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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Book of the Week + Brainstorm

As I mentioned previously, tomorrow night will be the much-anticipated Brainstorm with Dr. Steve Keen, one of, if not the most, significant economists working today. The event is open, it will take place on May 06, 2016 at 7:00 PM  Eastern, and you can register for it here.

As I was going over the second edition of his book, Debunking Economics, (which is also this week's Book of the Week) in order to prepare a few questions, I was struck by the way in which his key observation, that demand is not stackable, completely demolishes the foundation of modern economics. I'm not entirely sure even Dr. Keen fully grasps the consequences of his revolutionary mathematical - and logical - observations. From the section entitled Don't tell the children:
For many years, the leading text for Honors, Master’s and PhD programs was Hal Varian’s Microeconomic Analysis (Varian 1992). Varian ‘summarized’ this research so opaquely that it’s no surprise that most PhD students – including those who later went on to write the next generation of undergraduate textbooks – didn’t grasp how profoundly it challenged the foundations of neoclassical theory.

Varian started with the vaguest possible statement of the result: ‘Unfortunately […] The aggregate demand function will in general possess no interesting properties […] Hence, the theory of the consumer places no restrictions on aggregate behavior in general.’

The statement ‘no interesting properties’ could imply to the average student that the market demand curve didn’t differ in any substantive way from the individual demand curve – the exact opposite of the theoretical result. The next sentence was more honest, but rather than admitting outright that this meant that the ‘Law of Demand’ didn’t apply at the market level, he immediately reassured students that there was a way to get around this problem, which was to: ‘Suppose that all individual consumers’ indirect utility functions take the Gorman form [… where] the marginal propensity to consume good j is independent of the level of income of any consumer and also constant across consumers […] This demand function can in fact be generated by a representative consumer’ (ibid.: 153–4; emphases added. Curiously the innocuous word ‘generated’ in this edition replaced the more loaded word ‘rationalized’ in the 1984 edition.)

Finally, when discussing aggregate demand, he made a vague and reassuring reference to more technical work: ‘it is sometimes convenient to think of the aggregate demand as the demand of some “representative consumer” […] The conditions under which this can be done are rather stringent, but a discussion of this issue is beyond the scope of this book […]’ (Varian 1984: 268).

It’s little wonder that PhD students didn’t realize that these conditions, rather than merely being ‘rather stringent,’ undermined the very foundations of neoclassical economics. They then went on to build ‘representative agent’ models of the macroeconomy in which the entire economy is modeled as a single consumer, believing that these models have been shown to be valid. In fact, the exact opposite is the case.
The modern replacement for Varian is Andreu Mas-Colell’s hyper-mathematical – but utterly non-empirical – Microeconomic Theory (Mas-Colell, Whinston et al. 1995). At one level, this text is much more honest about the impact of the SMD conditions than was Varian’s. In a section accurately described as ‘Anything goes: the Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu Theorem,’ Mas-Colell concludes that a market demand curve can have any shape at all, even when derived from consumers whose individual demand curves are downward-sloping:

Can [… an arbitrary function] coincide with the excess demand function of an economy for every p [price …] Of course [… the arbitrary function] must be continuous, it must be homogeneous of degree zero, and it must satisfy Walras’ law. But for any [arbitrary function] satisfying these three conditions, it turns out that the answer is, again, ‘yes.’ (Ibid.: 602)

But still, the import of this result is buried in what appear to the student to be difficult problems in mathematics, rather than a fundamental reason to abandon supply and demand analysis. Earlier, when considering whether a market demand curve can be derived, Mas-Colell begins with the question: ‘When can we compute meaningful measures of aggregate welfare using […] the welfare measurement techniques […] for individual consumers? (ibid.: 116).

He then proves that this can be done when there is ‘a fictional individual whose utility maximization problem when facing society’s budget set would generate the economy’s aggregate demand function’ (ibid.: 116). However, for this to be possible, there must also exist a ‘social welfare function’ which: ‘accurately expresses society’s judgments on how individual utilities have to be compared to produce an ordering of possible social outcomes. We also assume that social welfare functions are increasing, concave, and whenever convenient, differentiable’ (ibid.: 117).

This is already a case of assuming what you wish to prove – any form of social conflict is assumed away – but it’s still not sufficient to generate the result Mas-Colell wants to arrive at. The problem is that the actual distribution of wealth and income in society will determine ‘how individual utilities are compared’ in the economy, and there is no guarantee that this will correspond to this ‘social welfare function.’

The next step in his ‘logic’ should make the truly logical – and the true believers in economic freedom – recoil in horror, but it is in fact typical of the sorts of assumptions that neoclassical economists routinely make to try to keep their vision of a perfectly functioning market economy together. To ensure that the actual distribution of wealth and income matches the social welfare function, Mas-Colell assumes the existence of a benevolent dictator who redistributes wealth and income prior to commerce taking place: ‘Let us now hypothesize that there is a process, a benevolent central authority perhaps, that, for any given prices p and aggregate wealth function w, redistributes wealth in order to maximize social welfare’ (ibid.: 117; emphases added).

So free market capitalism will maximize social welfare if, and only if, there is a benevolent dictator who redistributes wealth prior to trade??? Why don’t students in courses on advanced microeconomics simply walk out at this point?

I surmise that there are three main reasons, the first of which is banal. Mas-Colell’s book is huge – just short of 1,000 pages – and lecturers would cherry-pick the sections they teach. I doubt that most students are exposed to this statement by their instructors, and few are likely to read parts that aren’t required reading for pleasure alone.

Secondly, the entire text is presented as difficult exercises in applied mathematics. Students are probably so consumed with deriving the required answers that they gloss over English-language statements of these assumptions which make it blatantly obvious how insane they are.

Thirdly, by the time students get to this level – normally in PhD programs – they are so locked into the neoclassical ‘assumptions don’t matter’ mindset that I discuss in Chapter 8 that they don’t even worry if an assumption is insane.
If you followed that, then you can understand why this is critically fascinating material that is almost shockingly ignored by nearly everyone who should know better.

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#Trump2016 vs #NeverTrump

A short debate on Donald Trump's victorious campaign for the Republican nomination and the nature of conservatism between me and Louise Mensch of Heat Street:
LM: This is obviously a sad day for me and a terrific day for you as Donald Trump is crowned the presumptive nominee by the GOP establishment. Last night, while we were talking with each other, we were discussing the nature of conservatism.

To me, my duty as a conservative is to oppose Donald Trump because he’s not a conservative. I said that, to me, conservatism stands for equality of opportunity. You said in your view, it never had done. How do you define conservatism?

VD: I define conservatism as an attitude more than a coherent ideology. If you look at the history of conservatism, which you as a British individual will be aware, it really is something different to the ideas that underlie the British Conservative Party or the Tory Party. Russell Kirk attempted to turn that inherited tradition into a more coherent ideology, and he came up with the 10 foundational points of what he terms conservatism. So it’s less an ideology than an attitude – and a relative posture.

