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March 29, 2010

The Hutaree Militia bust
Posted by Teresa at 09:14 PM * 320 comments

Anent the discussion that’s been going on in the Kristallnacht Revisited thread: over this past weekend, the FBI and ATF conducted raids in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, arresting eight members of Hutaree, a Michigan-based Christian militia group. A ninth member is still at large. They’ve been indicted for seditious conspiracy, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, teaching/demonstrating the use of explosive materials, and carrying, using, and possessing firearms in relation to a crime of violence.

Elevator pitch version: The Hutaree militia, an anti-government extremist organization, headquartered in (but by no means limited to) Michigan, advocates violence against local, state and federal law enforcement. It views them as “foot soldiers” for the federal government and a sinister “New World Order,” both of which the Hutaree identifies with the Antichrist. Government prosecutors are alleging that the Hutaree plotted to murder a law enforcement officer, set off a high-powered explosive device at the officer’s funeral in order to kill more law enforcement officers, hole up at prearranged fortified “rally points,” and issue a general call for an anti-government uprising.

Some of the riches of the web: here’s the government’s press release. TPM has the basic story plus mug shots. The BBC has a picture of Hutaree’s unit insignia. The “CCR” stands for “Colonial Christian Republic.” CBS has a photo swiped from Hutaree’s website showing members in their cammie jammies. Hutaree’s website is currently inaccessible, but their YouTube channel is still up. TPM has watched the videos, and points out that “Pale Horse,” one of the men arrested, put up a video warning citizens to arm themselves shortly before Obama was elected. The Southern Poverty Law Center noticed the video when it went up, and expressed concern. (The Detroit Free Press and the Christian Science Monitor agree with them.) Hutaree also put up a video showing them burning a UN flag. This is in line with an article that was on their site, “10 Horns of the European Super State, Mr. Europe and 7 years of peace in Israel,” which you can still find summarized here and reproduced without permission there. (I recommend the summarized version. Central argument: Javier Solana may be the Antichrist!) Here’s a partial version of Hutaree’s website on Wayback. Also on Wayback: Hutaree’s religious doctrine, which doesn’t say much about them. And Hutaree’s rank system, which is bizarre: Gunner, Senior Gunner, Master Gunner, Lukore, Bronze Rifleman, Silver Rifleman, Gold Rifleman, Arkon, Zulif, Boramander, and Radok. Jim’s not in a position to check, but he thinks the weird ones might be borrowed from the Enochian system (which as you know, Bob, was invented by Edward Kelly when he was trying to get into John Dee’s bank account and Mrs. Dee’s pants.) (Update! “Justin” in the comment thread at Language Log has this one nailed: “According to http://www.hutaree.com/forum/read.php?12,140,140 , Hutaree’s from a conlang of what I assume is one of the followers. It means ‘Christian Warrior’. I’d gather that the other ranks are from the same conlang.” He quotes an entry from the Hutaree forum by one RD-Merzonik, February 20, 2009 06:43AM, which says, “The word Hutaree, is from our own dilect, there are only about 4 people in the world that know this language, of course me being 1,lol.” This makes me feel very cheerful about having described their nomenclature (vide infra) as “bad fantasy slush names.”)

But I very nearly digress. (Did I mention that Wikipedia has referred the Hutaree entry to articles for deletion? Never mind.) Onward.

Michigan is oversupplied with militia groups, but insofar as militia enthusiasts have been heard from, they’re busily distancing themselves from the Hutaree:

Michael Lackomar, a spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, said one of his team leaders got a frantic phone call Saturday evening from members of Hutaree, a Christian militia group, who said their property in southwest Michigan was being raided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“They said they were under attack by the ATF and wanted a place to hide,” Lackomar said. “My team leader said, ‘no thanks.’ ”

Lackomar allowed that while eight or ten Hutaree members had trained with the SMVM twice in the past three years (SMVM holds monthly “survival training and shooting practice” sessions), none of the raids had focused on his group. He also pronounced Hutaree’s alleged methods “despicable.”

How big is the Hutaree? Good question. Three datapoints: first, it was a three-state raid. Second, Telegraph.co.uk interviewed one of the neighbors:

On Saturday, agents swarmed a rural, wooded property belonging to the group, about 70 miles southwest of Detroit. Phyllis Brugger, who has lived in the area for more than 30 years, said some people who lived there were known as having ties to militia. They would shoot guns and often wore camouflage, according to Mrs Brugger and her daughter, Heidi Wood.

“Everybody knew they were militia,” she said. “You don’t mess with them.”

About a month ago, 50 vehicles showed up on the property, and the women said neighbours assumed something bad was going on.

Needless to say, that many cars implies a sizeable organization. Third, there’s this bit from the indictment (so remember to say “alleged”):
On or about February 6, 2010, several conspirators attempted to travel to Kentucky to attend a summit of militia groups convened by DAVID BRIAN STONE. … The purpose of the summit of militia groups was to facilitate better communications, cooperation, and coordination between the various militias.
The group’s exact size must remain indeterminate, but we’re not looking at a case of folie à neuf ou dix.

Are the Hutaree religious extremists or anti-government extremists? I’d say the latter. Their religious doctrine is barely there. They may talk a lot about Jesus, but their timing and plans appear to be driven by secular concerns.

The clearest account of the government’s case is the indictment itself. You can read the whole pdf here or here. Alternately, you can read the good parts version right here, because I’ve transcribed it:

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
SOUTHERN DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff,

vs.

D-1 DAVID BRIAN STONE, a.k.a. “RD,” a.k.a. “Joe Stonewall,” a.k.a. “Captain Hutaree,”
D-2 DAVID BRIAN STONE, JR., a.k.a. “Junior,”
D-3 JOSHUA MATTHEW STONE, a.k.a. “Josh,”
D-4 TINA MAE STONE,
D-5 JOSHUA JOHN CLOUGH, a.k.a “Azzurlin,” a.k.a. “Az,” a.k.a. “Mouse,” a.k.a. “Jason Z. Charles,”
D-6 MICHAEL DAVlD MEEKS, a.k.a. “Mikey,
D-7 THOMAS WILLIAM PIATEK,
D-8 KRISTOPHER T. SICKLES, a.k.a. “Pale Horse,”
D-9 JACOB J. WARD, a.k.a. “Jake,” a.k.a. “Nate,” a.k.a. “Guhighllo,”

Defendants.

I’m sure there are good and necessary legal reasons why every time their names come up, they’re all-caps with a full list of aliases following them. I figure you guys can take those bits as read, so I cut out most of the repeats. Wherever I’ve included one of their names all-caps, followed by an ellipsis, you can assume I’m skipping their aliases.
INDICTMENT

THE GRAND JURY CHARGES THAT:

GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

At all relevant times described herein, there existed an organization known as the: “HUTAREE”, based in Lenawee County Michigan, which is an anti-government extremist organization which advocates violence against local, state, and Federal law enforcement.

The defendants, DAVID BRIAN STONE, a.k.a. “RD,” a.k.a. “Joe Stonewall,” a.k.a. “Captain Hutaree,” DAVID BRIAN STONE, JR., a.k.a. “Junior,” JOSHUA MATTHEW STONE, a.k.a. “Josh,” TINA MAE STONE, JOSHUA JOHN CLOUGH, a.k.a. “Azzurlin,”a.k.a. “Az,” a.k.a. “Mouse,” a.k.a. “Jason Z. Charles,” MICHAEL DAVID MEEKS, a.k.a. “Mikey,” THOMAS WILLIAM PIATEK, KRISTOPHER T. SICKLES, a.k.a. “Pale Horse,” JACOB J. WARD, a.k.a. “Jake,” a.k.a. “Nate,” a.k.a. “Guhighllo,” and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, are members of the HUTAREE. Some HUTAREE members are identifiable by their tiger stripe camouflage uniforms with a distinct shoulder patch which contains a black cross, two brown vertical pillars which form the letter “H” in combination with the black cross, two red spears, a brown V shape at the base of the cross symbolizing the supporting hands of the HUTAREE, and the initials “CCR.”

The HUTAREE’s enemies include state and local law enforcement, who are deemed “footsoldiers” of the Federal government, Federal law enforcement agencies and employees, participants in the “New World Order,” and anyone who does not share in the HUTAREE’s beliefs.

Since at least 2008, the HUTAREE has been meeting regularly to conduct military-style training in Lenawee County, located in the Eastern District of Michigan, and elsewhere. The purpose of this training has been to plan and prepare for the impending war with the HUTAREE’s enemies.

As used herein, the term “weapon of mass destruction” has the meaning set forth in Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332a(c)(2), including any destructive device as defined in Title 18, United States Code, Section 921.

COUNT ONE
(18 U.S.C. 2384 — SEDITIOUS CONSPIRACY)

(Skipped list of names.)
From on or about August 16, 2008, and continuing thereafter up to and including the date of the filing of this indictment, in the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, and elsewhere, the defendants … acting as a militia group known as the HUTAREE, did knowingly conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to levy war against the United States, to oppose by force the authority of the Government of the United States, and to prevent, hinder, and delay by force the execution of any United States law.
Various parties—Firedoglake comes to mind—have been complaining that the government is charging the Hutaree with seditious conspiracy and with trying to use WMDs, rather than calling it terrorism. I can think of one really good reason to do that. “Terrorism” is an inadequately precise and excessively exciting term that makes it hard to pin down what we’re talking about. In the years since 9/11 it’s been misused and overused like crazy. Why not go back to using the serviceable legal language and concepts that existed long before the planes hit the towers? Terrorism is a tactic. Seditious conspiracy is a definable action.
THE MEANS AND METHODS USED TO FURTHER THE OBJECTS OF THE CONSPIRACY

At all relevant times described herein, the defendant DAVID BRIAN STONE … has been the principal leader of the HUTAREE and he has organized the HUTAREE into two operational units led by himself and one of his sons, defendant JOSHUA MATTHEW STONE. … Another son, defendant DAVID BRIAN STONE, JR. … served as an explosives instructor and demonstrator, and participated in operational planning and training. The defendant DAVID BRIAN STONE … also established a HUTAREE rank structure, assigned HUTAREE names to members of the organization, and created HUTAREE words for various military formations and maneuvers.

Bad fantasy slush names. According to the Hutaree, their group’s name means “Christian warrior,” but I have yet to see anyone identify the language that comes from.

Pay attention to the next paragraph. The Hutaree plan that all the mainstream news sources are citing was only one of their ideas.

The general concept of operations provided that the HUTAREE would commit some violent act to draw the attention of law enforcement or government officials and which would prompt a response by law enforcement. Possible such acts which were discussed included killing a member of law enforcement after a traffic stop, killing a member of law enforcement and his or her family at home, ambushing a member of law enforcement in rural communities, luring a member of law enforcement with a false 911 emergency call and then killing him or her, and killing a member of law enforcement and then attacking the funeral procession motorcade with weapons of mass destruction. These acts would intimidate and demoralize law enforcement, diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective.
These people may be doofuses, but they have ugly imaginations, and they act on them.
The general concept of operations further provided that, once such action was taken, HUTAREE members would then retreat to one of several “rally points” where the HUTAREE would wage war against the government and be prepared to defend in depth with trip-wired and command detonated anti-personnel Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), ambushes, and prepared fighting positions. It is believed by the HUTAREE that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more wide-spread uprising against the Government.

The conspirators planned for and trained for the armed conflict against local, state, and Federal law enforcement by engaging in the following means and methods, among others, within the Eastern District of Michigan and elsewhere:

a. Conspirators acquired firearms, magazines, and ammunition, explosives and other components for destructive devices, uniforms, communications equipment, supply and ammunition vehicles, and medical and other supplies.

b. Conspirators engaged in military-style training in anticipation of the planned for military operations to include firearms and explosives training, weapons proficiency drills, patrolling and reconnaissance exercises, close quarter battle drills, and “man-down” drills, and prepared defensive fighting positions, ambush kill zones, and storage bunkers. During these training sessions, each conspirator in attendance carried and used at least one firearm. This training has also included instruction and demonstrations regarding the manufacturing and use of destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

c. DAVID BRIAN STONE … planned the killing of an unidentified member of local law enforcement. As a consequence of this act, law enforcement officers from throughout the nation would be drawn to and gather in the Eastern District of Michigan for the funeral. According to the plan, the HUTAREE would then attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) with Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFP). Subsequently, and in furtherance of this plan, DAVID BRIAN STONE … obtained information about such devices over the internet and emailed diagrams of such devices to a person he believed capable of manufacturing the devices. Also, in furtherance of this plan, JOSHUA MATTHEW STONE … and others provided materials necessary for the manufacturing of such devices at the direction of DAVID BRIAN STONE. …

EFPs are nasty.
d. DAVID BRIAN STONE … also announced to conspirators a covert reconnaissance exercise scheduled for April 2010, during which exercise anyone who happened upon the exercise who did not acquiesce to HUTAREE demands could be killed. DAVID BRIAN STONE further advised his conspirators that HUTAREE training scheduled for February and March would be devoted to preparing for this exercise.
One non-Hutaree militia type in Michigan is being quoted as saying that the government targeted Hutaree because of their anti-Muslim sentiments, but I’m not sure I believe that. I think they were targeted because they’re simultaneously the loosest of loose cannons and genuinely dangerous, and the government busted them when they did because they were about to put potentially violent plans into action.

I think the government’s been watching these guys for a while now.

e. On or about February 6, 2010, several conspirators attempted to travel to Kentucky to attend a summit of militia groups convened by DAVID BRIAN STONE. … The purpose of the summit of militia groups was to facilitate better communications, cooperation, and coordination between the various militias. In anticipation of the summit, DAVID BRIAN STONE … solicited a person he believed capable of manufacturing destructive devices to provide him with four anti-personnel Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) to take with them to the summit. Although weather conditions prevented them from reaching their destination, DAVID BRIAN STONE … identified law enforcement officers in a specific community near his residence, and one officer in particular, as potential targets of attack.
Vague plans and big talk are one thing. Narrowing it down to one group of officers, and one officer within that group, is specific intent, and they were acting on it (allegedly).
f. On or about February 20, 2010, conspirators gathered in Lenawee County in the Eastern District of Michigan and engaged in training devoted to preparing for the planned covert reconnaissance exercise described above. Each of the conspirators in attendance carried and used at least one firearm.
The General Allegations are incorporated by reference, as if set forth in full herein, all in violation of Section 2384 of Title 18 of the United States Code.

COUNT TWO
(18 U.S.C. 2332a(a)(2) — ATTEMPT TO USE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

Summary: it is alleged that they attempted to use explosive bombs, explosive mines, and other explosive devices against law enforcement officers and vehicles; and that they used “facilities of interstate commerce” (email, internet, telephones), and crossed state lines and caused others to cross state lines, in furtherance of the offense.
COUNT THREE
(18 U.S.C. 842(p)(2) — TEACHING/DEMONSTRATING USE OF EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS)
This is a separate charge covering David Brian Stone, Jr., teaching and demonstrating explosives technology, and both Davids Brians Stone distributing information about it with the intent that it be used for or in furtherance of a Federal crime of violence.
COUNT FOUR
(18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1) — CARRYING, USING, AND POSSESSING A FIREARM DURING AND IN RELATION TO A CRIME OF VIOLENCE)

COUNT FIVE
(18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1) — CARRYING, USING, AND POSSESSING A FIREARM DURING AND IN RELATION TO A CRIME OF VIOLENCE)

The last two counts are nearly self-explanatory. For those of you who aren’t familiar with U.S. law, many criminal offenses become more serious if you crossed state lines in the course of them, and most criminal offenses become more serious if you were carrying a gun at the time.

Since I have no chance of getting called for jury duty on this case, I’m free to air my prejudices. I’m glad they busted the Hutaree. They’re not criminal masterminds, but few criminals are. These guys sound like they’re competent enough to be dangerous.

Are there other militia groups out there whose plans are as wicked and as concretely plausible, if not more so? I’d say that’s a given. And I hope the government is watching them too.

Update: P J Evans and Rea differentiate counts four and five:

P J Evans @15: Counts 4 and 5 don’t involve the same people. Some of them are named in both, but some are only named in one.

Rea @32: Two different dates: Count IV is an incident in August 2009; Count V is an incident in February 2010.

And so they are. Thank you both.
Comments on The Hutaree Militia bust:
#1 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 10:24 PM:

EFPs - I was thinking they were building something more like home-made claymores, or something loaded with flechettes.

I'm glad they busted what sounds like the core of this group. Nuts, yes, but well-armed and dangerous nuts (even if they weren't going to be getting the uprising they called for).

#2 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 10:29 PM:

Language Log has a thread in which one commenter indicates that the titles may be from a conlang invented by the group.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 10:44 PM:

2
The beast jokes quoted on that page are kind of funny, actually.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:09 PM:

The beast jokes are funny, but they aren't original to that site. They've been around for a while.

Julie L., thank you for the pointer. I've altered the main entry, and posted my thanks in the comment thread at Language Log. I'll take "juvenile conlang" as a synonym for "bad fantasy slush names" any day.

#5 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:16 PM:

I'm afraid the first thing I noticed was not the dementedness or dangerousness of these people but their bizarre use of language.

I mean, look at Jacob J. Ward. One of his aliases was 'Guhighllo'. Isn't it one of the paramount attributes of an alias that it's pronounceable? That name makes Grignr look oversupplied with vowels... maybe it came from the same conlang that gave us Boramander and Radok? (And, perhaps, the Mekon?)

#6 ::: Shane ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:20 PM:

Edit: Counts Four and Five are the same. One is supposed to be re State Lines?

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:22 PM:

It's the same conlang that gave us Boramander and Radok; but the Mekon is Dave Langford's brother.

#8 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:33 PM:

I thought the Mekon was a river in Vietnam.
I hate it when bad guys hog the cool names.
I'm glad they got the @#$%^&'s, but I wonder if there's others they missed. And if any harmless people/groups are going to get busted or harassed too, and so on.
Actually I wondered for a momentif "Hutaree" was derived from "people who eat at Hooters". [.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000666, the number of the least]

#9 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:39 PM:

Nix@5: "Guhighllo" seems like one of those words that's meant to be read like Shaw's "ghoti" (pronounced 'fish') or John Scalzi's cat "ghlaghee."

I'm prounouncing "G" as in Gelatin, "u" as in Buy, "hi" an in His, "gh" as in Rough, "ll" as in Llama (en Español), and "o" as in Ransom, and therefore pronouncing "Guhighllo" as "Jahaiffia."

I'm sure that a cleverer wordsmith could make it come out to "Geoffrey." Or possibly "Jennifer."

#10 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:45 PM:

I'm having trouble keeping my mind away from references to the Hutterites, which seems exceptionally inappropriate.

#11 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:47 PM:

I'm an old slush reader, and what "Guhighllo" looks like to me is a word devised to look interesting on the page, not to say out loud. My inner reader's voice thinks it's pronounced "Goo High Low," or possibly "Goo Hiyo," depending on whether Goo is Welsh or Spanish.

#12 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2010, 11:51 PM:

Shane, either there's a subtle difference between counts four and five I'm not seeing, or one of them is a clerical error. I expect we'll hear about it soon enough.

The part about crossing state lines came in earlier. I mentioned it there as part of the explanation about circumstances that make everything worse.

#13 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:24 AM:

Teresa @11: I was thinking "Goo High Low" as well.

I Was reading their site earlier and one thing comes to mind. What is it with the nutter groups like this and bad web design? Their site has all sorts strange info. Trolls of all sorts are having a field day with their public forum since it is now unmoderated. Looks like 4chan is in on the action.

Also wasn't the last time we saw this during a the Clinton years? Is there something about a president that is a democrat that sets them off?

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:24 AM:

Teresa @ 7... The Mekon? Shouldn't someone call Dan Dare?

#15 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:25 AM:

Counts 4 and 5 don't involve the same people. Some of them are named in both, but some are only named in one.

#16 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:30 AM:

This is really ugly. These dipshits fantasize about using IEDs, currently being used in Afghanistan to kill American soldiers, against fellow Americans. They fantasize about killing the families of law enforcement officers. They call themselves "foot soldiers."

I'd like to drag these gun-toting fools to Camp Pendleton, or Camp Lejeune, wearing their tiger-stripe camos with their f*cking shoulder patches, and have them explain their seditious, criminal, murderous plans to the Marines who train there. Soldiers, huh? I don't think so.

I guess I'm a bit pissed off.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:07 AM:

And once more, the assholes think that their atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up.

#18 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:23 AM:

Stefan @17: It's part of their complex. It's the Red Dawn scenario. They are the Wolverines and we are the Soviet occupiers.

They think they are true americans/children of god preparing for the end times. So their actions are viewed in a wartime occupation scenario. That is how they justify it.

They view themselves not as nutjobs killing innocents. They think they are heroes that will inspire the masses with their vision and sacrifices and acts like in some book or B movie. You could almost pity them if they weren't so dangerous and destructive in their delusion.

#19 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:24 AM:

Stefan @17: It's part of their complex. It's the Red Dawn scenario. They are the Wolverines and we are the Soviet occupiers.

They think they are true americans/children of god preparing for the end times. So their actions are viewed in a wartime occupation scenario. That is how they justify it.

