In the wake of Chris Cornell’s apparent suicide, mostly everyone in my various writer-ly (totally a word) has been talking about their experiences with depression. Though there are a lot of commonalities, most of us tend to have experienced it differently. Yes, there’s the whole “lack of energy/motivation” and the whole “my brain won’t stop yelling at me” thing. However, the black dog is something I have fought off and on for years and my experience is only faintly similar to what I’ve read from Kate Paulk among others (whose links I cannot find).

She talks about how she externalizes her depression to make it seem as if the ideas that it shouts come from elsewhere. For me, though, it’s different. I know they come from my own brain. I just happen to realize they’re from the incredibly stupid and selfish part of my brain and I have gotten rather good at ignoring them. So, no worries that I’m going to do anything stupid. I’ve witnessed first-hand what that does to the people who outlive the deceased and there is no way in hell I’d do that to anyone.

No, for me, the worst bits are the physical parts. There are days where it takes all the energy I can muster just to sit up. Moving hurts. Nothing is interesting. Nothing can capture my attention or my imagination. Every step, every thought feels as if I am struggling to swim through syrup. All I want to do on days like that is stay curled up in my bed and daydream or sleep.

But, I generally force myself to get up and get moving. Yes, it’s going to hurt like a wicked bitch. However, eventually I grow somewhat detached from the pain and can mask it or ignore it well enough to do whatever I need to do that day. Days like that generally find me tearing through fanfics, spending hours at Khan Academy, editing my older works, or binge-watching Marvel movies until I feel the pressure fading enough that I can breathe easily. I can honestly say that The Avengers, Dr. Strange, and Loki have helped me keep it together long enough to wrest control of my body back from that damned dog. A few times I’ve considered sending everyone involved in those films a fruit basket or something but I’m sure they all have better things to do than deal with that so I have managed to refrain from it. Being broke also helps a bit, there. 😉

I suppose it also helps that I’ve made peace with my demons and the skeletons in my closet. I’ve also gained considerable control over my emotions to the point where neutrality is my default state. I may experience mild moments of amusement, exasperation, irritation, or joy over the course of any given day but, for the most part, my neutrality protects me. It’s a nice, thick shield that keeps that damned dog from laying down on my chest and suffocating me. Without my control, I don’t think I would have made it this far. I just wish I had learned it sooner. It’s helped me pinpoint when I’m about to enter a flat spin and spiral downwards until I crash and enabled me to stave it off by distracting myself from whatever emotion is about to blindside me. That’s partly why I have gained some little mastery over higher mathematics, why I’m working on understanding dimensional mathematics, why I know so damned much about physics, astronomy, cosmology, criminology, abnormal psychology, anthropology, the behavior of crowds, nuclear physics, history, literature, and why I can speak so many languages. I do these things to distract myself from overwhelming emotions, to give them no chance to knock me off my feet and drag me under their currents.

It’s how I survive and it beats the hell out of my adolescent survival trick of simply dissociating and running on auto-pilot.

Yes, I struggle with depression still. However, I have managed to reach a stage of reasonable contentment and tranquility. I know that the happiness that most others experience will probably never be something I can share. I know the sacrifices I have had to make to stay (relatively) sane and functional. I know that my circadian rhythm is screwed up beyond any real hope of repair. I accept these things. This is simply how life is for me. There’s a certain loveliness in the shades of grey that too frequently surround me and they make those brief splashes of color all the more beautiful and precious.

It is a bit odd that so many of writers are broken and bent like this. I don’t know if it’s something that our brains require of us so we can write or if we can write because our brains are this screwed up. That will be something to ponder, I suppose, the next time I need a good distraction. 🙂

— G.K.

PS — If you are undergoing acute depression or have unmanaged chronic depression or ever feel suicidal, please, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) or the Samaritans at (212) 673-3000. Whoever you are, where ever you are, you have something left to do and you need to figure out what it is.

Throwback Thursday: A Cold War Vocabulary Lesson

I was scanning around for a topic to write about this Thursday and wondering if I was going to do something historical like “how to make daggers” or “the first fanfic G ever wrote” when the most Evil of Space Princesses posted this on her blog.

Really? Seriously? This level of ignorance is the product of an advanced educational system?

Suddenly, I knew what today’s entry had to be about. So, let’s all hop in our time machines — be they TARDISes, telephone booths, funky-looking steampunk chairs, or DeLoreans — and set the dial for August 27, 1980. We’ll avoid my neck of the woods since this trip puts me in my own time-line (I’ll be 24 hours old) and instead go hang out someplace cool. I’ll supply the chameleon circuits so we can waltz into the HQ of USPACOM without being noticed. Just remember — don’t muck about.

