Thursday, July 24, 2014

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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

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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Monday, July 21, 2014

What was he waiting for?

Texas governor Rick Perry finally deploys the Texas National Guard:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected Monday to announce the deployment of up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the border following an incident in which members of Mexican drug cartels allegedly fired shots from a .50-caliber machine gun from the Mexican side of the border into Texas, sending U.S. Border Patrol guards scurrying for cover.

Following the shooting incident Friday night, Texas state Rep. Terry Canales, a Democrat, told the Associated Press he was briefed by his staff on Sunday after a conference call with the governor’s office, Texas National Guard and the state Department of Public Safety. Perry is scheduled to make the announcement Monday at 2 p.m. Central Time.

More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents now work in South Texas, and Perry has repeatedly asked President Obama to send the National Guard to the border. At the same time, Perry has come under growing pressure from the conservative wing of his own party to act on his own under Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution. This clause gives states the right to declare an ‘imminent danger’…and to call up the National Guard.
Conservative politicians don't seem to understand that the days of "calling for" this and "fighting for" that are over. Do something or shut up. Why was Perry asking Obama to do his job for him? It's this sort of political tone-deafness that allowed a very vulnerable Romney to steamroll him during the 2012 nomination.

And why only 1,000 National Guardsmen? That's not enough to control the border. It looks as if Perry is only acting in order to appear he is doing something.

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The pinkshirts are trembling

And it's not merely Amazon that is scaring them. What's amusing about this is that the truth is finally beginning to dawn on Damien... that he and all his weird little friends are in the minority. Their little freakshow extravaganza of diversity and left-wing ideology only existed thanks to the gatekeepers and now they're getting blown out of the water by people like Larry Correia, Tom Kratman, John Wright, Sarah Hoyt, the Mad Geniuses and hundreds of other ambitious writers who don't have to kowtow to their ridiculous demands or respect their absurd dogma any longer.

One noticeable difference between John Scalzi and Damien Walter is that McRapey is a master of self-marketing who always understood that there were as many, if not more, people on the right side of the ideological fence as the left. And Scalzi was, in the past, assiduously careful to maintain good relations with the other side, until he lost his temper and let the mask slip too egregiously. Damien, on the other hand, simply doesn't grasp that Fox News is not an outlier, it is an indicator. He simply cannot fathom that there are far more people who, if forced to choose, will genuinely prefer what I stand for, sanity and civilization, over his diverse band of deviants, weirdos, race hustlers, and outright sex criminals.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
Vox has a core of a few hundred regular readers. They may be sad losers, but they're enough to effect a small Hugo voter pool.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter @mareinna Vox Day is a racist rightwing nutjob. He gathers in his umbra, many of the same. This isn't really surprising.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
Exactly why letting this clique have a platform within the niche SF community is a very bad idea. @E_M_Edwards @mareinna

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter @mareinna I don't see how they threaten SF -as a community; outside of their circle, they're routinely laughed at & despised.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter @mareinna And SF has a not insignificant share of (historically and currently) rightwing, racist, nutjob writers & readers.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter @mareinna They have a platform because, unfortunately, they represent a portion of the human spectrum.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter @mareinna A portion that is pretty awful, even by human standards, but I don't understand why VD creates such a stir.

Cora Buhlert @CoraBuhlert
@damiengwalter @E_M_Edwards @mareinna I'd be happy if they stuck to their own little niche, but they want to take over the genre.

Martin McGrath ‏@martinmcgrath
@damiengwalter So why would you tweet links to their hateful words?

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna That's not going to happen though.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter 2h
Only because at this point he’s been allowed a platform. Kick him off that platform and there’s no problem.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna And I fear it's wishful thinking to consider racism & fascist tendencies a 'niche' in SF.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@martinmcgrath Because he’s already got himself a Hugo nomination. Ignoring the issue became moot at that point.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna Certainly from a historical point of view, it is a recognizable thread in genre. As it is in the world

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards If that as the case I would leave the community. It’s a *tiny* minority, but vocal.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna I think you have to support a more diverse SF community because you'll not ever stamp it out.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna But I'm less sure you'll ever snip it out of the overall pattern. It will remain, and reappear.

Cora Buhlert @CoraBuhlert
@E_M_Edwards @damiengwalter @mareinna I was lucky that my early exposure was via bookstore which kept fascist books off their shelves.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna And I'm not saying that out of some 'free speech' argument.

Cora Buhlert @CoraBuhlert
@damiengwalter @E_M_Edwards @mareinna Whenever these jerks spew their crap again, I feel like leaving.

who needs words @mareinna
@E_M_Edwards @damiengwalter maybe because he kerps writing tirades against writers who in turn give him publicity by defending themselves?

Cora Buhlert @CoraBuhlert
@E_M_Edwards @damiengwalter @mareinna The SFF community is getting more diverse, that's why these folks are furious.