They view themselves not as nutjobs killing innocents. They think they are heroes that will inspire the masses with their vision and sacrifices and acts like in some book or B movie. You could almost pity them if they weren't so dangerous and destructive in their delusion.

#20 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:52 AM:

It will be very good to see them get a fair and proper trial. May it be speedy. And if they are found guilty, may they get serious jail time.

#21 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:04 AM:

Lizzy, #16: I think you've misread the post slightly. Here's the relevant bit:

Elevator pitch version: The Hutaree militia, an anti-government extremist organization, headquartered in (but by no means limited to) Michigan, advocates violence against local, state and federal law enforcement. It views them as "foot soldiers" for the federal government and a sinister "New World Order," both of which the Hutaree identifies with the Antichrist. (emphasis mine)

These thugs don't think of themselves as "foot soldiers" (except in the sense explained by Larry @18). They think of civilian LEOs as "foot soldiers" for the government they despise.

Or at least that's how I read it.

#22 ::: Nathaniel Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:24 AM:

I'm getting "Guhighllo" as a 'clever' version "Julio".

Which is a name that -- around here at least -- would code as Hispanic, which seems out of character for modern nut-jobs of the right-wing persuasion, but who knows.

#23 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:32 AM:

Re Stefan@17:

Why do people think that that "atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up"? What story are they reading, what world-view are they adopting, what line of goods exactly are they buying?

This isn't a usual method of getting the changes you want, after all. If my neighborhood pizzeria gave me a lousy pizza, and I wanted revenge^Wjustice, I would get it by... telling everybody I know that they served me lousy pizza, so that they'd lose customers. If I were really annoyed, I might start a website. But I definitely wouldn't form a master-plan to punch the pizza guy on the nose and expect that doing so would make all the other customers realize that the pizza was not what it should be, and rise up against it.

In what version of history does killing a bunch of innocent cops^W^Wfoot-soldiers actually work as step one of the revolution? Are they really working from Red Dawn, or is this based on a really shallow understanding of the start of the American revolutionary war?

Or something else?

#24 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:56 AM:

Contrary to earlier reports, the Hutaree website forum is still operational. It's getting more attention than it's used to and throws 503 errors with some regularity, but it does work.

Importantly, the sysadmin for the site is currently in jail, which effectively leaves the forums unmoderated. The rabble in attendance are having quite a spot of fun at the expense of the Hutaree. Most visiting public seem to think the Hutaree are cranks or worse. Some comments are severely profane; be warned.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:58 AM:

So, the Hutaree like estranged language well enough to invent it, but not think about it? How common. They've got a case of Pretty Name Syndrome.

Look at "Hutaree" itself. It's supposed to mean "Christian warrior(s)," but "Christian" has a name buried in it that persists from language to language. Where's the morpheme in "Hutaree" that corresponds -- however repronounced or otherwise altered -- to "Christ"?

If no part of it derives from Christ/Christian, then "Hutaree" must be a descriptive term; but if so, there has to be a context for it. Descriptions always bring their context with them, so what does this one mean? Is "Hutaree" a portmanteau combining the words for goyish and street brawler? Is "Huta" the possessive form of "Hutang," the name of that old snelfrokki trader who takes every seventh day off to worship a god with red dots on his hands and feet? Or is it something else that's truly weird?

One way you can spot their nomenclature of rank as bad made-up fantasy language is that the names that are in English contain repeating forms, but those invented from whole cloth are completely separate, without so much as a shared inflection: Lukore, Arkon, Zulif, Boramander, Radok. Compare that with editorial assistant, assistant editor, editor, senior editor, or first lieutenant, second lieutenant, lieutenant commander, commander in chief. Bad fantasy languages with Pretty Name Syndrome are like meals where every dish is a dessert. It's not strangeness as new worlds are strange; it's strangeness for its own sake, mere exoticism.

I do like working cryptograms on long plane flights, but when you look at it the right way, decrypting them is a process of turning fabulously exotic-looking inscriptions into sententious little epigrams. Say you start off with a cryptogram that looks like this:

FWZN RVZETF EON EF KWWC EF BRNPO GWOC. BRN BRPTK PF, BRWVKR, TWG ETC EKEPT BRNPO GWOC PF TW KWWC.

For a moment it looks wonderfully strange (assuming you're not the kind of crypto whiz for whom patterns like "EF KWWC EF" jump out like barking dogs). After a moment, though, you spot the Achilles' heel of single-letter substitution codes in natural English: a recurrent three-letter word that shares its first two letters with a bunch of other words. In the case of this cryptogram, it's dead easy to spot: BRN is the. So you do the replacements:

FWZe hVZETF EOe EF KWWC EF thePO GWOC. the thPTK PF, thWVKh, TWG ETC EKEPT thePO GWOC PF TW KWWC.

The word starting with "th" that has a comma before and after it, thWVKh, has got to be though, so you do W = o, V = u, K = g. It's now obvious that P = i, so you do that too, at which point it becomes obvious that O = r and TK = ng.

FoZe huZETF Ere EF gooC EF their GorC. the thing iF, though, noG EnC EgEin their GorC iF to gooC.

The mystery is evaporating as fast as dry ice in a desert: F has to be s, and E has to be a. This in turn strips any remaining ambiguity from Z, C, T, and G. You shrug and fill in the missing letters:

Some humans are as good as their word. The thing is, though, now and again their word is no good.

Well, yeah. It's true, but it's not very interesting. The artificial strangeness is gone. Now it's just language, saying the kind of things language says.

Learning any language will do that. Mystery and exoticism are properties of languages you don't know -- of words you've either made up, or appropriated from someone else's speech. In a language you know how to speak, you're no wiser or more powerful than you ever were.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:12 AM:

Mattathias, I can recognize a site that's been hammered flat by too much traffic.

The abuse that's accumulating in the Hutaree forum is nothing to write home about. What that site needs is a cadre of invading posters from one of the online communities that practice abuse as an artform.

#27 ::: alex ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:44 AM:

So, repeating my question from the other thread, are these kind of people nuts we can rely on the authorities to take care of, or the tip of an angry-white-folks iceberg that's going to tear the USA apart? Or are they the one that might become the other, or what?

IMO, the USA has survived 250 years of anrgy white folks, gradually clawing its way by fits and starts towards a semblance of civil society, and I mostly expect that process to continue, but I'm interested to hear if anyone's got any actual arguments that there is a real systemic 'danger' beyond what is in historical fact pretty much business-as-usual - an ugly, occasionally violent, frequently paranoid politics of asserted ethno-religious entitlement.

#28 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:59 AM:

Teresa @ 25: I think you meant "morpheme," not "phoneme." In English, the first phoneme in Christ is a mere /k/, but Christ is a morpheme in and of itself. Phonemes are just tiny sounds; morphemes are what start to have meanings.

On every other point, you express an exasperation with their stupid claims of having a real language that I also feel. There is no conlang here. This is just a sad little jargon, as if I said that cats were Gargelorums of the East and dogs were Merseybeat Fantods and rabbits were Biosmeerps. I would bet a case of homebrew that this sekrit pseudo-Christian ur-language has no grammar, no morphology, and no corpus. Heck, I would bet a dollar or two that this alleged language has no actual verbs, no prepositions (or equivalent ways to make prepositional phrases), and not even a single declarative sentence of even five words written in it.

From what seems to be online, this alleged "language" might just be a collection of nouns. I'd bet they have no more real a conlang than the KKK did back when they decided that their groups were klaverns and their handbook was a kloran and their let's-terrorize-honest-folks plotting was (no fooling!) a klonversation.

Hell, Basic English is more legitimate a conlang than these would-be-murderous jokers ever had.

(Where I come from, that's fighting words.)

#29 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:30 AM:

Lighthill @23 "Why do people think that that "atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up"? What story are they reading, what world-view are they adopting, what line of goods exactly are they buying?"

Unfortunately, as I recall, the US government was prey to the same delusion before it invaded Iraq. It seems quite a widespread world-view in the US (and other places). Only the definition of 'atrocities' varies, sadly.

#30 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:01 AM:

Aren't they the little chaps who live among the tall elephant grass and are always leaping up and shouting "We're the Hutawee"?

#31 ::: jt ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:21 AM:

wow, the ego and naivety that Jesus would need or enlist the likes of this crew to subdue the evil antichrist, I don't think so. they've not only usurped the faith and failed miserably in their self proclaimed mission, potentially aiding and abetting the antichrist (which I doubt would need their help either). they have far far worse cast a bleak pall over legitimate law abiding believers, supporters and members and genuine militias as intended and provided in our constitution

#32 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:51 AM:

Shane, either there's a subtle difference between counts four and five I'm not seeing, or one of them is a clerical error.

Two different dates: Count IV is an incident in August 2009; Count V is an incident in February 2010. Crossing state lines, of course, is an event of considerable significance to federal jurisdiction.

#33 ::: dr.hypercube ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 08:00 AM:

#26 TNH - *cough*/b/tards*cough*?

I accept the conlang explanation, but that didn't stop me from googling for an excellent Pokemon Revelations web comic I remember seeing. Sadly, it seems to have vanished.

#34 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:01 AM:

re the comical rank-names:

"arkon" looks like it might be inspired by greek "arkhôn", sc. ruler, leader. this is used a few times in the septuagint and nt, and then gets used very widely in gnostic literature.

more pertinently, the wiki tells me that "archon" is used as a rank in a lot of fraternities and fraternal orgs. familiarity with delta phi whuzzup sounds more plausible for these bozos than an extensive reading of iraneus adversus haereses.

also: "boramander" sounds like a mash-up of "commander", "salamander", and some third formant? ("boor", obviously, or "bore me").

my great hope for this crew is that they fall of the media radar and are dealt with in the normal way--prosecution, sentencing, jail-time, etc. the worst thing--for the country in general--is for them to become celebrities.

#35 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:07 AM:

#25, meet #28: Abcd efghaijfkl dmnamnem ni omfp.

#36 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:12 AM:

Teresa, while it's amusing to picture Dave Langford's brother as the Mekon, this is not the case. Jon was in a band named 'The Mekons' after the green-skinned, bulbous-headed Venusian despot who was the arch-enemy of British comics character Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future.

#37 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:23 AM:

boramander: "brother+commander"

Lighthill@23:

In spite of the differences, I can't but think upon reading you of The Weather Underground, especially as portrayed in that documentary. There seems to be a natural inefficiency of violence to propagate messages across the main communities of citizens past the original spike shock of awareness. Which is yet another reason why terrorism can't fulfill its declared aims (but is good at fulfilling others).

#38 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:33 AM:

You know, there's plenty of local languages that aren't real but aren't nonch either. And most folks who harp a beemsch don't go on to grab an equalizer and start some kind of dulcy dreeking. Sometimes sharkin' is just a way of being ridgy, making it clear who's a hood and who's not. And these things can go on for years without becoming Sol's grandmother or philologically correct.

(No, I don't harp even a wee swib. I'm a hood myself, but I've met those as do.)

#39 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:53 AM:

I don't get the whole "using guns to fight the Antichrist" bit anyway. Haven't they ever seen an episode of Doctor Who? Alien menaces (in which category the Antichrist would surely fall) are immune to bullets.

#40 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:22 AM:

Lee at 21, you're correct: I did misread. My sentiment stands, though. These folks clearly want to consider themselves warriors. They call themselves a militia, and that's how their neighbors think of them. And they want to kill those neighbors. I'd like them to meet some real warriors. It might also be instructive for them to meet some real Christians, as well. Maybe they could be stripped of their weapons and camouflage and sent to work with Catholic Relief Services in Haiti, feeding people and putting up tents.

#42 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:32 AM:

Dave Weingart @39 --

It's insecurity management.

Not very bright, no real skills, basically -- and this is a huge disadvantage in a society with fast pervasive and persistent communications -- mean; believes Fredrick the Great's really lamentable dictum about hate and fear.

Throw into that the very probable expectation of greatness -- "as good as anybody" mutates easily into "as good as anybody and better than some"; "better than some" mutates easily into "better than most"; by then it has tended to lose the egalitarian sentiment entirely, so it's just "better than most" -- from cultural surrounds and the complete lack of sufficient ability and introspective skill to articulate or examine the actual degree of emotional complexity involved in their imagination of the world, and combine with the generic right-wing rage at there being anyone or anything that can tell them what to do (I persist in a belief that there's something about child rearing practices involved in this) and you get a group of people from whom shooting officers of the law is the obvious right thing to do because it is what they can do to express their greatness.

(Brass-case cartridge firearms have had a hundred-plus years now to get really simple and really reliable; the ability to shoot decently is readily trained into anyone not direly halt. But it's got the faded glory of the sword sticking to it, and the bizarre entanglements of manliness, and gets a lot more credit than it ought for significance of action, as though this was three hundred years ago and the risks and the skill required were substantial things. I can't think of anything else that used to be difficult that has kept the attached significance in such degree while the difficulty has been removed by technological advances, and there's probably a reason for that.)

Why going to jail should be easier than saying to one's self "OK, I'm mean and I'm not good for much and I ought to work on this" is more than I can say, but, really, there's an awful, awful lot of this that rests on not having to say something like that. (Or admit that anyone, anywhere, can ever tell you what to do.)

#43 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:34 AM:

These indictments always terrify me. I, and many people I know, have done a lot of the things listed. Are these things illegal? Generally not; it's certainly not illegal to buy weapons, or to train to use them, or to study small-unit tactics.

I don't know the current state of the law on explosives, but I know there is something of an "explosives fandom", people who have a harmless interest in playing with them (and know enough to retain all their fingers while doing so). Count 3 suggests the law has gotten a lot stricter on this. But I've seen video-tapes from the Houghton Berserker that clearly included "demonstrating the use of explosive materials" (det-cord net with dynamite at the junctions, lowered into a pond and touched off).

Mixed in with things I consider "normal" in the indictment are various serious bits -- like planning to kill people who stumble on the reconnaissance operation and don't do what they're told. Still just a plan, but I would probably (after seeing the evidence presented) consider it a credible plan.

Actually, counts 4 and 5 bother me too. They're invoking the full "crime of violence" concepts, but no crime and no violence have yet occurred.

I wonder just how much the owners of those 50 vehicles knew about what the leaders of the militia were doing?

I might favor locking them up just for their linguistic crimes, though :-).

#44 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:42 AM:

Dave@39: My theology is not the best, and it's also not specific to any one sect (since I've learned it as an outsider); but isn't "Armageddon" supposed to be a battle largely fought by humans with human weapons, but still against the Antichrist? If so, then it makes some level of sense to prepare yourself for it by practicing with conventional military weapons and tactics. (The whole thing, of course, makes no sense at all, but that's a separate issue.)

#45 ::: Lektu ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:53 AM:

Teresa, I agree with you about the Pretty Name Syndrome and bad (sometimes really bad) fantasy languages (I hate when a fantasy author writes a wonderful book but it is unable to make the phonetics of invented names and terms minimally coherent).

But, FWIW, there are actual, thriving languages where "Christian" does not derive from "Christ". [Caveat lector: According to the Wikipedia,] the hebrew term is apparently "notzrim", and in arabic is common to use "naṣrānī" (both meaning "nazarene").

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:59 AM:

43
I suspect that their inside person, or whoever was talking to the feds, passed the word that these people were planning to move within the next week or so, and whatever they were planning would result in bodies.

And on their belief that this would start an uprising in their favor:
The thought that ideas of starting revolutions are like black holes: if you go far enough, you end up in a kind of pocket universe where the only input is from people who already agree with you.

#47 ::: Lektu ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 10:59 AM:

"but it is unable".

For some value of "it" which includes people, of course :-)

[Sorry for my English]

#48 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:11 AM:

David Dyer-Bennet @43: I just looked up the relevant bits in the US Code, and they all seem to have wording that means these activities are only illegal in the context of preparing to commit a federal crime of violence. I would agree that overly-broadly-worded laws are a problem, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.

On the fantasy ranks front, even relatively serious organisations can succumb; witness the proposed rank titles for the newly-formed RAF.

#49 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:18 AM:

#23 ::: Lighthill

"Why do people think that that "atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up"? What story are they reading, what world-view are they adopting, what line of goods exactly are they buying?"

Perhaps their model is King Mithradates's conspiracy to slaughter the Romans who were taxing and slaving and brutalizing their asian province, i.e. Bythnia, etc., into a hatred for themselves the Romans self-satisfaction couldn't imagine.

Love, C.

#50 ::: Tom S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:19 AM:

David @43: Be careful reading legal documents as through they were in plain English. A "crime of violence" can include planning to use violence -- not just the physical act.

As to count 3, the fundamental difference is that these people undertook this explosives training with the intent of furthering a criminal act. Just "playing around" with explosves is a crime in many cases, but unless it's linked to an intent to perform another crime, it's not something that gets a lot of attention.

#51 ::: spidervet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:19 AM:

Delurking to say that I can't be the first person to read this post who immediately thought of the Moxy Fruvous song 'Michigan Militia'*

*and Indiana and Ohio as well, I know, but those states aren't so alliterative.

#52 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:24 AM:

Tom@50: That's kind of my point. People will say "Oh, yes, it's clearly suitable to enhance penalties for crimes of violence"; but when they say that, most people mean actual crimes of violence, and are unaware that they're agreeing to enhancing penalties for things they don't think of that way.

#53 ::: MEC ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:35 AM:

My objection to the government's omission of terrorism from the charges against them is that the omission supports the conclusion that it's only considered terrorism if the perpetrator is brown-skinned, non-native American, and/or Muslim.

#54 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:35 AM:

Teresa @ 26:
What that site needs is a cadre of invading posters from one of the online communities that practice abuse as an artform.

But all of us have too much fun here. ;-)

#55 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:36 AM:

They didn't include the apostrophes. That's It!

The word that in my ears is suggested by 'Hutaree' is 'Hatari' -- you know, that John Wayne movie (1962 -- when men were white men by god everywhere under the sun) set in Africa? Where all these white guys are forever wagging their weenies guns and fists at each other for no reason other than to show I da man -- and yelling HATAAAAAAAAARI, while beating up rhinos with their jeeps.

Love, C.

#56 ::: Jaws ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:45 AM:

For those of us with slightly longer memories, this sounds an awful lot like the Baader-Meinhof Gruppe (aka Red Army Faction) in Germany in the later 1960s through the 1970s. Except that they were commies... (all sarcasm intended).

#57 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:00 PM:

Constance @ 55... And let's not forget Marshall Thompson's "Daktari". Did the Hutaree keep a cross-eyed lion around, by the way?

#58 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:04 PM:
Are the Hutaree religious extremists or anti-government extremists? I’d say the latter.

Postmillenialists believe that Real True Christians(TM) will have to go through the seven years of the Great Tribulation along with everyone else (i.e., no Rapture). Both premillenialists and postmillenialists have cross-fertilized with the Birchers to produce subsets which identify the UN and/or "big government" with the world government they believe the Antichrist will establish. The difference for the postmillenialist Birchers is the absence of that "Get Out of Tribulation Free" card. So they are inspired to arm themselves against the forces of evil that are set to rule the world. (Yes, they're supposed to welcome martyrdom gladly, but that's in the 98% of the Bible that they discard.)

All of this was a long-winded way to say "Both / and, not either / or."

David Dyer-Bennet @44:

isn't "Armageddon" supposed to be a battle largely fought by humans with human weapons, but still against the Antichrist?

No, Armageddon will have the Antichrist and the armies of the world squaring off against the returned Christ and his homies for the penultimate showdown. Hint: Christ and Team God win easily. Buffy it ain't.

Following up on other concerns of Mr. Dyer-Bennet, I would join with Jim Henley in suggesting that we be not be too quick to presume that the Feds are the good guys. There's no need to hail the Hutts as innocent Christian martyrs being disappeared by the socialist Muslim Obama administration, as most of the Right Blogosphere seem to be doing. Just keep in mind that this is the same federal law enforcement that took things like the Great Brooklyn Bridge Blowtorch Menace seriously.

#59 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:21 PM:

No, Armageddon will have the Antichrist and the armies of the world squaring off against the returned Christ and his homies for the penultimate showdown.

Penultimate? What's the final one, then?

#60 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:32 PM:

Serge -- Never heard of Daktai myself, alas. I had to look it up.

Love, c.

#61 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:40 PM:

This is a fundamental problem with antiterrorism laws and policies, right? It's not too hard for the powers needed to fight terrorism to be used to shut up people who are just a little too obnoxious, or to suppress dissent, or to prevent challenges to the currently-powerful. I think eternal vigilance is what's called for.

I am curious if we'll hear any folks from the right demanding that these dangerous terrorists be denied trials and shipped off to some black site for a few weeks of dont-call-it-torture "enhanced interrogation" to get them to spill all their plans and confess to everything. The truth is that uprisings from extremist domestic groups could do many times the damage that attacks from overwhelmingly foreign terrorists could do, simply because there are so many more domestic extremists of various types. A nonfunctional nut like the VA Tech wacko or the Trolley Square wacko or the Fort Hood wacko can kill a lot of people with easily-acquired weapons and minimal skills.

The whole story these guys tell themselves, of how their uprising is going to get all the lurkers who support them in email to finally unlurk with their guns drawn and their bombs ready to throw, is really common among terrorists. How common is that among terrorist groups, I wonder?

