Friday, November 30, 2012

"Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back" by Will Shetterly

This is a bit of fanfic inspired by the Vlad Taltos stories of Steve Brust. Or maybe by the Paarfi stories. —WS

Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back

by Will Shetterly

Once, so long ago that no one remembers their names, a Yendi and a Dzur went to war. The Yendi used seventeen strategies, each more clever than the one before, to deprive the Dzur of all her allies and resources. When the Yendi heard the Dzur had nothing left but her sword and her honor, he laughed in anticipation of her surrender or her death.

But he stopped laughing when a guard said a lone warrior was approaching the castle with a sword in her hands. The Yendi climbed the castle walls to see for himself. Before the front gate, the Dzur stood shouting, "Yendi! I've come for our final battle! One of us shall die in honorable combat!"

The captain of the guard said, "Shall I have our archers answer her?"

The Yendi nodded, then smiled and said, "Ah! Obviously she has a spell to deflect arrows, and her last allies are hidden in the woods to aid her if I come out to fight. Send half our soldiers by the back gate to scour the forest and thwart her plan."

"My lord, she's a Dzur."

"Yes, but she's no fool. Do as I say. Even if I'm wrong—" And here he laughed at the idea that a Yendi could be outwitted by a Dzur. "—a dozen warriors and a stout gate remain between us and the Dzur."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Black Rock Blues" by Will Shetterly

Available in And Other Stories.

Shetterlys in the Civil War / War Between the States

Shetterly - American Civil War Soldiers - lists male Shetterlys who served, but there was at least one female. TNJN - Old Gray Cemetery's Lantern and Carriage Tour revives past mentions "Margaret Shetterly Pesterfield Haynes, a Civil War nurse, fought to collect her service pension and then helped black nurses do the same."

I like her.

I don't know what was up with the one Shetterly who fought for the Confederacy. Shetterlys tended to be poor farmers, so I doubt he owned slaves, and he may've been fighting for patriotism rather than slavery—there were, after all, slaveowners on both sides of the Civil War. Or he may have been drafted. In any case, I'm descended from the Iowa Shetterlys who fought for the Union, so that guy's not part of my bloodline.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

quiet thinking

I am a fan of quiet places. My one complaint about life in cities is there's always one neighbor who loves loudness. If you think, like me, this might be a class thing, it's not. Tim Krieder has a comment about train riders and bus riders that seems true, as generalizations go:

From The Quiet Ones - "James’s thesis that this obliviousness correlates to a sense of special entitlement is corroborated by my own observation that the crowd on Amtrak, where airline-level fares act as a de facto class barrier, is generally louder and more inconsiderate than the supposed riffraff on the bus."

 I don't think noise is a rudeness issue: I think most noisy people are so used to noise that it never occurs to them it might be annoying to anyone else.

Well. Have a quiet or noisy Thanksgiving, as you prefer!

"Silver or Gold" by Emma Bull

Available in And Other Stories.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"The Thief of Dreams" by Will Shetterly

Available in And Other Stories.

"white vote" is code for the richer side in the class war

Does Obama Have White Voter “Problem”? — The Monkey Cage: "Since the mid-1970’s Democrats have had a white voter “problem.” Obama is a Democrat. This is by far the best lens through which to view white support for Obama.  Conversely, it is also the best lens through which to view black support for Obama.  For example, LBJ received essentially the same level of black support in 1964 as did Obama in 2008. ... In 2008, Obama garnered about 43% of the white vote. This was the high water mark for Democratic presidential candidates since Jimmy Carter in 1976 – not coincidentally about the time in which party polarization starts to take hold in the U.S.  Put differently, Obama received as much or more white voter support than Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale, Carter (1980), and even Bill Clinton (see the data here or see the historical chart in the Post piece here)."

The entire post is short and very much worth your time. I just wanted to stress the above because I keep seeing identitarians obsessing over the white vote. If racism is the reason for the vote, white racism hurt Clinton more than Obama.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

quibbling with Jay Atkinson on the requirements of storytelling

From Book review: “Elsewhere’’ by Richard Russo - Books - The Boston Globe: "the requirements of good storytelling are harsh: three-dimensional characters, a strong sense of place, and the accumulation of specific sensory detail. "

I think that's a useful list, but I must add that all of those things are extremely subjective, and sometimes what's wanted are archetypes, a place that could be anywhere, and the unrelenting storytelling push of dialogue and action.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Flannery O'Connor on stifling writers

"Everywhere I go, I'm asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them." —Flannery O'Connor

Kushner and Spielberg's "Lincoln"

Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner have made a great movie with a misleading title: it should be called The 13th Amendment. It's funny and touching and beautifully made. There are two minor Spielberg moments that I would cut, but that's a tiny quibble. While all the actors are great, Tommy Lee Jones gets to have the most fun. Lincoln joins Glory at the top of the tiny group of great Civil War films.

Some people, like Shakesville, want a different movie, either about the maturation of Lincoln, who grew from thinking black folks should be sent back to Africa, or about the black folks involved in the abolition movement. Those movies would have room for Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman, and they would cover at least five years. But this movie is about a crucial month in US history. It owes more to suspense films than bio pics or costume dramas: it's not about the growth of a character, but about whether that character can succeed in a limited amount of time against enormous obstacles.

There's a truth that many people don't want to acknowledge: oppressed people rarely have the resources to free themselves. Ending slavery in the US was mostly the work of white men, the people who held the power. A hundred years later, the civil rights movement required black folks and white folks working together. When the oppressed are isolated, they end up like Spartacus and Nat Turner.

I hope Toussaint gets made; everyone should know about the only successful slave revolt in history.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Election: It really was class warfare

"Identity Politics and Economic Reality" at The Economic Populist gave me the numbers in the comments. I verified them; they're from the US network exit polls. Here's the economic spread for Obama voters vs Romney voters:
Obama: < $30,000, 62% to 35%
Obama: $30,000 to $49,999, 56% to 42%.

Romney : $50,000 to $99,999, 52% to 46%
Romney: $100,000 to $199,999, 54% to 44%
Romney: > $200,000 or more, 54% to 44%.
You're welcome to do the breakdown by race and gender if you insist, but this is much simpler: Obama won with folks who make less than the national average. Romney won with folks who make more.

ETA: For these numbers and more, see Groups Obama Won, Groups Romney Won - Interactive Feature - (Thx, Brian Holt Hawthorne!)

"What Used to Be Good Still Is" by Emma Bull

Available in And Other Stories.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

the argument that President Gore would have invaded Iraq

Democrats love to say Gore wouldn't have invaded Iraq. I agree that he might not have. I also know that if Goldwater had been elected in '64, Democrats would still be arguing that Johnson would never have escalated the Vietnam War.