The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene.It would be nice if Mr. Lauder's example would encourage Mr. Foxman and other Jews living in America to stop shrieking about how celebrating Christmas is a second Holocaust and attempting to import more Muslims into the West.
In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.
This bond between Jews and Christians makes complete sense. We share much more than most religions. We read the same Bible, and share a moral and ethical core. Now, sadly, we share a kind of suffering: Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering.
Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence. It’s not as if we are powerless. I write this as a citizen of the strongest military power on earth. I write this as a Jewish leader who cares about my Christian brothers and sisters.
The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent. This campaign of death must be stopped.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Islamic State executioner who beheaded US journalist IS British, government believes as Cameron returns from holiday early and Foreign Secretary says UK troops could be sent to Baghdad.Now why would UK troops be sent to Baghdad? Shouldn't the US be launching airstrikes on London to warn the British people not to behead Americans? Actually, that's not the worst idea. Perhaps the Brits would be a little bit more cautious about handing out passports to people. Call it the Pearl-Foley Doctrine: if one of your citizens murders an American, your government and people will be held responsible.
In 2014 Beale's novelette, "Opera Vita Aeterna", was nominated for the Hugo Award. It came in sixth out of five nominees, behind "No Award."Four sources makes it that much more true! The pinkshirts just never learn, do they? The more they go out of their way to exhibit the extent of their irrational hatred for me, the more they seek to DISQUALIFY me, the more interesting I become to everyone else who isn't part of their twisted little world. I suspect some of them, like John Scalzi, are aware of this but lack the necessary emotional control to restrain themselves. The call of the hate is simply too strong to resist.
Speaking of McRapey, it was suggested that it was not entirely fair for me to call out him out for his traffic fraud when I haven't publicly provided any evidence of the Google pageviews at VP. (There was no similar complaint about AG, as the running "monthly" total is displayed on the left sidebar there. If anyone knows how to get that widget running on the old Blogger template, please let me know.) After all, the Sitemeter pageviews are considerably lower than the Google pageviews claimed, so it was theoretically possible that my traffic might be lower than I was asserting. Fair enough, if perhaps a little insulting to even an intelligence much more modest than mine. So, I grabbed this screenshot yesterday towards the end of the day; yesterday's total was actually 36,241.
This covers the last month, so it is no one-day spike. As you can see, the daily pageviews have averaged about 34k; at no point in the last month have the daily pageviews descended below 26,328. And one has only to visit Alpha Game to see that the running 30-day total is 1,475,512 at the moment, or rather, a bit more, since the number rises throughout the day. August should end up somewhere around 1,535,000, plus or minus 25k. Anyhow, there it is, so I hope everyone is satisfied that everything is scrupulously fair.
I shall now await all the fawning puff pieces about me in various media sources and the inevitable book contracts offered by eager mainstream genre publishers now that it is proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that I have nearly four times more traffic (3.75x more, to be precise) than the "extraordinary amount of traffic" that impressed so many people in the recent past.
American freelance photo-journalist James Wright Foley has been beheaded by ISIS in a video message posted today online and titled as 'A Message to America'. Foley, pictured centre and top left, has been missing since November 2012 after being taken hostage while reporting from Syria. ISIS posted the extremely graphic video to social media as proof of their barbaric action. Foley addresses the camera before he is killed and labels the US government his real killers as a man in black robes armed with a gun stands over him. The journalist then leaves a haunting message for his brother, John, who is in the US Air Force. 'I died that day, John, when your colleagues dropped that bomb on these people. They signed my death certificate'. ISIS, which has claimed control of most of northern Iraq and parts of Syria is threatening to kill Time journalist Joel Sotloff unless President Obama ceases attacks on the terror group. Foley's family including parents John and Diane, of Rochester, New Hampshire, bottom left, had publicly appealed for their son's release.The Bush Concept had it exactly backwards. Fighting them over there so we would not have to fight them here was only going to inflame the situation, which is exactly what has happened. The West must fight them here so it can leave them alone there. Islam has no place in the West. It must be driven out again, just as it was driven out of Spain and Austria centuries ago.
I warned about the rise of the caliphate years ago, to the mocking disbelief of some who genuinely believed the so-called Arab Spring meant the rise of liberal democracy in Araby. Now we're seeing it take shape. The nations of the West will eventually decide it is necessary to ban Islam again, and repatriate Muslims to the House of Submission again, so the sooner it does so, the less bloody the conflict in the House of War will be.
One friend of the Foley family said something important. "These savages have got to be stopped. It’s coming West." Only it is not coming West. It began coming West decades ago, and now there are millions of them in the West. What is coming is the Second Reconquista. The West is not going to die. Europe belongs to us.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
We need to realize, but will not, that blacks are a separate people, self-aware and cohesive. They have their own dialect, music, and modes of dress, which they value. They name their kids LaToya and Keeshawn instead of Robert and Carol because they want to maintain a distance from whites.Another point that people fail to realize is that racial and cultural mixing is intrinsically destructive, even when it isn't forced. I am, in part, an American Indian. I know virtually nothing of my tribal culture or history. I speak three languages, smatterings of two more, and I know precisely two words of my tribal language. What most people forget when they speak cheerfully of Arthur C. Clarke's grand brown melange of humanity is that it means the death of almost every human culture, almost every human language, almost everything that is not the lowest and most vulgar common denominator.
The races spring from utterly different cultures. Compulsory integration is thus a form of social imperialism in which whites try to force blacks to conform to European norms. Blacks have no historical connection at all to Greece, Rome, the Old Testament Hebrews, Christianity, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, to Newton, LaGrange, or Galois, to the philosophic tradition of Thales, Aquinas, Schopenhauer, or Hegel. Nor do Eurowhites have roots in Africa. No commonality exists.
We talk multiculturism, but try to impose a monoculture—ours—on blacks. Why? Why in school should we insist that blacks study things of no interest to them? It is reminiscent of policies aimed at stripping American Indians of their languages and traditions.
On the other hand, I as a white man have little enthusiasm for studying Shaka Zulu, the Great Zimbabwe, or African religions. Would not all be happier with their own schools in which they could maintain their own culture?
“Separate but equal” is in bad odor as a governing philosophy. It seems to be the only thing that works. If voluntary, wherein lies the evil? Less contact means less conflict.
Is there any evidence that blacks want to associate with whites? Or vice versa? In the universities, do blacks not clamor for black-only dormitories, black-only fraternities, and Black Studies? And what is wrong with this? Why should blacks not associate with whom they choose? And why should not whites?
Almost always, when the races do not have to mingle, they don’t. In Washington, blacks fleeing the crime of the city go to the heavily-black Prince George’s County, whites to Arlington, Fairfax, and Bethesda. Within Arlington, blacks cluster together in mini-barrios. So what? It’s their business.
Note that the togetherheid pushed endlessly on us is almost entirely rhetorical, preached by people who mean that others should practice it. I lived for years in the city with many liberal, racially correct friends. They spent all their time with other whites, and the restaurants and bars they patronized seldom had more than a token black, if that.
Ethnic mixing doesn’t work, gang. Not Moslems and Parisians, Irish Catholics and Protestants, Shias and Sunnis, Indonesians and Chinese, nor even New Yorkers and Alabamans. We think it should work, insist that it will, punish those who observe that it doesn’t. Yet still it doesn’t work. The greater the difference between groups, the less well it works. If we realized this, and let people do as they choose, the country would be much better off.
Think about how Europeans look down on American lack of culture, or, conversely, think about how Americans look up to European culture. In the envisioned Grand Multicultural Amalgamation, the resulting culture will make American culture look refined.
As for the intrinsic desirability of racial intermingling, go tell that to a tribe of Indians that is dying out, or to African pygmies being hunted to extinction, or to orthodox Jews desperately trying to prevent their race from being intermarried out of existence how it's all really for the best that they go quietly into the void.
Diversity is cultural death. For everyone.
