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Saturday, October 25, 2014

20 years later

Charles Murray reflects on The Bell Curve:
American political and social life today is pretty much one great big “Q.E.D.” for the two main theses of “The Bell Curve.” Those theses were, first, that changes in the economy over the course of the 20th century had made brains much more valuable in the job market; second, that from the 1950s onward, colleges had become much more efficient in finding cognitive talent wherever it was and shipping that talent off to the best colleges. We then documented all the ways in which cognitive ability is associated with important outcomes in life — everything from employment to crime to family structure to parenting styles. Put those all together, we said, and we’re looking at some serious problems down the road. Let me give you a passage to quote directly from the close of the book:

    Predicting the course of society is chancy, but certain tendencies seem strong enough to worry about:

        An increasingly isolated cognitive elite.
        A merging of the cognitive elite with the affluent.
        A deteriorating quality of life for people at the bottom end of the cognitive distribution.

    Unchecked, these trends will lead the U.S. toward something resembling a caste society, with the underclass mired ever more firmly at the bottom and the cognitive elite ever more firmly anchored at the top, restructuring the rules of society so that it becomes harder and harder for them to lose. (p. 509)


Remind you of anything you’ve noticed about the US recently? If you look at the first three chapters of the book I published in 2012, “Coming Apart,” you’ll find that they amount to an update of “The Bell Curve,” showing how the trends that we wrote about in the early 1990s had continued and in some cases intensified since 1994. I immodestly suggest that “The Bell Curve” was about as prescient as social science gets.
The Bell Curve was an early example of the media pinkshirts attacking reality. And it is a good lesson for how retaining a firm grasp on truth will always outlast whatever the various political pressures du jour happen to be. As with The Irrational Atheist, if the ideas a book contains are in harmony with reality, they will penetrate the collective consciousness eventually even if the pinkshirts are successful in preventing people from reading a book or even hearing about it.

The truth always wins out in the end, not due to its own virtues, but because lies always eventually collapse under their own accumulating weight. One of the reasons the equalitarians are becoming increasingly vicious is that their vision has completely failed to deliver on any of the promises that the naive and the clueless found so compelling.

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Choose this day

To paraphrase Joshua, choose this day with whom you will stand. Clark at PopeHat has an intelligent and analytical piece that contains an important section on the way pinkshirts invade and take over organizations and institutions, but I can't agree with his quasi-neutral position. In any case, consider this very good description of what he calls entryism:
The entryism is of the usual type: people with blue/pink ideals join red / gray groups and try to achieve social status with in those groups, then use that social status to push for the admission of – and promotion of – more blue/pink members. Once the blue/pink members achieve a majority they then change the rules of admission to create a lock on their new conquest (in the case of academia, for example, even blue researchers in the Netherlands of all places, were shocked by how blatant the process was).

The status shaming is also of the usual type: high status blue / pinks follow Alinksy’s battle plan.

First, they pick a low-status target (rule 12). This target is usually a pale, bespectacled Aspergers-ish nerd) for a transgression against the norms they wish to universalize. The high social status pinks paint themselves as victims of a power imbalance, then they use their superior popularity to out-speak the target and push their version of the narrative. Pink allies in the media join in to keep the pressure on (rule 8). This is easy to do, because the act of social shaming is not only fun, but it’s click-bait, so everyone involved not only has lolz, they has cheeseburger (rule 6). The toxic nature of the allegations is usually sufficient to make sure that the target of the attack does not get much, if any, sympathetic press (rule 12, again: “Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions”.)

In computer gaming the attempt at entry came by first establishing a few pinks inside the community (not a problem, because the world of gamer development did not think of itself as politicized), and then using these pink resources to promote, give good reviews to, and bestow awards on pink developers and pink games, even when the games in question are not “games” by the normal definition.
Excellent observations. I would add that what I call Blues (and Clark calls red/gray) do not join Pink organizations, both because they have no desire to do so and because pink groups actively police their ranks at all times. Look at how rapidly I was purged from SFWA, in a clear violation of  by people who did not even qualify to join it for years after I became a member. The old school writers, who made a living publishing science fiction, didn't care what anyone else thought about anything. The new school pretenders, many of whom are primarily activists of one sort or another and have not even published a single novel, care about little else.

That is why it is so difficult for organizations to recover once penetrated by entryist pinkshirts. The result is no more surprising than when one country invades another that has not bothered to field an army. Once the organization is occupied, it is easier to simply leave than to organize resistance among the stunned and demoralized membership. And those who don't leave of their own volition will be pushed out, even for so small an "infraction" as referring to someone as "li'l girl". Notice that the PGA President was fired in the name of the same "inclusivity" that the pinkshirts are now attempting to force on the gaming industry. "Inclusivity" must be rejected as strongly and as firmly as "equality", "fairness", and ever other pinkshirt slogan.

What Clark's analysis unfortunately leaves out of the equation is that pinkshirts are intrinsically parasitical. For all that they preen about being "creative", they do not create anything and they are incapable of building anything that is not political in nature. They are, for the most part, women and feminized men; it is not an accident that many of the "women" who are actually doing something in the game industry - for all his flaws and histrionics, Brianna Wu is a legitimate game developer - are actually men.

It's important to remember that the pinks are not the political Left per se. They are a radical subset of it. There are certainly genuine left-wing creators, but the fact that they are genuine creators means that they have no need to interfere with other creators in any way. The more you see someone aggressively speaking out about the need to interfere with the creations of others, the more you can be certain that they have no ability to create anything themselves.

The single biggest problem that the Blue side has is the stubborn determination of many who do not sign onto the Pink program to remain on the fence until something affects them personally. I remember the cynical laughter of my father when a longtime friend, who had scoffed at my father's concerns about the growing anti-business bureaucracy in Minnesota for more than 15 years, was suddenly galvanized into political action when the grasping tentacles finally reached into his own medical practice. It was, of course, far too late at that point.

That's why it is important for those who don't sign onto the pinkshirts' program to actively oppose it. Yes, they will call you names. Yes, they will actively attempt to harm you and your career. But here is the secret: they are going to do it anyhow and buying time is only going to ensure that you will face them when they are stronger and more able to harm you.

What #GamerGate has shown is that we have the ability to strike back. We have the ability to harm them the way they are constantly seeking to harm us. Standing up to them works. Look at how their attempt to isolate me completely imploded; not only has this blog now reliably seeing nearly 3x the daily traffic as the one-time leading blog in SF/F, but Thursday marked its single most-trafficked day ever without any media coverage or even any links from a bigger site like Instapundit.

And speaking of Instapundit, look at the way more and more people have no tolerance for the pinkshirts. The mere polite mention of receiving a Scalzi book in the mail was enough to provoke anger; the most liked comment was this one from David in Virginia: "Not one penny to Scalzi from me. You can pump his stuff till hell freezes over, Professor, and he still won't get one red cent from me."

I'm not addressing the Dread Ilk here. You guys have been PHENOMENAL. I can't even thank you when you get my back from time to time because you guys always there. You've made Castalia House, which originally was just supposed to be a way of getting my books out there after Marcher Lord was bought, a going concern in which my books are practically a minor afterthought, so much so that successful, mainstream-published authors have been contacting us to discuss the possibility of working with us. I may not be the sort to need emotional support, (as Jonah Goldberg once said, I feed on the Dark Side of the Force) but it's good to know that it is there nevertheless.

No, I'm addressing the Grays, the fence-sitters, the people who are hoping against hope that this will pass them by and the situation will magically improve. It won't, so long as you and others like you are afraid. But I'm telling you, as someone who has been targeted unmercilessly by everyone from CAIR to the SFWA, there is no reason for fear. Standing up to them won't kill you and it will make you stronger, more confident, and more capable. You'll lose battles, sure, but you will win the war.

So get off the fence. Choose your side. Do something. Support the Blues. Stand with them instead of distancing yourself from them as if it will save you. (It won't.) Attack the pinkshirts at their various points of weakness. Here is my pledge to you. If you do something, whether it is starting a game journo site, developing a card game, making a VASSAL module, reviewing books, or launching an email campaign against SyFy, I will support it somehow. Maybe via a personal endorsement (or a timely critique, if that would be more helpful), maybe a blog post, most often just a tweet. I simply can't do much more than I'm already doing; as it stands, I'm already up until close to dawn working on my various game, book, and technology projects. But I can, and will, support you in yours.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Castalia subscribers

You may want to check your email before Monday if you would like to take advantage of a certain offer that was mentioned earlier this week. That is all.

