Archive for January 3rd, 2009


I took your advice and picked up a few W.E. Woodward books. You’re right, they are good. If you ever think of any more good books, I’d be interested.
Happy New Year!

Woodward is a special, but in general history written in the 30s is always a good bet. That was when history books were best-sellers aimed at a general audience of literate Americans.  Now history books are all written for Harvard.


1 Comment

Dave and USING Criticism

Dave wrote two long and thoughtful pieces.   My reply to the last of them was, “So you are saying that if you risk your life in uniform you can do Mantra thinking?”

In any regular classroom, if the professor said that it would be a CONDEMNATION, not a CRITICISM.  The professor is there to teach you the True Faith and to head off any deviations from it.

What I said was a criticism, which is the opposite end of the world from a condemnation.

On the football field my coach would say, all too often, “Feel around you, Whitaker, maybe you’re still in bed.”   That was a CRITICISM.   On the football field you had better pay attention or you’ll get carried away.

Since other people wanted my position, the coach could have said, “Get off the field, Whitaker, and let somebody play who can concentrate.”  THAT is a CONDEMNATION.

Like my old coach, I am not very subtle.  But if I am worthy of being a coach — and coaches DO get fired regularly – what I say is a demand for you to address something.

As you would expect from any guy in his dotage, I am about to regale you with a tale of the Good Old Days.   Thirty years ago the editor of Analog – not Bova, the real one – said that he READ every submission.

That was when on writer gave this advice to wannabe writers: “READ you rejection letter.”  Most writers just saw rejection and tossed it.  BAD mistake.  Back then you had a chance to read a CRITICISM from the horses’ mouth, from the person who decided your fate.

No more.   Now you get a Screw You letter that says they only consider articles submitted by Qualified Agents.

I READ my rejection slips.  I do not know what an acceptance from Analog looks like, but this did a lot of good as a writer.  Now you can’t even get a useful rejection.

Now science fiction is just another bureaucracy.  It is vetted for accuracy by a “qualified” agent.   Like 30s history, scifi was wildly popular in the 70s.  We couldn’t save the space telescope NOW because that whole scifi base of support is gone.  Like history, scifi is now aimed not to offend Opinion.

My comment was aimed at getting Dave away from what I CONSIDER to be a sort of World War II Generation concept of Suffering as the key to Wisdom.