Labels: Vibrancy is our strength
Bob @bobby_5150For some time now, John Scalzi has been offering dubious explanations of his past traffic claims. Last year he stopped reporting his annual traffic and even resorted to posting misleading evidence of a one-day traffic spike driven by an external source in order to shore up his more fraudulent claims. However, it turns out that he was even more grossly fraudulent than we knew when talking himself up to the media. Consider his 2010 interview with this Hugo-winning SF/F magazine, in which he undeniably misrepresented the amount of traffic his site receives by a factor of between 17.5 and five, respectively.
Between @voxday and @scalzi , who would have thought scalzi would be the bigger douche bag. (;:;)
@bobby_5150 Makes You wonder just what else Vox may be right about.
Interview: John ScalziAs it happens, there is considerably more of interest beyond "the dry stats". For various reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with my relationship with certain hacker groups, I am in possession of a considerable amount of Mr. Scalzi's historical traffic statistics and to say that he exaggerated his blog traffic does not really do the man justice. Consider: for the 12-month period from September 2009 to August 2010 immediately preceding the September interview with Ms Stocks, Whatever had 4,916,947 pageviews. And while 409,745 pageviews per month isn't bad, it is considerably less than the "extraordinary amount" of "more than two million page views monthly" that he claimed at the time.
by Erin Stocks
Published September 2010
Anything you ever wanted to know about science fiction writer John Scalzi you can find online at the public and rather opinionated blog that he’s kept since 1998, whatever.scalzi.com/. His bio page holds all the usual info—education, past jobs, present jobs, books published, awards won—and is wrapped up with the tongue-in-cheek coda: “For more detailed information, including a complete bibliography, visit the Wikipedia entry on me. It’s generally accurate.”
But spend a little more time browsing, and you’ll learn that beyond the dry stats and quippy bon mots, there’s more to John Scalzi and his writing than meets the eye. For one thing, his blog gets an extraordinary amount of traffic for a writer’s website–Scalzi himself quotes it at over 45,000 unique visitors daily and more than two million page views monthly.
You don't need to take my word for it either, as in his post entitled 8 Million Views for 2012, Scalzi happened to include a graphic summary of his annual pageviews from previous years, shown here on the right. The 4.49 million number is for 2009 and equates to 374,023 per month. The 5.13 million is for 2010 and amounts to 427,599 per month. Obviously, the 409,745-pageview number for the twelve-month period in between is both credible and substantiated by Scalzi's own report.
Nor will his usual retreat to the "up to" excuse hold any water. The fact is that at no point, either before or after the Lightspeed interview, did Whatever ever have "more than two million page views monthly". John Scalzi has only once ever had more than one million page views, barely, in May 2012. And his unique visitor claim is even less accurate. Prior to September 2010, Whatever's peak MONTHLY unique visitors was just under 135,000, in February 2010. That means that far from being "over 45,000 unique visitors daily", he was actually seeing "under 4,500 unique visitors daily". Considerably under, as it happens; the actual number of daily unique visitors from September 2009 through August 2010 was 2,567. Which even the most math-illiterate pinkshirt should be able to grasp is not "over 45,000".
Now, you may not like me at all. You may not agree with me about much. You may even believe that I am Voxemort, the Supreme Dark Lord, whose name must not be mentioned in the science fiction and fantasy world, in a non-ironic sense. But none of that changes the observable facts. And the facts are that John Scalzi is a proven liar, a fraudulent self-marketer who has regularly inflated his reported traffic in a self-serving manner, and an inherently untrustworthy individual. You simply cannot take anything the man says at face value, much less place any confidence in the narrative he attempts to pass off, because his primary concern is how any given fact or individual can best serve what he perceives to be his interests.
It may help to understand that my perspective has always been iconoclastic and my opinions have been widely read since I was first nationally syndicated back in 1995. As a result, I am under a certain amount of pressure to never modify, spin, or manipulate information in any deceptive or misleading way, because there are literally dozens of critics who dislike me and are waiting to exploit even the smallest slip-up. (Look what resulted from that single tweeted blog link, for example.) It has been that way for nearly twenty years now. So, if I am saying something about my traffic, or especially about someone else's traffic, you can bet your life on the fact that I am telling you the absolute truth to the extent that it is available to me.
I have had a Sitemeter widget on the sidebar for the entire existence of this blog. I have a Google pageviews widget on the sidebar of the AG blog, and I would have one here if it worked with the old template that I prefer and still use. When I say that this blog had 41,075 pageviews yesterday, or that there were 62,971 pageviews between the two one week ago, or the two blogs will get over 1.5 million pageviews this month, I am not exaggerating in the slightest and I can easily prove the truth of my assertions. John Scalzi has all the same information about his traffic that I do and more. All he has to do to prove me to be a liar is to simply make public his Wordpress statistics from September 2009 to August 2010.
Ask yourself why he does not do so. Ask yourself why he will not do so. Ask yourself why he has not only continued to hide his daily traffic numbers since I first called them into question last year, but is now releasing even less information than he did before. And then, like Agree&Amplify, you might consider asking yourself, what else is Vox right about? What else is John Scalzi lying about?
Now, perhaps he is entirely correct and I am "a real bigoted shithole of a human being" and "an undeserving bigot shithole", my Hugo-nominated novelette is "to put it charitably, not good", and Larry Correia is "whining about how [he] totally MEANT to fail spectacularly at the Hugos" and trying to "RATIONALIZE [HIS] HUMILIATING DEFEAT".
Or perhaps he is not, and he is simply lying about these things as he has been observed to lie about other things. The incontrovertible evidence is right there in front of you. To take it into account or to blithely ignore it is up to you. And it's mysterious, is it not, that this very well-sourced and impartial information concerning his "more than two million page views monthly" is missing from his Wikipedia page.
My man in the pub was at the very low end of what believers will do and pay for: the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak.What a pity for him that "Scientology" is already taken. You know, I'd have a private breakfast or lunch with people for a mere $25,000. Actually, that's not quite true. I'd have private lunches or dinners. Since I prefer a silent breakfast, accompanied by reading rather than talking, you're just not going to get your money's worth.
When you compare this to the going rate for other charismatic preachers, it does seem on the high side. The Pentecostal evangelist Morris Cerullo, for example, charges only $30 a month to become a member of ‘God’s Victorious Army’, which is bringing ‘healing and deliverance to the world’. And from Cerullo you get free DVDs, not just discounts.
But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’
The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.
At this point it is obvious to everyone except the participants that what we have here is a religion without the good bits.
As it happens, membership in the Dread Ilk is free and BYOG. Which, of course, stands for Bring Your Own Gun. Not that there isn't a rigorous test, which consists of old-timers such as Nate and the Ghost of Bane staring you and your weapon of choice down with narrowed eyes. If they grunt and turn away, you're in. If they spit and shake their heads, you're out. Of course, if you show up with anything in 9mm and you're not a lady, there is a good chance that if you are accepted, you'll be sent to the Queer Party Friends brigade. Show up with a Glock and you may as well wear heels.
The most amusing part of the piece is definitely the comments, as the Dicky Dawk cultists show up in force. I'm sure you'll be very surprised to know that the author, an atheist, is repeatedly assumed to be, and accused of being, a Christian. Because, after all, there can be no criticism of the Great Master that is not rooted an irrational and unscientific attachment to the evilist of all evil religions. They repeat by rote the usual Dawkinsian nonsense such as this:
Why would xenophobia, racism, rape or sexual infidelity be any more wrong if God did exist? You cant get an ought from an is, even if the “is” is devine. If an act is “moral” only because God commands it, then performing that act isn’t morality, merely blind craven obedience to a divine dictator – who, if the Old Testament is to be believed, frequently ordered his worshippers to commit genocide, rape and child abuse.Morality: "conformity to the rules of right conduct". So performing the act that God commands, which is conforming to the rules of conduct declared to be right by the Creator, is, without question morality. Whether the conformity is "blind craven obedience" or brave, self-determined voluntary compliance, the act is moral.
Which also means that xenophobia, racism, rape or sexual infidelity can only be wrong IF the intrinsically legitimate superhuman authority a) exists, and b) has set rules of right conduct that those things specifically violate.
