Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Sheri S. Tepper

The science fiction and fantasy author Sheri S. Tepper died last Saturday. I never met her, but I began reading her work in mid to late 1980s. Locus magazine, often considered one of the principal news source of the professional F&SF community, ran her obituary, and that obituary is one of the reasons for this blog, because of what it did not say about Tepper and her work. While the obituary cited a great number of her books and the numerous awards that she received over her career as a writer, there wasn’t a single word about what was important about her writing.

Because I did not know her, I can’t speak to her as a person, only as a writer. Her writing could be absolutely devastating in its perspectives on the macho side of men, about the strength of women, and even their necessary coldness, and about the hubris of the male-dominated political systems, especially in dealing with or failing to deal with environmental and ecological issues. I’ve always had the feeling that the SF&F field felt a certain embarrassment about Sheri Tepper and what I [and some others] saw and see as her unapologetic ‘eco-feminism.’

The strongest and most direct of her novels in attacking the male propensity to resort to violence in addressing anything disagreeable was The Gate to Women’s Country, first published in 1988. Especially for men or more “traditional” women, it can be a very disturbing book, because it points out the worst in male behavior and nature as well as some of the worst in female nature – carried to extremes in a cold and very orderly fashion. It also contains a brutal depiction of the absolute worse of the overt misogyny of patriarchal fundamentalist Christianity. Unsurprisingly, the Locus obituary omitted any mention of The Gate to Women’s Country.

Tepper could be indirect in some of her work, or brutally strident, but the underlying themes of everything of hers that I read, some ten or so of her novels, centered on the fundamental issues of biology and ecology and how they impacted people, history, and government… and, of course, how far too many men, and even some women, seemed so involved with power and power games to the detriment of society and the environment.

Through works with various degrees of entertainment, she raised issues that are still relevant, sometimes disturbingly, sometimes indirectly, but their relevance remains, and she deserves recognition and appreciation for that, and not just a polite listing of her jobs, published works, and awards. This is my effort to point that out.

The University… or the Professor?

Year in and year out, I see colleges and universities touting their expertise in given “fields” or departments, and I also see those same universities also honoring distinguished faculty, but what amazes me the most is how seldom those universities recognize the professors who are actually the best and most influential teachers.

Over roughly a fifteen year period from 1961 to 1976 the college from which I graduated produced perhaps the most remarkable group of art experts ever to come from one college, especially one that wasn’t noted for being an art school. Graduates from those years went on to hold the following positions, among others – president of the Rhode Island School of Design, deputy director and chief curator of the National Gallery of Art, director of the Art Institute of Chicago, head of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Director of the National Gallery of Art, chairman of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, president of the New Art Trust, curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, director of the Museum of Modern Art, Curator of Northern Baroque Paintings at the National Gallery of Art, and director of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Those are the ones I could track down, and I suspect there are more that I couldn’t. They were all inspired by one remarkable professor and two of his colleagues. Yet during the time I was an undergraduate, and even in the years following, there was little mention of those three men, except by their students, and recognition came to them, for the most part, long after they’d retired. The college, of course, now basks in the reputation of those graduates.

At another institution, during a four year period, before leaving for a better paying position at a much more prestigious university, a charismatic choral director and voice professor mentored individuals who went on to head various noted musical groups, including one who founded a successful regional opera company and another who went on to direct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This large university never before nor never since has produced graduates who went on to achieve anything close to what that small group did.

In yet another state university, a single professor revitalized a voice program that had failed to graduate a student in years and within five years was graduating students who went on to graduate schools. In the following ten years, those efforts resulted in the creation and accreditation of professional music degrees and more graduates reaching professional success, both academically and occasionally on Broadway and in regional opera. That professor’s productions occasionally receive national awards, and while the students who have graduated sometimes credit that professor, the university never has.

In the previous examples, as well, the noted graduates have organized tributes to their mentors, but recognition by the institutions has been belated, at best.

Now… I know that there have to be scores of similar examples from across the nation, possibly across the world, but the point is simple. It’s not the college or university that makes the difference; it’s the people who teach there, and all too often the best of them go unrecognized by the institutions because institutions have a nasty habit of trying to build a generic brand through publicity and athletics, and by rewarding instant celebrity, often from a single prestigious award or event, and emphasizing single event achievements over painstaking hard work year after year by professors who bring out the best in their students. It’s not what’s taught, or where it’s taught, but who teaches it and how effectively. And very few colleges and universities, even those with great reputations, seem to acknowledge this by recognizing such professors.

Winning at Any Cost…. And Manners

Donald Trump is clearly following the path taken by a certain deplored German political figure in the 1930s. He says what his followers want to hear, even when his opponents can prove that he cannot do what he promises – at least not within the structure of law and the Constitution, and the hard constraints of finance. He utters vicious attacks on anyone who displeases him, attacks that are more often completely untrue than anywhere close to accurate. He bullies everyone who tries to point out his errors, and he attacks the entire political structure as being rigged against him. In fact, anyone who opposes him or suggests he might be in error becomes an enemy and the subject of his wrath.

As far as the political arena goes, decorum, civility, manners – they mean nothing to him, because he believes his cause is just and righteous, and no means that will achieve it can be too low or crude or vicious not to be employed.

When his opponent points out flaws in what he has said or promised, she is the liar, the “crooked” liar, although impartial observers have documented that over 70% of his promises and statements are mostly or entirely false, while only about 30% of hers are mostly or entirely false. His response to this has been to claim that those impartial observers are against him, because he doesn’t see facts as facts. He sees them as impediments to his gaining power.

Now… if the polls are correct, at this point, Trump seems likely to lose, but unhappily, no matter what occurs in November, we are all going to lose. We are going to lose because scorched earth politics, brutal name-calling, disregard of the facts, and blatant appeals to the worst in human nature will most likely result in a Congress even more polarized than the current Congress, an electorate more polarized and unwilling to trust anyone not firmly on “their side,” and an economy that is going downhill, because neither party is willing to adopt a bi-partisan economic reform package that has to include [if anything has a chance of getting better] both fiscal restraint and true tax reform, meaning, among other things, slightly higher tax rates on the top half of one percent and much lower corporate tax rates, but with absolutely no exemptions or loopholes. And that’s just the beginning of what’s necessary.

