Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Defeating the fiction police

The cartoon is from here. One autistic indy game developer points out that he doesn't think praising the talking dog for the content of his speech is helping him:
Those in the gaming mass media think they’re doing people like me a favor, but they’re not. They’re smothering me and others like me. I know now there is no way they will hold my game truly accountable for any flaws it might ultimately have because they’ll think that any dismissal or criticism of the game as a whole will be a direct attack on autistic people, and it quite clearly is not. When people do dog pile on games that cover issues like this (I won’t name names but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks), it’s because of how the subject matter is approached, not that it was approached at all. The flaws of these games have been in their inability to truly connect with the people who play them, not that they had the audacity to attempt something new. If I had come forward before this, I would have been made a pet of the ‘social justice gaming crowd’, a person they could throw around to show how diverse and righteous they are, all while shielding themselves from criticism. I would be given preferential treatment just like I always have. It never ends....

Seeing a new game get ravaged for supposed sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc. seemingly every week makes me feel less inclined to want to write characters like Tinker, Hannah, or the many others who will be playable in our game. To these people and publications, all I have to ask is: is this what you want? Do you want people to be too afraid to make inclusive art? Because whether that was your intent or not, it’s what’s actually happening. It’s hard enough investing all your money and time into making a studio, working for years on a game that will eventually be judged by both critics and consumers without then also having to be worried that those same critics will sensationalize your game in order to make a few more big articles.
My answer is that the game developer should do as Harlan Ellison has suggested that the author do: answer them with the mighty power of your pen. By which he means to ignore them and write or develop whatever it is that YOU decide you want your book, or your game, to be.

Some people have already complained that FIRST SWORD has no female gladiators.  Tough. There is no need for them and so we're not going to waste any time or development resources on them. And if the Social Justice Whores don't like that, well, they are welcome to decry the lack of female slavery in our game to their heart's content; it's not going to make any difference whatsoever to me or to how well the game does.

The only power the Social Justice Whores have over you is the power you give them. Look at VP and its continually growing traffic. Look at Castalia and the increasing number of books it is publishing. Both have prospered despite the best efforts of the SJWs to attack them. There is no reason to give them even the slightest ground; doing so only inflames and encourages them. So don't do it!

Root them out wherever they have infested, slap down all their attempts to invade and influence, and resolutely ignore them when they are safely on the outside. John C. Wright explains how they, and a panoply of other evils, will be defeated:
I submit that victory shall be ours by using the same methods we used to overthrow the Roman Empire and replace paganism with Christianity.

First, we must pray. We must live differently from the pagans around us, according to standards of higher discipline, displaying more fidelity in marriage, eschewing divorce, assisting the poor and downtrodden, and living lives so holy that even the devils are amazed.

Second, by being willing to suffer public scorn, loss of prestige, position, and fortune for Christ.

Third, by being open, vocal, coordinated, and relentless in our efforts. Fourth, by staying on message and never giving an inch.

Fifth and last, by showing the imagination of man that no one can live in the craven airless cesspool of the mental environment of political correctness, but that men flourish and grow strong and brave, not to mention more sexually appealing, in the walled gardens of the Church and the battlefields of life.
Stay on message. Never give an inch. Stop trying to play moderate in the hopes that you'll escape the heat. Stop trying to win them over by telling them that you're not opposed to them when, in fact, you are. You cannot reason with the willfully insane.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scotland unenthusiastic about Red Ed

It's absurd enough that a socialist Jew is seeking to be England's Prime Minister. But it's absurdity squared for Ed Miliband to campaign in Scotland on behalf of continued Scottish dependence:
Labour leader Ed Miliband was today hounded out of an Edinburgh shopping centre as a campaign walkabout became overrun by protesters.

He was repeatedly branded a 'f***ing liar' by Yes campaigners who drowned out his supporters with cries of 'bow down to your imperial master.

Mr Miliband pleaded for a 'civilised' debate with two days of campaigning left before the referendum, before being rushed out of the door by his aides, who were left 'visibly shaken' by the incident.

At one point he became trapped outside a hairdressers called 'Supercuts', leading opponents to chant: 'Vote No for Supercuts, vote No for permanent austerity'.
The irony, of course, is that Red Ed needs Scotland to stay in the Union so that Labour can take power, since Scotland is considerably to the left of England. Based on the coverage and the increasingly apocalyptic predictions, the English Unionists appear to be deeply worried that they are going to lose the Scottish Independence referendum. This is not the statement of confident politicians:

"Scotland will continue to get more money than England if it rejects independence, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg said in a joint pledge released today ahead of Thursday’s crunch vote."

Just leave us in charge and we'll give you more treats! That doesn't sound desperate at all, does it? And a Scottish Labour MP wrote: "'Campaign room full of visibly shaken and upset folk who were in St James Centre - truly crappy day for democracy.'"

No, democracy is the will of the people. And it appears that the Scottish people have no desire to have Englishmen or Jews rule over them. This strikes me as perfectly reasonable; I tend to doubt the Israelis are going to elect a Scot anytime soon either.


Sanity prevails

AD will be back on the field on Sunday:
The Vikings gave Adrian Peterson the weekend off for damage control.

But now they’re falling back on due process.

The team just released a statement from owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf saying the All-Pro running back would fully participate in practices and meetings this week and is expected to play Sunday against the Saints.
It appears the NFL owners are beginning to grasp that reacting like Pavlov's dogs to the Social Justice Warriors ringing a bell is not good for the game or for business. Now let's see the NFL reinstate Ray Rice.


Announcing Castalia Associates

You may have noticed there is a change to the left sidebar. In the place of the RECOMMENDED books, there is now a selection of books that are self-published by authors acquainted with Castalia House who have made their books available through Castalia's online store. We are listing these books on the store under the category CASTALIA ASSOCIATES.