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Hate speech from Canada

A Canadian racist on Twitter, who is also a "Pagan liberal writer",  apparently thinks he is the race police:
Trevor Curtis ‏@trevorcurtis23
@ChrisWarcraft @scalzi I'm sorry to put it this way, but my balls are more Native American than @voxday .
I wonder what tribe his balls belong to? Do they have a Certificate Degree of Indian Blood from the BIA? I wonder if his balls are also blacker than K. Tempest Bradford? How can we even know that he has any balls unless he posts evidence of this on the Internet?

Of course, the little coward backed down right away when I told him that he could pick the odds he'd give me and I'd choose the amount. I guess he finally figured out that he'd walked right into it.

Another guy asked me a question, which I answered. I asked him a question. He ignored it and asked two more questions. I didn't answer them, but reminded him, twice, that he hadn't answered my question. So, finally, he said that even though I hadn't answered his questions (that he had asked AFTER mine), he would finally answer it. And then he evaded it.

It doesn't surprise me that they are cowards, but it still surprises me how many people not only buy into their behavior, but consider it to be tactically admirable.

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Retro robbery

The EU sticks the UK with an unexpected bill for $2.7 billion due to GDP revisions:
Addressing reporters in Brussels, Mr Cameron admitted the demand had made him 'downright angry' but he would not pay the £1.7billion, equivalent to £56 for every income taxpayer in Britain. The European Commission has demanded the cash by December 1, but Mr Cameron insisted he would not meet the deadline.

Downing Street later stressed that he was not simply delaying payment, and made clear there were no circumstances under which Britain would hand over £1.7billion.

Asked about the impact on UK staying in the EU, Mr Cameron said: "Well it certainly doesn't help, let's put it like that. I think there is a strong case for Britain involved in the European Union, if we can reform it in the way I have set out. When you are presented with a bill like this, with a month to go, is that helpful for Britain's membership of the European Union, no it certainly is not."
How shamelessly corrupt is this Tory quisling? What possible case can there be for Britain to be involved in the European Union, let alone a "strong case"? It significantly reduces the "good for the economy" and "good for trade" benefits a membership provides if you have to turn around and fork over $25 billion dollars for the privilege.

Any Brit who still favors EU membership needs to get his head examined. UKIP's Farage puts it well: Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: "The EU is like a thirsty vampire feasting on UK taxpayers' blood. We need to protect the innocent victims, who are us."

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Ebola in NYC

I suspect a lot of Americans will be feeling rather conflicted about the latest Ebola news:
A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea became the first person in the city to test positive for the virus Thursday, setting off a search for anyone who might have come into contact with him.

The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center and placed in isolation at the same time as investigators sought to retrace every step he had taken over the past several days.

At least three people he had contact with in recent days have been placed in isolation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which dispatched a team to New York, is conducting its own test to confirm the positive test on Thursday, which was performed by a city lab.
The thing is, this variant of Ebola doesn't appear to be as contagious as originally feared. Once it became clear that the family who stayed in an apartment with the sick Liberian who died did not become infected, and that none of the police and paramedics who attended him without proper precautions did not become infected either, the logical conclusion is that there will not be a massive African-style outbreak in the USA.

Of course, the logical conclusion can only hold insofar as the information we have is accurate. So, it's certainly too soon to be confident that the danger has passed. But let's face it, if the country wasn't being run by the sort of idiot Axis of Lunacy people elected by NYC voters, there wouldn't be any Ebola in the country in the first place. Actions have consequences, after all. Vote Obama, get Ebola in your neighborhood.

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#Gamergate: an open letter

Joel Johnson
Editorial Director
Gawker Media

Dear Mr. Johnson,

As a professional game reviewer, game developer, and game designer with 22 years of experience in the game industry who has worked closely with Intel in the past, I would like to request that you immediately ask Max Read to resign from Gawker Media for the blatant disregard he has shown for the gaming community as well as one of its most important corporate supporters. Mr. Read wrote:
  1. "So let's say it now: Intel is run by craven idiots. It employs pusillanimous morons. It lacks integrity."
  2. He dishonestly described GamerGate as "dishonest fascists" and "an ill-informed mob of alienated and resentful video game-playing teenagers and young men
  3. "He, and later I, made the tactical mistake of publicly treating Gamergate with the contempt and flippancy that it deserves."
Mr. Johnson, GamerGate does not consist of fascists. It is not an ill-informed mob. It is not limited to teenagers, to men, or to white people. It does not deserve to be treated with contempt and flippancy. GamerGate is a broad spectrum of the gaming community, including players and developers, and consists of men and women of all ages who wish nothing more than to simply continue to design, develop, and play the games that we wish to design, develop, and play without being attacked by professional political activists, corrupt game journalists, and publicity-seeking independent game developers.

And speaking as one who has worked with upper level executives at Intel, including Andy Grove, I can personally testify that Intel is most definitely not run by idiots.

Mr. Johnson, I think you will recognize that both the game and mainstream medias have exhibited considerable bias with regards to the issue of GamerGate and have failed to cover it in a manner that can be described as either fair or objective. While there has obviously been some problematic behavior on both sides, I do not see how it can possibly be in Gawker Media's interest to continue attacking both its readers and its advertisers alike. I hope you will see fit to remove those employees and contributors who have been inclined to do so, beginning with Mr. Read.

Thank you,
Vox Day

In other #GamerGate-related news, Castalia House has posted its statement on the matter which features insightful quotes from Popehat's Clark as well as Castalia author William S. Lind. And Teepublic has a #GamerGate shirt out that is very retro and is all but guaranteed to set the usual suspects to frothing at the mouth on sight.

And Nero has another great article on #GamerGate, entitled: "Incredibly, GamerGate Is Winning - But You Won't Read that Anywhere In the Terrified Liberal Media":
Perhaps it won't surprise you to learn that microchip manufacturers and car companies are pretty sympathetic to the concerns of male consumers. But some of the things said to me--all, sadly, on condition of anonymity--have been nothing short of remarkable.

There's the Intel vice president who told me via email that GamerGate was "doing great work" and that he was "sick of slander and self-loathing from the press". He was talking about male journalists who do misandrist feminists' work for them.
"I am pressing that team, it's not mine, but I am exerting influence when I can, to stop spending money with people who hate themselves and hate our clients," he added by phone later.

Then consider the product manager, who was happy to be identified as "senior management at a German car manufacturer", who told me that, "the violence against women is unacceptable and we cannot support it, but we will not financially support people who insult our customers either". The manager told me: "We would prefer not to make headlines like Intel. But you should expect to see strategic changes in how we spend in coming years. It is very much an open question inside the company and we are watching closely."

Finally, the executive at a household name video game developer who said: "Opinion is sharply divided within the company. But that's remarkable in itself, given how totally the media has slammed and lied about gamers. We're split straight down the middle. One thing I can tell you, though, is that when claims about gamers being woman-hating or abusive start to unravel, because journalists didn't check them properly before running these 'bleeding heart' editorials, it's very difficult to win people back from there. So God help Kotaku and Polygon if any of these women are shown to be making stuff up."
How fortunate for the anti-GamerGate crowd that women (and, presumably, men wearing dresses) never lie about rapedeath threats....

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nothing but a lie

The co-founder of the Weather Channel declares the obvious: there is no anthropogenic global climate change:
John Coleman, who co-founded the Weather Channel, shocked academics by insisting the theory of man-made climate change was no longer scientifically credible.

Instead, what 'little evidence' there is for rising global temperatures points to a 'natural phenomenon' within a developing eco-system.

In an open letter attacking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he wrote: "The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number. Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing).

"I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid." He added: "There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has been none in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future.

"Efforts to prove the theory that carbon dioxide is a significant greenhouse gas and pollutant causing significant warming or weather effects have failed. There has been no warming over 18 years."
 Always keep AGW/CC in mind whenever you see someone appealing to "scientific consensus". Scientific consensus is democracy. It is politics. It is collective opinion and it should not be confused with the actual scientific process (scientody) any more than the contents of the sewage system at a convention of scientists are.