Things seem kinda tense, don’t they? Hear that chatter from EUCOM over in Stuttgart, Germany? And the calls from RDJTF — which will soon become CENTCOM — about the problems in Iran?

Oh, man, if only the poor bastards knew…

Notice how all the focus is on Europe and the Pacific, though? Now, guys, I know it’s been a while. Keep listening. Yep. There it is. I notice some of you look a little confused. West Germany? East Germany? What the hell?

Back during the 1980s, I often wondered where North and South Germany were. My excuse was that I was under the age of ten. I’m uncertain what someone who was born in 1969 would have to offer as a similar excuse for such breath-taking ignorance.

It’s 1980. The Cold War is still on, guys. There’s still a USSR in this time with missiles pointed at the US. There are tanks all over the Eastern Bloc nations. We have our own bases and our own forces in Europe to keep the Warsaw Pact from invading. NATO is a big deal instead of the joke we all know it will become. Article V of the NATO Charter is the life-line that Western Europe has clung to and the reason our boys are still there even though the Nazis were defeated well-nigh on forty years ago. It’s also the reason we have bases in Japan and the Japanese are praying we’ll keep the Chicoms from invading them and the Taiwanese (the Republic of China) is counting on us to help them keep the Chicoms from crossing the Strait and subjecting them to the good Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward that left millions dead.

Chicom? I see some of you looking confused again. Chinese Communist. It means “a person who is loyal to the People’s Republic of China — a communist government that uses repressive means including (but not limited to) censorship, state control of the media, re-education camps, imprisonment, torture, secret police, internal and interior-focused spy organizations, centralized control of the food supply, and centralized control of the economy in order to completely dominate the people it governs.” The PRC at this time does not allow people to practice religion, the press to report anything unfavorable to the government or to the Communist ideology, or the people to communicate freely with citizens of other countries. Chicoms are, by and large, ethnically Chinese but may also be Caucasian, Russian, Serbian, Arabian, Persian, Iberian, Hispanic, Chicano, Latino, African, Korean, Japanese, Amerindian, Indian, Vietnamese, or any other ethnic group or sub-group. Their primary identity is their loyalty to a political body — the PRC.

And, like these guys, they’ll kneel to whoever orders them. Unfortunately, there are no real-world Captain Americas, Thors, and Tony Starks to save them and those who wind up as collateral damage from their own raging stupidity.

They were not good guys. They were not sweet, cuddly kittens. They were brutal, murderous, power-hungry asshats who enriched themselves at the expense of their people. They gorged themselves on power and wealth while the average Chinese citizen went hungry. Their so-called noble ideology (which doesn’t scale at all beyond devoted communities such as monasteries where there are methods of population control and a larger community that isn’t bound by that ideology to support them — just look at places like Mount Atheos) led to the deaths of tens of millions of people.

Calling them “Chicoms” isn’t an insult. It isn’t a racial or ethnic slur. Anyone who thinks that is either 1) too young to have lived through the Cold War at all, 2) too stupid to use Google and therefore too stupid to be referenced as an expert on anything, 3) looking for a reason to be offended, or 4) some combo of the above.

Brought to you by…someone educated by hard-working teachers in the Poorest State in the Union™.

So, there go you. A new vocabulary word for you! Now, let’s go back to 2015. I need to see a man about a flying car…

— G.K.

Sad Puppies: Why I Don’t Do Cons

Sad Puppies: Why I Don't Do Cons

First, allow me to fangirl a little bit. Cedar just added me on G+ so I’m kind of doing this right now:

But then I started reading Sarah’s entry from today which led me to reading Vonda McIntyre’s entry which has led to a round of head-scratching, several cigarette breaks, a few consultations of Wikipedia’s entry on Arrow’s impossibility theorem, a lengthy session back on Khan Academy which involved a lot of swearing at parabolas (which seems to be the only aspect of algebra II I’m doomed to fail), and the realization that I’ve got a 2:30 appointment so I need to wrap this up already.

People: shit like this is why I don’t do cons. Okay, I went to BlizzCon (twice). I went to the WWI when it was in Paris. But for all of those — I worked for Blizzard and I was at the convention working. I’ve never been to E3, Gamescom, DreamHack, GenCon, IndyCon, any of the ComicCons, WorldCon, or WalkerStalker Con. I had wanted to go to LibertyCon this year but did not have the money. I may go next year if I can scrape together the funds and if work permits but that will probably be the only convention I’ll go to.

Why? Several reasons.