We're pleased to announce the first two Castalia Associates are Chris Kennedy, the bestselling author of the mil-SF series THE THEOGONY, and Christopher G. Nuttall, the bestselling author of ARK ROYAL and the mil-SF series THE EMPIRE'S CORPS. Their books are being sold in the same DRM-free EPUB format that Castalia House books are sold. Additional Castalia Associates will be announced in the weeks to come; please do not contact us to request participation at the moment as we have our hands full with getting our forthcoming works ready for publication.

We're also very pleased to be able to say that both Chris Kennedy and Christopher G. Nuttall are contributing short stories to the first volume of the Tom Kratman-edited mil-SF anthology series, RIDING THE RED HORSE. And while we're on the topic of Castalia House, you surely won't want to miss the Appendix N retrospective that many of us have been anticipating, as Jeffro addresses the Zelazny classic, NINE PRINCES IN AMBER.

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National spirit in Sweden

The rise of the Swedish Democrats echos that of the National Front in France, the People's Party in Switzerland, UKIP in England, and other nationalist, anti-immigrant parties:
“The Sweden Democrats is the only political party that wants to stop immigration,” Anders Sannerstedt, a political scientist at Lund University, told the French news agency AFP. “All the other political parties have a united stance, a generous immigration policy.”

That pro-immigration stance was exemplified by Prime Minister Reinfeldt in an August 16 speech. “I’m now pleading with the Swedish people to have patience, to open your hearts, to see people in high distress whose lives are being threatened,” he said. “Show them that openness, show them tolerance.”

Reinfeldt’s immigration stance clearly cost his Moderate party votes this year. Its share of the vote fell from 30 percent in its successful reelection of 2010 down to just 22 percent this year. In contrast, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats more than doubled their showing from 2010, becoming the third-largest party after the Social Democrats and the Moderates. A majority of Swedes voted for non-Left parties in Sunday’s election, but the absolute refusal of any of these parties to negotiate with Sweden Democrats dooms them to remain in the opposition.
There is absolutely no use supporting any "conservative" pro-immigration party anywhere in the West. They are all traitors to their nations and there is nothing conservative about supporting immigration; it is literally supporting the replacement of the native people. Notice how immigration is more important to the fake "conservatives" than every other aspect of the right-wing agenda. That's because they aren't conservatives, they are globalists in conservative clothing.

And when people are crying about how poor innocent immigrants are being deported en masse, remember who was responsible for the nightmare. Not the people doing the actual ethnic cleansing, but those who made it necessary in the first place. Because the eventual outcome is not only predictable, it is certain whether you think it is desirable or not. After all, where did all of these homogenous nations come from in the first place?

Those who think the short-term triumph of multiculturalism is inevitable because it has been dominant for 40 years should recall the Spanish Reconquista. 781 years of Ummayad rule wasn't enough to quench the nationalistic spirit in Iberia, and every single Muslim was forcibly ejected from Spain in the end.

It will be no different in the Second Reconquista. Europe belongs to the Europeans.

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Monday, September 15, 2014


The UK police are ACTIVELY PROTECTING the Rotherham child abusers:
A damning report released last month detailed how 1,400 children were sexually exploited in the area over a 16-year period. The Times reported that a woman whose case is being investigated by authorities - but has not yet been interviewed - was arrested after tackling a man she says groomed her when she was 15. A witness accused the police of 'acting like insensitive thugs', telling the paper: 'A police van came and six male officers piled out.

'Two of them dragged her away, handcuffed her, put her against a wall and then shoved her into the back of the van.'

South Yorkshire Police told today how they had been hoping to interview the woman in the weeks before the arrest, after they were told of the historic allegations by another organisation. But they only realised that she was the woman they had been trying to speak to after her arrest, and have now released her on bail.
Every single police officer involved should be fired. Then whipped. And as for the Paki child rapists, it is to England's eternal shame that any of them are still standing on English soil.

No doubt the UK media will soon be decrying "vigilante justice", but vigilante justice is considerably better than no justice at all.

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Into the blast furnace

The UK's demographics are illustrating the truth of GK Chesterton's observations concerning the human disinclination to believe in nothing:
In England’s second city of Birmingham, of 278,623 youngsters, 97,099 were registered as Muslim compared with 93,828 as Christian. The rest were of other faiths such as Hindu or Jewish, or none.

A similar trend has emerged in the cities of Bradford and Leicester, the towns of Luton, in Bedfordshire, and Slough in Berkshire, as well as the London boroughs Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets, where nearly two-thirds of children are Islamic.

Last night experts said more must be done to ensure that society does not become polarised along religious lines.
I think it is fairly obvious that when people are being beheaded, it is a little late for that. To quote Jerry Pournell's apt observation, there will be war.
Professor Ted Cantle, of the ICoCo Foundation, which promotes community cohesion, said: ‘What we are seeing are several trends running together. There is a long-term decline in support for the established religions, notably Christianity; continuing immigration from the Asian sub-continent; and higher fertility among the Muslim population, which has a considerably lower age profile.

‘There is also deepening segregation exacerbated by the loss of white population from cities and more intensive concentration of black and minority ethnic groups as a result of replacement.

‘This is the real problem, as residential segregation is generally compounded by school and social segregation.
If he thinks segregation is a problem, just try desegregating those communities. Because communities that can't peacefully segregate will always eventually find another, less palatable means of doing so.

Well done, secular Britain. Out of its desire to weaken Christianity's societal dominance, it imported Islam. That's like leaping out of the frying pan and into the blast furnace.

