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Monday, July 28, 2014

Hugo recommendations: Best Novella

Equoid by Charles Stross. I am a fan of the Laundry novels. After Accelerando, they are Stross's best work. Equoid is a Laundry novella, so I went into it with high expectations, having recently read and enjoyed The Rhesus Chart. Unfortunately, Equoid is absolutely void of the humor and light-hearted feel of the novels in the series, its attempt to subvert the "virgin tames unicorn" trope reads like child abuse porn (particularly unfortunate in light of the recent MZB/Kramer revelations), and Stross's attempt to recreate HP Lovecraft's style in a series of letters falls more than a little flat. As the reviewer at Tor.com noted: "it’s the sort of confounded feeling I get when I’m sure that a writer was trying to gross me out on purpose with some problematic imagery and succeeded, yet I’m not sure that the depths gone to were necessary in the story." Stross has written fiction that merited awards in the past. He may well do so in the future. This isn't it.

The Chaplain's Legacy by Brad Torgersen. I read this when it was published as part of Torgersen's collection Lights in the Deep, and while it wasn't my favorite of the stories in that collection, it's not at all difficult to see why Torgersen keeps getting nominated for awards; more than any SF/F writer today, he sits astride the fence that separates Blue SF/F from Pink SF/F. The novella is a tale of alien enemies forced to join together in cooperation by circumstance; somehow Torgersen manages to seamlessly blend Pink tropes such as female military commanders with Blue tropes such as devout religious characters, combining them with a dash of Golden Age optimism. Stylistically, he writes well, and if the we-can-all-get-along theme seems a bit vanilla, it can also be taken as rather brilliant metacommentary on the current SF/F divide. I mean, religious people on one side, insect army on the other? Anyway, it's the best of the bunch.

The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells. A surprisingly sensitive take on an epically brutal monster from a game-tie in series. This was, in some ways, my favorite of the five nominees; Wells portrays a man unhinged by loss in an adroit manner, so much so that the reader is momentarily confused at times as to what is story-reality versus story-delusion. Stylistically, Wells is competent, but he's not at the same level as the other four writers (if one counts Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages as one writer) and worse, his take on human sexuality is the same "I'm not worthy" gammatude of Joe Abercrombie. His nominally badass slaughtering machine, who doesn't shirk at butchering large quantities of men, women, and children, would faint at the very thought of ever raping a woman. The psychological inconsistency is jarring. It's a good story and a worthy nominee, but I'd put it at number two.

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente. The title is good. The story isn't. It's a haphazard, incoherent attempt to force-fit the Snow White story into the Wild West, complete with a weird attempt to also bring in Indian folklore. Continent-spanning cultural appropriation doesn't even begin to describe this admittedly creative attempt to find a new way to portray more kick-ass women. Yawn. That being said, it is identifiable as fantasy. Credit where credit is due.

Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages. This pair are easily the best writers of the lot from a stylistic perspective. Unfortunately, as with several works in other categories, this novella isn't science fiction or fantasy. It's much more concerned with historical racism in the American South, (with repeated reminders that black folk weren't permitted to swim in certain places or stay in certain hotels, and this made the black individual feelbad) than with any science fictional or speculative elements. There are the occasional nods to magical realism, such as Cheeta the chimp who may or may not be talking, but this novella simply isn't of the genre.

My vote for Best Novella, and my suggestion to others, is The Chaplain's Legacy by Brad Torgersen. My vote will go as follows:

  1. The Chaplain's Legacy
  2. The Butcher of Khardov
  3. No Award
  4. Six-Gun Snow White
I recommend leaving the other two novellas off the ballot.

OTHER HUGO AWARD RECOMMENDATIONS

Best Novel
Best Novelette
Best Short Story
Best Editor 
Retro 1939 

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Mailvox: contra suffrage

Chris Gerrib asks
VD, why shouldn't every free adult human be able to vote in the country they are a citizen of?
For the same reason unfree children who are not citizens are not permitted to vote: it is expected that their votes will not be in the long-term interests of the country or its citizenry.

Another commenter, Shelles, appears to be of the David Futrelle school of debate, in which her inability to imagine an effective argument is confused with the nonexistence of such arguments. Which I found a little amusing here, since she somehow manages to touch on two effective arguments while missing the aspects that make them effective.
The only way to win the argument that women should not have the vote is to be able to successfully equate them with others that do not have the vote: minors, felons. The condition of being a woman is in no way like either of these.

The other possibility is to argue that the country will be better off if women don't vote because women have a tendency to for for X, Y and Z, all of which will harm, if not destroy the country. The obvious problem with this argument is that it depends on one's personal on view of exactly how the country ought to operate. This is countered by offering another personal view of how the country ought to be that is best advanced by women having the vote.

Done.

In essence the argument is: Women should not have the vote because it's in the interests of a certain group.
It is certainly not the only way, but it is true that one will win the argument that women should not have the vote when one is able to successfully equate them with others that do not have the vote: minors, felons, and so forth. However, the fact that "the condition of being a woman is in no way like either of these" is irrelevant and does not suffice as a counterpoint. The way women are successfully equated with others who do not have the vote is to demonstrate that their votes are equally incompatible with the long-term national interest as the other classes of current non-voters.

This can be done using a variety of metrics, including what Shelles describes as another possibility to the only way. Just to give one example, if the reason children are not permitted to vote is due to their limited time preferences, a comparison could be made between children's time preferences, women's time preferences, and men's time preferences. If women's time preferences were determined to be more akin to those of children than those of men, that would be a clear justification for denying the vote to them.

But to return to the option to the only way, Shelles says "the obvious problem with this argument is that it depends on one's personal on view of exactly how the country ought to operate". But since the argument rests on the country's freedom, well-being, and future existence, her counter relies upon arguing that the country should be unfree, worse-off, and nonexistent. This is not a successful or convincing counter, even if it truly represents the personal view of the interlocutor rather than a hypothetical position of Shelle's imagination.

One should always be careful when attempting to summarize an opponent's position. Words like "in essence" or "basically" tend to be red flags alerting a critic to holes in one's arguments.  They aren't necessarily so, but in this case, they are. Because the statement is true: Women should not have the vote because it's in the interests of a certain group, so long as that "certain group" is defined as "all the citizens of the country, including the women".

There are very solid rational, Constitutional, and historical reasons for denying female suffrage. John Adams summarized them best in his famous written exchange with his wife:

"I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.

"Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands.
 

"Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation."
- Abigail Adams, 31 March 1776

"Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems. Although they are in full force, you know they are little more than theory. We dare not exert our power in its full latitude. We are obliged to go fair and softly, and, in practice, you know we are the subjects.

"We have only the name of masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes would fight."
- John Adams, 14 April 1776

Events have proven John Adams correct. Free men are accustomed to voluntarily limiting the use of their power and not pushing it to the full extent of its capabilities. Women, to say the least, are not. Just as an angry woman does not pull her punches, women in politics do not restrain their instincts to attempt to control the uncontrollable. Abigail Adams is projecting: she wrongly assumes all men would be tyrants if they could because she knows that is true of herself and other women. And women do not hold themselves bound by laws in any case, regardless of whether they have had voice or representation or not. They are bound by fear.

This is why a nation that wishes to remain wealthy and free does not permit female involvement in its governance, and why totalitarians from the Italian Fascists to the Soviet Bolsheviks have historically made a priority of female involvement in the political process.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mailvox: maintain the frame

Paleo asks about teaching Christian submission:
My wife and I (deacons / community group leaders) have been helping a late-twenty something single woman understand what it means to be a Godly woman. Surprise, surprise, *submission* and male-only eldership have been huge stumbling blocks for her. She is familiar with the pertinent scripture (she is a PK) so we decided to do two things:
  1. let her see how it works in practice (My wife is a successful business executive - VP level - who puts her family first and has no problem reconciling wifely submission)
  2. begin sharing a (non-biblical, secular) historical rationale for the idea that civilization is predicated on patriarchy. And conversely that Feminism and civilization are ultimately incompatible.
 When I gently argued that female suffrage is directly related to the precipitous decline of the family and that the current declining peace and prosperity is directly related to that - well she lost her mind and has just notified us that she's leaving the church.

Long set-up for my question: Is it possible to winsomely argue against feminist disasters like female suffrage in this day and age?
Is it possible? Of course. Does that mean a stubborn, prideful, rebellious woman is going to accept a logically flawless train of reasoning? To ask the question is to answer it.

