My original post is lost for now, but today I ask you to remember the Marines of Beirut. I particularly will remember and honor Bill Stelpflug, Lance Corporal, USMC. You are not forgotten.
A person arrested in Colorado is now a “person of interest” in the murder of Abigail Williams and Liberty German, two teens murdered on the Monon Trail here in Indiana. Until convicted, please continue to share the sketch/photos and audio of the man who killed them so that justice can be done in this case. Thank you.
NOTE: I started writing this the day the news broke; but, life has been hectic and frankly this one has been hard to write. So, trying to finish it now and get it out.
Since hearing the news of his death, I’ve been thinking about the Jerry Pournelle I knew. That phrasing is very deliberate, because science fiction fandom has long been into drama, and the tall tales of Jerry and others were legend continuously being embellished and embossed. Many in the field have written about him, and he was a giant in the field. Yet, far fewer realize the impact he had on many areas outside the field.
I first met him at a worldcon (LA I think) and while he was harried and hurried, he was gracious. I think I met him again at another con, but it was when we met at a science conference that he took a look at me, and some amazing things (from my perspective) happened.
I suddenly found myself under his wing, loudly threatened with a messy departure from this life (his booming pronouncement of same echoing through the atrium literally caused the lobby and other parts of the Hyatt in Chicago to fall silent), and being introduced to a wide range of figures in science, science fiction, and other fields. In fact, at that science conference, I found myself going to a dinner I could only dream of on government per diem with Jerry, his lovely and gracious wife Roberta, Fred Pohl, and a number of other luminaries.
What struck me at the time was that he and the others treated me and my opinions as worthy of hearing and discussion — and drew me out on them. While I had been doing science reporting and writing for several years at that point, I was still early in my career and was definitely the junior party present. In fact, I rather felt like an E-1 suddenly finding himself at dinner with the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs and other senior leaders. Yet, Jerry set the tone and I was encouraged by all to join in on the discussions.
It was the first of several such dinners over the years, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to reciprocate many years later. It was more than dinners. I found myself included in a number of discussions, informal meetings, and more. We discussed ways to get humanity into space, deal with a variety of threats here at home, and shoot the bull. Jerry, and Roberta, helped take some rough edges off of me, and provided some life lessons well beyond writing.
Yet, for all that he was a giant in the science fiction field, few realize the crucial role he played in winning the Cold War; in the aerospace industry; in setting the stage for the current commercial space industry; in advancing computing and personal computing; and, with Roberta, in education. Few realize he was a polymath, with degrees covering a wide range of topics while focused on his core. He had significant impact in each of them.
He served in the Korean War with the Army, then obtained several degrees. While doing that, he also worked for Boeing and as part of that worked on Project Thor, a KEV concept that continues to evolve (and offers a much needed alternative to nuclear strikes, IMO). He then went on to do more work in the field, including serving as the founding president of the Pepperdine Research Institute.
When I was working commercial space activities at NASA, I was unsurprised to find that Jerry was there ahead of me in terms of sowing seeds with the investment community. Not just for launch services, but in terms of the wide range of research that can (and does) benefit from research in microgravity — everything from casting metals to plant growth.
His work — and Roberta’s — in education is very much under appreciated in my opinion. Together, they have advanced a number of theories and initiatives that could help with the current state of education.
His work in computing was far more than his column. In fact, he used his column to push a number of things that have helped bring about the current state of the field — and lay groundwork for the future.
The small part I played in the Cold War was an area where Jerry helped provide context by sharing history and his experiences, which pre-dated mine. It shaped some of my thoughts on preparedness — a topic on which we both had considerable interest.
Nor were all the times serious. We laughed, told tales, and generally had a good time even as we discussed and plotted on more serious things.
For all his legend, there was a great deal of thought behind what he said, and even how he said it. We did not always agree; but, when presented with a differing opinion he always listened and there were some interesting bits of discourse between those present. Eye opening and mind opening does not begin to describe it.
If there is a way to influence things from that which awaits, I have little doubt that he, Aleta Jackson, and some others are already deep into discussions and efforts to do just that.