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Spinning the "bestseller" narrative

Once more, Johnny is counting on the fact that people don't know the relevant facts in order to attempt to mislead them and spin the narrative in his favor. Notice, in particular, his blatant lie about my ignorance, when the fact is that just as when I caught him repeatedly lying about his traffic, I am the precise opposite of ignorant on the subject:
Vaguely related, not too long ago I noted with some amusement a perennial detractor of mine blathering ignorantly, as he nearly always does on any subject relating to me, about how it didn’t seem to him that Lock In was doing particularly well; this was almost immediately before the book hit the NYT Hardcover list and was Bookscan’s #1 top-selling front list science fiction novel. I considered sending him one of these cookies, so he could eat his words. But then I thought that giving a cookie to an asshole was a backwards way of doing things, at least from the point of view of the cookie. So, no cookies for him. He’ll just have to bask in the infinite pleasure of being wrong, so very wrong, yet again. He’s used to that, in any event.
Now, who was wrong about those "two million page views monthly" again? It's so typical of SF/F's Bernie Madoff that he claims I am "so very wrong" when events have gone EXACTLY as I predicted they would. It's not that Lock In has been a massive failure; most, though not all, books by a reasonably known author that have been pushed as hard as Tor has pushed Lock In will be similarly successful in its first month. Initial "success" in the publishing industry is, to a great extent, predetermined by the publisher's decisions concerning print runs and marketing budgets.

For example, Dan Brown's Angels and Demons was such an initial failure for Pocket Books that they turned down its sequel. That's why The Da Vinci Code has a different publisher than its predecessor. Pocket has since sold millions of copies, and they could have sold tens of millions of copies of Brown's other books as well if they had simply given Angels and Demons a bigger print run and a marketing campaign. An executive at Random House once told me that Pocket's mishandling of Dan Brown was the single biggest mistake he has personally observed in the industry.

So, it's no surprise that Lock In is superficially successful, as Tor has invested a lot of money (relatively speaking) in the marketing of the book in both obvious ways, such as the author's nationwide book tour and the reviews in various media outlets, and less obvious ways, such as buying the book onto the New York Times Bestseller list.  On Hugh Howey's site, Tim Grahl explains how these lists work and why they are merely marketing vehicles as opposed to reliable indicators of how a book is selling vis-a-vis other books.

This is the specific "also selling" addendum to the Hardcover Fiction list of September 14th, to which McRapey is referring:
    17. THE HEIST, by Daniel Silva (Harper)
    18. THE SILKWORM, by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland/Little, Brown)
    19. THE MINIATURIST, by Jessie Burton (Ecco)
    20. LOCK IN, by John Scalzi (Tor)
    21. TOM CLANCY: SUPPORT AND DEFEND, by Mark Greaney (Putnam)
    22. LOVE LETTERS, by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine)
    23. CLOSE TO HOME, by Lisa Jackson (Kensington)
    24. INVISIBLE, by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown)
    25. HER LAST WHISPER, by Karen Robards (Ballantine)

A version of this list appears in the September 14, 2014 issue of The New York Times Book Review. Rankings reflect sales for the week ending August 30, 2014.
That's great and all, but recall what I pointed out before Lock In reached the NYT bestseller list: "McRapey is getting annoyed that people keep pointing out that Larry Correia sells more than he does, even though his publisher keeps buying him a one-week spot on the NYT bestseller list each time he writes a book."  And also "Just keep an eye on the NYT list. If LOCK IN is only on it for one week, it's a paid marketing stunt. If it stays on it for several weeks, it's probably legitimate."

And now the verdict is in, which is probably why McRapey is already out there frantically trying to spin the narrative again.  Here is the most recent New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestseller list, including the "also selling" section, for the week of September 21st. Care to guess what book isn't on it?
  1. PERSONAL, by Lee Child
  3. THE BONE CLOCKS, by David Mitchell
  4. THE SECRET PLACE, by Tana French
  5. THE EYE OF HEAVEN, by Clive Kussler
  6. COLORLESS TSUKURU TAZAKI, by Haruku Murakami
  7. THE LONG WAY HOME, by Louise Penny
  8. THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt
  9. BIG LITTLE LIES, by Liane Moriarty
  10. MEAN STREAK, by Sandra Brown
  11. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Anthony Doerr
  12. DARK BLOOD, by Christine Feehan
  13. SON OF NO ONE, by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  14. WE ARE NOT OURSELVES, by Matthew Thomas
  15. ADULTERY, by Paulo Coelho
  16. SHIFTING SHADOWS, by Patricia Briggs 
  17. MURDER 101, by Faye Kellerman
  18. ANGELS WALKING, by Karen Kingsbury 
  19. THE HUSBAND'S SECRET, by Liane Moriarty
  20. THE 6TH EXTINCTION, by James Rollins
What a complete surprise! With its one-week showing of #20, Lock In didn't even do as well as his previous "New York Times bestseller" Redshirts (#15) although it did do better than that famously popular bestseller Fuzzy Nation (#23).  Recall what I wrote back in February 2013: "the fact is that most of Tor's "New York Times bestsellers" observably fit what we are informed is the profile of the fake bestseller. They appear on the list for a single week, only to vanish the following week, never to make another appearance there again."

(Scalzi also claims The Lost Colony was a New York Times bestseller, although I was unable to find it on any of the 2007 lists. I suspect this is because the historical lists do not include the "also selling" section. Redshirts is his only book to appear on the actual list per se.)

Notice that the closest comparable, Paolo Coelho's Adultery, which is presently at #15 in its third week on the list, has an Amazon rank of 292 overall and a Science Fiction and Fantasy rank of 71. That's what a legitimate bestseller looks like. Lock In, by comparison, has an overall rank of 2,807 and isn't even in the Science Fiction and Fantasy top 100. It falls an order of magnitude short. Haruki Murakami's latest is on the top 100 list for some reason, which I find very strange since there is literally nothing science fictional or fantastic about it, although I suppose that won't prevent it from winning a Hugo next year either.

Lock In does not appear on The Wall Street Journal's bestseller list and is #107 on the USA Today list. Perhaps it will go up from there, but note that Redshirts never went higher than 55 on that list and Fuzzy Nation never appeared at all. In other words, the initial indications are that despite the massive marketing effort Tor Books put behind it, Lock In is not even doing as well as Scalzi's award-winning Star Trek ripoff.

