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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
FOR US, THE INEXPLICABLY SLOW. So I finally get around to going to the library, and I pick up an armload of books; I finally get to the recently rediscovered "first novel" of Robert Heinlein, For Us, The Living.
I knew plenty about it, and had been fully forewarned, but: jeebus, this is bad. Really really bad. Horribly, painfully, agonizingly, gongs ringing on your head, your teeth being drilled, being forced to listen to perky blonde partners of Regis Philbin chirp at you for hours, while Spider Robinson drones at you, and every inch of skin under your calluses itches madly but you cannot scratch, bad.
And I'm only on page 24.
But it's like any dreadful slush; homogenously bad from the first and second page. It will be, I expect, just as bad right to the end.
Oh, well. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.
(If you feel this post is a good place to hang your heartful explanation of how you've always hated Heinlein, be it his politics, his stories, his sexual politics, his fans, whatever, please don't, okay? Let's just pass on by that one; thanks.)
Charlie Wilson's War, and the rest of the nonfiction should less grating, though. And the DVDs of the History Channel's Race To The Moon. (All finished with From The Earth To The Moon, sigh; I want the next nine disks, all about the great exploration that took place from the Seventies through Nineties, goddamnit.)
I have almost all of Heinlein's books, and they're awful. I should know, I re-read them all the time. Just finished Citizen of the Galaxy a week ago, and before that I clenched my teeth and re-read Farnham's Freehold.
Just can't bring myself to read Stranger in a Strange Land for the dozenth time, but I suspect I will be doing so soon.
Note that this is not heartfelt, so escapes your injunction, I hope.
aahh, but is it "heartful"? Heinlein would have appreciated the "hurtful/heartful" closeness -- although he probably would have infused both with groin matter (groan -- that ought to be a pun, even if it isn't!)
Yeah, I really did mean to write "heartfelt," but too late, now.
Finished it this morning. I'll be slightly more kind than I was initially, because it was indeed at least interesting to see how many of his basic ideas -- although he was very much still an FDR/Upton Sinclair, EPIC, Social-Credit-pushing, Democratic libertarian liberal in it, and in fact, about 70% of the book deals with those sort of economic/political notions -- were there right at the start, down to all sorts of small bits, as well as large, all reused sooner or later (quite a bit wound up in Beyond This Horizon, though also in later books), down to people using the "refresher" and greeting each other with "may I do you a service?" (shorted to "service), but also including Coventry. It really is quite interesting to anyone interested in Heinlein, which is of course why I wanted to read it.
Quite amusing, though, that he doesn't have the first manned orbit of the moon take place until 2086, when the book is set.
No spunging nipples, but definitely not prudish; at least another 20% of the book is devoted to his advocacy of the foolishness and arbitrariness of various social notions, including sexual taboos; it's also really quite fiercely anti-fundamentalist religion, and specifically anti-Christian at points, down to mentioning wrongheaded notions about people being strung up on a "wooden frame." (The other 10%, loosely speaking, is technological futurism.)
Although the whole Social Credit economics notion is a good chunk of the book, and he has Fierello LaGuardia as a two-term President whom he clearly deeply admires, it's fascinating to see that in 1938 (when he wrote it), he was also specifically using the term "libertarian," and specifically has a "Libertarian Party" in his future (as well as a Conservative Party).
Although no spunging nipples, his approach to sex is essentially no different from that in Stranger In A Strange Land or Time Enough For Love, or any of the later, more explicit, work, with a major subthread being on the lack of need for monogamy or jealousy (although he reasonably sensibly doesn't simply have the character become magically free of sexual jealousy without reason or developmen -- insofar as there can be said to be character development at all in this essentially long lecture). It's also interesting to see that the same gratingly coy language about sex, and banter between male and female characters, that's still present right through the last books, and which I always took to be a product of his having grown up in Kansas, born in 1907, is right there at the start, too; if anything, it's worse then then ever, so one might charitably regard him as having ever-so-faintly improved on that as he aged, though he never significantly changed in clearly regarding that sort of language style as clever, witty, and sophisticated and attractive; oh, well, product of his times, I say charitably.
But, anyway, he never had a "prudish phase." His second marriage with Leslyn (not to be confused with either the long marriage with Virginia, or the otherwise-mysterious brief first marriage) was privately an "open" marriage, and as James describes in the afterword and is otherwise known, back in the Forties he did nude photography (including of Catherine deCamp), went to nudist colonies, etc.; the only "prudish phase" was that of Kay Tarrant at Street & Smith, and of Alice Dagliesh at Scribners, not his.