#62 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:52 PM:

albatross@61: I think this is where goal-oriented "revolutionaries" and tactics-oriented "terrorists" cross. I do think some of the left-revolutionary terrorists in the 60s did expect there to be an uprising triggered by their acts (US and elsewhere). I don't think that Al Quaida thinks that particularly.

#63 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 12:57 PM:

Teresa @26: When I found the forum, /b/ had just descended on one of the threads. They seem to have lost interest, as they tend to; but not knowing how long they'd stay interested, a warning seemed in order.

#64 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:02 PM:

Xopher@59: I believe the final showdown comes a thousand years later and involves Gog and Magog. (See Revelation 16, 19 and 20, though you won't find the name 'Antichrist' in any of those passages - it has to be read in from another book.)

#65 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:02 PM:

Xopher @59:

Penultimate? What's the final one, then?

Well, in the pre/postmillenial shtick, Armageddon signals the beginning of the Millenial Kingdom, when Christ reigns on earth for, er, a thousand years. At the end of the Millenium, Satan is once more loosed for the ultimate showdown (available on pay-per-view). Then comes the Great White Throne Judgment of All of Time and Space, Satan's doom, and the new heavens and the new earth.

Note that this scenario requires that people who have been living on an earth personally ruled by Jesus Christ are still easy prey for the Adversary. Either good is dumb, or Christ's reign isn't as much of a good time as one might hope. (The latter is supported by the speculations of LaHaye and Jenkins in Glorious Appearing, and they're even enthusiasts. Imagine 1984 with Big Brother as a puritanical, teleporting, mindreading deity with a disintegration ray.)

Now, there are amillenialists who equate the Millenium with the Church Age, sidestepping the Rapture and cutting down the number of Boss Fights to one. Which makes a lot more sense. I think at least some of the Reformed churches hold to this, for instance, based on the bemused questions I received as a Baptist attending a Dutch Reformed Christian school.

#66 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:09 PM:

Dave, #39: Of course they've never seen Dr. Who. That's fantasy escapism, which is of the Devil!

David, #52: Just to be clear here... are you saying that no action should have been taken against the Hutaree until they had actually killed someone? Because that's sure what it sounds like to me.

#67 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:10 PM:

Lighthill @23 "Why do people think that that "atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up"? What story are they reading, what world-view are they adopting, what line of goods exactly are they buying?"

1) It will cause the populace that likes the status quo to rise up and smack the people doing the atrocities down.

2)They're reading the same stories as the rest of us. Crazy doesn't have to (or even feels it needs to) justify itself in my experience. Sometimes we can get a glimpse of the internal logic, but mostly we can't.

3) They're adopting a world view that will put them in charge of themselves and the people around them.

4) They're not selling anything. They're assuming everyone is just as sane as they are. We just need a good example to follow, and they're providing it.

I've been exposed to that kind of sociopath in person. Luckily mine didn't believe in political upheaval in the name of God. It didn't make the damage any less, just more targeted and highly specific.


#68 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:23 PM:

Lee@66: You're reading far too much into what I wrote (that isn't there). But I'm very, very leery of all the "conspiracy" statutes, from remembering their abuse through the 1960s and 1970s. Or more recently; people were arrested before the RNC in St. Paul for having "bomb making materials" which turned out to be the bits necessary to create a Molotov cocktail -- that is, glass bottles (in their recycling), rags, and gasoline (in the fuel can for their lawnmower). The laws and their interpretation have been pushed very very far past the point of sanity, in my opinion.

#69 ::: Elizabeth Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:26 PM:

You guys are way nicer than me. I saw Boromander and automatically saw Boromir and Charmander.

#70 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:32 PM:

It's possibly simply a coincidence, but this song is directly preceded on the album it came from by a song about the Hutterites. I'd actually be surprised if this group weren't familiar with the band 16 Horsepower. The band has another song which is even more easily construed as support of the rebellious, righteous militia.

#71 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:36 PM:

Fred Clark has a link to this post and some illuminating comments on the different flavors of Rapture ideology.

As a Christian, it seems to me the fatal flaw in organized Christianity is that it relies on people to have decent reading comprehension.

#72 ::: P J evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:41 PM:

68
A lot depends on local law enforcement and on local politics.
Larger conventions, demonstrations, or meetings like the G(n), also tend to attract the crazies, who want to be noticed in the worst way (and frequently are).

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:48 PM:

Serge, might I point ought that none of those involved were named Clarence. (I'm not sure why my father, who was, let me watch Daktari)

#74 ::: Karl T. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:53 PM:

Apocamon, the aforementioned 'Pokemon Apocalypse,' is here:

http://www.electricsheepcomix.com/main.html

#75 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:53 PM:

Lighthill @23 "Why do people think that that "atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up"? What story are they reading, what world-view are they adopting, what line of goods exactly are they buying?"

The one where they are running on the basic assumption that everyone else in America is as frustrated, scared and violent as they are, only too meek and cowed by the One World Government (cue gong) to take the righteous actions that are necessary and demanded by their God. But! If the rest of us had an example to follow, we'd shrug off our complacence and join the ranks of the righteous warriors.

it's the mustering of the Rohirrim, with a much less impressive soundtrack (and more automatic weapons).

#76 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 01:56 PM:

Part of the problem with writing laws about people making bombs is that it's very, very easy to make a bomb in an industrial culture.

Thor and the White Christ, you can make a bomb -- and not a trivial one -- with flour.

So it really does fall to the processes of the common law to deal with the problem, by addressing intent; the "well, yes, your Honor, but 800 lbs of flour, and no yeast" questions that are necessarily situational. ("The defense would like to note that the accused is responsible for acquiring supplies from the local annual Rotarian pancake breakfast, which is attended by thousands" vs "flour found with plans for making a flour bomb as well as no yeast").

#77 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:05 PM:

66, 68: It seems to me that this point -- "a lot depends on local law enforcement" -- connects to the Empathy Failed thread.

I thought the lesson from that thread was that juries should feel empowered not to nullify a law, but to determine that law enforcement had abused the law to such a point that they had failed in their duty if no reasonable person could think that action A meant illegal action B. Dr. Watts's jury felt constrained by technicality, but should have been able to say that the officers actually gave no chance to comply, and that the prosecution's construction of the law was nonsense. The Minneapolis police should have been held accountable for illegal arrests -- if "bomb-making materials" means what they said, there are no limits. Although we know that the formal game of the courtroom is to find ways to apply certain words to certain real situations, only the society outside the courtroom can supply the needed perspective to say that "A means B" is nonsense in particular cases.

Because I am not a lawyer but an English teacher, it seems to me that language has this ambiguity built in (yes, I had to read Derrida et al.), and that law enforcement will always be tempted to pervert the plain meaning of a statute, and that maintaining reasonable meanings for our laws is a civilization-maintaining job for all of us. It's too important to be left just to the professionals (lawyers).

It does not look to me like the Hutaree case has anything wrong with it.

Now, I promise to listen while the lawyers explain why I'm naive.

#78 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:13 PM:

In other words, what Graydon said so much more concisely.

It uncomfortably occurs to me that John Brown also had the idea that he would spark a general rebellion and that the rebel armies would find hideouts in the mountains. Though his target population really was under the heel of an oppressive system, for that very reason it wasn't practical for them to rally to his cause.

#79 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:17 PM:

rm @ #71: The problem of reading comprehension was solved for well over a thousand years by the Church monopoly on interpretation, and indeed on possession of the Book itself.

Mind you, that's a whole nother problem in itself...

#80 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:20 PM:

As for having a whole lot of flour and no yeast, at this time of year there's another excuse for that. (If your name is Streit or Manischewitz.)

#81 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:39 PM:

rm @ 71 as someone in seminary, I cannot agree more. I think that counts as the quote of the day.

#82 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:43 PM:

David, #68: Thank you. I think it was the juxtaposition of Tom @50 saying A "crime of violence" can include planning to use violence -- not just the physical act and your response of when they say that, most people mean actual crimes of violence, and are unaware that they're agreeing to enhancing penalties for things they don't think of that way that made it sound as though you didn't think that genuinely planning to use violence should count.

Keith, #75: It's a perversion of the "seed crystal effect" idea. This has been discussed in other threads recently, more often in the context of people being unwilling to stand up to public rudeness, which is one of the things that lets obnoxious jerks get away with being obnoxious jerks. There's a well-documented phenomenon that if one person stands up and says, "No, this is unacceptable," frequently a lot of other people will step forward in support -- but nobody wants to be that first person.

What they miss is that there's a qualitative difference between being willing to stand up and say, "Your behavior is unacceptable, stop it" and being willing to kill people. The former will attract support; the latter, not so much.

It's also very likely that they don't think of the LEOs they were planning to kill as REAL people. But that's an entirely different topic, not relevant to what I'm saying here.

#83 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:44 PM:

Theophylact@80: for that matter, how much flour goes into the typical Mormon food cache? They tend towards big families.

#84 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:52 PM:

A boramander is obviously a high-level extraplanar threat, possibly a type of very boring slaad.

A radok is small root vegetable.

A zulif is best left uninterrogated.

An arkon is another high-level extraplanar interloper, though of the self-righteous type. Possibly an ally, but also willing to smite at the drop of a hat. (Improper hat usage is a threat to Law itself!)

A lukore is a cow-like critter known for its distinctive vocalizations: "Loo! Looooo!"

#85 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:54 PM:

Elizabith@69: I was seeing "Boromir" myself. I don't recognize your other name, though.

Lee@82: I'm leery of crimes consisting only of intention. And I'm leery of the things they bring in to try to demonstrate overt acts to go with the intention, for crimes like "conspiracy". Often the overt acts are not only rather equivocal, or even basically innocent -- but also completely legal. I'm really not happy with a crime that consists entirely of intent -- buying legal stuff with evil intent is the commonly-used example. Since this is a crime we're talking, seems to me there's a lot of reasonable doubt lying around.

I don't think people you really believe are going to kill someone should be just left alone to see if they really do it, either, though. I think one of the costs here is that, sometimes, you may have to act to disrupt them even if that costs you the case against them.

And I don't believe juries look at it that way at all reliably.

#86 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 02:56 PM:

Talking Points Memo has a post on the wedding pictures that one of these people posted on the web last winter: everyone in the party is armed, and the men are wearing camo.

#87 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:02 PM:

Lee:

One reason I'm so strongly in favor of trying terrorists in our normal legal system, in the open, is that I fear the misuse of these terrorism-fighting powers. Assuming these guys were really dangerous kooks getting ready to try to kill some people, the FBI did exactly the right think in raiding and arresting them. But in this kind of investigation, where there are wiretaps and informants and maybe agents provocateur involved, there is a scary potential for abuse.

We need to be paying attention to that potential. It's too damned easy, when you're nice and scared, to be so interested in being protected from these scary guys that you ignore that potential for abuse, that you even come to cheer the abuse on because it promises to keep you safer.

#88 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:14 PM:

Fragano @ 73... Heheheh

#89 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:15 PM:

PJ@86: I don't think I know anybody who wore camo at their wedding, but I certainly know some who were visibly armed. They tend towards being in law enforcement, lawyers, RKBA activists, rather than militia types. Then again they're on the edge of the militia types -- many of them think the militia types are overreacting to the current situation, but accept philosophically the importance of revolution as part of the system of checks and balances.

They talk about "heading for the hills" the same way my liberal friends talk about "moving to Canada", in fact. Neither is very likely to do it, but it's an indication of attitude. (Not a moral equivalence; starting guerrilla warfare is far more extreme than choosing to leave your country.)

#90 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:21 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @ 25:

Mystery and exoticism are properties of languages you don't know -- of words you've either made up, or appropriated from someone else's speech. In a language you know how to speak, you're no wiser or more powerful than you ever were.

There's also the aspect of shared mystery and exoticism. It binds the group together, and can carry aspects of being special and chosen with it.

"Guhighllo" is still making me think of gweilo.

Dave Weingart @ 39:

I don't get the whole "using guns to fight the Antichrist" bit anyway. Haven't they ever seen an episode of Doctor Who? Alien menaces (in which category the Antichrist would surely fall) are immune to bullets.

It's a rather interesting question, isn't it, especially when the beliefs they follow say that God will win in the end anyway. It suggests to me that the religion is a rider on the anti-government mindset, rather than the other way around, but that's only my speculation.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:21 PM:

89
The kid with the firearm was what got me - it's nearly as big as he is, and he looks to be maybe five or six.
(Not, actually, too young for firearms, but too young for anything like what he's holding - and it's pointed more or less at the photographer, which is a whole 'nother level of trouble.)

#92 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:34 PM:

@ PJ Evans, #91

I know someone who would fit in well with the radical militia type. Respect for firearms and firearms safety is not a strong point, apparently. He once told me a story of shooting a large caliber handgun in the general direction of a solicitor with the expressed intent of scaring the person. He also described an incident when he fired through his bedroom window at what he believed to be an intruder. It was a shadow cast by a tree.

Yeah.

#93 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:45 PM:

DDB @ 89, re: I don't think I know anybody who wore camo at their wedding, but I certainly know some who were visibly armed.

Are you talking about holstered sidearms? Or stuff like this?

#94 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:47 PM:

I was wondering if Hutaree was a modification of Hatari, the John Wayne safari movie, where Hatari is given as a Swahili word meaning 'Danger'.

My favorite comment about the rank names, by Nick Lamb on LanguageLog, was that they're tree house club names:

This chart has 12 ranks, and I doubt they have more than a few hundred members. To me that says it's functioning more like the ranks in a treehouse club. The kid with the treehouse gets to be "Radok" and his best friend is a "Boramander". The kid they don't like much is a "Lukore" except in the summer when they use his parent's pool, then he's "Gold Rifleman" and nobody is ever a "Silver Rifleman" because the Boramander's sister took the silver pen.
#95 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:49 PM:

Teresa -- The "reproduced without permission" link in your third paragraph is broken; it links to ML.

#96 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 03:57 PM:

Joel@93: The pictures I'm remembering were sidearms, not long guns (though I believe one of the wedding presents was a rifle). The evil black rifles do go with the field uniforms, though, so I'm not that surprised that those selecting one also selected the other.

The young child IS aiming significantly to the side from the photographer. Also doesn't have his finger inside the trigger guard. If I were planning to photograph that I'd certainly check myself that the rifle wasn't loaded before proceeding. And I'd put an empty magazine in to make it look better :-).

This is me (center) at an event I went to last spring. I didn't get any really good shots of the 12-year-old girl shooting the .50 caliber rifle, though. However, THESE people are really big on proper safety precautions, and quite legal.

#97 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:00 PM:

Elizabeth @69: Thinking of Boramander as a portmanteau of Boromir and Commander/Charmander/whatever presumes prior knowledge of Boromir, which I don't think we can assume with the Hutaree. They don't present themselves as a literate, well-read gang.

#98 ::: Elizabeth Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:12 PM:

@David Dyer-Bennet
Charmander's a Pokemon

And I was seeing "Guhighllo" as "Gooey-glow"

#99 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:19 PM:

" They don't present themselves as a literate, well-read gang."

I don't know, Lord of the Rings isn't exactly Joyce's Ulysses when it comes to inaccessibility.

#100 ::: Elizabeth Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 04:20 PM:

Mattathias @97
I've no doubt you're right, (and I really can't imagine they know anything about Pokemon) but I wonder how much of our culture they've soaked up unconsciously when they pulled their conlang out of their butt. (And maybe one of them is a LOTR geek. They DID make a conlang, however weak it may or may not turn out to be.)

#101 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:02 PM:

#94

You weren't the only one who heard an echo of Hataaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaareeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! While terrorizing rhino, giraffe, you name it.

#55 ::: Constance

Love, C.

#102 ::: Ellen Asher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:07 PM:

A boramander is an immature borogove.

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:10 PM:

Hutaree
Dungaree
Buttaree

#104 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:16 PM:

I wonder if they weren't trying to be the Atari people. They just exceeded their aspirations.

#105 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:16 PM:

Maybe they hang out at a place called "Hutars".

#106 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:21 PM:

I was wondering why I found the rank of 'Arkon' so familar...

...then I realised I'd been fighting these sort of mooks and their leaders using various flashy super powers in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles for years :)

#107 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:22 PM:

Maybe they just didn't listen carefully when they were learning Go.

#108 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 05:25 PM:

I'm too afraid of these people to risk making fun of them.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:01 PM:

The opening credits for "Daktari" have got everything. Two old men. A beautiful young woman. Two hunks. A cute kid. A chimp. A lion.

#110 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:06 PM:

Larry @13:

Trolls of all sorts are having a field day with their public forum since it is now unmoderated. Looks like 4chan is in on the action.
As of last night I wasn't sure who-all was romping there, but this morning I noticed a mildly exasperated comment saying "Look, you've posted that same obscene image to, like, forty threads now. Give us something new and disgusting." Sounds like the real thing to me.
Also wasn't the last time we saw this during a the Clinton years? Is there something about a president that is a democrat that sets them off?
I still remember the explanation Graydon gave me (here quoted approximately) when I was flummoxed by the apparently groundless hate that got thrown at the first Clinton administration: They hate him because he won. They thought everything was going to go their way from now on -- viz., "the permanent Republican majority" -- but instead he got elected with a healthy majority." I think Graydon also predicted that they would never forgive Clinton for that, which of course they never have.

Sure, it makes it worse that Obama is brown, and Nancy Pelosi is female, and the president and vice-president aren't a pair of grotesques. But when you get right down to it, they'd pretty much hate any Democrat who got elected. Look at all the pious claptrap they talk about respecting our veterans and serving military, and the vile treatment they've given candidates like John Kerry and Max Cleland.

For that matter, look at all the nonsensical reeling and writhing and fainting in coils they've done over a health care plan that differs very little from the one Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts. They didn't think it was the apocalypse back when Romney did it. In fact, last I looked, Romney was being hailed as the new Republican frontrunner. What's the difference? Romney is their guy. Obama isn't. They'd have screamed and thrashed no matter what Obama did. If he'd gone after banking reform first, they'd be screaming about that instead, and no matter what he did, it would be wrong.

Sometimes, the only way to figure out what people are saying is to ignore their ostensible content.

Serge @14: That was a bit of an in-joke. Dave Langford's brother is Jon Langford, formerly of The Mekons.

P J Evans @15:

Counts 4 and 5 don't involve the same people. Some of them are named in both, but some are only named in one.
Rea @32:
Two different dates: Count IV is an incident in August 2009; Count V is an incident in February 2010.
Thank you both. I've added your comments to the main entry.

I've had to make something like two dozen corrections to the main entry and the comments I made yesterday. I was coming out from under a migraine, and details just kept slipping between my fingers.

Lizzy L @16:

This is really ugly. These dipshits fantasize about using IEDs, currently being used in Afghanistan to kill American soldiers, against fellow Americans. They fantasize about killing the families of law enforcement officers. ...

I'd like to drag these gun-toting fools to Camp Pendleton, or Camp Lejeune, wearing their tiger-stripe camos with their f*cking shoulder patches, and have them explain their seditious, criminal, murderous plans to the Marines who train there. Soldiers, huh? I don't think so.

I guess I'm a bit pissed off.

Oh yeah. I'm surprised at how nauseated I am by the juxtaposition of their banal, sophomoric fantasies about themselves, their self-congratulatory religion, and their plans to murder law enforcement officers, the officers' families, first responders, and mourners at a funeral. It'll be a while before I can go back to seeing the humor in Mary Sues.

Stefan Jones @17:

And once more, the assholes think that their atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up.
Or knuckle under, or see the virtues in Stalinism/fascism/caudillismo/Senderismo/Helter Skelter/shock'n'awe, or whatever else the speaker has in mind. (See: Things have to get worse before they can get better; also, Just kick the damn thing, that'll make it work.)

Lighthill @23:

Why do people think that that "atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up"? What story are they reading, what world-view are they adopting, what line of goods exactly are they buying? ...

In what version of history does killing a bunch of innocent cops^W^Wfoot-soldiers actually work as step one of the revolution? Are they really working from Red Dawn, or is this based on a really shallow understanding of the start of the American revolutionary war?

Or something else?

I can give you three nonexclusive models for it.

1. It's part frustration, part a failure of imagination, and in part a profound confusion about the difference between making people do a thing, and making them want to do that thing.

2. You're looking at the intersection of "things the Hutaree can think of to do" and "things the Hutaree would like to do," unmediated by consideration of "things that would be good and/or efficacious to do."

3. Aside from their realistic plans to commit murder, there's not a lot of difference between these guys, the LaRoucheites, and the irritating yet ridiculous RCP (try not to laugh: Revolutionary Communist Party) that was active in Seattle when Patrick and I lived there. In all three cases, their basic model of political action consists of standing out in the middle of the street with a sign that says "PARADE LINE-UP STARTS HERE," and expecting everyone else to fall in behind them.

I must admit to a blind spot that affects all these models: I've never understood how guys like this get past the part where it occurs to you that neither you nor your comrades would react to your planned provocation the way you expect the general public to react to it.