This is potentially significant due to what it may mean for Tor Books. I've heard, and seen, evidence that they are not doing very well over the last two or three years. I suspected that the otherwise inexplicable decision to push Lock In so hard was an indication of their urgent need for a quick revenue boost, and so I conclude that Lock In's failure to become a legitimate bestseller presages an eventual shake-up of some kind at the publisher. As always, the value of a predictive model is its ability to predict future events. It will be interesting to see if PNH is still at Tor Books proper one year from now. If he is not, I suggest that will tend to support my observations here.

In any event, Scalzi is spinning his "success" in the same way that an NFL running back's agent spins it when he's angling for a new contract. Sure, he gained a thousand yards and the team made the playoffs, but the problem is that it took him 305 attempts to gain those yards, he's averaging 3.3 YPC , the team was a wild card that lost in the first round, and his salary is $8 million per year. The team can get similar results at considerably less cost from someone else. That's the inevitable downside of the big splashy marketing campaign for every Big Five author. With great marketing expenditures come great expectations. Merely good results of the sort that observably could have been achieved without them is a failure.

UPDATE: McRapey is so busy with his book tour and NOT paying attention to anything that I say that he tweeted this response almost immediately:
Latest stupid from my detractors: "You were ONLY on the NYT list for a week! You're not a real bestseller!" Shine on, you crazy diamonds!
Well, this is awkward. Ah, Johnny, look, it's not a real bestseller. It's a fake one that Tor Books bulk-bought for you, just like they did with The Last Colony and Fuzzy Nation and Redshirts. Some would call it fraud. Tor Books calls it "marketing".

Chin up, Johnny! Oh, wait, you don't have one. Um, well, stay strong, tiger!

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Anti-distributionist racism

Gawker explains the correct way to respond to getting mugged by today's vibrant youth is not to "have the kid arrested for stealing your phone":
Now, granted, it's not entirely Clara Vondrich's fault that this 13-year-old boy was arrested by police for stealing her phone. But, she did, by her own admission, willingly cause the commotion that led up to police being summoned, and she did—as the photos show—keep the kid pinned to a car until police arrived despite already knowing that he didn't posses her phone.

Vondrich says that she "felt sorry" for the kid, but not enough to not have him arrested and charged with grand larceny. The boy will now enter New York's vaunted juvenile justice system, which will likely fuck up his life even further, simply because he snatched a white lady's iPhone in Williamsburg.

If you are nonviolently mugged by a child, continue to let him run along with his friends. The world will be a better place.
There is literally no depth to which the Social Justice Warriors of the world will not descend in their interminable efforts to reduce Western civilization to barbarism. When theft is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.

I was a little surprised by what the picture represented, though. When I see a middle-aged white woman posing for a picture with her arms around a thuggish young African, I tend to assume it is a family portrait of a celebrity with her adopted child-substitute. I thought it was Sigourney Weaver.

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VPFL Week 1

102 RR Redbeards
60 FavreDollarFootlongs

98 Greenfield Grizzlies
55 Mounds View Meerkats

74 Bane Cornshuckers

69 Texas Chili Eaters
63 Clerical Errs

58 Gilbert Gamma Rays
36 Boot Hill Bogs

New England 30, Minnesota 7. Well, I imagine that settles the question about Adrian Peterson being reactivated next week.


The problem with STEM

What people fail to realize is that the problem in the tech industry isn't that there aren't enough women getting STEM degrees, the problem is that too many are doing so:
Research shows women share negative experiences far more widely than men. Does that have an impact on diversity? Do women start avoiding certain companies because they are well informed about the culture?

Barbara: Absolutely. There were two technology companies which had this enormous turnover, and we actually tracked where the women went. And again, these companies had this huge focus on recruiting women but the culture wasn’t inclusive or gender intelligent, and so the women would end up leaving.

We have these amazing women with STEM degrees, and they’re shelving that education and going off to do something else.

When we tracked down where they went, what we found is that they went to smaller or mid-sized companies, or some of them just left the sector. They would say, “I do not even want to be in technology anymore.” So here we have these amazing women with STEM degrees, and they’re shelving that education and going off to do something else.

What’s one of the most common frustrations you hear from women in the tech sector?

Barbara: One female engineer described it as a drip-drip-drip: it’s not just one thing that happens once. She calls it being “cleverly dismissed.” So, she’ll bring up a concern or something, and it gets cleverly dismissed. If you have these drip-drip experiences of feeling excluded and dismissed over years and years, this is where women don’t feel valued for their intellect, for their ideas, or for the different way of thinking they bring, which is so useful and so important.
That's one aspect of the problem right there. The "different way of thinking they bring" is neither useful nor important. It's irrelevant. All those clever dismissals are just the tech gammas being nice to their coworkers, because in most cases the correct response to the concerns being raised would be: "what on Earth does that have to do with our actual objectives and responsibilities?"

The main reason there are not more women actually doing technology-related work in the technology sector despite their expensive STEM degrees is a very simple one: all those amazing women don't like the nature of the actual work itself. They're not good at it, they don't like it, and so they tend to gravitate towards tangentially related sectors, like marketing technology or selling it.

Which is fine, but it's hardly an efficient use of resources or an indicator that forcing even less-interested women into the field is a good idea.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Peterson is not the problem

It's remarkable that All Day is being lambasted by the very media that so often laments the fact that most black fathers pay no attention to their children, and in particular, their sons. Apparently it is much better for fathers to simply ignore their children and allow them to grow up feral than risk a single occasion of disciplining them too firmly.

Is this really the paternal incentive structure that makes any sense for society?

Peterson has been largely unapologetic and rightly so.  Yes, his four year old son was young, but he also has the same genetics that render his father an athletic freak of nature and it would not be at all surprising if the boy was similarly strong-minded as well. I tend to doubt that any son of Adrian Peterson is going to be much impressed by a single hand applied once or twice to his backside. Peterson may not the best father in the world, but he is clearly attempting to be a father to his various bastards and to raise them more or less correctly.

The problem America faces is not an excess of discipline, but rather, the exact opposite. It reminds me of the way in which the media obsessively worries about anorexia in a nation rife with obesity. Fathers like Peterson, who apply the rod more vigorously than some people would prefer, are part of the solution, not the problem, even if they go too far on occasion. Sparing the rod is straightforward parental negligence, far more damaging to a child in the end than any bruised backside.

