What Makes New Yorkers Live Longer?

A recent study by the prestigious British medical magazine, The Lancet, shows that New York City residents are living longer, these days. How come?

“Experts… are crediting Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s health initiatives during the last decade” for making New Yorkers live longer–banning smoking, banning trans-fat, banning soda, and so on. Maybe it only seems longer to those who have to live under the Bloomberg regime. A lot longer.

I do wish the experts would leave the fantasies to us fantasy writers! Hello! Can anybody do simple logic around here? There is no evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between Bloomberg’s meddling in people’s lives and the length of those lives. There is no longitudinal study. You’d have to follow the lives of people born at the same time those policies were instituted, keep the policies in place throughout those people’s lives, see how long they live–and then compare them to the life-spans of New Yorkers who lived before Bloomberg started banning everything.

It would be just as logical to say New Yorkers’ life-spans have increased since Alex Rodriguez started playing for the Yankees.

In fact, it would be just as true to say they started living longer since my book, Bell Mountain, was published. I knew it had to be good for something beyond mere entertainment!

Please feel free to pass this good news on to your friends who want to live longer.

Let’s Bash Christians!

Have you noticed that, in the United States and Canada, you cannot possibly get into trouble for saying vile things about Christians and Christianity? But oh, boy, are you in hot water if you venture to speak even the slightest discouraging word about any other religion!

Even more zealously protected than non-Christian religions, and held much more sacrosanct, are the various perversions celebrated in our senile Western world these days. There are Democrats who will actually condemn you for “transphobia.” And what the dickens is transphobia? When I type it out, my computer puts a red line under it, indicating there is no such word. But it seems to denote, in the so-called minds of liberals, an unreasonable aversion–by which they mean any aversion at all–to persons whose whole lives revolve around trying to inhabit the gender opposite the one they were born into.

But if you are out there to say false, insulting, and filthy things about Christians, you’ll get an invitation to the White House if you say it loud enough.

How did this come to be the case, in what once were Christian countries?

My Visit to Narnia

I dreamed of Narnia last night. No kidding–I was there. You should have seen the colors: indefinably different from ours, and overwhelmingly beautiful.

I found myself in a forest, in an army. An old knight with a long, white mustache was handing out… umbrellas, of all things. I got one, too. “Aslan says this is all we’ll need today,” he explained. Then it started to rain: and I understood we were going to go into a battle in which God had already won the victory.

Then, of course, I woke up. Don’t you hate it when that happens? Couldn’t get back, either. But I’m thankful for the bit I did receive, and I find my spirits buoyed by it. You don’t easily forget a dream like that.

The World’s Most Boring Sports Event

Let me just get this off my chest…

The recently-concluded world championship chess match between Vishy Anand (India) and Boris Gelfand (Israel)–in which Anand successfully defended his title–was mind-crushingly dull. And if they keep it up like this, top-level chess will go extinct.

First they played twelve regular games of chess–ten of which were draws! Each won a single game, leading to a series of “rapid chess” (in which less time is allowed) to break the tie. Anand won one of those and Gelfand didn’t, sparing the world a tie-breaking series of “blitz” (real, real fast chess). And if that had wound up tied, too? Flip a coin? Perhaps a game of battleship?

Don’t even ask what the purse was for this stultifying exhibition of futility. It would only depress you if you knew.

These were boring games! But in championship-quality chess, everybody trains with chess computers using the same software, everybody endlessly studies everybody else’s games, and the world’s top masters wind up playing the same tedious moves all the time, each hoping the other guy falls into a cataleptic trance or something… And with so much money at stake, no one dares try anything original.

Imagine any other sport in which 10 out of 12 games end in a tie. Maybe if they knocked $50,000 off the purse for each draw, the players would change their ways. Or had these big impatient guys on hand to beat the masters up every time they played to a draw… I dunno, but they’ve got to do something. And just about anything would be an improvement.

The Wrong of ‘Human Rights’

I’m a fantasy writer. I make things up–the wilder, the better. Years ago, I was a horror writer. I made up things that were intended to be scary.

Meanwhile, back in the real world this week, the New Mexico Appeals Court ruled that of course the state government can order Christians to do things that violate their religious beliefs. The court was referring to the 2006 case of a mom-and-pop photography business, owned by Christians, that declined to memorialize a lesbian pseudo-wedding. The fine for such “hateful” behavior was in excess of $6,000–a sum that is able to ruin a small business. Do what the lesbians want, or you lose your livelihood.

