TNH's Particles
* The Bobblehead Project.
* John Holbo's review of David Frum's Dead Right.
* Mormon Transhumanist Association.
* Howard Rheingold quotes.
* Ignaz Trebitsch-Lincoln.
* How to invest when no one really knows what to do.
* If the Moon were only 1 pixel.
* Ignatius Timothy Trebitsch-Lincoln.
* Make a plan to vote with Biden and Obama.
* Jon Stewart's Twitter war with Donald Trump.
More...
PNH's Sidelights
* Clive James, 1939-2019.
* Robert Hunter, 1941-2019
* Betty Ballantine, 1919-2019
* Carol Emshwiller, 1921-2019
* Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018
* Efrain Rios Montt is dead. Greatest Easter ever.
* John Perry Barlow, 1947-2018
* Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018
* Jo Walton: Not my gods.
* Kit Reed, 1932-2017
More...
Abi's Parhelia
* The Embroidered Computer
* What to do when you feel awful & nothing seems to make sense: identifying & navigating gaslighting.
* History of Ball Bearings [PDF]
* Universal basic income trials being considered in Scotland
* Basic Income - from utopian vision to policy proposition to movement
* How do liberals halt the march of the right? Stand our ground and toughen up
* Opposition in the Age of Gish Gallops
* Schneier on the next four years
* Thomas Merton's letter to a young activist
* EU negotiators will offer Brits an individual opt-in to remain EU citizens, chief negotiator confirms
More...
Avram's Phosphenes
How Monopolies Broke the Federal Reserve
We Made a Song Our King
A Guide to Weird Leftist Internet Slang
How did world newspapers handle the translation of Scaramucci’s tirade?
Hayao Miyazaki’s Cosmologics
So a Nazi Walks Into an Iron Bar: the Meyer Lansky Story
Now is the Time to Talk About What we are Actually Talking About
Anil Dash on the work that needs to be done now
Autocracy: Rules for Survival
The gender of Brexit
More...
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Commonplaces
“We are prophets of a future not our own.” (Oscar Romero)

“Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” (Jo Walton)

“Fascism doesn’t look like jackboots dragging a man off a plane. It looks like people defending it.” (Emily Gorcenski)

“You really think that safety can be plucked from the arms of an evil deed?” (Darla, “Inside Out”)

“Forgiveness requires giving up on the possibility of a better past.” (unknown)

“The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.” (Arthur D. Hlavaty)

“Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.” (Friedrich Engels)

“Any sufficiently advanced neglect is indistinguishable from malice.” (Deb Chachra)

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of believing that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“You don't owe the internet your time. The internet does not know this, and will never learn.” (Quinn Norton)

“Great writing is the world's cheapest special effect.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” (Gertrude Stein)

“Very few people are stupid. It’s just that the world really is that difficult and you can’t continually be careful.” (Quinn Norton)

“Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.” (Michael Palin)

“Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“The fact that ‘there are only a handful of bad cops’ cuts no ice with me. If ‘only a handful of McDonald’s are spitting in your food,’ you’re not going to McDonald’s.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Young men and women, educated very carefully to be apolitical, to be technicians who thought they disliked politics, making them putty in the hands of their rulers, like always.” (Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars)

“The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday)

“When liberty is mentioned, we must observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests.” (Hegel)

“History is the trade secret of science fiction.” (Ken MacLeod)

“But isn’t all of human history simultaneously a disaster novel and a celebrity gossip column?” (Anonymous LJ commenter)

“I see now that keen interest can illuminate anything, and that anything, moreover, has something worth illuminating in it, and that without that interest gates carved by Benvenuto Cellini from two diamonds would merely look chilly.” (Lord Dunsany)

“I grieve for the spirit of Work, killed by her evil child, Workflow.” (Paul Ford)

“The opposite of ‘serious’ isn't ‘funny.’ The opposite of both ‘serious’ and ‘funny’ is ‘squalid.’” (R. A. Lafferty)

“Ki is, of course, mystical bullshit. That’s why it works so well, both as a teaching idiom and a tool of practice in martial arts. It’s as nonexistent as charm, leadership, or acting. Humans are all about bullshit.” (Andrew Plotkin)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” (Charles Kingsley)

“Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying.” (The Joker)

“Hope has two daughters, anger and courage. They are both lovely.” (attributed to St. Augustine)

“Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“This movie has way too much plot getting in the way of the story.” (Joe Bob Briggs)

“If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Always side with the truth. It’s much bigger than you are.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” (Tony Kushner)

“I don’t want politicians who are ‘above politics,’ any more then I want a plumber who’s ‘above toilets.’” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.” (Otto von Bismarck)

“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Anne Lamott)

“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical science-fiction cowboy detective novel.” (Alan Moore)

“See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” (John XXIII)

“You will never love art well, until you love what she mirrors better.” (John Ruskin)

“Having a smallpox vaccine scar is like walking around with the moon landing and the Sistine Chapel on your upper arm.” (Angus Johnston)

“They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.” (Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” (Jay Gould)

“The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” (George Eliot, Middlemarch)

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” (Mark Twain)

“Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.” (Stephen Jay Gould)

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Gustav Mahler)

“But this kind of deference, this attentive listening to every remark of his, required the words he uttered to be worthy of the attention they excited—a wearing state of affairs for a man accustomed to ordinary human conversation, with its perpetual interruption, contradiction, and plain disregard. Here everything he said was right; and presently his spirits began to sink under the burden.” (Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander)

“Hatred is a banquet until you recognize you are the main course.” (Herbert Benson)

“For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.” (Neal Stephenson)

“‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” (James Morrow)

“And after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

“The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.” (Lloyd George)

“The United States behaves like a salesman with a fantastic product who tries to force people to buy it at gunpoint.” (Emma of Late Night Thoughts)

“I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending—if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.” (Charles Stross)

“The real test of any claim about freedom, I’ve decided, is how far you’re willing to go in letting people be wrong about it.” (Bruce Baugh)

“As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has.” (Terry Eagleton)

“Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.” (Max Weber)

“No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair.” (John Scalzi)

“I don’t understand death, but I got hot dish down pretty good.” (Marissa Lingen)

“Skepticism is the worst form of gullibility.” (John “adamsj” Adams)

“We have a backstage view of ourselves and a third-row view of everybody else.” (Garrison Keillor)

“The Reign of Sin is more universal, the influence of unconscious error is less, than historians tell us.” (Lord Acton)

“All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them.” (H. L. Mencken)

“Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day, man.” (Janis Joplin)

“Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.” (W. B. Yeats)

“It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval [...] If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: ‘Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.’” (Dorothy L. Sayers)

“Grown ups are what’s left when skool is finished.” (Nigel Molesworth)

“If you don't like the ‘blame game,’ it’s usually because you’re to blame.” (Jon Stewart)

“Slang is for a war of signals.” (Unknown semiotician/palindromist)

“Science fiction is an argument with the world. When it becomes (solely) an argument within science fiction, it breathes recycled air.” (Ken MacLeod)

“I really don’t know what you do about the ‘taxes is theft’ crowd, except possibly enter a gambling pool regarding just how long after their no-tax utopia comes true that their generally white, generally entitled, generally soft and pudgy asses are turned into thin strips of Objectivist Jerky by the sort of pitiless sociopath who is actually prepped and ready to live in the world that logically follows these people’s fondest desires.” (John Scalzi)

“So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is ‘at war’ with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth, and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.” (Connor Kilpatrick)

“True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.” (Abdal-Hakim Murad)

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.” (John “Second US President” Adams)

“There is a document that records God’s endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion, known as the Bible.” (Terry Eagleton)

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop, And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” (Mario Savio)

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“To live is to war against the trolls.” (Henrik Ibsen)

“There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.” (G. K. Chesterton)

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

“It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” (Bill Hicks)

“I don’t think we have a language, will ever have a language, that can describe transcendence in any useful way and I am aware that that transcendence may be nothing more than the illusory aspiration of a decaying piece of meat on a random rock. The thing is to be humble enough to be content with that while acting to other people as generously as if better things were true, and making art as if it might survive and do good in the world. Because what else are we going to do with the few short years of our life?” (Roz Kaveney)

“I hate living in a satirical dystopia.” (Arthur Hlavaty)

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)

“Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.” (Iain Banks)

“If it doesn’t connect with people around you who aren’t like you, it isn’t politics.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

November 15, 2019
The revival of John M. Ford
Posted by Patrick at 06:23 AM * 80 comments

Just posted to Slate, by Isaac Butler: The Disappearance of John M. Ford.