The extent to which these attitudes are rooted in sinful rebellion are obvious from the fact that women holding them would rather leave the church than accept the Biblical and historical truths. And the church is as much better off without them in the fold as it is without unrepentant murderers, adulterers, thieves, and homosexuals. This may be a sub-optimal outcome, but it is by no means a negative one.

Paleo did make one mistake. He "gently argued". He says that he would like to "winsomely argue" with these women and logically convince them of the error of their ways. (I will pause so the veteran players and masters of Game can stop laughing before I continue. Everybody done? All right then.) The problem is that women simply don't respond to logic and sweet reason. They're not wired that way. They respond to strength, confidence, and authority, all of which a man in a position of legitimate authority throws away when he starts treating her as if he's insecure and afraid of hurting her feelings with the truth.

The Church grows when men thunder from the pulpits. The pews are filled when its leaders fearlessly reject sin and tell the sinners they must repent before they can stand in communion with the Body of Christ. If anyone is offended by the Word, the problem is with him, not with the man who speaks it.

Now, I don't wish to be hard on Paleo or even to criticize him. He's doing a lot more than the average feminized Churchian, who fears the female membership more than the Lord God Almighty and worships the unholy spirit of equality. But the fact that his heart is in the right place doesn't mean that he's going about it in the right way.

Jesus said "Fear not". Game says "be bold". The fact that the lesser truth is in harmony with the greater Truth should lend confidence that speaking the truth boldly, whether it makes the listeners uncomfortable or not, is the only way for every leader in the Church. Never back down. Never temporize.

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How to win a debate every time

David Futrelle demonstrates his mastery of dialectic in a remarkably brief debate with me concerning women's suffrage on Twitter:
David Futrelle
I'll take on any "dark enlightenment" bloggers (that's hard to say w/ a straight face) in a cat pic duel.

Vox Day
Why not take me on in an actual debate. An easy topic like: should women have voting rights?

David Futrelle
Yes, women should have voting rights, because they, like men, are human. I win the debate! The end. Thanks!

Vox Day
Sorry, David, you haven't won yet. Yes, you are human. Did you vote in the recent EU elections?

David Futrelle
No. I vote where I live, in the US.. So are you contending that no women live in the countries they vote in?

Vox Day
I'm demonstrating to you that merely being human grants no voting rights. Do you concur?

David Futrelle
There are a few basic requirements for having the right to vote besides being human but being male isn't one

David Futrelle
There is no reasonable reason to deny anyone the vote because of gender.

David Futrelle
... and that's preetty much the end of the argument, despite whatever spurious reason you come up with to deny women the vote. Debate over.
A performance for the ages! Socrates had nothing on this guy. I had no idea that simply begging the question was sufficient to declare a debate over and announce yourself the winner. But I can see where this tactic would be extremely useful and plan to incorporate it into all my online discourse in the future. I shall be unstoppable! There is more at Alpha Game.

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You feel poorer because you are poorer

This proves that various "recovery packages" which amount to tens of trillions of issued credit and trillions in federal government spending were all predicated on a lie. Just as the money nominally spent to "save" the household sector went directly to the mortgage banks as housing prices continued to plunge, the money that was supposed to "stimulate" the economy stimulated nothing but Wall Street and the bottom lines of the financial institutions. Notice that this supports what both Karl Denninger and I have been saying for years: there has been ZERO REAL ECONOMIC GROWTH in the USA for more than 30 years.

It's very simple to see. Just compare the increase in real GDP to the increase in credit. Is the ratio above or below 1.0? If the growth in the amount of credit is greater, then there has been no real economic growth. Since GDP is measured in monetary terms, this means the nominal growth is merely the increase in the number of promises to pay in the future chasing each other around.

That's why the infrastructure is crumbling. That's why fewer people are working. That's why you feel stressed. American median wealth has substantially declined even as the amount of debt has skyrocketed. The Samuelsonians claim this doesn't matter, because Peter still owes Paul. But both common sense as well as the wealth statistics demonstrate otherwise.

Key quote: "a full 25% of American Households have a net worth of just $3,200; and that 5% (1 out of 20) households has a negative net worth of -$27,416!"

As a youth, I never understood the Biblical concept of a 50-year debt jubilee. It sounded so ignorant and prehistoric. Now, as an adult trained in various schools of economics and having witnessed two major boom-bust peaks in Japan and the United States, I tend to regard it as one more example of the divine inspiration of Scripture.


This chart from Steve Sailer might put the matter more starkly to those who prefer numbers to pictures. Note that the 27 million additional immigrants who entered the USA from 2003 to 2013 have not, contrary to the insistence of neo-classical and Samuelsonian economists, enriched the economy or the native population.

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Gun rights in the capital

It's another step forward for Gun Freedom in America:
A federal judge on Saturday overturned the Washington, D.C., ban on carrying handguns outside the home, saying it was unconstitutional.

“There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,” said Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. of the District of Columbia District Court.

“Therefore, the court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional,” he added in his 19-page ruling on the case, Palmer v. District of Columbia, which has been dragging on for five years.

The court ordered the city to allow residents to carry handguns outside their homes and to let nonresidents carry them as well.
I'd prefer to see the Constitutional language implemented more completely and for all gun-related laws to be thrown out, but it's good to see gun rights advancing, however slowly. Always make it harder for the government to kill its people. The harder it is for the government to do it, the higher the risk to its agents to try it, the less likely it is to happen.

Celebrate Palmer this week and buy a handgun.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hamas is Israel's al-Qaida

Keep the history of Hamas in mind when you read about how terrible they are and how Israel has no choice but to eradicate it due to its implacable religious opposition to the existence of Israel. And notice that the article is twelve years old, although it reads as if it was published yesterday.
Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.

According to documents United Press International obtained from the Israel-based Institute for Counter Terrorism, Hamas evolved from cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic movements in Israel and Palestine were "weak and dormant" until after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel scored a stunning victory over its Arab enemies.

After 1967, a great part of the success of the Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood was due to their activities among the refugees of the Gaza Strip. The cornerstone of the Islamic movements success was an impressive social, religious, educational and cultural infrastructure, called Da'wah, that worked to ease the hardship of large numbers of Palestinian refugees, confined to camps, and many who were living on the edge.

"Social influence grew into political influence," first in the Gaza Strip, then on the West Bank, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to ICT papers, Hamas was legally registered in Israel in 1978 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement's spiritual leader, as an Islamic Association by the name Al-Mujamma al Islami, which widened its base of supporters and sympathizers by religious propaganda and social work.

According to U.S. administration officials, funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian nationalism. Hamas wanted to set up a transnational state under the rule of Islam, much like Khomeini's Iran....

In the end, as Hamas set up a very comprehensive counterintelligence system, many collaborators with Israel were weeded out and shot. Violent acts of terrorism became the central tenet, and Hamas, unlike the PLO, was unwilling to compromise in any way with Israel, refusing to acquiesce in its very existence.

But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: "The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place," said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named.

"Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with," he said.

All of which disgusts some former U.S. intelligence officials.

"The thing wrong with so many Israeli operations is that they try to be too sexy," said former CIA official Vincent Cannestraro.

According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, "the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism. The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer. They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it," he said.
And notice how the utterly idiotic meme that some Jews like Howard Stern are trying to push, that to be "anti-Israel is to be anti-America", is based in part upon this 2002 theme about Israel being "the only democracy" in the Middle East.

The plan of the Israeli Right may well be at work here in the 2014 conflict. Hamas's implacability may permit them to convince the Israeli moderates that ethnic cleansing of Gaza and the West Bank is ultimately necessary. Which, thousands of years of military history suggests, is absolutely true. But don't shed too many tears or spare too much sympathy for a strategic plan playing out exactly as it is supposed to. If the strategists of the Israeli Right decided to sacrifice a few hundred Jews in order to justify the PR cover necessary for the expulsions, it's a bit much to expect Americans to be overly concerned about the fate of those sacrificial lambs.

However, the growing world disapproval of Israel, and the declining level of American approval, indicates that no PR-based strategy is likely to succeed in the short- or long-term. Then again, perhaps the Hamas Plan is primarily intended for domestic consumption.

UPDATE: Speaking of Jewish strategy, I'm not sure this is the optimal way to convince Muslims that Jewish women are not the collection of whores they are often accused of being.