The original decision was made by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. You would think these bloody things were unconstitutional. “Human Rights” denotes the practice of elevating the rights of homosexuals over the rights of everybody else. The practice has been honed to a fine art in Canada, where there is no constitution–only some “Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms” that somehow allows Canadian jurisprudence to proceed according to the assumption that Canadians have only those freedoms which the government says they have–on any given day.

As an example of fantastic thinking that would do credit to any fantasy writer, we have this from the official website of the Ontario Human Rights Commission: “The Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that society must be designed to be inclusive of all persons…” Therefore, the OHRC has the authority to police the “organizational culture” of a company or a voluntary association, right down to the level of “informal social behavior, such as communication, decision-making and interpersonal relationships, which are the evidence of deeply held and largely unconscious values, assumptions and behavioral norms…” (emphasis added)

Warning, warning, warning! They are coming for your freedoms, people. Who’s “they”? The progressives; the elite; the wise; the whoopee crowd–why even answer? You know right well who they are! They mean to erase your liberty, and it’s already late in the day to stop them.

I’m a fantasy writer, and I can’t even begin to make up stuff like this.

More Fooey (With a Pinch of Bleeaghh…)

The other day, someone–a grown woman, I am sorry to say–told me Fifty Shades of Grey was a hit with her because “it addresses women’s fantasies.”

What a sad commentary on feminism! After 50 years of feminist ranting, a woman’s fantasy is to be the plaything of some rich guy who likes to smack her around? As Hercule Poirot would say, Nom d’un nom!

Anyhow, the exchange aroused my curiosity, so I went back to amazon.com to see what people were saying who liked the book. Here is a sampling thereof.

One reader calls the into-bondage hero “the ultimate alpha male… with a very dark and disturbing desire to inflict pain” (when he’s not solving world hunger), and adds, “…there is a real love story here.” Yikes.

Gushes another, “Chritian [sic], ohhh Christian, what I would do to be yours…” Didn’t her mother teach her any sense?

And a third, “We really believe she [the heroine] might succeed in humanising [sic] this intimidating, masterful man where all the women who went before her have failed.” Good night, nurse! How many poor, misguided women have dribbled their lives away trying to “change” some bum they took up with, who cheats on on her, gambles away the grocery money, lolls around all day playing video games instead of working, and so on? Good bet, lady! Get involved with some sadistic nut, thinking you can “tame” him…

Somehow it all reminds me of “Julia,” the composite woman created by the Obama campaign, who, throughout her entire life, hardly blows her nose without some kind of government assistance.

What is our political class and our popular culture trying to do to women?

Fifty Shades of Fooey

Having reviewed a movie without seeing it, I thought I might also review a book without reading it.

Last night on the radio I heard a discussion of a current No. 1 best-seller called Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, supposedly a real person, according to Amazon.com. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, so my wife went to the Amazon site and read me some of the reviews.

According to the descriptions we read, the book has only three little flaws. 1) It is idiotically conceived and very badly written. 2) The parts intended to be lust-provoking are merely comical. 3) Behind all the lush growth of silliness lurks a filthy and unwholesome message. Other than that, it’s fine.

The story goes something like this: Some empty-headed turnip of a college gal hooks up with this guy who’s a drop-dead gorgeous handsome hunk of a billionaire, only 26 years old, with an infinite capacity for copulation, all sorts of artistic talents, the vocabulary of a parakeet, a glossary of politically correct “ideas” serving him for a brain, yatta-yatta, and they go on to have a lot of orgasms. Some of the reviewers counted up the times the same phrases and dialogue were used throughout the book, and the numbers are staggering.

Warning: If you read this monstrosity and liked it, you can’t come to this blog anymore. I mean it. You might have something catching.

You might think that real writers would rise up in mutiny against this sort of thing. I mean, we knock ourselves out trying to produce something of quality, and along comes this dreary laundry list of orgasms to take over the top of the best-seller list. But the publishing industry has been this way for quite a while now. They hire as editors people who scraped through community college with a C- average, whose prime qualification is that they can work for peanuts because mommy and daddy are subsidizing them to live in the big city. Having hardly more literacy than a swarm of mayflies, they often publish books that real editors, once upon a time, would not only have rejected, but would have also tried to shoot the author.

But what is most deeply objectionable about this particular “book” is its insinuation that really primo sex is of the bondage-and-domination, sado-masochistic kind. This is probably the first stirring toward the normalization of S&M–followed, inevitably, by its introduction into public school “sex education” curricula, TV sitcoms, the military, and the mainline/flatline churches. Disputing its legitimacy will be termed “hate speech,” and small-business photographers will be sued for refusing to memoralize some S&M couple’s flogging session.

Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin…

‘John Carter’ Movie: Boo! Hiss! Away Wi’ Ye!