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Someone was mean on the Internet

You almost have to admire the false bravado. You can always rely on Johnny to pretend he doesn't care, right up to the point that he completely loses it and goes on another Twitter rampage.
   John ScalziVerified account ‏@scalzi
    Ah, I see some GamerGaters are whining to Tor that I am being mean to them. Well, good luck with that tactic, kids.

    Charlotte Moore ‏@cavaticat
    @scalzi 5 stars out of 5, would recommend Scalzi meanness to friends.

    Dave Doyle ‏@meraxes
    @scalzi That's adorable.

    The Horrible Demonis ‏@den_down_unda
    @scalzi Really? I thought it was just the RSHD?

    Nikki Smalls ‏@nikkismalls
    @scalzi "Stop telling me I can't be a horrible asshat!"-GamerGaters

    Christian ‏@ChryssF
    @scalzi Oh please oh please oh please let them get a glorious email from @pnh. Please.

    Lesley Mitchell ‏@dkscully
    @scalzi Aww. The poor things! (By which I mean the undeserving folk at Tor having to deal with that crap coming their way!)

    Robert Davis ‏@rdaviswrites
    @scalzi Tor: "Oh boy, Scalzi's name recognition is going through the roof! Yay!" *deletes stupid gamergate complaint emails*

    Brian ‏@btskinn
    @scalzi Just be glad modern schools don't teach dialectic - otherwise they might be able to name and counter your rhetorical tactics.

    Dracolich Eyrie ‏@ApeAquatic
    @scalzi cleary because this is about ethics and not at all about silencing opposing voices.

    ☠ DangerIck ☠ ‏@RangerRick
    @meraxes @scalzi I believe you mean... *pushes up glasses* That's a-Tor-able. #sorry #notsorry

    ObSCARYcaGGC ‏@ObscuricaGGC
    @scalzi Do... uh... do they have no idea who runs Tor and what their ideological affiliations- no, of course they don't. Never mind.

    Michael Jewell ‏@MichaelJewell78
    @scalzi hmmmm sure money maker on one hand, whining brats on the other.... Wonder which one Tor will support....

   SusPECT EVERYONE ‏@SusLikesTurtles
    @scalzi I read one of those tweets like 15 times and it still makes no sense. It seems to say Anti-GG = SFWA. Or. Something. WHAT.

    John M. Atkinson ‏@Dekarch
    @scalzi because they are likely to impact BOOK sales that much...

    Stephen Dunscombe ‏@cythraul
    @scalzi I'd say "Ain't they adorable?" Except they're not.

    SocialJusticeWarlock ‏@dreveillark
    @scalzi but it's all about ethics, not routing anyone who disagrees with them!

    CALMicScream ‏@CALMicC
    @scalzi The same movement that doxxes and threatens rape, death, and dismemberment thinks you've been "mean"?

    Christopher Brown ‏@Cdbrow1
    @scalzi Since they obviously are not 'readers' I don't see TOR caring.

    The Horrible Demonis ‏@den_down_unda
    @alexvdl0 That's why I was surprised. The RSHD isn't a GamerGater. He's just a freelance asshole.

    Christopher Brown ‏@Cdbrow1
    @scalzi maybe I should buy more copies of your books to express my outrage.

    Geek Girl Diva ‏@geekgirldiva
    @cavaticat @scalzi Unlike Adobe, Tor knows how to do research. Also, OMG whiny babies.

    Rekeiji... Boo! ‏@Rekeiji
    @scalzi Sounds like them, censor the shit out of any who disagree. Why bother trying to debate?

    Sir Ghrys of Wald ‏@Ghryswald
    @scalzi That's so cute. Are they writing actual letters? In cursive?

    Kootiepatra ‏@Kootiepatra
    @scalzi I'm sure Tor will not take aforementioned whining seriously, but I still feel like saying for the record: (1/2)

    Tim Wright ‏@timswar
    @scalzi @DreamtimeDrinne I'm just kinda surprised to see them target a guy... They must actually fear you.

    Kootiepatra ‏@Kootiepatra
    @scalzi Your consistent, positive outlook on women is what caused me to "discover" and begin purchasing your books. Gaining readers FTW.

    Scary Petertron! ‏@peterlikesbaths
    @scalzi You can't be mean on the internet, Scalzi!

    Alex von der Linden ‏@alexvdl0
    @den_down_unda Yeah, but he's got game cred, and he's exploiting the fuck out of it.

    Daniel P Krouse ‏@DanielPKrouse
    @scalzi a gamergate is a type of ant. Which is... appropriate. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamergate

    Erwin van der Koogh ‏@evanderkoogh
    @scalzi Very strange indeed. They are very very angry, but even after days of listening/talking I still don't get why..

    Gilius Thunderhead ‏@gilius_thunder
    @scalzi how many? Two. Nobody in #GamerGate gives a shit about you. Your job is to help facilitate the irrelevance of your publisher. Shoo
Now, it's certainly true that given their left-wing ideological affiliations (which the pinkshirts no longer deny) Tor Books is unlikely to have the good sense to tell Scalzi to shut up, but what people don't know is that most of Tor's bestselling books are... videogame tie-in novels. As it happens, I have personal connections with three of the executives at the two developers responsible for two of Tor's best-selling book lines, so I'm placing a few calls this weekend. It should be interesting to get their perspective on Tor's ideology and their probable refusal to condemn John Scalzi's statements concerning gamers and #GamerGate.

I doubt they'll care enough to pull the books, but you never know. Anyhow, since we obviously have Mr. Scalzi's blessing, I also shared his words with SyFy, whom I am sure will be interested to know their new partner's attitude towards the group that makes up a substantial percentage of their core market.

"If you're still pro-GamerGate at this point, you're a shitty human, or a shitty human's useful idiot." - John Scalzi

What would be useful, if anyone is inclined and has the time, is to put together a list of anti-GamerGate SFWA members concerning #GamerGate. As for John Scalzi's rhetorical tactics, his favored one is ambiguity, as I noted last year:
What I found so amusing about this is that McRapey clearly hasn't changed his debating technique since at least 2005.
  1.     Make an obviously questionable assertion.
  2.     When the assertion is questioned, appeal to bachelor's degree.
  3.     When the appeal to the bachelor's degree is questioned, question the questioner's intellect and/or good will.
  4.     Avoid further questions.
  5.     Posture as if one has thoroughly proved one's point.
 Riccola isn't the first to discover John Scalzi's rhetorical limitations. In addition to my first encounter with them in 2005, Agathis had much the same experience. Not only does McRapey have no observable capacity for dialectic, his rhetoric is almost entirely limited to name-calling, argumentum ad hominem, inept satire, and the sophistic technique known as "ambiguity". The irony of Scalzi's position should be readily apparent when one compares his observed lack of rhetorical skill with the Dunning-Kruger effect checklist.

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Playing the Red Card

I'll leave the kid's actual Twitter address out of it because he obviously doesn't know any better, but I suspect some of you will find this as amusing as I did:
    Feminist Frequency ‏@femfreq
    There are not two sides to this. This is a war on the women, critics, and feminists who care about making gaming more diverse and inclusive.

    Vox Day ‏@voxday
    @femfreq We like our games the way they are. You want different games, make your own damn games.

    Elijah @elijah
    yea make your own games unless your @zoequinnzel or @Spacekatgal than don't cus reasons or ethics, yeah ethics

      Vox Day ‏@voxday
    Let them make whatever they want. No one cares about that. I certainly don't.

    Elijah @elijah
    I know right why cant games continue to revolve around my entitled white maleness???

    Vox Day ‏@voxday
    I'm an Indian, Elijah. Feather, not dot, with an actual tribe, casino, and everything.

    Elijah @elijah
    @voxday Yo i'm sorry man I shouldnt assume that if someone says something stupid that they're white that is racist
Hey, I don't make the rules. I just play by them. If they hand you a hammer, it's only polite to hit them with it. What else is it there for? But it certainly is amusing to see how fast they shift into reverse.

By the way, all members of the Dread Ilk have my formal permission to use the term "Redskins" in the context of the Washington football team. I take no offense at it, and you are certainly welcome to cite said permission in the event of an SJW objecting to it.

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Dishonest pinkshirt doubles down

Gawker's Max Read makes it clear that #GamerGate is winning in writing what may have been the dumbest, most self-destructive opinion piece ever written:
On October 1, the computing giant Intel pulled its ads from Gamasutra, a trade website for game developers, over an essay called "'Gamers' don't have to be your audience. 'Gamers' are over" by a journalist named Leigh Alexander. Intel had been successfully harassed by a small, contemptible crusade called "Gamergate"—a campaign of dedicated anti-feminist internet trolls using an ill-informed mob of alienated and resentful video game-playing teenagers and young men to harass and intimidate female activists, journalists, and critics.