Alex @27:

So, repeating my question from the other thread, are these kind of people nuts we can rely on the authorities to take care of, or the tip of an angry-white-folks iceberg that's going to tear the USA apart? Or are they the one that might become the other, or what?
I vote for they're nuts; it's a good idea for the authorities to shut them down; doing so won't get rid of this tendency, but if handled correctly it will discourage it; and we can (and arguably should) signify approval or disapproval of it, in part or in whole, via the usual channels.
IMO, the USA has survived 250 years of angry white folks, gradually clawing its way by fits and starts towards a semblance of civil society, and I mostly expect that process to continue, but I'm interested to hear if anyone's got any actual arguments that there is a real systemic 'danger' beyond what is in historical fact pretty much business-as-usual - an ugly, occasionally violent, frequently paranoid politics of asserted ethno-religious entitlement.
Our long history of angry, unreasonable white people is also a history of successes and failures in making and enforcing the law, promoting peaceful understanding, and developing and teaching democratic systems of conflict resolution.

Will you be surprised if I say my thoughts on this are a lot like my thoughts on moderating forums and conversations?

-- Democracy takes work, and constant tending. It's difficult to impose it on people who don't understand it.

-- Having a good rule set is important, and so is constantly teaching that rule set, but it's essential that people see it in action, over and over again.

-- People have to have a sense of pride and ownership in their government in order for it to work properly. Those who preach disrespect and/or disengagement are not friends of democracy. Neither are those who take respectful and engaged criticism of it as an affront.

-- Interventions by authorities always have two dimensions: what they mean in terms of managing the immediate situation, and what they teach the onlookers about the system and how it works. Poeple will always configure their behavior based on what they see happening around them.

-- The single most important factor in the equation is the maintenance of everyday social order by the community itself.

-- Police behavior first, outcomes second, and motives a very distant third.

And so forth.

Saying "we have a history" doesn't predict what will happen next unless we act on it. IMO, what our history chiefly teaches us is that failing to police this kind of behavior and generally enforce the law is a very bad idea. It's like letting a pile-on continue unchecked: it doesn't blow off steam; it generates it.

Lighthill @28:

I think you meant "morpheme," not "phoneme."
You're right. I meant "morpheme." I fixed it. I'd have done a strikeover on "phoneme" if that were allowed in comments.
In English, the first phoneme in Christ is a mere /k/, but Christ is a morpheme in and of itself. Phonemes are just tiny sounds; morphemes are what start to have meanings.
True. Typing "phoneme" was one of the many odd errors I made yesterday.
On every other point, you express an exasperation with their stupid claims of having a real language that I also feel. There is no conlang here. This is just a sad little jargon, as if I said that cats were Gargelorums of the East and dogs were Merseybeat Fantods and rabbits were Biosmeerps. I would bet a case of homebrew that this sekrit pseudo-Christian ur-language has no grammar, no morphology, and no corpus. Heck, I would bet a dollar or two that this alleged language has no actual verbs, no prepositions (or equivalent ways to make prepositional phrases), and not even a single declarative sentence of even five words written in it.
I'll bet you're right. Or maybe they've got a declarative sentence; they might have wanted one at some point. But if they do, I'll bet it has no stems in common with the rest of their vocabulary.

Over on their much-trashed forum this morning, I saw a sentence that addressed them collectively as "Hey, Hutareen dudes." I experienced a moment of relief: "Look, human language use! Someone made an adjectival form of 'Hutaree'!"

From what seems to be online, this alleged "language" might just be a collection of nouns.
Wouldn't surprise me. That's Pretty Name Syndrome all over.

Thinking about this makes me want to put together a convention panel made up of one or two sf & fantasy editors, plus a genre-savvy copy editor and/or production editor if available, and some knowledgeable constructed-language fans, to discuss recurring patterns in language invented by naive writers.

I'd bet they have no more real a conlang than the KKK did back when they decided that their groups were klaverns and their handbook was a kloran and their let's-terrorize-honest-folks plotting was (no fooling!) a klonversation.
If someone were giving an award for "most banal evil," that would be a contender.
Hell, Basic English is more legitimate a conlang than these would-be-murderous jokers ever had.
Thank you. I'd somehow avoided knowing about Basic English, so I looked at the Wikipedia entry. My sense of wonder kicked in at "His General Introduction says 'There are no "verbs" in Basic English', with the underlying assumption that, as noun use in English is very straightforward but verb use/conjugation is not, the elimination of verbs would be a welcome simplification."

Dr. Hypercube @33:

#26 TNH - *cough*/b/tards*cough*?
Far be it from me to say what they should or shouldn't do.

DDB @43, no way are you plotting to overthrow the government. General Technics isn't plotting to blow up police officers. And if anyone in law enforcement is confused about the issue, GT can point to decades of mostly harmless behavior.

Would you want to prosecute a case where the defendants included Bill Higgins and Brother Guy?

And @44: Whatever Armageddon is supposed to be, it'll come on its own schedule, not when a bunch of guys in Michigan decide it should start.

Wyman @54: We're not really experts at that. At most, I think we'd be a little better at getting the remaining Hutaree posters to stick around and say interesting things.

mds @58, last I looked there were more than a few militia groups out there whose beliefs were as strange, stated intentions as violent, and weapons caches as hypertrophed as the Hutarees'. They're appropriate targets for investigation. And if it turns out the Hutarees are innocent, I'd say they have a good chance of beating the rap.

DDB @83:

...how much flour goes into the typical Mormon food cache?
I don't know what's typical, but what we stored was hard winter wheat, packed into large steel containers in a nitrogen atmosphere. You grind it as you go. It keeps longer that way.

KeithS @90, while I appreciate the group bonding aspect of magic language, I can't help noticing that they're embedding unique search strings in their communications.

Joel @95: Thanks. I've fixed it now.

Mattathias @97, Elizabeth @100, you're showing your age. These days, you don't have to be literate to know about Boromir.

#111 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:12 PM:

Teresa @ 109... I figured it was some kind of in-joke. As for the original Mekon, he was last seen falling into a black hole along with the British Prime Minister.

#112 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:15 PM:

Possible influence as-yet-unmentioned here:

The Left Behind books.

#113 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:18 PM:

What I notice abotu the LaRouchies (or possibly that's the LaRuchadas) is that (a) they're not really connected to this universe any more, and (b) they're perfectly willing to use someone else's parade if it will get them attention, especially from the media. (They occasionally infest LA Union Station.)

I saw some with a very large banner that looked professionally-done, at the demonstration last month about schools and tuition and stuff. They had a cameraman's attention, but not much else, because they were off-topic for that demonstration.

(My heartfelt sympathy on your migraine.)

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:34 PM:

Earl, you're letting the terrorists win.

Seriously, I understand. But they're locked up, and likely to remain so.

#115 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:35 PM:

Teresa @109, can I steal your language panel idea for 4th Street? And put you on it? (Or maybe someone else....)

#116 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 06:36 PM:

@ Stefan #111

Post 71 by rm has a link to another blog that addressed the possible influence of Left Behind. The primary difference in belief is that the Hutaree group thinks they will be around for the end of times. Apparently, playing Rambo is a lot more interesting than sitting around in Heaven.

Both, I think, show a disturbing lack of empathy for people outside of the in-group. One could argue it is as if a video game fantasy leeched into reality. The members of the group are the player characters and the rest of us are just NPCs serving only to fill pre-determined roles in the story line.

#117 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 07:02 PM:

I think that the Hutaree strategy makes slightly more sense than people are giving them credit for. It's basically a particularly twisted and delusional variant of the classic strategy best put by Pat Buchanan when he advised Nixon that if they split the country along the most divisive issues then "my view is that we would have far the larger half."

These folks may not be able to articulate exactly what they believe, but they believe deeply that, in their heart of hearts, most Americans (or most real Americans, anyway) agree with them, but are too timid to say it. And if it came down to an apocalyptic battle between the U.S. government and the Hutaree, most people would pick up their guns and go out and kill them some CommiNaziFascist Pigs. All they need is someone to provoke that conflict and wake them from their slumber.

In this way it's also sort of the cargo-cult version of activism and revolution. The comparison to the American Revolution is apt I think, in that these folks thinks that Paul Revere and a few dozen hungover Lexington militia men sparked the Revolution. They never stop to figure out that the reason we remember Revere and not the two other guys who rode longer and harder on that night is because those other guys hadn't spent years acting as a crticial organizational nexus for New England radicals.

There's a certain amount of Dunning-Kruger effect too. Nixon divided the electorate and he won landslides. Revere roused the militas and a Revolution started. In a way they're like the folks who go up to Sci-Fi authors with (what they think is) a really brilliant premise and say "I've already come up with the idea, you just have to write it and we'll split the money 50-50." They only see the inciting incident, not any of the skill, talent and hard work that goes into any complex endeavor.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. It's easy to make fun of how dumb these folks are, but these are all common cognitive biases that flesh is prey to, just given a particularly nasty and violent spin.

#118 ::: Mattathias ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 07:16 PM:

Teresa @109: I saw the first movie, and hated it so much I re-read the Lord of the Rings in its entirety, to purge the memory. It worked; I tend to forget that there's a motion picture version now.

#119 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 07:32 PM:

spidervet at 51,

Oh, thank goodness I am not the only one with that song in my head!

#120 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 07:40 PM:

TNH @ 109: "I must admit to a blind spot that affects all these models: I've never understood how guys like this get past the part where it occurs to you that neither you nor your comrades would react to your planned provocation the way you expect the general public to react to it."

But Teresa, they're special.

There's an awful lot of stupid that occurs under the banner of thinking other people are stupid.

#121 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 07:46 PM:

We call them LaRouchites -- he lived here (moved the headquarters here) and a lot of his people followed him. They'd set up in front of post offices and groceries and so forth. He had to leave when he didn't pay taxes and the state took his property from him.

#122 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 08:09 PM:

It's a combination of The Lurkers Support Me in Email, and Yes, But MY Book Is DIFFERENT.

#123 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 08:12 PM:

Lighthill #23: Why do people think that that "atrocities will inspire the populace to rise up"?

Too much reliance on narratives? Every story about an uprising or a revolution includes some sufficiently dramatic trigger event. They just turn it around and assume that if they engineer a trigger event, they will get an uprising. Like (importing an idea from slacktivist here) attempting to bring about the apocalypse by theurgy -- get all the elements of prophecy into place, then the Hellmouth will open^W^W^W^W God will do his job and end the world.

Or they follow the well known failure strategy of radical left terrorists (Baader-Meinhof has been mentioned) and expect the government to drop its mask and show itself to be the Enemy of the People in a way that the complacent masses will finally wake up join the revolution. Or something.

Elizabeth #69: I just hate it when pairings are indicated with portmanteau words. And now I need brain bleach.

#124 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 08:20 PM:

Xopher #113: Earl, you're letting the terrorists win. Seriously, I understand. But they're locked up, and likely to remain so.

Don't you think I know that?! That doesn't make it any better. Arggh....

#125 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 08:21 PM:

Abi's post 38 seems to have gotten lost. I just want to note that I admire it and though I don't know the words, I can kind of get it anyway.

#126 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 08:37 PM:

124
Try running some of it through Google. (The source is what I first thought of when I read that comment. Hint: it's not all that far away from you.)

#127 ::: Elizabeth Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:31 PM:

Teresa @109
Hey, I've only heard of Boromir thanks to the movies! The books put me to sleep as a kid. (I finally read them after the first movie came out.) But I do tend to assume (based on my experience with 99% of my non-sf-loving family) that everyone outside sf fandom knows crap-all about it.

#128 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:35 PM:

Chris, #116: the reason we remember Revere and not the two other guys who rode longer and harder on that night is because those other guys hadn't spent years acting as a critical organizational nexus for New England radicals.

Also, I might add, because nobody wrote a poem about them that every third-grader in America had to memorize as recently as the 1960s. Which might very well be connected to your point, but I submit that the poem itself is a much more likely proximate cause. I can still remember it up thru "to every middlesex, village, and farm".

#129 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 09:55 PM:

Lee @126, there's no comma after "Middlesex" -- it's a county, the one I grew up in.

#130 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:01 PM:

Albatross @ 87:

I fully agree with your post. There should not be secret trials.

#131 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2010, 11:05 PM:

Rikibeth, #128: Aha, a decades-old mystery solved! I always wondered what that was, and it turns out to have been a punctuation error in my textbook.

#132 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:02 AM:

Teresa @109: I had not thought about it in that light, but yes I see what you mean. He had the audacity to actually win an election and shatter their delusion.

One thing that strikes me about them is their driving need to feel special, singled out as warriors in some holy cause. What they do have in common with a lot of the tea party and extreme right wingers is this overriding need to indulge their baser natures in everything they do while pretending otherwise. Why else would they use act like children and worse?

What sickens me a little more is that some of the right wing sites are defending these guys. For the hell of it I checkout out what the freepers were saying. It was bad. I just do not get it.

#133 ::: Ellen Asher ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:09 AM:

Lee @ 127:

I had a 9th grade teacher who explained why Longfellow put Revere at the center of his poem: it wouldn't have worked as well if it had begun, "Listen, my children, and clap your paws/ While I tell you the story of Billy Dawes."

#134 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:01 AM:

Tom Whitmore @114: Yes, you may, and I'd love to be on the panel. Talk to me sometime about who else.

Heresiarch @119:

There's an awful lot of stupid that occurs under the banner of thinking other people are stupid.
I don't have anything to add to that; I just wanted to look at it again.

Inge @122: I used to know someone who'd worked at Disneyland every summer during high school, and could do an interesting rap about Disneyland Syndrome. It's the dangerous state of mind brought on by believing you're in a story. Disneyland employees know about it because visitors to the park will pull seriously unsafe maneuvers they'd never try under normal circumstances, like trying to climb out onto the branches of the giant artificial tree that holds the Swiss Family Robinson's treehouse.

I get what you're saying about these guys. They think they're characters in the opening scene in the book where in February 1917, the striking workers of Petrograd hold a peaceful demonstration but get fired on by the police, then the police throw in with the strikers, and next thing you know all of Petrograd has tumbled into revolution together. The demonstration really is a good place to start the book, but it gives short shrift to all of the revolution's long-building underlying causes. The Hutaree don't want to do all that advance work. They just want to be the guys who pose for the statues afterward.

Everyone knows bad fiction is painful to read, but few appreciate how many further evils it engenders.

#135 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:08 AM:

#133: "Everyone knows bad fiction is painful to read, but few appreciate how many other evils it engenders"

Oh, that reminds me of something:

Mark Twain on Sir Walter Scott

"Then comes Sir Walter Scott with his enchantments, and by his single might checks this wave of progress, and even turns it back; sets the world in love with dreams and phantoms; with decayed and swinish forms of religion; with decayed and degraded systems of government; with the sillinesses and emptinesses, sham grandeurs, sham gauds, and sham chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society."

...
"It was Sir Walter that made every gentleman in the South a Major or a Colonel, or a General or a Judge, before the war; and it was he, also, that made these gentlemen value these bogus decorations. For it was he that created rank and caste down there, and also reverence for rank and caste, and pride and pleasure in them."

#136 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:14 AM:

Graydon@42: Which dictum was that? When I think of a really lamentable dictum about hate and fear, the one that comes to my mind predates Frederick the Great by about two millennia.

#137 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 01:22 AM:

Lucy, PJ:

I'm sure there are other examples (inevitably!), but that's the one I'm most familiar with. Which is to say, not familiar at all; I've been through a time or two and watched them do it for the tourists (including me).

The only word from there that I'm prone to use even in my thoughts is "ridgy". It's a solid coinage: it has a traceable and logical source and it means something distinctive and comprehensible, and it describes something in one of the worlds I grew up in.

Of course, most sharkin' does, to the people who do it.

#138 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:26 AM:

Ashamed to say I'd originally read that as Nadsat.

#139 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:29 AM:

abi @136: Wouldn't've Adam'd, the way you rabbit.

#140 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 06:01 AM:

SeanH @138:

Well, thank you kindly, me old china. I tried to hide the fact that I haven't a scooby about much of it.

#141 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 06:59 AM:

As for myself, I liked Walter Scott's "The Talisman" and "Quentin Durward". Mind you, that was long ago. I'm not sure that Abi herself had yet started going to kindergarten.

#142 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 07:33 AM:

@134--

i'm not in the habit of disagreeing with mark twain, but in this case i think he is unfair to scott.
if you read the first two-thirds of waverley, you'd think twain has scott dead to rights--it's all enchantment, romance, ancient chivalry and feudal obedience.

but the final third of waverley is such a brutal, clear-eyed, unromantic dismemberment of that world-view, that it rivals anything twain himself did with the duke and the dauphin.

and scott wrote it for exactly that purpose. yes, in ivanhoe and elsewhere he sometimes lapsed into disneyland caricatures. but waverley itself is the best argument against romanticizing the past that one could ask for.

#143 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:17 AM:

tnh, #109. "I've never understood how guys like this get past the part where it occurs to you that neither you nor your comrades would react to your planned provocation the way you expect the general public to react to it."

This pretty well describes the radical right, and often just plain old conservatives, doesn't it? Most times their ideas are put to an honest vote that reflects the will of the public they lose, but they never stop trying, and often they manage to get their ideas implemented without that vote.

#144 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:19 AM:

BTW, has anyone else here had the thought that the wedding photos look remarkably like an SCA wedding with firearms instead of swords?

#145 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 09:19 AM:

kid bitzer @141 -- and Ivanhoe itself has that interesting passage on the linguistic origins of food words being linked to the French invaders, which certainly doesn't indicate an uncritical love for chivalry and aristocracy.

#146 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 10:43 AM:

#141 kid bitzer

@134--

[ "i'm not in the habit of disagreeing with mark twain, but in this case i think he is unfair to scott.
if you read the first two-thirds of waverley, you'd think twain has scott dead to rights--it's all enchantment, romance, ancient chivalry and feudal obedience." ]

You're absolutely right. The drive of Scott's Waverly novels, as well as his medieval fiction, was about reconciliation -- "Give it up. It happened a long time ago. This is now and we're all in this together." You really see this in operation in Ivanhoe, for instance.

But because Twain said it, we'll never be able to get most of the world that doesn't, you know, read Scott, to believe us. Anymore than we'll ever be able to get people to understand their recollection that super white man saves the day in Dances With Wolves is the opposite of what happens in the novel and the movie, or that women did not burn bras at that Miss America pageant in 1969. :)

However, the South did take up Scott in this manner, but since so many of those Planter elites were essentially illiterate, and their own local mythology is that the south of England from whence so much of the Virginia-Maryland-Carolina seaboard elite complex emigrated from, i.e. Cavaliers -- they didn't read Scott as he was written either. But that's hardly Scott's fault.

Love, C.

#147 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:08 AM:

#42 ::: Graydon:

Why going to jail should be easier than saying to one's self "OK, I'm mean and I'm not good for much and I ought to work on this" is more than I can say,

The obvious answer is that people who aren't good at running their lives are also not very likely to figure out that they can make their lives better, but I'm also inclined to think that conventional schooling is apt to teach despair about learning independent of school.

#148 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:11 AM:

David Goldfarb @135 --

Not Lucius Accius' "Oderint Dum Metuant", but something something I remember as "their hate makes them fear" and which I'm now finding only as "It is your attitude, and the suspicion that you are maturing the boldest designs against him, that imposes on your enemy".

Which may indicate I hit a completely different translation when I formed the recollection or that my brain has been editing things again.

The "lamentable" being the idea that provoking hatred, especially non-violent (and thus, in the world view, impotent) hatred is an indication of fear, which is in turn (in the world view) an indication of success and significance and status.

You can try to generalize ground-ape band structures to work with large groups, to be very general, or you can be a cosmopolitan commercial creature, and this lot are part of the last kicking remnant of trying to make the ground-ape band structure work on a scale larger than individual battalions (about 1,200 people, for those with a different memory of the size of a battalion). It doesn't, and it can't be made to do so, and this is deeply distressing to many, because that bunch of folks entirely lacking in manly virtues keeps winning.

#149 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:16 AM:

Graydon@147: Of course, a group that can successfully cooperate in numbers larger than about 1200 is going to consistently beat a group limited by their structure to a smaller size.

If I were a decent human being, I should probably feel some pity for them on that topic.

#150 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:28 AM:

DD-B @148 -

Yup. This is one of the reasons "professionals study logistics" is so very much not a category of cool stuff, and weapons are. And just try telling someone how hard it is to be brave with cold, wet feet....

We're ground apes specialized to co-operate in groups. This specialization is late and significantly cultural; it's also directly in conflict with the ancestral primate status mechanism ("I can hit who I want/have sex with who I want"). The progress of all of human civilization is a question of which side of that conflict was winning, locally and socially and culturally. (Pretty much the entire post-Enlightenment conservative position has been looking for a justification for the "hit who I want/rape if I want to" viewpoint, too, and the present day is no exception.)

It's not romantic; it's not heroic; it's certainly not elevated, but ganging up on problems works. Can't get a fixed hierarchy of authority out of it, though. So anybody for whom the primate status mechanism is primary is horribly and inescapably insecure in such a social system, and will (from their viewpoint) work vigorously to fix it so it doesn't make them insecure any more.

Which is, to my reading, really what these Hutaree wingnuts were doing.