And it’s not going to happen because, no matter who wins, the other side is going to feel not only cheated, but totally disenfranchised, largely because this long and painful election campaign has been about each side portraying the other as worse than anything possible.

Trump is right about some things, such as the pain of the white male industrial worker and that, whether it’s unfounded or not, that people are worried about what they see as unrestricted illegal immigration. Clinton is also right about some things as well, such as the fact that, like it or not, the U.S. cannot bully the rest of the world, not because we’re not powerful, but because we can’t afford the military presence necessary to do that. Bullying people around doesn’t work, as we’ve discovered in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, without boots on the ground, and we don’t have enough men and women in boots, and the soldiers and sailors wearing those boots don’t have enough equipment, enough maintenance, and enough support to fight all the fights that Trump would have us fight, especially not with the huge federal deficit.

And neither one really has a decent plan to deal with that deficit, although both give it passing lip service.

That, in itself, wouldn’t be insurmountable, except that Congress is also hate-polarized, and doesn’t seem able to surmount the mutual antipathy that the parties have for each other… or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that individual members lack the courage to work out something because the hatred out there among the electorate might well result in their losing their next election if any member crosses party lines.

There’s always been a reason for manners in society, and in functioning governments. That reason is simple. Manners allow people to talk to each other, even when they don’t like each other and what they stand for. And that’s the biggest problem with Donald Trump. He’s shredded the last vestige of political manners… and we’re all going to pay for it – unless we reject that approach to politics.


Whether there is a deity or not, that deity, or any of the multiplicities of deities, or different manifestations of the same deity, did not create any religion or denomination. People did, usually men. Those prophets, founders, or administrators may claim that they follow the “word of god,” but I only know of two references to actual physical instructions to worshippers. Supposedly, Moses received the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and LDS documents declare that Joseph Smith was given brief custody of gold tablets so that he could transcribe the Book of Mormon from them. Whether or not these stone and gold tablets actually existed has become a matter of faith, as well, since no physical evidence remains, and there may well be references to physical objects containing instructions from deities in other faiths, but I’m not conversant with such.

In any event, the actual “word” from deities is, shall I say, less than exactly overwhelming, while the amount of proscriptions, prescriptions, theology, beliefs, and approved and disapproved practices from human prophets is indeed overwhelming. And in older belief systems, what one set of prophets or seers or revelators declared often conflicts in greater or lesser degree with what other and later such individuals have declared is the word of the deity or various deities.

In short, religion, no matter what various theological fonts of authority and/or doctrine declare, is a human construct designed to shape human behavior to a desired “theological code.” And the difference in the codes followed by differing groups, even supposedly in the same religion, is often considerable. Yet each is convinced of the supremacy and purity of its interpretation and practices, to the point, where at present and over the course of history, many have insisted on death to unbelievers or those who follow the “wrong” theology.

Now… this might be understandable if a given deity had appeared and leveled a city of unbelievers with lightning bolts while appearing miles tall in the sky. But this never happened. Instead, one group of believers or another decided to take matters into their own hands and unilaterally declare, on pain of death or with some other threat, that those who did not believe would suffer and/or die if they did not acknowledge the “true faith,” an example of might attempting to establish theological right.

Thousands of years of conflict and warfare strongly suggest that this approach has considerable failings, even when a given doctrine or religion manages to gain control of the government and the armed forces. Yet the examples of history don’t seem to offer much discouragement to wars of religion.

Could it just be that there’s something wrong with the entire institution of religion, at least in the most common forms practiced on this planet over its human history?

No… it can’t be that, could it?

Religion and the Arts

This past weekend, I watched a short segment on CBS about a young trumpet player from Afghanistan who now attends music school in the United States, thanks to the efforts of a professional symphonic trumpet player who mentored him and spurred fundraising efforts that allowed the young man to get to the U.S. What amazed me was that, according to the story, and to the young man, playing trumpet in Afghanistan is viewed as anti-religious and that even carrying the trumpet openly would have been dangerous to his life.

Now, for decades there have been news stories and reports about how various religious leaders, largely fundamentalist Islamic types, decry and frown upon the licentiousness of Western popular music, and frankly, some Western popular music is licentious, but how is wanting to be a symphonic trumpet player anti-religious?

All this raises in my mind the issue about how many “fundamentalist” or evangelical religions approach the arts. Some Christian denominations decry dancing, and one popular evangelical Southern Baptist preacher, years ago, declared that “a dancing foot and a praying knee don’t grow on the same leg.” Certainly, most of the books that have been banned or found objectionable have been singled out for “religious” reasons. Certainly, within the “Christian” world, at times, certain paintings and sculptures, if not entire schools of art, have been found objectionable.

Yet I have to ask why any religion should want and be able to forbid activities that are not physically dangerous? Dancing certainly doesn’t disrespect a deity, and is actually considered worship in some faiths, nor does playing a trumpet or any other instrument convey theological disrespect. Bad dancing and bad playing are certainly painful to eyes and ears, but why should any deity even care?

That fact is that religious doctrines reflect an attempt to unify believers in a common doctrine while gaining power for the leaders of that doctrine. And for some religions, free expression, particularly in the arts, is considered as a threat to either the doctrine or that power, if not both. And that’s not only a shame, but a good reason to question a faith that insists on such prohibitions.

Hidden Agendas?

Lots of people have hidden agendas, and baser feelings that they wouldn’t like known, especially attached to their names… and elections and politics have a way of bringing them out, sometimes openly, and sometimes anonymously.

Immigration is one of those issues. While Donald Trump and many of his supporters have expressed violent anti-immigrant statements and proposed punitive and often impractical if not impossible anti-immigrant proposals, this isn’t a new phenomenon in the United States.

The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 restricted the rights of immigrants. Then, in the early 1850s, immigration to the United States quintupled, an increase fueled by poor Irish and German peasants, the majority of whom were Catholic, and urban crime increased dramatically. The high crime rate and the rising fear that the increasing number of Catholics would turn the U.S. into a “Papist” nation controlled by the Pope inspired the creation of the American Party, whose members were also called “Know Nothings,” and who espoused an anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant political philosophy, while paradoxically also opposing slavery. In the Congressional elections of 1854, the American Party actually won 22% of the seats in the U.S. House, and captured the legislature in Massachusetts, but failed to gain further ground and largely faded away after the election of 1860. Later movements opposing immigration were the Immigration Restriction League of the early 20th Century and the anti-Asian movements in the American west, which resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Act and an agreement with Japan to restrict Japanese immigrants. The 1920s saw the imposition of immigration quotas and other restrictions, many of which remain in effect.