Unable to run Alexander out of game writing, as they had with the writer Jenn Frank, or force her from her home, as they did to the developer Brianna Wu, or threaten her from public engagements, as they did the following week to the critic and activist Anita Sarkeesian, Gamergate went after her publisher. And, in an unbelievable and embarrassing act of ignorance and cowardice, Intel capitulated. The company's laughable "apology," released late on that Friday afternoon, didn't cover up the fact of Gamergate's victory: Intel was not replacing its ads.

Failing to adequately cover this act of spinelessness was the first big fuck-up we at Gawker committed. Intel surrendered to the worst kind of dishonesty, and we allowed it to do so without ever calling it out. So let's say it now: Intel is run by craven idiots. It employs pusillanimous morons. It lacks integrity. It folded to misogynists and bigots who objected to a woman who had done nothing more than write a piece claiming a place in the world of video games. And even when confronted with its own thoughtlessness and irresponsibility, it could not properly right its wrongs.

Last week, a Gawker writer tweeted "bring back bullying." He, and later I, made the tactical mistake of publicly treating Gamergate with the contempt and flippancy that it deserves. As a consequence, our advertisers were quickly inundated with the same kinds of emails that spooked Intel. Gamergaters were passing around a sample letter and list of advertiser contacts to coordinate the campaign; the Washington Post's Caitlin Dewey wrote an excellent breakdown of the efficient mechanism by which the relatively small group of Gamergaters was able to make itself immediately annoying to advertisers:

    Step 4: Plug all of your choices into one of the many form e-mails that leaders of Disrespectful Nod have helpfully written already. [...]

    Step 5: Keep it up, even when you get no response, and be — to quote the operation's guide! — "an annoying little s—." A representative for a high-profile communications company that advertises on Polygon confirmed that he'd received "dozens" of e-mails from Gamergate supporters over a period of several weeks.


    Operation Disrespectful Nod also encourages Gamergaters to reach out to the bosses and managers of journalists who have written "negative" stories, demanding the reporter in question be fired or asked to resign. Topping their most-wanted list, at present, is Gawker Media's Biddle, who tweeted a string of jokes about Gamergate on Thursday. In context, at least, the jokes were an obvious — if tongue-in-cheek — commentary on the movement's well-documented, often hateful, idiocy. Critics construed them as an endorsement for bullying. (Biddle later apologized for the tweets.)

Transparent and documented though it was, the obsessive campaign worked. Mercedes-Benz—listed on the site as a former partner, and therefore a target—briefly paused its ads on a network that serves ads to Gawker. I've been told that we've lost thousands of dollars already, and could potentially lose thousands more, if not millions. Consequently, the editorial director of Gawker Media, Joel Johnson, took to the front page of Gawker to clarify that Sam Biddle does not want to bully anyone, and that Gawker Media as a company and institution is not pro-bullying. (Let's note here that the admitted goal of our Gamergate trolls is not to eke an apology out of Sam, or the company, but to literally put us out of business entirely.)

If this seems bizarre to you, you're not alone. I feel like I went to sleep in the regular world and woke up in an insane new one where "bullying" is something that it's possible to be seriously and sincerely "for." Yesterday, Adobe wrote to one Gamergater on Twitter that it had asked Gawker to remove its logo from the advertising site because it did not support bullying; a few confused hours later, Adobe was forced to clarify to the world:

    We are vehemently opposed to bullying of any kind and would never support any group that bullies.
    — Adobe (@Adobe) October 22, 2014

Brands like Adobe and Intel, willing to distance themselves from independent publishers over the spurious claims of a limited but dedicated group of misogynists and trolls, share an important core value with Gamergate: Misogyny. Kidding! Kidding. The value that defines both Gamergate and brand response is cynicism. A brand that honestly believes it needs to clarify that it is "vehemently opposed to bullying of any kind"—as though there are or have ever been genuine corporate supporters of bullying, and as though anyone was ever in danger of thinking the makers of Photoshop might be among their number—passes on to its adult customers the same corroding cynicism that the opportunistic reactionaries running Gamergate imbue in their maladjusted teenage followers. Releasing into the world a statement as vacuous as Adobe's tweet, or as inane as Intel's "apology," demonstrates not that those brands stand against something (how else can anyone possibly feel about bullying?) but that they stand for nothing.

Maybe that's too much to expect from a brand. But it seems like the bare minimum to expect from ourselves. Gawker is rarely perfect, but it strives to be honest and fearless. For us to have apologized for a joke—to have even clarified—in the face of such breathtaking cynicism and dishonesty, from both "ad partners" and the enemies who leverage those brands' fearfulness to silence opposing voices, feels like an utter abdication of those responsibilities. Frankly, that sucks. If anyone is owed an apology, it's our readers. So: Sorry.
I'll be very surprised if Gawker Media keeps this lunatic loose cannon around much longer. Despite all his lies, misrepresentations, and ad hominem attacks, the piece is very interesting for what it admits.
  1. GamerGate is clearly winning. Advertisers correctly understand that GamerGate is a broad-spectrum movement of gamers who do not trust the games media and oppose the interference of the SJWs attempting to, in LW1's words, "make gaming more diverse and inclusive." Intel's reaction is particularly important because they are much more keenly attuned to the gaming market than most big corporations, because they depend upon it more heavily than most people realize. I worked closely with them on the release of their MMX chips in 1996 and 1997 - I was one of 12 CEOs (and with Ubisoft and Epic, one of three game dev CEOs) brought in to spend a day consulting with Andy Grove concerning Intel's marketing of the MMX prior to its release - and they will never, ever blow off gamers. And they also understand that the games media is not to be confused with the gaming community itself.
  2. Neither Biddle nor Read feel any remorse for their actions. They are only sorry that they PUBLICLY treated "Gamergate with the contempt and flippancy that it deserves". They have learned nothing.
  3. GamerGate's is correctly focused on the media's Achilles Heel, its advertisers. The games media is so foolish and arrogant that they don't care what their readers think, but they do care greatly about their advertisers. That is their corporate lifesblood, and that is the place that GamerGate should continue to target its efforts.
  4. The pinkshirts still don't understand that the numbers are not on their side. They don't grasp that the fact that all the media organizations are on their side means nothing concerning the actual numbers of gamers who support one side or the other. Most gamers support GamerGate, to the extent they lean one way or another (they are mostly uninterested in the whole thing) the developers oppose any interference with how they design and develop their games, and the people responsible for selling products into both communities understand this.
  5. The "bullying" is simply a proxy. It could have been anything, but that happens to be the hammer that the anti-Gamergaters handed GamerGate, and so it is the hammer with which GamerGate is going to repeatedly hit them. The real issue is that the gaming media is now not only attacking its readers, it is attacking its advertisers as well.
  6. Max Read is very, very stupid. "So let's say it now: Intel is run by craven idiots. It employs pusillanimous morons. It lacks integrity." I suspect he's going to bitterly regret those words soon, if he doesn't already. If Gawker doesn't fire him and Biddle, and promptly kowtow before GamerGate and announce its love of games, gamers, and game developers who do whatever they want to do, they're going to see their advertising revenue continue to decline.
  7. Max Read is projecting. The only "dishonest fascists" here are the pinkshirts opposed to GamerGate.
  8. In case it isn't clear yet, GamerGate will never quit. Because making the games we want to make and playing the games that we want to play is part of who we are.
  9. The pinkshirts don't give even the smallest damn about "death threats" or "harassment. I've been getting angry emails and death threats from the Left for 13 years now and no one pretending to be so terribly concerned about the "death threats" aimed at LW1, LW2 or LWu has ever said one single word to denounce them. Here are just two examples from this year that were posted in public:
In better days, people were easily thrown out of the city and the gates were locked behind them, let them starve. We need a system like that today, people like Vox Day need to die on the vine. Anyone who holds such opinions should not be allowed in society, it doesn’t matter what the quality of their “art” is. I’m sure that there were many people who thought Hitler was a good painter. - Blackadder Apr 23, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Oh dear sweet Cthulu, I think a little part of my soul just died...  Frankly, Vox is a great big steaming pile of human garbage. He's an absolute piece of shit. This isn't his first set of fuckery in the SFF community, either. He ran for President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and part of his platform was that he'd ban all women from writing any hard sci-fi or fantasy and only allow them to write paranormal romance (I believe wereseals were specified as the only thing women should be allowed to write about. The fucking jackass doesn't even know they're called selkies, but that's irrelevant). That's the sort of shit this guy is.... Seriously, vox is an absolute piece of shit. I want him to die a slow and agonising death. - LJP · April 25, 2014
And speaking of pinkshirts doubling down, here is John Scalzi:
"If you're still pro-GamerGate at this point, you're a shitty human, or a shitty human's useful idiot." - John Scalzi
I tweeted that to @torbooks. Because while Mr. Scalzi has repeatedly announced that he doesn't care who reads his books and as well as his hatred for GamerGate, it is possible that Tor Books, which sells considerably more HALO and other game tie-in books than it sells John Scalzi books, may feel differently.

