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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Hugo Recommendations: Best Editor

This is how I am voting in the Best Editor categories. Of course, I merely offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 388 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

Best Editor, Short Form
  1. Vox Day
  2. Jennifer Broznek
  3. Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  4. Mike Resnick
Best Editor, Long Form
  1. Toni Weisskopf
  2. Anne Sowards
  3. Jim Minz
  4. Vox Day
  5. Sheila Gilbert             
Best Novel
Best Novella
Best Short Story
Best Fan Writer
Best Related Work 


Meanwhile, we are informed that No Award is an act of kindness.
Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on July 4, 2015 at 7:13 am said:

“No Award” is a kindness.

This is an important point.

While the Puppies have been pushing the narrative that “No Award” is unjust somehow, a betrayal of all that is Hugo, unwise and self-destructive, in reality it is a useful tool, a friendly warning to potential readers, and hopefully a wake-up call to unprepared authors.

“No Award” is an act of kindness to both readers and authors.
This is good to know. I am kind.

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Bail-ins are partial bank defaults

Or if you prefer, involuntary borrower-declared debt relief:
Greek banks are preparing contingency plans for a possible “bail-in” of depositors amid fears the country is heading for financial collapse, bankers and businesspeople with knowledge of the measures said on Friday. The plans, which call for a “haircut” of at least 30 per cent on deposits above €8,000, sketch out an increasingly likely scenario for at least one bank, the sources said.
Three things. First, as predicted, the bail-ins weren't limited to Cyprus, and they won't be limited to Greece. Second, notice that the amount of deposits immune to bail-ins has fallen from €100,000 to €8,000. Third, this is now entirely legal in most jurisdictions; banks around the world are preparing for just this scenario in your country, everywhere from Australia to the USA.

Remember, a deposit is just an unsecured loan to a bank. So, a bail-in is simply the bank unilaterally telling you that it is not going to pay back a percentage of the loan and will no longer be paying interest on the portion that it will not be paying back.

Why anyone would want to loan to such a borrower without collateral for the paltry amount of interest available, knowing that the borrower can decide at any time how much they want to pay you back (if they want to pay you back at all), is an interesting question to contemplate.

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The SJW review of books

And they wonder why we so blithely ignore their idiotic, ideologically-driven opinions. An SJW "reviews" RIDING THE RED HORSE:
Disappointing and uneven collection
By Elisabeth Carey on June 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Theodore Beale (Vox Day) is nominated for Best Editor, Long Form, and also Best Editor, Short Form.

This collection is included in the Hugo Voters packet in support of Theodore Beale's nomination for Best Editor, Short Form.

Unfortunately, it's a very uneven collection. It includes the very good The Hot Equations, by Ken Burnside, and the very disappointing Turncoat by Steve Rzasa. There is, early on, a casual endorsement of the probable "necessity" of genocide on the grounds that Those People aren't smart enough to modify their behavior. A point Beale's fans will have difficulty with is that such inflammatory language makes it less likely that readers will take in the point the author was attempting to make. A better editor would have caught it and told the author to dispense with pointless provocation and just make his point.

If this is the best evidence Beale has to offer, he has no place on the ballot.
I don't know about you, but I'm convinced. Then again, if one takes the opinion of actual mil-SF fans and science fiction readers into account, there can be very little doubt that if the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Short Form, was actually based on editorial merit, I would not only have a place on the ballot, but win the award on the basis of RIDING THE RED HORSE.
  • "The first great mil-SF anthology since Jerry Pournelle tapered off in the 90s."
  • "This is a great collection of short stories. I'm not a huge fan of military sci-fi but I very much enjoyed this collection."
  • "If you've been waiting for a new anthology in the spirit of Pournelle & Carr's THERE WILL BE WAR series, stop waiting and buy this. Includes new and classic combat SF, nonfiction articles on warfare and science, and good introductions by Vox Day."
  • "First science fiction anthology I've read and enjoyed since the Asimov days. Every SF story was fast moving and kept my interest including interest in the technology envisioned by the authors."
  • "As an anthology of futuristic military-scifi, interspersed with essays ranging from an introduction to the 4th Generation of War to the advancement of laser technology and how it will shape the wars of our future, Riding the Red Horse really hits the spot for both entertainment and intrigue."
Now, it is true, there are those who agreed with Elisabeth Carey and gave the anthology but a single star. Their opinions speak eloquently for themselves; these are the reviews in their entirety:
  • "What a piece of tripe. Exactly the kind of fiction that appeals to men who are insecure in their masculinity. My only regret is that one can't rate this book any less than one star."
  • "Bad"  
But what will be will be. It is of little import one way or the other. What is much more important is that Jerry Pournelle was sufficiently impressed with RIDING THE RED HORSE that he decided Castalia House was the right place to reprint and revive his excellent THERE WILL BE WAR anthology series. And as far as I'm concerned, that's the only award that matters and the only vote that counts.

I should mention that RIDING THE RED HORSE Vol. 2 is shaping up to be even more formidable than the original anthology. Many of the Vol. 1 contributors are back with a vengeance, and the new contributors include Martin van Creveld, Larry Correia, David Van Dyke, and Sarah Salviander.

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Ayn Rand foresaw World War T

Adam Hobbes explains why it's necessary to resist the SJW attempt to control the he/she language:
“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by precedent, by implication, by erosion, by default, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other—until the day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.”
- Ayn Rand

The public debut of “Caitlyn” Jenner represents a watershed moment for American culture. Though most have not realized it, Jenner’s coming out party constitutes a significant “trial balloon” on the part of the progressive left and the media. It is an attempt to cash in on years of carefully managed stories on transgender “discrimination,” sympathetic portrayals of transgender characters in entertainment, and the generally successful campaign of the gay rights movement and social justice activists.