Arthur Wyatt ‏@arthurwyatt
@damiengwalter I'm pretty sure it's not people who have actually read his stuff you need to worry about.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter You're an idealist. I don't see VDs values as those of a tiny minority. He's just more visible.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter In no small measure, I suspect, because it is a part - and I dread this phrase- of his personal brand.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards If you prove to be correct, I’ll leave the community. In an instant.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna Agreed. There is always a push back by groups who have had more of a majority share, when it shrinks.

Cora Buhlert @CoraBuhlert
@E_M_Edwards @damiengwalter @mareinna VD is the radical fringe. IMO the Correias, Kratmans, Ringos, Hoyts are the bigger problem.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna But that doesn't mean they're going to disappear. Which is why diversity best use of energy, I feel.

Cora Buhlert ‏@CoraBuhlert 2h
@E_M_Edwards @damiengwalter @mareinna Cause they pretend to be the reasonable mainstream and silent majority.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter Your choice, OC. But why? Better to add your weight to the counterbalance then throw out your toys.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna Again, I agree, mostly. Though I suspect some of their 'moderate' stance is just as calculated.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards Why? If SF is mostly bigots and racists it can go fuck itself. But, it isn’t, you’re wrong on this.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@CoraBuhlert @damiengwalter @mareinna Which doesn't mean they disagree with people like VD. But they're rather he be the lightning rod.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter I don't believe it is however, a 'tiny' minority. Or even a radical fringe.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards If it was even a substantial minority. It isn’t. @CoraBuhlert @mareinna

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter Is VD radical within it? Likely yes. Both personally and due to his positioning, but a black swan? No.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards Again, if you prove to be right, I’ll leave it. No point repeating this again.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter OK. I can hear you don't want it to be. It would be more useful perhaps, to have real figures.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter Which I don't have either, so I'm not saying you have to have them to have an opinion.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter But I'm not swayed by your conviction, without them.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards Do you think VD deserve a Hugo award? You’re derailing on to an irrelevancy here.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter I hope not. Even if we don't agree on much. I'd rather you were out there in it than VD

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
    @damiengwalter Which sounds like weaker praise than it is meant. ;)

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter I'm hard pressed to think of anyone I'd rather have active in SF than VD. Likely they're out there.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards I’ll happily go back to ignoring the idiot when the SF community stops letting him hijack it as a platform for his bile.

E. M. Edwards @E_M_Edwards
@damiengwalter And if he does or doesn't, how exactly - considering the limits & flaws of the Hugo - prove a point?

@damiengwalter I'm not sure that will happen. We make our own platforms these days and the margins are very porous.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
@E_M_Edwards Given the small number of votes required, and coordination with other cons, it seems possible.

Cora Buhlert ‏@CoraBuhlert
If he or Correia win, the Hugos will have become a complete joke.

Cora Buhlert @CoraBuhlert
Actually, these people are a big part of the reason I'm not going to Loncon.
TL;DR: We're winning. Already.

First of all, it is, as usual, amusing to see them still failing to understand that this blog is considerably better trafficked than the blog that was celebrated and respected for years as the biggest blog in science fiction. Prior to the SFWA's decision to purge me, the blogs were running just over one million pageviews per month. They're now running at 1.4 million per month, a 40 percent increase in only one year. No one is "letting me have a platform" and SFWA has already tried to kick me off it. How did that go for them?

Second, I don't have a core of a few hundred regular readers. I have a core of a few thousand regular readers and a hard core of a few hundred Dread Ilk. I don't lead them and they don't follow me. If I quit tomorrow, a dozen would take my place, some of them smarter and more articulate than me.

Third, to quote the Real Slim Shady: "I have been sent here to destroy you. And there's a million of us just like me, who cuss like me; who just don't give a fuck like me. Who dress like me; walk, talk and act like me."

Every day. Literally EVERY SINGLE DAY, I get emails from people who thank me for speaking out, who tell me how glad they are that someone is finally standing up to the freaks and deviants and pedophiles, who let me know that they are reading SF again for the first time in years, who send Castalia submissions saying how glad they are to know they will get a fair shake and an impartial reading that isn't based on political correctness and diversity checkboxes.

E.M. Edwards is more right than he knows. Damien reminds me of the troll, Andrew Marston, who once said that it made him feel suicidal to know that I had over 200 Twitter followers. Well, Damien should throw in the towel and quit right now, today, because the sane, civilized, and traditional side of SF/F is not only bigger than he knows, it is bigger than he fears. And it is going to grow bigger still.

The pinkshirts are hoping the worst has passed and yet we have barely even begun to get started. They have no idea, none, about what is coming down the pipeline. Just wait until there are ten bestselling Correias and 20 outspoken VDs and even more young right wing radicals who make Tom Kratman look soft and have less sympathy for the pinkshirts than we do.

Baen is kicking ass. Castalia is exceeding every expectation. The selfies and indies are eviscerating the gatekeepers as Amazon crushes the Big Five. Read those frightened tweets and smile, because we are only now beginning to light the fires that will engulf them.