I have written to Joel Johnson, the editorial director at Gawker Media, asking him to request Max Read's resignation due to Mr. Read's open disregard for the gaming community and one of its leading corporate supporters. If you wish to do likewise, Mr. Johnson's contact information is available at his personal site.

UPDATE: Nero has a piece on the same Max Read article up on Breitbart.
The irony of Gawker's career-destroying, far-left authoritarians squealing about fascism and bullying will not be lost on observers. "I've been told that we've lost thousands of dollars already, and could potentially lose thousands more, if not millions," wrote Gawker's Read last night.
UPDATE 2: On a related note, here is the posted list of Gawker's advertisers, with contact information.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mrs. Wright's new book

L. Jagi Lamplighter, aka Mrs. John C. Wright, today published THE RAVEN THE ELF AND RACHEL. Mr. Wright describes it as follows:
If asked, I describe the book as ‘Nancy Drew coming of age in the Roke of Sleepy Hollow hidden in the world from FRINGE hidden in the universe of Gaiman’s Sandman hidden in the multiverse of Zelazny’s Amber meets Aslan at Camp Halfblood: girl detective at magical boarding school uncovers figures from spooky New England folktales, secret weirdness and secret conspiracies, ghosts and elves and gods and greater powers beyond that, hellish and heavenly. And has a crush on a boy.’

Before coming to Roanoke Academy, Rachel Griffin had been an obedient girl—but it’s hard to obey the rules when the world is in danger, and no one will listen.

Now, she’s eavesdropping on Wisecraft Agents and breaking a lot of rules. Because if the adults will not believe her, then it is up to Rachel and her friends—crazy, orphan-boy Sigfried the Dragonslayer and Nastasia, the Princess of Magical Australia—to stop the insidious Mortimer Egg from destroying the world.

But first she must survive truth spells, fights with her brother, detention, Alchemy experiments, talking to elves, and conjuring class.

As if that were not bad enough, someone has turned the boy she likes into a sheep.

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel soon realizes that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another, more secret world hiding from everyone-which her perfect recall allows her to remember.  Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, magical pranks, homework, a Raven said to bring the doom of worlds, love’s first blush, and at least one fire-breathing teacher.

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Our underoos are not magic!

This announcement betrays an almost shocking naivete concerning human nature:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has declared that it is offended by ridicule about the undergarments worn by its faithful and references to them as "magical underwear".

A video released by the church on YouTube compared the underwear, known as "temple garments", to nuns habits, priests' cassocks, Jewish prayer shawls, Muslim skull caps, and the robes of Buddhist monks.

It said: "Some people incorrectly refer to temple garments as magical, or magic underwear. These words are not only inaccurate but offensive to members of the church. There is nothing mystical or magical about temple garments and church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of good will."
Look, I have zero problem with Mormons. They are, by and large, good people. Numerous readers here are Mormon. Larry Correia, Brad Torgersen, and Orson Scott Card are all Mormons. They may harbor a few strange beliefs, but then, so do I. But look, you simply cannot wear special, funny-looking underwear and expect people to find no amusement in it. You just can't! And then informing the pulic your underwear stirs "the deepest feelings of the soul" is just asking, nay, demanding amusement at your expense.

The Church would do much better to grin and bear it than try to play the offense card on that basis. Because, like it or not, underwear is intrinsically funny to most people and "magic underwear" is downright off the charts.

UPDATE: Josh has a better solution:

Honestly...the best way for them to handle this would be to say: "Because of our masculinity and virility, we Mormons require undergarments that offer more support for our massive penises."

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A state of war

Dmitry Orlov considers the current state of US-Russia relations on Zerohedge:
So far, this all seems like typical economic warfare: the Americans want to get everything they want by printing money while bombing into submission or sanctioning anyone who disobeys them, while the rest of the world attempts to resist them. But early in 2014 the situation changed. There was a US-instigated coup in Kiev, and instead of rolling over and playing dead like they were supposed to, the Russians mounted a fast and brilliantly successful campaign to regain Crimea, then successfully checkmated the junta in Kiev, preventing it from consolidating control over the remaining former Ukrainian territory by letting volunteers, weapons, equipment and humanitarian aid enter—and hundreds of thousands of refugees exit—through the strictly notional Russian-Ukrainian border, all the while avoiding direct military confrontation with NATO. Seeing all of this happening on the nightly news has awakened the Russian population from its political slumber, making it sit up and pay attention, and sending Putin's approval rating through the roof.

The “optics” of all this, as they like to say at the White House, are rather ominous. We are coming up on the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II—a momentous occasion for Russians, who pride themselves on defeating Hitler almost single-handedly. At the same time, the US (Russia's self-appointed arch-enemy) has taken this opportunity to reawaken and feed the monster of Nazism right on Russia's border (inside Russia's borders, some Russians/Ukrainians would say). This, in turn, makes the Russians remember Russia's unique historical mission is among the nations of the world: it is to thwart all other nations' attempts at world domination, be it Napoleonic France or Hitleresque Germany or Obamaniac America. Every century or so some nation forgets its history lessons and attacks Russia. The result is always the same: lots of corpse-studded snowdrifts, and then Russian cavalry galloping into Paris, or Russian tanks rolling into Berlin....

[W]hy has war been declared now, and why was it declared by this social worker turned national misleader? Some keen observers mentioned his slogan “the audacity of hope,” and ventured to guess that this sort of “audaciousness” (which in Russian sounds a lot like “folly”) might be a key part of his character which makes him want to be the leader of the universe, like Napoleon or Hitler. Others looked up the campaign gibberish from his first presidential election (which got silly young Americans so fired up) and discovered that he had nice things to say about various cold warriors. Do you think Obama might perhaps be a scholar of history and a shrewd geopolitician in his own right? (That question usually gets a laugh, because most people know that he is just a chucklehead and repeats whatever his advisers tell him to say.) Hugo Chavez once called him “a hostage in the White House,” and he wasn't too far off. So, why are his advisers so eager to go to war with Russia, right now, this year?

Is it because the US is collapsing more rapidly than most people can imagine? This line of reasoning goes like this: the American scheme of world domination through military aggression and unlimited money-printing is failing before our eyes. The public has no interest in any more “boots on the ground,” bombing campaigns do nothing to reign in militants that Americans themselves helped organize and equip, dollar hegemony is slipping away with each passing day, and the Federal Reserve is fresh out of magic bullets and faces a choice between crashing the stock market and crashing the bond market. In order to stop, or at least forestall this downward slide into financial/economic/political oblivion, the US must move quickly to undermine every competing economy in the world through whatever means it has left at its disposal, be it a bombing campaign, a revolution or a pandemic (although this last one can be a bit hard to keep under control). Russia is an obvious target, because it is the only country in the world that has had the gumption to actually show international leadership in confronting the US and wrestling it down; therefore, Russia must be punished first, to keep the others in line.
Empires always fall. The most powerful military is always eventually surpassed by its rivals. These are lessons of history that the average individual, especially the average American, never takes into account. And very, very few individuals in a society in decline ever recognize that it is in decline at the time. However, the USA is presently showing many signs of decline that have previously been observed in imperial societies of the past, including both democratic Athens and republican Rome.

