actual effects. They hardly ever do. That's because the asili and the utamawazo are there to make ourselves feel good and bamboozle others while the utamaroho, the ACTUAL DRIVE of the culture, is defined by exploitation.

You know the type. Winning is everything, you know. The good guys win and the bad guys lose. That's a Platonic dichotomy, by the way. You'll find drives like this everywhere you look -- once you see them for what they are.

It's the private reasoning of certain individuals who will not be named who believe, in the core of their being, that they must win at all costs. Literally, at all costs. It doesn't matter how many people get dehumanized in the process. They're all maps, after all. The terrain no longer exists. But yet, we still have the utamawazo fully intact. Just look! We're Making ******* Great Again!



Be aware of yourself. Of your culture. Find frameworks that are outside of it. View yourself from others' lenses. It's the only way to truly see yourself as you truly are.


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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

No Time for Fear: How a shark attack survivor beat the oddsNo Time for Fear: How a shark attack survivor beat the odds by Paul de Gelder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I had come to myself as I was 5 years ago and said that I will have read an inspirational memoir about a shark attack victim and the tale of his life before and after the big event, my old self would have probably have laughed in my face.

"What," the old me would have said, "the hell would have inspired you to read such unabashed tripe?"

I'd reply, "I got roped into it."

"You sure you didn't get tossed in the drink to be a chew toy?"

"Eh, smartass. It's meant to be INSPIRATIONAL."

"Why, because you're such a stubborn athletic specimen that had gone through both Australian infantry and the dive teams? Because you really have that go-getter f*** y** attitude?"

"I am stubborn, you jerk."

"Yeah, yeah."


So I read this and it is inspirational. The boy succeeded against the odds.

But do you know what I really got out of this?

He's got some top-notch toys now. He's gone transhumanist. He's a real-life swimming cyborg.

Okay. I'm a bit weird.



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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel vindicated. Rebecca Roanhorse writes a fine, fine epic fantasy.

I knew she could do good UF, but we all know that epic fantasy requires a huge amount of worldbuilding to do it right. And this is evident in Black Sun. :)

One strong point: the opening worked REALLY, REALLY well for me. I haven't read such a strong start of a book in a long time. Visceral, scary, making me ask tons of questions and freaking OUT. Very good stuff.

As for the epic stuff? Gorgeous backdrop, lots of fascinating PoVs, and enough sea action to make any captain proud.

For those of you who aren't already familiar with Roanhorse, just trust me. This is an excellent example of the genre. For those of us who ARE familiar with Roanhorse, this one kicks serious butt.

Important note: There's lots of inclusiveness in this novel. The disabled, this time. I thought it was done very well. It sure as hell made him VERY interesting.

And that end?

Well... No spoilers. :) I'll definitely be looking forward to the full trilogy.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

Planet of the ApesPlanet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book that deserves to stand the test of time. I think it's as valid now as it was back in the fifties.

Let's ignore the movies for just a moment. They're important in their own right for capturing a cultural zeitgeist and for showing us all how damning cultural bias can be. One can make the argument that the Planet of the Apes movies underscored the 60's, put it all in sharp relief.

But I'm going to talk about the book -- about why the book needs to be read now.

Cultural bias is everywhere. All around us. It's in the very air we breathe. In general, we don't see it.

Our assumptions make us prisoners.

The apes are the epitome of Western Thought. Casually racist in everything they do, they rationalize everyone OTHER than themselves into a kind of slavery. Whether it's about cultural superiority, scientific superiority, military superiority, or ANY reason to make themselves appear more important than the OTHER, they take it.

Because what would happen otherwise?

Rhetoric would fall apart, giving way to a careful observation of the real circumstances.

People are being kept in cages. They're experimented upon. They are left in atrocious conditions and made to fight for scraps to survive. The purpose is to turn them into animals FIRST in order to prove the original assumption that they are animals.

If this isn't classic racism, I don't know what is. Every argument they make must revolve around the basic assumption that THEY are better than US. If the argument doesn't fit, it is thrown out.

Only OVERWHELMING evidence to the contrary can lift a single human out of this bondage, and but the great emancipation only works for this single human.

The pervasive racism persists.

Classic cultural bias.

We are fully immersed in it. We feel the hopelessness underlying their bulwarks of rationalizations. We are made small, helpless, even as we retain our dignity in all the tiniest of ways. And ultimately, we lose.



It takes a whole society to change a whole society.

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Circles in the SpiralCircles in the Spiral by Shane Joseph
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As implied by the title, things start out slow and easygoing -- a retreat for the body and the soul -- but this is where things begin to spiral out of control. :)

The changes are imperceptible at first. A free-spirited romance. A few reveals.

*grin*

This is what happens when writers throw off their yokes and write what they want to write, letting the crazy out. Each new reveal, each new piece of the puzzle throws a monkey wrench into the bigger work until the circles become an ever-widening gyre and all hell breaks loose.

A staid and solid life this may have appeared to be, but just as we think we've gotten a handle on the last bombshell, another one comes along. And another. And another.

No spoilers. The personal reveals are as interesting as the political ones and everything comes together in a perfect storm of crazy. All our choices come back to haunt or aid us. Getting tangled in people makes our lives more interesting. :)

Quite an enjoyable read, amusing and dark.




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Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Old Man and the SeaThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is little I can say amongst so many great reviews that will shed any light upon this classic masterpiece of literature, but I can speak of my feelings.

Let me be honest. Before I read this the first time, I groaned. It's a fish story. Anyone who grew up around people who tell fish stories knows that they get bigger and bigger with each telling until the hero of the tale successfully takes down the great white whale. Or not, as in Moby Dick's case.

I was afraid that I would be overwhelmed with a big whopper.

What I got, instead, was a deeply personal, tragic, and heartbreaking.

People say much about Hemingway's simplicity of style, his minimalism, and I have to agree. He cuts right to the bone.

It's also perfect if you feel like this life is tearing a piece of you away, one bite at a time.



Those damn sharks. The waters are full of them.

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