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Women and the civilizational cycle

The materially deleterious effect of women working on a society is illustrated in a paper entitled "Women Prefer Larger Governments: Growth, Structural Transformation and Government Size"
The increase in income per capita is accompanied, in virtually all countries, by two changes in the structure of the economy, namely an increase in the share of government spending in GDP and an increase in female labour force participation. This paper suggests that these two changes are causally related. We develop a growth model where the structure of the economy is endogenous so that participation in market activities and government size are causally related.

Economic growth and rising incomes are accompanied by a greater incentive for women to engage in labour market activities as the opportunity cost of staying at home increases. We hypothesize that government spending decreases the cost of performing household chores such as, but not limited to, child rearing and child care so that couples decide to engage further in the labour market and chose a higher tax rate to finance more government spending.

Using a wide cross-section of data for developed and developing countries, we show that higher participation by women in the labour market are indeed positively associated with larger governments. Furthermore, we investigate the causal link between the two variables using as instrumental variables a unique and novel dataset on the relative price of home appliances across OECD countries and over time. We find strong evidence of a causal link between participation in the labour market and government size: a 10 percent rise in participation in the labour market leads to a 7 to 8 percent rise in government size. This effect is robust to the country sample, time period, and a set of controls in the spirit of Rodrik (1998).
This is also an implicit argument against female suffrage. However, the researchers' hypothesis is incorrect, as government spending observably does not decrease the cost of child rearing and child care; one reason European families have so few children is that the cost of raising children is exorbitant despite the greater amount of spending by European governments. Free day care and year-long maternity leave doesn't make up for the fact that food and gasoline cost considerably more than in the USA.

Voting is not freedom. The conflation of voting with freedom is one of the key deceptions upon which feminism rests. And like all ideologies based upon deception, the more powerful feminism becomes, the more likely it is that the polity in which it has become influential will collapse on the basis of the weight of its contradictions.

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Flirting with Hultgreen-Curie

On the plus side, at least she didn't manage to get herself killed while sinking the ship. Compared to the average female pioneer, the soon-to-be ex-commander is practically a success story:
The first female commander of a Royal Navy warship has been sent home after allegedly having an affair with another officer. Commander Sarah West, 42, took charge of the frigate HMS Portland in May 2012, but has been sent home from duty after claims she was having a relationship with a male officer on the same ship.

This would breach the Armed Forces’ Code of Social Conduct, which prohibits personnel from having relationships with subordinates if they compromise ‘operational effectiveness’. While the Royal Navy is investigating the affair, Cdr West, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, retains her position as commander of HMS Portland. It is not known whether the male officer is married.
It's certainly an interesting idea to have warships commanded by women. It poses a fascinating question: does the entire ship stay in port when the captain pulls the common Navy trick of getting herself pregnant right before a scheduled deployment? Since Commander West was "sent home from duty" but "retains her position as commander of HMS Portland", I suppose we have our answer. This may prove a whole new front of 4GW.

"Mr. Lee, this is your mission. You are ordered to seduce and impregnate Captain Mary Wettlaufer, commanding officer of the USS Stennis. Our informants report that her carrier group is being sent to the South China Sea. Under no circumstances can the Stennis be permitted to leave Bremerton!"

"Yes, sir. This agent will do his duty, sir. But what is in this bottle, suicide pills?"

"Viagra, Mr. Lee. I fear you will need it, as Captain Wettlaufer is said to put the "dog" into "running dogs of capitalism"... your sacrifice in this regard will be noted by the Party and the Central Committee."

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Friday, July 25, 2014

And now, a moment of silence

For Our Friend Damien's abortive SF career:
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
I don’t believe I can claim to belong in SF any longer. That makes me a little sad, but also excited.
While I did advise Our Friend that he ought to go ahead and quit as per his declaration concerning his distaste for the true demographics of the SF community, I don't think I can take all the blame for this sad loss to world literature. Any reasonable mind will clearly conclude that it is mostly the fault of that dreadful D-List author, Larry Correia: 
The Official Alphabetical List of Author Success

A List – High upon Mount Olympus They Gaze Down Upon the Pathetic Mortals = All the $
  •  Authors who are worth more than the GDP of some countries.
  •  Authors who build their houses out of gold bars.
  •  Characters from their books get their own theme parks.
  •  The lady who wrote Twilight.
B List – The King(s) =$$$$$$$$$$
  • Authors who have TV shows about their books starring Peter Dinklage.
  • Authors who sleep on large piles of money.
  • Politicians who get illegal campaign contributions masquerading as advances.
  • Oprah’s Book Club
and all the way down to:

X List – The X
  • Writes violent pornographic bondage fan fiction involving My Little Ponies, Voltron, and Breaking Bad on the internet, while dressed in a stained bunny costume that looks like a strange gimp version of that thing from Donnie Darko.
  • Don’t make any sudden moves.
  • We’re just going to walk away real slow now.
Y List – The Yama
  • A primordial creature barely capable of vomiting words onto a page in a blasphemous impersonation of the act of writing, so mind shattering and terrible that a single story threatened to end language forever. He is The Thing That Should Not Be. To read his foul creations will summon the Black Goat of the Woods with its Thousand Young, and it will kill your muse and sodomize the corpse.
  • Is confident that he’d be a much more successful writer than A-X, if only he wasn’t too busy stalking Asian women on the internet to actually submit any of his crayon scribbles.
  • The reason sci-fi conventions have security.
Z List –  The Guardian’s Village Idiot = ($)
  • A kind of Anti-Author.
  • Motivated by delusions of relevancy, crowd sources witch hunts against writers higher on the list.
  • Collects the opposite of royalties, and actually has to be paid a strange sort of “Book Welfare” to produce a book.
I'm sure we will all be waiting, with no small amount of anticipation, to learn what genre Our Friend Damien will be not writing in next.

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The fakers

This rings true of my experience of the Ivy League and its uptight denizens.
A young woman from another school wrote me this about her boyfriend at Yale:

Before he started college, he spent most of his time reading and writing short stories. Three years later, he’s painfully insecure, worrying about things my public-educated friends don’t give a second thought to, like the stigma of eating lunch alone and whether he’s “networking” enough. No one but me knows he fakes being well-read by thumbing through the first and last chapters of any book he hears about and obsessively devouring reviews in lieu of the real thing. He does this not because he’s incurious, but because there’s a bigger social reward for being able to talk about books than for actually reading them.

I taught many wonderful young people during my years in the Ivy League—bright, thoughtful, creative kids whom it was a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But most of them seemed content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them. Very few were passionate about ideas. Very few saw college as part of a larger project of intellectual discovery and development. Everyone dressed as if they were ready to be interviewed at a moment’s notice.

Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history.

So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error.
My freshman year, I spent a few days at Harvard and Dartmouth with a Bucknell girl whose two best friends were at those superior learning establishments. Dartmouth was exactly like Bucknell, only the girls were shorter and uglier and the temperature was colder. But Harvard... I have never, in my entire life, been around a bigger group of hapless posers.

The description of the Yale guy who reads the first and last chapters of a book rings very true. It's become a common phenomenon online, but Harvard was the first place I encountered people who regarded having heard of something as being synonymous with knowing it. That's why I developed the habit of asking a question or two about the contents of a book someone has mentioned because I've learned that many people will pretend to have read things they have not.

Seriously, if you haven't read something, it's no big deal. There are a lot of books out there. There are hundreds that I think I should read that I haven't and probably never will. It's no big deal not to have read a book... unless, of course, you're writing a review of it.

I've mentioned this part before, but the most egregious example I've encountered was the big guy who kept telling girls about how he "played hockey for Harvard". Unfortunately for him, I happen to be from Minnesota and I also happened to know that the Harvard hockey team was in Minneapolis that night, playing the Gophers. I think one of my friends back home was going to the game or something. I asked him if he was hurt, which he denied in a puzzled manner, and promptly fell into the trap. When pressed, he finally admitted that he played INTRAMURAL hockey. Right.

Not everyone I've met from an Ivy League school that isn't Dartmouth or Brown is a lying, pretentious poser, but a surprisingly high percentage of them are. And while it may be a character flaw, I've discovered that there are few things more entertaining than intellectually bitchslapping the unsuspecting, insecure little bastards.

Even if I was going to send my children to an American university, and I can't imagine I would, I wouldn't send them to any Ivy League school.