#151 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:34 AM:

Teresa: Have you ever written something that might be subtitled A Comprehansive Guide to Writing Slush, covering all the various patterns you've observed? (Like Mary Sue and Pretty Word Syndrome and such.) If so, I would love to read it. If not, would you please? I think it would save beginning writers mountains of time (to mix a metaphor). And be richly entertaining into the bargain.

#152 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:36 AM:

Graydon, taking the "hit/rape at will" paraphrase as the definition, it's pretty amazing how many people work to support that definition when they'd be below the middle of the hierarchy. My personal interest is more about NOT being subject to those (and other) abuses, and that can only be achieved in the hierarchy by being at the top. I wonder if this is one of those "life sucks, but at least I can pass it down" things; that seems to help some people a lot.

#153 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:40 AM:

I'm an old slush reader, and what "Guhighllo" looks like to me is a word devised to look interesting on the page, not to say out loud. My inner reader's voice thinks it's pronounced "Goo High Low," or possibly "Goo Hiyo," depending on whether Goo is Welsh or Spanish.

Nope. I'll bet cash it's a rather literal spelling of gweilo, a Chinese (possibly from Hong Kong) slang word meaning non-Chinese-- or more specifically, white person.

#154 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:47 AM:

abi, (*)? My Google-fu is not delivering, and while I followed the gist of that, just as one can follow the droogies to some extent without the glossary, I'm wildly curious as to where that dialect comes from.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:56 AM:

Rikibeth @153:

Here.

#156 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:00 PM:

DD-B @151 --

You believe you can live in a way that is not subject to such abuses. This is very far from a universal belief. (The lack of this belief is a major issue in getting people to leave long-term abusive relationships, for instance.)

The main value isn't being able to abuse, to the people participating in this system; it's being secure, knowing your place, knowing how you relate to the social organization and people around you, and knowing (unless you're on the very bottom of the stack) it's not you that gets left for the leopard.

It's also a very simple system; doesn't take a lot of work or effort to maintain in most cases. (This is not true of the cosmopolitan hierarchy-by-task systems; they're a lot more complicated and take a lot more effort to create and maintain. They're also much more capable, which is why they have been expanding these last couple-three centuries.)

Note that much of the conservative complaint is having to do social maintenance work; the nice simple system is under a lot of stress, and they have to work hard to keep it simple, and resent this. It's quite possible Obama's push for "bipartisanship" is making lemonade from the whole post-partisan media narrative lemon on the theory that the effort of maintaining the conservative political simplicity is getting high, and that someone, somewhere, will eventually crack and start co-operating like a sensible monkey. (You can view US 20th century politics through that lens if you want, and I don't think you'll get a particularly false view.)

#157 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:02 PM:

abi, thank you! I was using the wrong keyword.

#158 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:03 PM:

Emphatic agreement here with Graydon's You believe you can live in a way that is not subject to such abuses. This is very far from a universal belief.

This is something that freshly came home to me while researching for my cancelled project on minorities and subcultures in the pulp adventure era - how many people have excellent reason never to expect a fair shake, and how much that changes things.

#159 ::: Raka ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 12:17 PM:

Elizabeth Coleman @69: You kids and your Pokemon. I assumed that a "Boromander" would be the final result of a fanfic LOTR/Narnia crossover, in which Boromir leads an army of talking salamanders to battle against a thinly veiled allusion to some obscure aspect of the British class system, and then there is a great post-victory celebration with much quaffing of intoxicants, and then a very awkward morning after in which everyone studiously avoids eye contact with everyone else.

#160 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:15 PM:

Graydon @ 155: "The main value isn't being able to abuse, to the people participating in this system; it's being secure, knowing your place, knowing how you relate to the social organization and people around you, and knowing (unless you're on the very bottom of the stack) it's not you that gets left for the leopard."

An important component of this mentality, I think, is the lack of an internal moral compass. When your conception of morality is entirely tied to corporal authority and punishment, maintaining that corporal power structure is the only way to maintain moral order.

(I do feel that in some ways "being able to abuse" is an important component for everyone in the system--even if you don't get to abuse directly*, by identifying one's self with the authority center you get to abuse vicariously.)

(*And it's also very common for these systems to make a sacrament of showering abuse outward, onto anyone who doesn't subscribe to the system. Thus even the bottom ranks are still get to abuse.)

#161 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 02:25 PM:

When your conception of morality is entirely tied to corporal authority and punishment, maintaining that corporal power structure is the only way to maintain moral order.

c.f. "Only the fear of God keeps men from evil" and those odd people who believe that the only thing stopping most people from being homosexual is laws against homosexuality*.

* Not that being gay is evil. It's just the same sort of mindset.

#162 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:10 PM:

Carrie, #160: That also covers the people who believe that atheists cannot possibly be moral -- and to some extent, the ones who take it further and believe that no one who is not Christian can be moral, that even other religions aren't good enough.

#163 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:11 PM:

heresiarch @159 -

When your conception of morality is entirely tied to corporal authority and punishment, maintaining that corporal power structure is the only way to maintain moral order.

I think that is the moral compass.

Otherwise, yes.

Abuse outward ("community by exclusion") is important, because however lowly you may be, the lowliest instance of foo is less lowly than the loftiest instance of baz; believing this makes it easier to put up with the abuse from above.

This has, in my view, an enormous amount to do with the persistence of racism and the really peculiar forms of the current arguments in favor of it, which really don't parse until an axiom like that axiom is inserted. It's just that there's too much general knowledge of very capable instances of baz these days to make that argument either materially or directly.

But not matter how much abuse goes outwards, none may go upwards; that's visible very clearly in things like the firing of David Frum.

#164 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:23 PM:

Glenn Hauman @ 152: Nope. I'll bet cash it's a rather literal spelling of gweilo, a Chinese (possibly from Hong Kong) slang word meaning non-Chinese-- or more specifically, white person.

Yes, it's Cantonese. That's what it reminds me of too, although it has a few too many 'h's in it. But if he really did name himself after that, he's even more of an idiot, as it is a rather derogatory term.

One thing this whole sorry mess is reminding me of is something that Fred Clarke at Slacktivist has pointed out in the past, along the lines of actions speaking louder than words. What I mean by that is that if you really believed, deeply and truly, that the state was oppressive and evil, then what these guys were doing is a logical response. But the vast majority of people who talk this way don't go to these extremes. They say it, keeping it floating around as a group identifier, but then they get on with their lives, ignoring it, and act surprised when people actually follow through on it. (For some the surprise is more feigned than others, I'm sure.)

#165 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:43 PM:

TNH #109. "I've never understood how guys like this get past the part where it occurs to you that neither you nor your comrades would react to your planned provocation the way you expect the general public to react to it."

Steeped as I am in the terminology of cognitive science, I tend to call this phenomenon a "mapping failure", as in, they're abstracting inappropriate features of one scenario to map onto a projected future scenario.

A really easy example of this type of mapping failure was the people who expected the Iraqis to welcome US troops as "liberators". The scenario they abstracted was: "If I were subject to Saddam Hussein's dictatorial government, I would welcome US troops that came to liberate me." The sceanrio they failed to abstract was: "No matter how much I loathed my country's present government, I would respond negatively to a foreign power that invaded my country to try to change that government by force."

A lot of apparently illogical conclusions and positions can be made sense of by figuring out which aspects of a more sensible scenario are being mapped and which are not. Most failures of empathy can be seen in the same light as well.

#166 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 03:46 PM:

#163,162,etc. You're probably right but I sort of had the impression that someone couldn't pronounce the name "Guillermo" or "Julio" or something.

#167 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:07 PM:

Graydon @147, are you saying that the Hutareans and their ilk are Variant Thirteens?

Because the "real" Thirteens seem entirely too canny to be associated with the like of the Hutareans unless they were profiting from the association...

#168 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:21 PM:

Carrie S. @ 161: "c.f. "Only the fear of God keeps men from evil" and those odd people who believe that the only thing stopping most people from being homosexual is laws against homosexuality*."

Yes; they subscribe to the formulation "forbidden by authority = evil," with the identity reading both ways.

Graydon @ 163: "I think that is the moral compass."

Yes--but an external one.

KeithS @ 164: "But if he really did name himself after that, he's even more of an idiot, as it is a rather derogatory term."

It strikes me as unlikely--the groups "people who know the term and would think it a cool pseudonym" and "people who would join a Christianish anti-government militia" seem mutually exclusive.

#169 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:30 PM:

heresiarch @168

I don't think it's entirely an external moral compass.

If it was, groups without charlatans leading them -- which is likely to be the majority of such social groupings -- wouldn't have anything, because they'd all be looking to the social structure to make decisions and no one in it would have anything to say.

Certainly, people from that type of cultural background can get very, very upset about violations of the social order in ways that look like they've got an internal moral model of how things ought to be.

#170 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:38 PM:

Graydon #156:

I also thought this was an insightful paragraph:

The main value isn't being able to abuse, to the people participating in this system; it's being secure, knowing your place, knowing how you relate to the social organization and people around you, and knowing (unless you're on the very bottom of the stack) it's not you that gets left for the leopard.

This made me think of two things:

a. Risk aversion. Maybe for some people, knowing that you're 20/30[1] in the hierarchy is more comfortable than an ambiguous place in the hierarchy ranging from 10-25 depending on context.

b. Different evolutionary strategies that work in different environments. In some environments, a fairly rigid hierarchy is probably the best organization possible. In many environments, it's easy to have squabbling over who is in charge, who gives orders to whom, etc., become a huge drain on time and energy. In some other environments, too much hierarchy cripples you.

There's surely not a best strategy for all humans everywhere, in terms of tolerance of hierarchy, or in terms of where hierarchy is most/least tolerated. And yet, some of this is probably genetically or developmentally decided before your environment will be known, and a huge amount is cultural (and thus evolved within an environment quite different from our current one). The diversity of strategies is probably a win for us as a species. (Perhaps this next century is one in which we'll constantly be in situations where squabbling over where we fit in the hierarchy is lethal for our whole group. Perhaps it's one in which rigidly following hierarchy and custom will lead us to disaster. Not knowing which, having people all across that spectrum probably makes us more likely to survive.)

[1] Number 20 out of 30.

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 04:46 PM:

162
The really extreme example: the ones who believe that people who aren't members of their particular sect aren't moral.
(There are some very conservative Christian churches - nominally Christian, that is - who actually think that way.)

#172 ::: soru ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 06:05 PM:

Or they follow the well known failure strategy of radical left terrorists (Baader-Meinhof has been mentioned) and expect the government to drop its mask and show itself to be the Enemy of the People in a way that the complacent masses will finally wake up join the revolution. Or something.

Of course, the canonical example of that strategy working comes from the same country a few decades earlier.

Richard J Evans, Coming of the Third Reich, p222:

Such men were outraged that they should be arrested for beating up or killing people they considered to be Germany's enemies, and blamed the prison sentences they sometimes had to suffer on the 'Marxist judicial authorities' and the 'corruption' of the Weimar Republic.
..
The cult of violence, derived not least from the Free Corps, was at the heart of the movement. By 1929 it could be seen in operation on a daily basis on the streets. The Nazi movement despised the law, and made no secret of its belief that might was right. It had also evolved a way of diverting legal responsibility from the Party leadership for acts of violence and lawlessness committed by brownshirts and other elements within the movement. For Hitler, Goebels, the Regional Leaders and the rest only gave orders couched in rhetoric that, while violent, was also vague'.

The trick is, obviously, not to expect support from your target, but to pick one that is unpopular enough that some constituency regard you as their champions when you use good, honest violence against them. Vital in gaining that support is to use traditional, culturally respectable forms of violence. In Germany, fists and boots were better than guns (whereas of course in the US the only thing better than a gun is two guns). A Nazi thug shot, probably in self-defence, by a Communist with a gun was immortalised in song:Horst Wessel. In Japan, the most notorious post-war fascist actually used a samurai sword. In all those countries explosives are bad, and suicide belts are right out.

The fact that this group seem to realise that is what makes them massively more dangerous than any mere terrorist. Still highly unlikely to work, but it does start to approach the level of a plausible long-term threat, if fifteen other things go wrong.

#173 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 06:18 PM:

I wish I'd cached the site, now. The picture of the Beast was particularly entertaining, with its head that of a .. um, decaceratops with lions growing out of it. This picture was the background of that page. Tiled.

It's like they found a list of all the things not to do on a Web site, and did them all to prove nobody's the boss of them.

#174 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 06:22 PM:

abababi! So I'm looking in a desultory fashion over the list of Boontling words on Wikipedia, and I should mention I'm also rereading Niven's Destiny's Road. Now, I've always thought that Niven's worlds are all California in drag, and now I know it - his main character's family name is Bloocher! It's in the list! Means "bullshitter"! And it fits the character, too - it can't just be serendipitous!

#175 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 08:25 PM:

his main character's family name is Bloocher!

(offstage sound of horses whinnying in fear)

#176 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2010, 11:32 PM:

Abi, that is fascinating. Even reading down threads about stuff that scares the sh!t out of me provides a bit of education.

I'm glad they arrested them. But I'm scared about what is lurking out there elsewhere.

#177 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:02 AM:

@ The Raven, #144:

That's kind of insulting, actually. We SCAdians generally know exactly how silly we look. And we are a hell of a lot more careful with live weapons around children.

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:30 AM:

Kip W @ 175... Ever noticed that Cloris Leachman was in Robert Aldrich's movie of Mickey Spillane's "Kiss Me Deadly"?

#179 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:26 AM:

Jacque @151:

Teresa: Have you ever written something that might be subtitled A Comprehansive Guide to Writing Slush,
I'd call it Don't Do This.
covering all the various patterns you've observed? (Like Mary Sue and Pretty Word Syndrome and such.)
There's been a fair amount of good writing about Mary Sues and how to avoid giving birth to them, so a little googling could get you close-to-immediate gratification on that score. A quick online purchase plus a few days' waiting will get you Diana Wynne Jones's invaluable Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which is a catalogue of bad fantasy tropes framed as a tourist guidebook. Read it, re-read it, memorize it, hurt yourself laughing.

Also: Absolute Write, "Learn Writing with Uncle Jim." Vast shoals of words on the subject from our own Jim Macdonald.

I could probably do a series of short articles on bad ideas I've seen. The biggest problem would be writing about them without making it possible to identify the author or work. That would be deeply improper if I were talking about unpublished authors, and potentially disastrous if I were talking about published ones.

A few quick ones off the top of my head? (1.) Don't append prologues to your novels. They're too often bad and unnecessary, and in consequence there are too many readers who skip them. (2.) Don't spend the first chapter (or two, or three) shilly-shallying around with character introductions and worldbuilding. Get the story started. Explain only what you need to along the way. (3.) There are few things more discouraging than the first page of a projected fantasy series in which nothing much is happening, but there are six or eight made-up words to assimilate. (4.) Don't put your climax in the last book of the series. Put it in the first book. In fact, put several climaxes in the first book, and lots more in the second, and even more in the third. (5.) Don't give yourself a bored, depressed, indecisive protagonist, unless it's for humorous effect three pages later when you drop him onto a giant narrative rollercoaster. 6. If your passengers are complaining about the scenery, consider the possibility that the scenery is just fine but the train isn't moving fast enough. 7. "I am currently working on digitizing the alphabet I have created to represent my characters' unique yet beautiful language": Don't Do That.

Onward.

Glenn Hauman @153: Gweilo. That sounds dreadfully plausible.

Lee @162:

That also covers the people who believe that atheists cannot possibly be moral --
And therefore have demonstrably not met Rob Hansen or Martin Sutherland.

Graydon @163:

Abuse outward ("community by exclusion") is important, because however lowly you may be, the lowliest instance of foo is less lowly than the loftiest instance of baz; believing this makes it easier to put up with the abuse from above.

This has, in my view, an enormous amount to do with the persistence of racism and the really peculiar forms of the current arguments in favor of it, which really don't parse until an axiom like that axiom is inserted. It's just that there's too much general knowledge of very capable instances of baz these days to make that argument either materially or directly.

I expected Obama's election to explode like a strange silent depth charge in the minds of the Hutaree and their ilk. Having a black president is a blatant violation of the ancient pact between quality and trash: Let us get away with devaluing your labor and your political participation, and in return we'll guarantee that you'll always be able to feel superior to the blacks.

You can see that issue surfacing in Chapter 6 of Huckleberry Finn, where Huck's father gets drunk and waxes indignant about the government, his rights, and a well-dressed educated free black he's seen in town. This free black is not only better off than Pap Finn in every way; he can vote when he's back home in Ohio. Pap is doubly outraged to discover that a free black can't be taken and sold until he's been in the state for six months, and vows he'll never vote again for a government that could allow such a state of affairs. He may be living a depraved and worthless life, but he's supposed to be better than any black, and if he's not, it's the government's fault.

I run into these guys ranting online, and I swear, they sound way too much like Pap Finn for my peace of mind.

KeithS @164:

One thing this whole sorry mess is reminding me of is something that Fred Clarke at Slacktivist has pointed out in the past, along the lines of actions speaking louder than words. What I mean by that is that if you really believed, deeply and truly, that the state was oppressive and evil, then what these guys were doing is a logical response. But the vast majority of people who talk this way don't go to these extremes. They say it, keeping it floating around as a group identifier, but then they get on with their lives, ignoring it, and act surprised when people actually follow through on it.
My father was for some time on the Arizona State Tax Commission. His boss, patron, and best friend was a big old cowboy named Waldo Dewitt. Waldo was shrewd, upright, fair, and more humorous than you'd guess from the photo. He's the reason I always wear a Stetson when I go to cast my vote.

Anyway, one of Waldo's duties at the Tax Commission was hearing disputed cases. He once got a tax evader/protester who claimed he didn't owe taxes because the phoney-baloney paper money he'd been paid wasn't legitimate currency backed by precious metal.

"How did you get here today?" Waldo asked him.

"I drove."

"Did you stop to get gas?"

"Yes."

"What did you use to pay for it?"

That was the end of the matter. Waldo had him dead to rights.

Heather Rose Jones @165: Mapping failure. That's a class of error I'm not familiar with. Where can I find out more about it?

#180 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:32 AM:

soru #172: I have the impression that terrorism in general benefits the right more than the left, because scared people tend to be more authoritarian.

And even the Nazi party in the Weimar republic did not manage to trigger a popular uprising -- not even a general strike, actually. What they *did* get was a plurality in the 1932 election, and after that most of the other political parties just threw in the towel and gave them the loot.

#181 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:29 AM:

albatross @170 --

Thank you!

Social organization is fundamentally constrained by the available communications tech.

So if you have no writing, you can only be as organized as people, on average, can remember. (If you have no transmission systems, you can only know what someone in your village has seen.) Once you've got writing you can have a literate class and predictions of eclipses and cities and that gets you into bureaucracy and the slow evolution of book-keeping and fractional reserve banking. Utility of text gets you movable type, and things that need standard manuals or lots of books become practical. The notion of what it means to be an academic takes a hundred-plus years to really adapt, because it really needed more surplus goods to get *enough* people able to participate, but the Royal Society starts in Newton's time for reasons unconnected to Newton.

Now, we've got ubiquitous voice and video comms to most of the planet; this has a huge effect on what social organizations are possible. Most of them are new, and established class structures hate new forms of organization.

Much of the US' once-and-future political problem can be viewed as socially isolated, community-by-exclusion groups finding themselves unable to maintain the isolation as parts of the comms tech become the business norm. Lots and lots of the rhetoric about maintaining security is about just that; for the love of heaven, how am I going to keep control of my kids if they can talk to anyone at all?

Oh, and culture is a real constraint, but it's also a real choice. While there are any number of circumstances where an unambiguous chain of command is absolutely necessary, none of them even begin to expand to "society" or "economic activity". The authoritarian, single-hierarchy systems persist because enough people figure they're enough better off in relative terms that way that it's worth maintaining. It's never yet been a way to make everybody better off in absolute terms, and in every case I know about acts to make people worse off in absolute terms including all but the very teeniest top tenth of a percent of the hierarchy.

So, yeah, we don't know the future, but we can usefully generalize about forms of human social organization. Fixed-hierarchy systems are detrimental to the progress of mankind.

#182 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:33 AM:

Teresa @ 179... He's the reason I always wear a Stetson when I go to cast my vote.

Photos, please?

#183 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:38 AM:

Could there be less there than meets the eye?

"I’m guessing the middle option: We have, in fact, no specific operational plan, but a bunch of “potential” ones in the indictment. The whole case has the odor of “more aspirational than operational.” At the same time, we’ve seen a whole bunch of (mostly) Muslim eccentrics and worse convicted on serious felony charges for this kind of vaguely detailed activity, so I suspect the feds will be able to make something stick."

Teresa@79

Tolkien gets away with a prologue and a very leisurely start in LOTR. How does he manage it?

#184 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:53 AM:

Nancy #183, LotR is not a good counterexample IMO:

1. LotR is second in a series.
2. Fashion changes.
3. It's not a "prologue" as usually written in today's fantasy doorstoppers, it's actually a massive meta infodump justified the made-up history of the text. (Eco does the same in "Name of the Rose", and Jo Walton in "The King's Name".)
4. I still nearly stopped reading two pages into the prologue.

