Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A proper Hobbit

TolkienEditor has cut Peter Jackson's abusive monstrosity in half and thereby, in large part, restored Tolkien's much-beloved tale:
I decided to condense all three installments (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies) into a single 4-hour feature that more closely resembled Tolkien’s original novel. Well, okay, it’s closer to 4.5 hours, but those are some long-ass credits! This new version was achieved through a series of major and minor cuts, detailed below:

The investigation of Dol Guldor has been completely excised, including the appearances of Radagast, Saruman and Galadriel. This was the most obvious cut, and the easiest to carry out (a testament to its irrelevance to the main narrative). Like the novel, Gandalf abruptly disappears on the borders of Mirkwood, and then reappears at the siege of the Lonely Mountain with tidings of an orc army.

The Tauriel-Legolas-Kili love triangle has also been removed. Indeed, Tauriel is no longer a character in the film, and Legolas only gets a brief cameo during the Mirkwood arrest. This was the next clear candidate for elimination, given how little plot value and personality these two woodland sprites added to the story. Dwarves are way more fun to hang out with anyway. :P

The Pale Orc subplot is vastly trimmed down. Azog is obviously still leading the attack on the Lonely Mountain at the end, but he does not appear in the film until after the company escapes the goblin tunnels (suggesting that the slaying of the Great Goblin is a factor in their vendetta, as it was in the novel).
I was pleased to learn that in addition to getting rid of "Tauriel", the ridiculous barrel-fight is also gone. The Hobbit: The Tolkien Edit is a 6GB MP4 file, available by either torrent or direct download. Not all of Jackson's egregious stupidities have been excised, but most of them have been surgically removed.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Stop the Ensaddening!

Larry Correia explains the vital importance of joining the Crusade to End Puppy Related Sadness and getting a supporting membership to vote in the nominations. Because only you can tie SJWs to stakes and burn them.

Now our SP3 spokesmanatee would like to share a few thoughts about why it is so important that you help to combat the scourge of PRS.

wendell2 (2)

Thank you, Wendell. That was so profound I may have shed a single manly tear.
This year we will be expanding the suggested slate to include several other authors, artists, and creators who are usually locked out by the SJW voting block. 

(sniff) Damn, but Wendell is one eloquent manatee, isn't he? You just can't argue with that. Keep in mind that you'll get a bunch of ebooks for your $20/year membership (you pay $40 for two years), and the more nominations Sad Puppies gets, the better the books you'll get will be. Last year voters got the complete set of The Wheel of Time as well as all three volumes of Larry's Grimnoire trilogy; which was pretty good value for the $20.


Pinkshirts killing SF/F

Publisher's Weekly reports on the growth or decline of various categories in 2014:

Adult Fiction (unit sales, in thousands)
Genre 2013 2014 % change
Classics 7,817 7,578 -3%
Fantasy 8,615 7,526 -13%
Graphic Novels 7,659 8,669 13%
Mystery/Detective 14,884 14,304 -4%
Science Fiction 4,448 4,142 -7%

Remember, science fiction was also down 21% in 2013, which means that science fiction unit sales have declined 1,488,000 in just two years. It's down more than one-quarter in two years and is now only half the size of the Graphic Novel market, which is not only growing, but is presently dominated by men writing and drawing for male customers.

The "women destroy science fiction" meme isn't even remotely ironic. Women, and the gamma males who cater to them, are literally destroying the adult science fiction and fantasy markets.

To put it in perspective, ONE edition of one of my games sold more copies than the ENTIRE science fiction market sold last year.


The face of the Devil

The Church of England is marking a new era in its history as the Rev Libby Lane becomes the first woman to be ordained as a bishop. More than 100 members of the episcopate from England and other parts of the worldwide Anglican Church will lay hands on the 48-year-old vicar from Hale, Greater Manchester, to formally consecrate her during a service at York Minster. The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu will anoint her with oil in an ancient tradition tracing its origins to the prophets of the Old Testament.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, will also be present, alongside female bishops from churches in other parts of the world.

The consecration marks the conclusion of a decades-long wrangle over the role of women in leadership in the established Church, the last great institution of British public life to open itself to full gender equality.

Does that look like someone who is sobered by the burden of assuming spiritual leadership? Or the smirking triumph of someone who has finally managed to corrupt a once-great institution?

As the Church of England finally succumbs to its entryist invaders, we can safely predict that the church leaders will be disappointed in their expectations: "Church leaders hope it will mark a moment of reconciliation between traditionalists and reformers on the issue."

It won't. It marks the death knell of the Church of England. The "new era" that is marked is the end.


The real fear of the Eurocrats

Daniel Hannan observes that it isn't a Greek bankruptcy that would be the real catastrophe as far as the EU is concerned:
A default and devaluation would offer a fresh start. Although the economy has been pummelled by six years of Euro-austerity, some of the fundamentals have improved. The bureaucracy has been slimmed, taxes are now collected and, if debt repayments were taken out of it, the budget would be in balance. In truth, this is what EU leaders fear. Not that Greece will leave the euro and collapse, but that Greece will leave the euro and prosper.

A competitive Greek economy, exporting its way back to growth, might inspire Spaniards and Italians, who have also been paying the price of the euro, to follow. For those Eurocrats who see the single currency as a component of political integration, that prospect is too horrible to contemplate.

We’ve been here before. Two years ago, when it looked as if Cyprus might leave the euro, Brussels went so far as to lift money directly out of private bank accounts to pay off the country’s creditors.