Monday, August 18, 2014
As expected I came in last place for best novel. The surprising part was that I was originally 4th, but then Australian voting rules kicked in, the last place is removed and the votes are recalculated. It is a weird system, and basically what it does is settles on the least disliked candidate as winner. I thought for sure the outraged SJW contingent would make sure I was dead last from the start, but as I’ve seen over the last few weeks from reviewers, many honest reviewers were surprised that it was actually a really good book.To which Mr. Scalzi, spurned in yet another attempt to make nice with the big dog of the Baen Gang, reacted in his inimitable manner:
As for the rest of the Sad Puppies slate, they did about what we expected. The shocking one was Toni Weisskopf was actually 1st for best editor, but after the Australian thing lost. Too bad, because Toni is truly an amazing editor, but I’ve heard that Buchannan is really talented, so good for her. Brad had a pretty solid showing. Most of the others came in last or close. Vox came in 6th out of 5. (we actually had a side bet about which one of us would do worse because he figured he was far more hated than I was, and he won that bet)
Yeah… I think Scalzi still might be a touch bitter for that time I publically beat him like a rented mule.
I do enjoy the constantly moving goal posts of the perpetually outraged, like how Sad Puppies somehow turned into a crusade for racism/sexism/homophobia in their heads. I never expected to win the Hugo. My stated goals this entire time was to get some political untouchables onto their sainted slate, so that they would demonstrate that there was serious political bias in the awards.
John Scalzi @scalziAnd every Game-conversant man thought. "Tingles? Yeah, I suppose that does sound about right."
Also, I was right: Today IS filled with choice whining about how certain people totally MEANT to fail spectacularly at the Hugos, SO THERE.
John Scalzi @scalzi
RATIONALIZE YOUR HUMILIATING DEFEAT SOME MORE PLEASE IT GIVES ME THE TINGLES IN A DEEP AND PRECIOUS PLACE YES YES THAT'S IT
Labels: Hugo Award
Damien Walter @damiengwalterApparently the real burn has been postponed, as they're still not done talking about the worthy winners of the Hugo Award. Oh, wait, no, they're still talking about me.
Well, if I’m any judge of mental breakdowns, Theodore Beale’s borderline personality disorder will be revving towards implosion around now.
Geoffrey D. Wessel
Fuck him anyhow.
Fred Kiesche @FredKiesche
@damiengwalter You sure about that? Because he seems to think this is all a good thing from the most recent tweet.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
If I’m any judge, yes ;)
The Erudite Ogre @eruditeogre
That is fascinating.
Fred Kiesche @FredKiesche
Especially given the results in the vote breakdown document. Western Union couldn't have been clearer.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
Also highlights how deluded he is. He genuinely believes he has thousands of “Ilk”, when it’s just a few dozen +
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
+ bozos and berks who log on to his blog day after day to argue to rant about stuff they hate.
The Erudite Ogre @eruditeogre
I peeked at his website. He's going with a badge of honor strategy to interpret the results.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
Of course. The real burn comes in a few weeks when we’ve all stopped talking about him.
Fred Kiesche @FredKiesche
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
What? Did you say something?
The Erudite Ogre @eruditeogre
He's deep in his echo chamber right now. Once the adoration wears off he'll write something utterly assholish.
Damien Walter @damiengwalterIsn't it clever and witty when they pretend not to know who they are going on and on about? The remarkable thing about their bizarre attempts to psychoanalyze me is that all of this is the result of a single tweeted link. That's how desperate for attention I was: I wrote a single blog post in response to a Vibrant American who was publicly lying about me, then tweeted the link. If that's not attention-whoring, well, what is?
Theo’s been absolutely and publicly humiliated by the community his pathology has fixated on. I genuinely hope he finds a good therapist.
Arthur Chu @arthur_affect
I find this very doubtful. The whole narrative revolves around persecution & oppression, he publicly predicted he'd lose
SFReviews.net/SFF180 @SFReviewsnet 10h
Meh, people like him have a remarkable skill at constructing narratives in which they come out on top no matter what happens.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
Most likely he’ll ball up in bitter rage that will cripple the rest of his pitiful life. No change there then!
Geoffrey D. Wessel @gdwessel
I wonder if, perhaps, unilaterally, people paid him neither mind nor money? Then what?
Arthur Chu @arthur_affect
Plenty of ppl already don't. That's why the escalation
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
Give it a few weeks, the attention he needs will dissipate, and we’ll find out.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
Eventually people get bored of the story.
Arthur Chu @arthur_affect
Vox didn't get "purged" bc he suddenly decided to start being a racist. He'd been a racist for years
Arthur Chu @arthur_affect
He got "purged" bc for the 1st time he directed a racist screed at a specific person, & marked it to go on Twitter
Geoffrey D. Wessel @gdwessel
Yes, I know all that. :-) But ironically, it's all this that got him the mass attention to begin with.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
That’s why borderlines are very difficult. They fixate on a group and will do anything to get attention from it.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
And his gang of halfwits will start losing interest now because he’s been shown to be weak.
Geoffrey D. Wessel @gdwessel
Well, either that, or the conspiracy moanings will ramp up. Either way, fuck him.
Regretfully this plays into he and his goons narrative.
A nitwit like Beale that has a ridiculous monicker like Vox Day is too ignorant to be humiliated.
Damien Walter @damiengwalter
That’s what malformed personalities do, they create new identities in an attempt to belong somewhere.
Geoffrey D. Wessel @gdwessel
Self-fulfillig prophecies often do.
Spacebunny's response to all this cracked me up: Have to leave @voxday alone for a couple of hours - better lock up the guns before I leave.
But I couldn't be too down, as John Scalzi was, despite our many differences, gracious enough to review "Opera Vita Aeterna". He was really too kind, writing: "It was like Gene Wolfe... easy to enjoy... deserving of award consideration." I mean, wow! I can honestly say I never expected my writing to be compared to Gene Wolfe's in any way, shape, or form. And by a Hugo Award winner, no less! It's very heartening.
Anyhow, now that I have been shown to be
Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by a police officer, sparking protests around the nation, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found.My first thought is that was remarkably good shooting for a cop. The fact that Brown's head was bent forward when he was struck indicates that both the video witness and the friend of the police officer involved were telling the truth when they reported that the 6'4", 292-pound Brown was charging the officer when he was shot dead.
One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said.
Mr. Brown, 18, was also shot four times in the right arm, he said, adding that all the bullets were fired into his front.
None of this excuses the militarization of the police across America, or the initially over-the-top response to the protests that involved heavy machine guns and armored personnel carriers. But it is looking increasingly as if, in this particular case, the entire affair is concerns nothing more than a cop justifiably shooting a vibrant criminal who tried to attack him.
Which, of course, says nothing about the justification for every other police shooting in the country.
Labels: Vibrancy is our strength
Kurdish fighters have recaptured Iraq's largest dam from Jihadists amid 'fierce resistance' from Islamic fighters after support from US airstrikes, according to security officials. The strategically important Mosul Dam – which supplies electricity and water to a large part of the country – was captured a week ago.I thought the seizure of the dam all but guaranteed ISIS dominating the region, because I assumed they would threaten to blow it if there were any attempts to retake it. It's a little surprising, because their strategy has been, until now, both ruthless and effective.
An attempt to retake it began yesterday morning with US air strikes before Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers moved into the area.
But it makes sense for ISIS to refrain from flooding the region if it is seriously intending to govern there. Speaking of ISIS aka ISIL, here is additional information from new Castalia author James Dunnigan, who is also one of the contributors to RIDING THE RED HORSE, and his excellent Strategy Page.
When ISIL overran northern Iraq in early June the Islamic terrorists captured a lot of heavy weapons used by the Iraqi Army. Over the last few years the U.S. has sold lots of used heavy weapons to Iraq at attractive prices. This has included 1,026 M-113 armored personnel carriers, 140 M-1A1 tanks, 21 M88A1 armored recovery vehicles and 60 M1070 tank transporters (which can also carry supplies or other vehicles.) Iraq also bought 24 M-109A5 self-propelled 155mm artillery, and 120 M198 155mm towed howitzers along with thousands of hummers and military trucks, plus infantry weapons, engineer gear and other military equipment.In other words, the artillery at which the US air strikes have been primarily aimed are US-supplied howitzers with a 25-kilometer range. I'd say that is a powerful argument in favor of isolationism.