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Speaking of preferential treatment

A longtime member of the Dread Ilk has a job opportunity in Ohio:
I have a Dread Ilk job opportunity. My local sales firm in the Ohio region is hiring two sales people, one experienced and one entry-level. They plan to make decisions in the next month. If anyone is interested, could they communicate through you? This is a golden opportunity for an entry-level sales person to break into the oil and gas industry.

The successful person will be working for my rep firm, and indirectly working for me so I would only pass on quality people, obviously. Would love to see one of the Ilk get hired so whatever you can do I would appreciate it.
If you're interested shoot me an email with Ilk Job in the subject and I'll pass it on.

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How do you say "taqiyya" in Hebrew?

In the comments, Steve offered the excuse of superior motivation and "training" to explain the inordinate amount of Jewish success, first in Germany, now in the USA:
Whenever I read complaints about Jewish success, I wonder if people really want the totalitarian control which would be necessary to stop a high IQ, highly motivated, creative, hard working people from achieving it, because that is what is necessary to stop it. You have to give up your freedom to repress the successful and promote the mediocre and that is quite a price to pay, just because you don’t like Jewish billionaires or bankers or whatever. But as America has already travelled a way down that road (promotion of mediocre anyway), it probably won't be too much of a stretch. In any event, a little secret for your readers. When Jews succeed they do not look around and say to themselves: "so many Jews have succeeded before me, I had better stop now, because the Gentiles around here are going to get mad." There is no "group strategy" like that, - isn't that what McDonald calls it? No they are trained to think: "if that Jew made it, I can make it - only faster and better." Yes, that is the "secret" of the Jews. I myself don't think lazy and stupid and resentful would be better, but from the looks of things, I may be in the distinct minority...  I just think [ethnic nepotism] is complete BS. Wanting to believe someone else succeeded because someone else got the break.
I pointed out that the real "secret" of Jewish success is that Jews "relentlessly and ruthlessly promote other Jews at the expense of non-Jews while furiously fighting to prevent any efforts of the majority to do the same." Steve offers zero evidence in support of his assertions, raising numerous questions such as this one: do Jews actually work more hours in six days per week than every other group does in seven?

Now, there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with favoring one's own. It is normal human behavior. You see it in the NFL all the time; when Denny Green was hired as the Vikings head coach, the coaching staff suddenly went from being all-white to nearly half-black. Was that wrong? One could hardly criticize Green for bringing in the likes of Tony Dungy (later Super Bowl-winning head coach), Tyrone Willingham (later head coach at Stanford and Notre Dame), and Willie Shaw (Hall of Fame cornerback, father of current Stanford head coach David Shaw). And small groups will tend to stick together more successfully than large groups. But to simultaneously attempt to deny other groups the ability to do the same, and moreover, to deny doing what is observably being done, is both wrong and mendacious.

I've personally witnessed this in-group promotion in several different industries. To give one example, I have seen how the Littlest Chickenhawk was handed multiple opportunities to fail upward; he was nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate as a teenager despite the fact that his WND column was banal and one of the least-read; my weekly readership there was 4.1 times larger than his. Now, at 30, he is editor-at-large of Breitbart News, guest hosts regularly for major talk show hosts, and appears regularly on news channels including CNN, Fox News, and Sun News Network in Canada. Is Ben Shapiro THAT much more talented or intelligent or insightful than I am? Than every other contributor at WND is? I doubt Shapiro himself would make such a claim?

And there is considerable evidence of that relentless in-group promotion described, both anecdotal and statistical. Ron Unz exposed the corruption in Ivy League admissions offices in an article entitled "The Myth of American Meritocracy":
Consider the case of Tiffany Wang, a Chinese immigrant student raised in the Silicon Valley area, where her father worked as an engineer. Although English was not her first language, her SAT scores were over 100 points above the Wesleyan average, and she ranked as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, putting her in the top 0.5 percent of high school students (not the top 2 percent as Steinberg mistakenly claims). Nevertheless, the admissions officer rated her just so-so in academics, and seemed far more positively impressed by her ethnic activism in the local school’s Asian-American club. Ultimately, he stamped her with a “Reject,” but later admitted to Steinberg that she might have been admitted if he had been aware of the enormous time and effort she had spent campaigning against the death penalty, a political cause near and dear to his own heart. Somehow I suspect that a student who boasted of leadership in pro-death penalty activism among his extracurriculars might have fared rather worse in this process. And presumably for similar reasons, Tiffany was also rejected by all her other prestigious college choices, including Yale, Penn, Duke, and Wellesley, an outcome which greatly surprised and disappointed her immigrant father....

Finally, there was the case of Becca Jannol, a girl from a very affluent Jewish family near Beverly Hills, who attended the same elite prep school as Julianna, but with her parents paying the full annual tuition. Despite her every possible advantage, including test-prep courses and retaking the exam, her SAT scores were some 240 points lower on the 1600 point scale, placing her toward the bottom of the Wesleyan range, while her application essay focused on the philosophical challenges she encountered when she was suspended for illegal drug use. But she was a great favorite of her prep school counselor, who was an old college friend of the Wesleyan admissions officer, and using his discretion, he stamped her “Admit.” Her dismal academic record then caused this initial decision to be overturned by a unanimous vote of the other members of the full admissions committee, but he refused to give up, and moved heaven and earth to gain her a spot, even offering to rescind the admissions of one or more already selected applicants to create a place for her. Eventually he got her shifted from the Reject category to wait-list status, after which he secretly moved her folder to the very top of the large waiting list pile.

In the end “connections” triumphed, and she received admission to Wesleyan, although she turned it down in favor of an offer from more prestigious Cornell, which she had obtained through similar means. But at Cornell, she found herself “miserable,” hating the classes and saying she “didn’t see the usefulness of [her] being there.” However, her poor academic ability proved no hindrance, since the same administrator who had arranged her admission also wrangled her a quick entrance into a special “honors program” he personally ran, containing just 40 of the 3500 students in her year. This exempted her from all academic graduation requirements, apparently including classes or tests, thereby allowing her to spend her four college years mostly traveling around the world while working on a so-called “special project.” After graduation, she eventually took a job at her father’s successful law firm, thereby realizing her obvious potential as a member of America’s ruling Ivy League elite, or in her own words, as being one of “the best of the best.”

Steinberg’s description of the remaining handful of Wesleyan applicants seems to fall into a very similar pattern, indicating that our elite admissions process operates under the principle of “Ideology and Diversity tempered by Corruption.” 
One wonders how many of the "honors" students shared her background. Steve and Miss Jannol may believe her "success" is the result of her innate Jewish superiority, but the facts demonstrate otherwise. And even the familiar appeals to intelligence are increasingly outdated; as the demographic math would indicate was bound to happen, Jews have been completely surpassed by elite Asians in the National Merit Scholarship program and have therefore resorted to using the very sort of quotas they once complained WASPs used to keep them out of the Ivy League.

As Unz observed: "The last 20 years have brought a huge rise in the number of Asians winning top academic awards in our high schools or being named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. It seems quite suspicious that none of trends have been reflected in their increased enrollment at Harvard and other top Ivy League universities."

These are the facts. Facts are not anti-semitic, they are merely the truth of the world as it is. And the truth, however uncomfortable, will be sought after and observed here: the more any commenter attempts to obscure the truth, the more I will take the time and effort required to expose whatever it is he is trying to hide. I had actually moved on from the subject until commenters like Steve started showing up and attempting to pass off transparent deceit as truth. And before Steve attempts to dig himself in any deeper, it may be helpful to keep in mind that I am one of those National Merit semifinalists and I am not easily baffled with bullshit. Every assertion made will require evidential support. Every statement made will be dissected, and every retreat into rhetoric will be noted as such.

For whatever reason, Steve is attempting to hide the observable fact that the inordinate success presently enjoyed by Jews in America is not the inevitable result of working harder, being more intelligent, or innate ethnic superiority, but is primarily due to a laudable dedication to in-group promotion being expressed in a variety of means, some legitimate, and some not. I assume he is doing so in an attempt to prevent an anti-semitic reaction, but whatever his motivation may be, I will point out that deception and misinformation do not work for long on those with open eyes and functional memories.