If the NFL was genuinely concerned about the welfare of its players' children, it would suspend the players who have no contact with their children, not those who discipline them harshly.

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Systemic decay and the decline of democracy

Since History failed to end, Francis Fukuyama is writing new books. His latest one actually sounds pretty interesting:
Fukuyama’s most interesting section is his discussion of the United States, which is used to illustrate the interaction of democracy and state building. Up through the 19th century, he notes, the United States had a weak, corrupt and patrimonial state. From the end of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century, however, the American state was transformed into a strong and effective independent actor, first by the Progressives and then by the New Deal. This change was driven by “a social revolution brought about by industrialization, which mobilized a host of new political actors with no interest in the old clientelist system.” The American example shows that democracies can indeed build strong states, but that doing so, Fukuyama argues, requires a lot of effort over a long time by powerful players not tied to the older order.

Yet if the United States illustrates how democratic states can develop, it also illustrates how they can decline. Drawing on Huntington again, Fukuyama reminds us that “all political systems — past and present — are liable to decay,” as older institutional structures fail to evolve to meet the needs of a changing world. “The fact that a system once was a successful and stable liberal democracy does not mean that it will remain so in perpetuity,” and he warns that even the United States has no permanent immunity from institutional decline.

Over the past few decades, American political development has gone into reverse, Fukuyama says, as its state has become weaker, less efficient and more corrupt. One cause is growing economic inequality and concentration of wealth, which has allowed elites to purchase immense political power and manipulate the system to further their own interests. Another cause is the permeability of American political institutions to interest groups, allowing an array of factions that “are collectively unrepresentative of the public as a whole” to exercise disproportionate influence on government. The result is a vicious cycle in which the American state deals poorly with major challenges, which reinforces the public’s distrust of the state, which leads to the state’s being starved of resources and authority, which leads to even poorer performance.

Where this cycle leads even the vastly knowledgeable Fukuyama can’t predict, but suffice to say it is nowhere good. And he fears that America’s problems may increasingly come to characterize other liberal democracies as well, including those of Europe, where “the growth of the European Union and the shift of policy making away from national capitals to Brussels” has made “the European system as a whole . . . resemble that of the United States to an increasing degree.”

Fukuyama’s readers are thus left with a depressing paradox. Liberal democracy remains the best system for dealing with the challenges of modernity, and there is little reason to believe that Chinese, Russian or Islamist alternatives can provide the diverse range of economic, social and political goods that all humans crave. But unless liberal democracies can somehow manage to reform themselves and combat institutional decay, history will end not with a bang but with a resounding whimper.
The chart below may show the problem with Fukuyama's thesis. Notice the big postwar spike in percentage of world GDP as measured in purchasing power from 1940 to 1950; that is the consequence of the USA having the only industrial base unharmed by WWII. Since then, it's been all downhill, while China appears to be returning to its previous pre-18th century dominance. My sense is that by looking more at ideological systems than at the makeup of the people utilizing those systems, Fukuyama may be missing the more relevant points. But since I haven't read his new book yet, I cannot say if that is actually the case or not.

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Fourth time's the charm

Obama is merely the latest U.S. president to attempt to make a pointless gesture that will resolve absolutely nothing by bombing Iraq:
Did last night's primetime presidential speech announcing expanding authorization for airstrikes in Iraq and Syria feel kind of familiar? Like you've heard it before?

That's probably because you have. You've been hearing for more than two decades, from presidents on both sides of political aisle. At this point, bombing Iraq is practically a American presidential tradition.

And, via the magic of YouTube and The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, you can watch every president back to the first George Bush announce a new plan to launch military strikes in Iraq.
Presidents and the public love airstrikes because it feels like war without actually risking any American lives. Never mind that they are an act of war and a direct provocation that legitimates any amount of "terrorism" directed at the American public.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Fallout from the Rice debacle

Since Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely for one punch aimed at an adult woman, how can the NFL avoid indefinitely suspending All Day for "child abuse":
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will not play on Sunday against the Patriots after he was indicted on a charge of injury to a child. The Vikings announced the decision to deactivate Peterson on Friday, two hours after news broke that he had been indicted by a grand jury in Houston.

The move comes during the same week that the NFL has come under withering criticism stemming from the video showing Ravens running back Ray Rice beating up his wife. The Ravens released Rice and the NFL suspended him indefinitely.

It’s far too early to know whether the Vikings could release Peterson — a notion that would have been absolutely unthinkable a few hours ago — or whether the NFL could suspend him indefinitely. But in this week like no other in the NFL’s history, nothing can be ruled out.
This highlights the absolute absurdity of Goodell's insane new standard. If they're concerned about damage to the league, the number of people wearing Ray Rice jerseys at the recent Ravens game should give them a clue about how people will react to kicking a Hall of Fame running back out of the league in his prime.

And let's face it, this "child abuse" is every bit as serious as the "domestic violence" of the Rice case:
According to the report, Peterson said he did it to punish the child for pushing another one of Peterson’s children while they were playing a video game. The report says Peterson grabbed a tree branch, removed the leaves and struck the 4-year-old repeatedly.

The child’s injuries reportedly included cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. According to the report, Peterson texted the boy’s mother and acknowledged what he had done and that she would be “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”

According to the report, the child told authorities, “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face” and said he feared Peterson would punch him in the face if he found out police knew about the incident.
Adrian Peterson shouldn't be deactivated or suspended. Goodell had better reinstate Rice right quickly and then announce that it is not the NFL's job to police its players' domestic relations or he's going to find himself accused of running a racist, predominantly white league sooner than anyone believes possible.

Also, fire Roger Goodell. His constant efforts to supplicate to the female non-fans is actually harming the league now.