In June ISIL captured about fifty of those M198 155mm towed howitzers and began looking for someone to operate this stuff. That was not difficult. This was because Sunni Arabs got most of the leadership (officer, senior NCO) and technical (like operating artillery) jobs during the decades of Saddam’s rule. ISIL has a large pool of experienced users of artillery. While most Iraqi artillery was Russian, they also had over a hundred Western 155mm models, like the South African GHN-45. This weapon was not only similar to the M198 but superior in some ways (like longer range). The main reason the U.S. disbanded the Iraqi armed forces after 2003 was the fact that nearly all the key personnel were Sunni Arabs, who had just lost power and access to most of the oil income. That loss of power and privilege made most Sunni Arabs very angry and that’s why to this day most Islamic terrorists in Iraq are Iraqi Sunni Arabs. Thus ISIL knew it had a waiting supply of qualified soldiers who knew how to operate an M198 and many were willing to do it without too much prompting.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
John Scalzi @scalziAnd then, for some unknown reason, he posted a picture of an orc. I'm not exactly sure what that had to do with anything, but there you go. Anyhow, here's the interesting thing about the nominations for the 2014 awards. The nominating votes for the supposed "bloc voters":
I'm not going to lie. I'm going to be THRILLED to snarkread the whiny "I didn't want it anyway" nonsense that will squirt forth tomorrow.
John Scalzi @scalzi
WE ARE GOING TO MAKE THE HUGO SLATE A REFERENDUM ON THE FUTURE OF SCIENCE FICTION (loses) THE HUGOS DON'T MATTER ANYWAY
John Scalzi @scalzi
SHUT UP I AM NOT CRYING IT'S THAT LITTLE FLECKS OF GUNPOWDER FELL INTO MY EYEBALLS SOMEONE GET ME A FLAMING SWORD SO I CAN FLICK THEM OUT
John Scalzi @scalzi
WHO IS CALLING ME PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE I AM ALL AGGRESSIVE DON'T YOU SEE THIS HUGE GUN I HAVE WITH ME AT ALL TIMES (breaks down, sobbing)
John Scalzi @scalzi
AND NOW I WILL IGNORE THE HUGOS AGAIN UNTIL NEXT YEAR WHEN MY FEELINGS OF PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE INADEQUACY ANGRILY WELL UP ONCE MORE
John Scalzi @scalzi
I'VE LEARNED MY LESSON AND MY LESSON IS THAT WE DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH PATENT RACIST SHITBAGGERY ON OUR SLATE WHAT THAT WAS GOOD WRITING MAN
John Scalzi @scalzi
ITS PROOF THAT ALL THE FEMINISTS NEED TO DO TO WIN AWARDS IS WRITE BETTER STORIES ACCORDING TO THE JUDGEMENT OF THE FANS SHEEESH
John Scalzi @scalzi
I NEVER WANTED THE AWARD THAT'S WHY I'VE WHINED LIKE A KICKED DOG ABOUT IT FOR A COUPLE YEARS RUNNING.
Larry Correia 184
Toni Weisskopf 169
Brad Torgersen: 111
Dan Wells 106
Brad Torgersen 92
Vox Day 69
Sarah Hoyt 38
Clearly we operate in perfect unthinking lockstep. Here are the nominating votes for those who vocally opposed the "bloc voters"
Charles Stross: 120
Charles Stross: 127
Mary Kowal: 118
Pure coincidence or psychological projection?
UPDATE: And McRapey keeps digging deeper:
You’ve seen me snark about it, I’m sure, but now that the voting is over, what did I really think of the “sad puppy” slate of nominees championed by Larry Correia and others? What I thought at the beginning, which was: The folks pushing the slate played within the rules, so game on, and the game is to convince people that the work deserves the Hugo. It does not appear the voters were convinced. As a multiple Hugo loser myself, I can say: That’s the breaks, and better luck another year.I find it amusing that Scalzi keeps acting as if it is junior high, and if only he can separate Larry from me, then HE can become BFFs with Larry. The Left simply never understands the Right. I like and respect Larry. We get along fine. But we don't agree on everything and we don't spend even five seconds each day thinking about the other guy. Scalzi is welcome to his opinion of my writing, Lord knows I don't think much of his either. But it doesn't even cross Scalzi's mind that since Larry is a religious man who has real friends on the basis of friendship rather than their utility for him, Larry might have read the story very differently than he did.
With that said, Correia was foolish to put his own personal capital as a successful and best selling novelist into championing Vox Day and his novelette, because Vox Day is a real bigoted shithole of a human being, and his novelette was, to put it charitably, not good (less charitably: It was like Gene Wolfe strained through a thick and rancid cheesecloth of stupid). Doing that changed the argument from something perfectly legitimate, if debatable — that conservative writers are often ignored for or discounted on award ballots because their personal politics generally conflict with those of the award voters — into a different argument entirely, i.e., fuck you, we got an undeserving bigot shithole on the Hugo ballot, how you like them apples.
Which is a shame. It’s fine for Correia to beclown himself with Day, if such is his joy, and he deserves to reap the fruits of such an association. I suspect, however, there are others whom he championed for his “sad puppy” slate who were less thrilled to find themselves looped in with Day by involuntary association. Likewise, Correia is a good writer and his works are fun to read and easy to enjoy; others he championed are likewise fine writers, and their works deserving of award consideration. He didn’t do his work, or the work of these other writers, any favors by muddling his message with Day’s nonsense.
Now, I understand Correia will be happy to tell you that his Hugo loss doesn’t matter to him, which is fine. I do wonder if he considered how other people that were seen as part of his slate feel the same way, or whether he’d do them or their careers any damage by associating them with a bigoted shithole, or that if he really wanted to make the argument that a particular set of writers are ignored by award voters, that he went about making the argument in just about the worst way possible. Bad strategy, bad tactics, bad result.
Moreover, keep in mind that this is the same Scalzi who not two weeks ago was openly mocking someone on Twitter for declaring that works of literature can be judged by objective standards. He's not so much inconsistent as incoherent.
UPDATE: Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor editor, self-admitted racist, and confirmed anuraphile, is nothing but pure class:
P Nielsen Hayden @pnh 27m
Good luck to most of the Hugo nominees tonight! Except for one particular would-be fascist, to whom bad cess and embarrassing skin diseases.
UPDATE 2: Ginjer Buchanan won the Editor Long Form award. If Toni Weisskopf didn't win that, it's safe to conclude things will go according to the usual form.
UPDATE 3: A true travesty! Dinopornia is denied the double! We're expected to believe that gay Asian angst is the best that science fiction has to offer in short form these days. And they wonder why subscriptions have declined precipitously.
UPDATE 4: Lady Astronaut wins Best Novelette. Why is "Lady Editor" deemed unforgivable sexism, but "Lady Astronaut" deemed perfectly fine? Trying to be brave here and remind myself it's really an honor just to be nominated....
UPDATE 5: The pinkshirts are celebrating. James Worrad tweets: "Said it yourself, bitch: we're the guardians of the galaxy." #DiversityInSF #hugoawards" What galaxy is that, the gay angsty one?
UPDATE 6: Yergh. Stross wins for Equoid. That's genuinely nasty. These are some seriously disturbed people here. Of course, they're the same people who gave a lifetime achievement award to Marion Zimmer Bradley.
UPDATE 7: Wow, Ancillary Justice beat out Wheel of Time. Well, at least it's not as embarrassing as Redshirts, although I have no doubt in future years people will wonder how it managed to win so many awards. It should be interesting to see how the voting went. I'll post the numbers here in a bit.
RESULTS: It's official. I am more hated than Larry. Take that, International Lord of Hate. 6th in a five-man race! That's totally going in the bio.
NO AWARD 1052
NO AWARD 1232
OPERA VITA AETERNA 855
"The Chaplain's Legacy" actually came in third in the initial vote, but the peculiarities of the Hugo vote dropped it back to fourth. And "The Exchange Officers" finished fourth. Toni Weisskopf actually had the most first-place votes initially, 384 to 359, but again, the voting system dropped her back and she came in second, 678-474.
Good show, everyone. I can honestly say that I have never had so much fun losing an award.