All of this ignores, of course, the basic fact that every single individual living in the United States is either an immigrant or the descendent of immigrants. Does this mean that only “our” ancestors were the worthy immigrants? The virulent anti-immigrant agenda not only denies our heritage, but also implies an unfounded elitism, yet generation after generation, it persists, and often some of those of the present generation who are most violent in their attacks on immigrants are the very ones whose ancestors were denigrated.

Another issue is that of women’s rights and gender equality, not so much a hidden issue, but one where the Trump campaign is appealing to another set of prejudices that many people don’t want to acknowledge. Although Abigail Adams wrote her husband in 1776, begging him “not to forget the ladies” and not to put unlimited power in hands of their husbands, women didn’t receive the right to vote until a hundred and forty-four years after her letter. Even today, the fight for gender-equal pay and rights continues, and not just in the Presidential campaign, but even on the local levels, as in supposedly progressive Seattle, where earlier this year, a highly sexist and vicious barrage of letters and emails bombarded the five female members of the Seattle City Council who voted against selling a city street to make way for a new sports arena, and outvoted the four male members of the council. The comments ranged from suggesting that all five women commit suicide in highly graphic ways to brutal comments on their appearance, the sort of personal comments that are seldom if ever applied to male politicians. These sorts of comments have become even more common this year, possibly as a result of the misogynistic comments of Trump himself, and just indicate, again, the fact that more than a few men do not want women exerting power, let alone having equal pay and rights. Trump’s rhetoric, the bumper stickers proclaiming “Trump the Bitch,” as well as even more obscene and graphic pins and stickers, polling data, and the clearly sexist (and successful) appeal to “traditional” male supremacy make it clear that Trump is making an appeal to the sexist male, and I find that approach offensive. Obviously, a lot of Trump supporters don’t.

That’s certainly not to say that all men who oppose Hillary Clinton are sexist, but I’d wager that a high percentage are. I’d also bet that some of those are unconsciously sexist, who will protest to their dying day that they’re not, that they’d vote for the “right woman” in an instant, except for them no woman will ever be the “right woman” … because they still believe, deep inside and hidden from scrutiny or self-examination, that politics, business, and government should be a man’s world.

And the funny thing about all this is that it still is and has been largely a man’s world, even in the U.S., and pretty much all of the problems have been caused by men. So… why are so many men, and even quite a few women, so convinced that a man, particularly one like Trump, can do so much better than a woman, especially when his personal record suggests otherwise, and when so much of his appeal is based on anger and issues unworthy of the country we’re supposed to be?

Maintenance Deferred = Disaster

Last week Bloomberg Businessweek published an article on how the lack of new helicopters and inadequate resources for maintenance of aging helicopters, in particular the Sikorski H-53E, were killing Navy helicopter pilots. The story saddened, but didn’t surprise me, since some 45 years ago, when I was a young Navy helicopter pilot, the Navy faced the same problems, except, if the Bloomberg report is correct, the problems may well be worse now than they were back then.

The H-53E entered service in 1981, and production ended by 1990, meaning that the oldest H-53Es are older than many of the pilots flying them. Because of the usefulness of helicopters depends in large part on their operation under conditions that create the most stress and strain on the airframe, including high levels of vibration, helicopters require continuing and extensive maintenance, but maintenance was slighted in all too many instances because of funding shortages created by Congressional budget caps and sequestrations. Then after several disasters in 2014, the Navy and Marines scraped up more maintenance funds in an effort to keep the H-53Es flying safely. But even with good maintenance, helicopters wear out quickly. The Navy was well aware of this and had planned to replace the H-53E initially by 2005, but had difficulty getting funding for the H-53K, so that the first H-53Ks will not be delivered until 2018, at the earliest.

Today, according to Bloomberg, Navy statistics show that there have been at least 19 non-combat disasters with the H-53E involving loss of life or damages in the multi-million dollar range, and the H-53E’s rate of major failures is three times the naval aviation average. And it’s likely that all the H-53Es cannot be replaced until 2029, at which time the “newest” H-53Es will be almost 40 years old.

This is just another example of something I see everywhere. Everyone wants the new aircraft, the new highway, the new bridge, the new building, the new stadium…and almost no one thinks of or budgets for the maintenance of these “new things” once they appear. In the case of the military aircraft, the failure of maintenance often results in spectacular crashes and pilots and crews dying… and in weeks those are forgotten, especially by the time the appropriations bills come up. But the Congress and the military aren’t the only example. Here in town, some fifteen years ago, the town built a badly needed civic theatre with function rooms that could handle very small conventions as well. The town has grown by almost 30% in that time, and theatre is booked close to year around… and, guess what, the theatre needs maintenance and replacement equipment – and the city council has never budgeted for it.

The United States has a highway and bridge infrastructure funding gap; the national parks system needs billions of dollars of repairs; and the list of maintenance and replacement projects in all areas is getting endless… and at all levels politicians can only insist on lower taxes, regardless of the costs in lives and national productivity, and each year the amount of deferred maintenance increases.

Of course, when someone is killed, then a multi-million dollar lawsuit is filed, but that money doesn’t bring back the dead or keep the next death from occurring. So, by all means, vote for lower taxes and convince yourself that you’re being fiscally responsible… and, by the way, supportive of the military pilots who fly the the H-53E and the crews and troops they carry.

The Problem with Extremism

A number of times in past blogs, I’ve often pointed out that one of the problems with politics in the United States today is political polarization and either the unwillingness or the inability of the two major political parties in Congress to compromise in order to accomplish constructive ends.

A recent article dealing with game theory and radical religious extremists, especially Islamic extremists, gave me definite pause for thought, because the author pointed out that compromise is impossible between a secular government and any group whose defined goal is destruction, whether that destruction is aimed at a concrete object, a society, a country, a government, or a way of life, because total destruction is an absolute with which there can be no compromise and those pursuing that goal will give their lives before accepting any compromise.

