On Cover Art

Via John C. Wright’s blog, here’s a nice writeup of what to look for in good cover art. I don’t know why I personally find stuff like this so interesting, because (a) I’m not a writer (no, this blog really doesn’t count); (b) I don’t really intend to become a writer or a cover artist; and (c) the real kicker: I’m one of the Reader X types. I’m shallow, and you bet I judge a book by its cover. Even the Kindle books.

There is one exception, however, that proves that not all books with hideous cover art are bad. I really enjoy Kate Paulk’s Con series, which is basically humorous urban fantasy set at conventions, mysteries solved by a (good guy) vampire so that The Sci-Fi Convention Will Go On. As anime conventions were the closest I got to partying in college, I have fond memories of conventions filled with socially-awkward costumed nerds. (I haven’t been to any in a while, though.) But the first book? Its cover art is… well… I’m sorry, but you have to go look at it to understand. And if you like conventions, fantasy creatures, and/or mysteries, buy it while you’re there. ;)

You looked, right? It’s a good thing Kindle books don’t display the cover while you’re reading, because otherwise I’d’ve had to hide in shame while reading it. And it’s a great story! I bet my college anime-fan friends would like it! But there’s one little problem: they’re all artists. I can barely admit to having read and liked this thing sort-of-anonymously online. If I went around recommending it to people in person, they’d probably take one look at that cover and never pay attention to anything I recommend again. I mean, as fanart, that cover is great artwork. Captures the main character, his werewolf sidekick/friend, and two major supporting characters. As cover art? Augh, my eyes! Couldn’t you have picked something vaguely Dresden-Files-ish, Kate? Just swap backgrounds from “gritty and dark Chicago alley” to “hotel lobby with convention banner.” (I’m not an artist, unfortunately, or I’d take a stab at it myself. This makes everything I say armchair criticism, so anyone offended by my shallowness is certainly allowed to disregard everything I’ve complained about. But the genre convention for urban fantasy, as seen on the Amazon bestseller lists, is to have one person on the cover. You can have no people; at most, two people. I vote for vampire + werewolf sidekick.)

I should be wary of criticizing the art, actually, as Hoyt’s Huns might come over here and smack me with fish for disrespecting my elders and betters – I don’t recall if I ever read who painted the Amazon version of the cover, but it seems to be based on a similar cover that Sarah Hoyt herself did back in 2011. But since Sarah herself has been re-doing older covers, I think she’ll forgive the criticism (if she ever finds out about it; I’m only a lowly peon reader, after all). I hope.

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How to be a whiny sissy

Found on Facebook: a link to an article entitled, “Black lawmakers appeal to US Army over hairstyle ban,” claiming that the rules are “discriminatory” and ‘target women of color’.

If you suspected that these sixteen women legislators of the Congressional Black Caucus (and just how is the existence of the CBC not racist?) are whining bitches looking for special privileges based on race, you’d be right.

Also found on Facebook: a link to another article, on the same topic – only THIS one doesn’t cherry-pick the “banned hairstyle” images to make you think that the rules are targeting only black women. Oh hey, those are some really popular hairstyles for white women that are banned too! Looks like the rules aren’t specifically targeting black women, now are they? Headline fix: “Racist black Congresswomen demand special privileges for black soldiers!”

Look, if the complaint had been something like “The only approved hairstyle that would work in a black woman’s puffy hair would be to CHOP IT ALL OFF” then they would have a leg to stand on, since straight-haired women (unlike, for instance, all men in the military) are allowed to have long hair, as long as they put it up in an approved fashion. But what they’re really hoping for is special privileges for black women, now, after the fact, when the military didn’t just up and decide to change the rules without consulting any black women. If you read the second article, a black woman was IN CHARGE of the group that came up with the rules… in 2005. Why start making a fuss now? Obviously some pansy special-snowflake decided to complain. Maybe she was bored and was worried that no actual racist incidents had occurred recently, so she decided to make one up.

I just hope that she was some non-military person poking her nose in where it doesn’t belong (like, say, an academic) and not an actual military woman. Because complaining about fashion restrictions on the part of a soldier – especially this particular whine – is about as sensible as complaining that the military forbids you from wearing three-inch crimson acrylic nails studded with rhinestones while you’re in uniform. While you are a soldier, the military dictates what fashions are and are not permitted. That includes hairstyle. It doesn’t matter if that hairstyle has been passed down from mother to daughter for three thousand years in your ancestral homeland, if it doesn’t meet the military’s requirements, it’s banned. End of statement. Wear your hair like that when you’re out of uniform. If it’s difficult to switch, I’ll vaguely sympathize with your being stuck for a while, but seriously? Try being Caucasian and having an oily scalp that needs washing every few days and having to re-do your hairstyle EVERY. FREAKING. DAY. Unless you’re willing to shellac it with gooey hair products and then try to sleep on the dried shell. Cry me a river, black women. You’re not the only ones with hair problems. When I was in ROTC, I got so tired of it that I just cut my hair short! Which is the race-neutral option for any woman who doesn’t want an “approved” long-hair-updo option: cut your hair short. Just like the guys do. If you’re blessed by genetics, you might even turn out really cute with short hair.