#1 How’d he get from there to there?That doesn't make it a good or necessary shoot, but it does belie the "execution" story.
#2 Because he ran, the police was still in the truck – cause he was like over the truck
#2 But him and the police was both in the truck, then he ran – the police got out and ran after him
#2 Then the next thing I know he doubled back toward him cus - the police had his gun drawn already on him –
#1. Oh, the police got his gun
#2 The police kept dumpin on him, and I’m thinking the police kept missing – he like – be like – but he kept coming toward him
#2 Police fired shots – the next thing I know – the police was missing
#1 The Police?
#2 The Police shot him
#2 The next thing I know … I’m thinking … the dude started running … (garbled something about “he took it from him”)
This is terribly important because if Mike Brown had been shot, and he advanced towards the cop instead of surrendering, it would substantiate the narrative that the policeman shot in self-defense due to the fact that he was being threatened with severe bodily harm.
This corroborates an account of the event given by a friend of Officer Darren Wilson:
Well, then Michael takes off and gets to be about 35 feet away. And, Darren’s first protocol is to pursue. So, he stands up and yells, “Freeze!” Michael and his friend turn around. And Michael taunts him… And then all the sudden he just started bumrushing him. He just started coming at him full speed. And, so he just started shooting. And, he just kept coming. And, so he really thinks he was on something.”
It’s far too unlikely that these two accounts are similar accidentally, having been from such disparate sources. The seeming witness in the background conversation is speaking with detail about the tragic shooting, and in a manner that runs contrary to the widespread version.
Now, I'm certainly not saying my life is perfect. Far from it. I've made sub-optimal decisions, I've made mind-boggling mistakes, and if I had known at 19 what I know now, I might well own part of two billion-dollar corporations. But, as a general rule, I am able to accomplish what I set my mind to doing so long as I don't get too bored.
What most of you don't know is that I've been lecturing this year at a technical institute, nominally teaching game development. But what I learned over the course of the spring semester was that while the information I was providing them was useful and valuable, the lessons they found most important had nothing directly to do with games or game development.
General concepts that I've learned and put into practice, such as failing faster, seeking external sources of motivation, incorporating objective metrics, demanding high performance, and leveraging personal connections to mutual benefit actually turned out to be much more valuable to them than the industry-specific ones. So much so, in fact, that several of the best students in the class asked permission to be able to attend it again in the fall.
(I said yes and even gave the institute instructions to let them do so for a nominal fee instead of the usual cost, although this didn't quite make sense to me in rational terms; I'd already taught them what I intend to teach in the fall. But now, thanks to the Murakami novel I've been reading, I think I understand what they're seeking by repeating the course.)
What hit the lightswitch was a passage in Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Tazaki-san is speaking with his old friend Aka, from whom he has been estranged for more than twenty years. Aka runs a very successful creative business seminar company called BEYOND, which is one part corporate self-improvement, one part psychology, and one part bullshit. In explaining his success, Aka says:
One other thing I learned from working in a company was that the majority of people in the world have no problem following orders. They’re actually happy to be told what to do. They might complain, but that’s not how they really feel. They just grumble out of habit. If you told them to think for themselves, and make their own decisions and take responsibility for them, they’d be clueless. So I decided I could turn that into a business. It’s simple....
There are quite a few people who reject the program. You can divide them into two groups. The first is antisocial. In English you’d call them ‘outcasts.’ They just can’t accept any form of constructive criticism, no matter what it is. They reject any kind of group discipline. It’s a waste of time to deal with people like that, so we ask them to withdraw. The other group is comprised of people who actually think on their own. Those it’s best to leave alone. Don’t fool with them. Every system needs elite people like them. If things go well, they’ll eventually be in leadership positions. In the middle, between those two groups, are those who take orders from above and just do what they’re told. That’s the vast majority of people. By my rough estimate, 85 percent of the total. I developed this business to target the 85 percent.
In combination with a new writing program I've been using, that gave me an idea. Now, I've been trying to figure out how to start a business that is actually necessary for ten years. The fields in which I've been involved for years are pretty far down the priority list; no one really needs techno music, faster graphics, video games, or science fiction novels. They've mostly been offshoots of my personal interests. On the other hand, I have neither the skill nor the inclination to get involved in providing food, water, sex, or waste disposal, and as for shelter, well, I'm not exactly optimistic about the credit-stretched housing market.
Aka's fictional company teaches corporate drones how to let the corporation think for them. That sort of thing is of no interest to me; I want to encourage people to think for themselves, not rely upon me, or anyone else, to do so, insofar as they are capable of it. But then it occurred to me that the two primary things I provided to the kids I have successfully coached are clarity and discipline. I didn't teach them how to dribble, I taught them when to dribble and when to pass. I didn't teach them how to shoot, I taught them when to look for the shot and when to look for the pass. I didn't teach them how to tackle the guy with the ball, I taught them when to attack the ball and when to cut off the passing lanes.
On the soccer field, there are always a plethora of available options and decisions concerning which one to take need to be made so quickly that they are best made without thinking at all. In helping Ender make the transition from keeper to defender, I had to start with the very basics, and gradually bring him along a series of decision trees until he reached the point that he had internalized them and was reacting faster than I could call out directions from the sidelines.
About six months ago, I looked at what Athol Kay has been doing with his relationship counseling and concluded that I had no desire whatsoever to get involved with that can of worms. I have no interest in providing investment advice. And while it would be easy to start some sort of European men's conference akin to Paul Elam's recent one in Detroit, that doesn't interest me either. I'm a game designer. I like to create systems that are both efficient and functional, and none of those things fit the bill.
But to design a system that permits an individual to life his life more effectively and efficiently, that is a fascinating challenge, indeed, in some respects, it is one I have been addressing in some fashion my entire life. I'm not saying that I've figured it out, but on the sheer basis of my literary output and my moderate success in various unrelated fields, I would estimate that I'm operating at about 50 percent more efficiency than the average. Now, one could put that down to my having about 50 percent more intelligence than the norm, but I know too many people who are smarter than I am who do less with more, and too many who do more with less, to accept that explanation.
So, I'm thinking about running a development experiment for what might be described as a technology-based life-design system, or semi-mechanical life-coaching. The aim would be for the system to be successful in objective terms for most people, low-cost or effectively no net cost to the user through the performance efficiencies gained, and zero bullshit. I'm not a guru or a spiritualist or a yogi, I'm a technologist and I believe in material metrics. None of that nebulous "he found his balance" or "she rediscovered her confidence" fraud. If it is effective across the board in material terms, there might be a business there. If it isn't, then I'll have failed quickly, without taking advantage of anyone, and I'll move on to the next idea.
(This doesn't have anything to do with dissatisfaction with either Castalia or Alpenwolf. Far from it. It is, rather an opportunity to test some of the ideas I've developed on myself as well as others. To a certain extent, it almost feels as if I somehow managed to kick my brain into a higher gear. Or perhaps I'm merely delusional with all the excitement surrounding the Hugo Awards.)
UPDATE: I have more than enough volunteers, thank you. I'll be sending out some questionnaires within a week and will select the five test cases after that.
Europe hasn’t recovered, because it hasn’t let itself. Too much fiscal austerity and too little monetary stimulus have, instead, put it more than halfway to a lost decade that’s already worse than the 1930s.A greater depression. A Great Depression 2.0, some might say. The same is true of the USA, by the way, the main difference is that the Fed and the Administration are more able to closely collude on statistical shenanigans that disguise the fact that the U.S. economy is in a deeper depression of greater magnitude than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
It’s a greater depression.
And as the latest GDP numbers show, it’s not getting any less so. Indeed, the eurozone as a whole didn’t grow at all in the second quarter. Neither did France, whose economy has actually been flat for a year now. Germany’s economy fell 0.2 percent from the previous quarter—and that after revisions revealed it had quietly gone through a double-dip recession in early 2013. Though that’s still much better than Italy: Its GDP also fell 0.2 percent, but its triple-dip recession has now wiped out all growth since 2000. The closest thing approximating good news was that Spain’s dead-cat bounce recovery continued with 0.6 percent growth. But it still has 24.5 percent unemployment.