Anyway, I'm very glad to have read it, but, boy, it really is pretty painful, since it's just one long lecture, with almost no attempt at all at story or character or even an explanation for how the character got from a car accident into the body of a guy in 2086; there's a bit of handwaving about his consciousness having been mysteriously transferred, or some such, and it's then pretty much completely dropped from all mention. And, as I indicated, the dialogue is deeply painful. But as a bit of Heinlein history, if one is sufficiently interested -- and one would have to be quite a fan to be -- it's mildly fascinating.
Spider Robinson's intro is as annoying as any of his Heinlein worship is (to me); there's a line in the foreword about how "I avoid arguing with authorities; it's usually simpler to shoot them" (it's the second line, actually) that is the sort of pseudo-Lazarus Long that typifies why I hate Robinson on Heinlein: it's completely glib, and if you stop for even a microsecond to think about it, well, it blithely advocates murder for no better reason than sounding anti-authoritarian and smartass. Would Robinson really be at all casual about shooting "an authority"? Of course not. Would Lazarus Long? If we took him seriously, no, I think not even he would be serious; but he'd drop the line to sound somehow wise and superior, when he'd in fact simply be being idiotic for the sake of glibness. And Lazarus Long at least has the excuse of being fictional, and not having to be responsible; for Robinson to drop that sort of line for the sake of sounding like a smart-ass pale imitation of a not-very-believable character like long is something I simply find repellent, irresponsible, and stupid. It's an updated version of "yeah, shoot the pigs, man, right on!," but without the depth and thoughtfulness.
Non-sequituring, it was also fascinating to see that the notion of only letting veterans vote on whether to have a non-defensive war (on the grounds that they'd be far more likely to vote against aggressive war than those who wouldn't be fighting it -- the book's really also got quite an anti-war thread to it, although it's a minor part of the future history -- was also there, along with various other political notions. (And anyone who thinks Heinlein was a "fascist" would be hard-pressed indeed to derive much evidence for that from this book; emphatically so.)
The importance of tv to future communication and society was also clearly demonstrated, and there was a sort of proto-internet, although basically done with recorded television, voice recordings, and photostated text sent by tube, tv, and radio.
One of the most interesting parts was the emphasis on custom being divided between "private sphere" and "public sphere," and how everything in the "private sphere" -- essentially everything in your private life, your relationships, your habits, etc., being kept strictly private and nobody else's business unless you voluntarily made it so; a notion that is more attractive and timely than ever, and one not so greatly emphasised in his later works, though not contradicted, either, and there are hints here and there.
Anyway, there's no way it could have been published at the time, for a variety of reasons, including somewhat radical notions and also because it's so, well, bad, but I'm very glad that the single manuscript copy was found and published; it does provide a fascinating insight into the man's thinking.
Oh, and Nehemiah Scudder has a non-small role in the past of that future; I again found myself oddly focused on Spider Robinson's reference to "Nehemiah Cheney," as I couldn't help wonder why focus on Cheney, not Bush -- Bush is far more overtly religious, of course, than Cheney, and is, after all, the #1; why focus your casual contempt on Cheney, and not G. W. Bush? -- and the irony that probably more contemporary Heinlein fans in the U.S. (Robinson being Canadian) voted for Bush/Cheney than their Democratic opponents; I found myself digressively wondering what Heinlein would say about Bush/Cheney; he'd be extremely contempuous and biting about the religiosity, clearly, but also doubtless like at least the rhetoric about freedom, but also perhaps cynical about bringing democracy by force to other nations -- though that last part seems hard to me to predict for sure. I suspect that were Heinlein still around for the 2000 and 2004 elections, that he'd have voted Libertarian, rather than vote for either Bush, Gore, or Kerry, but I think it's impossible to know for absolutely sure. (I also suspect he would have never been able to rationalize his notion of Naval service and honor with John Kerry's, but I also can't see that he'd have any respect for either G. W. Bush's or Richard Cheney's approach to military service, either; again, just guessing, though.)
The thing I've never been able to tolerate about heinlein is his brash self-confidence: "THIS is the way things SHOULD and WILL happen, and nyone who thinks otherwise is an automatic jackass." Pfui. I've always infinitely preferred Poul Anderson, who -- given both his personality and his greater knowledge of history -- was well aware both of the danger of pride and of the fact that things usually turn out for the worst.