Key takeaway to Making Light readers who remember John M. “Mike” Ford’s brilliant run as a co-blogger here: Tor will, indeed, be reissuing all of Mike’s novels, plus a new collection of short fiction and marginalia. We’ll also be publishing, for the first time, his unfinished final novel Aspects.

Huge thanks to the Ford family and to Tor executive editor Beth Meacham, who worked out this deal over the space of nearly a year. We could not possibly be more excited.

The program will begin with The Dragon Waiting in late 2020, then Aspects in early 2021.

Obviously, this program will not include Mike’s work written inside somebody else’s IP, such as, for instance, his two Star Trek novels.

Further schedule details will be forthcoming as we finalize them.

September 04, 2019
Hot times in the British Parliament
Posted by Teresa at 05:37 AM * 120 comments

I should be explaining what’s been going on in the British Parliament, with links and explanations. Unfortunately I can’t, because Patrick and I spent the evening talking about it, finding bits of good stuff to read aloud to each other, and cooking and eating dinner. This was irresponsible of us, because how often does one get to use the word “prorogue”?

What’s going on: Boris Johnson is trying to drag the UK through a (“catastrophic”, says anyone sensible) hard Brexit departure, the kind where there are no arrangements between the UK and the EU about how to handle this change. He also thought that in the meantime, it would be a good idea to prorogue Parliament — that is, get Parliament to shut down and do no business — until after the hard exit was a done deal.

I wasn’t the first person to observe that the last guy who went to that much trouble to keep Parliament from doing business lost his head.

Then Parliament rebelled. Ancient much-respected Tory stalwarts voted against the government, despite the threat to (less exciting than it sounds) “withdraw the whip.” In a dramatic gesture, while Johnson was speaking and waving his arms around, Tory MP Phillip Lee silently walked across the room to sit with the Liberal Democrats, thus costing the Tories their one-vote majority. Johnson was reduced to calling for a snap national election in mid-October, but that actually requires approval by a two-thirds majority, and the leaders of both Labour and the LibDems — who rarely act in such coordination — agreed that they weren’t going to give Johnson his election before Parliament passes a bill ruling out a no-deal exit. It was Boris Johnson’s first serious fight in Parliament, and he lost big. Theresa May was photographed this evening leaving Parliament with a big grin on her face.

I abjectly apologize for being so tired, but Patrick kept finding one irresistible story, after another. Feel free to post links to anything good that you find. I’ll see you first thing in the morning.

[Update from pnh: Teresa was in fact so tired that she didn’t actually publish this last night. Posting it for her now.]

August 03, 2019
Who we are
Posted by Patrick at 10:44 PM * 72 comments

Nobody reads this blog any more. But do read Kieran Healy.

A fundamental lesson of Sociology is that, in the course of making everyday life seem orderly and sensible, arbitrary things are made to seem natural and inevitable. Rituals, especially the rituals of childhood, are a powerful way to naturalize arbitrary things. As a child in Ireland, I thought it natural to take the very body of Christ in the form of a wafer of bread on my tongue. My own boy and girl, in America, think it natural that a school is a place where you must know what to do when someone comes there to kill the children.
As we used to wearily say back in the day: Read the fucking rest.
June 21, 2019
Open thread 222
Posted by Avram Grumer at 02:08 PM * 746 comments

The year 222 BCE saw the Roman Emperor Elagabalus assassinated by the Praetorian Guard, to be replaced by Alexander Severus, who was only 13 years old, young enough to have attended Hogwarts and studied potions under a teacher with whom he had a name in common.

Or, alternatively, to have attended the fictional Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles, where he might have learned about the assassination of his predecessor in a history class in Room 222.