There is so much more I could say, but the fact is he was more than an author. He was an innovator who encouraged innovation and growth in a number of fields. More than that, he encouraged people with a wide range of interests (and beliefs) to think, grow, and do.
Godspeed Jerry. Prayers are said for you and your family, and for all you leave behind. Thank you for all you did for me, and for being you. The world has lost not just a gifted writer, but someone who worked tirelessly to make practical and positive changes to the world.
It has been a bit more than four months since a creature murdered Abigail Williams and Liberty German. Libby, who was considering a career in law enforcement (forensics), caught a photo of the perp, and then recorded what happened to them. The two girls stayed together until the end, despite any opportunities for one of them to escape. Someone, somewhere, knows who this person is, will recoginze the photo or voice. Share this far and wide, and leave the sack of something no place to hide. More details on the investigation can be found here.
This is my Dad, in a photo shot during his first hitch in the Corps, app. 1932. He does resemble a certain fictional Gunny, doesn’t he?
Today, I remember my father, and I understand him more than he ever wanted me to in some areas. I really want to write his life story, but will probably have to do it as fiction as few would believe it otherwise.
During his first hitch, he was the sole survivor of his squad. They were on the then mandatory cruise after boot camp, and were up in formation on the deck of the Wyoming to witness a 5-inch gunnery demonstration when one of the guns blew. Dad came to with medics checking him, saying that this one was dead too because of the brains in his hair.
I only learned of the full details because years later he met a friend of mine named Jabe. I saw Dad giving him some serious looks at the time, but thought it might be for other reasons. Later, he took me aside and told me how Jabe reminded him of one of his best friends, a big guy who happened to be standing in front of Dad that fateful day on the Wyoming. He was enough bigger that he shielded Dad from the worst.
When WWII started, Dad had a draft-exempt job at Hercules Powder. The supervisor kept getting him temporary exemptions, and Dad told him to make it a permanent one or he was gone. The supervisor did a temporary, and Dad went back into the Corps. He taught marksmanship (San Diego, where his next-door-neighbor was Joan Crawford), until he and others heard their names called as volunteering to reinforce Marines on an island that fell soon after.
In Hawai’i during transit, he saw a notice for a bodyguard/orderly position, and put in for it immediately. The officer who interviewed him was quite taken with Dad’s expert ratings with various weapons (he had shot competitions for the Corps during his first hitch), and then asked him when he had been an orderly. Dad replied that he had been orderly to the Captain of the Wyoming in 193X. Dad had indeed been assigned that duty, for a week, as his light duty after the gun accident. The officer didn’t ask Dad how long, but instead asked him “Are you a goddamm retread?” My Dad, at the time a good Southern Baptist, responded “Yes Sir! I am a goddamm retread Sir!” The officer laughed, and said that he was exactly what they were looking for. He then asked Dad if he would like to meet the officer for whom he would be orderly and bodyguard. Dad said yes, and the man went and knocked on a door, opened it, and said “Admiral Spruance, would you like to meet your new orderly?”
Dad had a couple of regular stories about WWII, funny ones. About sleeping on top of the Hiroshima bomb without knowing what it was. It took decades, but as I got older he let a few things slip. I know he went ashore more than once, and I suspect he helped bury his fellow Marines. I suspect strongly that he saw some combat, though he never talked about it as such. Just some comments that in retrospect revealed some first-hand knowledge. I suspect he saw first hand when Japanese families and civilians jumped (or were driven) over a cliff when the Marines were taking one of the last islands. He talked about the efforts he and his brother John (B-29 pilot) to write home daily after the news of the Indianapolis sinking came out. Each letter talked about ‘had dinner with Cliff/John (depending on who was writing), ‘had lunch with Cliff/John,’ and such as that to let the family know he was alive, as last they knew Dad was on the Indianapolis with the Admiral. The efforts they undertook to avoid the censors but get the word that Dad was alive (since they could not say it directly) were delightful.