The same problem arises even in democratic or republican forms of government when any individual or group insists on an uncompromising “absolute.” This has been demonstrated recently in U.S. domestic politics. For a fundamentalist believer in the “right-to-life” of every fetus, regardless of the cost to the mother, including her life, or to society, or even to a non-viable fetus, there is no compromise. For someone whose faith requires male supremacy, the compromise of equal rights can never be acceptable. For those who believe in the only form of marriage that should be recognized by government as that between one man and one woman, no compromise is acceptable. For those who believe that the only laws are those of one particular faith, no compromise with secular authority, or even another faith, is possible.

Absolutes in religious faith of whatever nature, and in some “secular faiths,” are usually not amenable to compromise, and so-called “compromises” are merely pauses while the absolutists attempt to make further “progress” toward their absolute goal.

While the Founding Fathers, so far as I’m aware, didn’t state that they wanted to avoid religious absolutes specifically, they certainly were aware of the problem, which was why they stated in Article Six of the Constitution that no religious test shall ever be required for public office or public trust and why the first amendment to the Constitution declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

But the problem today is that various groups are pursuing not only religious absolutes, but also secular absolutes, as exemplified by the religious-like fervor over “gun rights,” where the extremists on one side insist on the absolute right to bear any kind of arms in any kind of situation and those on the other side insist that guns have no place at all in a civilized society. Each side demonizes the other’s attempts to come up with a solution to the 13,000 or so annual deaths from firearms, because each believes that the other will not stop until they reach an absolute position.

Absolutism has never worked, and it likely never will, but that doesn’t seem to stop those who believe in absolutes. The problem with that, especially with religion-based terrorists, is that, short of destroying such absolutists, and, in effect becoming another kind of absolutist, there’s no middle ground. In politics in the U.S., however, there should be room for a middle ground. Certainly, the Founding Fathers thought so, but perhaps Franklin was thinking about the tendency toward absolutism when he said that they had created “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The Media Supplied the Kindling

…and most of the fuel for the political phenomenon and conflagration that is Donald Trump. And it all goes back to ratings.

Let me explain. Quite a number of books and articles by reputed scholars and others that point out – despite the troubles in the U.S. and elsewhere – that we still live in the most prosperous time in human history, with the longest average life-spans and best health, and a far lower percentage of people living in extreme poverty or dying from violent causes. That doesn’t mean life is perfect, only that for most people, it’s a whole lot better than at any other time in human history. Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence, despite the statistics, a majority of Americans feel that things are getting worse.

While there’s no doubt that this is true for some people, the fact is that in any dynamic society, things are getting better for some people and worse for others, and in the last decade, middle class earnings haven’t increased, or depending on the definition of middle-class, have actually declined a few percentage points, which is significant if it’s your income. But… compared to a generation ago, things are a lot better. And the vast majority of people suffer less from infectious diseases and from sicknesses caused by environmental factors.

Yet there are huge segments of the population who talk and act as if the United States is on the verge of collapse, despite having the largest economy in the world, the most powerful military force the world has ever known, and a high-tech industrial base that no one else can match.


Because every news program, as well as social media, is permeated with problems and disasters, tales of violence and killings, disaster after disaster – and this has become even more prevalent in the last fifteen to twenty years. And this media-blitz does nothing to put this in perspective. Yes, we have terrorist attacks, but so far this year the total casualties in the U.S. are in the low hundreds, if even that high. We kill over 40,000 people on the highways in a single year, and there’s pressure in many states – as in my own state of Utah – to increase the maximum speed limit. Our freedom to “bear arms” results in over 300 million firearms and over 13,000 deaths a year… and we oppose any further gun controls – but the country is going to hell in a handbasket because a handful or two of Islamic or other terrorists kill a few hundred people?

Modern media technology can tell us of bombings and natural disasters anywhere in the world in minutes, when in the past, people didn’t find out for weeks, or even years, if they ever did at all. This contrast makes the past seem so much safer than the present, when in fact, the opposite is true.

Unhappily, this decades-long media diet of gore, violence, and disaster has created a public belief in how bad things are – and Donald Trump has used this to great advantage in stirring up fear, distrust, and anger. What’s most amazing to me is that the fact-checking outfit Politifact has stated that 70% of Trump’s statements are either mostly false, false, or blatantly outrageously false, yet most Americans don’t see matters that way. By comparison, only 28% of Hillary Clinton’s statements fall into the mostly false, false, or blatantly outrageously false category, yet most people think the two are in the same general range of untrustworthiness. And that, I submit, is because of the media slant on the news in general, that is, “bad is good, terrible is better, and the worse it is, the better for our ratings.”

And, one way or another, we’re all going to pay the price for the media’s gorging on disaster and despair in order to fatten their bottom line, not that my observations, or all those of the scholars who’ve studied the matter in far greater depth than the media or Donald Trump, will persuade many people after decades of commercial brain-washing.

A Few “Obvious” Basics

I was recently reminded that sometimes I state the obvious, and that’s true. But there’s a reason why I do, and that’s because even intelligent people who are wrapped up in busy lives often tend to forget the obvious, particularly when that particular obvious isn’t part of those lives in a meaningful way.

Nonetheless, dismissing or disregarding the apparently irrelevant obvious can have great peril, particularly in government. Government is the tool that human societies use to regulate human behavior. In the United States, government laws and regulations and modified economic capitalism set the boundaries because even the Founding Fathers recognized that without order there is no liberty. Setting boundaries always involves trade-offs. Like it or not, there are no perfect absolutes.

As an example, since I do have a background in environmental matters, I’ll state an obvious point. There is no clean perfectly environmentally sound way of generating electrical power. Every single method of generating power has significant environmental downsides. People cite solar power, but while the power itself is clean – at least here on Earth – every system built to use it effectively requires extensive industrial processes involving toxic chemicals on a huge scale. Hydro-power requires dams, and dams have adverse impacts on water flow and wide-spread eco-systems, not to mention the underlying geology, or the pollution involved in building the dams, turbines, and even the electrical distribution network. Nuclear power plants produce virtually no emissions, but leave a significant long-term radioactive disposal problem. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, but drilling for it releases far more methane than has been recognized until recently and burning it raises atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which, along with the methane, increases global warming. There are similar drawbacks to various other “clean” power sources as well. Burning coal is the cheapest way to generate electrical power, but coal is the most environmentally damaging source of electrical power.

So… if government allows the unrestricted use of coal-fired power plants, electric power is cheaper, but the health and environmental costs are the highest. Thus, our government has attempted to strike a balance between health and cost. People can and do argue about where that balance should be struck, but no matter where it’s struck, there will be costs and health effects.