A case of a typical "cinematic" prologue is in the first book of "A Song of Ice and Fire". Another one in "The Stand" (extended version). Even King's editor cut out that prologue originally.

So, Martin. Who else? Cherryh in "Foreigner" and "Downbelow Station"? Other?

#185 ::: KévinT ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 09:07 AM:

Teresa @179:
Tough Guide to Fantasyland added to my Amazon shopping list.
Most book recommendations from the regulars here or from Jo Walton on tor.com go straight there and, so far, each and every one has been a delight.

Please don't abuse this power?

My bookshelves are exploding in slow-motion all over our place and I get...pointed remarks from my partner every time an Amazon parcel arrives in our inbox (/tongue in cheek).

#186 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:24 AM:

I'm not confident that the spread of forms of instantaneous communication would result in a kinder, gentler society, or a more sophisticated and less hierarchical form of organization (not necessarily the same thing).

Witness student cyber-bullying, or the existence of /b/, trolls, or Free Republic or the online National Review. If you are an isolated nutjob, you can communicate with other isolated nutjobs on the Internet and foster the delusion that you and your friends are a significant sociopolitical movement. I wager the American far right (including militias and Tea Parties) could not exist without the Internet.

If you have the rudimentary technical ability to set up a Wordpress or Blogger blog, other people who are naive about media may take you seriously, much more so than in days when you had to type your screeds on mimeograph sheets and the resulting purple-inked, blurry pages, typed to the edges of the paper on both sides,* screamed insanity to everyone else.

(To those here who are old enough to have used mimeographs, no insult is intended to sane content distributed by such means.)

*In working on the archive of a prominent civil rights lawyer, I found several letters from definitely psychotic individuals who begged him to represent them. They had delusions of persecution (Nazis hiding in the walls, government agencies devoted to persecuting the letter writer, etc.) (date: 1950s-60s). I can verify that they do type to the edges of the paper.

#187 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:31 AM:

sara @186 --

Of course there's not guarantee, but there's a possibility.

The choice space of possible social organizations is greatly expanded by the spread of diverse forms of instantaneous communications, put it that way.

#188 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:31 AM:

"I am currently working on digitizing the alphabet I have created to represent my characters' unique yet beautiful language": Don't Do That.

Ah, yes. Tolkein's Disease. Or, there are some things that should only be attempted if you're one of the premier philologists of your generation. And even Tolkien starts us out with hobbits, and leaves the grammatical and genealogical flourishes for later.

#189 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:36 AM:

Sigh. Well, at least I spelled "Tolkien" right one time out of two.

(Honest, I can spell. I just can't type.)

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:45 AM:

181
Once you've got writing you can have a literate class and predictions of eclipses and cities and that gets you into bureaucracy and the slow evolution of book-keeping and fractional reserve banking.

Current thinking is that bookkeeping came first - writing developed from the labels they put on the clay envelopes with the tokens inside. (The labels were drawings indicating what was inside.)

184
Foreigner has it structured as a brief 'Book One' and a slightly longer 'Book Two', but both contain information necessary to understanding the entire later series ('how the humans got to the planet of the atevi').

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:06 PM:

Debra Doyle @ 189... Tolkein. Tolkien. Should I mention James Tolkan?

#192 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:10 PM:

And the lastest report on these guys, seen at TPM:
46 firearms and 13,000 rounds of ammo found at the home of one of them.

No word on what the others had in their stashes. Yet.

#193 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:11 PM:

Teresa @ 179: Don't put your climax in the last book of the series. Put it in the first book. In fact, put several climaxes in the first book, and lots more in the second, and even more in the third.

<cheap_shot>Laurell K. Hamilton?</cheap_shot>

#194 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:26 PM:

Nancy, #183: As much as I love LOTR, the number of re-reads of it I've done as an adult have left me with the strong opinion that Tolkien was a philology professor, not a writer, and it shows. There are major issues of plot, pacing, and characterization which might very well have driven me away had I not read it for the first time at age 14. It's comfort reading now, and I forgive its flaws for the warm-fuzzy factor, but that doesn't mean I'm unaware of them.

#195 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 12:56 PM:

Jenny Islander, #177: sorry. Like a bad parody of an SCA wedding?

#196 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:01 PM:

TNH

It would be useful for any writer to have your advice tacked / taped where the eyes will turn when leaving screen.

Much of it applies to non-fiction also.

Love, C. -- just another prologue hater, particularly prologues in itals!

#197 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:07 PM:

Evans@192: Do you mean to suggest that that's an unreasonable number of firearms and quantity of ammunition for any well-meaning person to have?

Because it is not at all an unusual amount, among people for whom firearms are an important hobby. I know many people with more than that. I'm close to that amount of ammunition myself, though my firearms collection is considerably smaller; um, let's see, about a dozen firearms.

Let's talk about ammunition, in particular. Ammunition price and availability fluctuate a lot, depending on production, military demand, what's being released into the surplus market, and so forth. A case of rifle ammunition is around 3,000 rounds (I think one of the cases I bought was 3,000, the other 3,600). It's much cheaper bought by the case, and if you go out and shoot a couple of times a week, you can easily go through 500 or more rounds a week. It's also cheaper bought at a gun show than mail-ordering it and hence paying shipping; so you tend to stock up when a dealer with good prices comes to a local show. Now, if you have 3 or 4 rifles in different calibers you use fairly frequently, you want to have a decent ammunition stock for all of them. The more "survivalist" mentality you have, the more stock you'll want.

So, no, 13,000 rounds is nothing unusual at all. I have more than half of that myself. If you're a firearms hobbyist, it's unusual NOT to have that much ammunition.

#198 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 01:33 PM:

David, 197: The light dawns--it's a stash! People who do fibery stuff have acronyms for this--e.g. SABLE, Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. Because you never know when they're going to discontinue that one perfect yarn, so you have to stock up.

#199 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:08 PM:

TexAnne@198: In some cases it's certainly at least partly a stash.

But for your main calibers, it's very often NOT beyond life expectancy; 3,000 rounds is far less than a year at 100 rounds a week. If you have 3 or 4 cases of your favorites, you're well past 13,000 rounds and yet will shoot through it all in only a couple of years.

#200 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:14 PM:

ddb #197:

Thanks, that puts the numbers into context in a way that media reports often don't bother doing, whether from ignorance or indifference.

#201 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:20 PM:

ddb, do most collectors actually keep two years worth of ammo around? The only gunowners I know tend to keep a lot less than that at home.
(I once was sent to a local store for a pound of .45s to use in reloading.)

#202 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 02:34 PM:

Graydon @ 169: "I don't think it's entirely an external moral compass."

Certainly not entirely--there's no one who's purely an empty vessel receiving their moral convictions from a radio tower. In fact I'm pretty sure that most people, authoritarian or not, hold their moral convictions in the same way: comfortably, without much critical examination, largely absorbed via social osmosis. The difference emerges when the beliefs are challenged: well, why do you believe that? My contention is that with authoritarians the answer you tend to get is "Because [authority_figure] said so." The ultimate source of morality is not internal to the individual, but resides in some external authority.

"If it was, groups without charlatans leading them -- which is likely to be the majority of such social groupings -- wouldn't have anything, because they'd all be looking to the social structure to make decisions and no one in it would have anything to say."

But placed into the position of power an authoritarian will feel free to make any decision they please--it will, by definition, be the right one. This is why authoritarian leaders tend to spin out of control, I suspect. They have no practice checking their own impulses.

sara @ 186: "I wager the American far right (including militias and Tea Parties) could not exist without the Internet."

While in general I share your fears about crazy people using communication technology to drive each other crazier, based on this article I think you'd lose that wager.

#203 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:17 PM:

Evans@201: Speaking for everybody in a large and diverse group is always dicey; so I will not exactly answer your question.

People whose hobby is primarily gun collecting don't tend to have a lot of ammo. The ammo stash builds up with people whose hobby is shooting in some form -- formal or informal competition, plinking, or something. Hunting tends to not use up very much ammo, of course.

It's possible that people at intermediate levels of seriousness have more months worth of ammo than people at the higher levels. I'm not that heavy a shooter, but I have somewhere over 7,000 rounds in inventory. Mine can reasonably be considered a stash, I think.

An active serious competitor in say IDPA will probably shoot a match once or twice a month (a match is around 75 shots, varying some), and will probably practice at least once a week for another several hundred shots.

A cowboy action shooting competitor will go through rather more ammo for each match, I believe.

If you do benchrest shooting, you may shoot only 10 or 20 rounds in a long afternoon -- and you assemble the rounds on the spot, because you're trying to optimize them for accuracy under the conditions prevailing that day (changing powder quantity, in some cases perhaps changing bullets or which powder you're using). Benchrest shooting is scored by the diameter of the single hole you punch in the target with 5 shots.

I would not say that "most" people who own guns have a two year supply of ammo. But lots of people for whom guns are a significant hobby have more than 10,000 rounds of ammo, whatever that comes out to in years.

#204 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 03:30 PM:

ddb/TexAnne/PJEvans--

Let's see--300 rounds/month x 12 = 3600, so that 13,000 might cover 4 different weapons, at 300 rounds each, in a year, or two in two years. That's a lot of shooting by some people's standards, but likely not by other people's. If I read 6 books a month, that's not a lot for me--while it's astonishing to someone who reads two or three a year. So I can see it--including buying when advantageous. (Let she who has passed by a book or yarn sale throw the first stone...)

Earlier this year, police in my hometown arrested a man (for threatening to kill his estranged wife and offspring, and then blow up the local police department) who was found to have nearly 100 firearms of various types, many able to operate on full automatic, and 300,000 rounds of ammunition. (He was later found to have nearly 40 firearms stashed in Illinois, and I have no idea how much ammunition he may have had there--if the linked details aren't enough, google Lowell Aughenbaugh and be amazed.)

Just as with any stash--whether it's your three days (or more) stash of food and water for disasters, the craft supplies you've picked up at various times because they were too good a deal to pass up, the books or recordings you aren't willing to part with for one reason or another--there are storage issues. Different stashes have different tolerances, of course--and as we all contemplate the various things we have stashed, I suspect you all can see what I mean. Some stashes are for planned use, of course, and some are just stashes-to-have-stashes.

Ammunition is heavy, and prefers cool and dry--modern propellants aren't as picky about cool as, say, dynamite, or about dry as, say, black powder. But still, there are preferences, although, like phalenopsis orchids, if you're comfortable the ammunition is probably all right as well. I can see storing 13,000 rounds. It's heavy for its size, of course, but the individual rounds are small and pack closely together. If you're a shooter, it's probably entirely conceivable to have that much, if you can afford it.

There's a point, though, where you are getting past the bounds of what it's realistically possible to use--you have become a collector. I know people with more guns than they can shoot regularly, and some are odd and rare types of firearms, because these are every bit as collectable as old coins or stamps or paintings or what have you. An 1858 Navy Colt, with verified use in the American Civil War, is as much an historic relic as a family Bible or other old item. Barring a collection of the rare and unusual, though, there's a line in there, though, where your stash becomes something more--sometimes it's the Collector's Disease--one acquires in order to have acquired, and once the shiny is off the latest item, then a new item is needed. Sometimes it's an expression of fears and anxieties about the world as you see it--Lowell Aughenbaugh justified his immense caches by concern over "the coming world crisis".

Without talking to the stash owner, I'd hesitate to say something was odd about the stash. Those nearly 140 firearms and the associated 300,000+ ammunition might make perfect sense if you owned a shooting gallery where people would come and shoot targets, rent guns to try out on the premises, and so on. It might be a touch eccentric for someone else, but as long as their intentions are peaceable, my own eccentricities keep me from saying more than "How do you keep that many guns in good condition? How do you ever find time to, you know, play with them all? Isn't storage a problem?"--and that not very loudly, because they can, with perfect reason, ask the same sorts of questions about my stashes.

The problem's not the stash, as peculiar as it might look to others--it's the intent of the stash holder. That 46 guns and 13,000 rounds PJ Evans mentions could be the sign of a collector, with a few of those guns used regularly for target practice and hunting--or it could be someone's share of the stockpile for the War to Win Back Amurca.

#205 ::: Mark_W ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 04:19 PM:

Lee @194,

As much as I love LOTR, the number of re-reads of it I've done as an adult have left me with the strong opinion that Tolkien was a philology professor, not a writer, and it shows. There are major issues of plot, pacing, and characterization which might very well have driven me away had I not read it for the first time at age 14. It's comfort reading now, and I forgive its flaws for the warm-fuzzy factor, but that doesn't mean I'm unaware of them.

I hear what you’re saying here1, but I’ve personally (and perhaps idiosyncratically and madly) found that the more I re-read Tolkien, the more I’m inclined to revise my opinion of LoTR upwards. (Adam Roberts has some very interesting things to say about his own latest re-reading.)


1 I know (and I’m sorry that) this sounds vaguely patronizing: It’s really not meant to, but I’m not yet a good enough writer to make it less so, alas....(And “had I not read it for the first time at age 14” is, perhaps (golden age!!!), both vitally important and a whole other subject, although one best, if I can manage, placed on an Open Thread).

#206 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:02 PM:

TNH @179: Don't Do This

Thank you! See? This is exactly what I mean! Which is to say, other very informative and valuable sources notwithstanding (and I'm putting them on my list), if you ever do write such a book, I'd buy it sight unseen. Just sayin'

#207 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:29 PM:

Graydon @163 & Teresa @179
I think they are working from a premise that you've touched on a little (or at least brushed up against) - laws ARE morality.

In a recent dust-up between some friends of mine, the conservative one pulled out his belief that he was ultimately only subject to the laws of God, not man therefore gays shouldn't marry. In broad terms, I think the logic goes something like: Laws are created to enforce morality (ultimate laws being the Commandments then other Biblical guidelines on down). Changing laws changes morality. Therefore change is a threat to morality. And since law reflects the morality of the community and 'these people' are changing the laws, they are threatening the community. I must defend it! I must wake people up to the threat that is being slyly hidden from them!" Enter the devolution into conspiracy theory.

Which of course completely denies that A) the laws are the consensus of the society that created them, a sort of social lubricant (ideally), B) laws are a reflection, not a manifestation, of morality, C) there is room for improvement and perfection of those laws (runs into Holy-therefore-unquestionable territory), D) other people are just as smart and competent as you and can take care of themselves.

Then again, it could just be a more extreme subset of the view on welfare: "I followed all the rules. I did what I was told. I played the game the way I was supposed to. But here's some schmuck who broke the rules, and HE gets rewarded for it, rather than paying the penalty. Who was there helping me not to fail? I must Set Things Right."

#208 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:32 PM:

Fidelio@204: Fully automatic firearms (shoot more than once on a single pull of the trigger) are VERY tightly legally regulated, and it's very likely that the person you cite doesn't own them legally.

However, they sure do burn through ammunition fast. There are lots of places one can go (some businesses, some occasional events) where you can shoot other people's fully auto firearms. Common rates of fire are around 600 rounds per minute, which is to say that a 30-round magazine would be gone in 3 seconds.


Firearms stashed in Illinois may be problematic too, they have weird laws there.

Now, one of my friends does own upwards of 100 firearms; haven't heard an exact count lately (and he's been thinning the herd). WWII and earlier military rifles are of historical interest to some, and quite cheap ($75, not $750). It certainly does take up a lot of storage space -- several rooms full. Nowhere near as much as my library takes though. A good portion of his clearly constitute a collection, recognized as such by my friend as well as by me. Gun collecting is definitely one of the firearms hobbies.

One of my roughly-3000-round cases of rifle ammo is about 16x5x14 (inches) (from memory of the shape, not measured). 100 of those would fit in the basement under my front porch, i.e. a very small portion of my basement (I wouldn't stack them that densely upstairs without consulting a structural engineer first, because ammunition certainly is heavy!).

I don't really care much what people own; it's what they do with it that matters. One wimpy little .22, used carelessly, can cause great tragedy. 100 military rifles, used carefully without ill intent, can cause great joy.

#209 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 05:59 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @183:

Tolkien gets away with a prologue and a very leisurely start in LOTR. How does he manage it?
You're leaving out the weird detour into the matter of Tom Bombadil, and the action coming to a dead stop for an entire chapter of talking heads (many of them belonging to characters not previously introduced) delivering major infodumps.

First, the biggest rule of writing is that if something works, it works, even if it's theoretically impossible (and if it doesn't work, no adherence to theory can excuse it).

Second, story isn't the same thing as plot. Tolkien's generally got story going, even when the plot isn't immediately detectable.

Third, people don't hate infodumps. They hate infodumps that don't work for them. That's circular, I know. Tolkien's information is interesting, and his worldbuilding feels so solid that you don't worry about whether you should take his word on the things he's telling you.

When you look at him closely, he's got a lot of expository tricks up his sleeve.

Fourth, no one's ever counted up the readers who couldn't get through the beginning, or had to make several tries at it before they succeeded in reading it, but they aren't rare. Of those who do make it through the opening of FotR, a further fraction are lost during the long chase across Rohan.

sara @186:

I'm not confident that the spread of forms of instantaneous communication would result in a kinder, gentler society, or a more sophisticated and less hierarchical form of organization (not necessarily the same thing).
No argument here. If I were confident that that's an automatic outcome, I wouldn't spend so many processing cycles thinking about moderation.
Witness student cyber-bullying, or the existence of /b/, trolls, or Free Republic or the online National Review. If you are an isolated nutjob, you can communicate with other isolated nutjobs on the Internet and foster the delusion that you and your friends are a significant sociopolitical movement.
The internet lets people find other people who share their interests, no matter what those interests are. It also generations communication pathologies that couldn't exist anywhere else.
I wager the American far right (including militias and Tea Parties) could not exist without the Internet.
Not in their current form. For instance, right-wing urban legends used to be traded orally, with only occasional appearances in print. Now they circulate in bulk via email forwards.
If you have the rudimentary technical ability to set up a Wordpress or Blogger blog, other people who are naive about media may take you seriously, much more so than in days when you had to type your screeds on mimeograph sheets and the resulting purple-inked, blurry pages, typed to the edges of the paper on both sides,* screamed insanity to everyone else.
If they're printed in purple, they're dittoed, not mimeographed.

Some crazies went in for ditto or mimeo, but not as many as you'd imagine. Back in the day, iirc, most of the examples I saw were single-copy lettering plus collage, or cheap offset printing. The advent of the office copier changed all that. Even a complete nutbar can operate a xerox.

(To those here who are old enough to have used mimeographs, no insult is intended to sane content distributed by such means.)
No offense taken. Mimeography is above such insults. I say nothing of hekto.
*In working on the archive of a prominent civil rights lawyer, I found several letters from definitely psychotic individuals who begged him to represent them. They had delusions of persecution (Nazis hiding in the walls, government agencies devoted to persecuting the letter writer, etc.) (date: 1950s-60s). I can verify that they do type to the edges of the paper.
You're preaching to the choir here. What I used to tell Tor's interns when I was teaching Intro to Slush was that by the end of the summer, they'd be able to recognize from across the room a manuscript written by someone with schizophrenia or a related neurochemical disorder. They never believed me first thing, but by the end of the summer they could spot the things at ten paces.

No one knows why schizophrenics write so many books, but slushpiles are full of them. And if MSWord would let them print text all the way out to the edges, they'd do it.

ddb @197:

Do you mean to suggest that that's an unreasonable number of firearms and quantity of ammunition for any well-meaning person to have? ... I know many people with more than that.
David, you hang out with gun nuts. How many guns they own is as reliable an overall measure of what's normal as our book collections are a reliable measure of how much science fiction the average person owns.

How many mineral specimens is it normal for someone to own? I don't know. Are we talking about you, or are we talking about me?

#210 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:07 PM:

TNH @208: ...or guinea pigs (ahem). ('Course, by a similar token, they, all of them between them, own only one human.)

...they'd be able to recognize from across the room a manuscript written by someone with schizophrenia or a related neurochemical disorder. They never believed me first thing, but by the end of the summer they could spot the things at ten paces.

I can't help but wonder if the mental-health community wouldn't be interested in this tidbit.

#211 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:08 PM:

T@208: By definition (at least mine), anybody with that much stuff is a gun nut, sure. My point, though, is that gun nuts aren't all that "other"; they're science fiction fans and authors and engineers and policemen and owners of dental labs and college instructors, and none of the ones I know have lived in their parents basements any time recently either.

It's "normal" in the sense that people who are not paranoids, not militia members, not especially survivalists (all the examples I know live in major cities), and it's not their only hobby even.

Luckily, having "too many" mineral specimens is not terribly likely to get somebody into trouble, unless they're all uranium ores or something; so there's not much emotional freight attached to what might or might not be "too many".

#212 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:29 PM:

Me, I had to make several tries before getting into LotR (but I was a little young.) The first chapter of Watership Down also baffled me on multiple occasions.

I still think Tolkien's a great writer though. And unlike everyone else in the world, I don't hate Tom Bombadil. (When you consider the total length of the saga, he's not that much of a digression, really. No more than the Ents.)

#213 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:43 PM:

TNH @208: First, the biggest rule of writing is that if something works, it works, even if it's theoretically impossible (and if it doesn't work, no adherence to theory can excuse it).