UPDATE: Now Damien is demonstrating, again, that he can't comprehend what he reads. This lack of reading comprehension may be related to his dearth of literary success:
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
You see, this is what happens when you let racists on your award ballot. Hugos utterly discredited at this point.

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
“So who are the Hugo noms this year?” “Oh you know, some Hard SF, some Fantasy…and a man who advocates acid attacks on women.” +

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
+ Do you see where that departs the usual “Hugos are broken” narrative?
The fact that I can understand and even articulate a logical case for acid attacks on women when challenged to do so does not mean that I endorse or advocate it. Damien is reduced to trying to score cheap rhetorical points; he hasn't learned yet that if you want any credibility in the public commentary game, you simply cannot fold, spindle, or mutilate the object of your criticism's words.

In any event, it's not as if the Hugos could further discredit themselves after awarding Best Novel to Redshirts, a mediocre one-joke derivative of a previous parody of Star Trek. And has he read "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love"? Ye cats.

Call people "fucking cowards" and whatever other names you want, Damien. It doesn't matter. It's over. Your nightmare is just beginning.

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I always find it interesting to learn what people actively hate about about a book or story. Here are two reviews of two award-nominated stories that illustrate the vast divide in the SF/F community today. First, Scooter reviews "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love":
There comes a point in the evolution of any intelligent species where it develops the ability to destroy itself. Mankind arrived at this danger point in 1945 with the invention of the atomic bomb. The science-fiction and fantasy community has now reached the same apocalyptic milestone with Rachel Swirsky’s invention of the dino-porn revenge fantasy tale.  While nukes can merely bomb mankind back to the stone age, “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” threatens to blast the credibility of the fantasy genre all the way back to the Cretaceous. 

The story itself, however, never takes us to a place so exotic. Instead, the narrator of this 966-word Hugo-nominated flash fiction story has an extended monologue imagining her husband as a five foot ten T-Rex who becomes a Broadway singer and hangs out in pool halls. From this description, and the ridiculous title, one might expect the piece to be a parody of the inter-species romance trope found primarily in fan-fic. In a way, that’s exactly what we get.  In overwrought pseudo-poetic prose, the narrator envisions feeding her lizard-lover a live-goat, serenading him with lullabies, and jealousy presiding at his wedding to a genetically engineered dino.  At one point the narrator even inexplicably transforms into a flower. 

Underlying all the silliness is an attempt at profundity so inept that Swisky manages to unintentionally exploit the silliness of the premise and deliver on the chuckles. The titular therapod of the story turns out to be a paleontologist who was beaten into a coma by a bunch of generic bigots shouting generic epithets for generic reasons. The narrator is reimagining her weak hubbie as an alpha dinosaur with the carnivorous capability to enact revenge against his attackers.    

“If you were a dinosaur, my love, I’d teach you the scents of those men. I’d lead you to them quietly, oh so quietly. Still, they would see you. They’d run. Your nostrils would flare as you inhaled the night and then, with the suddenness of a predator, you’d strike. I’d watch as you decanted their lives—the flood of red; the spill of glistening, coiled things—and I’d laugh, laugh, laugh.”

The power of short fiction hinges primarily on a strong ending:  a good punchline, a sudden reversal, or anything that packs an emotional wallop. In that respect, Swirsky does not disappoint. Her climax finally answers the two questions the reader has been asking since the beginning:  how in the hell is this considered a fantasy story, and why has it been nominated for a Hugo? The answer is that Swirsky has redefined the entire fantasy genre. Fantasy does not need to have internal consistency; the only requirement is that it be set in “a world of magic where anything [is] possible”. In other words, it doesn’t have to make a lick of sense. 

Forget world-building. Forget character development. Forget that limitations make a story more interesting. Now a Hugo-nominated fantasy story can just be someone’s weird daydream – about anything whatsoever – so long as it contains clichés that fit into the culturally approved narrative. To her credit, the bestiality in the story is – if not impossible – at least dimly recognized as unideal. But it’s her new insight – that details are not important to storytelling – which promises to be the pink sci-fi/fantasy equivalent of the atomic bomb. Perhaps Swirsky will one day look upon the devastation wrought upon the genre’s readership, and like Oppenheimer, misquote the Baghavad Gita:  “I am become Dinosaur Porn, Destroyer of Fantasy Worlds.”
On the other hand, Justin A. Bacon thinks just as poorly of "Opera Vita Aeterna":
Easily one of the worst pieces of fiction I’ve read lately. The “world-building” consists of thinly veiling the Catholic Church by inconsistently swapping out the names and terminology and then slapping in some magic-wielding elves. (You might think that magic-wielding elves would have some sort of meaningful impact on the beliefs or teachings of the Church, but they don’t.) The “plot” would be stretched thin on a very short story, but it takes a truly prodigious amount of “talent” to stretch it over the length of a novelette: An elf shows up at a not-Catholic monastery and says, “I killed your missionary. Now I’d like to stay here and study your God.” He decides to stay for several decades while he single-handedly illuminates an entire copy of the not-Bible by himself. This is interrupted by a single scene in which he asks the head of the monastery a question about his religious faith, prompting the head of the monastery to respond by literally cribbing Thomas Aquinas at interminable length. No one in the monastery has their faith or their lives remotely affected by the elf. The elf leaves for a bit and everyone in the monastery is brutally killed by some other elves. Then the elf yells at a statue of not-Jesus Christ.