People are certainly free to ignore my warnings. Most have in the past and I assume most will in the future. But if Steve thinks Americans are going to meekly accept the financial pillaging of their nation any more tamely than the European nations historically have, especially when they have also suffered the demographic demolition of their country, I think he is woefully mistaken. And, I note, there are more than a few Jewish leaders who more or less agree with my concerns.

It's not a real problem yet. The difference between Israel's disapproval rating in the USA and in France, (which is a reasonable proxy) is nearly 50 percent; 27 percent vs 65 percent. If that percentage begins to rise in the next five years, it will be an initial indication that my read of the situation is correct.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Of Apple and NSA

This is not exactly shocking news, but it is disappointing all the same to learn that Apple is making it even easier for governments to spy on its users.
Apple has endowed iPhones with undocumented functions that allow unauthorized people in privileged positions to wirelessly connect and harvest pictures, text messages, and other sensitive data without entering a password or PIN, a forensic scientist warned over the weekend.

Jonathan Zdziarski, an iOS jailbreaker and forensic expert, told attendees of the Hope X conference that he can't be sure Apple engineers enabled the mechanisms with the intention of accommodating surveillance by the National Security Agency and law enforcement groups. Still, he said some of the services serve little or no purpose other than to make huge amounts of data available to anyone who has access to a computer, alarm clock, or other device that has ever been paired with a targeted device.

Zdziarski said the service that raises the most concern is known as com.apple.mobile.file_relay. It dishes out a staggering amount of data—including account data for e-mail, Twitter, iCloud, and other services, a full copy of the address book including deleted entries, the user cache folder, logs of geographic positions, and a complete dump of the user photo album—all without requiring a backup password to be entered.
So much for that whole liberal countercultural vibe Apple has been riding for decades. It was one thing to construct a walled garden. It's another to hand Big Brother a secret key to it.

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Smells like Lusitanian spirit

The more hysterical the charges we see directed at Putin, and the more strident the demands, the more I suspect that the Russian leader had nothing to do with the downed Malaysian airliner. Mish has been increasingly dubious about the proposed scenario as well:
As I suspected would happen, the exclusive Reuters interview in which "Commander Alexander Khodakovsky acknowledges rebel fighters had BUK missiles" has been challenged.

In my analysis of the Reuters article (see Ukraine Rebel Commander Admits Having BUK Missiles; Damning Contradictions?),  I point out considerable discrepancies in what Reuters author Anton Zverev wrote and actual quotes Reuters presented.

The discrepancies were so big I stated "It appears to me Reuters may have stretched this interview quite a bit."

Thus I am not surprised to discover Khodakovsky challenged huge aspects of that interview, in terms of things he stated, did not state, and even timing of events....

Khodakovsky neither admitted nor denied the rebels had Buks. Once again, here is the damning contradiction as I presented earlier.

    "Khodakovsky said his unit had never possessed BUKs, but they may have been used by rebels from other units."

    Now look back at the opening Reuters lead-in: "Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the Vostok Battalion, acknowledged ... the rebels did possess the BUK missile system and said it could have been sent back subsequently to remove proof of its presence."

    Here is the major contradiction: "What resources our partners have, we cannot be entirely certain. Was there (a BUK)? Wasn’t there? If there was proof that there was, then there can be no question."
Zerohedge is reporting that the US State Department has not been able to find any signs of Russian involvement. And the Russians themselves are pointing out some awkward facts that may be indicative of Ukrainian responsibility for shooting down the passenger plane.

Remember, many, if not most, wars involve some level of deception, false flags, and deceitful finger-pointing. So it's always wise to reserve judgment in such matters as long as possible. And it's also worth pointing out that the Ukrainian puppet government just collapsed and the US-installed prime minister has resigned:
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has announced his resignation following turmoil in government. Yatsenyuk made the announcement from the dais of the parliament after two parties said they would pull out of the governing coalition. "I am announcing my resignation [in connection] with the collapse of the coalition," Yatsenyuk said.
This is not the action of a nation prepared to fight a war with Russia.

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Out of the frying pan

The Learned Elders of Wye have suggested China as a possible destination for the Jews once a sufficient number of Americans realize what has been done to their country by Emanuel Celler and a number of his elite co-religionists. Contra to Spengler's insistence that common traits bind the Chinese and Jewish people and his claims that the Chinese deeply admire and respect the Jews, it would appear that China is not a particularly viable option:
A 2013 Pew poll found vastly more unfavorable feelings toward Israel outside than within the United States, which registered a 27 percent unfavorable view of Israel and a 57 percent favorable view. In contrast, 44 percent of people in Britain had an unfavorable view of Israel. Unfavorable views of Israel were held by 62 percent in Germany, 65 percent in France, 66 percent in China and in the 80 percent to 90 percent range in Arab and Muslim countries.
If one considers the anti-Israel demonstrations in Paris and the fact that the Israeli Ambassador to Germany said last week: "They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin… as if we were in 1938", it is remarkable to see that the Chinese view of Israel is even less favorable.

Lest one conclude that my view of vastly growing anti-semitism on the US horizon is some form of wishful thinking rather than a warning from a friendly acquaintance, it may be helpful to note that I am hardly the first to make the observation.
The fear expressed that "a real decline of the West, particularly the United States, would have dramatic consequences for the Jewish people," also led to controversy. Brandeis University president Jehuda Reinharz agreed that this type of decline can be expected "in the coming two decades".
As I have been predicting a catastrophic decline of the USA by 2033 for ten years, it should hardly be surprising that I don't believe it will be a neutral event where American Jews are concerned. The Jews at the central bank, the Jews at the heart of the financial system, and the Jews whose literally usurious economic theories were used as a justification for constructing the $60 trillion credit ponzi will rightly be blamed when it collapses. The Jews who battled to change the USA's demographics by opening its borders will rightly be blamed for the ethnic strife dividing the country.

And it is their blameless coreligionists who will likely bear the brunt of the public's fury at the all-too-predictable consequences of those actions, as has repeatedly been the case in the past.

The British Foreign Minister said yesterday: "As this campaign goes on and the civilian casualties in Gaza mount, western opinion is becoming more and more concerned and less and less sympathetic to Israel. That's simply a fact and I have to tell that to my Israeli counterparts."

To put another simple fact in terms they should be able to understand, destroying a country's demographics and denigrating its dominant religion while securing highly visible statistical overepresentations in various areas of wealth and power is not good for the Jews. And no amount of appeals to genetic or cultural superiority, or to the Holocaust, will obviate that fact.

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Wishful thinking

To say nothing of projection. It's always interesting to see how people who write about me, of whom I've only heard because they are writing about me, almost invariably claim that if I respond to them in any way, this indicates I am obsessed with them. It's less interesting how they frequently imagine that I must be sock-puppeting in order to pretend that fewer people visit here than, in fact, do read the blog.
Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
Gorblimey guv’, the sad old men who read Vox Day’s blog are literally obsessed with me. It’s like every day is Damofest over there.

Michael Grey ‏@Mikes005
@damiengwalter Not to rain on your parade, but I'm pretty certain it's just Beale posting under aliases. Too much syntax repetition.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
@Mikes005 That’s a waaaay less creepy thought! I think about 50% of the comments are Beale, and they’re obvious, yes.
As it happens, I post under two, and only two names. VD in black text most of the time, Vox in blue text when I am logged in and forget to use Name/URL. But most critics like this don't genuinely believe what they're saying; they're not so stupid that they can't click on Sitemeter and see the panoply of different IP addresses from all over the world appearing seconds apart. For example, in the same minute there were visitors from: New York (USA), Bourgogne (France), Trabzon (Turkey), Reading (UK), Oregon (USA), Washington (USA), and Israel, in addition to the majority of IP addresses that were not location marked.

This is just the usual left-wing performance art, where one person publicly strikes a pose and the others pretend to believe what he's saying. The purpose seems to be an attempt to render small a prospective threat to the warren. However, it appears some of them are either stupid or self-absorbed to such an extent that they truly  have no idea about the reality of the situation. Being able to tweet this in response to one clueless wonder's tweet rather amused me:
"Who listens to Vox Day? I mean - is there any real following?" That same day: 52,447 Google pageviews.
Keep in mind that is someone from the very community that believed John Scalzi was one of the most significant figures in SF because he was claiming UP TO 45,000 daily readers per day at a time when he was actually averaging 13,604 Google pageviews per day. Set aside VP. Alpha Game alone is now averaging more daily pageviews than that: 15,179 every day this week.