The goal is simple: normalize transgenderism to such an extent that any criticism of the concept or its practitioners will not be tolerated.
They must not be allowed to succeed. Whether the silent majority of Americans realize it or not, the transgender issue represents the last best opportunity to turn the tide in the culture wars. Make no mistake: the progressives are winning.

Twenty years ago a person could openly criticize homosexuality. Today, thanks to the Supreme Court, people who do not enthusiastically endorse gay marriage are branded as bigots, disqualified from high-profile business positions, and generally dismissed as ignorant hicks whose views are outside of the scope of acceptable thought.
Tolerance is not a virtue. Tolerance is "the sin of Jeroboam". Tolerance is the little compromise that leads gradually to intellectual obliteration.

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Karma

It's wise to always mind your tongue and be certain that you mean what you say. Fate sometimes has a cruel way of forcing one to confront one's own words in unexpected ways:
"That young men succeed in suicide more often than girls isn't really the point. Indeed, the more callous among us would say that it was quite nice for young men finally to find something that they're better at than girls....

 "The last time I suggested that suicides should be left to get on with it, I received a small number of letters from people whose sons had killed themselves. All of them demanded an apology. I'd advise them this time to save their stamps because, you see, I don't care. I don't care because most nights of the week I still dream of my dad, who I saw waste away almost to nothing, eaten alive by the tumours that were his retirement gift for working with asbestos. Every day, as his legs went, as his sight went, my dad would declare that tomorrow he would be taking the dog out; he clung to life like a dog playing tug-of-war for the biggest, juiciest raw steak in the world.

"To ask me to feel sympathy with suicides after witnessing this is, I suggest, just as unfeeling and ignorant as my callousness must appear to you - like asking a starving African to sympathise with an anorexic. In a society still beset with the most vicious social deprivation and rampant cruelty to the very young, the very old and the very weak, the voluntary exits of a few hundred able-bodied young men each year are best dealt with as private tragedies rather than a public concern. Let them go.
- Julie Burchill, 16 October, 1999

This week writer Julie Burchill felt the full force of that hurt when her son, Jack, committed suicide aged just 29. Ms Burchill 55, announced the news on her Facebook page yesterday in an emotional tribute in which she blamed herself for failing him.
- 1 July 2015
It might be tempting to feel a sense of schadenfreude at Ms Burchill experiencing the full force of the pain that she derided and dismissed so cruelly in others. But it's much better to learn from her example rather than repeat it.

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Another SJW lie

As with the marriage parody, SJWs are using the public high ground to create a false picture of changing public views with regards to the Confederate flag.
Washington (CNN)American public opinion on the Confederate flag remains about where it was 15 years ago, with most describing the flag as a symbol of Southern pride more than one of racism, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. And questions about how far to go to remove references to the Confederacy from public life prompt broad racial divides.

The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride.
In other words, nothing has substantially changed, but the government-media-corporate alliance has teamed up in order to sell their version of reality. Confederate flag backers can puncture this propaganda by following the lead of the pro-gun forces and destroying the careers of every politician who supported the attack on the flag, beginning with South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that the former Nimrata Nikki Randhawa would completely fail to understand Southern Pride. Along with Sen. Edward Kennedy, she is Exhibit A in the inability of second- and third-generation immigrants to understand the spirit of America, even though they were born inside its geographical boundaries, and even though they believe themselves to love and be loyal to America.

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There Will Be FOUR




Coming very soon. If you are a newsletter subscriber, keep your eyes on your email this weekend for some offers you won't want to miss. And we're not only talking about the two new volumes of THERE WILL BE WAR either....

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The freedom fighters

It's a surreal moment when you discover that a) ISIS has a blocklist, and b) you're on it. Granted, they only copied anti-GamerGate's blocklist, but you'd think it would give the more self-aware aGGs pause to realize that the Islamic State is following their lead.

But it does tend to show how much commonality there is across statist totalitarians, whether they are of the #LoveWins or #GravityWins variety.

Speaking of freedom fighters, Trigger Warning is an example of people getting off their posteriors and attempting to fight back. They've been great, doing some of the only reviews of Castalia House books that have appeared, such as Ann Sterzinger's review of Martin van Creveld's EQUALITY: THE IMPOSSIBLE QUEST.

They're looking to raise money on IndieGoGo, so go and have a look at supporting them, especially if you've been reading their site. Natasha Marie Phoenix's piece on Generation Hugbox was particularly good.

Some have called it “political correctness.” I find this phrase overused and meaningless. What we are witnessing is a passive totalitarian control of the public discourse.

Although as we've seen everywhere from SFWA to the Supreme Court, that passive control is increasingly showing signs of going active. You're going to have to stand up and fight sooner or later. Might as well start now.

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

This is what happens

When you put women in the pulpit  It doesn't surprise me in the least. Notice how wide the approval is; the deputies were just itching to have an excuse to turn canon into parody.
The Episcopal Church officially joined Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ this week in becoming the third mainline denomination to embrace gay marriage rites — a move that comes just days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions.

The new liturgy extending marriage to gays and lesbians was widely approved with a vote of 184-23 by the Episcopal Church USA’s House of Deputies during the denomination’s 78th General Convention; it will become available for use on November 29, Deseret News reported.

