Wubwy Redefinitions

Apparently the new game is to pretend that words and concepts which have produced nothing but human misery actually mean something totally different which is bootiful and wubwy. You wouldn’t want to be against something bootiful, would oo? Oh, no!

So recently, I’ve seen “socialism” re-defined by a Loncon Worldcon panelist as “everybody who’s a panelist will share the profits equally.”

First off, that’s not what socialism means in this universe, where the sky is blue.

Second, obviously you don’t give a damn what gets shared with the volunteer staff, gofers, etc. So you’re an elitist who likes pretending that you’re all in this together, as long as you’ve got yours. It would be a lot more honest just to say you were honored to be invited, and happy to have your admission and hotel free while getting paid an appearance fee as well.

Third, I seriously doubt that there will be any Loncon profits, or that the profits would be shared by any of the vast majority of panelists who volunteer. What it means is “Loncon sweetened the deal with my agent, and with the agents of other professional guests who wanted more money, by promising profits that were very unlikely to materialize. So I’ve been taken, and I’m such a self-congratulating ditz that I haven’t even noticed.” It’s difficult to con an honest man, they say.

Then you have the redefinition of socialism as “the government has to do what everybody in society says,” as opposed to fascism, in which “the government tells everybody what to do.”

Actually, it would be “democracy” or “republicanism” when the government does the will of the people. Socialism doesn’t care what you think, any more than fascism does. The only differences are a little bit in the organization philosophy.

Finally, a person kindly explained this week, in comments about why the 1970’s version of Sesame Street is too dangerous to show kids today, that “political correctness is about not hurting the feelings of groups which have suffered prejudice in the past.”

Nooooo, “political correctness” is an old Maoist term for “adhering to the Communist Party’s party line, whatever that happens to be today,” and adopted as an apt description of the hard left’s procedures for enforcing their own party line. But thank you for playing Useful Idiot (a Stalinist term, since you have no historical perspective).

* From the 1963 Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, 1963:


1. Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or government ownership and administration of the means of production and
distribution of goods.

2a. A system of society or group living in which there is no private property.

2b. A system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned or controlled by the state.

3. A stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

So if you assume that panelists work harder and are more vital to conventions than the people who actually run the thing, or unpaid panelists, I suppose that Loncon’s supposed profit-sharing might barely count as socialism. Of course, in real life it means “the socialist politicians pretend to be paying off the socialist intelligentsia more than they actually are, while massaging their egos to make sure they don’t start thinking,” while in this case it’s actually a convention-running corporation or LLC doing the massaging instead.

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Black People and K-Pop

In many inner cities, there’s a lot of resentment between Korean-Americans and black Americans.

OTOH, there is a decades-old black fanbase for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai martial arts, animation, and musical groups. Black martial arts films and groups like the Wu-Tang Clan are evidence of this.

So although individual black people who are fans of anime, K-drama, and K-pop are not super-common, it is common for there to be such people around – probably about as common as white and Asian fans are among white and Asian people.

So here’s somebody doing a story about it.

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And This Is Why I Don’t Watch the New Doctor Who.

Brickmuppet describes the latest travesty exhibited under the name of a once-good show. It seems that the Doctor now claims to hate all soldiers, refuses to choose them as companions because they are just horrible people, and basically is in favor of leaving people to die. Again.

First off, it’s stupid. The Doctor loves soldiers, sailors, et al, and of course the Brigadier and the UNIT guys were some of his closest human friends. He tangled with their protocols and command priorities, but he never disliked them as people or their profession as a principle. Even in the crappy novels, he had multiple soldiers as Companions, and of course Lt. Harry Sullivan traveled with the Doctor.

Of course, in recent years the Idiots in Charge have done their best to retcon this out of existence: killing most of UNIT, deciding that the UK government had always been running Torchwood to try to kill the Doctor, killing UNIT personnel and replacing them with alien impostors, etc. But it’s still ridiculous. Also treasonous and suicidal, in time of war — and in a time when UK welfare-supported terrorists are slaughtering and raping the innocent, at home and abroad.

I don’t blame the actors. I blame the writers.

Since most of the writers (particularly Paul Cornell) who made the old Doctor Who novel series putrid* also work on the new series, this is not a surprise to anybody. (It also allows you to see the recycling of novel plots in the new series, much of which is also the direct responsibility of Paul Cornell. Of course, when you can persuade Neil Gaiman that it’s a good idea to recycle other people’s old Doctor Who novel plots, and then people give an award to it, I guess you can’t blame it all on Cornell.)