 Equality of opportunity is merely something that fits that attitude more than it is a founding point of the ideology, in the way that the “labor theory of value” is something that underlies the ideology of socialism.

LM You think that leftism is ideological, but conservatism is only an attitude?

VD: To a certain extent. Socialism is clearly a distinctive set of ideologies. There are of course different socialisms, from Fabianism to Marxism. Progressivism – today’s liberalism – is also a coherent ideology. Conservatism is intrinsically a reaction to other ideologies rather than an ideology of its own.

LM: You don’t think Conservatism stands for anything apart from opposing Liberalism, to use that umbrella term for the left?

VD: Exactly correct. There’s a common saying that today’s conservative is yesterday’s liberal. Conservatism, if we look at the positions that it holds, is usually 20-25 years behind what yesterday’s liberals were. Today, John F. Kennedy would be regarded not only as a Republican – but one who was a little bit to the right.

LM: To me, that seems defeatist for a guy that I see, though I may differ with you on many things, at the very least as an alpha male go-getter. You’re not behind any particular set of principles. You just want to oppose somebody else! Doesn’t that put all the power in their hands?

VD: It does, but it’s not defeatist for me because, as I have repeatedly told people for well over a decade, I am not a conservative. I am an extremist and I’m a radical. That’s why I don’t identify with this conservatism that never conserves anything, that goes from one noble defeat to the next, and has completely failed to conserve anything, even the United States of America.
Read the whole thing there. It was an oral debate, not a written one, but I think I managed to avoid tripping over my convoluted sentence structures for the most part. The bet was funny; I don't think she was quite expecting THAT!

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The best argument for Trump

From a comment at Althouse:
Once you've allowed the barbarians through the gates, any swashbuckling ruffian who is willing to pick up a sword and push them back out again is an ally. We can worry about what the city should look like once we've put out the fires and have stopped the barbarians from actively setting more of them.
And, ideally, sent the barbarians back to their homelands. It's not about "illegal aliens". It's not about documentation. It's not about legality. It's about the largest invasion in human history. It's about the biggest mass migration in the recorded history of Man.

Mass repatriation or war. Those are the choices left to both America and the European nations now.

Choose wisely.

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Speaker for the butthurt

Matt Walsh rage-quits the Republican Party because Donald Trump has won the nomination:
Goodbye, Republican Party.

I mean that in more ways than one. I’m leaving. You’re dying. I could stick around while you gasp your last pitiful breaths, but what would be the point? I’m certainly more pro-life than you ever were, but when it comes to political parties that have been overtaken by some kind of unintelligible, socially liberal populism, I say pull the plug.

Good riddance. Your wounds are self-inflicted anyway. Clearly you have no desire to live. So goodbye. I am abandoning you on your deathbed, and I feel no shame in it....

The Republican Party is host to many millions of people who fell prostrate before a flamboyant charlatan, despite, or perhaps even because of, his compulsive dishonesty, his moral cowardice, his cruelty and pettiness, his blatant and unapologetic ignorance and disinterest in the most important issues facing our country, his liberalism and so on. As Trump said himself, he could shoot someone in the middle of the street and these people would still follow him.

That’s why I’m leaving. It’s also why you’re dying. It’s not my fault, and it’s not even Trump’s fault. Trump is just a parasite who took advantage of a weakened immune system. He’s the violent case of dysentery that finally kills the frail man who was already sick with a thousand other exotic diseases. The untrained eye may say the man died because he was vomiting blood, but in truth he was vomiting blood because he was dying.

The Republican Party, we should remember, is made up of Republicans. And most of the Republicans are voters, not politicians. So even if nobody else will say it, I must make it clear that I’m leaving because of these voters. Whatever else can be said of citizens who want a man like Trump to run the country, it cannot be said that they’re anything resembling conservative. Nor can it be said that we have anything much in common.

Yesterday, a Republican in Indiana told the media she’s voting for Trump because he’s a “different kind of liar.” The day before, Cruz attempted to have a reasoned dialogue with a couple of Trump supporters who responded to all of the senator’s arguments by shouting slogans and pumping their fists. Trump fans perform even less admirably in cyberspace, where an impassioned collection of anti-Semites and white nationalists work tirelessly to confirm every negative and cartoonish stereotype liberals have ever concocted about Republicans.

I’m not saying they’re all like this, but I’m done answering for the antics and inanities of the Trump squad. They’re not in my party. Or, I suppose they’d respond, I’m not in theirs. And they’re right.
Remind Matt of this every single time he claims to be a Republican in the future. Rub it in Matt's face every single time he claims to speak for Republicans. Remind Matt that he quit, that he very publicly left the party, when he claims to be its true voice.

Because, if there is one thing we have learned about gammas like Matt, it is that they always try to come back and pretend nothing happened.

The only thing that is more pathetic than Matt's gamma rage is the losers in his comments encouraging him to self-immolate.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Kasich is out

Everyone continues to not care.

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Will there be war?

In which Stefan Molyneux and I discuss what appears to be looming on the not-so-distant horizon.



We were having some serious Skype issues, so I was forced to use a laptop with a camera, hence the poor video quality. On the plus side, the audio is better this time. Hopefully everything will come together by the third try.

If you wish to download the MP3 instead, you can do so here.

Sexism at the Locus Awards

The SF SJWS are up in arms about sexism at the Locus Awards:
Renay, The Cabal ‎@renay
Surprise, welcome to Systemic Sexism, Locus Awards edition!!

Stephanie A. Allen ‏@stephandrea_
I guess I didn't get the memo that female YA writers don't write SFF

Martha Brockenbrough ‎@mbrockenbrough
Hey, if you read LOCUS, don't worry: women do actually write fantasy and science fiction, even if they didn't make any awards lists.

Martha Brockenbrough ‏@mbrockenbrough
To clarify my earlier tweet about LOCUS's finalists. No books by women made the list in the YA category. This defies belief.
 No wonder they're upset:

FANTASY NOVEL

    Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
    The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette de Bodard (Roc; Gollancz)
    Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand (PS; Open Road)
    The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
    Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Wait, what? Oh, sorry, apparently this is the problem.

YOUNG ADULT BOOK

    Half a War, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey; Harper Voyager UK)
    Half the World, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey)
    Harrison Squared, Daryl Gregory (Tor)
    Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
    The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)

For feminists, "sexism" means that somewhere, somehow, a man still has something that a woman thinks she should have.
Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
 You're obviously forgetting that Joe Abercrombie identifies as a woman now. So much hate! You should be ashamed!

Martha Brockenbrough ‏@mbrockenbrough
Is this a joke? Because I am not getting it.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
I just think you're being very insensitive and hateful to Ms Abercrombie. Not all women have vaginas, you know.