The extreme measure was necessary, the European Central Bank admitted, ‘to prevent worries over the reversibility of the euro resurfacing’.
I observe that Iceland, which rejected the EU's bank-first dictates, is doing considerably better than Italy, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal, which obediently followed the EU's instructions. I tend to doubt this observation has escaped the new Greek government.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Be the dragon

At Alpha Game, I comment upon the importance of being the dragon, not the self-styled paladin and self-appointed dragon-slayer. But one part of the Loneliest Paladin's twitterstorm was relevant here for its illustration of rabbitology:
MikeBrendan @MikeBrendan
Things I don't get: why Ghaters would rally around Vox Day. Dude is the epitome of loser.

MikeBrendan @MikeBrendan
Not only did Vox get kicked out of SFWA for being a racist homophobic sexist dipshit, he took sixth place on a five person ballot.
Note that insufficient popularity with a small and specific group is equated with being "the epitome of loser"... by someone with no friends and not much of a life. Success, in the rabbit's world, is something that depends entirely upon the level of acceptance by the warren. Everything else is irrelevant.

Rabbits don't understand that wolves respect strength and loyalty, even when exhibited in causes of no interest to them. Rabbits fear strength and have no loyalty, so the concepts are alien to them. They genuinely can't understand the concept of standing up for someone because that someone stood up for you, even if you don't like him, respect him, or want anything to do with him. For all that they are herd animals, they are not team players; in their own way they are more ruthlessly self-serving than the most ideological self-sovereign libertarian.

And speaking of rabbitology, see how the rabbits cry when their warrens are invaded and they learn they don't possess the power they flaunted so foolishly:
GamerGate set out to writes its own story in Wikipedia – and to spread the dirt about the women who were its targets. These efforts were blocked by established editors under established Wikipedia policy. In retaliation, GamerGate planned an operation to get rid of its opponents – the “Five Horsemen” active in preserving objectivity and in keeping scurrilous sexual innuendo out of the encyclopedia. As a side-game, GamerGate also launched efforts to promote the idea that “Cultural Marxism” is a conspiracy of some Jewish academics to control the media.

The original GamerGate operation targeted the "five horsemen:" Ryulong, NorthBySouthBaranof, Tarc, TheRedPenOfDoom, and TaraInDC. All were sanctioned in the draft decision.

For months, these Wikipedia pages have been an escalating scene of daily – indeed hourly – conflict.

The Purge

Yesterday, ArbCom announced its preliminary decision. A panel of fourteen arbitrators – at least 11 of whom are men – decided to give GamerGate everything they’d wished for. All of the Five Horsemen are sanctioned; most will be excluded not only from “Gamergate broadly construed” but from anything in Wikipedia touching on “gender or sexuality, broadly construed.”

By my informal count, every feminist active in the area is to be sanctioned. This takes care of social justice warriors with a vengeance — not only do the GamerGaters get to rewrite their own page (and Zoe Quinn’s, Brianna Wu’s, Anita Sarkeesian’s, etc.); feminists are to be purged en bloc from the encyclopedia. Liberals are the new Scientologists as far as Arbcom is concerned.

No sanctions at all were proposed against any of GamerGate’s warriors, save for a few disposable accounts created specifically for the purpose of being sanctioned. The administrator who wrote, regarding Zoe Quinn’s sexual history, that

    I know other other allegations exist but will not state what those on WP are because that would be a BLP violation at the current time.

was not even mentioned. The many brand-new accounts who arrived in December with no Wiki experience, but possessing a curiously detailed knowledge of Wikipedia policy jargon, are unmentioned, save for the fact that the decision rests almost entirely on their proposals.

The extensive evidence of off-site collusion, which Wikipedia considers so improper that evidence must not be discussed on wiki but rather submitted in confidence, appears to have been entirely ignored. (I submitted such evidence myself, but received no acknowledgment or thanks; I have been told that much additional evidence was submitted.)
Notice how the upset rabbit appeals to "established editors and established policy" (better described as activist editors and self-imposed customs), despite the fact that the editors concerned were quite clearly VIOLATING Wikipedia policy, and doing so rather egregiously. What appears to have happened is that Wikipedia is finally beginning to act against the SJW thought police who make a practice of attempting to define the public narrative by exerting personal ownership over particular pages of interest.

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Grexit looms

Election results in Greece don't bode well for the Eurocrats:
Catastrophe' warning as anti-austerity party looks set to win Greek election with up to 38 per cent of the vote. Exit poll shows 36 to 38 per cent for anti-austerity party Syriza. Ruling New Democracy party predicted to receive 26 to 28 per cent. Syriza set to win 148 to 154 seats - and it needs 151 to rule outright. In third place is ultra right-wing party Golden Dawn on up to 7 per cent.
Not a bad result for Golden Dawn considering that their leadership is in jail on what look like suspiciously trumped up charges.

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What tail waggeth this way?

As part of your Loncon 3 memberhsip, you are entitled to nominate works for the 2015 Hugo Awards.The 2015 Hugo Award nomination period continues through March 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm PDT.

Sad Puppies 3 is coming within two weeks. What works would you like to see on it? Remember, all nominated works have to be published in 2014.

Short story: less than 7,500 words.
Novelette: between 7,500 and 17,500 words
Novella: between 17,500 and 40,000 words
Novel: 40,000+
Related work: non-fiction works related to science fiction or fantasy.