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Why one writes

There are those who write primarily for money. That is their right, but they are nothing more than word whores and they are not to be imitated, because word whoredom wears at one's soul and generally does not pay well. John C. Wright explains a much better reason for writing:
If you only write one book in your whole life, and only sell 600 copies or less, nonetheless, I assure you, I solemnly assure you, that this book will be someone’s absolutely favorite book of all time, and it will come to him on some dark day and give him sunlight, and open his eyes and fill his heart and make him see things in life even you never suspected, and will be his most precious tale, and it will live in his heart like the Book of Gold.

Let me give you three examples to support my point: VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS by David Lindsay had perhaps more effect and influence on me in my youth than any other book aside from WORLD OF NULL-A by A.E. van Vogt. To be fair, I misinterpreted both books, and took them to be preaching a resolute form of scientific Stoicism, an absolute devotion to sanity and truth which I doubt either author would recognize. I never wrote Mr. van Vogt a fan letter, despite that my whole life was influenced by him (but I did write a novel to honor him). Had it not been for his books, I never would have studied philosophy in High School, never would have gone to Saint John’s in Annapolis, never would have read the Great Books. I never would have met my wife.

As for Mr. Lindsay, he sold less than 600 copies of his book, and died in poverty, ignored and forgotten, of an abscess in a tooth any competent dentist could have pulled. And this is a book luminaries such as Colin Wilson, C.S. Lewis, and Harold Bloom regard as seminal. Mr. Wilson called it the greatest novel of the Twentieth Century.

The third example is my own. I wrote a short story called AWAKE IN THE NIGHT for the website of Andy Robertson, and was paid enough to buy a new stove. People have written me to say that this tale inspired dreams and nightmares, inspired new resolve, inspired hope, and at least one woman who was in the midst of her most wretched hour of despair, said she found strength just from the one description of a star appearing through the darkest clouds. What these readers see in my work is far beyond what I have the power to put down on the page: the hand of heaven touched that work, and those readers who express awe are seeing not the author’s hand, but the hand of the Creator who is author of us all, who guided the work without my knowledge.

I was luckier than Mr Lindsay in that I have gotten the letters and applause from admirers denied him, but like him,  I have no idea of what future generations, if any, will read and admire my work. I will never know. It is beyond my event horizon. So that is not why writers write.

I write for that one reader I will never see, the one who needs just such a tale as I can pen, in just such a time and place, some rainy afternoon or dark hour, when providence will bring my book into his hands. And he will open it, and it will not be a book, but a casement, from which he will glimpse the needed vision his soul requires of a world larger than our own, or a star in a heaven wider and higher than ours, a star aflame with magic more majestic than any star mortal astronomers can name.
I am a much lesser writer than Mr. Wright. I write primarily for my own amusement and in order to help me order my thoughts, in part because I have never forgotten something a young woman once told me: "Everyone thinks they have great thoughts, but that's just a feeling. Those thoughts might not even exist, so the value of a thought can only be determined after it is articulated." And since I spend most of my time alone, the only way for me to articulate my thoughts is to write them down.

For example, I'm sure many people have said at one time or another something like this: "I wonder how dwarves live deep underground in caves?" When I think such a thought, my mind tends to wander towards figuring out how the dwarven economy might work by raising sightless fish and salamanders for meat, and harvesting various fungi and other lifeforms that don't require light. And then I start doing research, which inevitably forces me to reconsider my initial thoughts.

"Many cave communities will rely on food being brought into the cave from the surface. This organic debris includes leafs, twigs etc. brought in by surface streams or falling down vertical shafts; it also includes organic matter brought in by visitors to the cave, carcasses of animals that have wandered in, and droppings from animals such as bats. The amount of debris that can be brought in is very evident in Porth yr Ogof - including large tree trunks. Most creatures will be found near the surface where food is more plentiful - the deeper you go in a cave the harder you will have to look. In the depths of a cave the communities may be concentrated around food sources generated by cave bacteria on e.g. flowstone."

This means that any community of intelligent beings dwelling deep underground would have to have a major industry that revolved around bringing organic matter into the caves, which implies a transportation system for that matter and so forth. I imagine most fans of Selenoth can guess where this particular thought ended up going. My muse is not Beauty, but Logic, which has a peculiar beauty all its own.

In any event, I consider it a mistake to write for any reason besides the joy of it. As Mr. Wright observes, there will always be someone who appreciates one's work, and it doesn't really matter a great deal if one only has one ideal reader or one million.

And since we're on the topic of writing, I should probably mention that my first solo books, the Eternal Warriors trilogy, are finally back in electronic print. All three books, The War in Heaven, The World in Shadow, and The Wrath of Angels are now exclusively available from the Castalia House store. We will also have some interesting announcements regarding some other authors who will be available from the store next week.


The Great War 100 years later

esr reviews Collision of Empires, a history of WWI:
Collision of Empires (Prit Buttar; Osprey Publishing) is a clear and accessible history that attempts to address a common lack in accounts of the Great War that began a century ago this year: they tend to be centered on the Western Front and the staggering meat-grinder that static trench warfare became as outmoded tactics collided with the reality of machine guns and indirect-fire artillery.

Concentration on the Western Front is understandable in the U.S. and England; the successor states of the Western Front’s victors have maintained good records, and nationals of the English-speaking countries were directly involved there. But in many ways the Eastern Front story is more interesting, especially in the first year that Buttar chooses to cover – less static, and with a sometimes bewilderingly varied cast. And, arguably, larger consequences. The war in the east eventually destroyed three empires and put Lenin’s Communists in power in Russia.