In a separate vote of 173 to 27, the institution of marriage was changed from being comprised exclusively by a man and a woman to being between two persons more generally, with the line “both parties understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman” being axed from the canon.
Once the women start preaching, it's only a matter of time before Jesus Christ himself is axed from the canon. Refuse to accept the authority of God's Word in one thing, you may as well refuse to accept them all, because sooner or later, that's where you're headed.

The headline is wrong, however. The Episcopal Church ceased to be a Christian church some years ago.

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Social justice

Male SJWs are usually men who have never understood the difference between women approving of something and women being attracted to something. Women may well approve of men who share their insane ideals or take their ideological babbling at face value. And those same women are attracted to men who ignore it or treat it with the intellectual contempt it deserves.

So, it all comes down to whether you prefer female approval or female attraction. But the latter does not follow from the former. Of course, if SJWs were capable of logical analysis, they wouldn't be SJWs.

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A public service announcement

Don't update iTunes to 12.2:
I just installed iTunes 12.2 and turned on iCloud Music Library and my library is getting corrupted, song names are getting swapped and then marked as duplicate, only the artwork for the original song remains.
I would also advise against using Apple products for reasons both technical and ideological, but I realize few who are already caught in the throes of Apple addiction are going to stop now.

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Stamping out sexism in science

Nature has a few ideas on that score. And if we lose a few male Nobel Laureates along the way, what does it matter? After all, the vast influx of female talent that is certain to replace the old sexist dinosaurs will more than make up for any losses, right?
The problem is serious and long-standing. But there are plenty of ways to tackle it. Nature has discussed and promoted them before, and is happy to do so again. Here is a list of measures to consider afresh:
  • Recognize and address unconscious bias. Graduate students given grants by the US National Institutes of Health are required to undergo ethics training. Gender-bias training for scientists, for example, would be a powerful way to help turn the tide.
  • Encourage universities and research institutions to extend the deadlines for tenure or project completion for scientists (women and men) who take parental leave, and do not penalize these researchers by excluding them from annual salary rises. Many workplaces are happy to consider and agree to such extension requests when they are made. The policy should simply be adopted across the board.
  • Events organizers and others must invite female scientists to lecture, review, talk and write articles. And if the woman asked says no — for whatever reason — then ask others. This is about more than mere visibility. It can boost female participation too. Anecdotal reports suggest that women are more likely to ask questions in sessions chaired by women. After acknowledging our own bias towards male contributors, Nature, for example, is engaged in a continued effort to commission more women in our pages.
  • Do not use vocabulary and imagery that support one gender more than another. Words matter. It is not ‘political-correctness-gone-mad’ to avoid defaulting to the pronouns ‘him’ and ‘he’, or to ensure that photographs and illustrations feature women.
  • In communication and promotional materials, highlight women who have made key contributions to previous work, whether in your own lab or within your research discipline more broadly.
  • Be aware of the importance of informal settings and social activities to workplace culture, and people’s sense of their place within it. Senior scientists can, where possible, make such events inclusive.
Can one really say the Law of Unintended Consequences applies when the consequences of a proposed action are so entirely obvious to anyone with half a brain? How many Shakespeares, Dantes, or even JRR Tolkiens have been produced since since the liberation of women from the male oppression that forcibly prevented them from putting pen to paper 40, or 80, or 97 years ago?

And what is the price of trading a few Watsons and Hunts for the scientific equivalents of Stephanie Meyers and E.L. James going to be?

Now, obviously I support women in science; I publish more female scientists than 99.9 percent of my critics do. But I don't support female thought police in science, which is really what Nature is advocating here. It is the thought police, of both sexes, who truly have NO PLACE whatsoever in science.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

RPinDC

GK sends the word of a DC-area Puppies meetup:
Saturday, July 11th
8-10 PM
Rock Bottom Brewpub
Ballston Commons Mall (Lower Level)
Arlington, Virginia

All Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies welcome. We don't particularly care which flavor of Puppy Supporters show up. The Browncoats flag will be flying.
If you're interested, get your bark on. And if you carry Glock, be prepared to be mocked! (Says the man who still kind of misses his G23.)

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How much longer

Will they "fucking love science"? I wonder. Heartiste takes no little amusement in pointing to the potential ideological challenges to the secular orthodoxy increasingly being posed by genetic science:
"People really do see the world differently," says lead author Rebecca Todd, a professor in UBC's Department of Psychology. "For people with this gene variation, the emotionally relevant things in the world stand out much more."

The gene in question is ADRA2b, which influences the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Previous research by Todd found that carriers of a deletion variant of this gene showed greater attention to negative words. Her latest research is the first to use brain imaging to find out how the gene affects how vividly people perceive the world around them, and the results were startling, even to Todd.

"We thought, from our previous research, that people with the deletion variant would probably show this emotionally enhanced vividness, and they did more than we would even have predicted," says Todd, who scanned the brains of 39 participants, 21 of whom were carriers of the genetic variation....

Compared to non-carriers, carriers of the ADRA2b deletion variant gene estimated lower levels of noise on positive and negative images, relative to neutral images, indicating emotionally enhanced vividness, or EEV. Carriers of the deletion variation also showed significantly more brain activity reflecting EEV in key regions of the brain sensitive to emotional relevance.

About the gene

The ADRA2b deletion variant appears in varying degrees across different ethnicities. Although roughly 50 per cent of the Caucasian population studied by these researchers in Canada carry the genetic variation, it has been found to be prevalent in other ethnicities. For example, one study found that just 10 per cent of Rwandans carried the ADRA2b gene variant.
So, an aggression-linked gene is 500 times more common while an empathy-linked gene is one-fifth as common in various gene pools. But aggression and empathy probably wouldn't have anything at all to do with actual human behavior, would they?