Remember, if you want to join in all the Hugo-nominating fun, you'll need to register for a supporting membership by 31 January. It's $40, but you get two years worth of voting rights, so it's essentially $20 to play. And if you registered to vote after the nominations last year, don't forget that you are eligible to nominate this time around, so get your new Hugo voter number and PIN from Sasquan.


The Wilsonian century

David Stockman explains that the 20th Century was a massive mistake and much of the blame for it can be laid at the feet of America's second-worst president to date, Woodrow Wilson:
My humble thesis tonight is that the entire 20th Century was a giant mistake.

And that you can put the blame for this monumental error squarely on Thomas Woodrow Wilson——-a megalomaniacal madman who was the very worst President in American history……..well, except for the last two.

His unforgiveable error was to put the United States into the Great War for utterly no good reason of national interest. The European war posed not an iota of threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE, or Worcester MA or Sacramento CA. In that respect, Wilson’s putative defense of “freedom of the seas” and the rights of neutrals was an empty shibboleth; his call to make the world safe for democracy, a preposterous pipe dream.

Actually, his thinly veiled reason for plunging the US into the cauldron of the Great War was to obtain a seat at the peace conference table——so that he could remake the world in response to god’s calling.

But this was a world about which he was blatantly ignorant; a task for which he was temperamentally unsuited; and an utter chimera based on 14 points that were so abstractly devoid of substance as to constitute mental play dough.

Or, as his alter-ego and sycophant, Colonel House, put it:  Intervention positioned Wilson to play “The noblest part that has ever come to the son of man”.  America thus plunged into Europe’s carnage, and forevermore shed its century-long Republican tradition of anti-militarism and non-intervention in the quarrels of the Old World.

Needless to say, there was absolutely nothing noble that came of Wilson’s intervention. It led to a peace of vengeful victors, triumphant nationalists and avaricious imperialists—-when the war would have otherwise ended in a bedraggled peace of mutually exhausted bankrupts and discredited war parties on both sides.

By so altering the course of history, Wilson’s war bankrupted Europe and midwifed 20th century totalitarianism in Russia and Germany.

These developments, in turn, eventually led to the Great Depression, the Welfare State and Keynesian economics, World War II, the holocaust, the Cold War, the permanent Warfare State and its military-industrial complex.

They also spawned Nixon’s 1971 destruction of sound money, Reagan’s failure to tame Big Government and Greenspan’s destructive cult of monetary central planning.

So, too, flowed the Bush’s wars of intervention and occupation,  their fatal blow to the failed states in the lands of Islam foolishly created by the imperialist map-makers at Versailles and the resulting endless waves of blowback and terrorism now afflicting the world.

And not the least of the ills begotten in Wilson’s war is the modern rogue regime of central bank money printing, and the Bernanke-Yellen plague of bubble economics which never stops showering the 1% with the monumental windfalls from central bank enabled speculation.

Consider the building blocks of that lamentable edifice.

First, had the war ended in 1917 by a mutual withdrawal from the utterly stalemated trenches of the Western Front, as it was destined to, there would have been no disastrous summer offensive by the Kerensky government, or subsequent massive mutiny in Petrograd that enabled Lenin’s flukish seizure of power in November. That is, the 20th century would not have been saddled with a Stalinist nightmare or with a Soviet state that poisoned the peace of nations for 75 years, while the nuclear sword of Damocles hung over the planet.

Likewise, there would have been no abomination known as the Versailles peace treaty; no “stab in the back” legends owing to the Weimar government’s forced signing of the “war guilt” clause; no continuance of England’s brutal post-armistice blockade that delivered Germany’s women and children into starvation and death and left a demobilized 3-million man army destitute, bitter and on a permanent political rampage of vengeance.

So too, there would have been no acquiescence in the dismemberment of Germany and the spreading of its parts and pieces to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Austria and Italy—–with the consequent revanchist agitation that nourished the Nazi’s with patriotic public support in the rump of the fatherland.

Nor would there have materialized the French occupation of the Ruhr and the war reparations crisis that led to the destruction of the German middle class in the 1923 hyperinflation; and, finally, the history books would have never recorded the Hitlerian ascent to power and all the evils that flowed thereupon.

In short, on the approximate 100th anniversary of Sarajevo, the world has been turned upside down.

The war of victors made possible by Woodrow Wilson destroyed the liberal international economic order—that is, honest money, relatively free trade, rising international capital flows and rapidly growing global economic integration—-which had blossomed during the 40-year span between 1870 and 1914.

That golden age had brought rising living standards, stable prices, massive capital investment, prolific technological progress and pacific relations among the major nations——a condition that was never equaled, either before or since.

Now, owing to Wilson’s fetid patrimony, we have the opposite: A world of the Warfare State, the Welfare State, Central Bank omnipotence and a crushing burden of private and public debts. That is, a thoroughgoing statist regime that is fundamentally inimical to capitalist prosperity, free market governance of economic life and the flourishing of private liberty and constitutional safeguards against the encroachments of the state.

So Wilson has a lot to answer for—-and my allotted 30 minutes can hardly accommodate the full extent of the indictment. But let me try to summarize his own “war guilt” in eight major propositions——a couple of which my give rise to a disagreement or two.
There is more, considerably more. Read the whole thing. He is not wrong, except in claiming that either Bush the Younger or Obama are worse than Wilson, or that Wilson was worse than Lincoln.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The faux sociopaths

John C. Wright explains that the Left is evil, not stupid:
Leftists are people who have a conscience but act like sociopaths. If the Leftist were really a sociopath, he would not need excuses, justifications, and rationalizations to fill his yammering mouth and empty his wrathful brain.