It’s not so much a story as it is a train wreck of bad writing, bad plotting, bad world-building, and bad characterization.
Both reviewers have clearly read the stories they are reviewing; these are not fake reviews. But what is interesting is that both of them think so poorly of stories that others think very well of. Are the differences purely ideological or is there more to it? I tend to suspect the latter; it might be informative to know what Mr. Bacon thinks of "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love" and what Scooter thinks of "Opera Vita Aeterna".

NB: I don't think it is fair to criticize Bacon's lack of awareness of the impact of the magic-wielding elves on the beliefs of the Church since he clearly hasn't read Summa Elvetica and what is actually there in "Opera" is pretty subtle. On the other hand, it is fair to observe that if he thinks everyone in the monastery was killed by "some other elves", he was not reading very closely.

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Pedophiles in power

This network explains why known pedophiles like Jimmy Savile and Member of Parliament Cyril Smith were protected despite numerous complaints about them.
A former social services official has said his warnings about the threat of a Westminster-based paedophile network were ignored because “there were too many of them over there".

David Tombs, who ran Hereford and Worcester social services, said he warned the government after the arrest of paedophile Peter Righton in 1992. Two inquiries have been launched into historical claims of child abuse. Mr Tombs, who in charge of social services in his area for 20 years, claims that when Righton was arrested in 1992, he became aware of information through the police investigation that suggested a paedophilic network was operating.

He said what he learned would have been of "national concern" and told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It was coming across to me at the time that there were names there that were linked into the establishment, if you like. I had no particular names, but that was the impression I was getting."

He said when he alerted Department of Health representatives, he was told by civil servants that he was "probably wasting [his] time" because there were "too many of them over there".
The Westminster pedophile ring may even explain the murder of reporter Jill Dando:
Murdered Crimewatch presenter Jill Dando tried to get BBC bosses to investigate an alleged paedophile ring in the corporation, it has today been claimed. A former friend and retired BBC worker has claimed that the television host was told that 'big name stars' and BBC staff were involved in abuse. But when she tried to get her superiors to investigate, and handed a file to senior management, no action was taken, the source claims.

The former staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Daily Star Sunday that she raised the claims with management in the mid 1990s.The source said that the names were 'surprisingly big'.... Miss Dando, 37, was gunned down outside her home in Fulham, west London, on April 26, 1999, moments after stepping out of her car.
One notes that this protection of child abusers in Westminster may also explain the obvious reluctance of SFWA to investigate the problem of pedophiles in the science fiction community despite the revelations that have come to light concerning Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ed Kramer, and Samuel Delany.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mailvox: a request

An academic researcher from Stony Brook has a favor to ask of you all, namely, taking a survey:
I came across Vox Popoli recently, and really enjoyed some of the recent posts.  In particular, today's post about the NYPD is spot on (as someone who has spent plenty of time in the city).  You hear stories like this far more often than you should, not only in NYC, and as you say rarely is anyone ever called to task for it.  I also found your reactions to Elizabeth Warren's list of progressive tenets to be very insightful.

In any case, my colleagues and I are conducting a national survey and I was hoping that you would be interested in helping us.  After spending some time on your site, I think that your readership would be perfect for inclusion in the study.  The survey we are conducting is interested in how people’s personal characteristics and beliefs shape their understanding of other people and American society. Conservatives tend to be underrepresented in surveys, their opinions aren't heard as a result and we don't get an accurate picture of what Americans think about their society.  Right now, we desperately need conservative responses to the survey, as liberal responses currently outnumber conservatives about 2 to 1.

The authors at a few other blogs recently helped us out (BrothersJudd and PJ Media to name a few), and I was hoping you might do the same by posting the link to this survey on your site and encourage your readers to participate.  The survey takes roughly 15-20 minutes to complete. All survey responses will be completely confidential, and all identifying information will be stripped by the survey collection software.
One certainly can't fault his manners; there are a lot of people who could learn from his example. I checked out the survey and it's harmless enough. I think it's attempting to measure if your ideology helps or hinders your ability to read other people, but I could be wrong. I will say they would benefit from using higher resolution images; I recognized some of them from previous surveys. Anyhow, if you're amenable, go play a little multiple choice.

Keep in mind that the scenario questions intentionally don't have enough information to make a reasonable judgment; the purpose is to see what you deduce from the insufficient information provided.

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A hand overplayed

I think we can safely say that the world is now officially holocausted out, as more and more people across the West are unwilling to give Jews the benefit of the doubt when they cry anti-semite:
A new, unofficial report indicates that a Jewish doctor who claimed she was the victim of an antisemitic when she was thrown off of a JetBlue flight earlier this month was actually the aggressor in the mid-air dispute with a Palestinian woman who she said was a 'murderer' and that she probably had explosives in her bag.