Seriously. Women in the military, and especially black women in the military, need to call up these whiny women in office and tell them “STFU, you’re making us look bad!” You wanna know where prejudice against women in the military comes from? Congratulations, these non-military women just generated a ton more of it. If a woman can’t handle being told she has limited options for her hairstyle, she ain’t tough enough for the military!

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Shameless In-Group Promotion

Ok folks, now it’s time for conservatives to take a leaf out of the progressives’ playbook, and promote somebody because he’s Our Guy. Also, it helps that he’s a truly excellent writer, so we don’t even have to compromise on our principles of supporting quality over groupthink! /irony/

Larry Correia is Book Bombing John C. Wright’s new *coughfanficcompilationcough* Awake in the Night Land, which is basically a plot to have everyone buy the book on the same day so that it gets more exposure. I’m not personally familiar with the source material, which is a 1912 novel The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson. (This is undoubtedly because I’m badly educated. Mea culpa, and it’s on my list!) Of course, not being familiar with the source work has never stopped me from reading well-written fanfiction before, so I went out (to Amazon) and bought it! Even if I don’t really “get” the full effect of the stories before I read Hodgson’s book, I know I’m likely to enjoy these stories simply for Wright’s felicity with prose. I’m not really going to have time to read it today, alas – but if it rains tomorrow my plans will be washed out and I’ll suddenly have a bit of extra time!

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The Appetites

One of the repeated criticisms of Game that people (generally, trolls) will bring up is the idea that men changing their attitudes and habitual actions in order to become more attractive to women is somehow “immoral” or “deceptive.”

As if “molding one’s attitudes and habitual actions towards a desired goal” isn’t, you know, a pretty good basic definition of “growing up.” Who among those now called “adults” didn’t have temper tantrums as a child? Is the fact that adults don’t throw temper tantrums due to some strange miracle wherein adults suffer no frustrations in life? Duh, no. We learn to adjust our attitude in the face of frustration and to express ourselves in a socially acceptable manner. Do we all still wear diapers and require others to bathe us and choose our clothes for us as adults? No, we have taken on the habits of personal grooming as part of our development as people, and a failure in this area is going to swiftly result in social opprobrium.

Character, it is said by parents to frustrated children, is built. Out of inconvenience and pain, mostly, it seems.

Then, of course, is the accusation that changing one’s character in the pursuit of sex is somehow inherently degrading. Let’s be clear: that’s stupid Gnostic thought, based out of the false idea that physicality is inherently evil and only pure spirituality is good. Properly educated Christians don’t believe anything like that. (God said His creation was GOOD. He was talking about matter, not spirit!) But the trolls who trot this bit of foolishness out rarely go after any other appetite – when’s the last time that you saw someone decrying diets, on the grounds that attempting to change one’s eating habits for the goal of (pleasurable!) health is disreputable, downright bad? The very idea is ludicrous!

Sex is a human good. Can it be pursued in bad ways? Of course. Food is a good, too, but it also must be pursued in a good way (and boy, do I wish it were easier!).

But, of course, there’s a problem when a society arranges itself so as to promote poor behavior. Notice, in the comments, that livingtree2013 blames men, essentially for having sexual desire. That’s like casting blame on people for… getting hungry. Just, what? I mean seriously, what? That’s “all PIV sex is rape” levels of biological insanity. Look, just because women can get along fine without orgasms, that’s still biologically impossible for men. Literally. Biologically. Impossible. Ever heard of “nocturnal emissions”? That cropped up in the previous comment thread over at Dalrock’s, too, so LT has obviously not been paying attention either to human biology or to previous comment threads. Or she expects men to be happy with nothing more than wet dreams and masturbation, rather than human relationships. Or, you know, we could be really uncharitable and just assume both!

There’s nothing morally wrong about arranging one’s life to serve basic appetites, either for food or for sex. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat” is a very old canard; the same goes for sex, too – if a man doesn’t work for sex, he doesn’t get laid. And Dalrock’s point is that what men DO to “work” for sex is, in Western culture where consent of your partner is enshrined as sacred, entirely determined by women. So if men build their character in such a way as to become jerks in order to earn sex… ladies, it’s not their “fault.” It’s the sluts’ doing. And that’s why slut shaming has always been primarily done by women. The Sisterhood has stopped policing slutty behavior in large swathes of the population – and the proliferation of players and cads is the natural and inevitable result. Complaining about the degradation of men’s character as a result of this is a little ironic!