But it’s a little misleading to just call this a depression. It’s worse than that. Europe is turning Japanese. The combination of zombie banks, a rapidly aging population and, most importantly, too-tight money have pushed it into a “lowflationary” trap that makes it hard to grow, and is even harder to escape from.
Using GDP to determine whether the economy is growing or contracting is like attempting to use a map to determine if you have reached your destination without bothering to look outside to see where you are. A map written by a thief who doesn't want you to get where you are going.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
A black Ferguson resident spoke with News Channel 5 TV in St. Louis. He said, “Why were the officers standing back? Why don’t they shoot these looters?”This is why the officers were standing back. Apparently Africans in Ferguson are now literally outside the law:
On Friday night several Ferguson area businesses were hit by looters.
** Liquor Store Looted
** Sam’s Meat Market
** Chinese restaurant (for second time this week)
** Beauty Supply Store Looted
** Electronics Store Looted
** Domino’s Pizza fire – May have been inside the business
** Bus Stop Vandalized
County Police told Fox 2 News that its officers were at the Ferguson Market earlier when looters showed up, but were ordered to “Stand down” by Missouri State Highway Patrol incident commanders at the scene and basically withdrew and allowed the looters to have their way with the store.UPDATE: Not that I am inclined to cut the overmilitarized cops any slack whatsoever, but here are pictures of the new Trayvon, that poor widdle Negro child who never done nothing to nobody just a few minutes before he was assassinated while minding his own business by a white raciss police officer.
The fact that Michael Brown was an oversized thief prone to petty violence and throwing his weight around doesn't justify his shooting. But it does paint a very different picture of what went down after he was confronted by the police officer who killed him while he was strutting down the middle of the street with his stolen Swisher Sweets.
LANDMARK Adelaide research showing that sperm and eggs appear to carry genetic memories of events well before conception, may force a rethink of the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, scientists say.I'm just curious how much more the theory has to be shown to have gotten wrong before its advocates decide that it is time to start viewing it as just another scientific hypothesis rather than unquestionable dogma. The conceptual epicycles are stacking up at an ever-increasing rate.
It also suggests the bad habits developed through a parent’s lifetime could be passed on genetically to their children.The University of Adelaide research, published internationally today, shows that babies may be prone to their parents’ youthful behaviour, from gorging as obese teenagers to a preference for fruit or even dislike of smells.
The work by the university’s Robinson Research Institute appears on Friday in the international journal Science after being put through scrupulous peer review.
It paves the way for a review of the work of French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, whose theory that an organism can pass to its offspring characteristics acquired during its lifetime was largely ignored after Darwin’s publication of On The Origin of Species in the mid-1800s, that work defining evolution as a process of incidental, random mutation between generations.
It should be readily apparent that genetic memory would be a considerably more powerful mechanism than waiting for random mutations, then gradually selecting for those genes across an entire population, one favored mating survivor at a time.
Gavin McInnes, chief creative officer of Rooster in New York, has been asked to take an indefinite leave of absence following the publication of a transphobic essay.It's telling how large Christian boycotts that actually have an economic effect on the company seldom produce any changes in behavior, but if the degenerates and the mentally ill threaten a trivial boycott that will have no effect whatsoever, the companies are always happy to ask "how high?"
Published earlier this week on Thought Catalog, "Transphobia is Perfectly Natural" has at publication received 2,082 comments. It has also sparked a "Boycott Rooster" movement, with Tumblr and Twitter accounts asking followers to let Rooster clients—Vans, Red Bull, Fox Sports and others—know they will not support companies that work with McInnes.
"Gavin's views are his own and do not represent those of the company or its members," said a Rooster representative. "We are extremely disappointed with his actions and have asked that he take a leave of absence while we determine the most appropriate course of action."
It's almost as if they use it as an excuse to thought-police their organizations....
A prominent member of Mozilla posted a plea for people to return to Firefox a few weeks ago. I was not the only one to tell him no, absolutely not, and to reference Mozilla's thought-policing behavior.
Which is a reminder that if you're using Firefox, I would encourage you to switch to another browser. It really has made a difference; about a third of the Firefox users here successfully changed to something else.
Friday, August 15, 2014
I join my voice to those of Rand Paul and other prominent libertarians who are reacting to the violence in Ferguson, Mo. by calling for the demilitarization of the U.S.’s police. Beyond question, the local civil police in the U.S. are too heavily armed and in many places have developed an adversarial attitude towards the civilians they serve, one that makes police overreactions and civil violence almost inevitable.First, it's ridiculous that some liberals have been feigning to be ignorant of libertarians protesting the militiarization of the badge gang. Radley Balko has singlehandedly led the charge against it, and been backed up by Glenn Reynolds's campaign to advocate the legal right of the citizenry to film the police. There are scores of posts dating back years right here on this blog under the tag NWA was right. It's the Left that has been silently approving of the growing police state, not the libertarian Right. I don't need to add my voice to esr's and Rand Paul's because it has been there all along. Demilitarize the police and do it now!
But I publish this blog in part because I think it is my duty to speak taboo and unspeakable truths. And there’s another injustice being done here: the specific assumption, common among civil libertarians, that police overreactions are being driven by institutional racism. I believe this is dangerously untrue and actually impedes effective thinking about how to prevent future outrages.
In the Kivila language of the Trobriand Islands there is a lovely word, “mokita”, which means “truth we all know but agree not to talk about”. I am about to speak some mokitas.
Second, the Left simply has to deal with racial reality. In the USA, crime is a predominantly black problem. Not because they're poor, not because the Man is keeping them down, not because of slavery, but because blacks are, on average, less intelligent, possess shorter time preferences, and are much more likely to have a genetic predisposition towards aggressive behavior than the rest of the population. Those are three facts that have been repeatedly substantiated by science and there is literally nothing to discuss about them except for the consequences. Nor are they any more in doubt or racist than the statement that young men between the ages of 15 and 30 commit more crime than old women between the ages of 65 and 80 is sexist or ageist.
Third, I endorse Instapundit's suggestion: "A simple rule would be to provide that police can have only weapons that a civilian could lawfully possess, since they’re civilians themselves."
Ukraine said its troops attacked and partially destroyed a column of armed vehicles that had crossed the border from Russian territory, while Russia said it was concerned about an attack on another convoy carrying aid.Putin clearly needs to study at the feet of the brilliant strategists in Honduras and Guatemala. The correct way to safely cross a border is to send in children, or at least twenty-something armed men you claim to be children. Isn't it interesting that Glen Beck is not in tears, insisting that every Ukrainians Christian duty is to go to the border and and meet those poor Russian trucks seeking a better life and offer them food and clothing.
In the broadest possible sense, writing well means to communicate clearly and interestingly and in a way that feels alive to the reader. Where there’s some kind of relationship between the writer and the reader — even though it’s mediated by a kind of text — there’s an electricity about it.Notice that his definition is intrinsically subjective and determined by the reader. This is why various claims that a competent writer is stylistically terrible while another one is wonderful are, for the most part, mere posturing. Now, that doesn't mean that one cannot be a technically bad writer, since there are basic grammatical rules to every language, words have specific meanings and can therefore be used improperly, and sentences or paragraphs can be strung together in a variety of incoherent and otherwise incompetent ways.
But the fact that the idea communicated is distasteful or that it is communicated in a way that is uninteresting or feels leaden to a reader does not, contra the blatherings of the would-be literary crowd of the SF/F community, make it bad writing. No matter how they preen and posture, David Foster Wallace himself is telling them that they are wrong, and since they are no more than literary wannabes, they have no counterarguments to this appeal to authority.
This subjective element doesn't mean that all functional prose is of equal beauty or equally effective. Not at all. One need only compare the difference between my pedestrian style versus John C. Wright's sparkling literary pyrotechnics to see that. But it does mean that in order to be legitimately considered bad writing, as opposed to merely not-great writing, there has to be something technically incorrect about it. So, for example, I'll turn to Ayn Rand, to whose prose deficiencies I have myself referred. Here is a randomly selected paragraph from Atlas Shrugged.