I realize I am extremely fortunate to have such an enthusiastic and high-quality readership. Just this morning, I received a Chinese translation of QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted from Tiger. Last week, Emilio sent me Spanish translations of that and of QUANTUM MORTIS Gravity Kills, which will be forthcoming as soon as I finish the corrections to two other books. Two brave souls are even taking on the translation of the 850-page A Throne of Bones. Very few authors are so fortunate to have readers who are willing to do so much, and I am deeply appreciative of the community here for its ongoing support and active involvement.

And do you know, it occurs to me that my writing has now been translated into nine languages. Do they also feign to think I'm doing all of that myself when I'm not busy sock-puppeting my own blog? Anyhow, it's nothing new. People have been trying the same thing since my WND column first began attracting attention back in 2001. It didn't matter then. It doesn't matter now. As for the "sad old men" comment, I don't think they have any idea how many younger readers there are. For example, I received this email from a college student yesterday:
My philosophy professor wrote your blog down as one of the four blogs we need to pay attention to, and I’ve been reading regularly for a couple of years now.
I emailed him back to learn the names of the other blogs, and was rather pleased that my surmise concerning one of them was correct: Edward Feser.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All you can read

People have been asking me for my take on Amazon's new digital subscription service, Kindle Unlimited:
After months of speculation, Amazon on Friday introduced a digital subscription service that allows subscribers unlimited access to a library of e-books and audiobooks for $10 a month.

The service, Kindle Unlimited, offers a Netflix-style, all-you-can-read approach to more than 600,000 e-books, including blockbuster series like “The Hunger Games” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” nonfiction titles like “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis, as well as literary fiction and classics.

So far, however, none of the five biggest publishers appear to be making their books available through the service. HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster, for example, are not participating, representatives from the three companies confirmed. Penguin Random House and Macmillan declined to comment, but a search on Amazon suggests that they are not making their books available....

In offering the service, Amazon is entering an increasingly crowded marketplace. It will be competing with publishing start-ups offering similar services, like Scribd and Oyster, which charge a comparable subscription fee and have comparable digital libraries.
My initial impression is that this is excellent for serious readers. At $120 per year, and an average price per ebook of around $7, one only has to read 17 books per year to make it worth one's while. Books are considerably more fungible than the average writer or publisher would like to admit, but at the end of the day, it is the act of reading that the reader enjoys more than the average title he reads. And the sort of people who will benefit most from the subscription model are the sort of readers who will make do with reading the back of a cereal box if nothing else is available.

Casual readers, book collectors, and fans of particular authors aren't likely to be too fussed about it. The casual readers don't read enough to spend the money subscribing, collectors don't want to borrow books (the subscription model is more akin to paying for the loan of a library book than purchasing a book), and fans of particular authors are going to buy the author's book whether it is available through Kindle Unlimited or not.

How will it effect writers and publishers? It depends. It is horrific for the Big Five publishers and their writers, as their unwillingness to participate indicates. The Big Five's model depends upon the fungibility of authors within their ecosystem, and is increasingly dysfunctional as yet another channel outside their quasi-monopoly over the bookstores drains more book buyers from that ecosystem. As with the coming in-game retail channel I've spoken about for the past year, Kindle Unlimited is just one more way to free additional readers from the traditional publishing channel. Marketing and branding, two things that the Big Five have shown themselves to be remarkably incompetent at, are of increasing importance as the ability to buy shelf space becomes unimportant.

It's neutral to modestly positive for independent publishers, their writers, and self-publishers. Neutral because they're essentially already operating in the system via Kindle Select; this month Castalia's books that are participating in the Select program vary from 5 percent to 30 percent loans as a percentage of their sales. Modestly positive because that drainage from the Big Five ecosystem will be flowing disproportionately to the indies and the selfies to whom that new channel is flowing. The challenge facing them remains exactly the same as before, namely, how to get people to notice they exist. It's not going to get any easier for them, but unlike the Big Five, it's not getting any harder either.

The reason the big authorial names are screeching is because they know that their predominance is, at least in part, the result of their favored position in the ecosystem. And, unlike the first step in the digital revolution which was within the traditional ecosystem, this second one will tend to lock them out to the extent they are contractually trapped by their publishers.

I expect the Big Five to eventually offer a competing subscription service, as that would be much easier than a joint bookstore. I also expect it to be clunky, poorly designed, and destined for a more complete failure than Nook. If they're smart, they'll simply buy Oyster and rebrand it. But I think events have proven that they are not particularly smart.

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Sabotaging marriage

Male white knights and feminists should think twice before defending Spreadsheet Wife, as Troy Francis observes at The Return of Kings that her actions are nothing less than a public advertisement for anti-marriage:
The best creative agency in the world would have been hard-pressed to come up with a more effective advertisement against marriage. Rollo points out that getting hitched is no insulation from the sexual marketplace, and it is a common trope that men need to game their wives. But that’s a hell of a lot of work, and with the sexual rewards potentially so low, and with women being a depreciating asset over time, many guys could be forgiven for choosing not to bother and to remain single, learn game and spin plates instead.
You can read my take on it at Alpha Game:
The first thing is that this spreadsheet didn't come out of the blue. It is almost surely a quintessential male response to a very typical female tactic: the demand for proof. Women often try to put men in a false "heads I win, tails you lose" position, in which they demand proof of the assertion, but if called on this demand, then try to argue that the anticipation of the need for proof somehow disqualifies its relevance. That is exactly what the wife is attempting to do here. She's trying to use that the fact he made the spreadsheet and sent it to her on the road to retroactively justify her previous actions.
The worst response is arguably that of self-admitted white knight Dave Swindle, who is adroitly taken apart by Dr. Helen:
This response is classic white knighting where the spreadsheet guy is a failure and this is why he can’t get sex. Note the word loser that is used in Dave’s first paragraph. Of course it’s important to white knight and call the guy a loser because that means that a man that doesn’t get upset if his wife won’t have sex with him is a winner! A convenient excuse to tell oneself on yet another sexless night. And of course, as Dave notes, it is always up to the man to take responsibility for any problems in the couple’s sex life. Wife doesn’t put out? It’s your fault, man. You lack self-control.
The similarity between the normal female response and the gamma male's does border on the creepy at times, doesn't it? Anyhow, this should demonstrate how the instinctive and/or solipsistic reflex to defend Team Woman at all costs is observably detrimental to female interests in the long-term.

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Next year in Jerusalem

It's interesting to observe how this Jew living in England is so terrified to be living amongst the Gentiles, and yet she refuses to go to Zion:
The truth is that up and down this island, Jews are arguing, debating, crying and worrying about what’s going on in an even smaller country across the ocean. Some British Jews are fasting for peace; some are angry at one or both sides; but many are just scared – scared not just about events in Gaza, but events in Europe. These include reports about gangs of Muslims chanting “death to Jews” on the streets of France, and attacking synagogues and setting fire to Jewish-owned stores. Eighteen people were subsequently arrested in the suburb of Sarcelles, just outside Paris, where this particular outpouring of violence happened. The stunned local mayor says the Jewish community is now living in fear.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Germany, too. In Essen, 14 people have just been arrested, accused of plotting an attack on a synagogue. Protesters at a rally in Berlin turned on two Israeli tourists (identifiable by the man’s skull-cap) so viciously that they had to be protected by the police. The city’s authorities have also had to ban pro-Gaza protesters from chanting anti-Semitic slogans and are investigating a sermon last week by Abu Bilal Ismail calling on worshippers at Berlin’s Al-Nur mosque to murder Jews. Jews, not Israelis.

The situation is so bad that the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Italy have issued a joint statement condemning the rise in anti-Semitic protests and violence in response to the Gaza conflict – and saying they will do everything possible to combat it. “Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” they felt compelled publicly to state.

Yet since the start of the latest conflict between Hamas and Israel, protesters marching in anti-Israel demonstrations have regularly held up anti-Semitic slogans, shouting for Jews to be gassed, invoking the Holocaust’s chambers of doom. The situation in Britain hasn’t been much better. Last week’s major pro-Palestine rally, which stopped London’s traffic, was littered with placards comparing Israel’s – and Jews’ – actions to the Nazis (“Well done Israel – Hitler would be proud”, read one such sign, accompanied by a swastika). This casual interchange of “Israel” for “Jews” is not just ignorant but often terrifying, especially when linked to references to past atrocities. Indeed, what other group of people get the worst experience in their – or anyone’s – history launched at them like a hand grenade? 
So stop living in fear. England is not the Jewish homeland. It is the English homeland. France is not the Jewish homeland. It is the French homeland. Germany is not the Jewish homeland. It is the German homeland. Israel is the Jewish homeland and it is where the Jewish people belong. The Jewish people have a right to their homeland... and so does everyone else. Dispute the latter and lose your claim on the former.