You always tell the funny ones. Mine is of the Brad being attacked by the Iraqi grandmother with a broom, furious that the babies had been awakened. Dad’s mostly revolved around sleeping on the bomb, and the Admiral laughing at the look on Dad’s face when he found out what he had been sleeping on. You always tell the funny ones.
This Fathers Day, I remember my Dad. I now understand his vehemence when he told the 10-year-old me that he hoped I would NEVER qualify to join the American Legion. I understand a lot of what he didn’t say, what he shared that I didn’t understand, and why he never talked about some of it. I really do need to write his story one day, but the above is just the tip of the iceberg.
I miss you Dad. And I understand, more than you ever wanted me to.
Please, Step Back and Think
This morning, I want to ask everyone on every “side” of the political spectrum, to take a step back. Yes, the majority of my remarks are aimed at the progressive side of things, as they are the ones initiating most, if not all, of the violence. But, it also applies to everyone as far too many seem intent on throwing thermite on the fire.
In more than fifty years of life, I have never seen this Republic so divided, and the concept of discourse so thoroughly discarded. I have never seen a level of hatred with open calls of violence by so many in all those decades.
With tears in my eyes, I beg you: please step back. Think.
Look in the mirror, and take an honest look at yourself. Are you condoning violence against those who hold a different opinion on politics or any subject? Do you say the “Nazis” (socialists by the way, look at the name) deserve to be punched or worse? Do you pass off violent assault and murder with any form of ‘they had it coming/deserve it’ because they hold a different belief? Do you hate those who disagree with you or hold a different opinion? Do you support violent ‘resistance’ to the results of the election, or to those of a different viewpoint by armed masked brown shirts? Do you eagerly anticipate and embrace anything by anonymous sources that validate your beliefs? Do you take any news that validates your position without question, without doing any digging or critical thought?
If so, you are the reason the Republic is, if not dead, in a coma. You are the reason for the violence, and the lack of civility and discourse. Own it.
Demonizing your opponents is as old as time itself. In terms of the American body politic, the idea of casting non-progressive (conservative, libertarian, Republican, etc.) as Nazis goes back to the early part of the last century (see lidblog.com/republicans-less-human for some interesting history on this)but has reached epic levels in the last decade. It’s easy to get people to hate that and those who are demonized. Hate removes rational thought, and what truly scares me about the situation today is the rampant unthinking uncritical hate that has infected far too much of the body politic. It is not enough to disagree: one must destroy the ‘enemy’ and all they hold dear. Take a look at the Social Justice Bully playbook, and see how often it has played out in the last 10-15 years.
While there is hatred on all sides, a good case can be built that much of it is institutionalized on the progressive side of the spectrum. Use a good metasearch engine (I like Dogpile) and do some searches on calls for political violence; actual cases of political violence; and, false claims of violence/hate crimes. The unfiltered results may shock you.
Take a look at the cases of actual violence against conservatives/libertarians/Republicans/etc. A good listing of them is at dailycaller.com/2017/06/16/this-list-of-attacks-against-conservatives-is-mind-blowing Don’t like the source? Do some more meta searches as there is a good bit out there for those who truly are willing to think and be responsible informed citizens.
Yes, there were some nutcases who said nasty and vile things about Obama. However, I ask you to show me a single case where major members of the political/entertainment class (and I include news media in the latter) openly called for violence against him and/or the progressive cause. There was a rodeo clown who wore a mask, and was subjected to the required three minutes of hate and a concerted effort to destroy him and his life…
Today, you openly have professors, journalists, and even political leaders calling for open violence and armed resistance to the duly elected President and those who agree — even slightly — with him. Don’t believe me? Again, metasearch is your friend if you truly are interested in being an informed Citizen. Frankly, it is my opinion that much of it is a deliberate and cynical effort aimed at political power and destabilizing (killing) the Republic. May I commend to you that your reading include www.powerline.blog//archives/2017/06/the-empire-strikes-back-4 as part of your reading.