Free trade agreements result in lower prices for consumer goods, but they also drive higher cost U.S. industries off-shore and reduce U.S jobs in those industries. Raising tariffs against foreign imports in those industries might preserve some of those jobs, but at the cost of raising prices to U.S. consumers, and only for a while, until, as has already happened, those industries replace workers with higher tech machines that lower production costs. All of that is obvious, but U.S. workers who lost jobs don’t care. They’re angry, and they’re going to vote against “the establishment” that “let it happen,” even though the establishment had little choice if those companies wanted to stay in business because, overall, Americans voted with their dollars for lower prices from automated factories or off-shored labor over higher-priced goods produced by more U.S. workers.

Voting against the “obvious” in this case has two possibilities – either restrictive trade barriers that will trigger retaliation, resulting in higher prices and economic deterioration, as happened in the 1930s, which made the Great Depression worse, or lots of rhetoric changing nothing.

Obvious, but not so obvious, trade-offs also occur in non-economic areas. Police “profiling” does reduce crime, but the down-side is that it results in harassment of the poor and of minorities and creates political and civil unrest. Yet not having a more intensive police presence in higher-crime areas actually results in higher death rates from violence in those areas, but that presence results in more arrests and arrests for minor offenses, offenses that often do not result in arrests in more affluent areas, and those arrests have long-standing and negative economic impacts, especially in black communities. There isn’t a good, simple, or easy solution, and any solution here will have costs to some group or another.

In the end, there’s always a reason for the “obvious,” and that reason is seldom a given politician, businessman, or government bureaucrat. But the all too human response, and one that’s coming to the fore in the current election, is to focus anger on the candidate who doesn’t seem to think the way you do.

Politicians, business executives, and bureaucrats are all trying to strike the balance they think is most favorable, and while that balance may not be what you think is the best one, they’re really not out to destroy a “way of life,” unless, of course, your way of life involves crime, discrimination, environmental degradation, or shameless exploitation of the vulnerable.

But then, it’s so much easier to insist that the problem is obvious, that there’s a simple and equally obvious answer, and that all it takes is one person in charge who has THE ANSWER, rather than support leaders who are willing to acknowledge that problems in the highest technology and most complicated society in history require thought and compromise, especially since, in all history, there never been a single simple and workable answer to a complex problem, no matter what the current demagogue insists.

“Toughing It Out”

Over the weekend one political correspondent suggested that Hillary Clinton’s tendency to “tough things out” might cost her the election. I think it’s fair to say, as others have, that Clinton is not a “transformational” candidate and would not attempt to make radical changes to government if she became president. Despite the rhetoric from the far right, Clinton is essentially an “incrementalist improver,” regardless of what her supporters or detractors claim. She wants to make further progress on the issues important to her, as she has outlined in fairly extensive detail. She is not suggesting major changes. Trump would try to make broad, dramatic, and sweeping changes, although it’s highly unlikely that he’d have much success, for reasons I’ve outlined in past blogs.

But the election isn’t coming down to what either candidate can or cannot do. It’s coming down to the commitment of their supporters, and those supporters are going to be moved more and more by emotion in the coming weeks.

Currently, most polls have the two candidates in a virtual deadlock, but there’s one area where Trump has a significant advantage – and that’s in the commitment of supporters. According to a poll cited on CBS news, 90% of those eligible to vote favoring Trump are determined to vote, while slightly less than 80% of those favoring Clinton are determined to vote. Assuming that the current polls are correct, if voter sentiment remains close to even and those commitment levels hold up, Trump will win, and it may not even be close.

Clinton’s problem is that incremental improvement doesn’t motivate people as much as the great and sweeping statements made by Trump. And while I won’t claim to speak for anyone, from my perspective, it seems as though, among those who seem to be key to her election: (1) black voters are getting tired of incrementalism and want more dramatic and effective efforts to remove the remaining discriminatory impediments that disproportionately affect the black community; (2) younger Americans want decisive action on improving education, lowering the costs of education that students and their families bear, and improving job opportunities for younger workers; and (3) a great many women, especially younger women, are tired of the continuing pay and opportunity gap between men and women, unhappy with the continuing number of glass ceilings that are all too infrequently broken, if broken at all, and want more than incremental change that never seems to solve the problems they face.

I’d submit that Clinton’s incrementalism simply isn’t motivating those who should be her supporters to the same degree that Trump’s sweeping and emotional appeals are motivating his supporters. Part of this is because incremental improvement doesn’t lend itself to sound bites, and most people find the recitation of facts boring. Part of it is that people want to see that their candidate is passionate about his or her beliefs. And part of it is that “toughing it out” is a mindset all too foreign to younger voters, who want immediate change, and they want it now.

One of Trump’s “strengths” is that he clearly believes whatever he’s saying at the moment, even if he changes his mind later. He’s very much “in the moment.” Hillary Clinton isn’t nearly that much “in the moment,” and she continues to act as though her long and dedicated effort to what she believes in speaks louder than emotional promises, but most people don’t see the work she’s done and don’t think that the past speaks to the present. They only see the images, and today images speak far more than substance.

“Toughing it out” might work for Clinton, but I have very strong doubts that it’s going to be effective in this election.

The Problem of “Perspective”

I’ve noticed a growing trend in public and private discourse over the past several decades, where people at all levels, but especially at the higher levels of politics, business, and, for lack of a better word, “celebrity,” offer their perspective as if it were factual. And they’re using the term “perspective,” as if to convey greater weight than mere opinion. Now, I know their “perspective” is factual to them, but the selective use of facts converts them from the realm of attempted accuracy to mere opinion. And, as a very old saying goes, “You’re entitled to your opinion, but not [just] your facts.” Or just the facts you find convenient.

We all have the tendency to ignore unpleasant facts, those at variance with what we wish to believe, or at the very least to give them less weight and credence, and to overweight those facts that support what we wish to believe. And none of us is truly objective, nor can we be, because, by nature, we’re subjective. But the mark of the truly thoughtful individual is to attempt to weigh all the facts, to fight against the immediate instant opinion that comes to mind, and to consider those things which he or she would rather not.

There is a practical problem with this, however.