I staunchly support Israel, both in terms of its existence and its right to wipe out Hamas and colonize Gaza under the legitimate casus belli of having been repeatedly attacked by rockets after generously permitting a thrice-conquered people the opportunity to be left in peace in their reservations. And I have zero sympathy for Jews living in Europe who are afraid of the hatred of Europeans and other immigrants to Europe; everyone has an absolute right to hate whomever they please. Die Gedanken sind frei.

There are no shortage of people who hate me, and yet if I tearfully insisted that laws should be passed banning anti-Vox rhetoric by science fiction writers, and pointed to the thousands of tweets and blog posts aimed at me over the years, people would rightly consider me to be mad. The futile Jewish insistence on trying to outlaw anti-Semitic rhetoric is every bit as insane.


People have a free speech right to anti-Semitic rhetoric, they have a right to be hostile if that is how they feel, and if any Jew seriously wants to try to play thought and speech police in someone else's country, then he fully merits all the hatred his people have subsequently engendered. When you are a guest in someone else's home, you don't make the rules. Either you abide by their rules - such as the ban on circumcision in some European countries, for example - or you leave. You don't cry Holocaust and then claim that the homeowner doesn't have the right to make his own rules in his own house.

It's rather funny to see a Jew complaining about having the worst experience in Jewish history (and their history alone, not everyone's history, as the Amalekites and the Canaanites, both wiped out by the Israelites, would point out if they were still around to do so) thrown in her face when Jews have been crying Holocaust as long as I can remember. As any child being teased knows, expose a vulnerability to your enemies and that's precisely the point they will pick at. And the interchange of "Jew" for "Israeli" is hardly ignorant: why are British Jews "arguing, debating, crying and worrying about what’s going on in an even smaller country across the ocean"? The British Scots aren't. The British Swiss aren't. The British Russians aren't. The British Nigerians aren't. Whatever could the mysterious reason to explain this difference be?

The IDF doesn't cry Holocaust. It has moved on and become the proud and militarily effective defenders of the Jewish homeland. The remaining Jews of Europe should move on too, because the politicians proclaiming that there is "no place in their societies" for anti-Semitism are soon going to find out that there is "no elected office in their societies" for them. And I don't know how much longer it is going to be better in the USA; I don't blame American Jews for the actions of Emanuel Cellar and Arthur Sulzberger and Paul Samuelson and Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke and Jane Yellen and Eric Cantor that have decimated American demographics and the American economy alike. But historically, an angry public has tended to prove unable to make such fine distinctions between the culpable and the innocent.

More and more Americans are becoming aware of the destruction of their national demographics, and when they learn that this destruction was the direct and intentional result of a small group of immigrants who openly sought to weaken the American people's sense of being a European nation, they are not going to be happy about it. If you read the history of how the Holocaust came to be, it is not at all difficult to understand why the German people so loathed the Jews. That doesn't justify the Endlosung, but it's impossible for any sufficiently intelligent and informed individual to fail to recognize that a very similar pattern has developed over the last sixty years in the USA.

History is a harsh and unforgiving bitch and one ignores her lessons at one's peril. The economy is not going to improve. The demographic time-bomb is not going to self-defuse. Gen X and the Millennials are impervious, at best, to crying Holocaust. There are now more Muslims than Jews in Europe and the USA. Nationalism is growing rapidly in reaction to the abuses and injustices of globalization and transnationalism. The debt limits are being stretched perilously thin everywhere from the USA to China.

I strongly suspect Israel's chief strategists already know what Israel will eventually be forced to do with regards to Gaza, the West Bank, and the remaining Jews of Europe. They really don't want to bite the bullet, understandably enough, considering the gargantuan hailstorm of outrage it will provoke. The current invasion of Gaza is nothing more than a delaying measure. And yet, the sooner they address the Gordian Knot, the sooner they will be in a position to deal with the potentially bigger US problem.

There are several Jews who are regular readers here who have moved to Israel, and others who have not. It might be informative to get their perspective on events in Gaza and Europe as well as their reasons for moving or not moving.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Running the literary Internet

A list of 35 writers of whom (with the exception of Neil Gaiman and William Gibson) neither you nor I have ever heard, are supposedly the Internet's Most Influential Writers. Amusingly enough, one of them isn't even a writer and another admittedly has no Internet presence at all.
The debate as to whether the Internet is good or bad for literature doesn’t seem any closer to resolution now than when it began, years ago, but the fact remains that some people in the literary world are excellent at using Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and even Instagram or Pinterest to communicate with readers and get people interested in what they’re writing.... Whatever it is they do on the Internet, these 35 people do it better than anybody else in the book world, and that’s why they help steer literary conversations and tastes.
This comment following the piece was funny, if not entirely accurate. "haha i just checked vox day has more followers than any of these. larry coriea gets more hits with one post than the plonkers."

The list also made Cedar Sanderson scratch her head:
Someone put together a list of the 35 Writers who Run the Internet that had a bunch of us scratching our heads in puzzlement. We’d collectively heard of two or three of them, and most of us are very well read online, keeping up with the changes in the industry. So I challenged several disparate groups of people to nominate influential voices in literature. Who do we listen to?
  1. Larry Correia
  2. Hugh Howey
  3. Sarah A. Hoyt
  4. JA Konrath
  5. John C. Wright
  6. Jerry Pournelle
  7. Brad Torgerson
  8. Kris Rusch
  9. Neil Gaiman
  10. Vox Day
  11. Mike Resnick
  12. Cory Doctorow
  13. Dean Wesley Smith
  14. Kevin J Anderson
  15. Laura Resnick
This isn't her exact list; I omitted the group blogs for what should be the obvious reason that this was being compared to a list of writers, not blogs. And who is missing?

In my opinion, Instapundit is the most egregious exception, closely followed by John Scalzi, who still merits a significant place on the list even though no one on the Right reads his blog anymore since he outed himself as a rabid Left Democrat. Whatever has lost nearly two-thirds of its former audience, but that still puts him well above the average and he's mostly active on Twitter these days anyhow. These days, I'd put Instapundit at #2 behind Howey and Scalzi around #6 or #7. Charles Stross should be in the top 25. There are probably two or three at Tor.com that would bear mention, but I wouldn't know who they are. And John O'Neill of Black Gate absolutely merits top ten status in my book; don't forget he also launched the SF Site.

I'm surprised to see Mr. Correia at the top; he's certainly number one where book sales, displacement, and sheer awesomeness are concerned, but let's face it, for all that he's been driving the Hugo discourse for two years there aren't THAT many writers interested in painting miniatures. Hugh Howey would be my personal top pick; what he's doing with Amazon analysis is both groundbreaking and important. I'm both surprised and delighted to see John C. Wright so well-regarded; his blog is always my first stop every morning as it is always a pleasure to read anything the man has to write, and even when I disagree with him I know there will be substantive food for thought on offer. Kris Rusch, like Howey, does a great job of sharing her wealth of knowledge with the writerly world.

Sadly missing is Our Friend Damien, who will probably be weeping and cutting himself upon learning that not even a platform on a major international newspaper was enough to help him make either list. Which is somewhat of a pity, because for all that he's a suicidal leftie on anti-depressants who views me as the very evilist of the Evil League of Evil, his views on the changes taking place in the publishing world are far more relevant and sane than Scalzi's or those of the people running SFWA.

One more thing. Don't be surprised if in a year or two, you see Jeffro and/or Daniel from the Castalia blog making such lists. Their literary posts are among the most substantive I've seen that are not written by Matthew David Surridge.

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Last call for charity

As I mentioned when we announced the book, a substantial portion of the first month's sales revenues (approximately half), will be donated to Stillbrave, the children's cancer charity. An estimated $1,350+ has been raised for Stillbrave to date. Today is the final day of the release month, so if you are interested in supporting either Mr. Wright or Stillbrave, I encourage you to buy it now, either from the Castalia House store (EPUB format) or from Amazon (Kindle format).