I’m going to do something today that I’ve never done before–review a movie sight-unseen: this after having seen stills and trailers, and read a thorough summary of what is laughingly called a plot.

Disney’s John Carter is more than just this year’s biggest box-office bomb. It is a crime.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was famous for creating Tarzan, but he also wrote eleven novels set in the world of Barsoom–Mars–and featuring the immortal John Carter. This year is the 100th anniversary of A Princess of Mars, the first of the Martian series and Burroughs’ first published novel. (Tarzan of the Apes was second.)

The Martian novels were the finest stories Burroughs ever wrote, by far his most creative work. They are haunting. NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab are full of men and women whose young imaginations were set on fire by these books, and that fire still burns. Quite a few young writers were inspired by them, too–including yours truly. Fifty years after making their acquaintance, I still read them with admiration and delight.

And along comes this abomination of a movie…

What they did, it seems, was to take elements of several Martian tales, randomly selected by not-very-bright 11-year-olds, throw them into a blender along with a lot of gobbledygook that they made up themselves, and, voila! A hebephrenic mish-mosh of a story that wouldn’t hold up if it had suspenders.

Great works of art are never improved by two-legged amoebas in Hollywood trying to make them more like video games. John Carter looks like a jigsaw puzzle put together by monkeys.

By all means, read ERB’s Martian novels: you’ll never forget them. But if you have any respect at all for writers and their work, approach this movie as you would an attic full of really irritable brown recluse spiders.

I love my art; it is God’s gift to me. I love the art displayed by other writers, which inspires my own efforts. And when this art is abused by dolts in Hollywod whose only inspiration is to make a buck… well, it gets my dander up.

“And Our New President Is…!”

Nobody’s here yet today, so I thought I might as well have some fun.

Having established in our country that being a community organizer (translation: troublemaker) fits you to be president, I think we can safely say that by that standard, just about anybody can be president. Thousands of West Virginians recently voted for a felon doing time in prison, believing he’d be an improvement over what we’ve got.

So why don’t we save ourselves the expense and the aggravation of a presidential election, and from now on, select our president by means of a nationwide lottery? Which will lead to a scene like this:

“Ladies and gentlemen! The next President of the United States is… Mrs. Roz Scuttlebutt of Elmira, New York! [Trumpet fanfare, fireworks] We’ve got her on the line right now, so let’s go to Elmira… Congratulations, Mrs. Scuttlebutt–you are to become the 48th President of this great land of ours.”

“But I don’t want to be president!”

“Ah, but that’s a big point in your favor, Mrs. Scuttlebutt!”

“But I won’t know what to do!”

“Not to worry–not knowing what to do never bothered any of our previous presidents. Most of them never did figure out what to do.”

“You don’t understand! I’ve never been president of anything–not even of my garden club! And I like it here, I don’t want to go to Washington, I don’t want to have to meet all those creepy people–”

“Tut, tut, Mrs. Scuttlebutt! When duty calls, you have to answer. Besides, it’s only for four years, and the pay is great. And if you spend the whole four years just hiding in the White House and playing slap-jack, you’ll still have done better than a number of presidents that I could name. And think of the fantastic vacations you can go on–as often as you like!”

“Well, if you put it that way… all right. I accept!”

And there you have it, all settled–without any debates, without attack ads and annoying phone calls… And we won’t have done any worse than what we’ve done already.

Stupid Masterminds!

Fiction abounds in criminal masterminds like Dr. Fu Manchu, Professor James Moriarity, Lord Reesh, et al. What they all have in common is, they’re smart. That’s why it takes someone like Sherlock Holmes to stop them.

We, poor devils, live in a real world dominated by stupid masterminds. Their schemes are too stupid to succeed, but they do just as much harm, maybe even more, than Moriarity and Co.

Our masterminds think socialism really works, there are 57 states in the United States, society is better off without marriage and the family, you can spend your way out of debt, and so on. Even the people we think are really smart are really stupid. Hundreds of Nobel Prize winners have signed on to the Humanist Manifesto II–a document that recommends a mix of atheism, abortion, suicide, and homosexuality as the solution to the world’s problems.

If you wrote a fantasy novel or a detective novel featuring the machinations of a really stupid mastermind, it would be classed as unimaginative fiction. People would think you were trying to write a Democrat Party platform. “Duh! How about we tax the pants off people who work, and give the money to people who don’t work? That ought to get the economy humming!” There are real-life stupid masterminds working on that very scheme even as you read this. And others just as addled.

Go ahead, try it yourself–try to write a story in which the villain is a big stupid idiot whose asinine ideas can’t possibly result in anything but chaos and misery.

You’ll find you’re writing about real life.