1) I hate traveling. Flying anywhere is a hassle. It’s expensive. Hotels are insanely overpriced and the food is crap (the Internet is generally shitty, too). Driving is a little better but the price of gas is insane.

2) So. Many. People. And you have to talk to them and you can’t hide from them.

3) Where there are a lot of people, there’s going to be a lot of noise. If I want a migraine, there are cheaper and more efficient methods to give myself one.

4) It’s become pretty clear that the people running these conventions don’t like people like me. If you think that the Sad Puppies had a point (that the Hugos were being given out based on the author’s politics and were going to sermon-fics that delivered a particular sermon instead of to stories/books that were well-written or told interesting stories with interesting characters regardless of the author’s politics), then you’re clearly not welcome at these conventions. At best, you’ll be just asked not to show up (and maybe made to feel like an unperson the way Johnathon Ross was). At worst — you get forced out for no reason with baseless and false (and malignant) allegations lodged against you (as happened against the Honey Badger Brigade). Being a minority, a woman, a lesbian, a non-American, or even all of the above does not protect you from this. You could be an African-born male-to-female transgendered post-operative black lesbian Rwandan socialist Muslim and if you happen to think “hey, Larry Correia had a point,” you might as well be a WASP man for all the good it will do you if you try to turn up at a con.

5) It’s actually getting borderline dangerous for those of us who don’t toe the SJW “Brianna Wu is our Goddessa and we shall sucketh Scalzi’s cocketh, Massa” line to live, let alone show up at cons. I really don’t want to get arrested, SWATTed, or have my car run off the road and die on the side of the highway.

So, I avoid them. I mean, why bother? The panels are just going to be about how people like me are evil, how stories I like are stupid, how I and my whole family should be killed, etc, etc, etc. It’s nothing I didn’t hear in the grievance-mongering circles at college. I’m not going to piss thousands of dollars away just to hear it while surrounded by cosplayers.

Still, it gets on my nerves. That one side or the other needs protection from the other. How about we all do the sensible thing and talk about the giant elephant in the room? The SJWs are crazy, they’ve got no problem with violence as a means to an end, they’ve got no problem with wishing death/torture/pain/rape/whatever on their political or philosophical opposition. It’s illogical to put yourself anywhere near them or in any place where they control ingress and egress or security. Not because they’ll kill you outright (they’re crazy, not stupid) but because they can make your life a living hell. Once you’re where they control the security systems, they can chose what the police see (and don’t see). They don’t need to win their cases in a court of law, people — for some things, the mere accusation is enough.

And you really want to go to where they’re going to be? Shit, I avoid being in the same ZIP code as them if I can. So long as I’m out in the middle of Bumfuck Nowhere, Landmassia — and can prove I’m there — they can’t accuse me of doing jack to them.

So again — do you really want to go to WorldCon and give them the chance to accuse you of theft, harassment, rape, murder, human trafficking, drug trafficking, or whatever else they come up with? Or do you want to do the sensible thing and stay at least three ZIP Codes and a time zone away from any SJW/CHORF whenever possible?

— G.K.

PS — If you must go, here’s a list of criminal defense attorneys in Spokane, WA. And, if you are going, add me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know. We can exchange contact info and I’ll volunteer to be your “one phone call” if you do get arrested on trumped-up BS charges.

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

So, I’m a Walking Dead fan. As in I drive out of my way to watch it (I don’t have cable — my parents do). I’ve even read some really bad (and some really good) fanfics. Hell, I get story and character ideas from the show and the buzz around it. And yes, Daryl Dixon is my favorite character. No, not because he’s good-looking or a bad boy or any of that but because he understands the value of silence, speaks only when he has something to say, thinks things through, and is ruthlessly competent. He also doesn’t suffer fools and will go his own way if he thinks it’s right. Ask me and those things are so much more important than looks.

If I had something to say, I’d say it. Otherwise, I’mma just be quiet and do useful things.

He kinda reminds me of the guy I married. In good ways, sweetie, I promise.

Anyhow, The Walking Dead isn’t the first zombie apocalypse thing I’ve gotten into. There was Resident Evil when I was in high school, World War Z (the novel, not the crappy movie that only has the title in common with the book), 28 Days Later (Chris Eccleston was great in that)… But, The Walking Dead has gotten me thinking about the ZA (Zombie Apocalypse) in different ways. Not only are a friend of mine and I thinking about getting together and doing a MST3K-style webshow, but I’ve been thinking about the different types of survivors, the different ways they band together, how they’re impacted by the ZA and the collapse of social order, how many of them have no real useful skills for surviving and how those who do (like Rick, Daryl, Hershel, and Glenn) wind up carrying those who don’t.

