The next six days are going to be very busy for me personally. As a superhero with a secret identity I am sometimes called on to save the world or put together engineering reports (kinda the same thing). Because of this you will (and probably already have) noticed a slowdown in my output here on OCF. Never fear. It’s very rare. Usually I’m able to slough off the boring minutiae of every day life to pontificate and bloviate to my heart’s content here in the real world. Persevere and I’ll try to link to good external content to tide you over until I can concentrate the full weight of my philosophical gravitas on the urgent priorities of the day. Thank you for your patience.
The good folks at American Greatness have gone temporarily insane and published an article by an anonymous troll calling himself “photog.” Said troll claims to run a website called Orion’s Cold Fire and for his theme chose “Defining the Space Between Never-Trump and the Alt-Right.” The article is overheated and borderline psychotic but I’ll leave it to you to judge the merits of the argument, such as it is.
Excuse me. I have the inexplicable desire to shoot off some fireworks in the yard. Life is good.
Since my readers don’t always stop by every day I figured I’d paste this poll on each post for a while to see what folks call themselves. This is the post the poll came from Who Are We?
… And that got me thinking. Who are the people who read my blog? I thought it might be fun to see what the cross-section looked like. If you feel like saying what you believe in, feel free to leave a comment and/or pick a label from the poll below. I think it might be interesting.
Now, you’re gonna have to bear with me for a bit. This will be a rambling seemingly incoherent rant. But I’ll try by the end to bring it back to the point.
Over the course of the last few years I have become aware of the range of “philosophies” and personalities that exists on the right wing. I do not have an exhaustive knowledge of all the players, nor do I want or need to. I think it would be fair to say these personalities run the gamut from extremely sober to raving lunatic. And over the course of the last few years this has given me reason to pause and consider how or if I fit in with this spectrum of individuals. Surprisingly, I have learned that not all the serious individuals are right and not all of the nuts are wrong. Now, that doesn’t make it easy to commune with the lunatics. In fact, most of the time you probably shouldn’t. Lunatics tend to the mercurial and don’t always play well with others. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hear what they are saying. And by the same token, the sober guys may be charming and polite individuals but listening to them may be counter-productive. Especially if they are extremely clever. Sophistry can be highly entertaining and unfortunately also highly deceptive. To my mind that is kind of how we got where we are now. Cheerleaders for supposedly conservative ideas convinced a lot of people that the Bushes and John McCain and Mitt Romney knew what the word conservative means. That was sophistry.
So, the people you agree with logically aren’t the same as the people you enjoy listening to. What that means is that you tend to have to compartmentalize your relationships. Some people you can discuss your political beliefs with easily and other people you can’t. Some people are fun to discuss zombie movies with and others only want to discuss the actual apocalypse. It’s not the most comfortable arrangement imaginable. It’s sometimes annoying. And it’s the way things are going to be for the foreseeable future. Trying to avoid this reality will lead to trouble. For example, suppose you have a good friend who likes the same sports you do. The two of you can go to a ball game anytime and sit up in the stands and talk all day about Joe Dokes’ batting average or who the best relief pitcher is. It’s great. But if you try discussing politics with him you’ll end up in a shouting match and probably won’t want to get together for months. Very not great. And alternatively, you might know someone either in real life or on the web who you agree with politically almost completely. The two of you can discuss politics and even cooperate on political action and other projects. A mutually beneficial relationship. But otherwise you have nothing in common. You like country music he’s a gangsta rap enthusiast. You like science fiction he reads books on playing golf. Absolutely no common ground. What about these two scenarios?
What about them? There’s nothing wrong with either one. They reflect the reality of the world around us. You accept that division.
Now, of course, the best case scenario is when both spheres align. Now you can talk about baseball and the revolution at the same time. Better still, you can start a fantasy baseball league for right wingers! And for something like baseball or hockey or NASCAR you might do quite well lining up people who fit both sides of the equation. No problem!