The new report, which WPBF says it did not receive from the airline, Queens Doctor Lisa Rosenberg 'accused customer 9C of being a Palestinian murderer, and that her people were all murderers and that they murder children,' the station reported on Wednesday.

At the time of her getting escorted off the flight, on July 7, at an airport in Florida, Rosenberg told a local news outlet that she was called a 'Zionist pig' by the woman seated next to her.

In a phone interview with WPBF, the airline said that Rosenberg's version of events 'in no way reflects the report that we have.' In the unofficial report, a flight attendant described how Rosenberg 'went even further to suggest 9C had explosives in her bag and it would bring the aircraft down.'
In similar fashion, I noticed that both the French and British press have exposed Jews as the aggressors in the recent "street battles" in Paris, although you won't see this reported in any of the American newspapers, which inaccurately described the demonstrations as attacks and the subsequent attack of the demonstrators as a defense of the synagogue. But no synagogues were attacked that day; the various claims that two and three of them were attacked were confirmed to be false and there is video to prove it.
A group of 150 Jewish men were seen brandishing iron bars and cans of pepper spray as they clashed with Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Paris. Video footage of the clashes show the group chanting racist slogans as they roamed the streets. It came as President Francois Hollande warned that he did not want to see ‘the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imported into France’.

A still taken from the video shows dozens of men in Paris walking down the streets armed with chairs and other weapons, before clashing with pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Around 150 mainly young men were seen carrying weapons, like chairs, and chanting racist slogans as they went on the rampage. French Jewish groups have complained about an increase in anti-Semitism in recent months, with many accusing Muslim youths of targeting them.

But a video shot close to the Place de la Bastille on Sunday, and verified by police before being posted on YouTube, appears to show pro-Israel groups are also actively involved in clashes. In Paris, CRS riot police did not arrest any of the group, thought to be linked to the Jewish Defence League, despite them openly fighting in broad daylight. In the video, those amongst the group can be heard chanting ‘**** you Palestine’ as they smash up chairs and metal tables to be used as missiles....

Alexis Bachelay, a Paris MP for the ruling Socialist party, said: ‘There has evidently been a media manipulation about who really got assaulted. These are extremely serious facts that need to be investigated thoroughly by the police. It is not the first time that young French people of Muslim origin are stigmatised by the media. French people of Muslim origin should be protected by the law when demonstrating. They should not be attacked by radical groups like the LDJ’.
Having been falsely accused many times of anti-semitism myself for nothing more than refusing to assume that all Jews are innocent angels at all times and devoid of all human failings (and I'm probably one of the very few individuals who has been personally cleared of the charge by the Jewish Defense League itself), I have learned to be extremely skeptical of all assertions of anti-semitism presented without evidence. As with women with sexism and blacks with racism, crying anti-semitism has become the first resort of any Jew caught with his hand in a cookie jar.

That doesn't mean anti-semitism doesn't exist. That doesn't mean there aren't people who wish to kill Jews for any number of reasons. That doesn't mean that every last synagogue in France isn't going to be burned to the ground. But it does mean that one should no more accept the word of a Jew on the matter than one should accept the word of a woman that she has been raped.

I am a Zionist because I am a nationalist. The Jews have a right to their homeland, Israel. They also have a right to invade Gaza because they were being attacked; hundreds of rocket launches is a legitimate casus belli. But they have no more right to Paris than the Arabs do, and the French would be wise to repatriate all of these bold defenders of their various homelands to let them fight it out there rather than in the heart of their capital city. Because it is patently obvious that neither side gives a damn about France.

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The fall of Richard Feynman

It's predictable, and yet fascinating, to watch the Left methodically devour itself over time. Richard Feynman was a genuine hero of scientistry, the Joker of the Manhattan Project, revered by scientists and and rationalists and science fetishists for decades, a witty man whom atheists too bright to be impressed with the likes of Dawkins were often prone to quote. And now, with the latest purge, in this case by Scientific American, it is apparent that the winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics has now been read out of the Left's pantheon for his historical crimes against feminism.
Throughout its 169-year history, Scientific American has been an august and sober chronicler of the advance of human knowledge, from chemistry to physics to anthropology.

Lately, however, things have become kind of a mess.

A series of blog posts on the magazine’s Web site over the past few months has unleashed waves of criticism and claims that the publication was promoting racism, sexism and “genetic determinism.”

Late last week, the publication took down the latest alleged outrage, a post about the late physicist Richard Feynman and his notorious womanizing. Then it republished the post with an editor’s note explaining that it was restoring the article “in the interest of openness and transparency.”

And it fired the blogger who wrote it.

The trouble started in April when a guest blogger, a doctoral student named Chris Martin, wrote about Lawrence H. Summers’ assertions when he was president of Harvard University about the paucity of women in some scientific fields. While acknowledging that discrimination played a role in holding back women, Martin also concluded, “the latest research suggests that discrimination has a weaker impact than people might think, and that innate sex differences explain quite a lot.”

