Killing Us Softly

According To Hoyt

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A friend of mine who might or might have been reading college program application essays felt a need to vent, particularly in the wake of Marshall’s essay yesterday.  Call this “the other side.”

Now keep in mind he works for a prestigious humanities program, which means he attracts a certain type of person, but all the same the essays are worrying him.  He says the problem is how “nice” these kids have been taught to be.  And how the “worrisome thing is when they try to be tolerant.”

I.e. the essay that worried him the most was the one that said we shouldn’t all pile on on people who give offense or hurt others.  It’s when they persist in using hurtful terms or saying things that they know will hurt people that they need to be — kindly — reeducated.

Talking to him, I felt these were the GOOD kids. …

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The Value of Pain

According To Hoyt

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Look, I’m not a masochist.  I hate pain.  No, I mean I really hate pain, particularly emotional pain.  Not that I’m fond of physical pain, but it’s easier to just lean back and endure than emotional pain.  Also ibuprofen does bloody nothing for emotional pain.

But I figured out when I was giving birth to younger son that there is a purpose to pain, a purpose to effort and struggle.  You see, without it babies wouldn’t be so incredibly important to mothers.  No, really.  I think if you could have a kid with absolutely no, or very little pain, you’d not value them so highly.  (Yes, I explained this to the doctors WHILE I WAS GIVING BIRTH.  I’M A BIT NUTS.)

When I was young and stupid I created a gengeeniered human subspecies (you’ll see) who give birth with next to no pain.  Since a lot of them are nomadic…

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Bad Bad Futures Which Didn’t Happen – The Serial Number Version

According To Hoyt

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The other day husband and I were in front of the computer that’s used as a TV, and he was looking at trailers (I think I was writing, but I might have been painting something.)   After about the third “science fiction” movie trailer, my husband said “Do they realize all these futures are essentially Maoist?  They all dress alike, they’re addressed by their rank in society, they have completely scripted lives?”

And I realized he’s right and it’s not just the dystopias, even.  In all imagined SF futures, STILL, everyone dresses alike and is some kind of cog in a big machine.

Okay, I give Star Trek a pass, as what we’re seeing is more or less the military in this society.  (Or perhaps the Peace Corps. Or yes. I never figured it out, fully.) But even then you have a feeling private citizens live pretty similar lives.

Why?

Well…

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Paying It Forward

According To Hoyt

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Paying it forward is a well known principle of all Heinlein fans, since he advocated it so strenuously.

I know why too.  Coming up in writing, even now, but particularly under trad, you needed so many people to give you a hand up that it was impossible to pay them all back.  Impossible, particularly, unless you became a mega bestseller, since a ton of the people who helped were bestsellers.

Sometimes you managed it, little by little.  The first person to give me a chance at magazine sales eventually asked me to be in an anthology that didn’t pay but was HIS labor of love, and I could say yes (even if it came at the worst possible time, as I was very ill.)  Other friends I’ve helped promo or done work with.

But that’s not the idea anyway.  In the field as it was — and to an extent…

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How to Combat Depression

According To Hoyt

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I hate chaos, which is weird because most people perceive me as working best in the middle of chaos.  But it’s not … precisely true.  I love the “controlled chaos” of very, very, very busy. My happiest years (except romantically.  I didn’t have Dan yet, and I can’t even imagine that now) were in college, when I was going to school, tutoring AND had a busy social life.

Partly, of course, it’s that I am a depressive and also an introvert.  These two feed off each other, because if I get my wishes, I sit in a room, with my own thoughts, and when they turn to depression, there’s nothing I can do. And the depression feeds the introversion.  The bottom stage of this is me in a dark room both physically and metaphorically.

And my portion of hating chaos can also feed depression, because I can lock myself into…

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Thoughts on Explorers and Pioneers— Past and (Possibly) Future – by Hank Davis

According To Hoyt

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Thoughts on Explorers and Pioneers—
Past and (Possibly) Future – by Hank Davis

Let’s get Columbus out of the way first. But don’t worry, he’ll be back for a curtain call.
Two things: first, Columbus did not decide, against the prevailing thinking of his day, that the Earth was round and go off in three little ships to find a new route to Asia.
(Speaking of which, is there still anyone who thinks that Columbus set off to discover America, or even a new land? In the seventh grade, I actually had a social studies teacher write that on the blackboard and had to correct her–but then she was fresh out of college, this was her first teaching job, and she realized I was right and took it well [in spite of my being a snotty little brat back then], which was a relief since she was certainly the prettiest…

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RAH!