I would also commend to you some wise words from Brad Torgeren, on the subject of hate. Please check out his very wise words at www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1967883229904567
To those on the conservative/libertarian/etc. side of the spectrum who are egging it on and eagerly pushing for violence in return: you are just as bad.
There is much more I could say and list. However, far too many minds are closed, so I will simply say this:
Your fantasy is just that, a fantasy. The blood and pain will not be for others, but for you. Don’t believe me? Just look back at the French Revolution. Then look at every other ‘revolution’ that pitted socialism (in all forms) against everything else.
It did not work out well in 1914. It did not work out well in 1933. It did not work out well in 1789. It will NOT work out well this time.
Brad also has some more wise words at www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1970456016313955.
To everyone on all ‘sides’ of the political spectrum, I beg you with tears in my eyes, to stop and think. If you continue, you are responsible for all that happens and are just as guilty of the assaults, murders, etc. that WILL come if things continue this way. As yourself if you are willing to personally pull the trigger, swing the club, etc. If not, you need to step way the fuck back and try to pull in those who continue the calls. If you are, then look in the mirror and realize that you have met the enemy and they are you.
It will not go well, and it will not end the way you think it will.
Few today realize the aberration that was the founding of this Republic, which enshrines the peaceful exchange of power; of the checks and balances (sadly damaged if not destroyed) on that power; of the idea of one set of laws for all (sadly gone). It all hinged on the concept of an informed electorate and the marketplace of ideas. Where is that open and honest marketplace now?
Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said “A republic, if you can keep it.” Can you? Will you?
Reposting from the first iteration of this blog:
Savor each moment given to you as if a ripe peach:
Grasp the firmness in your fingers
Feel the fuzz on your fingertips
Let the scent fill your nose
Explore its taste with your tongue
Take its flesh with passion
Let its juices flood you and run down your chin in abandon
A repost from my first version of this blog:
According to the first two definitions in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a victim is someone who has been injured or killed as a result of an event or circumstance, or a person or thing harmed or destroyed in pursuit of an object or passion. In modern society, however, this definition has been severely expanded such that everyone and anyone who has experienced the least inconvenience in any context is a victim.
After all, it is a comforting thought. When you are a victim, nothing is your fault. It was not your responsibility and there was nothing you could do about it. Even better, as a victim, no one can place any responsibility for what happened, or the aftermath, on you. To top it off, as a victim you are entitled to reparations. After all, you were the one harmed by what happened, so society as a whole owes you for what happened.
The roots of this movement lie in the eternal battle between law and justice. The theory was quite sound and valid: a person harmed should be able to seek redress for that harm. If property is stolen, you should be able to get back the item or the cost to replace it from the person or persons that took it. If you were injured in an attack, then the person or persons who injured you should pay for medical bills, lost work, clothing, etc.
It all seems reasonable and it was, until the definition of harm was expanded. Harm became much more than simple damage, it became something almost mystical without clear definition or boundaries. Harm was more than mere cost, it was an ethereal thing defying a constant definition. No longer measured, it was a thing sensed and felt beyond words. It was something even beyond pain and suffering, an eternal darkness weighing down the victim.
By the new definition, it no longer takes direct action to produce harm. Words harm, and even innocent words can cause damage. Pictures or images can harm, and even sounds can harm. Instead of the median or mode of society, the norm, the definition was shifted to the most fragile in society. Instead of the “most reasonable people” concept, it became the “least person” concept.
It was and is also lucrative. Since it can’t truly be defined, it also cannot be defended against. There is no way to disprove the claims of anguish, in large measure because there is no way to truly prove the claims. It is raw emotionalism, and as such more a form of blackmail than anything else. This provides economic and political leverage/power for those that wield it.
The payoff is not merely in the form of money, but in less tangible things as well. A victim by definition is not responsible, therefore anything they do in the future cannot be held against them as it occurs as a result of their victimization. A victim has, in essence, a free pass for the rest of their lives for all that they do. So, more and more people delight in being victims, and more and more so-called leaders encourage this as it provides them with a power base.