April 07, 2019
Dysfunctional Families: Growing Wings
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:53 PM * 257 comments

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new entry to this community, and I know the comments on the last one have gotten unworkably long. I’m sorry. You deserve better.

There’s been stuff. There still is stuff. I’ll explain in the comments.

But I’d just like to point out that even with my highly intermittent presence, this community has continued, and continued to be a wonderful thing.

I’ll continue to be back as I can. But it fills me with so much delight to see the egg I hatched, the hatchling I fed, grow wings, spread them, and fly.


This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.

  1. If you want to participate but don’t want your posts linked to your contributions to the rest of Making Light, feel free to choose a pseudonym. But please keep it consistent within these threads, because people do care. You can create a separate (view all by) history for your pseudonym by changing your email address. And if you blow it and cross identities, give me a shout and I’ll come along and tidy it up.
  2. On a related note, please respect the people’s choice to use a pseudonym, unless they make it clear that they are willing to let the identities bleed over in people’s minds.
  3. If you’re not from a dysfunctional background, be aware that your realities and base expectations are not the default in this conversation. In particular, please don’t do the “they’re the only family you have” thing. Black is white, up is down, and your addressee’s mother may very well be their nemesis.
  4. Be even more careful, charitable, and gentle than you would elsewhere on Making Light. Try to avoid “helpiness”/”hlepiness” (those comments which look helpful, but don’t take account of the addressee’s situation and agency). Apologize readily and sincerely if you tread on toes, even unintentionally. This kind of conversation only works because people have their defenses down.
  5. Never underestimate the value of a good witness. If you want to be supportive but don’t have anything specific to say, people do value knowing that they are heard.

Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):

March 07, 2019
One man deserves the blame
Posted by Avram Grumer at 10:22 PM * 26 comments

Pretty sure we’ve all heard Tom Lehrer’s “Lobachevsky,” right? A song about plagiarism where all the bits of melody are stolen from other songs.

I just learned that even the idea for the song was stolen! Danny Kaye used to do a routine about the Russian theatrical director Konstantin Stanislavsky, and it’s the obvious basis for the Lehrer song. Lehrer credited Kaye in his intro to the song, which was left off the version on the album I listened to as a kid, but it’s on Genius.com.

December 15, 2018
Poesy
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:20 PM * 49 comments

Here’s something I put up on Facebook (originally as a reply to someone else’s thing) in March that I should have put here:

Hear the beating of the heart,
Deadly heart!
What a world of agony that music does impart!
How the beating, beating, beating,
Like a watch wrapped up in cotton.
’Neath the flooring, ’neath the seating,
All my plans it is defeating
With a pleasure misbegotten;
Going thump, thump, thump,
With a sort of muffled bump,
Oh the tachycardiation of his disembodied part!
And the beats, beats, beats, beats, beats, beats, beats—
Stop the roaring! Tear the flooring! There’s his heart!

December 10, 2018
So, that was a thing
Posted by Patrick at 08:45 PM * 38 comments

Our buzzer goes off. About 8 PM. We’re not expecting anyone.

I go downstairs. “Police,” announce the two guys outside our building front door.

WTF? I can’t think of any reason actual police should be demanding admittance to our Park Slope apartment.

(Yes, we moved since the last time I posted to Making Light, back in a long-ago geological era.)

I was suddenly very conscious of having said critical things about the NYPD on Twitter this very day.

Indeed, it tells you everything you need to know about the utter lack of democracy and freedom in 2018 America is that this is the first thing I thought. Americans used to mock the petty indignities of the Brezhnevite USSR. Now we accept them as normal.

“Do you have a warrant?” I asked. “We don’t need a warrant,” they answered.

“WE DON’T NEED A WARRANT” DING DING DING DING DING DING DING

Needless to say, we didn’t let them in.

Also needless to say, TNH phoned 911, and some perfectly nice actually-obviously-NYPD people came by and spoke with her. We didn’t let them into the building, either, but they didn’t make an issue of it.

As of 9PM tonight, we appear to be OK. But holy crap, that was a thing. If we didn’t know all of you? If we didn’t have the social capital we have?

There are people serving decades-long sentences — there are people on death row — because they didn’t have the friends and connections we do.