Most artistic rules actually boil down to advice along the lines of: "OK, that thing you're trying to do because you saw your favorite artist do it? Your favorite artist did it for a reason. Don't do it yourself unless you know what the reason was."

Or the shorter version: "Once you know what the rules are, and how they work, then you can break them."

If you're still at the level of ability where you have to ask permission, you shouldn't be granted it.

Also, not everything works for everyone. I love me some gnarly Neal Stephenson infodump, but it puts some people to sleep. As for Tolkien, well, I've never actually managed to finish all of Lord of the Rings. (The first time, when I was a kid, I skipped over the first half of The Return of the King. The second time, back in the '90s, I don't think I made it through The Two Towers.)

#214 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:51 PM:

David: I'm sorry, that was rude of me. Gun enthusiasts. You hang out with gun enthusiasts.

And yes, I know they're not Other. Getting over any vestiges of that Otherness was part of the reason I was firing all those interesting firearms at that range in Manchester.

Guns are power tools. Five or six is a nice little assortment. Ten or twelve indicates a more serious interest. Forty-six is a lot. Saying so doesn't mean we can judge the owner's intentions; but forty-six guns is a lot.

#215 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:52 PM:

I always felt sorry for the people whose first encounter with Tolkien was the Jackson films, who watched them with confusion, and who then attempted to read the books.

For those disinclined to be hooked, picking up LoTR must have been like picking up War and Peace for those disinclined to be hooked on Russian novels.*

For the first 50 pages of Fellowship, they'd get lot of tiresome detail about some old guy's birthday party, and the need to wrap one's head around a confusing world, English country quaintness (itself translated into the other world and a non-human people) mixed with High Elven mythos. Tolkien himself preferred the latter; The Silmarillion is less of a mish-mash of tones and effects.

As an old fan who first read the books at about age 12, I watched the Jackson films with confusion, and had to thrash out why PJ made the choices that he did.

*(one-to-one comparison of Tolkien and Tolstoy not intended, though you are invited to try a mash-up based on their bibliographic proximity)

#216 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 06:53 PM:

Teresa:

I took ddb's comment to be explaining that this number of rounds of ammo isn't something you'd only have for your scheduled massacre/shootout with the antichrist and his UN henchmen.

#217 ::: Mark_W ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:16 PM:

TNH @208,

First, the biggest rule of writing is that if something works, it works, even if it's theoretically impossible

Yes! I feel (a bit) slightly guilty, as an amateur (reader), rather than a pro (reader or writer), agreeing with you here1, but this reminds me of an explication of “there’s an exception to every rule” that Dave Langford mentioned in one of his White Dwarf review columns2:

If you can write a scene-setting essay as good as that opening Alfred Bester’s Tiger! Tiger!...go right ahead.

It’s the old maxim, I guess: until you know how and why a particular rule works, and why you want to break it, it’s best to stick with the rule. (And ‘no prologue unless it’s really necessary’ is a particularly good rule, in my (amateur) opinion!)

1 I don’t know why, particularly…

2 Number 51, May 1987.

#218 ::: Mark_W ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:24 PM:

Aargh. I see Avram @212 has more or less (and betterly1) said the same thing.

Heigh ho.

[Although personally I find it easier to cope with Tolkien than Stephenson: funny old world, isn't it? :-)]

1 That's not a word, is it?

#219 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:26 PM:

Jacque @ 209: They are aware, I believe — in my intro psych class in college, when we got to abnormal psych, the professor brought in a thick sheaf of letters he'd received. "For some reason, when you're the head of a college psychology department, people write you letters, especially people with schizophrenia. These are examples of what writing by schizophrenics looks like. Pass them around, get an idea. It's very distinctive."

Somebody has been sending disturbing, if not outright threatening, communications to one of the people in our organization. The law enforcement person we've consulted feels frustrated because the communications are all coming by email. "If I could just SEE the writing," he says, "I would have a much better idea of whether this person is really a threat."

#220 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:45 PM:

Teresa @ 208, re: disorders and manuscripts... There was a guy in the APA, all those years ago, who did his contribs in fuzzy black copied onto medium-dark purple paper. I usually didn't even try to decipher them; they reminded me too much of software companies' "copy protected" documentation, except that the latter were usually easier to read, and that was before I would have had to try to deal with the eccentricities of spelling, punctuation, and content.

#221 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:52 PM:

sara, #214: Whereas my reaction to the films was a combination of, "wow, this is a pretty good movie!" and "boy, I'm glad I already know how the story goes." Most of Jackson's decisions I can understand*, but there was unavoidably so much left out of the films that if you don't have that backstory in your head, there are things that just don't make sense.

I had read The Hobbit a year before, and the main reason I didn't pick up LOTR immediately thereafter was the sheer size of it. But I finally decided that if I didn't like it, I could just take it back to the library. And the minute I opened it, I fell in and didn't come back up for 3 days -- I read all 3 books in a single extended gulp, stopping only when I could no longer keep awake. Fortunately, it was summer break!

* Although there's a never-to-be-resolved disagreement between me & my partner over Faramir's decision to drag Frodo and Sam back from Ithilien. I say it blurs the distinction between Boromir and Faramir; he says it's the only legitimate decision a military leader could have made under the circumstances, and that Faramir had to be forced to the realization that he couldn't protect the Ring before he would be willing to let it go.

#222 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:58 PM:

Lee @ 220: Also, Tolkien can tell you about Faramir wrestling with the decision, but Jackson has to show you. Plus: Osgiliath! Nifty!

#223 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 07:59 PM:

Lee@220

About the Movie version of Faramir and the Ring. I'm somewhere in between. I would have preferred that Jackson had kept the events in the book for that sequence. On the other hand, I'm not as opposed to the changes as some people, ultimately I see it as Faramir ending up in the same place but in a more circuitous fashion.

#224 ::: Mark_W ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 08:16 PM:

Lee @220

I essentially agree with you ("most of Jackson's decisions I can understand")

(And there's more on military leadership skills in LoTR here...)

#225 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:00 PM:

ddb @207--If you click on the links in 204, you'll see that yes, indeed, Lowell Aughenbaugh has the sort of legal problems you'd expect someone to have once their cache of converted-to-automatic weapons (and other firearms) had been found by the police after they arrested him for threatening to kill his ex-wife and family, and blow up the police headquarters.

As you say about the topic of guns and ammunition generally, though, it's not the amount, it's the intent.

#226 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:07 PM:

But, at least imo, the basic difference between Faramir and Boromir was that the latter WAS a military leader, while the former was not, at heart, being instead a scholar. Not to say he wasn't skilled as a captain, but it wasn't where he lived, in the way Boromir did. So it always made sense to me that he would consider the matter of Frodo and the Ring, and what to do about them, in terms of all he'd learned studying with Gandalf, and the faith he'd have in Gandalf's decisions.

Jackson's decision to do that sequence differently seemed to me an inevitable outgrowth of all the things he'd changed prior to that point in the story; once you start changing character motivations you will in short order have a different story on your hands. I thought this one was unfortunate in that Faramir came off as Boromir The Younger rather than someone who had long before learned to see the world in quite a different light.

So that's my LOTR digression; if it matters for stats purposes, I usually as a kid skipped the Prologue and the Appendices, but found them much more rewarding as an adult.

Shooting can be an engrossing pastime, but even more so can be taking guns apart and putting them back together, and comparing differences between them, and making small changes to see the effects. They're fully accessible; much like car or truck motors used to be. You can have quite a lot of wholesome fun without ever once needing to take notice that their basic purpose is to kill. I mean, you have to take precautions in storing and handling, but you have to do that with fireworks and even oil-based paints.

Having lots of guns and gun stuff around is not itself strange or worrying; it's having lots of guns plus a worldview that centres on armed takeover of society that makes me nervous.

#227 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:11 PM:

@213--

my gun-owning years preceded the internet, but in the past decade i have sometimes visited sites of knife enthusiasts, and they are happy to call themselves "knife-nuts". people who are excessively enthusiastic about pocket-torches refer to themselves as "flashoholics".

david, do no gun enthusiasts call themselves "gun nuts"? or is it just one of those "we do, but we don't like it when you do" things?

#228 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:33 PM:

ddb @ 210: "Luckily, having "too many" mineral specimens is not terribly likely to get somebody into trouble, unless they're all uranium ores or something; so there's not much emotional freight attached to what might or might not be "too many"."

I feel as if you're attaching far too much importance to the simple presence of guns as the reason for these arrests. Obviously, they do matter: no one would take this group seriously if they didn't have all that armament. But means is only one part of the triangle necessary for conviction for a crime: equally, if not more important are motive and opportunity. Do you or your gun-owning friends organize conspiracies to kill police officers? Then I think you're safe.

#229 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Kid Bitzer, I know at least one firearms enthusiast who dislikes "gun nut" simply because it is so much more often the rationale for hostile legal attention than is the case with folks nuts about most things. Which makes sense to me.

#230 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 10:57 PM:

Jackson could have put in a lot more of the essential bits he left out by simply not putting in so many pointless, boring battle sequences, or just by not having to put in stupid out-of-universe references (snowboarding, dwarf tossing, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker).

I suspect 'gun nut' may be like 'ex-Marine' - nothing that wrong with it on the surface, but evocative of all the wrong things. A former Marine is a guy who used to be in the Marines; an ex-Marine is a guy who used to be in the Marines and is a violent psycho.

#231 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:18 PM:

pericat @225 --

"By some chance the blood of Numenor runs nearly true in him"; that's why Faramir is there in the story, to be the stand-in for the Faithful as Denethor is in the party of the King's Men, in this impossible denouement of a five thousand year long war.

But to put that Faramir in the movie, Jackson would have had to a)understood the idea, and b)cared about it, and he's at seventh and last a hobbit, and doesn't get it and certainly doesn't care. (We would never have had Merry and Pippin's grotesque violation of Treebeard's hospitality in the movie if Jackson got it, either.)

The main problem with either reading or adapting the Lord of the Rings is that the deeper you go, the weirder it gets; there's this guy, and he's having dreams about, and is homesick for, a place that ceased to exist 3,000 years ago. And there's nothing wrong with his mental health.

#232 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:24 PM:

Lee:

As much as I love LOTR, the number of re-reads of it I've done as an adult have left me with the strong opinion that Tolkien was a philology professor, not a writer, and it shows.

There's a little essay by Fritz Leiber in one of the Clarion collections that says something akin to "I don't understand the huge attraction to Tolkien: the man wrote like an Oxford Don. I assume the reason he's so very popular is that it was the first exposure for many to fantasy and it set the standard for them." I assume he figured the reason he wouldn't be hung from a yardarm for writing that essay was that he was Fritz Leiber...

#233 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:44 PM:

One of the militia guys aspired to be a filmmaker.

His 20 minute long epic was pulled from YouTube, but a 5 minute extract was preserved.

You probably won't need to watch more than a couple of minutes. There's almost-complete-nudity, a guy in a duck mask beating the hero with a dildo, lots of cursing.

Odd material for a Christian Warrior.


http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/04/scar_my_tattered_body_no_more_with_your_punishing.php?ref=fpblg

#234 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2010, 11:46 PM:

In the case of the Hutaree, it's the disconnect from reality, not just the reality that I understand, where you effect political change via refining your positions through debate and so forth, but their own reality, where they must inevitably effect the political change they desire through armed conflict.

Posit that the armed conflict part is necessary. Posit even that hordes of the general citizenry will rise up and join you, at the right moment even. So here you are, engaged in a struggle where you're doing a massive amount of shooting and so are your fellow travellers, and it's all more or less co-ordinated and you get refills via clicking on the little 'ammo dump' icon... or something.

That's the mindset where, it seems to me, where the Bug Out videos start. The ones that one of the Hutaree fellows made, I think Joshua. He's rambling on about what to carry with you to survive in the wilderness, and his major points are gel insoles and canned goods. Canned goods, where the weight to nutrition ratio is shockingly prohibitive.

His entire wilderness experience is that of an overnight hike with motorized support. If everything went the way their fantasies said they would go, from manufactured incident to general uprising, they'd still screw it up.

#236 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 12:54 AM:

Graydon, yes. I entirely agree. Faramir is not that guy that Jackson put on the screen; he simply doesn't have those issues.

I think when in Rivendell Jackson's Aragorn questioned his ability to be King was where the divergence really began. If there was anything Tolkien's Aragorn was sure of, it was his destiny as King, his innate right and purpose and duty. Some stuff had to happen before he could be King, that stuff might or might not happen, but if all worked out as it should then he would sit on the throne and do King things and he was totally at peace with that part.

But Jackson's Aragorn isn't. He's got doubts. And so it's important that dying Boromir overtly acknowledge Aragorn as his King, and so on, and the story is then about Aragorn rather than the Ring's destruction and the heroic heights which ordinary beings might reach when put to the ultimate test. And from there springs all the other strange bits Jackson inserted. Faramir must initially try to take Frodo by force to Gondor, since if he didn't he'd obviously be a better, more foresighted leader than Aragorn. Frodo has to reject Sam in favour of Gollum, since if he didn't he'd obviously have his shit together more than Aragorn.

Still, there's no motive I can think of where dwarf-tossing becomes a dramatic imperative. Anyway, my opinion is that Jackson early on began to tell a different story, and that the story he told was not as interesting as the one Tolkien told, but it did include a ton of very cool cinematography.

#237 ::: Dr Paisley ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:15 AM:

Stephen Colbert said it best:

"And Hutaree means 'Christian Warrior' in the special language they only spoke when they were runing around in the woods, so they're like 'Nell' with grenade launchers."

#238 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 01:38 AM:

Teresa, way back in #179, writes:

(1.) Don't append prologues to your novels. They're too often bad and unnecessary, and in consequence there are too many readers who skip them.

Query: Wouldn't "Don't append your novels to prologues" be better?

#239 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:10 AM:

pericat @225, wrt PJ's LOTR: Faramir came off as Boromir The Younger rather than someone who had long before learned to see the world in quite a different light.

I partially disagree with this, at least in view of the scenes added to the Director's Cut of TTT which (imho) make it more apparent that although Faramir's Boromir-like actions don't fundamentally arise out of his own sense of self or worldview, as is true of Boromir himself. Instead, they're a conscious and deliberate "Boromir emulation mode", arising from the dysfunctional family dynamics set up by PJ in the Osgiliath flashback scene.

On the simplest level, Faramir loves his older brother and wants to be like him. Beyond that, however, Faramir hopes that acting like Boromir will win Denethor's love or at least respect, and Boromir's death gives Faramir a sense of obligation that he *must* take Boromir's place and act as he would. (Cf. the Sindarin lyrics in ROTK that translate as "He does the duty of two sons now. For himself; and for the one who will not return.")

I also wonder how much PJ et al. decided to semi-covertly base that family conflict on the death of Finduilas of Dol Amroth-- in canon, she simply dies during Faramir's boyhood when he's old enough to remember her (and PJ shows him with Eowyn wrapped in her mantle), but maybe PJ decided that it was a juicier backstory for her to've died soon after Faramir's birth, and for Denethor to've blamed him for it. Somewhat less speculatively, Faramir *looks* more like Denethor than Boromir does; by process of elimination, Boromir looks more like Finduilas and gets extra affection points from Denethor because of it.

(Mind you, I still howl in protest at the logistics of Faramir bringing the hobbits to Osgiliath-- even if Faramir can resist its call, what about all the other Ithilien rangers around him who heard Sam openly yelling at him about The Enemy's Ring, and might be less inclined to let it go into Mordor? But on the whole, I regard PJ's version as a net benefit, without which there would be much less Silmarillion/HoME-based fandom in the world. I still can't re-read LOTR without hearing the characters as PJ's cast, though.)

#240 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:19 AM:

Bill - there's this word 'prepend' that works.

#241 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 06:09 AM:

i read the books when they came out, and have not seen the movies. but having some recollection of the books' contents, it is interesting to hear about how the movies diverge.

and you can't imagine how glad i was that this sentence from #235:

"Faramir must initially try to take Frodo by force..."

ended with "...to Gondor".

otherwise it looked like it was getting all randy in the worst possible way. what next--gandalf's gulch?

#242 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 11:00 AM:

kid bitzer @ 240: What, you didn't know that Faramir was a pervy hobbit-fancier, too? I guess that fact is omitted from the original pervy hobbit fancier's Journal.

#243 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 02:12 PM:

Reading this entire thread, I have learned that there is this group called the Hutaree; that a bunch of whom just got arrested and indicted; that they adhere to a nutsoburger apocalyptic species of Christianity; that they (well, the ones who haven’t been arrested yet) tend to be armed and extremely dangerous; and that they’re lousy conlangers.

O Fandom, I love you. Never change.

#244 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:25 PM:

So Jackson added "Nobody tosses a dwarf!", but he removed "Here's a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an elven-princeling in." I think it's a wash.

#245 ::: Minivet ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Curious if anyone has any idea why the Hutaree called their organization the "Colonial Christian Republic." Maybe "colonial" has some special evangelical or fundamentalist meaning? One might think it a Tea Party-style reference to the 13 colonies, but "Colonial Christian" appears online in the names of several churches and religious schools.

#246 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:55 PM:

#13 Larry :
What is it with the nutter groups like this and bad web design?

I suspect it's a pitfall for any group that does its own website, and unrelated to sanity or morality - I say this because the ugliest websites I've ever seen have all belonged to support/education groups for various medical conditions...

#212 LDR :
Me, I had to make several tries before getting into LotR (but I was a little young.) The first chapter of Watership Down also baffled me

I started to read Fellowship when I was eight, set it down, then absent-mindedly picked up a copy of Watership Down my mother had left around; it took me a couple of pages to notice the cast had changed, and a few more to realize they were all rabbits - by which point I was hooked. I started LotR again about a year later, enjoyed it, but then had to wait two freakin' years to get a copy of Two Towers and Return ...

#247 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 09:58 PM:

#13 Larry :
What is it with the nutter groups like this and bad web design?

I suspect it's a pitfall for any group that does its own website, and unrelated to sanity or morality - I say this because the ugliest websites I've ever seen have all belonged to support/education groups for various medical conditions...

#212 LDR :
Me, I had to make several tries before getting into LotR (but I was a little young.) The first chapter of Watership Down also baffled me

I started to read Fellowship when I was eight, set it down, then absent-mindedly picked up a copy of Watership Down my mother had left around; it took me a couple of pages to notice the cast had changed, and a few more to realize they were all rabbits - by which point I was hooked. I started LotR again about a year later, enjoyed it, but then had to wait two freakin' years to get a copy of Two Towers and Return ...

#248 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2010, 10:00 PM:

Sorry for the double post.

#249 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 04:56 AM:

When I was a child I read both [i]The Lord of the Rings[/i] and [i]Watership Down[/i] many times. I associate the two of them in some way.

#250 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:01 AM:

heresiarch @202
Certainly, nut groups (like other groups) embrace the internet, but they predate it and will still find a way to ping each other if it goes away. I remember getting a glimpse of proto-TTT gangs in the late 80s when I saw the newsletter circulated by a group some insufficiently distant cousin belonged to, claiming that if you added your zip code to the cube root of pi, that proved taxes were illegal. Or something. Hutarians take note: the paper was called The Duck Club News, I believe.

Before that, in the 50s, a relative disturbingly near to me in many ways was batting out tracts about commies and the international jewish conspiracy. Some of these, it turns out, are still easily available by mail order, where they are probably inspiring skinheads and nativists who wear out their lips sounding out each word by kerosene light.

Jacque @206
"Don't Do This" reminds me of "Stop It!" (YouTube link to Bob Newheart sketch six and a quarter minutes long)

#251 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:06 AM:

sara @215
War and Peace is a good read, though it contains an infodump, which I will stipulate must have been of huge importance to the writer, that makes Ayn Rand look restrained.

Joel Polowin @220
Fuzzy black repro on dark paper? Sounds like the goateed (or un-goateed) twin of the guy in one of my apas whose dittoes were so faded that before I could deal with the spelling, grammar, or sense of them, I sometimes had to trace over them with ballpoint. The transition between there being a mark on the paper and not was crossed so many times, I had to deduce many of the letters from context. It wasn't a huge apa, yet the copies always looked like we were getting the last few squeezings from a 150+ print run.

#252 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 11:08 AM:

("Ah, here's the problem. You're supposed to put some of that sweet-smelling liquid in this reservoir right here!")

#253 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 12:53 PM:

Kip W @250- Thank you for this sentence:

"Don't Do This" reminds me of "Stop It!" (YouTube link to Bob Newheart sketch six and a quarter minutes long).

This is very helpful. I will be using the format for all links from now on, following your good example.

#254 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2010, 03:36 PM:

You're welcome. I -- aw, nuts! I spelled "Newhart" wrong. Sorry, Bob!

#255 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 12:07 PM:

#249,

Well, both are (a) epic, (b) written by mid-20th-c Englishmen, and (c) contain very loving descriptions of landscape, so there's that. Adam's characters are a bit closer to ground level, in more ways than one.

#256 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 09:11 PM:

LDR @212:

You're far from alone in not hating Bombadil.