Martha Brockenbrough ‏@mbrockenbrough
First I have heard that Joe Abercrombie identifies as a woman. If she does, that changes things. 
And to think they say SJWs are no fun!

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The refusal to learn

The New York Times is aghast at Donald Trump's challenge to the bifactional ruling party:
This is a moment of reckoning for the Republican Party. It’s incumbent on its leadership to account for the failures and betrayals that led to this, and find a better way to address them than the demagogy on offer.

Republicans haven’t yet begun to grapple with this. Instead they’re falling into line.

Republican leaders have for years failed to think about much of anything beyond winning the next election. Year after year, the party’s candidates promised help for middle-class people who lost their homes, jobs and savings to recession, who lost limbs and well-being to war, and then did next to nothing. That Mr. Trump was able to enthrall voters by promising simply to “Make America Great Again” — but offering only xenophobic, isolationist or fantastical ideas — is testimony to how thoroughly they reject the politicians who betrayed them.

Now, myopic as ever, Republican leaders are talking themselves into supporting Mr. Trump. At a party retreat in Florida last month, Mr. Trump’s adviser Paul Manafort, brought in to make the candidate seem safer to the old guard, assured them that Mr. Trump will better prepare himself for the presidency. “That was all most of these guys needed to hear,” said an operative in the room. “Maybe he’s trainable.” But within a day, Mr. Trump was back to making vile comments at his rallies. In his confused foreign policy address, he demonstrated nothing but a willful refusal to learn.
Xenophobia and isolationism are to be vastly preferred to the treasonous fantasies of the Republican and Democratic politicians alike. There is nothing confusing about Trump's foreign policy: what is hard to understand about America First for anyone who doesn't have other objectives in mind?

If the Republican Party doesn't fall in line behind Donald Trump, it might as well cease to exist and its members can go where they belong, to the ironically-named, anti-democratic Democratic Party.

And to all those conservatives and Republicans crying about how Trump is certain to lose to Clinton, ask yourself this: why doesn't the great left-liberal standard sound a whole lot happier about Trump being the Republican nominee? Do they sound like people who are confident of victory?

Let's hope Donald Trump continues to refuse to learn from the USA's failed, anti-American political class.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Indiana KO

The Indiana primary should be enough to put an end to Cruz's campaign, but we'll have to wait and see if he comes to his senses yet. The shrieking, crying, and dire predictions from the conservative media bodes well for Trump.

UPDATE: "TRUMP WINS INDIANA IN LANDSLIDE..."

54% Trump
34% Cruz
09% Kasich

That will do it. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee.

UPDATE 2: Note the name of the post. Cruz is out. The GOP establishment has been officially, and conclusively, Trumped.
Ted Cruz is quitting the presidential race, according to campaign manager Jeff Roe, ending one of the best-organized campaigns of 2016 after a series of stinging defeats left Donald Trump as the only candidate capable of clinching the nomination outright.

Cruz had appeared likely to go all the way to the Republican convention, but a string of massive losses in the Northeast, and his subsequent defeat in Indiana, appear to have convinced him there’s no way forward.

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Vegetable totalitarians

Don't feel bad about cutting a vegan out of your life if he ceases to mind his own business and starts preaching. They're an SJW cult, they're not just people who happen to prefer to different food.
L.A.'s vegan vortex has angrily turned on the most prominent vegan restaurant group in town this week as word has spread that its owners are not just eating meat but raising and slaughtering animals at the working farm where they live in Northern California.

Matthew and Terces Engelhart, the husband-and-wife proprietors of favored entertainment industry haunt Cafe Gratitude, tell The Hollywood Reporter they've been receiving death threats as part of a quickly growing, internet-bred campaign against them. It has also spawned a deluge of one-star reviews on their local outposts' respective Yelp pages, a boycott group on Facebook that tallies 571 members at press time and plans now underway for a protest at the Larchmont Village location on Friday at 7 p.m.

"People have taken up the mob mentality," says Matthew. "It saddens me that the choices we made in the privacy of our home would lead people to feel so betrayed that it's elevated to threats on our lives. I'm very discouraged."

The trouble began last week when animal rights activists discovered and then widely circulated a 14-month-old blog post written by Terces on the Engelharts' Be Love Farm website, which mixed an announcement of their transition back into a meat diet again after nearly 40 years of vegetarianism (they had been vegan since 2003) with posted pictures of strained beef broth and a freezer full of pastured beef from their own dairy cows. Matthew tells THR they have kept chickens on the farm for seven years "for eggs only," along with the cows for five years for milk, cheese and butter that's for sale. (He claims they've "harvested," or slaughtered, several cows in total and never sold the meat, only shared it with "our friends, neighbors and community.")

The news has come as a shock to many vegans, who have been regular customers of the restaurants and claim the Engelharts have built their brand on not just serving vegan food but clearly wrapping themselves in the righteousness of the vegan cause — which they argue has now been undermined. "The reason we're so upset is that veganism is a belief system," says Carrie Christianson, who started the Facebook boycott group. "You are patronizing a restaurant that you think has that philosophy, and it turns out it doesn't. Vegans should know that this restaurant has a farm that slaughters animals."
"Veganism is a belief system." That's really all you need to know. It's a secular religion. Since you are what to eat, my belief system says vegans are vegetables and should be treated accordingly.

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Grow or Die paperback

We are pleased to be able to announce that the bestselling survival gardening book, GROW OR DIE: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, is now available in paperback for $11.99. While we are massive proponents of ebooks, this is arguably the one book that you will definitely want to own in a physical format.

While I can't be certain that Kindles will not function properly in the post-Apocalypse, it's probably not the safe bet.

For some reason, Amazon has elected to confer upon David the title of Assistant Professor Psychology and Applied Therapies, so I'm sure you will all join me in congratulating him upon this unexpected academic achievement.

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Because it's worked so well so far

The Secret Masters of Fandom are retreating to what appears to be the science fiction community's one and only tactic even before they see the effects of their first round of rules changes. From a Facebook discussion:
Kevin Standlee
A factor regarding invoking the convention Code of Conduct against Griefers (I'm looking at Christopher J Garcia and Sean Wallace in particular) and disqualifying their ballots and revoking their memberships that only came to me this morning:

The current Worldcon in Kansas City does have the right to regulate its own membership. They could, if they so choose, decide to revoke the memberships of individuals for just about any reasons unless it was prohibited by law. So in theory they could revoke the memberships of individual members who they believed were violating their Code of Conduct by the way they cast their Hugo Award nominating ballots.

However, what about the members of the Spokane and Helsinki Worldcons? All of their members as of January 31, 2016 were also eligible to nominate. Kansas City is obliged to honor those nominations as part of the WSFS Constitution, which is the "contract" under which MidAmeriCon II was granted the right to hold the 2016 Worldcon. MAC2 does not have jurisdiction over the memberships of the 2015 and 2017 Worldcons. They don't have the right to revoke the memberships of members of either of those two conventions. If, as seems likely to me, most of the Griefers are coasting along on the memberships they bought to Sasquan, MAC2 doesn't seem to me to have the right to ignore those persons' votes -- not unless they could somehow get the legal remnant of the 2015 Worldcon committee to revoke those persons' memberships.