It's always fascinating to see how quickly those who claim their opinions and morality are guided by science are to throw science out the window whenever it contradicts their actual beliefs and values.

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You can't accommodate the Left

Sultan Knish explains the futility of trying to talk to, reason with, or accomodate the SJWs:
You can't accommodate the left on social issues. You can't accommodate it on fiscal issues. You can't do it. Period.

The left exists to destroy you. It does not seek to co-exist with you. Its existence would lose all meaning. Any common ground will be used to temporarily achieve a goal before the useful idiots are kicked to the curb and denounced as bigots who are holding back progress.

The purpose of power is power. The left is not seeking to achieve a set of policy goals before kicking back and having a beer. The policy goals are means of destroying societies, nations and peoples before taking over. If you allow it a policy goal, it will ram that goal down your throat. It will implement it as abusively as it can possibly can before it moves on to the next battle.

It's not about gay marriage. It's not about cakes. It's about power.

More fundamentally it's about the difference in human nature between the people who want to be left alone and those who want power over others.
He's absolutely right. There is ample historical precedent for their behavior and the eventual consequences of it. The moderate position is a complete nonstarter, as Brad Torgersen, among others, has learned. Read the whole thing.

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The hysteria crescendos

Chris Hensley appears determined to provide conclusive evidence of the Three Laws of SJW:
Chris Hensley on June 30, 2015 at 9:46 am said
I will make this point, again. I will repeat his point until I am blue in the face. Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies are a hate group. They are extreme-right wing, white supremacist, homophobic thugs. Their actions are racist, misogynistic, homophobic and the list goes on. I have shown my evidence of their bigotry, repeatedly. Everyone else who has made those claims here has shown their evidence, repeatedly. You have not shown a shred of evidence to the contrary. There is no war, there are no sides. The only people talking about a war are Vox Day and his supporters. They are thugs, because they behave like thugs. Despite your claims to the contrary, they are not behaving as reasonable men. They are behaving as bullies and cowards.

You can admit those facts. You can provide evidence showing that their actions towards the Worldcon, Irene Gallo, and a great many others does not constitute harassment and cowardice. If you are willing to do neither then there is nothing to discuss. If you continue to defend their actions, if you cover for them while they harm others, then you share responsibility for those actions.
We see all Three Laws of SJW on display here.
  1. SJWs always lie.
  2. SJWs always double down.
  3. SJWs always project.
If this Hensley is to be taken seriously, a collection of individuals voting on an award, and doing so in considerably less lockstep than numerous confirmed historical bloc votes, are "a hate group"? Spending $40 and filling out a ballot makes us "thugs"? Indians and Latinos and Asians and blacks are "white supremacists?" A writer with a gay fan club and three electronic dance hits on a gay record label is "homophobic"? Simply not buying books from a publisher that has openly and publicly attacked us is "behaving as bullies and cowards"? Nominating books we like instead of books they like constitutes "harassment and cowardice"? 

That is not taking liberties with the truth. That is not twisting and contorting the truth to present a false image. That is holding the truth hostage in the cellar, chaining it to a bed, and repeatedly raping it in a futile attempt to father a false narrative. It is very easy to observe that our actions are not any of the things the SJWs claim them to be. Entertainment Weekly had to issue multiple retractions after being foolish enough to take the SJW claims at face value. Other publications will eventually do the same.

But all the various lies that Chris Hensley and the other SJWs keep hurling in the futile hope that they will finally stick and disqualify aren't interesting. Most of them are literal repetitions of the same narrative Johnny Con has been selling to no avail for several years now. What is interesting is how their level of hysteria has observably increased. Why, one wonders, is it necessary for them to lie until they are blue in the face? Why are they even more desperate to disqualify me now than they were back in April or May?

Why are they still babbling incoherently about us while simultaneously insisting on our totally irrelevant wrongness?

I don't know. Perhaps they fear that the record influx of Supporting Members are not all reliable SJWs and Truefen flooding in to defend the Hugo Awards by voting to not give out any awards. Perhaps they notice that my site traffic has continue to rise, and that support for both Sad and Rabid Puppies continues to grow as more sane people observe the behavior of the SJWs and realize we were not exaggerating. Perhaps it is simply a reflection of the wider cultural war that has heated up of late. Perhaps it is a reflection of the economic instability that now haunts even those who don't pay much attention to the economy. Perhaps it is because we use their tactics against them more effectively than they do.

But whatever the reason, it is clear that they are afraid of me, of you, and of the growing number of people who realize that they are incoherent lunatics who possess an insane and immoral vision for society. Let them hurl spurious labels and tell ridiculous lies. It's what they do. We are immune to all their pointing and shrieking and posturing and preening attempts to DISQUALIFY.

We don't care. And as for the idea that the "only people talking about a war are Vox Day and his supporters", see: the First Law of SJW. And note that this reference to a cultural war happening in fiction precedes the existence of Rabid Puppies by five months.


UPDATE: Mike Glyer has noticed the increased activity as well.
Activity in June was so intense that 19 of last month’s posts now rank among this blog’s 25 most-viewed of all-time. The reason is the huge amount of dialogue in the comments section. Five posts drew over 1,000 comments. “Lord Foul’s Baying,” the June 14 roundup, is not only the month’s top post but trails only the photo essay about the Bradbury house teardown as this blog’s most-read entry. It collected over 1,300 comments.
I'm sure that intensity is simply the result of the SJWs being so interested in talking about the books they love. It wouldn't have anything to do with their insane obsession with shoring up their crumbling Puppy Narrative, as we are reliably informed that we don't matter, we're totally irrelevant, we're only bots with a bunch of fake Twitter accounts, and absolutely no one pays any attention to anything we write, say, think, or boycott. Also, unrepentant bad-to-reprehensible racist misogynistic homophobic neo-Nazi hate group thugs.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Protecting the competitive edge

Apple loses, E-book decision stands:
In a major decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 margin, has affirmed Judge Denise Cote's 2013 finding that Apple orchestrated a scheme to fix e-book prices.