One by one, the men who had built new towns in Colorado, had departed into some silent unknown, from which no voice or person had yet returned. The towns they had left were dying. Some of the factories they built had remained ownerless and locked; others had been seized by the local authorities; the machines in both stood still.In my estimation, Ayn Rand's chief stylistic problem was her overreliance upon the past perfect simple tense and the passive voice. While her sentences are more or less grammatically correct, and therefore not, strictly speaking, erroneous, the effect is stultifying. Count the astonishing number of "had VERB" instances in the two paragraphs. There are 11 in only seven sentences. Her prose is so passive it is lying supine, flat upon its back, drooling.
She had felt as if a dark map of Colorado were spread before her like a traffic control panel, with a few lights scattered through its mountains. One after another, the lights had gone out. One after another, the men had vanished. There had been a pattern about it, which she felt, but could not define; she had become able to predict, almost with certainty, who would go next and when; she was unable to grasp the “why?”
Moreover, it is not used in an entirely correct manner. The past perfect simple tense is to be used "when describing an event that occurred before something else followed". But what follows the failure to return of a voice or person, what follows the factories remaining ownerless, when those events are still ongoing? Also, if something is unknown, how can it be silent? It is the men who are silent, not the unknown. It would have been acceptable to say "some unknown silence", but it is not correct to say "some silent unknown". And how does a voice return, via the telephone?
"The men left and were never heard from again." That would be a much simpler way to say it. She's shooting for a flowery, more dramatic and haunting effect, of course, but she lays it on too heavily and it comes off poorly. It's also structurally inconsistent to switch from who and when to "the why?". This is Rand's flair for the dramatic asserting itself at the wrong time, she should have simply said: "she was unable to grasp why", although she could have also, less gracefully, chosen to utilize the "who?" and the "when?". These are but a few of the many such errors that litter her writing; they do not make her a bad writer (style being only one of the four major facets of writing), but they do make her an observably flawed stylist.
I'm not cherry-picking here. I intentionally chose a passage at random knowing that I would find some such deficiencies, although I did not think to discover such an abundance of them. In fact, that is the most fair way to judge a writer's technical competence, as intentionally focusing on one passage that one finds infelicitous is not only indicative of negative intent, but can be completely misleading. Furthermore, most assertions of bad writing, particularly when a controversial writer is concerned, are provably false. Consider:
The first thing one picks up on when starting Atlas Shrugged is the poverty of the prose. Ayn Rand, no matter her or her followers’ opinion otherwise, just isn’t a very good writer. The language is plodding, non-lyrical, and often often awkward. For example, in one scene she writes, “He stood slouching against the bar.” To my knowledge, one stands against a bar or one slouches against a bar-but one does not stand slouching.This is amusing, not only due to the phrase "often often awkward" or because the posturing would-be critic only supplies one example, but because he doesn't quote the text correctly or provide a legitimate example. As another observer noted: "About the “slouching,” the actual sentence is “Bertram Scudder stood slouched against the bar.” That’s perfectly sensible: a person can slouch while sitting or standing, and in doing so the person might be leaning against a bar." Since "to slouch" means "to sit or stand with an awkward, drooping posture" it is perfectly reasonable to clarify whether the slouching individual is sitting or standing.
Now, as I've already pointed out, there are legitimate grounds to criticize the stylistic facet of Rand's writing. But very few of those who claim she is a bad writer ever seem to reference them. In a similar manner, I have been vastly amused by the way in which my critics have focused, laser-like, on a single passage from "Opera Vita Aeterna" that has been repeatedly cited to support the claim that I am a terrible writer. This is the exhibit one of the execrable writing they condemn:
The cold autumn day was slowly drawing to a close. The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark. The first of the two moons was already visible high above the mountains. Soon Arbhadis, Night’s Mistress, would unveil herself as well.While there are no technical errors of the sort we see in Rand's writing, there is obviously something a little strange there. The implication that the sun's rays are physically holding up the sun, and that night is falling because those rays are no longer strong enough to do so, will likely strike the reader as weirdly literal.
And if the story proceeded into more similarly clumsy metaphors, one might reasonably conclude that the writer has an overly literal mind and is technically deficient in that regard. But it doesn't; even the most dismissive critics have noted that it's only this first passage that contains anything of this sort. Moreover, instead of proceeding into a pedestrian tale of swords, sorcery, and derring-do, it's a rather unusual story where nothing seems to happen and almost everyone dies violently, in addition to this dichotomy is a short spelunking into pseudo-Thomistic philosophy sufficiently sophisticated to lead critics into mistakenly concluding it is cribbed, and to top it all off, the ending is ambiguous. So, it should be clear that the writer does not have the overly literal mind suspected at the start.
This doesn't matter to the superficial reader only looking for an excuse to dismiss the writer, of course. The pedestrian critic will simply moan about the supposedly awful metaphor and think no further. That's exactly the role he is supposed to play. But the ideal reader will wonder about the seeming contradiction observed. He might know the author well enough to realize that the author's mind is more Machiavellian than literal, and possessed of a cruel sense of humor. And he would certainly know that the author's observable familiarity with medieval philosophy would tend to indicate an awareness of the naturalistic literalism of that era.
Or he might not. Regardless, what is so funny to me is that the very people who think Monty Python is so clever and funny when they portray the sun walking on two legs below the horizon in a movie don't recognize the exact same thing when it isn't presented in a juvenile, full-color cartoon format. As it happens, the critics were correct to react to the passage in a hostile manner, they simply didn't recognize how it defines my relationship to the type of reader they represent, which is to say, my unconcealed contempt for their dim little minds.
I'm more interested in ideas than style. I'm certainly not one of those writers, like Ayn Rand, who claims that every comma is sacred and placed with perfect intent, but as a general rule, it is safe to conclude that something seems a little strange, there is a message to someone, somewhere, being sent. Even if it is a simple one that could have been just as easily delivered with a single finger.
In the wake of Robin Williams's suicide, David Brooks pleaded for mercy for the creators: "My plea here is for people to give the needed space to artists and performers to fail every now and then, and to understand how exposed someone feels when trying something new. The trolls, the Twitter executioners and the like should save their savagery for those who are famous for being famous."
I could not disagree more. Bring it on. Wax eloquent on Twitter and on your blogs about what a terrible writer I am, what a terrible person I am. Open up your hate and let it flow into me.
Labels: Rules of Writing
Was guaranteed the upper hand.
We ruled the seas from here to there
And landed armies everywhere.
The Kaiser, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh
No enemy could hope to win.
Our cities far from foreign shores,
Our people safe from far-off wars
Grew fat in their security
From sea to ever-shining sea.
And so it was we thought to share
Our good fortune as we could spare
The sacred seeds of liberty
Blooming on our blood-watered tree.
We disregarded Europe's classes
And embraced the huddled masses
Come one, come all, out went the call
As hubris presages a fall,
For did not Man want to be free
And dwell in true equality?
German, Italian, Irish too,
Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, and Jew,
They came to seek a better life
Escaping all that Old World strife.
And yet, they did not understand
The rights of every Englishman,
The Common Law was mystery
To grandchildren of serfs unfree.
And so they swore to flag and place
While seeking to transform the base.
Whatever happened, we had got
Atomic bombs, and they did not.
But then came Nineteen Sixty-Five
When sons of refugees contrived
To open doors to all the races
Black and brown and yellow faces.
Thus assured prosperity
We gave away technology,
We ruined universities
While lauding our diversities.
God was dead or so we heard
And Nation just a racist word
We learned a new and nobler truth
Built on a dream of vibrant youth
While our jobs sailed overseas
And went to new minorities.
Then aliens invaded schools
We realized that we'd been fools.
At last we saw the dreadful fact
Of copybook gods coming back.
Once we had the Maxim Gun
Whatever, so does everyone.
Now we live in exciting times
And pay the price for history's crimes.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
Anthem by Ayn Rand
Who Goes There? by Don A Stuart
"Rule 18" by Clifford D. Simak
Best Short Story
"Hollerbochen's Dilemma" by Ray Bradbury
"How We Went to Mars" By Arthur C. Clarke
Best Editor, Short Form
John W. Campbell
Best Fan Writer
Rather pleased about those first two (on the bottom). Campbell was the one in which I was most interested. I'd quite like to see Simak and Lewis win, although I wouldn't object to E.E. Smith winning Best Novel for Galactic Patrol.