Obama's plan to open the immigration floodgates and give out 34 million green cards on top of the 60 million immigrants already in the country may mark the final nail in the coffin, but such things are merely consequences of the country abandoning its original identity as a white Christian Anglo-Saxon nation. There is no mechanical fix for that, and it should surprise absolutely no one that an empire that is no longer predominantly a white, Christian, Anglo-Saxon nation does not abide by either the traditions or the values of white, Christian, Anglo-Saxons.

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The 18-year delta

Ender was excited last night because, with his B team season at an end, the first team had extended an open invitation to the B team players to practice with them. It's a chance for the coaches to see which young men are ready to play with the men, and who the eventual up-and-comers are. The first team practices at the same time my veteran's team does, so we drove over to the clubhouse together despite a howling wind and a black sky that threatened some serious rain.

It's getting near the end of our season too, three-quarters of my teammates are banged up, and I discovered when I got there that a) the veteran's practice had been canceled, and b) the first team was missing half its players due to vacations and whatnot. But I know several of the first team players and coaches fairly well because we're permitted to field two players below 32, but over 25, and some of them play with us when they have an evening free. So, I asked one of the guys I know if they needed an extra player - thinking that they were just going to scrimmage - and he suggested that I stick around and join the practice. So, I changed, put on my cleats, and joined them in the middle of the field.

There were about eight of Ender's teammates there, huddled together against the cold rain that had begun to fall and vaguely intimidated by the first team players. They know who I am, of course, and were visibly startled by my presence there - let's face it, no one is more contemptuous of a middle-aged dad than an elite teenage athlete - and were further taken aback when the player-coach leading the practice greeted me with an enthusiastic handshake-hug. What they didn't know is that I've played several games up front with Stefan and we are molto sympatico on the field despite him being much better than I am. We've both given assists on each other's goals, and like most stellar strikers, he prefers having a strike partner who looks to feed him the ball rather than shoot.

However, Stefan had a full practice in mind, not a scrimmage. It wasn't brutal, but it was strenuous, enough so that he came over twice during the repeated agility drills to make sure I wasn't about to keel over. His concern wasn't entirely unjustified, as I'm beyond old by first team standards; the oldest player on the team is 28. I would have been insulted, especially given the fact that I was pretty much keeping up with the tall B team defender in front of me in the line, were it not for the fact that I was fairly certain two more run-throughs would have resulted in vomiting. Ender and the midfielders were having no problem, but some of the defenders looked to be mildly in shock at doing 2.5x more repetitions, and doing them at faster speed, than they'd ever done before. Fortunately, we moved on to the team keep-away drill next, which is fast-paced, but gives you a chance to catch your breath if need be. Which was, in fact, the case.

The bad thing about being a sprinter is that you quickly run out of steam. The good thing about being a sprinter is that you bounce back just as fast. So, by the time we were doing the final drill, which involved a 20-meter sprint to a cone, turning around to receive the ball and firing a one-touch shot on goal, most of the B team kids had slowed to a jog, but I was still running. I even managed to put a few past Ender, who was alternating with the first team keeper in net. Ender acquitted himself well, making some diving saves and drawing praise from the first-team guys, which pleased him immensely.

I was more than a little pleased myself when, back in the clubhouse, Stefan clapped me on the shoulder and said, "hey, why don't you come to the next one too?" Which, I have decided, I am absolutely going to do. It's not that I will ever play for the first team, but I suspect he may find me to be useful in goading the younger players. None of them will have any excuse for falling behind, given that I'm literally three decades older than most of them. The best compliment, however, came from Ender, when I asked him if he'd found it embarrassing to have his old man running around the field.

"Actually, Dad, I didn't even notice except for when you were the one shooting at me."

I'll take it. It's a rare pleasure to be able to play sports with one's son on an equal footing, so I will enjoy it, however long it lasts.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Debating Amazon

Joe Konrath hands Rob Spillman his head in a debate over Amazon:
“What I can’t understand is why you would cheer for Amazon in its fight against traditional publishers. Here comes one of my analogies that you love to pull apart – -it seems like rooting for the lions against the Roman prisoners in the Coliseum.”

I was a Roman prisoner in the Coliseum, being feasted on by lions. Those lions were big publishers. After 20 years, a million written words, and nine rejected novels, I finally landed a book contract. And I worked my ass off and published eight novels with legacy publishers, dozens of short stories with respected magazines, and went above and beyond everything that was required of me, in order to succeed.

And I got eaten. One-sided contracts, broken promises, lousy money. But it was the only game in town. If I wanted to make a living as a writer, I had no choice.

Then Amazon invented the Kindle.

I first self-pubbed in May of 2009. That first month I made $1,500, publishing books that New York rejected. Those same rejected books have earned me hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I cheer for Amazon because it saved me, and thousands of other authors, from the Coliseum. And I try to show others there is a way to make money from publishing where the terms are better, and the writer stays in control.

“My central argument is that if Amazon crushes us all, it will be able to dictate whatever terms to anyone using its massive platform. What if it suddenly decides to flip terms and only offer you 30 percent, or decide that your books really should be sold for 50 cents?”

Rob, that’s what the Big 5 already do. Except for an elite, tiny group of upper-tier authors, the Big 5 treat 99.9 percent of us badly. Keeping rights for term of copyright? Non-compete clauses? Twenty-five percent e-book royalty on net? I’ve had chapters cut by editors that I wanted to keep. I’ve had terrible cover art. I’ve had my titles forcibly changed. And my experience isn’t unique. I’m friends with hundreds of authors. A few were treated like kings. Most were screwed.

You worry that Amazon might someday offer 30 percent when publishers right now offer 17.5 percent? You must see how odd that is.
I was treated very well by Pocket Books. I have no complaints on that score. But my personal experience, which was mostly positive, doesn't change the fact that mainstream publishing is extremely exploitative of authors; the feed-em-in-and-spit-em-out system is constantly churning and destroys the careers of the vast majority of authors who enter it.

And speaking of independent publishing, I'm pleased to say that we should be able to announce as many as FOUR new Castalia authors in the near future.

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Accidents?

Zerohedge appears to be more than a little suspicious:
Three months ago, the CEO of Total, Christophe de Margerie, dared utter the phrase heard around the petrodollar world, "There is no reason to pay for oil in dollars,"  as we noted here. Today, RT reports the dreadful news that he was killed in a business jet crash at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow after the aircraft hit a snow-plough on take-off. The airport issued a statement confirming "a criminal investigation has been opened into the violation of safety regulations," adding that along with 3 crewmembers on the plane, the snow-plough driver was also killed.
Total, in case you didn't know, is "the world's 13th biggest oil producer and Europe's 2nd largest. It's a little strange, however, that this accident would have occurred in Russia, as one would presume that de Margerie was there as some sort of business partner or even ally of Putin. There is, after all, a long history of Russo-French alliances contra Germany, England, and now, perhaps, the USA.

Did the defenders of the global dollar target him? Or did Putin make him an offer that he couldn't refuse, which he neverthless refused?  Who knows? We'll probably never know. Anyhow, it's not for we minnows to overly concern ourselves with the struggles of the mighty sharks and whales and squids and krakens in the depths. They will sort themselves out in the end.

However, this was not the only fatal accident of late:
American journalist Serena Shim has been killed in a car crash in Turkey just days after Turkish intelligence services had accused her of spying. She was reporting on the siege involving ISIS in Kobani at Syria’s border. Shim was a US citizen though she worked for Iran’s state-owned Press TV as correspondent in Turkey and other regions. She was returning her hotel in the city of Suruç when her car crashed into a ‘heavy vehicle’. The Daily Mail reports the car collided with a cement truck.
I suppose the silver lining is that even if these are targeted hits, those responsible for them still feel the need to disguise their actions. Although I have to say that banker's "nailgun suicide" still stretches credulity. Frankly, at this point, I'm surprised that any politician is still willing to travel by plane:
The campaign plane of Eduardo Campos, a Brazilian presidential candidate and scion of a resurgent political dynasty, crashed on Wednesday in the port city of Santos, killing him and six others and shaking up an increasingly competitive race in Latin America’s largest democracy.

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ON WAR and the CH newsletter

We are on the verge of releasing ON WAR: The collected columns of William S. Lind 2003-2009. It is a 915-page monster that is not to be missed by anyone with an interest in military history, military theory, or current events. Featuring a Foreword by noted Israeli strategist Martin van Creveld, this insightful collection of columns reads very much like today's news, only written ten years ago.