Yes, I know I'm being legalistic. That's what I do. Throwing out the rule of law just because you don't like how some people voted is IMO giving the Griefers exactly what they want -- a plausible legal excuse to hammer the Hugo Awards and Worldcon with. They're trying to goad us into an extra-legal response.

David Dyer-Bennet
Lacking the Arisians to identify and certify a reliable supply of "philosopher kings", I think rule of law is our best choice, however annoying some of the intermediate steps may be.

Christopher J Garcia
It's not about the votes - it's about the use of the Hugos as a platform for a hate group..

Kevin Standlee
You'd need to withdraw the nominating rights from the previous/subsequent years' members in order to give a single legal entity (the current Worldcon) the right to revoke the memberships (and thus not count the ballots) of the people you consider unworthy of voting, for whatever reason, including being part of what you've decided is a hate group.

Christopher J Garcia
It's not about the voting. It's allowing members of a hate group (and the Rabid Puppies qualify as such under the SPLC, ADL, and FBI definitions) to opperate within the awards. We are implicitly accepting their presence by not acting to remove them.

Kevin Standlee
No. You are only a member of WSFS for the current "Worldcon Year," which runs from end of Worldcon to end of Worldcon. There are, however, residual rights that attach to past and future Worldcons of which you may be a member.

Kevin Standlee
I don't dispute that there is a de facto hate group acting here. What I'm saying is that while an individual Worldcon may choose to revoke the memberships of its members for any non-prohibited-by-law reason, they cannot IMO legally revoke. Incidentally, one of the "residual rights" is to inspect the accounts of the Worldcon of which you were a member. The "sunshine clause" is rarely invoked, but it is in there.

Christopher Carson
It's not about the votes, it's not about the nominations — so you're mad at an abstract concept?

Michael Lee
I could make the case that the code of conduct applies to all participants in an activity of a particular convention, and that the nomination phase is an activity not of three conventions, but of one particular convention, so that individual convention's code of conduct would apply. And it is the responsibility of an individual convention to administer the Hugo Awards.

Kevin Standlee
Michael Lee I can see your point; however, I can also see that if I were a member of the previous Worldcon who had my vote tossed by the current Worldcon, I would have standing to sue to the current Worldcon for failing to abide by the terms of their contract (the WSFS Constitution).

Kevin Standlee
Codes of conduct aren't mentioned in the WSFS Constitution, so it's unclear just how much any one convention's CoC can have jurisdiction over another convention's members. In particular, look at this section of the WSFS Constitution:

Section 1.6: Authority. Authority and responsibility for all matters concerning the Worldcon, except those reserved herein to WSFS, shall rest with the Worldcon Committee, which shall act in its own name and not in that of WSFS. And that seems to me to give a Worldcon to regulate its own members, but not any other convention's members.

Linda Deneroff
I thought well prior to 2012 the WSFS Constitution permitted the prior year's worldcon members to nominate, but back before computers it was nearly impossible to make it practical or viable.

Kevin Standlee
Prior years' members have been eligible to nominate since 1989. The subsequent year's members were only extended the nominating privilege effective in 2012 (ratified in 2011).

Christopher Hensley
Which is why I am a little miffed at Sasquan. They actually had the power to do it, but they did not.

Linda Deneroff
20-20 hindsight is wonderful.

Christopher Hensley
To be fair, they are doing exactly what they said they would do since the nominating period opened last year.

Aaron Kashtan
Wouldn't it be better to create a rule that the current Worldcon can, at its discretion, reject any Hugo nominee that threatens to bring the Hugos or Worldcon into disrepute? Like the rule that caused the rejection of the name Boaty McBoatface? I'm sure this idea has been suggested before.

Kevin Standlee
Such a rule would be legal, but it does not currently exist. And beware of rules that can be turned against you. However, if you want help crafting such a rule, contact me directly and I'll help you write it. Convincing two consecutive WSFS Business Meetings to vote for it would be your problem.

Richard Man
 I think any NEW rule, would not help for 2016 (and of course not 2015) due to the ratification requirements. I think the WSFS charter founders are pretty crafty in makes things fairly democratic, within the limits of the charters. They just never expected influential arseholes.

Christopher Carson
Pretty sure fandom has never been short of "influential arseholes".

Richard Man
... but ones that screw up the Hugos two years in a year ;-P?

Kevin Standlee
WSFS rules are designed with an assumption that people will act in good faith.

I've repeatedly said that WSFS operates much like the USA did for the first twenty years after it declared independence. The manifest flaws of the Articles of Confederation led to the adoption of the current much-stronger Constitution of 1787. But it took several years for that to happen, too, and the challenges facing the young USA were a lot worse than a bunch of bad actors trolling a literary award.

Dave O'Neill
I don't think anybody expected any of the individual arseholes to actually have followers.

Kevin Standlee
True. And most of the individuals within Worldcon-attending fandom have been prepared to play within the _spirit_ of the rules as well as its letter. Heck, there were a couple of "puppy" sympathizers at the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting.

Dave O'Neill
I can assure you that his motion would have failed. There was no way it was going through. But yes, I recall him well. I also recall all the people of the opinion that this was a 'one off' and we shouldn't do anything as they'll get bored.

Kevin Standlee
That was only the second time that I've seen Adjourn moved in its debatable form in any situation other than routinely at the end of a day or of the session. The first time was when I made it myself many years ago (L.A. con III, as I recall) because I thought the people present didn't want to go in to the nitty-gritty of a complex report I was presenting and wanted to put it off until the next day. I was wrong.

Mike Glyer
This kind of tortured logic undermines the much needed benefits of Codes of Conduct. Beware.

Christopher Hensley
The move away from a pure legalistic approach represents a major shift in the community over the last few years.

Kevin Standlee
Understood about the beware. Any committee wanting to invoke their Code of Conduct in this situation would have to consider balancing the harm done to itself by Griefers against the potential harm of dealing with a lawsuit from them.

Christopher Hensley
I also worry about the opposite. That they will try to nominate a work that while protected by the absolute speech protections inherent in US will run afoul libel or hate crime laws outside of it. If nothing else it would kill the packet, or require saying "we refuse to distribute this". Possibly even cause problems with advertising the finalists. A certain title which make accusations about John Scalzi come to mind.

Kevin Standlee
Funny thing, that. Imagine such a case next year, in which Finnish and EU law applies. IMO, the committee would be totally justified in disqualifying such a work, because local law always trumps the WSFS Constitution.

Mike Glyer
It's reasonable to anticipate that they will keep moving down the continuum, finding more transgressive works to nominate. They would do it anyway, and if EPH is effective in limiting their impact, would want to devote the slots they get to items that ...