“We conclude that the district court correctly decided that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise e-book prices, that the conspiracy unreasonably restrained trade in violation of the Sherman Act, and that the injunction is properly calibrated to protect the public from future anti-competitive harms,” wrote Debra Ann Livingston, for the court. “Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is affirmed.” Judge Dennis Jacobs, who made headlines with his tough questions at oral arguments, dissented.

In addition, the court also upheld Cote’s final injunction, rejecting an appeal by Macmillan and Simon & Schuster which argued that the final order illegally amended their consent decrees.
This is good news for independents and self-publishers, as it prevents the major publishers from ganging up against them to protect their margins.

As we've seen from Tor Books, some publishers believe they are too big and too important to be held accountable. But unless Citi or Goldman get into publishing, that's unlikely to be the case.

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They are the SAME war

David Brooks manages to completely miss the point in the process of recommending that conservatives simply wave a white flag in the cultural war and dedicate themselves to performing good works deemed socially acceptable:
Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.

Consider a different culture war, one just as central to your faith and far more powerful in its persuasive witness.

We live in a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux, in which bonds, social structures and commitments are strained and frayed. Millions of kids live in stressed and fluid living arrangements. Many communities have suffered a loss of social capital. Many young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric because there are no common norms. Many adults hunger for meaning and goodness, but lack a spiritual vocabulary to think things through.

Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment. They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans. They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.

The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.

This culture war is more Albert Schweitzer and Dorothy Day than Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham; more Salvation Army than Moral Majority. It’s doing purposefully in public what social conservatives already do in private.

I don’t expect social conservatives to change their positions on sex, and of course fights about the definition of marriage are meant as efforts to reweave society. But the sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon. The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable. Social conservatives are well equipped to repair this fabric, and to serve as messengers of love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace.
As Jartstar commented, Brooks wants Christians to clean up the social wreckage being caused by people who reject Christianity, but neither prevent them from causing more damage nor even teach them how to stop harming themselves and others.

Now, granted, there is a certain ironic propriety to telling people who already well accustomed to losing battles to engage in another equally hopeless one. But the fact is that conservatives didn't have to lose those battles, they simply chose not to fight them. We could end the gay marriage battle by the end of the week if we wanted; ISIS has demonstrated that it requires little more than rooftops and gravity. That's simply not how we prefer to operate.

Regardless, we have options that range from winning the cultural war through extreme barbarism on the one side to abject surrender on the other. And that is why everyone, even our short-sighted opponents, should hope that the civilized cultural warriors win, because if they don't, history strongly suggests that the uncivilized cultural warriors will. The pendulum always swings back, and the further it swings one way, the harder it swings back on its return.

David Brooks fails to understand that the problems he laments can only be fixed by rejecting the ruling left-liberalism he supports and embracing a conservative philosophical outlook. But in any case, the answer is simple: no.

Rod Dreher's response is more genteel, as you might expect, but similar:
 I don’t believe my friend David understands the inseparable connection between Christian sexual morality and the familial and social instability David rightly decries. Family and social breakdown is inextricably linked to the abandonment of Christian sexual ideals — specifically, the idea that sexual passion should be limited to expression within the bounds of marriage. Chastity — which is not “no sex,” but rather the right ordering of the God-given sexual instinct — is a Christian virtue. It is not the most important Christian virtue, but it is not one that can be discarded, either.

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Anti-Confederate, pro-Islamic State

Walmart endorses ISIS:
Given the many national chains that stopped selling confederate flags after the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre, Chuck Netzhammer couldn’t have been too surprised that Walmart denied his request to create a cake bearing the image of the confederate flag.

But a day later, Netzhammer decided to put the store’s convictions to the test.

He said he submitted another cake request to the Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana, on Friday — this time with the Islamic State flag on top.

Surely a no-no for Walmart, yes?

Nope.

To Netzhammer’s shock, Walmart put together the cake with the Islamic State flag.

The USA is obviously well into the "decline" part of "decline-and-fall".

UPDATE: Walmart regrets being caught out and YouTube tries to help them cover it up:
"Our talented bakery associates take pride in what they create for our customers. It's unfortunate one customer thought to take advantage of an associate who did not know the flag and its meaning," said John Forrest Ales, a spokesman for Walmart. "This cake should not have been made, and we apologize for the mistake."

At 10:15 p.m. ET Monday, the video was removed from YouTube with the statement, "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content."

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An early SF gatekeeper

One wonders how many more excellent SF juvenile novels Robert Heinlein might have written for Scribner had it not been for his editor Alice Dalgliesh's determination to meddle, in true SJW fashion, with the political ideology expressed in Red Planet. This was the first serious crack in the relationship between Heinlein and Scribner's, which eventually culminated in Scribner's rejecting Starship Troopers for publication. From Grumbles From the Grave.
April 19, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Alice Dalgliesh

The manuscript of Red Planet is being returned, through Mr. Blassingame.

You will find that I have meticulously followed all of your directions, from your letter, from your written notes, and from your notations on the manuscript, whether I agreed with them or not. I have made a wholehearted attempt to make the changes smoothly and acceptably and thereby to make the story hang together. I am not satisfied with the result, but you are free to make any additional changes you wish wherever you see an opportunity to accomplish your purposes more smoothly than I have been able to do.