Prit Buttar does a really admirable job of illuminating the thinking of the German, Austrian, and Russian leadership in the run-up to the war – not just at the diplomatic level but in the ways that their militaries were struggling to come to grips with the implications of new technology. The extensive discussion of internecine disputes over military doctrine in the three officer corps involved is better than anything similar I’ve seen elsewhere.
There is more at his site. However, as a corrective to this obviously deficient history of the Great War, allow me to recommend the book I just finished reading, namely, CATASTROPHE 1914 by Max Hastings, which can be summarized as follows.
  1. The Great War was the inevitable consequence of dastardly German militarism. Since the Kaiser didn’t forcibly stop Austria from invading Serbia, the Germans are entirely to blame for making British lads volunteer to travel to the continent and die in the mud.
  2. Moltke was a psychological train wreck wholly unsuitable for command.
  3. French was a psychological train wreck wholly unsuitable for command.
  4. Churchill was an excitable loon wholly unsuitable for command of any unit larger than a company.
  5. If it were not for the brave and heroic British Expeditionary Force defending freedom, justice, and democracy, the Germans would have broken through the French lines and conquered the continent.
  6. The French did a little fighting too. So did the Russians. The Serbs killed lots of Austrians. None of this had any serious effect on the war, which was won by British courage and pluck.
  7. The death of millions was worth it in the end, because Germany is bad and if the Central Powers had won, Europe would not have the European Union today.

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Obama betrays the Constitution

What's remarkable isn't that Barack Hussein Obama is ignoring the U.S. Constitution and its limits on the powers of his office. What is remarkable is that the New York Times is calling him out on it:
PRESIDENT OBAMA’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

Mr. Bush gained explicit congressional consent for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, the Obama administration has not even published a legal opinion attempting to justify the president’s assertion of unilateral war-making authority. This is because no serious opinion can be written....

But for now the president seems grimly determined to practice what Mr. Bush’s lawyers only preached. He is acting on the proposition that the president, in his capacity as commander in chief, has unilateral authority to declare war. In taking this step, Mr. Obama is not only betraying the electoral majorities who twice voted him into office on his promise to end Bush-era abuses of executive authority. He is also betraying the Constitution he swore to uphold.
ISIS in Iraq and Syria is not a problem. Immigrants in the USA are a problem. The complete lack of a southern border is a problem. The expanding credit demand gap and the outstanding debt to GDP ratio is a problem. The decline of Christendom is a problem. The rise of the new Caliphate will likely pose a serious problem for future generations, but there will be no future generation capable of fighting it if the West in general and the USA in particular refuses to provide it with a coherent opposition that is not riven by its sympathizers.

We are waiting for Martel.

It is an appallingly bad idea for Obama to attempt to drag a war-weary, divided nation into a war that has nothing to do with the national interest. It is such a bad idea that even the New York Times is capable of recognizing it.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Evidence of global warming

Or rather, the exact opposite. Again.
An early September winter storm in the Black Hills has dumped up to 8 inches of snow in the area, while Rapid City received its earliest snowfall in more than 120 years.

Jon Chamberlain, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City, said almost 1 inch of snow had fallen in downtown Rapid City by 8:30 a.m. while 2 inches was measured in higher elevations in town.

The snowfall in downtown Rapid City is the earliest in the city since 1888, the NWS said. The previous early snowfall mark was seven-tenths of an inch on Sept. 13, 1970.


Science does not need women

Science doesn't need anyone except good scientists who actually understand and utilize scientage.
One of the main glories of science is that it is universal, or at least approaches universality as nearly as it is possible for a human activity to do. Within a few years of Commodore Perry’s opening up of Japan to the outside world, Japanese scientists were contributing to the (then) new science of bacteriology on an equal footing with Western scientists. But that is not at all the same as saying that science needed the Japanese. It could have got on very well without them.

It is true, of course, that women are demographically underrepresented in the ranks of scientists, but so are many other groups. (This means, of course, that others are overrepresented.) This may be for more than one reason: lack of aptitude or interest, for example, or deliberate or subtle obstructiveness. But historical attempts to recruit scientists according to some demographic criterion or other have not been met with success, even as far as the advancement of science itself is concerned, and have been made by the very worst dictatorships that in other respects have been abominable. Social engineering and engineering are two very different activities. It would be no consolation to know while on a collapsing bridge and about to plunge into the deep ravine below that it had been built by a truly representative sample of the population, and was therefore a monument to social justice.
If science needed more women, it would have more women. As it happens, science observably has far more women and more men than it needs, which is why more and more people are leaving science because they don't wish to spend all their time playing the grant game rather than doing actual science. Science got along perfectly well for centuries without much in the way of female involvement, after all.

Every time - EVERY TIME - you hear someone say "X needs more Y", you can be absolutely certain that they are useless parasites who are only capable of political activism and useless bureaucracy.


Israel is not a Christian nation

Someone clearly needs to explain the difference to Sen. Ted Cruz, who is not someone that any sane conservative should be supporting for president:
Cruz, the keynote speaker at the new "In Defense Of Christians" organization's dinner in Washington DC, had offered the crowd--a number of whom were Christians from the Middle East, including Palestinian Christians--public support for Israel. After doing so, some members of the crowd booed at Cruz, and they persisted until he left the stage, noting their hatred and saying he can't stand with them if they don't stand with Israel.

"Tonight, in Washington, should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself 'In Defense of Christians.' Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred," Cruz said in a statement provided to Breitbart News. "When I spoke in strong support of Israel and the Jewish people, who are being persecuted and murdered by the same vicious terrorists who are also slaughtering Christians, many Christians in the audience applauded.  But, sadly, a vocal and angry minority of attendees at the conference tried to shout down my expression of solidarity with Israel."
Why on Earth is Cruz babbling about Israel and Jews when the topic is "In Defense of Christians". It's no secret that Israel is openly prejudiced against Christians and Christianity, although it does not persecute them. And Jews are not Christians; simply becoming acknowledging Jesus Christ as one's Lord and Savior is enough to legally render a Jew a non-Jew in the eyes of Israeli law.

From Wikipedia: "The Supreme Court of Israel ruled in 1989 that Messianic Judaism constituted another religion, and that people who had become Messianic Jews were not therefore eligible for Aliyah under the law."

Now, I support Israel and defend its right to exist. But it was downright weird, and totally inappropriate, for Cruz to attempt to transform an event dedicated to the defense of persecuted Christians into public Holocaustianity.