Kevin Standlee
Me, too, and it was one of the reasons I didn't like trying to invoke it as a legitimate reason to disqualify nominations, members, or finalists.

Christopher Hensley
There are two questions in my mind. One are their actions, which are clearly an ongoing campaign of harassment. The other is the works themselves. It should be a much higher bar on that but not an impossible one. What happens when they nominate non-fiction works which promote violence against LGBT persons, racial minorities or Muslims?

Dave O'Neill
Surely the administrators have some wiggle room in those situations? If not then there does need to be a disrepute clause brought in.

Kevin Standlee
I don't really see much room for maneuver by the Administrators. Every individual natural person is eligible to become a member by existing rules.

Dave O'Neill
I was thinking more if somebody nominated a hardcore porn SF parody or similar? Rather than dealing with members - I was under the impression the administrators had the final word in eligibility?

Christopher Hensley
Tingle's stuff is more performance art then porn parody. He has a following that loves his over the top antics and hopelessly positive message. But yes, Tingle is absolutely backfiring on Day. He'll say it was his plan all along but it is stealing his spotlight.

Dave O'Neill
well, I wasn't actually thinking of Tingle then as, yes, it's part of a gag. I was thinking more of a "Game of Boners" type stuff.

Mem Morman
What's a "Griefer"?

Kevin Standlee
The people wanting to destroy the Hugo Awards by nominating a slate that includes a fair number of obviously awful things. In effect, the Rabid Puppies.

Dave O'Neill
Somebody who deliberately tries to spoil things for other players.

Dave O'Neill
Although I really think the Chuck Tingle thing is going to backfire spectacularly on Ted.

Christopher Hensley
"Griefing" originally a video gaming term referring to players who kill their own teammates in multiplayer.

Kevin Standlee
I like how it can be easily mistaken as Grifters, which seems appropriate to me given their Sooper Genius Evil Overlord.

Alfred Kruse
"And so it begins..."

Covert J Beach
I would consider canceling memberships based on nominations for the Hugo to be the Nuclear Option. I think this becomes a slippery slope to the point where the Cure will be worse than the Disease. This idea is another version of Strong Administrator, and should be invoked as a last resort and only in desperation. In theory bad ideas should be trampled in the free marketplace of ideas. The Griefers as you refer to them have found a mechanical way to make the marketplace less free (by packing the limited number of nominations.) Even if we can agree that this group needs to be dealt with, there comes the future time where someone with a hot button gets to make a well intentioned call that blows up in the convention's face. The solution is to free up the marketplace of ideas. EPH+6/4 or Semi-final voting do this.
What I find so interesting about the SJW-SF reaction is that they simply never stop to question their basic assumptions or the effectiveness of their tactics. This all started when Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, appropos of a single syndicated op/ed column about Susan Estrich's attack on Michael Kinsley, broached the possibility excluding me from the Nebula jury back in 2005. Then Patrick Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi joined forces to force the SFWA Board to exclude me in 2013 by threatening to quit, after which the Hugo voters did their best to exclude me in 2014.

How has that worked out for them?

The SJWs in science fiction couldn't imagine that we would take over the 2015 nominations. They were highly confident that we couldn't dominate the nominations this year. And I have no doubt that they are absolutely certain we can't possibly take over the Business Meeting.

Want to bet the Hugo Awards on that?

Go ahead, Secret Masters, make a special rule aimed at me and the Rabid Puppies a legitimate tactic at my disposal if you dare. This is your fair warning.

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Brainstorm with Steve Keen

I am very pleased to be able to say that on Friday, May 6th, at 7 PM Eastern, we will be holding an Open Brainstorm with the most important economist working today, Dr. Steve Keen. Dr. Keen is the author of Debunking Economics, which is a work so fundamentally revolutionary that its implications will probably not be fully understood for at least another century.

He is the leading Post-Keynesian economist and he is one of the very few economists to have correctly anticipated both the 2008 financial crisis as well as what he describes as the Second Great Depression. (He is, of course, completely wrong; the correct term is Great Depression 2.0.) I will post an open registration link tomorrow after the Brainstorm members have had the chance to get their seats first, as I expect this will be a well-attended event. Invites to members will go out this evening along with a transcript of the recent William S. Lind event.

For those who attended the Lind event, I spoke with my ISP and it turned out there was a software-related problem in my connection on their end; they have fixed it and I don't anticipate any further problems. But we will have a backup plan in place just in case similar problems present themselves.

Below is my 2012 review of Debunking Economics.

Stalking the Undead Economist

Since being presented with a copy of Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose” as a schoolboy, I have read a considerable quantity of books devoted to economics. Unlike most socialists, I have read Marx, Veblen and Bakunin. Unlike most monetarists, I have read more than Friedman’s pop books focused on the mass audience, but his more scholarly works, too, as well as his massive ode to monetary policy, coauthored with Anna Jacobson Schwartz, titled, “A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960.” Unlike most neo-Keynesians, I have read both “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” as well as Paul Samuelson’s landmark textbook, “Economics,” in its original 1948 edition. Unlike most free traders, I have read David Ricardo’s “The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation,” and while unlike most Austrians, I cannot quote chapter and verse of Ludwig von Mises’ “Human Action” from memory, I have read it.

I have no doubt this reading list would have astonished the late professor of my macroeconomics class, who was less bothered by my usual failure to attend class than by the fact that I never bothered to buy the textbook.

After nearly three decades of reading across a broad spectrum of economic thought, the two books on the subject I would most recommend are Joseph Schumpeter’s “History of Economic Analysis” and Murray Rothbard’s “An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought.” But now there is a third. After finishing “Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor Dethroned?” I have to assert that Keen’s book is not only an absolute masterpiece, but may, in fact, represent the most important intellectual development in economics since “The General Theory” was published in 1936. And if some of Keen’s more controversial assertions hold up over time, it will be the most important contribution to the literature since “The Wealth of Nations.”

The title of the book is an appropriate one because Keen calls into very serious question some of the most basic assumptions that economists of all ideological strains have shared since 1776. This is not a book for the faint of heart, not due to the relatively sophisticated mathematics he utilizes in support of his arguments, but because it will be hard for anyone with even a modicum of education in economics to accept intrinsically revolutionary ideas such as the non-linear shape of a market demand curve or to believe that conventional economic models are absolutely reliant upon absurdities such as markets that consist of one solitary customer for a single commodity. And while it is one thing to notice that the conventional models don’t take into account factors such as time and debt (for I have written about these things myself), it is still eye-opening to witness Keen methodically explore the significance of such omissions and explicate the consequences of how these structural errors render the entire mainstream discipline fundamentally incapable of coherently describing, let alone predicting, economic activity in the real world.