Please note also that this behavior only surfaces on matters where the Leftist has turned Left and turned off his brain in a vain attempt to turn off his conscience, which he wrongly believes to be lodged in the brain. A Leftist can be a good coworker, even a good friend, if you stick to topics where the Leftist brain-parasite called guilt does not take root and bloom like ghastly fungi expanding from his hypothalamus and medulla oblongata to suck up all his gray matter and ooze sinuously out of eyes, nostrils, mouth, ears.

I have talked with social Leftists about economic issues, for example, without triggering their brain-fungi response. The Leftist will mouth the normal sounding American ideals about Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness provided you do not crowd him too closely to ask him what those things mean, or why their heroes Che and Mao and crystal meth dealer Matthew Shepard slain by his gay lover and fellow drug dealer Aaron McKinney fit into the idea of the American Way, then and only then will the brain fungi erupt, and the human-shaped skull be cracked and flung aside, revealing the fleshy lobes and convolutions of the nonhuman being beneath.

Leftists are reasonable and decent people except in their particular areas of sensitivity, by which I mean, of course, where they are hiding their smothering guilt, and — this point bears emphasizing — not all of them are sensitive about the same thing, because not all of them sold the same section of their brains to the Fungi from Yuggoth for the same reason.

No one has sold all his brain, and no one is an entirely self consistent Leftist, so what triggers one Leftist into frothing inanity is not what triggers another. But the behavior once triggered is the same. That behavior is flight from reason.

As stated above, Leftism is what you get when you stop reasoning.

Their reasoning is marred and crippled because they mar and cripple reason so that reason will not operate properly. They want reason not to operate properly because reason shows them a truth that they cannot abide. They cannot abide the truth because the truth condemns them. Truth condemns them because they do evil.
We are all potential Leftists. We are all capable of rationalizing away our own particular sins. How good I am, because I am not a glutton, says the slender whore. How good I am, because I am not a slut, says the obese woman as she stuffs her face. How good I am, because I am not a murderer, says the homosexual. How good I am, because I am not a thief, says the killer.

It is only when attention is drawn to their own particular sin, to OUR own sin, that the human mind goes haywire, because it is hard to look at yourself in the mirror and say: "I am a sinner. I am corrupt. I am fallen short of the glory of God."

And yet, whether we admit it or not, we have.

We sinners of the Right are no better than the sinners of the Left. We are only more sane because we do not run from our sins, we do not hide from them, and we know better than to try to justify them. But we commit them, all the same. Don't pretend otherwise, for doing so is the first step on the path to becoming differently and incompletely sane.

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Concept art

I'll go into more detail on this at some point in the near future, but suffice it to say that the FIRST SWORD concept is expanding. Instead of being a simple combat management game, it's going to be a cross-platform, cross-media game, and will be playable in various forms from tabletop to mobile. I've always been somewhat of a holistic designer, but this is the first time I've had the ability to do something I've wanted to do for seven years now, something completely new and different.

We've got a pair of good sculptors and a sketch artist, but we're looking for some high-quality concept art for the various fantasy gladiators. It's set in Selenoth, so we're looking for Amorran, Savondese, and Dalarn humans, orcs, goblins, dwarves, elves, and trolls.

If you're a serious sketch artist and you want to show us what you can do, send me a fantasy gladiator sketch. If we buy it from you, we'll also send you one of the miniatures based on it.

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Oh shut up, Damo

It's often enjoyable to see how little heat SJWs are comfortable taking. They can't stand much in the way of criticism and they seem to spend a considerable amount of time monitoring what others think and say about them in order to quickly jump in and try to steer the narrative away from anything they think looks bad.

This Twitter exchange was particularly funny, given that Damien Walter is always quick to heap obloquy on Larry Correia, me, and other writers whose politics he dislikes:
D Franklin @D_Libris
Why is it that almost every Damien Walter article can just be replied to, justifiably, with "Oh shut up, Damo"?

Damien Walter @damiengwalter
.@D_Libris Excuse me, I asked you to explain your claim that it was "justifiable" to tell me to "shut up Damo". I'm going to keep asking.

Novel deVice ‏@noveldevice
@D_Libris you didn't @ him so literally if he doesn't want to see it he can just stop vanity searching. Boom.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
.@D_Libris If that's your justification for your continued rude and aggressive behaviour, so be it. I've requested that you stop.

D Franklin ‏@D_Libris
.@damiengwalter saying that I've been rude and aggressive doesn't make it so. Coming into my mentions and harassing me for a day, though...

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
@D_Libris I've asked you to explain why you consider it 'justifiable" to tell me to "shut up Damo" you still have not done so.

D Franklin ‏@D_Libris
.@damiengwalter bcs you won't. Bcs I don't have authority to make you. Bcs it's a common, unthreatening phrase.

D Franklin ‏@D_Libris
Added to which, because you wouldn't have seen it if you hadn't gone looking... Nor would you see people saying it

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
.@D_Libris Then I'm telling you it's neither. Neither is your repeated rude and aggressive behaviour. I'm requesting, again, that you stop it.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
.@D_Libris I have a search open for articles I write for the Guardian, that's standard practice so i can monitor the response.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
.@D_Libris If you search the URL, you'll see yours stands out as personally abusive when no others are.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
.@D_Libris If you want to make criticisms, please do so constructively without personal insults.