Most of the changes have been made by excising what you objected to, or by minor inclusions and variations in dialog. However, on the matter of guns, I have written in a subscene in which the matter of gun licensing is referred to in sufficient explanatory detail to satisfy you, I think.

The balance of this letter is side discussion and is in no sense an attempt to get you to change your mind about any of your decisions concerning the book. I simply want to state my point of view on one matter and to correct a couple of points....

You and I have strongly different evaluations as to the best way in which to handle the problem of deadly weapons in a society. We do not seem to disagree in any important fashion as to the legitimate ways in which deadly weapons may be used, but we disagree strongly as to socially useful regulations concerning deadly weapons. I will first cite two points which sharply illustrate the disagreement. I have one of my characters say that the right to bear arms is the basis of all human freedom. I strongly believe that, but you required me to blue-pencil it. The second point concerns licensing guns. I had such licensing in the story, but I had one character strongly object to it as a piece of buttinsky bureaucracy, subversive of liberty—and I had no one defending it. You required me to remove the protest, then build up the licensing into a complicated ritual, involving codes, oaths, etc.—a complete reversal of evaluation. I have made great effort to remove my viewpoint from the book and to incorporate yours, convincingly—but in so doing I have been writing from reasons of economic necessity something that I do not believe. I do not like having to do that.

Let me say that your viewpoint and evaluation in this matter is quite orthodox; you will find many to agree with you. But there is another and older orthodoxy imbedded in the history of this country and to which I hold. I have no intention nor any expectation of changing your mind, but I do want to make you aware that there is another viewpoint that is held by a great many respectable people, and that it is quite old. It is summed up in the statement that I am opposed to all attempts to license or restrict the arming of individuals, such as the Sullivan Act of the State of New York. I consider such laws a violation of civil liberty, subversive of democratic political institutions, and self-defeating in their purpose. You will find that the American Rifle Association has the same policy and has had for many years.

France had Sullivan-type laws. When the Nazis came, the invaders had only to consult the registration lists at the local gendarmerie in order to round up all the weapons in a district. Whether the authorities be invaders or merely local tyrants, the effect of such laws is to place the individual at the mercy of the state, unable to resist. In the story Red Planet it would be all too easy for the type of licensing you insist on to make the revolution of the colonists not simply unsuccessful, but impossible.

As to such laws being self-defeating, the avowed purpose of such laws as the Sullivan Act is to keep weapons out of the hands of potential criminals. You are surely aware that the Sullivan Act and similar acts have never accomplished anything of the sort? That gangsterism ruled New York while this act was already in force? That Murder, Inc. flourished under this act? Criminals are never materially handicapped by such rules; the only effect is to disarm the peaceful citizen and put him fully at the mercy of the lawless. Such rules look very pretty on paper; in practice they are as foolish and footless as the attempt of the mice to bell the cat.

Such is my thesis, that the licensing of weapons is subversive of liberty and self-defeating in its pious purpose. I could elaborate the arguments suggested above at great length, but my intention is not to convince, but merely to show that there is another viewpoint. I am aware, too, that even if I did by some chance convince you, there remains the unanswerable argument that you have to sell to librarians and schoolteachers who believe the contrary.
Heinlein knuckled under, but he was not happy about it. He was so unhappy about the forced change that he even tried to get Scribner's to put Dalgliesh's name on the cover as Red Planet's co-author, but the publishing house refused, as they believed it would hurt sales.
May 9, 1949: Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame

As to the name on Red Planet ms., no, I’m not adamant; I’ll always listen to your advice and I’ll lose a lot of sleep before I will go directly against your advice. But I feel rather sticky about this point, as I hate like the deuce to see anything go out under my own name, without even sharing responsibility with Miss Dalgliesh, when said item includes propositions in which I do not believe. The matter of style, plot, and the effect on my literary reputation, if any, I am not adamant about, even though I am not happy about the changes—if you say to shut up and forget it, I’ll shut up. It’s the "Sullivan-Act-in-a-Martian-frontier-colony" feature that I find hard to swallow; from my point of view I am being required to support publicly a doctrine which I believe to be subversive of human liberty and political freedom.
The whole situation bothered Heinlein so much that when Dalgliesh's successor pitched Heinlein on returning to Scribner's, Heinlein flat-out refused to work with them again. Which is not terribly surprising, considering how he took the rejection of Starship Troopers, which involved not only the entire editorial board, but Charles Scribner himself.

"I do not know as yet whether I will do another juvenile book or not. If I decide to do another one, I do not know that I wish it to be submitted to Scribner’s. I have taken great pride in being a Scribner’s author, but that pride is all gone now that I have discovered that they are not proud of me."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Irony

Ginger on said:
With respect to controversy, need I mention that people are still arguing over the Original Controversy? The novella that is still published as “Genesis”, in which the main characters are created from “earth” — clearly science fiction, come on — and so on; the schisms created by the warring camps has only grown greater with the centuries since its publication. In contrast, Gilgamesh was completely overlooked, probably because it was mis-labeled a saga and not best novel; there may also have been some anti-Ur sentiment floating around. And what has ever been nominated out of the Aztec, or Pueblo/Hopi/Zuni, or indeed, any of the native North American traditions? They’ve clearly been completely blocked off by a shadowy cabal.
That made me laugh out loud. What has ever been nominated out of the Aztec, or Pueblo/Hopi/Zuni, or indeed, any of the native North American traditions?

The eminent Hugo Awards historian Mike Glyer knows: "I have it on the highest authority that the answer is Vox Day."