Perhaps the most revelatory section of the book deals with the way the General Theory of John Maynard Keynes was converted into the practical neoclassical form that presently dominates mainstream economics in its two halves, Monetarist and Neo-Keynesian, by Paul Samuelson and J.R. Hicks. While it is no secret that Samuelson quantified many of the concepts introduced by Keynes, as one will search “The General Theory” in vain for gross domestic product or any of the macroeconomic terms that are so familiar today, I had always wondered about the basis for the IS/LM model that played such a central role in my macroeconomic class could be found in Keynes; none of my economics professors ever pointed out that it was provided in what was essentially a book review of Keynes’s magnum opus or admitted how this core function of “Keynesian” economics inherently contradicted what Keynes himself wrote.

Throughout the book, Keen proves himself to be an engaging writer who is able to break down and explain the most complex concepts in a manner that most interested readers will be able to follow without too much trouble. He wisely structures his arguments in such a way that if one does not wish to wrestle with the math or the more esoteric aspects of the subject, one can still understand the significance of the point that he is making and move on to the next issue.

One need not agree with all of Keen’s arguments or his conclusions to admire the serious and substantive challenge that he has posed here to neoclassical economics. The neoclassicals cannot ignore the divergence between their theories and the real world forever, and no amount of revisionist history from the likes of Brad DeLong will permit them to do so much longer in a world that is drowning in excessive public and private debt. If Keen convinces the reader of just one thing, it is that there is a dire need for a better economics. Consider the following statement in which he compares five alternative schools of economics, Austrian, Post-Keynesian, Sraffian, Econophysics and Evolutionary economics prior to describing the strengths and weaknesses of each:

“None of these is at present strong enough or complete enough to declare itself a contender for the title of ‘the’ economic theory of the twenty-first century. However, they all have strengths in areas where neoclassical economics is fundamentally flawed, and there is also a substantial degree of overlap and cross-fertilization between schools. It is possible that this century could finally see the development of a dominant economic theory which actually has some relevance to the dynamics of a modern capitalist economy. I would probably be regarded as partisan to the post-Keynesian approach. However, I can see varying degrees of merit in all five schools of thought, and I can imagine that a twenty-first-century economics could be a melange of all five.”

As can be seen by this quote, Keen is not a polemicist bent on defending his perspective, but a fair-minded inquirer after the truth. He may never be known as the father of whatever the future mainstream of economics turns out to be, but in driving this stake of a book through the heart of what can be reasonably characterized as the undead theory of neoclassical economics, he could rightly merit being described as its midwife.

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Monday, May 02, 2016

There Will Be Volume XI

Jerry Pournelle has an important announcement.

There Will be War Volume XI

 Now open for submissions at twbw@castaliahouse.com. Publication will be in late November or early December of this year. Reprint anthology, but original works are eligible; three original fiction stories in Volume X were nominated for Hugos; winners will be announced at MidAmericon II in August. Although unpublished works will be considered, there is no additional payment beyond payment for reprint rights, and first publication rights remain with the author (until, of course, they expire at publication of this volume).

Payment is $200 on acceptance. This is an advance against royalties. Royalties are a pro rata share of 50% of all royalties due from the publisher (the other 50% is to the editor). We buy non-exclusive anthology rights.  Publisher is Castalia House, which will make advances and royalty payments directly to the contributors. Again, payment is the same for previously published and previously unpublished works. Story selection is by me (the editor).  Editor’s contribution will include a volume introduction and introductions to each contribution, and may include more as I judge necessary.

Submissions can be fiction or non-fiction of under 20,000 words relevant to the future of warfare.  Previous volumes have included stories of ground combat, interplanetary and interstellar naval engagements, “space opera”, terrorism, a major essay in asymmetric warfare by a professor of military history, and articles from military journals. Most works to be included have been previously published. Submissions accepted until October 2016, or until announcement that the volume is filled.

Two classic stories by well-known award-winning authors have already been accepted, others are expected. I emphasize that payment of an advance against royalties is on acceptance.

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Was Charles Darwin a science fraud?

A buster of supermyths claims that Darwin was, in fact, a plagiarist:
Sutton has himself embarked on another journey to the depths, this one far more treacherous than the ones he’s made before. The stakes were low when he was hunting something trivial, the supermyth of Popeye’s spinach; now Sutton has been digging in more sacred ground: the legacy of the great scientific hero and champion of the skeptics, Charles Darwin. In 2014, after spending a year working 18-hour days, seven days a week, Sutton published his most extensive work to date, a 600-page broadside on a cherished story of discovery. He called it “Nullius in Verba: Darwin’s Greatest Secret.”

Sutton’s allegations are explosive. He claims to have found irrefutable proof that neither Darwin nor Alfred Russel Wallace deserves the credit for the theory of natural selection, but rather that they stole the idea — consciously or not — from a wealthy Scotsman and forest-management expert named Patrick Matthew. “I think both Darwin and Wallace were at the very least sloppy,” he told me. Elsewhere he’s been somewhat less diplomatic: “In my opinion Charles Darwin committed the greatest known science fraud in history by plagiarizing Matthew’s” hypothesis, he told the Telegraph. “Let’s face the painful facts,” Sutton also wrote. “Darwin was a liar. Plain and simple.”

Some context: The Patrick Matthew story isn’t new. Matthew produced a volume in the early 1830s, “On Naval Timber and Arboriculture,” that indeed contained an outline of the famous theory in a slim appendix. In a contemporary review, the noted naturalist John Loudon seemed ill-prepared to accept the forward-thinking theory. He called it a “puzzling” account of the “origin of species and varieties” that may or may not be original. In 1860, several months after publication of “On the Origin of Species,” Matthew would surface to complain that Darwin — now quite famous for what was described as a discovery born of “20 years’ investigation and reflection” — had stolen his ideas.

Darwin, in reply, conceded that “Mr. Matthew has anticipated by many years the explanation which I have offered of the origin of species, under the name of natural selection.” But then he added, “I think that no one will feel surprised that neither I, nor apparently any other naturalist, had heard of Mr. Matthew’s views.”

That statement, suggesting that Matthew’s theory was ignored — and hinting that its importance may not even have been quite understood by Matthew himself — has gone unchallenged, Sutton says. It has, in fact, become a supermyth, cited to explain that even big ideas amount to nothing when they aren’t framed by proper genius.

Sutton thinks that story has it wrong, that natural selection wasn’t an idea in need of a “great man” to propagate it. After all his months of research, Sutton says he found clear evidence that Matthew’s work did not go unread. No fewer than seven naturalists cited the book, including three in what Sutton calls Darwin’s “inner circle.” He also claims to have discovered particular turns of phrase — “Matthewisms” — that recur suspiciously in Darwin’s writing.
It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Sutton is correct. Although non-writers don't have much confidence in it, to the expert, or even the experienced amateur, literary style is very nearly as distinguishable as a fingerprint. This is particularly true in cases where the two works are supposed to be entirely unrelated.