As Lind himself notes, the value of any theory is in its ability to correctly anticipate events. By this measure, Lind's 4th Generation War theory is very valuable indeed. ON WAR will first be available in two ebook formats for three days, beginning Friday, on the Castalia House store, to newsletter subscribers, at a price of $6.99. It will be available on Amazon on Monday, October 26th. Subscribers who purchase the book from Castalia in the first three days will also receive their choice of a free book from five options that will be specified in the newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, simply leave a comment on the Castalia House blog and check the box that says "Add me to Castalia's New Book Release mailing list".

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The importance of names

Daniel writes an extended review of A THRONE OF BONES on Recommend:
Names are important in A Throne of Bones, and I'll highlight two: Selenoth, the continent upon which the action takes is, a nod, I believe, to the element selenium, which occurs naturally in volcanic areas. Considering the photosensitivity of the material, it seems natural that the land provides an elemental basis to the development of Selenoth's primeval magic. Even more interesting, however is the name of the main country: Amorr. Yes, it is a play on the legendary "secret name" of Rome, which provides a clever signal that this strange society will in some way mirror the Roman republic.

However, more deeply, it is also a direct tip to the Latin word for "love" and this is where, if the magic of Selenoth draws the bow, the arrow of Amorr strikes the heart. Day is, after all, an incorrigible romantic, and not of the hopeless variety. The nostalgia, realism and richness of Selenoth is crystalized through the lens of Amorr, and, to put a fine point on it, love is all around.

Love in degraded, if happy, form in the camp followers and brothels among the soldiery. Love between sibling reavers on a mission to draw former victim states into an alliance against certain doom. In a scene stunning, dreadful, long-coming but still shocking scene, love grips in stoic, complex anguish.* The raw and needful love between man and wife. Long-distance love between the clever (yet earnest) and the cruel (yet sympathetic). Love of complex relational intrigues. Love of language. Love of order. Love of family, of honor, of duty. Love of dragons. Love of gold. Love of knowledge. Love of good men, of good life, of good death. A love of the hope that all things, not some or most, will pass away, and yet that all things, not some or most, will be restored by the hand of the Almighty.

Every page, for its grit and realism, its tragedy, folly and danger, the thwarted plans, curses, whoredom, brutality, the death of youth, the loss of ideals, the temporary victory of murder and evil, is an out and out love letter to the Immaculate. Death, in all its towering, all-consuming bleakness, is small, and soon to be swallowed by a love so great it lays its life down, and in defeat, quite literally overcomes all.

A Throne of Bones is doorstopping fantasy for far more than its physical dimensions. Metaphysically, it shuts the door to the world we know and provides an escape to a better reality, and one far more dangerous than the one in which we now dwell. It expresses longings (to master dragons, to find treasure, to save the world on a mission from God, to restore and enjoy the family, to live abundantly and in reality, enjoy and defend the relationships that matter, and many, many more) in such richness of detail.
One of the things I enjoy most about writing books is discovering, after the fact, what others perceive I put into it. Sometimes, absolutely no one recognizes it. Sometimes, I simply fail what I set out to do. And sometimes, people perceive more than I had originally thought. But that doesn't mean they are necessarily wrong, because the truth is that the writer isn't always aware of everything he is doing or what all of his intentions are.

Well, perhaps some writers are, but I'm not. I just sit down and do it, one chunk at a time, until the whole edifice is finally constructed and I'm hoping that the whole thing more or less holds together. And since I seldom go back and re-read anything, sometimes I don't even know what it was that I wrote, especially in a book this size. Perhaps that is what John C. Wright is talking about when he discusses his Muse, I don't know. We lesser writers are not touched by the Divine Fire; where they soar on the wings of their mighty inspirations, we trudge along, one step after another, until we suddenly realize that we have arrived at our destination.

Book II is coming along slowly, but surely, and I think it is a better book in some ways than its predecessor. But then, that isn't for me to say.

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A response to Brianna Wu

Brianna Wu, who may or may not be the former Bruce Freeman, has successfully sold his sob story to the Washington Post:
They’ve taken down women I care about one by one. Now, the vicious mob of the Gamergate movement is coming after me. They’ve threatened to rape me. They’ve threatened to make me choke to death on my husband’s severed genitals. They’ve threatened to murder any children I might have.

This angry horde has been allowed to wage its misogynistic war without penalty for too long. It’s time for the video game industry to stop them.
No. What part of this does he not understand. "You could say all gamers drink the blood of innocents under a full moon and I still wouldn't give a fuck." - Phasmal. That is exactly how the average gamer feels about this. Whether Wu ends up being ritually tortured and force-fed Ebola before being sacrificed to Cthulhu on an altar made of desert-aged E.T. cartridges or not, his fate is not going to alter any of our opinions on the matter in the slightest. We don't care. People are dying of Ebola in Africa too. We are still going to design, develop, and play exactly the sort of games we want to design, develop, and play.

And as for those hypothetical children, well, to paraphrase the immortal Zaphod Beeblebrox, count the chromosomes.
Gamergate is ostensibly about journalistic ethics. Supporters say they want to address conflicts of interest between the people that make games and the people that support them. In reality, Gamergate is a group of gamers that are willing to destroy the women who have invaded their clubhouse.
No, #GamerGate is a broad spectrum of gamers who have no intention of permitting a small group of pinkshirted SJWs do to games what the pinkshirts have done to SF/F literature, namely, destroy it through hyperpoliticization. And we are well aware that the so-called "game journalists" are conspiring with those pinkshirts to do it.
The next day, my Twitter mentions were full of death threats so severe I had to flee my home. They have targeted the financial assets of my company by hacking. They have tried to impersonate me on Twitter. Even as we speak, they are spreading lies to journalists via burner e-mail accounts in an attempt to destroy me professionally.
Boo-freaking-hoo. Even if we assume those "death threats" are genuine, Wu destroyed himself professionally when he lined up with the pinkshirts in the media against the gamer community. No serious gamer will ever play one of his games, no matter how many ideological sympathetic game journalists write favorably about it.
We’ve lost too many women to this lunatic mob. Good women the industry was lucky to have, such as Jenn Frank, Mattie Bryce and my friend Samantha Allen, one of the most insightful critics in games media. They decided the personal cost was too high, and I don’t know who could blame them. Every women I know in the industry is terrified she will be next.
We don't want them, and it is entirely obvious that we don't need them either. There are more than a few real genuine women who are part of GamerGate. Obviously Wu doesn't know any of them, because unlike him, they are not pinkshirt-wearing political activists who are more considerably interested in ideological propaganda and self-inflating genre than in electronic entertainment.
The culture in which women are treated this way by gamers didn’t happen in a vacuum. For 30 years, video games have been designed by men, marketed to men and sold to men. It’s obvious to anyone outside the industry that video games have serious issues with the portrayal of women. It’s not just oversexualized examples, such as Ivy of the Soul Caliber series. Games are still lazily falling on the same outdated tropes involving women. Princess Peach, of Nintendo’s Mario games, has been kidnapped in 12 separate games since 1985. Perhaps the most disturbing of all is the propensity of games to have women thoughtlessly murdered as a motivation for the male hero, such as Watch Dogs.

The consequence of this culture is male gamers have been trained to feel video games are their turf. In stopping Gamergate, the men who dominate it – not just women — must address the culture that created Gamergate.
No. In a word, no. We don't have to do anything of the sort. Nor do we wish to do so. It is our culture. Also, I note that Wu is dismissing the work of very single genuine female in the industry over the last 30 years. Roberta Williams, Jane Jensen, Brenda Laurel, Scorpia and Charlotte Panther at CGW, just to name a few. (To say nothing of Dani Bunton.) As for the "women thoughtlessly murdered" in video games than the men, surely Wu doesn't imagine that the virtual body count is even remotely close to being distributed equally on sex grounds.
Some have. But many more have been silent. In the male-dominated video game media, many have chosen to sit by and do nothing as Gamergate picks us off, one by one. IGN has not covered Gamergate. Game Informer has not covered Gamergate. Ironically, the people who most need to hear this message are not hearing it, because of an editorial choice to stay on the sidelines.
He spoke too soon; Andy caved earlier today. So, it is an absolutely ludicrous lie to claim that anyone in the game industry is not hearing the absurd message, especially when anti-gaming pinkshirts are openly bragging about how the media is in their back pocket.
There are many straightforward steps we can take to change this.