Better survival strategy than 90% of people

So, in short, this show has gotten all of my little INTJ lights glowing. So many things to think about. Which brings me to my next point: my latest book idea — “How to survive the Zombie Apocalypse (and rebuild the world after)” (yeah, the title’s rough). I’m going to be posting excerpts and sample articles from it here on the site. If you have a particular topic you think I should include, feel free to suggest it and, if I’m not already planning to cover it (and I’m planning to cover a lot), I’ll add it and give you a mention in the Acknowledgements. Keep in mind I’m just looking for topics — not full articles. So, saying something like “how to re-establish communications overseas” is fine — giving me a point-by-point list on how that should happen is not fine.

Anyhow, with that out of the way — keep an eye out here (or on Twitter, Facebook, G+, Tumblr, or even Pinterest) to see the latest in this weird, random, rambling series!

— G.K.

Women In Science: Can We Create More Female NTs?

Women In Science: Can We Create More Female NTs?

Ethically and legally? Probably not. But, if we’re looking at just “is this within the realm of probability with current technology” then the answer is “yes, maybe.” Understand, of course, that it’s not going to be something we could start working on tomorrow and that the suggestions on what to do range from mildly terrifying to downright scary. However, if your end goal is more women in science and you don’t care much about the means used to achieve that goal (which probably makes you part of the crowd clutching their pearls and fainting over a shirt), then consider this ground zero for your completely terrible campaign.

Even the Master is horrified by your callousness

The first thing we’ll need to do is figure out what determines and creates the different temperaments. There’s a lot of debate over this. Temperament does seem to be extant from birth and observable in infancy (though, again, that’s somewhat debatable). It’s unknown if temperament is genetic, if it’s encoded into a specific gene or series of genes, if it’s inherited but not genetic, if it’s a result of chemical washes in utero during fetal brain development, or if it’s just the result of something spinning the Wheel o’ Temperament and bam — you get whatever the arrow’s pointing to when you exit the birth canal. It could also be influenced by various environmental and nurturing factors in infancy. So, the first step is to:

  1. Collect several hundred thousand pregnant women of various races, age ranges, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic levels, and marital statuses. Note down who is who and then assign each one a random testing number so that a proper double-blind study can be done.
  2. Monitor maternal food and liquid intake and output, noting the times and frequency of hunger, elimination, and strange cravings. Also monitor maternal emotional levels and stress levels.
  3. Figure out a way to determine the exact hormonal levels being washed over the fetus in utero at each stage of pregnancy and note those down.
  4. If the mother chooses to breastfeed, continue to observe intake-output of maternal nutrients until the child is weaned.
  5. Test each child to determine temperament/personality type at an appropriate age (usually no earlier than 17).

That concludes the first part of this process. Once you’ve determined which children are NTs, go back over the data gathered earlier and try to tease out the commonalities in maternal (and paternal) traits. Did the mothers all experience similar hormonal washes during their pregnancies? Did they tend to eat or crave certain foods as a class? Note down all commonalities among the parents and prepare to proceed to the next step.

  1. Collect males and females with traits most likely to create an NT child (if there are any).
  2. Impregnate the females with sperm carrying only the X chromosome.
  3. Monitor each pregnancy to ensure that the proper foods, drinks, and in utero hormonal washes occur, terminating any that seem likely to be an non-NT temperament.
  4. Ensure that the parents use only child-rearing methods that were found in homes with INTJ children from phase one.

There, you should have a new generation of pure NT females now. Provided, of course, that temperament is determined this simply. If you repeat these steps over the course of enough generations, you might be able to extinguish all of the non-NT temperaments in the human race, leaving a world only of Rationals. Of course, at future steps, you will need to breed some male children (after all, it’s hard to reproduce sexually when there’s only one sex and even if you can, that has its own problems) but you should be able to figure out how to create male NT children and how to ensure that their children will be NTs.

Also, added “bonus:” you should be able to use the data from phase one to determine the commonalities for the other three temperaments so if you decided that one of them needed a greater population, you could selectively breed them.

And if we add more of this, we’ll get a batch of nice ESFPs…

Of course, if you actually try to do this, you’re probably a terrible person. You’re completely eliminating choice and freedom in mating and reproduction for both men and women but you will get more female scientists. If that is your end goal and you don’t care how ethically it’s achieved, then you’ll be okay with placing restrictions on humans having sex with partners of their own choice at times of their own choosing. You’ll get what you want but only at the price of virtually enslaving millions of women and making reproductive decisions on their behalf.

Which probably makes you a feminist and a social justice warrior but almost absolutely precludes you being a Rational.

— G.K.