But what if your interest is photography or science fiction? Now it’s not so easy. If you happen to be a photographer and also happen to not be a left winger you’re probably aware that the majority of photographers both professional and amateur skew pretty hard left. As with a lot of the “creative” professions these people seem to be steeped in a bohemian, urban culture that is extremely hostile to right-wing values and individuals. When I first got interested in photography I experienced this hostility over and over at a number of photography websites. It was both on a subliminal level and also on a purposeful, even confrontational basis. Whenever anything in the news offended the denizens of these sites it inevitably was dragged through the forum pages in the most strident and challenging terms. Basically, it was a public challenge to deny the libel being foisted. And interestingly if you succeeded in presenting a logical argument that was too convincing, the powers that be on the site were very likely to step in and either erase your posts (or force you to erase them) or ban you from the site altogether. To say this was a sorry state of affairs would be an understatement. The only way to coexist (what a loaded word) in such an environment would be to keep your mouth shut and ignore these virtue-signaling spasms. You can only imagine how much fun that would be. But there was no other way. Eventually I found one website that had a policy that I found commendable. They specifically forbade divisive discussions that involved non-photographic topics. So, no political, racial, religious or ethnic discussions were allowed to drift into an argument. It could be a little restrictive but it totally avoided the type of nonsense I was discussing above. Interestingly, I could still tell which individuals would be the worst offenders if it was allowed. They were always the ones being censured by the moderators. And it never was anyone on the right being stopped. Always rabid leftists. You could tell they thought it was highly unfair that they were not allowed to lecture us all on the topic of the day. I have to confess I took a good deal of delight in posting complaints against the worst offenders whenever I could. But it was still only a grudging allowance of what was obviously a despised minority opinion. I believe the site owner was a right-wing guy who found that, to avoid alienating the lefties, the best he could do was try to avoid all flash points. He knew that the demographics were against him and he settled for this uneasy truce. I still have great respect for the way he maintained that arrangement. It was the best environment that existed for right-wing photographers that I ever found.
Another of my interests is (or was and now is again) science fiction and fantasy stories. Growing up in the nineteen sixties and seventies I can remember finding all the classic books by the Golden Age authors and just eating that stuff up. And there was all kinds of range to the quality of the stories. Some were great and some were pretty bad. And even as a kid I knew that. And yet, I could still enjoy even the bad ones because at least they were of a kind. They involved science and adventure and space flight and alien creatures and time travel and inter-dimensional mumbo-jumbo and especially cover art involving scantily clad green-skinned women. Who could ask for anything more? But as time passed and it moved into the late seventies something started to change. Fantasy books weren’t about orcs and dwarves. They were about nature spirits fighting back against modern western civilization to protect Mother Gaia. And science fiction wasn’t about humans exploring the galaxy but sexually confused individuals exploring their various orifices. And along with all these “improvements” was the overarching message that the most important problem that science fiction and fantasy needed to solve was how can we make books that no straight white men would want to read?
And I’ll be the first to admit they succeeded with a vengeance. For a few years I still picked up new books and gave them a try. But without a doubt something bad had happened. It was like all the nit-wits who had made the sixties into a stinking hippie nightmare went off and got MFA’s and started writing sf&f. And worse still they had taken over the publishing houses and the awards ceremonies and only allowed their own kind of stories to make it to the bookstore shelves. Well, eventually I stopped trying and gave up on the genres. I figured it was me. I was no longer a child and I had to put away childish things. But a few years ago, I read about the Sad Puppies. I think the link was at PJ Media. After reading about the Hugo Awards and the way nominations were only handed out to those who fit the club and wrote only right-think it all clicked. I read all I could about the Puppies and started picking up some of their books. And they were good! Of course, not everything was great. Some was just okay. But all of it was recognizable as sf&f. And there was a community of people who believed in writing stories and not social justice agit-prop. And they had websites where like-minded individuals could talk and discuss writing and stuff they liked without having to get approval from the better sort. And I heard them talk about what it used to be like before the Puppy movement, how everyone had to kowtow to the better sort and if you wanted to get ahead you had to like the right sort of stories and hold the right kind of ideas. And how even if you went through this kabuki act you still had to wait your turn and if you had the wrong plumbing and skin tone chances were you wouldn’t ever get a shot at the brass ring.
But what really sounded familiar was how everyone had to hate the same things. There was an orthodoxy and if you didn’t hate George Bush and the military and straight white men, then you were cast out. And that I recognized. It was the same group-think I had seen on the photography sites. These were the same people. The Artists.