First, major institutions in video games, which happen to be dominated by men, need to speak up immediately and denounce Gamergate. The dam started to break this week as Patrick Klepek of Giant Bomb broke the silence at their publication on Monday. Last week, the industry’s top trade group, the Electronic Software Association spoke out against Gamergate, saying “Threats of violence and harassment have to stop. There is no place in the video game community for personal attacks and threats.”
No one, literally no one, cares what "the Electronic Software Association" has to say. Considering how successful they were attacking video game piracy, if they're on the anti-gamers' side, the pinkshirts ought to raise the white flag now.
Secondly, I call upon the entire industry to examine its hiring practices at all levels. Women make up half of all gamers, yet we make up only a fraction of this industry. While it’s possible to point to high profile women in the field, the fact remains. Women hold a shockingly disproportionate number of high level positions in game studios, game publishers and particularly in leadership roles. There are just 11 percent of game designers and 3 percent of programmers, according to The Boston Globe. Game journalism also plays a critical role. It doesn’t matter how many women we get into game production. If the only people evaluating the work we do continue to be men, women’s voices will never be heard.
Women no more "make up half of all gamers" than Brianna Wu has two X chromosomes. Playing Candy Crush Saga or Angry Birds or Kim Kardashian's Mutant Butt Destroys the Sheboygan Mall doesn't make one a gamer any more than playing Myst did. "Gamer" is derived from "wargamer" and it is shorthand for "core gamer" or "serious gamer". It does not refer to anyone who happens to play an electronic game any more than it refers to someone who plays hopskotch. No one is stopping women from starting their own game reviews. That's exactly what I did in 1991 when virtually no one was reviewing games in the mainstream media and that's how I ended up being nationally syndicated, with a game review column running weekly everywhere from Boston to San Francisco.
My friend Quinn told me about a folder on her computer called, “The Ones We’ve Lost.” They are the letters she’s gotten from young girls who dream of being game developers, but are terrified of the environment they see. I nearly broke into tears as I told her I had a folder filled with the same. The truth is, even if we stopped Gamergate tomorrow, it will have already come at too high a cost.
To dream of "being game developers" is not at all the same thing as doing the hard work of developing games. Those young girls may desire the status, but they show  absolutely no sign of wanting to actually do the work involved. Anyone who really and truly wants to make games will do so, and will not permit anyone to dissuade them. You don't need anyone's permission to be a game developer. You don't need anyone's encouragement. You don't need hugs and a welcome mat. Thanks to the panoply of great tools available, it has never been easier to develop games. Wu can cry if he likes, but the fact is that none of "The Ones We've Lost" were ever going to develop a single game. Ever. Not even if they were welcomed into the industry with pixies, unicorns, and rainbows.

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An unmoored state

John C. Wright drops a daisycutter of law and logic on the celebrants of the ur-legalization of sodogamy:
The proponents of what is called (with unintentional hilarity) gay marriage express the gaiety for which they are named by crowing and gamboling with delight that the Supreme Court has declined to do its core Constitutional mission of interpreting the law, and chastise and check the abuses of activist judges overruling the sovereign votes of the decent and sober majority.

They should perhaps rein in their gay celebrations: gay marriage cannot be justified either in law or logic. This means the law has just departed from the environs of law and logic.

The gay partisans should instead recoil with dread, for the thing, by being given into their hands, is effectively destroyed. Whatever meaning or sanction the pairs of homosexuals are seeking out of the pretense of marriage is destroyed by the very fact that it is a pretense, not a marriage.

I am not speaking about an abstraction, but as a matter of law. The way law works, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the basic principle, is that once a precedent is established, until and unless it is definitively overruled, it has controlling authority over every case standing on similar facts, and the degree of similarity is the core of what all legal arguments are about.

This ruling, now left to stand, will and must create more havoc with family law, with testaments and estates, divorce laws, property laws, far more than if the government simply decreed marriage to be a private contract. No matter what the desires and tastes of the reformers, and no matter their promises, once set in motion, the law operates by a logic and by an inertia of its own.
I have been pointing out the increasing U.S. abandonment of law (and, for that matter Law) for nearly a decade now. I first noticed it back in the 1990s, when a petty legal case to which I was the only witness was settled, in the courtroom, by the judge literally flipping a coin. At the time, this was shocking to me. These days, I think the average man would consider himself lucky if he managed to get fifty-fifty odds of genuine justice being done.

What we are witnessing here in the Supreme Court's cowardly decision to permit the widespread implementation of sodogamy through inaction is precisely what Wright describes, the abandonment of law and logic. I'm not even remotely surprised by the Court's decision to punt; the reason they did so was expressly because they did NOT wish to set a precedent, any precedent, in either direction. On the one hand, they did not wish to "turn the clock back" in favor of traditional, actual marriage because they wish to curry favor with the global elite that are actively seeking to destroy marriage. On the other, they did not wish to set an actual legal precedent because there are no solid legal or logical grounds that would permit them to demolish the concept of marriage consisting of the union of one man with one woman that would be limited to only changing the "man/woman" element; every argument that can be made for sodogamy can also be made every bit as effectively for polygamy and for unions with non-human entities. Regardless of whether you are anti-sodogamy or pro-marriage equality, this abandonment of jurisprudence should not be celebrated.

The continued abandonment of law and morality is inevitable at this point, to the extent it hasn't already happened. It is part and parcel of a civilization in the latter stages of decline, and our responsibility is not to try to prevent its fall, but rather, to continue to uphold each petty traditional schwerkpunkt represented by the families and institutions that have not succumbed to the cultural rot. Human societies are cyclical entities, and one can no more fight the cycle than gravity. This is not, however, a counsel of despair, but rather, one of hope. "Progress" is neither linear nor inevitable. What we are seeing has happened before, and will happen again. Our fathers and grandfathers may have failed to sustain the civilization they inherited, but we cannot be held responsible for that. What we can, and will be responsible, is if we fail to keep the seeds of that civilization alive to pass on to future generations.

We are the bases of tomorrow's civilization. We are the foundation of tomorrow's societies that will rise from the swirling barbarism. Don't forget that.

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We can do that

This guy quite clearly doesn't understand how the game industry works and is attempting to put the media cart ahead of the millions of horses that are the gamers of the world.
I compiled a list of the news and opinion outlets that have published articles critical of #gamergate just in the last few days. They're welcome to boycott these all, it'll just hasten their increasing irrelevance.
And yet, none of this is having ANY effect whatsoever on the activity of game developers. Literally none. There are no AAA developers suddenly deciding that instead of a 3D shooter, they are going to develop Kim Kardashian's Mutant Butt Goes to the Mall. Blizzard is not going to halt Warlords of Draenor in order to put more clothes on the girl-Dranei or ensure that they are sufficiently Strong and Independent for Literally Who's liking. Matrix is not going to start publishing Fashion Quest: Kicky Heels instead of its 576th World War II wargame, Operation Johann: the Czechoslovakian Plan to Invade Lichtenstein. And as far as I am aware, no one is running out to hire Zoe Quinn as a design lead.

But #GamerGate is having a tangible effect on the media organizations. Intel and Mercedes have stopped advertising on Gamasutra and Gawker. Other advertisers will follow suit; I have heard of other publications discovering that their advertising revenues are imperiled. The pinkshirts of the games media are going to find out, over the next few months, just who is truly irrelevant, who is truly impotent. And it isn't the gamers of #GamerGate.

#GamerGate ultimately comes down to one thing. We gamers like our core games the way they are, and we aren't going to change them for anyone or for any reason except better gameplay. And we don't give a quantum of a damn what any casual gamer who plays Myst/Cooking Mama/Farmville/Angry Birds does, thinks, wants, or says. All the theatrical handwringing rhetoric about misogyny and harassment and death threats means absolutely nothing to any of us. It doesn't matter if Literally Who, Literally Who 2, and Literally Wu wind up being ritually tortured and force-fed Ebola before being sacrificed to Cthulhu on an altar made of desert-aged E.T. cartridges, that's not going to alter any of our opinions on the matter in the slightest.

One gamer, by the name of Phasmal, speaks effectively for us all: "You could say all gamers drink the blood of innocents under a full moon and I still wouldn't give a fuck."

D'accordo. In the meantime, if you're interested in either reading honest game reviews or writing a few yourself, check out Computer Game World. I'm in the process of adding many of my old reviews and others are adding new ones every day.

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