Aristotle classified arguments by type, those rooted in facts and figures (logos), those that rely on the speaker’s expertise and credibility (ethos), and those playing on an audience’s emotions (pathos). Donald Trump clearly relies on his reputation, essentially saying he’s an expert, while playing almost entirely on the emotions of the audience. There are virtually no credible facts and figures, but that apparently makes no difference to the effectiveness of his arguments because his appeals are overwhelmingly gut-level emotional.

Hillary Clinton has also relied on her expertise, but she has attempted to present her case for being president far more on logical basis, and polls have consistently revealed that she is weaker than Trump in appealing to her audience, or any other audience. All too many of her supporters are merely “with Hillary,” and not with as strong an emotional connection as Trump supporters have for him.

The problem is that winning this “argument” and the presidency can clearly be accomplished without accurate facts.

I can certainly understand the concerns of disenfranchised former white male middle class industrial workers. The changes in industrial production methods, especially automation, and world trade patterns have effectively destroyed tens upon tens of thousands of U.S. semi-skilled jobs. But the facts suggest that no amount of political rhetoric is ever going to bring those kinds of jobs back. And anyone’s “perspective” that insists a politician will be able to overturn the impact of massive technological change is mere unfounded opinion. Yes, better skills training will equip workers for the new kinds of jobs, but the old ones are gone forever. The logical basis of this argument doesn’t appeal in the slightest to all too many of those displaced, and when it’s placed in an emotional context, facts lose out in the hearts and minds of all but the most thoughtful individuals.

Global temperatures are rising inexorably; glaciers all over the world are shrinking or vanishing; practically every month in the past year has been hotter than that same month in any previous year, something that as far back as we’ve been able to measure has never happened before. Summer northern polar ice caps are the smallest ever measured, and water temperatures around Antarctica are continuing to rise. Yet there are those whose “perspective” denies this. Do we know the precise reasons for this? Not to decimal point precision, but when global temperatures for centuries having been rising in concert with rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and human activity is at present the major source of increased carbon dioxide, the facts strongly suggest that we’re responsible. Trump doesn’t bother with the facts; he makes an emotional argument that global warming is a hoax, suggesting it was perpetrated by China.

In comparison, Hillary comes off as a policy wonk, trying to persuade people, and one thing I’ve learned from twenty years in politics is that facts are never enough to convince anyone who doesn’t believe you in the first place. Lyndon Johnson once observed that you couldn’t change people’s hearts and minds until you “have ‘em by the balls.”

And those differences between Hillary and the Donald are why this election, barring some major surprise, will be very close, and why Donald Trump may well win.

The Misogyny Card

As I noted a good year ago, Donald Trump has made a blatant and multifaceted appeal to the less than college educated white males who feel disenfranchised by industrial automation and by the offshoring of once high-paid semi-skilled jobs. Call that the disenfranchised white male card.

What has been part of this appeal, but largely overlooked, or thought to be merely a by-product of Trump’s boorishness and crudity, is a pervasive attack on and minimization of women, particularly intelligent professional women. I’ve seen too many “Trump the Bitch” bumper stickers to believe that his attack on women is merely macho boorishness, although it’s certainly that. Widespread bumper stickers aren’t the product of lone wolves.

Why else do I think that Trump’s use of the “misogyny card” is deliberate? Because of who happens to be replacing those “disenfranchised” white males. As jobs for semi-skilled white males have dwindled, the numbers of higher paid jobs for women, particularly educated women, have increased (if not enough in my opinion). And in many ways, Hillary Clinton is one of the first of those women to take on directly the last citadels of male privilege… and, sorry to say, all too many men, particularly white men with less than a college education, don’t like powerful women.

The attack on Hillary Clinton for her “lying” and “untrustworthiness” amounts to a proxy attack on women in general. After all, is Trump exactly the paragon of truthfulness and integrity? He’s lied time and time again, and he’s certainly not trustworthy in business deals. Yet there’s almost no furor about Trump’s lying and untrustworthiness.

Why not? Because it’s not newsworthy? Or for some other reason?

Men, again, like it or not, have created an image of women as more deceptive and secretive than men. Yet, for example, more men than women have extra-marital affairs. Interestingly enough, as more and more married women work and have come to earn more money and power, the percentage of married women who cheat has increased. Obviously, this is a form of “power” and is just another movement toward gender equality that grates on at least a certain percentage of men, and not just those who have less education.

Over a career that spans fifty years in the military, in business, and in government, I’ve seen, time after time, the good old boys and their attacks on competent women. For some reason, what men do in government and business is just fine for them, but not for women. Years ago, after I’d just promoted a woman over several male colleagues, one of them cautioned me that she was “ambitious and out for herself,” totally ignoring the fact that all the male candidates were every bit as blatantly ambitious. She did just fine, and in fact, far better than those who succeeded her when she finally moved on. When women are attacked for doing what men do in the same field, same time, and same way, and the “boys” aren’t, it’s misogyny.

And that’s what Trump’s doing, and what the media is doing is letting him get away with it. But then, after the Roger Ailes scandal, why should we expect anything else?

This Electronic World

I’ve just had a taste of what happens when the faults of our wired/beamed world collide with [I suspect] with modern “cost-effective” [mis]management. After four days without internet service, I was forcibly reminded just how difficult it is to conduct normal business without such links. I couldn’t even tell most people with whom I exchange emails that I couldn’t reply.

More to the point, I was also reminded just how poorly managed a particular massive telecommunications system [CenturyLink] happens to be. Internet service vanished. When I called to find out what had happened, I was informed that there was a local outage and that service would be restored within four hours. That didn’t happen. Nor did it happen by the next morning, as promised. Nor by the next afternoon. Nor by the following morning. Nor by that night. I kept calling and getting updates…and promises… but no internet. But after almost three days I was reassured that most of the outages had been fixed – just not in my smaller area – but promised my area would be restored in another 24 hours.

That didn’t happen, either. What did happen was that CenturyLink’s automated system assured me that there were no network problems. When I persisted, the system informed me that there was a problem, but that no repair ticket had been processed. For twenty-four hours, that same message persisted.

After three days, after getting really angry and obnoxious, if politely so, because politeness wasn’t getting any results, or any information. I discovered that they’d sent a technician out, but he didn’t have the right parts, and there weren’t any in Cedar City. Now Cedar City isn’t Denver or Phoenix, but the area does have a university and over 50,000 people – and CenturyLink doesn’t have parts and haven’t been able to get them for three days? We have an airport where FedEx and UPS land and take off daily. So does Delta Airlines. It’s only a three hour drive to Las Vegas.