On the other hand, I suspect that when I next reread, I'm going to find myself unhappy with the Goldberry part of it--she's presented entirely as supplemental to Bombadil. People reasonably complain about Eowyn giving up what she wanted and valued in order to marry Faramir, but Eowyn is an actual character in a way that I don't remember Goldberry being. And Tom has what at least sounds like a person's name, part of a larger social structure, and Goldberry's doesn't. Even though Tom is sui generis and there's a mention of Goldberry being a daughter of some kind of river spirit. She doesn't read like a river spirit, she reads like the spirit of domesticity.

#257 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2010, 11:06 PM:

I like Tom Bombadil. And Goldberry. To me, they're of a piece with Beorn - they're just there. There's no reason for them to be there, no carefully thought-out world reason, I mean. They just are.

If Middle-earth had been populated with one after another of isolated, purpose-free beings, I'd be annoyed. But one or two, in such a thoroughly crafted world as this is, seems to only add to its verisimilitude. So much of our own world simply isn't accounted for or reasoned out; a world should be bigger, much, much bigger, than the logic I can bring to it.

The last time I read that bit, with Goldberry and Tom Bombadil, my impression of Goldberry was that she was no more domestic than, well, a river. Bombadil puts a fair amount of effort into keeping her sweet, and she'd let him know if he slacked off, or grew complacent.

#258 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 03:41 AM:

We're shown Goldberry being hostess, which means that she's doing domestic things. But that's guest-law, not her normal routine. I suspect she's normally about as domestic as Galadriel.

I also suspect that Tom and Goldberry are busy at something most of the time -- just nothing that fits into any story that hobbits, elves, dwarfs and men would understand.

I like them because they're a small piece of some wider world. They give the story depth and proportion, in the same way that the tossed-off reference to the Necromancer does the Hobbit. (We find out what that wider world is, but that's not ever guaranteed.)

#259 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:10 AM:

But if you show the reader a Bombadil in Volume One, it should go off in Volume Three.

#260 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:29 AM:

@259--

awesome. so that's one pun that we can check off.

#261 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 11:54 AM:

kid bitzer, #260: Ouch! That was a 30-second bomb!

#262 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 11:56 AM:

If Tolkien "writes like an Oxford Don," maybe I should look for more writing by Oxford Dons. I really like his language.

What has come to bother me about TLOTR is the racism. Anyone with dark skin is bad in that book. Also anyone with slanted or "squinty" eyes.

#263 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 01:58 PM:

@261-- some say a 15-second bomb. fuse differ.

#264 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 02:04 PM:

I liked Bombadil and Goldberry very much. As Abi says, "Just there, like Beorn."

In my later years they feel to me to be avatars of what the Romans called 'Genius Locii," spirits of the place.

Love, C.

#265 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 05:48 PM:

So, it sounds not like conlang, but conslang?

#266 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 06:54 PM:

Teresa:

the irritating yet ridiculous RCP (try not to laugh: Revolutionary Communist Party) that was active in Seattle when Patrick and I lived there.

Don't you mean the RCYB, the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade? They lasted through most of my career at the UW, until the head idiot jumped on the stage of Kane 120 during a speech by the Dali Lama and shouted "Kill the Dali Lama!" He was immediately arrested and the group was permanently off the campus within a week, the head of the University having dissolved the organization and decided that he was going to have a Come To Jesus meeting with the head of UW Police on the subject of non-student organizations using University Property.

(This leads to my favorite Dicks story. Someone was at Dicks waiting to order a meal the day after the head of the RCYB was released from jail, and realized that the ex-RCYB head was inside taking orders. He got to the window:

"What do you want?"

"Two Dicks Deluxe, two cheeseburgers, four fries, four chocolate shakes, and a Dali Lama burger."

"A WHAT?"

"Oh, kill that Dali Lama burger.")

#267 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 08:00 PM:

I suppose the Dali Lama would use something like The Madonna of Port Lligat as a koan.

#268 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Bruce @ 266: It's the RCP. I remember their occasional d/e/m/o/n/s/t/r/a/t/i/o/n/s/ posturing -- typically somewhere near the Pike Place Market -- from when I worked in downtown Seattle during the early 1980s.

#269 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 11:14 PM:

Kip W @ 254: I liked Steve Wright's bit at the presentation when Bob Newhart was being awarded the Mark Twain Prize for Humor:

"I heard Mark Twain was being awarded the Bob Newhart Prize, and I thought, 'Is he still alive?' "

(Shot of Bob Newhart in the audience laughing).

From the same set: "I use lithium as salad dressing".

#270 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2010, 11:16 PM:

Leroy F. Berven:

The RCYB was the Junior Varsity to the RCP's Varsity. The RCP only showed up occasionally on the UW campus when I was there between 1977 and 1983 which is why I was confused, but the RCYP made up for it in spades. I hold the same warm place in my heart for them as I do for the recruiter for the Church of Dianetics that kept hassling me at my bus stop downtown after I'd had five teeth filled.

#271 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2010, 05:13 AM:

Bruce @ 270: Ah, such a lovely, lovely group of people. I hold them (and their publications of that general era) in much the same warm regard as The Spotlight and the antics of the associated Populist Party. (Both The RCP's publications, and The Spotlight, occasionally showed up in my office's lunchroom, courtesy of various members of out staff. Yes, it was a politically . . . diverse . . . group.

#272 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 04:52 AM:

inge @184 re prologues:

I found the prologue to A Game of Thrones interesting and engaging; stuff starts happening right away to fairly interesting characters. The fact that we then skip to a completely different set of characters and don't find out more about the characters from the prologue for many chapters is not inherently a problem IMO, but my impression is that some other readers tend to find this sort of prologue very annoying. China Mièville has an effective prologue of the same kind in Perdido Street Station, though whether it was he or his editor who decided to typeset it all in italics, it was a bad idea.

The prologue to LotR is of an entirely different kind; most such prologues I find annoying, enjoying them only when the voice of the author immediately charms me. Tolkien got away with it (in my case) for that reason, and Jack Vance's worldbuilding infodump prologues usually work for me for the same reason: he's a master stylist and makes even infodumps fascinating. Gene Wolfe similarly does a good job with this sort of prologue in the Latro books, though I suspect that for most readers (those with no knowledge of Greek or Latin) the prologues to at least the first two could be skipped without much harm to the reading experience.

Cherryh's infodumping prologue in Downbelow Station however I found deadly dull, and skimmed it -- though admittedly I didn't enjoy the rest of the book much more; after that and a few of her other novels I decided she was in general not to my taste. But of all her stuff I've read I found that prologue the worst single chapter.

#273 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 04:59 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @209:

Fourth, no one's ever counted up the readers who couldn't get through the beginning, or had to make several tries at it before they succeeded in reading it, but they aren't rare.

Just in my family, I think most or all of the people who have read or started to read LotR bounced off of it the first time (including me); two of us never finished it, and one other later read the whole thing and still disliked it and didn't want to read it again, leaving only a couple of diehard fans who've read it multiple times. These are all geeky people who've read a lot of sf and fantasy, though a couple of them probably read more mainstream than fantastic fiction.

And if MSWord would let them print text all the way out to the edges, they'd do it.

I think it will, but it requires a level of skill at fiddling with the settings that most users don't have.


Xopher @230:

Jackson could have put in a lot more of the essential bits he left out by simply not putting in so many pointless, boring battle sequences, or just by not having to put in stupid out-of-universe references (snowboarding, dwarf tossing, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker).

Yes! I think this is one aspect of a larger issue, though: Jackson has no notion of subtlety (or if he knows what it is, he apparently thinks it's out of place in filmmaking). The epitome of this, IMO, is where the book has Pippin tossing a pebble into the well and disturbing the Balrog; Jackson throws a lantern, chain, and an entire skeleton in armor into the well. This turns a scene that should inspire nameless forboding into a stupid slapstick moment. There are things like that all through the movies; they were fun to watch on the big screen, but I probably won't ever want to see them again.


Sarah E @255:

Well, both are (a) epic, (b) written by mid-20th-c Englishmen, and (c) contain very loving descriptions of landscape

And both include conlangs; though Tolkien's are far better developed, Adams' is more than just a skech, if I'm not mistaken.

#274 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 05:30 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @179

7. "I am currently working on digitizing the alphabet I have created to represent my characters' unique yet beautiful language": Don't Do That.

Debra Doyle @188:

...there are some things that should only be attempted if you're one of the premier philologists of your generation.

I would (very conscious of my temerity at correcting persons so august as yourselves on a piece writing advice) amend this to say something like: Do all the conlanging (or other worldbuilding) you like, as long as you remember it's not the same as actual writing, probably doesn't belong in the body of your story, and probably doesn't belong in an appendix either (ask your editor if you think it does, but they'll probably say it doesn't). Maybe it could go on your website in a section for people who want to explore the background of the novel further, when and if it's published.

Or: Conlanging (or other worldbuilding) when you haven't made your word-count goal for the day is a species of cat-vacuuming. (I say this, though I've spent more time conlanging than writing in the last 24 hours.)

Or: Do enough conlanging to make the place-names and personal names feel consistent, like they come from a real language (or preferably multiple real languages, unless you have really good reasons for your setting to be monolingual), but don't put big chunks of conlang text into the body of the novel. Any conlanging beyond what you need for making consistent, appropriate names is not part of the writing process, or even part of preparation for writing; it's a separate work of art, with a much smaller potential audience than the story, and probably zero commercial potential unless the story it's associated with becomes ridiculously popular on its own merits.

And maybe: Get your conlang reviewed by other conlangers, just like you have your novel reviewed by beta readers before you submit it to a publisher. If the reviews by the other conlangers aren't unusually enthusiastic, maybe your readers don't need to see any part of the conlang other than the names of people and places, even on your website.

There's probably more to say about the difference between a good conlang qua conlang and a good conlang qua story-background material, but this is getting too long; I'll stop here for now.

#275 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:08 AM:

Jim Henry @273 And both include conlangs; though Tolkien's are far better developed, Adams' is more than just a skech, if I'm not mistaken.

I remember, when I was reading Watership Down, pausing over one of the terms in the rabbit's language and wondering in all seriousness how the author knew the rabbits' word for that.

And then realizing that it's all fiction. But deeply believable for me at that moment, obviously.

#276 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 09:48 AM:

Jim Henry @274, I think those are some good rules. The thing to remember is that while Tolkien may have said he invented his world in order to have a place where his languages could be spoken, he also said that he wanted to try his hand at writing a really long STORY. LotR is a story you can read without caring a whit about the languages -- but they add depth if you want to pursue it. (And he was a world-champion cat-vacuumer, except he called it Niggling.)

And I agree with you about Jackson. I've said elsewhere that the Moria sequence would have been better directed by Hitchcock -- suspense, not horror, should have been the aim, not simply to keep it true to the book but to keep it from stepping over the edge into farce.

#277 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 04:28 PM:

When I read Watership Down as a child, I was in all truth rather fuzzy on the topic of what was real rabbit natural history and what was Adams' invention.

#278 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 05:51 PM:

Jim, #274: Do enough conlanging to make the place-names and personal names feel consistent, like they come from a real language (or preferably multiple real languages, unless you have really good reasons for your setting to be monolingual)

This is really good advice. Personal and place names that feel right add a lot to a story. A couple of authors who IMO do a very good job with this:

- Doyle & Macdonald, in the Mageworlds books. There are subtle but noticeable differences in the proper names and place names from different planets on the non-Mage side, such that after a while I could take a good guess as to where someone was from just by his or her name. And the names on the Mage side are more different still, and carry a flavor of the exotic by comparison to non-Mage names; this fits well with the overall plot.

- Janet Kagan, who had a real gift for coming up with the common names her explorers and settlers would give to new-planet flora and fauna. "Stick-me-quick" is clearly something with nasty thorns; "lambkill" is poisonous to sheep; "Eilo's-kiss" will give you a nasty, possibly lethal shock if you touch it (actually, this one sort of goes the other direction -- once you know that, you can figure out that Eilo must be a death-goddess like Kali); "flashgrass" glitters in the wind due to piezoelectric effects. The names add a layer of richness to the story.

#279 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 06:06 PM:

I'm also fond of Lois McMaster Bujold's plantnames, like Damnweed and Love-Lies-Itching.

#280 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 06:32 PM:

More fun Hutaree stuff:

They made up a map of their future nation, with place names based on members' names.

One member called the cops because his mom confiscated his guns.

#281 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 06:42 PM:

The theme song for the Hutaree conlang should probably be "Bang Shang A Lang" by The Archies.

#282 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 06:57 PM:

or possibly,
"i love to go, militia-ing...
hutaree, hutaraaa, hutaree, hutaraa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha..."

#283 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:43 PM:

#256 Vicki
I was bored by Bombadil and has no more positive a response to Goldberry than you did... and I wondered why they didn't have any offspring.

#272 Jim Henry

I gave up reading GRRM's footbreakers because I didn't remember who was who and did not feel like reading All That Had Gone Before.

I found Downbelow Station unreadable until after reading Merchanter's Luck. The latter has two main viewpoint characters, not a dozen ensemble key character and additional minor viewpoint characters--it may or may not have had more than Stand on Zanzibar....Merchanter's Luck explains some of the things that were going on in Downbelow Station and provide an entry into it, as opposed to being dumped on by characters in the middle of a war with refugees incoming, threat of spaceships coming in to attack, ships maneuvering and having their own agendas, triple crossers, deep cover saboteurs, conscienceless ruthless military out for fun, a martinent ship commander, station people trying to prevent station-wide riots with the influx of undocumented refugees.... the situations involve mass confusion, deceit, lies, crosspurposes, etc.

Cyteen I felt like I was tryign to wade through cold molasses and would up stuck by page 50...

It wasn't the prologue to Downbelow Station that bogged down, it was the constant headhopping and lack of clarity of the situation.

What bogged me Cyteen was the to me tedious politics and A thinking B was doig whatever to C and intending on psyching out... and little of what I regarded as action-adventure stuff.

#284 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 08:49 PM:

kid bitzer, please to take your earworm back.

#285 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 09:10 PM:

I don't like Cherryh's infodumps, but I really liked Downbelow Station and Cyteen, in part for exactly the reasons Paula didn't. Merchanter's Luck was OK, but nothing special.

#286 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 10:17 PM:

Here's where I play the sf version of Humiliation: it was only when I saw Jo's review on tor.com that I found out Cyteen wasn't about a cyborg teenager. I didn't like the Chanur books enough to pick it up and read the flap copy, and then I went to grad school and didn't read sf for ten years. Oops!

#287 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 10:48 PM:

Paula #283I was bored by Bombadil and has no more positive a response to Goldberry than you did... and I wondered why they didn't have any offspring.

Admittedly, I haven't read the books in a long time, but there seem to be a few things wrong with that statement....

1) Why are you assuming that they don't? They're both likely immortal, so they could have any number of offspring that have long since gone their own ways.

2) Or, why do you think the them hanging out together would be to make a nice cozy human-style family? Because they appear male and female to human eyes?

3) For that matter, how do you know that they're even the same species?

#288 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2010, 11:15 PM:

Bombadil is called The Eldest. If I'm not mistaken, he's called that by Treebeard.

So yeah, pretty immortal there.

#289 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:45 AM:

David @287, #3 was my very first thought.

And now I'm wondering, why half-elves, but no half-dwarves?

#290 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 11:04 AM:

pericat @ 289 -- Elves and Men were both created by Ilúvatar, and evidently made to be compatible enough to crossbreed. The Dwarves were made by Aulë and perhaps compatibility wasn't a consideration.

#291 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 11:22 AM:

Huh. and here I thought it was the height-of-dwarf to length-of-beard ratio. Some things need a really special kind of girl.

#292 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 11:26 AM:

why half-elves, but no half-dwarves?

Dwarves are pickier.

Elves will screw anything that moves (and some things that don't).

#293 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 11:28 AM:

Would a half-hobbit be a quarterling? I should get more coffee.

#294 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 11:37 AM:

Jim @292 I guess it whiles away the immortality.

#295 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:05 PM:

File under "Incroyable": Iarwain Ben Adar has a facebook page.

Really. Now I'm afraid to look further.

#296 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:20 PM:

If Iarwain Ben-Adar is "first and fatherless", who or what is/was Adar?

I know, probably a false cognate...

#297 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 12:34 PM:

If Iarwain Ben-Adar is "first and fatherless", who or what is/was Adar?

A mis-understanding. If you must know, he had a dreadful vaudeville stage-Italian accent.

In later ages, whenever someone asked him about a particular place or region, he'd reply "I benna dere."

#298 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 01:04 PM:

I think 'Ben Adar' literally means "son of no one."

#299 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 01:32 PM:

Xopher @ 298: I defer to the Encyclopedia of Arda -- "The Elvish prefix ben- means 'without', and adar is 'father', so the name 'Ben-adar' literally means 'without a father'. The adar element of this name is fairly common in other names, too. It appears as atar, for example, in Ilúvatar 'Father of All' and Atanatári 'Fathers of Men'."

#300 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 01:59 PM:

So, pretty much the meaning that I might have guessed, but completely different linguistically.

#301 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 02:41 PM:

pericat @ 294: And where's the soap?

#302 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 03:17 PM:

"One [Hutaree] member called the cops because his mom confiscated his guns."

That reminds me of a Boondocks cartoon.

#303 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 04:29 PM:

Jim MacDonald @292:(why half-elves, but no half-dwarves?) Dwarves are pickier. Elves will screw anything that moves (and some things that don't).

For the elves, this simplifies both their social lives and their assembly of Ikea furniture.

Dwarves, conversely, assess the particular situation before deciding on anything from Velcro and duct tape to rivets and arc-welders-- and if they *do* screw something, it's properly countersunk.

#304 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 06:02 PM:

Jim Macdonald at 292 and Julie L. at 303:

In Astra and Flondrix, dwarves had corkscrew penises and elves reproduced by oral sex.

#305 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 07:21 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 304: In Astra and Flondrix, dwarves had corkscrew penises

Huh. Was that a basis for a distinct sexual-orientation axis: helical chirality? "No, sorry, I'm a left-hander, and I see that you're a rightie."

#306 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2010, 08:42 PM:

To get pedantic, dwarves are so clannish they don't teach their own language to outsiders and even their names are secret--Thorin Oakenshield was not called Thorin at home. Elves and Men are the Firstborn and the Aftercomers and apparently Eru made provision for them wanting to get closer. Sucks to be the immortal partner in that marriage, though. I imagine Elrond sometimes had to shake off a spell of the creeps when he saw Aragorn in a certain light and suddenly Elros was looking back at him.

#307 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 11:22 AM:

Kid@227: I and the fannish firearms hobbyists I know use the "gun nut" label for ourselves as well as for others. Kind of a wry acceptance that we're a bit far out on this topic.

The term "gun nut" may have accidentally become a stronger statement due to resonances leaking over from "wing-nut", a phrase frequently used these days.

#308 ::: ddb ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 11:26 AM:

heresiarch@228: I don't feel safe. As SF fans and gamers, talking out possible scenarios is something that happens. Sometimes they're things we half-want to happen, sometimes they're the worst thing we can imagine. Somebody who heard us talking out a scenario could couple that with owning firearms and going to the range to practice and present conspiracy with a concrete action.

The standard for an action in support of a plan is, I think, too weak.

#309 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 11:49 AM:

I remember Tolkien's account of why the numbers of the Dwarves increased only slowly: because there weren't many females, only about one in three, and they tended to set their hearts on one male and, if they can't get him, to give up; meanwhile, a lot of male dwarves are too engrossed in their craft to want to marry.

#310 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 08:40 PM:

ddb @ 308: "I don't feel safe."

That's a statement of emotion, not a claim about reality.

#311 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 09:38 PM:

The reality is that gaming conversation in public places has been self-censored to avoid arrest. It actually isn't safe at all to be a gaming fan these days.

#312 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 10:43 PM:

On gaming conversation:
I once heard a description of a conversation involving Bjo, after an SCA affair, where they were sitting in a coffee shop discussing it, and the phrase 'people were killed in the melee' was used. And someone turned around and found a couple of CHP officers sitting in the next booth. 'Just kidding.'

I'm not sure it would have been as friendly a meeting these days.

#313 ::: Paula LIeberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 10:59 PM:

#287 David

1) I would have expected mention of offspring if they had any.

2) I was 16 or so in a different time than the present.... no same gender marriage back then!

3) Different species can have offspring, but generally the offspring are mules... plus, elves and humans had fertile offspring...

#314 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2010, 11:25 PM:

Erik @ #304--rotflmao...

#315 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 02:32 AM:

DDB, a diagnostic question or five.

How often in your adult life has someone with power over you used stereotypes about groups you [seem to] belong to as a basis for action?

Of that body of experiences, how possible has it been to challenge those actions and stereotypes? Have you tended to find external support for such challenges, or had to go it alone?

Have any such challenges been genuinely successful? Have you generally managed to replace incorrect (and negative) assumptions with observable, evidence-based and individual reality?

#316 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2010, 10:52 AM:

Earl @311, PJ Evans @312:

AKA "this is why we can't have nice things".

#318 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2011, 09:30 AM:

Nope, definitely Turkish.

#319 ::: fidelio sees even more of the same spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2011, 12:35 PM:

Whatever it is, it's Not Your Usual ML Poster.

#320 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2012, 06:42 PM:

Byron Reed should not be guided by the likes of you! Spammer die now.

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