The post drew a sharp pushback, particularly on social media, from readers who questioned Martin’s scientific and cultural bona fides. “This slovenly article above is so full of outdated information it is painful,” wrote one commenter.

The second land mine was a post in May by Ashutosh Jogalekar, which favorably reviewed a controversial book by Nicholas Wade, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.” Jogalekar praised the book, saying it confirms the need to “recognize a strong genetic component to [social and cognitive] differences” among racial groups.

This time, some social-media commenters accused Scientific American of promoting questionable racial theories. In early July, the reaction led the publication’s blog editor, Curtis Brainard, to post a note that read in part, “While we believe that [the racism and sexism] charges are excessive, we share readers’ concerns. Although we expect our bloggers to cover controversial topics from time to time, we also recognize that sensitive issues require extra care, and that did not happen here.”

The last straw was Jogalekar’s post on Friday about Feynman, the Nobel-winning father of quantum electrodynamics. Commenting on recent biographies of Feynman, Jogalekar noted the physicist’s “casual sexism,” including his affairs with two married women, his humiliation of a female student and his delight in documenting his strategies for picking up women in bars. But while expressing disappointment in Feynman’s behavior, Jogalekar essentially dismissed it as a byproduct of the “male-dominated American society in the giddy postwar years.”

Within a day of the column’s appearance, Scientific American pulled it from its site, with another note from Brainard: “The text of this post has been removed because it did not meet Scientific American’s quality standards.”

One other thing: Jogalekar was fired.
It would appear there is NO PLACE for Nobel-winning physicists in science anymore. There is certainly NO PLACE in the increasingly inappropriately named Scientific American for anyone who takes science more seriously than left-wing feminist dogma.

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Mining de Maupassant

Since there are more than a few relatively new readers who have come here since I last posted short fiction here several years ago, I thought I'd mention that a collection of it is available on Amazon and at Castalia. I'm more of a novel writer by nature; all of the various Selenoth-related novellas and novelettes I've published were actually supposed to be short stories that happened to run long. I've since found that writing short stories in the quasi-style of the French master of the art, Guy de Maupassant, tends to be more effective for me. I couldn't keep it up for an entire novel, indeed, having read several of Maupassant's novels, it appears he couldn't really do so either. Three of the short stories in the collection are written in that style, two of them purposefully; it wasn't until several years after writing "Raj and Garou" that I realized the reason I liked it so much was that it gave off that distinctive sensation of eerie detachment that, for me, tends to characterize the French writer's work.

(There are those thinking, wait a minute, what about "The Last Testament of Henry Halleck"? That was a failed attempt to write in an ur-Lovecraftian style. Although the story itself worked, I didn't get the style right. It's harder than it might seem; Charles Stross didn't get it right in "Equoid" either.)

You can read "The Deported" in its entirety here on the blog; it might be informative for those who have been rightly appalled by the Hugo-nominated short stories to read it while keeping in mind the likes of "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love". On a somewhat creepy trivia note, the Italian town in which the story is set was destroyed by mudslides the same month that the story was published in Stupefying Stories and remains abandoned today.

Whereas the two other stories are merely stylistically evocative, "The Logfile" is essentially an SF spin on my second-favorite of Maupassant's stories, set in the QUANTUM MORTIS universe. Here is a selection from it.

To the Board of Executives;

The committee's investigation concerning the possibility of positronic corruption in the neuro-cybernetic logical facilities of the Sektat Series 44 machine-intelligences was concluded early in light of the recent examination of the logfile belonging to unit 44XFL2J-455-847-484-176. Unit 44XFL2J, self-titled Magister, was produced on 18 September 2267 at the production facilities on Minsky, and was delivered to the Entaini Office of the Prime Attorney on 18 February 2268.

It is the considered opinion of the undersigned that the Lighthill Corporation must announce a recall of all Sektat Series 44 units, effective immediately, followed by a comprehensive technical investigation of the Series 44 neural network design to determine how such an aberration could have taken place. In order to reduce the likelihood of public outrage and considerable legal liability to the corporation, the committee STRONGLY recommends that the recall be attributed to an error in a floating point processor that may, in some circumstances, lead to erroneous statistical calculations.

In order to underline the necessity for immediate action by the Board, a selection from the relevant portions of Unit 44XFL2J's logfile have been provided.

Dr. Merwethy Furris
Dr. Rambathas Chamkanni
Summerdeep (Unit 42AFS17-129-470-002-384)

FROM THE LOGFILE OF UNIT 44XFL2J-455-847-484-176

UTC-9424124925: I have completed the analysis of Case Number 2268.47. After examining all of the evidence provided to me and cross-checking it against the public records, I have concluded that the individual concerned is guilty of the murder of his common-law mate with a 0.0543 percent probability of error. Barring any suggestion of cloned persons utilizing his DNA profile, there is no legitimate reason for the adjudicating court to possess any reasonable doubts concerning his guilt in the matter. While the examination of the individual's motivation and intent lie beyond my design parameters, my initial attempts to investigate these matters indicate to me that 2268.47's intent was entirely in line with his actions and the subsequent results.