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Gammas never lose

But sometimes they win in ways no one else can see. This probably belongs on Alpha Game, but since everyone here is familiar with the entire discussion that led up to it, I'm posting it here. In his response to my banning him, we learn that the recently-banned Camestros Felapton is not only an SJW, he is a Secret King Who Cannot Ever Lose Because Even When It Looks Like He's Losing, He Is Really Winning, You See.
Cool! Banned by Vox! I had to give Vox a little lesson on Aristole and logic the other day and now he seems to have got a tad upset with me.
Wow, how cool is that! See, Felapton wanted to be banned from the place that he had sought out on his own and where he was commenting repeatedly without invitation. That was his plan all along! The joke is on Vox! This is always the immediate reaction of the Gamma who has just been beaten in public; he immediately tries to spin the negative into a positive. And, of course, this spin requires an amount of historical revision; I clearly don't understand the great Greasean philologist Aristole as well as he does. SJWs being SJWs, we also have all three Laws of SJW on display.
  1. SJWs Always Lie: there are four obvious lies in the first three sentences. To say nothing of a classic Gamma tell.
  2. SJWs Always Double Down: instead of simply admitting that he was wrong and had failed to correctly understand Aristotle's distinction between dialectic and rhetoric, he continues to posture as some sort of expert on philosophy and logic. But does he have a Bachelor's Degree in the Philosophy of Science from the University of Chicago?
  3. SJWs Always Project. I'm not even remotely upset with Felapton. Quite to the contrary, I am amused by his utterly predictable Gamma behavior. As one observer commented yesterday, he's going to be looking for his chance to take a revenge shot for years.
Oopsie! The rationalization is because of the point I made on File770 regarding the Castalia House published work on Gene Wolfe:
This is close enough to the truth. Although "the lies I told" would have been a more accurate way for him to phrase it.
Vox claims this somehow ‘proves’ Larry Correia’s point about politics and the Hugos or something. Which is odd because the focus of my point was not Vox Day’s admittedly unpleasant and confused politics but his active campaign against the Hugo Awards and other science-fiction writers.
It does prove Larry's case. The focus of Felapton's point is irrelevant in this regard. Felapton admitted that he would be voting on grounds other than the literary merit of the works concerned. That concedes Larry's primary point. Larry argued, correctly, that the claims the Hugo Awards were awarded solely on the basis of merit were false, and moreover, that it was nothing but a popularity contest among a small group of people who leaned heavily to the political left. Although Felapton's point is irrelevant, it also happens to be wrong since my active campaign is entirely the result of politics in science fiction. Their dislike of my politics is the only reason Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and John Scalzi started this conflict by publicly attacking me back in 2005.
Sigh. That isn’t the genetic fallacy.The genetic fallacy is a fallacy of IRRELEVANCE that confuses the SOURCE of a claim with its VERACITY. There isn’t a factual claim at stake here – I’m not saying a factual claim made by an author is false by virtue of his publisher (e.g. if somebody was to say that a claim about Gene Wolfe in the book was false purely on the basis that the book was a Castalia House book THAT would be the genetic fallacy).

My claim is that I can’t reward obnoxious behavior by Castalia House. Nothing to do with the genetic fallacy. Vox concedes that I raise one valid point, which is that “there is no way of separating what is published by Castalia from how Castalia promotes itself and its published works.” That is the ethical basis of my position and Vox concedes that it is valid and not fallacious.
More posing. Felapton is trying to play fast and loose with both his claims and the applicability of the genetic fallacy here. As the tagline to his blog states, "even when we're being honest we come across as being disingenuous" and he is not being honest here. We know that he believes the Puppy nominees to be low-quality; he has openly said as much in the past. Now he is pretending that he doesn't necessarily believe that Castalia-published works are of insufficient quality to win awards, only that he "can't reward obnoxious behavior by Castalia House."

In other words, he is being disingenuous, and attempting to pretend that he is not claiming that a published work is not worthy of an award on the basis of its origins, it is simply that his pressing need to avoid rewarding what he believes to be obnoxious behavior just happens to justify precisely the same course of action. What a fortuitous coincidence!

However, he made a mistake. He did not merely say that he was not refusing to support Castalia-published works on the basis of their origins. He could have said, in response to my statement, "the genetic fallacy doesn't apply and here is why", but instead, he said "that isn’t the genetic fallacy" and then proceeded to adminster another of his little lessons. He tried to kill two birds with one stone and thus exposed his true intentions. Let's break it down:
  1. My claim is that Felapton has concluded Castalia-published works lack merit due to their origins.
  2. Felapton asserts that that is not his conclusion. Dubious, but possible.
  3. Felapton asserts that is not the genetic fallacy. Wrong.
He blundered because it wasn't enough for him to simply state that I failed to understand his motivation for no-awarding Castalia publications, he also tried to pretend that I don't understand the genetic fallacy because he is still smarting over my demonstration of his inability to understand rhetoric. Interesting word, smarting, in light of the typical gamma response to being intellectually bested.

As for Felapton's veracity and how seriously one should take his claims, well, his closing statement alone should suffice to judge that.
What is more interesting is Vox losing his cool. That is a major departure from his play book and poor tactics. He is actually rattled? Surely not by me, so I assume it must be by Philip Sandifer’s campaign.
As it is written, SJWs always lie. Felapton and others continue on that theme in the comments. Those in italics are his.
  • I suspect VD is completely panic stricken by Chuck Tingle
  • he tried the liberul-head-explody thing and then the liberul-heads didn’t explody
  • For a master of rhetoric, he has the debate strategy skills of a goldfish
  • He really can’t stand having people who know formal logic and rhetoric better than he does around
  • It’s also amusing to see him flailing around in his flop-sweat as you call him on being a serial bullshitter
The idea that I am "completely panic stricken by Chuck Tingle" is fascinating, considering that more than one journalist has contacted me this week to ask if I am Chuck Tingle. That "let's make their heads explode" thing is a Sad tactic, not a Rabid one; I don't care how SJWs feel about Chuck Tingle or anything else. Delenda est. As for my "debate strategy skills", well, there is this. And this.

UPDATE: Lunacy from one of the banned ones, Golden Flowers aka Micael Gustavsson. Talk about the Third Law!
Classic pathological narcissist – rubbing VD's nose in the fact that he’s spouting crap threatens his identity as the Bestest Argumentarian EVAH, so he has to double down and come up with more bullshit on why his admirers should ignore his previous bullshit. I suspect VD is completely panic stricken by Chuck Tingle, and is flailing around trying to restore his feeling of being in control. He can’t; having opened Pandora’s box he is stuck with Tingle until the sun goes nova.. When VD is “amused” you know he is really upset.

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Big Larry's European adventure

It sounds like Larry Correia had a blast on his European tour:
Of all the languages, German was by far the easiest to pick up words and phrases for me. Despite being related to Portuguese and Spanish, French sounds totally eluded me. And Czech is HARD (they have like 46 ways to make conjunctions). But German shares a lot of word roots with English, and the actual structure is pretty straight forward. Plus it is fun to just walk around and make up vaguely German sounding names for things, like a pigeon is Das Poopinbirden.