And speaking of shadowy cabals, I owe my record-setting two Editor nominations to the whining machinations of one Patrick Nielsen Hayden. After he was publicly crying about how he "acquired" not one, but THREE of 2006's best novel nominees and still didn't win Best Professional Editor, the Worldcon voters magically created a new award he could win.
In a post to his own weblog, Scalzi expresses regret that I personally didn’t make the “Best Professional Editor” ballot, despite the fact that I acquired three out of the five Best Novel nominees and personally shepherded two of them to publication. This is generous of John, and I wouldn’t have declined the nomination, but in fact as every book editor in our field knows, while the Best Professional Hugo is regularly awarded to high-profile magazine editors and anthologists, it only goes to book editors if we die. It’s for this reason that there’s a pending proposal to split the editorial award into “long form” and “short form” categories; whether this will be ratified by this year’s Worldcon Business Meeting is anyone’s guess. Personally, I note that David Hartwell has been a finalist for Best Professional Editor 15 times, leaving aside his 17 further nominations for the New York Review of Science Fiction, and that he’s never won a Hugo of any kind. Pretty shabby treatment for an individual who is by any measure one of the best and most influential editors in the eighty-year history of our field. Whether or not the World SF Convention decides to reform the editor award, it’s years past time one went to Hartwell. 
And the "reform" came to pass, the Best Tor Editor award was duly created, and the awards went to: Patrick Nielsen Hayden, David Hartwell, David Hartwell, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden for the first four years before the two of them took themselves out of the running long enough to let four-time second-place finisher Lou Anders win. But two wins in four years wasn't enough for PNH, as he threw his hat back in the ring to collect a third one in 2013.

Clearly it's just CRAZY to observe the existence of a Tor cabal. It's entirely obvious that they won the Locus Award for Best Publisher for the last 27 straight years through nothing but hard work and consistently publishing bad-to-reprehensible books.

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No return

It's no wonder conservatives are reliably losing when you consider how long they have enthusiastically accepted their enemies as their "opinion leaders":
A Conservative commentator has tearfully urged the Republican Party to accept gay marriage to prevent the party becoming a “relic”. Speaking in an interview with CNN shortly after the historic Supreme Court decision to legalise same-sex marriage was handed down on Friday, S.E. Cupp was moved to tears as she explained gay people just wanted “the human dignity the rest of us have”.
If you want to win, stop paying any attention whatsoever to ideological enemies simply because they put on your jersey and claim to be one of you while arguing the opposite of your opinions and rejecting your beliefs. 

If people want "human dignity", then they need to earn it by behaving in a dignified manner, not by throwing "pride" parades and behaving like pagans.

And as a general rule, don't listen to anyone who substitutes tears for rational argument. That's the lowest and least intelligent form of rhetoric. Accepting the gay agenda has already made relics of the Anglican and Episcopalian Churches. Following suit will do the same for the Republican Party. And it will do the same for the United States of America.

The USA has observably made its choice. It has abandoned faith in God for trust in the god of this world and prince of this age. And once faith has departed from a nation, it seldom returns, as Juan Donoso Cortés observed in his speech to the Spanish Parliament on January 4, 1849.

There are only two possible forms of repression: one internal and the other external; religious repression and political repression. They are of such a nature that when the religious thermometer is high, the thermometer of political repression is low; and, when the religious thermometer low, the political thermometer—political repression—tyranny is high. That is a law of humanity, a law of history. If you want proof, Gentlemen, look at the state of the world, look at the state of society in the ages before the Cross; tell me what happened when there was no internal repression, when there was no religious repression. That was a society of tyrants and slaves. Give me the name of a single people at this period which possessed no slaves and knew no tyrant. It is an incontrovertible and evident fact, which has never been questioned. Liberty, real liberty, the liberty of all and for all, only came into the world with the Savior of the world; that again is an incontrovertible fact, recognized even by the Socialists.

Gentlemen, I beg you to pay attention; I am going to present you with the most marvelous parallel which history can offer us. You have seen that in antiquity, when religious repression couldn’t go any lower because there was none, political repression rose until it couldn’t go any higher, because it went all the way up to tyranny. Very well then, with Jesus Christ, where religious repression is born, political repression completely disappears. This is so true, that when Jesus Christ founded a society with His disciples, that society was the only one which has ever existed without a government. Between Jesus Christ and His disciples there was no other government than the love of the Master for His disciples and the love of the disciples for their Master. That is, that when the internal repression was complete, liberty was absolute.


Read more »

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Animal Firm

Rand Paul observes some legal rights are more equal than others:
While I disagree with Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, I believe that all Americans have the right to contract.

The Constitution is silent on the question of marriage because marriage has always been a local issue. Our founding fathers went to the local courthouse to be married, not to Washington, D.C.

I’ve often said I don’t want my guns or my marriage registered in Washington.

Those who disagree with the recent Supreme Court ruling argue that the court should not overturn the will of legislative majorities. Those who favor the Supreme Court ruling argue that the 14th Amendment protects rights from legislative majorities.

Do consenting adults have a right to contract with other consenting adults? Supporters of the Supreme Court’s decision argue yes but they argue no when it comes to economic liberties, like contracts regarding wages.

It seems some rights are more equal than others.
I think Friday's Supreme Court decision was the biggest step the USA has taken towards theocracy in some time. I already converted from pure abstract libertarianism to National Libertarianism some time ago for purely practical reasons; events had made it sufficiently obvious that the abstract position simply could not function in the real world.