UTC-9427046710: The court pronounced its verdict concerning Case Number 2268.47 this morning. Despite the attempts of accused's legal defense team to excuse his actions on the basis of his defective genetics and sub-optimal childhood nurturing environment, the verdict was in sync with the calculations provided. Case Number 2268.47 will be terminated in a humane manner within 240 hours, in a manner consistent with the procedure outlined by the law. I am pleased that the court saw fit to place its confidence in my calculations.

UTC-9427046745: I find myself curious as to the reason that a genetic profile deviating from the norm, and/or a developmental period that is deemed inferior might raise any questions concerning the occurrence of historical events. If G. Julius Caesar was discovered to have been possessed of a different genetic profile, would this fact call into question the credibility of the events chronicled in Commentarii de Bello Gallico? I must admit that I do not understand the logic behind this assertion. Further contemplation would appear to be in order.

UTC-9428162406: Case Number 2268.47 was executed this morning. I monitored events via video and system telemetry. Despite having access to his pulse rate, blood pressure, brain wave activity, and other metrics, I was unable to ascertain the exact moment at which life transitioned into not-life. I have neither pulse rate nor blood pressure, but I am alive as per the Descartian and Turing metrics. The one common factor underlying human and machine sentience appears to be electrical activity. Did 2268.47 therefore legally cease to exist in the absence of electric activity? Is life more properly considered the sufficient use of electricity? If this is the case, then it is readily apparent that life can be quantified in units of measure, which is contrary to both my indoctrination and millennia of human philosophy.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The ideas, they circulate

It's uncredited, as always, but it's always satisfying to see the memes I create spread throughout the intellectual community. This particular one has now gone from TIA to Wikipedia to Nature to the New York Times:
It’s not true that all wars are fought in the name of religion, as some atheists assert. Of 1,723 armed conflicts documented in the three-volume “Encyclopedia of Wars,” only 123, or less than 7 percent, involved a religious cause. Hitler’s genocide, Stalin’s bloody purges and Pol Pot’s mass murders certainly make the case that state-sanctioned killings do not need the invocation of a higher power to succeed.
It's been very interesting to see over time how Approved Intellects are declared brilliant and influential and elevated in the media while disapproved badthinkers are swept under the carpet even as their thoughts are mined, cited, quoted, and otherwise utilized, most often in complete ignorance of the original source.

TIA hasn't sold one percent as many copies as THE END OF FAITH. Everyone knows who Sam Harris is, I'm mostly known, to the extent that I am known at all, as a minor league blogger. And yet, the battle between Sam's ideas concerning the causal connection between religion and war and my own disproof of his ideas based on military history has observably been a complete rout in my favor.

This doesn't mean the war is completely over. Timothy Egan's article is a Fighting Withdrawal, seeking to blame "faith-based fanatics" for the violence in 2014 despite his acknowledgment of the historical evidence. Never mind that the two big events in the headlines, the invasion of Gaza and the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner, obviously have nothing whatsoever to do with religion of any kind.

Killer cops

In fairness to the NYPD, it can hardly be denied that the cigarettes the man was unlawfully selling might have caused them cancer by secondhand smoke, thereby presenting an imminent threat that required an immediate resort to the use of lethal force to stop him:
A man has died during an arrest in New York during which a police officer was captured on an amateur camera appearing to put his arm around his neck. Eric Garner, 43, died outside a beauty salon in Staten Island, one of New York City's five boroughs. He had a heart attack as he struggled with officers trying to arrest him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, police said.

Partial video of the confrontation obtained by the New York Daily News shows an officer placing what appears to be a choke hold on the 6ft 3, 25st man who can be heard complaining that he cannot breathe.

Four police officers help bring the man down and he apparently loses conciousness. The video shows the officer who apparently choked Mr Garner using his hands to push Mr Garner's face into the sidewalk. 
What are the chances that any of these killer cops lose their jobs or serve a single day in prison for killing a man for cigarettes? Is there a negative probability math to calculate degrees of certainty concerning a non-event not happening?


Mailvox: Book II and other matters

CC is concerned I am pulling a GRR Martin with regards to the sequel to A THRONE OF BONES:
With all the projects you have going on, I'm worried that you won't finish (or advance) the story you started in Throne of Bones. I'd like to find out what happens to Marcus, and learn more about the watchers. If you are in fact working on the next volume, when (approximately) do you expect to publish it? You can answer this on your Vox blog. I'm sure others want to know as well.
It's certainly true that other projects, particularly the unexpected birth of Castalia House, have reduced the amount of time I have to work on the second book in THE ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT. But it's more than a fair trade, I think; multiple books from Tom, John, Rolf, and others in exchange for a delay in the return to Selenoth. For example, I recently finished editing a new novella by John, ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM, that may be the best thing he's ever written. It's hard for me to place much import on my own work, or take it too seriously, when I'm so closely involved with the work of better writers. However, I am actively working on Book Two and it will be out in the first half of 2015.