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Video Game Sex War

There's a headline for you. It's pretty obvious that the anti-game women are alarmed and in retreat when they are running to the international media for support simply because Zoe Quinn was exposed as a whore taking advantage of corruption in the world of independent game journalism:
Evil women are coming to take away your computer games. At least, that’s the message that a group of angry young men have been articulating on the internet in the past few weeks. According to them, these games – once a haven for socially awkward teenage boys – are being ruined by the monstrous regiment....

This online explosion grew from two separate, though connected, incidents. The first was the success of a series of videos made by the blogger Anita Sarkeesian, called Tropes vs Women, which explored the portrayal of women in video games (generally submissive and for decoration). When she launched a crowdfund appeal for the project in 2012, she raised $150,000 more than she asked for, but also unleashed a vicious campaign of sustained harassment. Hackers tried to gain access to her social media accounts and she was bombarded with tweets and emails threatening her with rape and death. A few weeks ago, she had to leave her home because she feared for her safety.

While this was going on, a game developer called Zoe Quinn also became the target of abuse, when her former boyfriend posted online accusations of infidelity: he claimed she had cheated on him with a games journalist. A few impressionable young men decided that this was their opportunity to end “corruption” in games journalism once and for all. They bombarded Quinn with abuse and threats, insisting that their anger was about press ethics – she had traded sexual favours for good reviews – rather than misogyny. It turned out that the journalist in question had not even reviewed Quinn’s game.

While many of the men involved in these incidents are undoubtedly motivated by sexism and sadism - there is a nasty trend on the internet to abuse women per se – they are right about one thing: women are coming to take away their computer games.... [A]s video games are increasingly subjected to the same cultural criticism that is routinely applied to books, films and television programmes, their developers are coming under pressure to change the way they portray women. This, obviously, angers many of those who define themselves as “gamers” and who feel threatened by the idea of such interference.... Games are growing up, whether gamers like it or not, and testosterone-riddled male-power fantasies are bound to fall out of favour as a result. The nerds are going to have to grow up and learn to live with the invasion.
In other words, she's admitting that those awful angry young men are absolutely correct. But speaking as a game designer who knows a fair percentage of the top game developers, these assertions are downright risible. I was at the offices of an extremely successful new game developer not too terribly long ago, and I would estimate around three percent of their employees were women. And in two days of discussions concerning what they were working on and what they were planning to develop in the future, there was absolutely zero mention of what might be of interest to women or female gamers. It's just not their market, and therefore it is of no interest or concern to them.

My own game now in development, FIRST SWORD, came under some criticism from the likes of Manboobz and other petty SJWs a few months ago because I made it clear there will be no female fantasy gladiators. Historically speaking, female gladiators were the light comic relief between the real action; they were often set against midgets, for example. These complaints had no more effect on my design decisions than complaints about prostitutes had on Rockstar or complaints about scanty armor on female characters have had on every game company everywhere. But it is more than a little ironic to see that there are pinkshirts who will actually complain about the fact that I am refusing to design female slavery, in which women would be literally bought and sold as property, into a game.

The fact that there is now a large Lite Games industry in which women are the vast majority of the consumers doesn't change what continues to appeal and sell to young men. You don't need to tell me about the difference. After all, I designed Hot Dish for THQ, one of the more successful "casual games" played predominantly by women before Zynga rode the Facebook platform to going public. Some of the other options I came up with were a Wedding Dress game, a Bridal Party game, and a sorority-based game. I was literally years ahead of today's pinkshirts.

But these casual girl games have as little to do with the current AAA shooters as the shooters do with the turn-based wargames that preceded them. Girl games are just another gaming genre, that's all, and they will have as little effect on the design and development of games in other genres as has always been the case in the past. Now certainly, if someone comes up with a good mechanic in one of them that is useful in another genre, it will be copied and used. After all, Candy Crush Saga is simply a dumbed-down version of Steve Fawkner's Puzzle Quest, thus allowing one to trace its design lineage all the way back to a turn-based wargame, Warlords, a CGW game-of-the-year which has probably been played by fewer women over the last 25 years than read this blog. But Call of Duty hasn't changed how designers or players approach Advanced Squad Leader, and Depression Quest won't change how they approach Call of Duty either.

The reason that the game industry is much less susceptible to the sort of pressure that Sarkeesian and Quinn are attempting to appeal is that whereas it is easy to write and publish books, it is much harder to design and develop games. And the sort of men who design and develop games are considerably less inclined to pay any attention to whatever it is that the pinkshirts are demanding today than the sort of men who used to write science fiction.

I find it all rather amusing. If the pinkshirts are already complaining about the lack of women in a fantasy gladiator game still in development, it should be downright hilarious to see their response to RIDING THE RED HORSE when it comes out in November.

But since we're speaking of inclusiveness, this is as good a place as any to note that the Spanish (La Gravedad Mata) and Portuguese (Gravidade Mortal) versions of QUANTUM MORTIS Gravity Kills are free today on Amazon. As is the immortal John C. Wright's Awake in the Night.

UPDATE: Lest you doubt it, academic feminists are quite literally attempting to destroy the game industry in much the same way they have destroyed science fiction and fantasy:
Adrienne: Why do we see such tension between academics and game designers?  less of an issue with indies, but there are always some people in industry that have similar questions until industrial logic takes over later and how can we better intervene in industrial logics to disturb that process.  How can academics bridge the gap to the industry audience to help them do different work?  How can we disrupt the capitalist norms that facilitate this?

Deirdra: This is a hard, personal issue.  Getting attacked or having friends getting attacked hurts.  It’s hard not to feel personally attacked and to get to an academic spot where you take the personal out of it.

Andrew: Feels quite viscerally injured when someone like Samantha Allen is lost to the industry because the reaction to her by some gamers was so violent that it didn’t make sense to stay. Academia needs to push for more radical positions within the industry to help make things better.
If they think the reaction was violent already, they haven't seen anything yet now that we actually know what they are up to. It is time for the game industry to declare war on academia.

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