The actual humans whom I contacted could only say that repairs should have been completed in no more than 36 hours, and, outside of the one who had told me about the parts issue, the others could offer neither a reason nor an estimate of the time when internet service would be restored.

In the meantime, the automated problem response system continued to declare that there was no network problem, and that there was a local problem for which no repair ticket had been yet processed. Then, finally, after four days, I had internet service.

So because of their lack of parts, a number of us were shut down off the internet for four days. I wonder just how much of an annual bonus the logistics manager got last year. And if I can send packages overnight to almost anywhere, why can’t CenturyLink? Or is it that they don’t have enough parts in stock? Either way, it doesn’t speak all that well for the company management.

And, oh yes, this is the same company that advertises how much safer and more secure their service is compared to wireless communications.

Dogs and Cats?

If dogs like you, they wag their tail and trot up and say hello. Shy dogs may only wag their tails. If dogs don’t like you, or your dog, or believe you are threatening them or those they protect, they growl or whine and give off other indications. If they’re “omega” dogs, they may retreat or cower. If they’re well-trained and they don’t like you, they tend to make it obvious that you are surviving only by the will of their mistress or master.

Friendly cats are similar, if more restrained, to friendly dogs. But cats that don’t like someone either vanish or are never seen… and in some cases conduct sneak attacks, often on personal items. Cats are also rather good at walking the tightrope, so to speak. We have a cat named after a queen in English history, and she makes a practice of walking along a two-inch wide balcony railing over a twenty-foot drop. I just wish I were that sure-footed, both physically and socially.

People can behave like “dogs” or “cats,” or even approximate other animals, such as the individual one woman calls, “Sir Hiss.” Unhappily, the people I have the most trouble with are those who outwardly behave like big friendly dogs, while planning ambushes and sneak attacks like cats. I’m especially wary of men who have wide expansive smiles with eyes that smile as well and who radiate warmth when they’re focused on someone. In more cases than not in my life, such individuals have been considerably less than perfectly trustworthy, but I have yet to find a dog showing such friendliness who attacked when someone wasn’t looking. Needless to say, this particular ability/mannerism turns up more than a few times in my books.

One politician I knew seemed to light up whenever a camera was focused in his direction, and his sense of cameras was uncanny. He never lost an election, either. Talk about adaptation. I haven’t the faintest idea if any other animal besides homo sapiens can do that, but he certainly excelled at it.

I’ve also encountered more than a few individuals of the sneaky slimy type usually called snakes, but that’s a problem because few snakes are actually slimy, and that description does a disservice to most snakes. In fact, most descriptions of people as one animal or another usually do a disservice to the animal whose supposedly unfavorable characteristics are being applied to the individual in question, because, in fact, human beings have the capability for greater deceptiveness, murder, and pure evil than any poor animal.

The Even Darker Side

Recently, I’ve seen a number of public service spots pointing out how texting or cell phone use while driving is twice as deadly as driving drunk. Not only do I believe it; I’ve seen it, up close and personal. The strangest time was last Sunday morning while I was doing my morning walk with the sweet-crazy Aussie-Saluki. We were halfway across the street that had a four-way stop when a driver comes up the street…and keeps going, without even stopping. Fortunately, I’m slightly paranoid, and look around when crossing streets, even at stop signs and in crosswalks, and when I suspected what might happen, we sprinted. Even so, the driver barely missed us, but he passed so close that I could see he wasn’t even looking – except at the cell-phone he held in one hand. And he was dressed in coat and tie, apparently heading for church.

Not a day goes by that I don’t see text-impaired driving and walking, and at least where we live it’s getting worse. I see mothers with small children in their cars glued more to their cellphones than either their driving or their children. I even occasionally see parents walking with children – wearing earbuds and ignoring those offspring. I see scores of college students driving one-handed with the other hand holding a cellphone to their ear or texting on it.

What has struck me about all this is that it’s an extreme form of narcissism. All of these individuals are so wrapped up in themselves and whatever pleasure or need the texting or phoning fulfills that they don’t and possibly can’t think of the potential consequences of overuse and careless use of instant communications.

Young people, particularly, seem glued to their devices, as if they are prosthetics that they cannot do without. Increasingly, college students are spending more time on social media and less on their studies, but paradoxically, in general, they’re less socially adept because they interact less with others in direct personal contact and restrict themselves to electronic contacts. It even appears that the majority of college students move across campus, earbuds firmly in place, ignoring the other students around them.

It’s as if all these users are electronic/communications druggies, with all the narcissistic faults of alcohol or drug dependency. And no one seems to recognize this… or the increasingly lethal side-effects.

Alternate Views?

One author’s viewpoint of the future, of society, of technology, of anything, in fact, should not preclude another’s view, or the views of a number of other authors. Nor should authors be condemned for whether they incorporate and impose a new or “better” view of matters such as gender, ethnicity, and social mores on a past society, or whether they fail to do that. What should be questioned is their accuracy in depicting the past as it was, and, if the work is F&SF, whether the society, technology, cultures, etc., they are depicting are workable and believable, and, also, for me, anyway, whether such a culture could actually evolve into what is persented.

Now, that doesn’t mean anyone has to like what an author does. I don’t particularly like the world of Game of Thrones, but as more than a few historians have pointed out, George R. R. Martin’s use of the War of the Roses as a model of sorts for his world certainly does capture the brutality and the almost total lack of morality rampant in that type of culture. I can admire the craft, but I don’t have to like the result.

That would seem obvious, or it should be, but it clearly isn’t to all too many in the F&SF field. Like it or not, in the past, and still in some societies, most positions of power and prestige and most of those in science were and are held by men, regardless of culture or ethnicity. This isn’t good for a great number of reasons, first and foremost being the fact that any society that does this is wasting at least half of its intelligence and abilities, if not a great deal more. But it did happen, and it continues to happen in some places, and likely will for a long time in others.

If an author wants to write in that kind of world, that’s his or her business, but that doesn’t mean that anyone should be required to like what such authors write or grant them awards. Nor does it mean that they should be denied readers or awards, either. Nor should it mean that writers who depict worlds with diverse populations and cultures should automatically expect readers or awards for merely pointing out what hasn’t yet happened in most societies, particularly if their talent in telling the story is submerged by the “message.” I understand this very well, since every so often some reader or reviewer critiques me for being too pedantic, and, in retrospect, at times I may have been. At other times, I suspect the readers and reviewers in question simply didn’t like considering what was behind what I wrote, but that’s a danger all writers face.