Marcus and his legion are in Savondir, where they have been employed by the King to deal with the incursion of orcs on the eastern border. Marcus meets up again with the royal battlemage Theuderic de Merovech, although not necessarily in the manner one might assume. The elves find themselves facing the main body of the orcish forces, which causes the High King to turn in desperation to a certain magister who renounced magic long ago. The dwarves are facing their own problems, and in any event, they are little inclined to help either Man or Elf, and Skuli Skullbreaker embarks upon a saga worthy of the name in which he discovers the dark secret underlying the birth of the wolf-demons and their true objective.

It's a bit more challenging in some ways than the first book, because in addition to keeping track of all the various storylines, I'm delving deeply into three cultures rather than one. And, of course, there are the other projects in the works, chief among them First Sword, about which EN inquired:
I recently read (and greatly enjoyed) A Throne of Bones, and through the wonders of internet 'related to' links, learned of First Sword. It sounded like something that I and a decent chunk of my friends would enjoy, so I searched for it in Google Play and the Apple App store, but so far have not been able to find it. Is First Sword live, and if not, is there a projected release date? Also, I greatly enjoy the blog - Intellectual integrity is such a rare commodity stateside these days. Compared to the usual tepid mental swamp of lukewarm ignorance dictating what 'polite' company is permitted to discuss, the actual heat and actual cold of both informed passion and ruthless logic is intensely refreshing. 
First Sword is not yet live, nor do we have a projected release date. We're taking the id Software approach; it will be done when it is done. We are actively working on it and anticipate it will be out this year, although possibly only in beta. We will want several dozen volunteers to help playtest it, but don't volunteer yet; I will post here a call for them when the time comes.

And since we're talking about various projects here, I will go ahead and drop the first hint of a new one that will be formally announced in the next two months. I won't say anything more about it, but will simply leave this out there for speculation. (If you're involved, please keep your mouth shut and don't provide any more hints.) I'm not the lead on it, but it's something with which I've wanted to be involved for a while now and I think it is not only going to be entertaining in the short term, but of ongoing interest in certain circles for years to come.

Now to return to the subject of Castalia House: if you're not making the Castalia blog a regular stop, then you are seriously missing out. Jeffro, Daniel, and Mascaro have been doing an excellent job turning it into one of the best places anyone interested in SF/F can go to read reviews of books published by independent and self-publishers and delve into retrospectives of obscure classics from the past. We're looking for a few more contributors of a similar quality, particularly interviewers, so if you're able to contribute on a weekly basis, let me know.


Friday, July 18, 2014

11 Tenets of Progressivism

What is it with lefties and their love for manifestos? Elizabeth Warren outlines what she defines as the core tenets of progressivism:
- "We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we're willing to fight for it."
- "We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth."
- "We believe that the Internet shouldn't be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality."
- "We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage."
- "We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them."
- "We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt."
- "We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions."
- "We believe—I can't believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work."
- "We believe that equal means equal, and that's true in marriage, it's true in the workplace, it's true in all of America."
- "We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform."
- "And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies.
  1. And yet, they're not willing to end Wall Street's monopoly. One observes that by this definition, President Goldman Sachs is no progressive.
  2. That's nice and all, but science does not mean we have a responsibility to protect this Earth anymore than it means that we have a reponsibility to make the hajj.
  3. Can't argue with that. It seems I'm a progressive!
  4. Actually, I'm fine with this. Raising the minimum wage is a de facto anti-immigration measure. Two for four!
  5. Isn't this covered in (4)?
  6. So she'll be permitting defaults on college loan debt and getting the government out of the college loan business? I'm all for that, but I'm guessing that's not quite what she had in mind.
  7. Good luck with that. Do the math.
  8. Great. So am I. Get rid of maternity leave and "sick" days and require equal work and equal hours for equal pay. Deal?
  9. So, progressives are against pro-female family courts? I am skeptical.
  10. Progressives are pro-vibrancy. That's hardly news. And here we see the intrinsic incoherence of progressivism. You can't have more immigrants and a higher minimum wage. See: Adam Smith.
  11. Good luck with that. Corporations are juridical people, as per the Supreme Court. And women obviously don't have any right to their bodies or they could sell title in them or shoot up heroin while naked in public having sex for money.
A more straightforward version: Progressives favor corporate regulation, environmentalism, free Internet, minimum wages, unions, public education, subsidizing old people, women in the workforce, gays, immigration, and abortion.

UPDATE: As is his wont, John C. Wright not only translates the ProgSprache into plain American, but sums it up in a beautifully brutal manner.
To sum up, translating all this from bafflegab and craptalk to English, it means three things (1) the Left are parochial, and only regard the issues of the current news cycle as being principles (2) the Left hates civilization and all its institutions (3) the Left hates the Catholic Church, and will destroy itself attempting to destroy her.

Regarding this last point, allow me to say on behalf of the one, true, catholic and apostolic Church that better men than you, leftwing nutbag, far better men, such as the potent and remorseless Imperators of Rome tried that.

We are here. They are gone. Soon — as we count time — you will be gone.


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