D Franklin ‏@D_Libris Jan 20
@damiengwalter "shut up" is personally abusive? How about spending a day poking at someone, & trying to set your followers on them?

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter Jan 20
@D_Libris If you don't believe it's rude and aggressive, then I'm informing you it is and asking you not to repeat that behaviour.

D Franklin ‏@D_Libris
@damiengwalter I notice that Patrick Nielsen Hayden is not being called rude, & indeed you proudly retweeted his comment?

D Franklin ‏@D_Libris
@damiengwalter so it's only people with platforms smaller than yours who you object to the perceived rudeness of?

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
@D_Libris I'm telling you that I find your repeated personal attacks rude and offensive. Will you respect my request to stop them?

D Franklin ‏@D_Libris
@damiengwalter I can't stop what I've never done: I have never made repeated personal attacks on you, Damien

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
@D_Libris OK. I've made my request, your future actions are your own choice. I'm not continuing any further discussion with you now.

Joseph Tomaras @epateur
In solidarity with @D_Libris, I ask that everyone who's ever found a @damiengwalter article moronic, please tell DGW to shut up.
The reason, of course, is that Damien Walter hasn't mastered his subject, doesn't do his homework, often doesn't know what he's talking about, regularly fails to distinguish between opinion and fact, and shows no ability to defend his rhetorical positions. That is why "oh shut up, Damo" is all that is required to effectively rebut him.

I don't read his columns, there is no reason to do so. He's boring even when he's trying to be offensive. At least with the likes of McRapey there is usually an entertainingly manic edge to the nastiness.

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Rumblings of tech war

This article is amusingly incoherent concerning the growing fears of US technology companies concerning Europe:
One message so far from the corridors around the World Economic Forum in Davos: U.S. technology companies are very worried about the backlash they are now facing in Europe. From their standpoint, Europe risks shooting itself in the foot by rejecting the cutting-edge technologies they have brought to the continent. But they would say that, wouldn’t they? Look at it from the European point of view.

Europe once led the world in mobile technology: The Global System for Mobile Communications, developed in Europe, became the global standard. But that was a long time ago. Now, most innovation in information and communications technology comes in waves from across the Atlantic.

With America’s vibrant capital markets giving them billions of dollars in risk capital, they can absorb the successful European tech enterprises—look at Skype Technologies, swallowed by Microsoft Corp.

These U.S. companies— Google, Facebook , Amazon and others—are disrupting industry after industry. Publishing, telecoms and retailing have already been convulsed. Now, the companies, and Google in particular, are turning their gaze from consumer-oriented to business-oriented platforms.

That is a big deal for growth-starved Europe and for its biggest economy, Germany, which leads the world in high-quality engineering. Europe’s car industry is a leading employer, its suppliers reach through the continent, and it is one of the biggest spenders on research and development. Germany’s machine-tool manufacturers are deservedly renowned.

But much of the future profit for these industries won’t flow from punching metal but from the networks they will use to manage information—for example, taking the cars where they want to go, catering to passengers with entertainment and retail experiences as they travel—and it’s a strategic question who owns them.
Isn't it good of those US technology executives to worry so much about Europe shooting themselves in the foot? They must have tremendous empathy! Or could it be that they are not telling the truth and it is something else that worries them?

Such as, perhaps, the possibility that they will be legally locked out of Europe due to their enabling of US goverment espionage and their continued disinclination to show any respect for various European privacy laws?

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This celebration of Islamic expansion in Europe may explain why the French and British people haven't been shedding many tears over Jews targeted by Muslims in Europe:
Rabbi Baruch Efrati, a yeshiva head and community rabbi in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, believes that the Islamization of Europe is actually a good thing.

"With the help of God, the gentiles there will adopt a healthier life with a lot of modesty and integrity, and not like the hypocritical Christianity which appears pure but is fundamentally corrupt," he explained.

Rabbi Efrati was asked to discuss the issue by an oriental studies student, who inquired on Judaism's stand toward the process Europe has been going through in recent years. Following the election of a hijab-wearing Muslim woman as the mayor of the Bosnian city of Visoko for the first time in continent's history, the student asked the rabbi on the Kipa website: "How do we fight the Islamization of Europe and return it to the hands of Christians and moderates?"

Efrati wrote in response that the Islamization of Europe was better than a Christian Europe for ethical and theological reasons – as a punishment against Christians for persecuting the Jews and the fact that Christianity, as opposed to Islam, is considered "idolatry" from a halachic point of view....

"Europe is losing its identity in favor of another people and another religion, and there will be no remnants and survivors from the impurity of Christianity, which shed a lot of blood it won't be able to atone for."
One would have thought the Jews might have learned from the Granada Massacre and the Reconquista that betting on the Mahometans isn't the smart thing to do. Meanwhile, David Goldberg declares that he has nothing to say to anyone in Europe:
It’s been so long since Europeans took their own national identity seriously that it’s hard for them to remember why it is that they can’t stand the sort of Jew who represents the Jewish future. One has to put them on the proverbial couch and coax it out of them: Europeans hate Jews because European national identity from the outset was a dreadful parody of Jewish identity.... I speak three European languages apart from English and have nothing to say to anybody in any of them.
I used to like reading Goldberg back when he was Spengler. Now... what is he even trying to say?

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Corruption in New York

The other New York assemblymen were shocked, shocked, to learn that the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on corruption charges:
The speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday and accused of using the power of his office for more than a decade to secure millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks and then covering up his schemes, according to court documents.

Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, is accused of a range of corrupt dealings that capitalized on his official position. They include using his position to obtain corrupt payments misrepresented as referral fees from a law firm; funneling state research funds and other benefits to a doctor who in return referred asbestos claims to the law firm where the speaker worked; and secretly helping real estate developers win tax breaks.

In recent years, a steady parade of lawmakers in Albany has been charged with corruption, and the complaint against Mr. Silver outlines a capital culture rife with back-room dealing, where money and influence shape public policy for the benefit of private agendas.
I'm sure the Senators and Congressmen in Washington D.C. are much, much cleaner.

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Evolution is a random process

Mindstorm wrote:
Selection is not random, because it eliminates what is locally worse and leaves what is locally better. Mutations without selection - that would be pure randomness. Good luck finding a biologist that would believe in such 'evolution'.
This is a point frequently made by the evolutionarily faithful. It is also completely and utterly wrong; one need only consult a dictionary to see that it is, without question, "random" in the primary sense of the word. 

1. proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern 

2. of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal probability of being chosen. 

Evolution by natural selection absolutely fits the first definition of random. I should be very amused to see anyone attempt to claim otherwise and cite the "definite aim, reason, or pattern" involved. As for the second definition, it falls to the evolutionist to demonstrate that the probabilities of being chosen are unequal without resorting to circular logic.

That being said, I think it is fair to state that logic indicates evolution by natural selection is not a statistically random process simply because it is not credible to insist that all mutations have an equal probability of being chosen. However, it's not consistent to make such a probability-based argument while simultaneously rejecting a more calculable probability-based argument against the occurrence of the phenomenon.

In my opinion, the correct way to describe TENS in this regard is as a random, hypothetical process that is probably not statistically random. However, it should be noted that the selection process postulated is a logical construction, and a circular one at that, and has not been reliably observed or demonstrated.


Next year in New York

A Dutchman believes he has the key to world peace:
A Dutch former cabinet minister reportedly said that world peace would be achievable if Israel’s population was forced to move to the United States. The statement was attributed to Herman Heinsbroek, who served as the Netherlands’ minister of economic affairs in 2002, in an article that appeared Thursday in the online edition of the prestigious financial monthly Quote, based on an interview with Heinsbroek.

“It was a historical error to give the Jews their own country in the middle of Islam,” he is quoted as saying. “You’ve had nothing but war ever since and you’ve had anti-Semitism resurging, too. My idea: Give the Jews their own state somewhere in the United States and 25 years to move their state over there.”

Heinsbroek is also quoted as saying that, if implemented, his solution “will finally create, perhaps, peace in the world.”
Well, it has to be admitted that half the world's Jews do appear to prefer the East Coast of the USA to Israel anyhow. And it's mildly amusing to anticipate the outrage this will likely inspire among the very people who are also outraged by the notion that Jews should move to Israel.

Actually, I think it would be a cataclysmic mistake for the West to pull the Jews out of Israel, even assuming that a nuclear power would be entirely amenable to the geographic relocation. If nothing else, Israel is a second front (or to be more accurate, fourth front), in the ongoing Clash of Civilizations between Islam and the West. Does Heinsbroek imagine that Islam will stop aggressively expanding into Europe, Asia, and North America simply because it is no longer distracted by a small piece of real estate in the Middle East? That's absurd.

Even if you are a confirmed anti-semite, you cannot rationally deny that the continued existence of the State of Israel is absolutely in the interests of the West. That doesn't mean that Israel's interests are US interests, much less Dutch interests, but its existence is.

ADDENDUM: With the King of Saudi Arabia now reported dead at the age of 90, I tend to doubt that the Wahhabists are going to become more moderate or that tensions in the Middle East are going to cool significantly any time in the near future.

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Probability and the Problem of Life

Yesterday, I observed that most biologists and believers in evolution have a poor grasp of probability. In the subsequent discussion, the otherwise perspicacious wrf3 demonstrated that he is not entirely clear on the difference between math and philosophy, two fields it is rather important to distinguish between despite their occasional overlap:
If you're going to claim that the occurrence of low probability events is evidence of behind-the-scenes tampering in nature, then you're going to have to show how the math for that works without assuming your conclusion. Otherwise, you're a fraud.
That is incorrect and is is an indication of subscribing to the conventional fetish-myth of math. Logic does not require math or even any quantification. A correct syllogism holds true regardless of whether it contains any quantities or not.

Consider the following two syllogisms:
  1. All cats are named Tom.
  2. I have a cat.
  3. Therefore, my cat's name is Tom.
  1. Mike is shorter than Alan.
  2. Zeke shorter than Mike.
  3. Therefore, Alan is taller than Zeke.
Both syllogisms are impeccably correct, without having any need to show how the math for them works. Sure, in the case of the latter we could treat the names as variables, retroactively assign some quantities to them, and thereby confirm the correctness of the logic with math, but that would be redundant. It's not necessary. We already know that the syllogism is correct because its logical construction is correct. The conclusion follows correctly from the propositions.

Here is the relevant syllogism:
  1. No low-probability event has been observed to take place without tampering in nature.
  2. A low-probability event has taken place.
  3. Therefore, nature was tampered in.
There is nothing fraudulent about that. There is no need for any math, or even any precise measurement of how low the relevant probability is in order to correctly conclude that nature has, in fact, been tampered in. Indeed, that is the only possible conclusion that is dictated by the logic.