According To Hoyt

birthday-1114056 This should be a serpent eating its tail, but I don’t feel like looking for an image, so twisty candles will have to do.

It is Heinlein’s birthday.  It is also coincidentally my oldest son’s birthday.  It is one of those things that makes me believe I’m living in a novel, as it connects me simultaneously to the past and the future. The man who molded my thought, and the man I helped mold (a little bit.  It will shock all of you that he’s a stubborn cuss, right?) both sharing the same name and born on the same date.  (Though our Robert started the being born thing on the fourth of July, he hung fire till the seventh early morning.  Go figure.  And yeah, I loved the three days hard labor.  Not.)

Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what it means to be a writer, and…

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Jimmy Carter and The N-Word

Way back in junior high school, in the late 1970s, we read an essay written by Jimmy Carter (President James Earl Carter) in which he described picking and selling peanuts when he was a kid, and later using his earnings to buy, in his words, “nigger shacks,” to fix up and resell, apparently.
This essay, written in the first person by Carter, appeared in a publication like The Weekly Reader (I’m not sure if it was that or a different title, I don’t recall exactly — it was about 40 years ago, so the N-Word is what stands out most in my meory). Though in that time we occasionally heard the n-word in a joke, it was still a shock to read it in the words of our president.
Does anyone recall reading that article? I haven’t yet found reference to it online.

The Wall by John Hersey

The Wall by John Hersey is one of the best and most important novels I’ve read.
The story follows the lives (if you can call it life) of a dozen of the half million Jews trapped in the Warsaw ghetto during the war, their struggles to cope, to live life, to survive, as the wall is built, conditions steadily worsen in the face of hunger, disease, and Nazi “manhunts,” and fellow citizens are “deported.” Some try to persevere, some try to escape, some try to fight back, some just give up.
Though this is a fictional novel, it is based on true events, and I learned more about ghetto life, concentration camps, and underground resistance than I could in any history class. I suggest printing a map to refer to while reading (I found a good one of the ghetto in 1942-1943 online). It may take 20 or 40 pages to get used to the format (a journal with dashes in place of quotation marks), but it’s well worth it and gets more and more fascinating, poignant, profound, and enthralling. I’ll never forget some of the heroic characters, especially Rachel and Berson.
Here are a few quotations, not the best of the book, just what I had a chance to copy: “To me, it makes no difference whether I am to die at the hands of Nazis or of microbes.” – Goldflamm in The Wall by John Hersey, page 369.
“The fact that a man is a man is more important than the fact that he believes what he believes.” -The Wall by John Hersey, page 426.
“I now see that the greatest mistake we can make is to try to judge a whole man from the few things we hear him say and see him do.” Levinson in The Wall by John Hersey, page. 582.
“A romantic is usually both self-centered and boastful.” – Levinson in The Wall by John Hersey, page 621.
“There is nothing like an expensive mistake to show a man to himself.” – Berson in The Wall by John Hersey, page 625.

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Health, Wealth, Love

According To Hoyt

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When I was little, our unsophisticated New Year’s toasts “Health” or for reasons unknown to me “Chinchin” were raised to another level by visiting relatives.  I assume they were from Venezuela, because we did them in Spanish forever more.

And you’ll forgive me because I can’t write in Spanish, and it’s be so long I might not remember the right words, but I think it was “Salud, Dinero y amor.”

Health, wealth and love.

I used to think older people were strange and stodgy because when you asked them what they wanted in the new year, they said “health.”  Even as a very sickly child, I didn’t understand the point of that.  Okay, a part of it is that I didn’t understand why anyone would ask for health.  It either came or it didn’t and in my case it seemed a hopeless business.  But more importantly, ill-health didn’t affect anything. …

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