Someone insulted your clothes in elementary school? You are scarred for life and a victim. Someone says you are pretty? You are a victim. Someone calls you ugly? You are a victim. Someone does a commercial with characters wearing a hat that looks vaguely ethnic? It is secret racism and you are a victim. Someone makes a polite pass at you? Sexism! And again you are a victim. A teacher requires you to go look something up? The Horrors! You are a victim!!
Congratulations! You now have a free pass for life. You have the perfect excuse and a valid legal defense for anything that comes at you in the future. You may even qualify for monetary damages!
Give. Me. A. Break.
There are two other definitions of victim about which you need to think. One is a living creature sacrificed to a deity or rite. The other is a dupe, the prey of those who would feed off the weak.
When someone is persecuted for an innocent action, or simply for the sake of political or other expediency, that person is truly victimized. When someone is persecuted for something they did not do, or that is attributed to their ancestors, that is true victimization. When someone is tried later for something that was not a crime at the time, and maybe even a societal norm, that is true victimization.
It is easy to forget, especially when there is strong encouragement to do so, that all things come with a price. That price have many facets, from higher costs for products or services to a denial of products or services. It may be that the lives of individuals are destroyed by mere accusations, unproven and unfounded, and there is a high cost to that.
The easy thing to do is to be a dupe, to play into the system (You can’t win unless you play!) and find a way to be a victim. The hard thing to do is to avoid it. There is a fine line between justice and vengeance, and it is not always easy to see. There is a fine line between legitimate redress and the Cult of Victimization, and serious efforts are being made all the time by the unscrupulous to blur or erase it.
The key to this lies within you. Are you going to let the bully in 3rd grade define your life for you? Are you going to let the crushing disappointment of being dumped by a lover rule your life forever? Are you really going to give another person that much power over you? Are you really going to give them your soul?
Just down the page from victim is a far more powerful and important word. A word towards which any follower of the way should strive. That word is a simple one, also only six letters long.
A winner. Someone who triumphs over adversity. A person who wins the contest. An individual who defeats the opposition and the odds despite any and all circumstances. A person who does not let any one, or even several, setbacks deter them from winning.
This is a person who looks ahead. This is a person who refuses to let themselves be defined and limited by what has occurred, but uses it to move forward and achieve great things.
And that exposes the true trap of the Cult of Victimization. As a victim, you are forever trapped in the past, with no future. Everything is measured against that event, and you must always look back to it in horror so that it defines you and your life. It limits you, and you will always be dependent upon a system to support you.
Raise up your eyes. Turn around, and look up. There is a vast expanse of unwritten future that awaits you, and it can be as bright and as high as you want it to be.
You may have experienced real trauma in your life; or, you may be a manufactured victim. It matters not. The choice is still yours, to live in the darkness of what was, or to move up and ahead.
My question to you is, are you going to give the person who harmed you absolute control over your life, your destiny? Are you going to let them win in the truest sense of the word? Or are you going to take back your life and have the best revenge of all: living well and accomplishing great things?
That choice is yours. It is up to you to decide if you are victim, or victor.
Bumping, as someone, somewhere, knows who he is. He may be the person at church who recently shaved his head or dyed his hair after a comical “accident.” He may be the person who assisted you at the home improvement store, or that gets his cigars/cigarettes at the same place you do. He may be the person you see getting gas each week. He may be the neighbor down the street. He’s the person you would not think of in this context, so adding this to help people think a bit.
Imagine that you know something bad is about to happen to you, and that you have no effective means to prevent it. You know nothing can stop it, but you activate the video feature on your cell phone not to help you, but to help police find the person or persons who did those things to you.
14-year-old Libby German did just that in the moments before at least one male ordered her and her friend — 13-year-old Abby Williams — “down the hill” and ultimately to their deaths. She showed a clarity and courage that I’m not sure many adults could or would match under the same circumstances.
The least we can do is spread this far and wide, so that the killer or killers are brought to justice. Somebody, somewhere, will recognize the photo or the voice. Share it far and wide.
Light. The. Bastard. Up.