Now, one can argue either of the first two propositions. One can claim either a) a low-probability event has been observed to take pace without tampering in nature or b) a low-probability event has NOT taken place to reject the conclusion. Only in the case of evolution, argument b) cannot possibly apply. We are here, after all.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

How convenient

You know, I think we might have the chance to roll this one out one of these days....

"That said, if you tell people my books are awful but have in fact never read them, you might suck as a human being."
- John Scalzi, 22 January, 2015

It could come in handy, don't you know? That being said, I've read three of McRapey's books and I didn't think they were awful, with the exception of The Android's Dream. They were mediocre, derivative, and monocharacteristic (which is to say that the characters all tend to speak with the same snarky voice), but they're not, on average, awful.

They're not good either, of course. I didn't stop reading Scalzi's books due to the author, but due to the books themselves. They simply weren't of any interest to me. No big deal, I don't have any interest in the books by Stephanie Meyer or whoever wrote The Hunger Games either and plenty of people seem to like them. In not entirely unrelated news, this comment amused me.

"It's always easy to spot the new midwits showing up on the blog as they come in with pseudo-intellectual swagger, appeal to authority and credentialism, the inability to admit they are wrong on anything, and unfounded belief in their own intelligence."

One would think the mere use of the term "midwit" would give an intelligent individual pause, but then, they're only midwits. It's not their fault that they're unaccustomed to an environment where a +1.5 SD is nothing special. Everyone has to learn sometime.

I wish everyone could undergo the humiliation I went through, along with every other Dragon, at my dojo. Our sensei mastered the art of breaking down the individual's ego and rendering him aware of his own ignorance and ready to learn. There is nothing like getting beaten down by someone you couldn't imagine was even capable of standing up to you to make you realize that your perception of reality was intrinsically false.

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More evolutionary absurdity

It still amazes me that anyone can take the theory of evolution by natural selection and various other forms of selection seriously anymore. No matter how many of their hypotheses are demonstrated to be wrong, nothing falsifies it.
In 1890 Belgian palaeontologist Louis Dollo postulated that evolution could not run backwards - something widely accepted by the scientific community. But now a study has claimed that the changes induced by evolution can be reversible, meaning certain animals can return to an earlier biological trait. The remarkable discovery was made by finding birds had regrown a bone previously discarded by dinosaurs millions of years ago.

They found that 230 million years ago, two-legged dinosaurs no longer required the strong wrists of their four-legged brethren, and thus they became weak. The number of bones in wrists shrank from 11 to three, with one in particular of interest to disappear being the pisiform.

But according to research by Dr Vargas, the bone reappeared when dinosaurs evolved into birds and took flight. The new bone, called the ulnare, appears in the same place as the pisiform once did.The pisiform allowed bird wings to remain rigid on the upstroke. The study found it disappeared in bird-like dinosaurs, but modern birds later evolved to once again use this tiny bone.
So now we have parallel evolution, backwards evolution, and presumably soon circular evolution. Amazing what a RANDOM process - yes, contrary to what Richard Dawkins keeps telling everyone, beginning with a random element such as genetic mutation means that the process is random; the genetic mutations required precede the environmental pressure and are not a result of it - is supposed to be able to produce.

What this tells me is that biologists don't understand how probability works. At this point, it is becoming obvious that if life was found on every single planet in the Solar System, they would claim that we simply happened to hit a very, very unlikely biological jackpot.

At this point, given their rejection of falsification, I don't see how evolution can possibly be considered science anymore. Can you detect the flaw in the logical syllogism?

1. Evolution can't run backwards.
2. A supposedly evolutionary change is reversed.
3. Therefore, evolution can run backwards.

An endorsement from the Dean of Mil-SF

Jerry Pournelle approves of Castalia's new mil-SF anthology:
Riding The Red Horse has a number of stories and essays, and is worth your buying. My non fiction contribution is an essay on simulation I did for Avalon Hill in the 70’s –and it is still pretty good. They found and asked my permission, and I am told I’ve already earned a good dinner out of it… Next I think comes a revival of There Will Be War.
It's good to see Dr. Pournelle recovering so rapidly from his stroke. As a wargamer and game designer, I very much enjoyed his game design essay in The General; I found it by pure happenstance and we added it at literally the last moment. It was fascinating to learn that he was the inventor of the "matchbox" concealment system, which uses a single unit to stand in for several, a concept that is incorporated in most wargames these days in one way or another.


Strangling the golden goose

The US economy will continue to decline even after the credit bust because it is actively disincentivizing entrepreneurs and driving them out of the country:
The U.S. now ranks not first, not second, not third, but 12th among developed nations in terms of business startup activity. Countries such as Hungary, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Israel and Italy all have higher startup rates than America does.

We are behind in starting new firms per capita, and this is our single most serious economic problem. Yet it seems like a secret. You never see it mentioned in the media, nor hear from a politician that, for the first time in 35 years, American business deaths now outnumber business births.
Just look at my family. The USA has already have lost over 50 jobs, and based on past taxes paid, more than $100 million in state and federal taxes after jailing my father for 11 years for his failure to pay around $2 million in taxes it claimed he owed. It also lost the benefit of any new businesses he would have started in the last ten years. And it has lost whatever benefit it would have gained from several opportunities in the USA I would have pursued in the past, but instead elected to leave fallow because the regulatory and compliance headaches were too high when piled on top of the usual risks and time commitments involved. I was never as successful as my father, of course, but my business did reach a respectable size and employed a dozen people.