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Thoughts about long hair

An interesting digression in the comments of Dalrock’s “Rolling back the odometer” post discussed toying-with-hair as something women do to indicate their interest in nearby males. It reminded me of a post topic on the Long Hair Community forums about hair length and professionalism – which boiled down to “it depends,” as one would expect. Of course there are jobs that require long hair to be kept restrained for safety or health reasons, and people with sufficient social standing at work can get away with personal presentation choices that others wouldn’t be able to pull off.

It’s also interesting because many people with really long hair – past bra-strap length (though not all are women!) – keep their hair up, or at least braided, as a measure to protect their hair from wear-and-tear and tangles. I do the same – at just about hip-length, if I leave my hair down, it’s going to tangle, get into everything, and generally be in the way. Maybe if I had a nine-to-five desk job I’d be able to get away with just brushing it out and leaving it down all day, but that’s definitely not how my life goes! For a while I’d just Dutch braid and leave my braid-tail dangling, but over the course of the day my braid would become “fuzzy” as the ends escaped. Since it takes quite a bit of convincing for me to use more than a bit of hairspray on my hair on a regular basis, I’ve taken to braided buns, instead. (My hair laughs at regular twist-up buns. The Vortex bun works, though.)

And in college when I was dating my future husband, my hair was extremely short. I don’t mean pixie, I mean old-lady short. As in, maybe three inches of length before I got a trim. So I couldn’t flip my hair at him (didn’t have any) and I was married to him by the time it got long enough to flip at anybody. Then… I started twirling my hair as a fidget while I was reading, or otherwise sitting around.

So now I’m wondering if I’ve developed some other kind of unconscious hair-related IOI that compensates for the fact that my hair is up all the time, and the “play with hair” behavior is a fidget that happens when I’m alone more often than when I’m in company. I don’t think the bobby-pin-check counts, that’s more me worried that my hair is about to stage a great escape from its confinement! Maybe this counts: I’ve been practicing braiding my hair to the side, to frame my face, and every day I put it up this way I basically shove my head in J’s direction and ask “How does my hair look?” Last night I finally got a very confused question from him – “Have you been making subtle changes to that hairstyle? Because I can’t tell the difference and I’ve already told you I like how it looks!” At which I laughed, and said that yes, there were subtle differences, but that I wasn’t looking for a detailed critique from him, just repeated validation. Silly man, he thinks saying it once is enough! (I’m highly amused. We covered that in premarital counseling, years ago, but in the context of saying “I love you” more often. LOL)

So yes, very interesting discussion. I tend to keep my hair up, not just for convenience, but because I do want to have a more “professional” presentation – when working, I go for a fairly “casual Friday” outfit, but I put my hair up fairly severely to weight the style more towards “businesslike,” especially since a particularly attractive appearance isn’t a primary function of my work the way it is for people like sales representatives, and remaining absolutely non-flirtatious IS a primary requirement. (Personal opinion: educators who sexually abuse their students should be executed. Pour encourager les autres. Only a parent’s abuse would be a worse betrayal of trust.) So I’m inclined to think that “hair up, always” is a good idea, given mine is so long that if I were to leave it down, I’d essentially be forced to handle it just to keep it out of my way.

I do want to figure out some form of half-up ‘do, though, for times when I’m dressing up not-for-work. Possibly with curls, although how I would manage those I don’t know, since I don’t own a curling iron and wouldn’t want to fry my hair learning to use it properly!

It’s interesting that hairstyles have historically been more rigid (though the “hair is always covered rule” can be easily chalked up to “people didn’t have shampoo, didn’t bathe all that often, and life was really freaking dirty when you heated things by burning stuff – sign me up for bonnets, too!) – nowadays, there’s no hard-and-fast rules about “married women wear their hair like this,” etc. in mainstream American culture. The only one that seems to still have hold – and even then, it’s only very very common in some areas, and not as common in others – is that older women will wear their hair extremely short and curled. And I don’t believe that’s a carryover trend from earlier centuries, either, as I’m given to understand that pre-1900s longer hair was the norm for pretty much all women, even grandmothers!

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There are two kinds of women

There are two kinds of women, as far as men are concerned: the sex-positive slut-bunnies who indulge themselves with casual sex, and women worth marrying. These two categories only overlap for men who are desperate enough to settle despite their misgivings. So, yes, if you’re a young, horny female, you can have as much sex as you want – but here’s the rub: you’re not going to be able to later marry as valuable a man as you want without lying to him about your sex life. Because sex kittens aren’t the kind of woman most men want to make their wives, and the kind of man who’s banging the sex kittens isn’t the man they’re trying to marry. Even in places like Tunisia.