If you have not read the reviews, of which there are now 22 averaging a 4.7 rating, I hope you will not mind if I happen to share a few of the newer ones with you. And to those of you who have already purchased the book, thank you very much for all your support.

Review 1: I, or my other timeline self, really enjoyed this. I have to admit, I like this better than Awake in the Night Land. I mean, it has a time travelling gumshoe, who can't like that? The twists and turns of chrono-based events was fun. If I ever ran into anything that was even remotely difficult to understand, I just went with it, knowing that my other self on a different timeline would understand it. Or maybe I didn't. Well, never mind.... Good book. Go with it. You or your other timeline self will enjoy it.

Review 2: Time travel has been a staple of science fiction for decades, as has the usual paradoxes. But Wright has tried a new twist - the morality of time travel. What is right and wrong when you can go back in time, rerun the past, and create the future? And what horrors can you conceal? Wright tells these stories with an elegant phrasing rarely seen today. Highly recommended.

Review 3: This is the third book of John C. Wright I have read this year. I was introduced to Wright's writing with his book "Awake in the Nightland," published by Castalia House. The second was "Count to a Trillion," published by Tor. This third book, "City Beyond Time," is published by Castalia House. "City Beyond Time" is alongs the same vein as "Awake in the Nightland." Both are a collection of short stories within the same setting.... I would recommend this book to anyone who loves time travel science fiction. It is better then most time travel books that are linear in style and movement. It is by no means predictable and keeps you reading for more. I hope Wright writes more stories about Mr. Fontino in the future, perhaps even give him his own novel series.

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A negative indicator

Some of you may recall my observations concerning the worsening Spanish economy after seeing attractive girls who looked like normal college students working the streets in Spain. That indicator is why this story about a petty prostitution arrest made me even more suspicious about the state of the US economy than the recent GDP surprise to the downside. While this pair of North Carolina twins do have more than a hint of the methhead about them, they are also rather more attractive than one would normally expect to see in the employ of a black hustler. Fortunately, they are enough of a news item that it would appear they are not yet the norm, although it could be the twin aspect that caused them to make the national media.

Regardless, if we see more prostitution arrests being made of younger, whiter, more slender, and more attractive women, this will be a reliable indicator that a new level of economic depression has been reached. Just in case any was needed, in light of this unemployment chart from Zerohedge.

The Facets of False Rhetoric

Something I've noticed over nearly 15 years of being involved in polemics on various subjects is that a certain rhetorical pattern reliably emerges on the side that has the weaker case, especially when it has the benefit of mainstream endorsement. I've named the elements of this pattern the Facets of False Rhetoric.
  1. It tends to refrain from specifically mentioning the advocates, adherents, and works of the other side.
  2. When it does mention them, it is primarily in an effort to disqualify them in some way rather than substantively addressing them.
  3. It fails to directly address the relevant points raised, and instead tends to mischaracterize them.
  4. It regularly sets up straw men and attacks them in lieu of the actual arguments presented. It often resorts to bait-and-switches and hides behind ambiguity.
  5. It falsely claims the other side is ignorant or misguided on the basis of petty irrelevancies and ignores the fact that the other side is discussing substantive matters in sufficient detail to belie any such charges.
  6. The other side is declared to be "dangerous" for reasons that are seldom specified or substantiated.
I've seen this pattern at work in the American political discourse. I've seen it in the atheism discourse. I've seen it in the Theorum of Evolution by Natural Selection and Various Other Means discourse. I've seen it in the global warming discourse. I've seen it in the economic discourse. I've seen it in the EU discourse. I've even seen it in what passes for the science fiction and fantasy discourse.

And every single time, it has been the behavior exhibited by the side that I consider to have the observably inferior case. In fact, it has reached the point that when I witness such behavior on the part of an advocate, I now consider it a reliable indicator of being fundamentally wrong even when I don't know the subject.

For reasons that will eventually become clear, I have been reading up on what is known among military theorists as 4th Generation War. This is a highly relevant topic these days, as both the undeclared wars in Ukraine and Gaza are direct examples of 4th Generation asymmetric wars between a state actor and a non-state actor. Even the media headlines appear to be ripped out of articles on 4th Gen theory, such as the New York Times piece today: "Israel Is Facing Difficult Choice in Gaza Conflict".

So, it was with some initial puzzlement, followed by a growing sense of recognition, that I read Antulio Echevarria's Fourth-Generation Warfare and Other Myths, published by the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College.  Consider the boxes checked.

1. There are eleven references in 17 pages to mysterious "proponents". Not until we get to the footnotes at the end is there a mention of William S. Lind, the most well-known proponent of 4GW, or of Keith Nightengale, John F. Schmitt, Joseph W. Sutton, and Gary I. Wilson, his co-authors of the seminal 1989 article in the Marine Corps Gazette. Col Thomas Hammes merits a pair of mentions in a single paragraph, only to set up checkbox number two.

2. From the Foreword: "He argues that the proponents of 4GW undermine their own credibility by subscribing to this bankrupt theory."

"However, the tool that [Hammes] employs undermines his credibility. In fact, the theory of 4GW only undermines the credibility of anyone who employs it...."

"The proponents of 4GW failed to perceive this particular flaw in their reasoning because they did not review their theory critically...."

"this new incarnation repeats many of the theory’s old errors, some of which we have not yet discussed."

"it is rather curious that the history and analyses that 4GW theorists hang on current insurgencies should be so deeply flawed."

3. The author goes on at length about the nonexistence of nontrinitarian warfare and what he calls "the myth of Westphalia", neither of which have anything substantive to do with 4GW theory. Westphalia merely serves as a useful starting point from which the state began claiming a monopoly on warfare, it's completely irrelevant otherwise. I was astonished to observe that the author never even mentions what the four generations of 4GW are, let alone attempts to explain why they are a myth.

4. The fact that the Germans never formally incorporated the blitzkrieg concept into their military doctrine doesn't change the observable fact that the Germans did, in fact, adopt a maneuver-and-initiative based model to replace the centralized steel-on-target, command-and-control French model to which the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force still subscribe.

5.  "The fact that 4GW theorists are not aware of this work, or at least do not acknowledge it, should give us pause indeed. They have not kept up with the scholarship on unconventional wars, nor with changes in the historical interpretations of conventional wars. Their logic is too narrowly focused and irredeemably flawed. In any case, the wheel they have been reinventing will never turn."

6.  "the theory has several fundamental flaws that need to be exposed before they
can cause harm to U.S. operational and strategic thinking."

"despite a number of profound and incurable flaws, the theory’s proponents continue to push it, an activity that only saps intellectual energy badly needed
elsewhere."

I am not a military expert, but one doesn't have to be one to recognize the way in which this critic is setting off a smokescreen rather than engaging in a substantive critique, let alone presenting a conclusive rebuttal.

(NB: for future reference, the first cretin to say "Link?" is going in the spam file. If you can't figure out how to use bloody Google, then immediately stop reading this blog and never, ever attempt to comment here again. Google or don't Google for confirmation as you see fit, believe that I am accurately quoting the subject matter or not as you like, but do not EVER ask me for a "Link?" It's obnoxious and the answer is always "No".)

That being said, William S. Lind wrote a response to Echevarria's article, which I did not read until after writing this post above. Compare the checkboxes ticked in the article compared to Lind's response. From literally the first paragraph, the differences are observable.
Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria, II is a Director at the Strategic Studies Institute, the U.S. Army War College’s think tank, and the author of an excellent book, After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers before the Great War. It was therefore both a surprise and a disappointment to find that his recent paper, Fourth-Generation War and Other Myths, is really, really ugly. Far from being a sober, scholarly appraisal, it is a rant, a screed, a red herring seemingly written to convince people not to think about 4GW at all. It is built from a series of straw men, so many that in the end it amounts to a straw giant.
I suspect it would be useful to further develop this pattern of critical observation, add additional checkboxes, and see how reliable it is across disciplines and subject matters. If anyone has any insights into this, I'd be interested in hearing them. I feel this may be Vox's Third Law of Critical Dynamics taking shape, but I have not yet articulated it in a form I find both succinct and satisfying.

First Law: Any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from insanity.
Second Law: If I can imagine it, it must be assumed true. If you can't conclusively prove it, it must be assumed false.
Third Law (first draft): The probability of a position's falsehood increases with the number of applicable facets of false rhetoric.

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