And it got me thinking. If the Puppies could do it for sf&f why couldn’t I make a photography site where right-wing opinion wasn’t something you had to hide. Now I wasn’t looking for some kind of gated community where only right-wing right think was allowed. But a place where I wouldn’t have to hear a two minute hate every time Donald Trump’s name was in the news.
So that’s kind of my whole reason for making this site in a nutshell ( a very long 1900 word nutshell). I wanted this site to allow me to discuss right-wing issues both seriously and with a little humor. That’s for all those folks who agree with me politically but don’t speak my language on hobbies.
And for those who happen to also have an interest in either sf&f or photography it’s a place where I could talk about those things. And other general things like tv and movies and other culture topics with like-minded people. So, if any of those things interest you stop by and have a look and leave a comment.
And finally after the revolution when I am elevated to the highest circles of the new order, hopefully in the movie version of my life story I’ll be played by Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin will play Camera Girl. And they really should include “Angel in the Morning” in the soundtrack but absolutely nothing by Wham! They really suck.
See I told you I’d bring it all back in the end.
The network tv season has just about reached its conclusion. Summer re-run season is upon us and in a meaningful way it no longer matters at all. I am effectively down to one show (“The Middle”) that I truthfully consider entertaining. It’s been about two years since “The Big Bang Theory” was funny. “Last Man Standing” which used to add a tiny amount of right wing commentary in with the family sit-com formula had a comatose season that telegraphed the news that this season would be its last. “Kevin Can Wait” is a pale shadow of how funny “King of Queens” sometimes was and nothing else on the tube even mildly interests me. So, I’ve finally had to face it. There is no reason to watch network television anymore. Cable is slightly more promising. There are a few series that I hear are entertaining. I’ve been watching earlier seasons of Silicon Valley and it is funny but hardly worth paying for HBO. I can probably stream whatever I want on Amazon or Netflix or Hulu or blah, blah, blah. So, I can probably also join the ranks of those who have cut the cable and use the internet as their data and entertainment umbilicus. But for me that’s weird.
The baby boomers were raised by the boob tube. It seemed like it was always on. It was the background music to our lives. ABC, NBC and CBS were our babysitters, our teachers, our neighbors and in a strange way our friends. We sort of depended on them to tell us what cars were cool, what other kids were wearing and what music we should listen to. Now I guess that has been replaced by the ubiquitous cell phone link to you-tube and facebook and whatever is trending on Twitter. Well, I don’t do cell phone, but I guess the internet on my laptop is the equivalent. So now I amuse myself with that. But it’s not the same. Sure, I’ve replaced the network news with a handful of blogs and news aggregators. And I search for reviews of movies and cable shows and books on the right-wing blogs and for the most part I can find what I want but something is missing.
In the 1990s I went to work and could talk to coworkers and find out about shows like Seinfeld and Home Improvement and it felt like we all shared a similar perspective on the humor or the take on current events. The writers of the shows reflected the common culture and the sensibilities of the country at large. That’s completely gone. We are fractured and alienated from each other to such an extent that it almost isn’t meaningful to talk about one country as existing anymore. I guess we are at least two peoples. And unfortunately, the group I’m in doesn’t have a media. We have the rudiments of one. But it’s much harder to make it work effectively and it doesn’t feel as seamless and comforting as the old one was.
So, this post is just me thinking out loud and reflecting on where we are. I can remember one day during the Iraq War driving home from work and listening to NPR on the car radio. The slanted and dishonest reporting was so unbearable that I vowed never to listen to another show of any kind on Public Radio or television. And just saying it felt good. But it was the beginning of a long process to identify alternate sources and structures to patronize and support. I buy my fiction from sources that do not force a leftist narrative on their authors. I never click on a news article from the NY Times or the Washington Post or Politico or any of the other leftist mouthpieces. I never watch a Colbert or a Jon Stewart routine. I don’t go to or rent a movie with a leftist slant or agenda. I support politicians who vote for the things I want. I sent a substantial check to Donald Trump during his campaign. I only support charities and organizations that reflect my values. I fill in the gaps around the places where the cancer had to be excised.
And I write this blog. I give my opinions and I spread the word on any people or sites that I think are right wing and useful. And I try to entertain and give encouragement.
So where are we? At the beginning. Is it good enough? No, but it’s a beginning.