Note that one of the women in question who blames the “hypocrisy of men” for “forcing” her to consent to have hymen-replacement surgery so she could lie about her sexual past and fake being a virgin recounts what happened: she was dating a man, and hadn’t had sex with him yet, when she confessed to having had casual sex with other men. “But as soon as he knew, he refused to marry and did everything he could to get me into his bed.” Just a thought: maybe if you’d slept with him before admitting that you’d banged other guys, he might have been more accepting. Or, you know, you could have just kept your legs closed to everyone, since you knew from the beginning that the men of your culture will bang sluts but not marry them. Cry me a river. Hypocrisy? Double standards? Only if you’d slept with him first, honey! You can’t complain that some OTHER man-whores banged you, and thus your current not-sexed-up boyfriend must therefore overlook your sexual history because Double Standards. He’s not one of the men who pump-and-dumped you while you were horny and putting out for casual sex. It’s only barely “double standards” if you bedded a guy with the same number and type of past sexual relationships, and then he suddenly refused to marry you on account of your not being a virgin when he’d never mentioned virginity as a wife-requirement before. I say “barely” because let’s be honest: men and women value different things when it comes to sexual partners. It’s not a double standard. It’s a different standard. Women don’t want to marry penniless basement dwellers, but ugly rich dudes get a lot of attention; men don’t ask a hot woman what her income is before deciding they’re interested. But somehow nobody mentions little facts like that when it comes to “double standards”!

Now, generally the sex-positive feminists (as opposed to the man-hating lesbian feminists) get really upset by the fact that the hot stud who’s bedded 32 women can marry a young, hot girl who never slept with anyone but him when he’s 45. But remember that feminists don’t care about actual equality, they just want all women to be equal to the elite men: women are very good at ignoring the left 3/4ths of the masculine bell curve. Therefore the slut who’s had fifty drunken hookups and twenty one-night-stands in her late teens and 20s has every right (in a feminist’s eyes) to cry “double standards” when the men she dates in her early 30s break up with her once they find out her sexual history. It doesn’t actually matter to the feminists that those men are unlikely to be the apex alphas with equal sexual history – in their 20s, women absolutely dominate the sexual marketplace and can have sex as often as they wish. Not so for men. So if a man who’s had maybe five girlfriends, only three of whom ever put out, over the course of 15 years decides that he doesn’t want to marry a girl whose “count” is at least TEN TIMES his over the same past 15 years? Yeah. Good decision, buddy. Especially if she tells you about all the other men she’s slept with before she’s put out for you – barring genuine religious conversion, that just means she’s dating you for your resources, and not because she thinks you’re hot stuff, and if you do marry her, she’s likely gonna bang the attractive pool-boy while you’re not looking.

In my theoretical prescription for how to fix the secular marriage laws, lying about your sexual history before your marriage would count as a valid reason for divorce, specifically a divorce-for-cause that would obligate the liar to pay a hefty fee for damages, considering that the injured party would be legally barred from ever gaining the benefits of civil marriage again. Kind of rough, considering it wouldn’t necessarily be the guy’s fault he got defrauded, but even without that kind of penalty, these days it seems like it would be prudent for people to get full background checks and STD tests before getting married, unless they’re part of an intact social group where everyone is within two degrees of knowing each other for decades.

TL;DR – If a majority of men in a society desire to marry virgins, and a minority of men in that society are having casual sex with lots of unmarried women (which is generally what actually happens), that doesn’t make the “virgin wife requirement” a double standard for all the guys who haven’t gotten laid. Which is the set of men that the women are trying to trick into marrying them – you know, the good providers that worked hard and saved their income rather than spending it on booze and partying every weekend. The real hypocrites here are the women who’ve been handing out free sex – and then denying sex to the men they’ve decided they want to marry!

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Gun Free Zone = Potential Massacre Area

Fort Hood, again, eh? I wonder when the military will have had enough and decide that, oh, hey, we’re not gonna let the civilians disarm us on our own military bases so we stop being sitting ducks? Makes me glad that I never qualified for contracting in ROTC, and ashamed of our country, that a President who very assiduously did everything he could to avoid the chance that he might be drafted (and has his own armed security detail!) made rules about gun-free zones on military bases that have led to the deaths of our own troops. In a place that should have been safe. It’s sickening.

And “shelter in place” is just a nicer-sounding way of saying “cower in fear.”

Like my husband said the other night: it might take two sides to have a war, but it only takes one side to have a massacre. The authorities are firmly on the side of having a massacre, since they insist on (a) turning as many people into unarmed victims as possible and (b) ensuring that said unarmed victims are “locked down” so as to be convenient targets. I’m sure it makes the bodies easier to locate and identify, afterwards.

The only reason the body counts haven’t been higher, in situations like this, is because the shooters aren’t forming smart plans to rack up kill counts. Someday there’s going to be a marginally intelligent terror attack in a gun-free zone with shelter-in-place policies, and a lot of unarmed people are going to die.

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