Anyhow, the creepy pogrom-against-the-unworthy thing? It constantly recurs in the new series, but it started very early in the novel series. I can’t remember the exact novel, and apparently it’s not something worthy of being remembered on the fan sites… but there was a pre-9/11 novel where a NY skyscraper was about to be destroyed. The writer opined that the Doctor would not only refuse to rescue a poor immigrant night shift _cleaning woman_ from a NY skyscraper about to be blown up by terrorists – because she hadn’t been proactive enough in fighting corporate crime, that being the natural business of cleaning women who don’t really speak English – but that he would take the time to scold her first, because people need to be scolded as you leave them to die a horrible death.

* Not every novel was putrid and morally offensive, but they usually managed at least 30-50% putrid in any given year. Naturally some of the other novels were stupid or blah, but at least they had good intentions. The remainder would be amazingly good, which would tempt you to go on buying novels even after you learned the score. This was similar to what was going on with Pocket Books Star Trek novels at the time, which went from being about 80% awesome to 10% awesome in the course of a couple years in the 1990’s.


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My New Bede Translation Is Live


On the Valiant Woman (De muliere forti) by the Venerable Bede. Translated by M.S. O’Brien. (That’s me.)

This classic early medieval commentary on Proverbs 31:10-31 is both a Bible study and a call to action in our everyday lives. If Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is His Bride, what can we learn about her from the Valiant Woman, the ideal businesswoman and wife? As part of Christ and His Church, how do we take the initiative is using our talents for other people’s good?

The book includes the respect for women which is typical of Bede’s writing. (For example, he composed his commentary On the Song of Habakkuk for a religious sister, and the obvious affection found in the section of his Ecclesiastical History dedicated to St. Aethelthryth (Audrey) which goes to the point of including a poem about her.)

Only a few years after the pagan English of his region had been converted to Christianity, the Venerable Bede became the greatest Scripture scholar and historian of his day, as well as writing about astronomy, music, mathematics, grammar, theology, poetry, and anything else that needed a textbook and creating Old English translations of various books of the Bible. His works were influential all over Europe, and he is counted as one of the early Church Fathers and a Doctor of the Church.

This book also appears as the final section of De Proverbia Salomonis (On the Proverbs of Solomon), a commentary on the entire Book of Proverbs which has never been translated into English.

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Translating Pop to Shakespeare

Demonstrating that it’s not the idea, it’s what you do with it.

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Sisters Vs. Selling Sex

The Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries, both vowed religious sisters and their associates out in the world, are fighting prostitution in the Philippines by visiting the brothels and the streets.

Here’s a case where it really, really helps to wear habits. They aren’t elaborate, they aren’t expensive-looking, but they do make their mission and identity absolutely clear.

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Post St. Augustine’s Day Post

Actually, I ended up celebrating St. Augustine’s Day by finishing the editing of the bibliography and footnotes for my next translation, St. Bede’s On the Valiant Woman. This is the standalone section (about Prov. 31:10-31) of his Book of Proverbs commentary. It was probably written first, and there were a fair number of manuscript versions of it. The Glossa Ordinaria notes for the Bible at times drew heavily from it, and it was quoted as authoritative by a lot of later guys. It was also a prime source of readings in the old Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours, especially for St. Mary Magdalene’s feast, and for the feasts of holy women who were married.

This was supposed to be an easy little project. It was supposed to come out last year, with only about two weeks’ work. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Hurst critical edition didn’t really dig deep into finding either Scriptural citations or quotes from the Fathers that were being referenced. Obviously it’s a lot easier overall to find those quotes nowadays, what with the magic of search engines; but it’s a lot of work all the same. Also, Hurst found a fair number of Scripture and Fathers quotes that zipped right by me, so I definitely appreciate his work! Both Beatus and Bede throw in some secular Latin quotes from the poets, too. Not super-often, mind you, but a bit more often than past critical editions gave them credit for.

Anyway, Bede’s not nearly as intricate in his quoting as Beatus of Liebana, but it’s still pretty noticeable that he does quote. We know that his own handwritten manuscripts included citations of his quotes in the side margins, and apparently he asked people to copy these. If they had just done as he asked back then, we’d have a lot easier time today!

My basic policy was to look at the interesting phrases and run a search (sometimes but not always including grammatical variants, like versions in different case or number), then record any pre-Bede results as footnotes. If it turned out to be a common Latin idiom or apparently original to Bede, fine. If it looked like a deliberate quote, I wrote it down. I’m sure this sort of search process will eventually be standardized and automated, probably assisted by the sort of “authorial voice” analysis programs that are being worked on now. But even my crude process did produce some pretty decently plausible results! I hope it will help scholars.

So now On the Valiant Woman (including a fair number of St. Augustine quotes) has been uploaded to the KDP Kindle publishing site, and it’s “in review,” getting checked by Amazon ebook distribution folks. With any luck, it’ll be out later today.

Re: pricing, I’m experimenting. Amazon wants me to raise my prices, but I also have the mighty power of running sales. So we’ll see.

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