It's so bad these days that the USA is not only disincentivizing both its resident and expatriate entrepreneurs, but is even causing the latter to give up their citizenships in record numbers. Eduardo Saverin, one of the Facebook co-founders, is far from the only U.S. citizen to renounce his citizenship over tax-related business matters. For years, the American instinct has been to say "good riddance" to such renunciates, but the country is past the point where it can afford to do so, especially when most other countries are very actively courting the small minority of people who are capable of creating new businesses that will provide new job opportunities for their citizens. At this point, foreign entrepreneurs would have to be either stupid or very short-sighted to pursue a green card that will serve as a financial anchor for the rest of their lives.

The tragic thing is that the USA is no longer the land of opportunity for entrepreneurs. It was only 20 years ago that the young guys who started id Software moved from Wisconsin to Texas because the opportunities were better there. But the ids of tomorrow are now leaving the USA for other countries, and are increasingly starting them in places like Eastern Europe, the Nordic countries, and Israel. The last five big game startups have come out of Russia, Finland and Sweden; one of the biggest mobile game successes is in Serbia. This means that even aside from its macroeconomic problems, the USA is very unlikely to possess the long-term potential for growth it once took for granted anymore.

The effects of these negative developments concerning entrepreneurial activity are somewhat obscured by the fact that New York is still the financial capital of the world; four of the six game companies mentioned either went public in the USA or were acquired by US companies. But it doesn't change the fact that innovation is increasingly taking place outside the USA.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

That is, admittedly, remarkably dumb

Matt Taibbi is underwhelmed by American Sniper:
Eastwood, who surely knows better, indulges in countless crass stupidities in the movie. There's the obligatory somber scene of shirtless buffed-up SEAL Kyle and his heartthrob wife Sienna Miller gasping at the televised horror of the 9/11 attacks. Next thing you know, Kyle is in Iraq actually fighting al-Qaeda – as if there was some logical connection between 9/11 and Iraq.

Which of course there had not been, until we invaded and bombed the wrong country and turned its moonscaped cities into a recruitment breeding ground for… you guessed it, al-Qaeda. They skipped that chicken-egg dilemma in the film, though, because it would detract from the "human story."

Eastwood plays for cheap applause and goes super-dumb even by Hollywood standards when one of Kyle's officers suggests that they could "win the war" by taking out the evil sniper who is upsetting America's peaceful occupation of Sadr City.
Look, I get it's a movie. Movies end. They need an ending, and the sort of 4GW morass into which Iraq has ever so predictably descended isn't suitable. So, it's understandable that Eastwood turns it into a story with a coherent ending, right down to the dramatic mano-a-mano that is conventional in these sorts of war movies. And it is refreshing to see Hollywood take the side of an American soldier for a change.

But that doesn't make that line any more intelligent. It just doesn't.


Today Yemen, tomorrow the West

I have no doubt that the governments of Egypt, Iraq, and Yemen didn't think it was likely that jihadists would manage to topple them either:
Shiite insurgents tightened their grip on Yemen’s capital Wednesday, seizing control of a missile base and keeping the president as a virtual hostage in a showdown threatening a key American ally in the fight against al-Qaeda.

Days of fast-moving advances by the Houthi rebel faction — believed to be backed by Iran — has left the Western-backed government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi backed into a corner with rapidly diminishing options.

Just hours after storming the presidential palace on Tuesday, the Houthi leader gave what amounted to an ultimatum: Hadi can either move ahead with reforms that include giving rebels more power or risk intensified attacks that could topple his government.

The brinksmanship and uncertainly has pushed Yemen closer to a full-scale political breakdown that could resonate deeply in Washington and among its key regional allies, including neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Fortunately, we've been assured that Islam is a religion of peace and jihad is a personal, spiritual struggle, so there is no chance that a second Islamic State will aggressively seek to foment jihad in its neighbors. And even if it did seek to so, what could be more stable than a neighboring monarchy ruled by a 91 year-old man?

It's an Arab Spring in the making, it's just not a secular Arab Spring.

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Britain wants OUT

80 percent polled want Great Britain out of the European Union:
The biggest vote on this country’s ties to ­Brussels for 40 years saw 80 per cent say they no longer want to be in Europe, the ­Daily Express can reveal. It marks a huge leap forward in this news­paper’s crusade to get Britain out of the EU.

Some 14,581 people voted – 11,706 of them want the UK to quit compared with 2,725 who want to remain part of the EU.

The mini-referendum – the first on the issue since 1975 – was organised by two senior Tory backbenchers and a prospective Tory MP.

They believe the overwhelming result, which will be presented to David Cameron today, will force him to bring forward his planned in-or-out vote on the UK’s future in Europe to next year instead of 2017.
If Cameron still won't commit to leading the UK out of the European Union, the Conservative Party is going to have to replace him. The EU has failed in literally every possible way. It has absolutely no credibility anymore; the usual threats and promises and electoral shenanigans are not going to keep the British in.

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How you can help Sad Puppies 3

"Yes, friends, the time is near — for you to put your money where your instinct for rambunctious irreverence is. January 31 is your final day to register as a member of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention. Of course, you don’t have to be a Sasquan member to participate in the Hugo award voting and nominations. You can also be a member of either Loncon 3 (last year’s Worldcon) or MidAmeriCon II (next year’s Worldcon.) If you have a membership for any of these, you’re good to go for the Hugo nomination period."

Thus spake Brad Torgersen, Cuddly Token Liberal, Evil Legion of Evil. There are more details on his site.


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