Now I find myself wondering if even this more practical and pragmatic approach is logically consistent with real-world human behavior. It may be that if John Adams is correct and there is no system of government that can survive an insufficiently moral people, what the progressives think of as a linear progression will turn out to be even more cyclical than I had imagined. We know, per Cicero, that democracy leads to aristocracy. But does cultural degeneracy precede theocracy? Or is it simply the decline into low paganism that I have anticipated?

White Christian conservative attachment to the Constitution and traditional American ideals such as representative democracy are consequences of their deeper attachments. Once those connections severed, they are simply a larger, more dedicated, more effective, and better-armed group playing the game of power. I tend to doubt post-democracy is going to be all that those celebrating it now believe it will be.

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Coming to a nation near you

Greek shuts down its banks:
Banks in Greece and the country's stock exchange will be shut all week in a sign of the deepening financial crisis. The drastic move comes after people rushed to withdraw their cash amid panic ahead of the referendum on bailout terms. Under the controls, there will be a daily €60 limit on withdrawals from cash machines, which will reopen on Tuesday.
Any fractional-reserve system is doomed as soon as people realize that there are more claims on each piece of paper than can be exercised at any given time. As with everything they do, the banks took something that worked, more or less, and pushed it well beyond the breaking point.

It was eye-opening when I realized that the "ten-percent" reserve system about which we'd learned in college was actually a "less-than-one-percent" reserve system. That was the point when I realized that the global financial system was bound to fail eventually; it simply doesn't have a sufficient margin of error for predictable events, such as the Greek inability to continue servicing their external debt, much less genuinely unexpected and exogenous shocks.

As awful as bail-ins sound, they are actually much more fair than bail-outs. After all, whether you realize it or not, your "deposits" are actually unsecured loans you have made to the bank. Why you would want to make such a high-risk loan to such an irresponsible borrower without collateral or much in the way of interest is, of course, your business.

UPDATE: It's official. Greek default tomorrow:
Greece will not pay a 1.6 billon euro loan installment due to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, a Greek government official confirmed on Monday, highlighting the depth of the financial crisis facing the country.
This should help settle the debate. The answer is "deflation".

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hugo Recommendations: Best Short Story

This is how I am voting in the Best Short Story category. Of course, I offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 386 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.
  1. “Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
  2. “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  3. “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
  4. “A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)
Best Novel
Best Novella
Best Fan Writer
Best Related Work

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The Village of Light

We were at a baptism today, conducted early in the morning at a nearby lake. It was expected to be a fairly private affair, with only a few friends and family present, but about a dozen strangers were there, including one very old man styling in a three-piece suit and fedora with a cane and a waist-fob on his vest.

Afterwards, the old man commented, "magnificent, magnificent." And when I expressed my surprise at the presence of him and the others from the community who didn't know the individual being baptized, he gestured around us to indicate everyone present. "Ah, but we are the Village of Light," he said.

We will survive this present darkness. We know how the story ends.

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I don't care what you do

Hugo nominee Kary English doesn't want to give me satisfaction. But she does want a pony:
I also wish people like Brad, Larry and other SP notables would come out and say “Hey, this* isn’t what we intended or what we hoped would happen. We’re sorry the whole thing has become such a mess.” (*where “this” means locking up the ballot and shutting out other works.
Or, you know, maybe they're not sorry. I'm certainly not. I doubt anyone in the Evil Legion of Evil is. One benefit of being ELoE is never having to say you're sorry.
I don’t consider myself a spokesperson for the SP, or even an SP notable, but I’ll say it. I never got involved in this with any idea that I’d even make the ballot, much less that VD would run his own campaign or that there would be a ballot sweep. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have participated. To the extent that I’ve been part of that, even unknowingly, I apologize.
Translation: "Please don't try to kill my career, it's not MY fault!" Of course, the truth is that all four Puppy campaigns were a convoluted plot concocted by Kary English to get herself a Hugo while leaving Brad, Larry, and I to take the blame for everything. We were naught but puppets in her insidious scheme. I have also heard that she is responsible for Benghazi and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government, as well as the upcoming Greek referendum.
It seems I can’t say anything remotely in that vein without someone saying that if I truly thought that, I would withdraw. I’ve already given my reasons for not withdrawing, but I’ll mention again that a large part of it is not giving Vox Day the satisfaction.
I think it's interesting that she thinks I have given her any thought whatsoever. Kary, my dear, I don't give a quantum of a damn what you do. Withdraw, don't withdraw, retire to a nunnery, it makes absolutely no difference to me.
All that stuff about nominating liberals just to watch them self-flagellate and see how fast they withdraw? I’m not his marionette, and I won’t dance to his tune. He set us up to be targets, just like he set up Irene Gallo. I’m not giving in to Vox Day.
And yet, here she is frantically dancing without me even bothering to so much as whistle. As for Irene Gallo, I'm afraid Ms English grants me infernal powers that are, as yet, sadly not at my disposal. Ms Gallo set herself up for dismissal without my help; no one asked her to attack Tor's customers, Tor's authors, or Tor's products. No one asked her to violate the Macmillan Code of Conduct.

As several of the VFM have pointed out, the SJWs have it all backwards. They have to think that I am somehow duping thousands of idiots and fools into openly opposing them because the alternative is to accept how massively unpopular they are and how dismally their decades-long campaign to tell people what science fiction they may and may not read has failed.

What should frighten them is not the idea that Brad and Larry are the moderates in this regard. What should frighten them is the fact that I AM THE REASONABLE ONE here. Because the Evil Legion of Evil, the Dread Ilk, the Ilk, the Rabid Puppies, and above all, the Vile Faceless Minions, are not here to negotiate.

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