Readers largely buy what entertains them, and what entertains the bulk of readers bears less and less resemblance to reality [as I learned more than 20 years ago by publishing a very “real” book that was incredibly unpopular while watching authors who depicted the same milieu most unrealistically rake in millions]. Often what is entertaining not only has little accuracy in depicting human behavior, politics, and technology, etc., but also isn’t even that well-written, but it still sells.

Various literary awards aren’t all that much better in reflecting excellence, either, because they’re either popularity contests, as in the case of the F&SF Hugo awards, or they reflect the tastes of a small panel of judges, as in the World Fantasy Awards or the Pulitzer Prizes or even the Nobel Prize for literature. While such awards may reflect excellence, that view of excellence is highly influenced by the tastes of those doing the judging.

So…all the stone-throwing because authors do or don’t depict something in a given way seems to me irrelevant to how popular a book is or how technically and artistically good it may be.

But then, some people revel in throwing stones, either figuratively or actually.

Another Take on Income Inequality

Sometime around 7500 B.C., people began building clustered mud-brick houses at Catalhoyuk, Turkey. According to detailed archeological studies, for roughly the next thousand years, the same patterns of life persisted, apparently with all families living in the same fashion and with approximately the same level of goods and the same size houses. Analyses of the human remains show that men and women received the same level and type of food as well.

By around 6500 B.C., however, income and status inequality began to develop, and as it did, more violence also began to appear, including a significant number of individuals with healed head injuries, wounds that suggest to the archaeologists who have studied the site for more than forty years that such injuries were inflicted as a means of social control, but that such control was not necessary until pronounced income/resource inequality began to develop. This is, of course, a conclusion drawn by those studying Catalhoyuk, but it does appear without doubt that the society appeared more stable when the income levels were similar and that more violence occurred once income inequality began to develop.

I have to say that this scarcely surprises me. Historically, countries with high levels of income inequality have often had violent uprisings and/or revolutions, such as the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the Cuban revolution, the more recent violence in the Sudan, and the troubles in Colombia and Venezuela.

In looking at income inequality by country across the world, I was struck by several facts. First, among industrialized/technological nations, the United States has the greatest income inequality. Among all nations, there is a pronounced tendency for countries with high income inequality also to have high levels of societal violence, and that includes the United States.

All of which suggests that pushing for tax cuts on the wealthy and opposing increases in the minimum wage may well have costs beyond the merely monetary.


This year, the buzzword at the local university is “retention.” What it amounts to for faculty and staff is, essentially, to do anything possible to keep students in school. Act as their friend or their counselor. Give them any way you can to pass courses. Ensure that they get instant positive feedback.

Along with this comes a blizzard of brand-new acronyms, a program to train faculty as emergency counselors and psychologists [because the three new counselors the administration hired are so far behind that they’ll never get through the caseload of students], and the very clear message that university faculty members are responsible for getting students through in five years or less, faculty and no one else.

Since most entering students have never really had to work hard to learn and study, they’re not really prepared for college-level work, and it often seems like they can’t wait to get out of class and return to their smart-phones and ear-buds.

And that doesn’t include the facts that the local university is located in a culture where more than half the students take off two years for a Church mission, where women are pressured to marry and have children young, and where the majority of students feel “crushed,” if they get a grade below an “A” even when they don’t do the work. That doesn’t take into account that roughly half of the students are working part-time or full-time because families averaging five children spaced close together can almost never provide anywhere close to the funds necessary for college.

Then add to that the fact that many classes are taught by underpaid adjuncts who are juggling other jobs and commitments, and that the administrative loads dumped on full-time teaching faculty continue to increase and result in longer and longer hours providing information and reports to administrators that have very little to do with teaching.

And, of course, it’s absolutely taboo for a faculty member to even hint at asking whether some of these students should even be in college or whether the university is doing those students any favors by trying to keep them in classes as long as possible.

The truly miraculous aspect of it all is that so many faculty members struggle to do their best for students who are seldom grateful and an administration that’s preoccupied with numbers and thinks that excellence can be quantified by retention numbers.

Analyzing to the Death

I’ve always wanted to understand, and worked at developing my own abilities to do that whether the subject happened to be technological, historical, political, or otherwise in nature. One of the many things I’ve learned through these exercises is that while I may think I understand something, there’s always more to be learned… but there comes a point where additional knowledge adds little to understanding. Likewise, understanding is only the first step in resolving problems, and far too many individuals seem to believe that if they just “understand” the situation or problem, it can be solved or resolved.

Years and years ago, A.E. van Vogt wrote about non-Aristotlian [Null-A] thinking, presenting it as rejection of “single-valued” or straight-line logic or thinking and suggesting that a multi-valued/perspective logic structure was better for dealing with problems. That kind of approach sounded good on paper – as a good author can often make something sound – but I had a feeling that there was something inherently flawed with the idea.

Recent interactions have brought to mind that feeling, and I realized exactly what van Vogt had missed. While his proposed Null-A thinking may well work better in solving technological and physical problems, it’s limited, and often useless, in dealing with people problems, because the overwhelming majority of people don’t think that way… and don’t want to. Every individual has his or her own value system, in most cases differing slightly from that of others in his or her society, but those systems are essentially based on “either-or” assumptions. Either something is “good” or it’s not, and when something goes wrong, or is not to their liking, their default feeling is that someone else or something else is wrong or the problem.

Sometimes, that may be largely the problem, but usually, from what I’ve observed, most problems, especially human problems, have multiple causes and contributing factors, and most people reject their own contributing factors and insist that the problem is caused by other people or other factors.

Now… you can analyze this to death and come up with and list all the factors. You can point out all the psychological impediments those involved with or concerned with the problem have. But all that analysis does nothing to solve the problem – because those involved have emotional anchors to their point of view, and a number of studies, some of them quite recent, have indicated, those emotional anchors are far more powerful than either facts or logic. Only an emotional impact of some sort will change those views.

And all the analyses and data don’t seem able to change that. Likewise, bashing those who observe that this is in fact an accurate observation of current human nature doesn’t change the fact that the vast majority of human beings are governed by emotionally-based, either-or feelings and decision-making.