HG Wells won Best Dramatic Presentation for War of the Worlds. I voted for that too, but then, I'd be shocked if anyone didn't.
UPDATE: Hmmm. The Sword in the Stone? I had it third on my ballot, but a retelling of Arthurian legend over the seminal science fiction space opera and a true SF classic? But he seems to be a favorite of the Moorcock-inspired crowd and I suppose a socially impaired British agnostic is always going to be viewed more favorably by the fandom crowd than a Christian apologist, even a British one. But I really would have thought they'd go for Smith, not White.
Three out of six isn't bad, but my take on this is that the Blue SF vote is still pretty small; it's enough to serve as a swing vote, but probably won't have much of an effect on Sunday. Regardless we'll find out soon enough.
UPDATE 2: Stats are out. It's a rough metric, but there appear to be 300 hardcore Pink votes who voted No Award over Anthem vs 160 Blue who voted it and Hollerbochen's Dilemma first. Just out of curiosity, I was interested to note that Out of the Silent Planet came in second, with 555 votes to 499 for Galactic Patrol which finished third.
Labels: Hugo Award
I’ve had an opportunity lately to speak to a lot of feminists about why so many young women are rejecting feminism, and one theme that has come up repeatedly is that feminism is interested in equal rights for everyone. I have yet to meet a single feminist who was not completely astonished to discover that not only do women have equal rights to men, they actually have more rights than men. Most feminists will backpedal when confronted with that reality and try to justify why they are deserving of more rights than men, but the stark fact remains that in 2014, women do indeed have more rights than men. Here are five legally enshrined rights that women have and men do not:She's taking the same approach I did to proving that religion doesn't cause war. The rhetorically minded think that by ceaselessly yapping and conjuring up spurious logics, they can prove the unprovable. They can't. A little dialectic bomb always suffices to blow away the obscuring fortress of words that they've woven, and with which they've confused the less insightful.
1. Women have the right to genital integrity
Regardless of how you personally feel about the practice of circumcision (I personally find it barbaric, cruel and completely unjustifiable), the legal fact is that infant girls are protected against any genital cutting of any kind and infant boys are not. Many feminists will argue that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a magnitude of brutality beyond male genital mutilation and while that may be true, I do not find the “it’s only a little bit brutal” argument to be very compelling. It’s like saying cutting off a toe is okay because cutting off a foot is much worse. Ultimately, the argument is immaterial to the fact that women have the legal right to be protected from having their body parts sliced off. Men do not
The fact, the undeniable fact, is that if women wish to claim they support equality, they need to remove these legal rights granted to women and not granted to men. And there are considerably more. Just to give one more example, women are have the right of due process when accused of rape. Men on college campuses do not, a right that some young men are fighting for even now.
Judgy Bitch has demonstrated the facts. To be pro-equality, you must be anti-feminist, because feminism is observably anti-legal equality.
nich, 12 August 2014 at 9:15 pmOf course it's "fucking crickets". The legitimate protest is not being conducted by their people. "American citizen" is now as meaningless a term as "citizen of the world" or "member of the human race". The "darkies" in Ferguson who are, quite rightly in my opinion, protesting the latest murder of one of their own by the badge gang, have absolutely nothing in common with the armed, civilized freedom fighters who successfully withstood the federal forces at the Bundy ranch.
In fact, speaking of the fucking Bundy brigade, where the fuck are all the freedom fighters using their precious 2nd amendment rights to protect the citizenry from tyranny? They’ll show up armed to the teeth to protect some fucking cows and keep the darkies on their side of the border, but the government actually rolls up in armored vehicles to squash a legitimate protest and it’s fucking crickets from these clowns.
It's not even an "enemy of my enemy" situation, because the Missouri police are not the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
There is no nation in America any longer. The Left shattered whatever post-Civil War remnants of it remained in 1965, and it is gradually discovering that its fictitious "melting pot", its romantic mythology of an "idea nation", will not long survive the reality of differing peoples harboring radically different ideas inside the same borders. The armed white Christians in America will fight to defend themselves when finally forced to do so, but they're no more likely to fight for African-Americans in Missouri than they are for African-Africans in Rwanda or the Congo. Or than any of those Africans were willing to show up to fight for a European-American rancher in Nevada.
I very much doubt that many, if any, of the Bundy Brigade support the Missouri police. But why should they risk their lives or shed any blood in the interest of defending those who are not their kind? After all, the police and the federal agents are American citizens too.
I've been reading Max Hasting's book on World War I. It's interesting, even though I disagree with his core perspective on who kicked it all off. The USA is, in some respects, in a position similar to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1900. The analogy is far from perfect, but the key similarity is that of a fundamentally divided multi-ethnic empire with incompetent, overly centralized leadership carelessly throwing its weight around while failing to realize how the empire's internal divisions make it dangerous for it to do so. Barack Hussein seriously weighing military intervention in Iraq while ignoring the flag of ISIS flying in New Jersey is as insane as anything Franz Joseph ever did.
When cynical leaders engage in wars, thinking to unite the people behind them, they tend to forget that this works when the people are, in fact, a people. A single people, a nation. Otherwise, the stresses of war tend to fracture countries on their ethnic and ideological divides. Once an identifiable Anglo-Saxon Christian nation possessed of a unique transnational ideology, the USA is no longer a nation in any meaningful sense of the word except for lines on a political map.
Many sincerely believed that the ideological aspect trumped the Anglo-Saxon and Christian aspects. But it is becoming increasingly obvious that, despite the survival of its trappings, the former has not survived the loss of the latter two elements. One should be no more surprised that the Bundy Brigade declined to come to the assistance of the blacks of Ferguson than one is that the Roman citizens of Gaul failed to come to the assistance of the Jews during the Great Revolt of 66 AD in Judea.
What is peculiar to China’s political culture, and of very great contemporary relevance is the centrality within it of a very specific doctrine on how to bring powerful foreigners—indeed foreigners initially more powerful than the empire—into a tributary relationship. Specialists concur that this doctrine emerged from the very protracted (3rd century BCE to 1st century CE) but ultimately successful struggle with the Xiongnú (匈奴) horse-nomad state, just possibly remote ancestors of Attila’s Huns, but definitely the inventors of the Steppe State political system that would be replicated by all their successors, and more adapted than replaced even by the Mongols....For all its weaknesses, and they are many, one thing that must be kept in mind is that the Chinese always play the long game. The Han have been playing this game and winning at it for a very long time; they are considerably more successful in historical terms than other ancient cultures such as the Greeks, the Romans, or the Jews. China is less than 70 years into its long-term struggle with the USA and has already reached the point where it is able to challenge the USA on a regional level; I very much doubt that its strategists are unaware that it took 147 years to subdue the Xiongnú.
The method forms a logical sequence:
Until the Chinese government decided—very prematurely I believe—to awaken the world to its classically imperial territorial ambitions by demanding the cession of lands, reefs, rocks, and sea waters from India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam (demands that disturb and damage the concurrent Tianxia narrative of an alternative and more harmonious state system, disseminated even within the confines of Stanford University), it was making much progress towards Stage Two, the stage of equality preparatory to the final stage of subordination.
- Stage One: start by conceding all that must be conceded to the superior power including tribute, in order to avoid damage and obtain whatever forbearance is offered. But this in itself entangles the ruling class of the still-superior power in webs of material dependence that reduce its independent vitality and strength.
- Stage Two: offer equality in a privileged bipolarity that excludes all lesser powers, or “G-2” in current parlance. That neutralizes the still powerful Other party, and isolates the manipulated soon-to-be former equal from all its potential allies, preventing from balancing China with a coalition.
- Stage Three: finally, when the formerly superior power has been weakened enough, withdraw all tokens of equality and impose subordination.
Meanwhile, the USA is sinking into weakness and amalgamation with lesser, non-European cultures. I would expect Stage Two to be reached within the next 20 years. If the USA thought in similar terms, it would go to war with China now, while it still has the advantage. But US leadership doesn't think further ahead than the next presidential election, or, as the rise of ISIS in the void of conquered Iraq demonstrates, in grand strategic terms.