"The thing I've never been able to tolerate about heinlein is his brash self-confidence: 'THIS is the way things SHOULD and WILL happen, and nyone who thinks otherwise is an automatic jackass.'"
Yeah, I think that's a perfectly fair criticism. He was a far smarter guy than many give him credit for, and the fact that he was actually relatively subtle about how astute many of his notions were (for instance, in applying network theory to revolutionary cells, back in the early Sixties, for the later Moon Is A Harsh Mistress; I doubt many readers understand just how insightful that was, and it's hardly the only sort of example of that level of applied knowledge in his work), but he was also obviously therefore made extremely arrogant about his opinions (I have all too much understanding from the inside as to how that sort of psychological dynamic can work from earliest childhood), and was an incredibly prickly guy (although also very given to private charity and niceness, at times, as in donating money and ideas to Phil Dick, hardly an ideological soulmate). But, then, hell, I famously personally witnessed how he treated Alexei Panshin (oh, god, please let me not be restarting that topic here because I just said that).
I actually met Poul far more times, though never for more than a handful of casual conversations, and he certainly was an awesomely good writer when he was at his best. Funny how he started a small dynasty with Astrid and Greg....
Every time I reread the into to P.K. Dick's The Golden Man, I'm always touched in the intro at his assessment of Heinlein in return for Heinlein's kindness toward Dick when he needed help:
"Several years ago, when I was ill, Heinlein offered his help, anything he could do, and we had never met; he would phone me to cheer me up and see how I was doing. He wanted to buy me an electric typewriter, God bless him—one of the few true gentlemen in the world. I don't agree with any of the ideas he puts forth in his writing, but that is neither here nor there. One time, when I owed the IRS a lot of money and couldn't raise it, Heinlein loaned the money to me. I think a great deal of him and his wife; I dedicated a book to him in appreciation. Robert Heinlein is a fine looking man, very impressive and military in stance; you can tell he has a military background, even to the haircut. He knows I'm a flipped out freak and still he helped me and my wife when we were in trouble. That is the best in humanity, there; that is who and what I love."
For that alone, I'll keep reading Heinlein, no matter how hard I need to clench various body parts to do so.
Heinlein's kindness toward Dick when he needed help
Dick wasn't the only one. I happened to pick up a Sturgeon the other day (looking for "And Now the News", which wasn't in this one, but what the hell, read it anyway) and he mentions in the intro to one story that he was in the thick of a writer's block at one point, dead out of money, and his furnace had just run out of oil in the dead of winter, when the mail came. There was a letter from Heinlein with ten (I think) great story ideas and a check for $200. This was in the early 1950s; that would be a couple thousand today at least.
I love Heinlein, he told good adventures and made worlds I like to go live in sometimes.
Yo, Gary! Have you by chance heard of a book by George Pendle called "Strange Angel?" It's a bio of JPL founder John Whiteside Parsons, but there are cameos by L. Ron Hubbard and, yes, Heinlein. Among other things, Parsons was a Satanist, as well as a firm believer in a kind of "free love." One wonders how much of his off-beat religion rubbed off on pals such as Heinlein.
"Have you by chance heard of a book by George Pendle called "Strange Angel?"
Yes, though not by chance. :-)
Though I've only read various reviews, and not the book itself.
"One wonders how much of his off-beat religion rubbed off on pals such as Heinlein."
I'm reasonably sure relatively little. Although Leslyn was apparently something of a practioner of the Craft, and had some background in Theosophy (or her mother did, I forget exactly), I've been told (and you can see hints of that in Heinlein's work), I also gather that his own interest was only intellectual and relatively distant.
My understanding is that while Heinlein wasn't total dismissive of Wicca, he wasn't himself at all a practioner or believer (although it's true that were he, he'd be sure to have been completely private about it). And Heinlein did have certain mystical streaks (I gather he had something of a belief in reincarnation stemming from childhood; again, there are some hints at this in the work), but mostly he was an anti-religious rationalist freethinker.
Though I've only read various reviews, and not the book itself.
If you're interested, send me a mailing address, and I'll send you my (slightly used) copy. Best to contact me at chibi (at) drizzle.com. I got it on remainder, but I think it's a rilly kewl book that more sf fans (and rocket scientist fans) might enjoy.