The next day we drove across all of Germany to the Czech Republic, and I got to experience the autobahn, which my whole life has been this sort of mythical place that has no speed limits, and is filled with drivers that understand slow traffic stays right, and where they never camp in the left lane, and in fact, if you’re blocking the left lane, they’ll come right up on your bumper at 100 miles an hour, honking, and flashing their lights. It was a place devoid of mercy, unforgiving of weakness. So we set out.

Apparently there are two kinds of tourist drivers on the autobahn. Those who are weak, fearful, whose crying pillows smell of lilacs and shame, who stay in the truck lane, or who wander out into the left occasionally, timidly, to be honked at and chased aside by awesome Teutonic Super Drivers…

And the other kind is the American who manages to average 180km an hour across all of Germany in a Volvo diesel station wagon.

It was AMAZING. I felt like a race car driver across an entire country. You know why German cars don’t have cup holders? Because if you stop to drink while driving, YOU WILL DIE. And you should. You need to be on. I’d get a gap, jump out to the left, floor it (because fuel economy is for hippies I’m on the mother f’ing autobahn!),  and nobody pulls out in front of me in a minivan to enforce their personal speed limit, people ahead of me going slower (like 100mph) immediately get out of the way, and when some bad ass comes up behind me in a super car, I get out of his way, and then they blast past me like I’m standing still.

It was beautiful.

You wouldn’t think a diesel Volvo would be comfy at 112 miles an hour, but it really is. Yes. I friggin’ love the autobahn. If I lived here I would buy a giant BMW or Audi and drive very fast, all the time. Why can’t we have something like this here? I would like to institute autobahn style rules on I-15 in Utah. Sure, a few thousand people would probably die in the first weekend, but after that it would be awesome.
Can confirm. What some might find interesting is that Italy has its own sort of temporary autobahn, which is certain stretches of the autostrada on Sunday mornings from 9-11 AM. Spacebunny and I were driving home from Verona one morning, doing about 100 MPH or so, when I saw a red car coming up VERY FAST from behind.

It turned out to be a Ferrari 456. A few moments later, a tricked-out blue Porsche with a vague resemblance to a 911 flew past as well. My Call of Duty mate, who used to race Formula 2, has friends who drive for Ferrari, and drives an Aston Martin, later told me that there are certain sections of the autostrada that are intentionally left camera-free so that the men with the supercars can let them rip at times when the traffic is light.

European pro tip: if you see silver in the distance behind you, move over without delay. No one in Europe drives faster, or is more likely to ride your bumper, than drivers of silver Mercedes station wagons. My theory is that if you need a station wagon, but insist on spending the money for a high-performance engine, you're probably a roadway lunatic. I see plenty of nice, big-engined sports cars and sedans cruising along the autostrada at reasonable speeds, but every single Mercedes station wagon driver is flying along at least 20 MPH faster than the flow of traffic, no matter how fast it is, with his left blinker permanently on.

And for some reason that still eludes me, they are always silver.

Larry is right about German being easier for English speakers too. As for French, I honestly found it easier to pick up Japanese. The Italians may speak rapidly and use the same word to describe three completely different concepts, (hence the need for all the gestures) but at least they enunciate.

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

"Muslims are not welcome in Germany"

AfD is stepping in to shoulder the responsibility of defending the German people that the two mainstream parties have so badly shirked:
One week after Austria was shocked by the news that its right-wing, anti-immigrant Freedom Party, had swept the competition, gathering over 35% of the vote and leaving the other five candidates far behind, Europe's anti-immigrant juggernaut just added to its momentum when neighboring Germany's populist AfD party adopted an anti-Islam policy on Sunday in a manifesto that also demands curbs to immigration according to AFP. The biggest surprise however, is that the three year-old party is now also Germany's third strongest party.

Formed only three years ago on what was originally a eurosceptic platform, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) has gained strength as the loudest protest voice against Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcome to refugees that brought over one million asylum seekers last year. However, with the migrant influx sharply down in recent months, the AfD has shifted focus to the signature issue of the xenophobic Pegida street movement, whose full name is Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident.

"Islam is not part of Germany" ran a headline in the AfD policy paper agreed in a vote by some 2,400 members at the party congress in the western city of Stuttgart.

The paper demanded bans on minarets on mosques, the call to prayer, full-face veils for women and female headscarves in schools.
Within three years, every Western nation will have a strong political party that endorses some sort of restrictions, if not outright bans, on Islam. The current battle in the British Labour Party over Muslim anti-semitism in the party may mark an important turning point here, as it appears that Britain's Jews have begun to realize that "let's you and him fight" is not a functional strategy and are no longer able to fool themselves into thinking that a de-Christianized West is a beneficial option.

Reconquista 2.0 has begun. One hopes it will be more peaceful and less protracted than its predecessor.

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All ur base no longer belongs 2 u

Jerry Pournelle reflects upon Peggy Noonan's dawning horror that the Republican base is no longer what passes for conservative:
“Those conservative writers and thinkers who have for nine months warned the base that Mr. Trump is not a conservative should consider the idea that a large portion of the Republican base no longer sees itself as conservative, at least as that term has been defined the past 15 years by Washington writers and thinkers.”

The Second Gulf War saw us invading Iraq in response to the al Qaeda attack on New York, although there was zero evidence that Saddam had anything to do with it. Then came Afghanistan. In each case we sent just enough to do the job, but not overwhelming force to achieve victory – likely impossible in Afghanistan unless we were prepared for decades of occupation, and given the Soviet experience even that was likely to be arduous. All of this seemed to be destroying monsters, not protecting the liberty of the American people.

Some of us said so at the time. The response from National Review, once (when under Bill Buckley) the voice of the American Conservative Movement, was to feature the Egregious Frum reading out of the Conservative Movement all those who did not enthusiastically support the invasion of Iraq. Since that time I have not been “a conservative”. Paleo-conservative, perhaps; one who believes Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk have much to teach us; yes. But officially not a conservative according to National Review. Since I am not one of them by their own account, having been read out of their movement, I have no obligation to defend their policies – not that I ever defended all of them; after all, they did read me out of their ranks because I opposed the long war in Mesopotamia, did not think we could build democracy in a “nation” composed of Kurds, Shia majority, and Sunni, and ruled by Baathists, and thought we had no business expending blood and treasure when we had no describable national interests.

Trump’s people think the same way: patriotism trumps ideology. That is, of course, a very conservative principle, or was when I was teaching political science; apparently it is not so now. Miss Noonan sees it; I doubt the neoconservatives who have become to leaders of the conservative Movement will understand, or care; but perhaps the American voters will. Reagan was no ideologue, and he won. True: Trump is no Reagan; but you know, Mr. Reagan was not always Ronald the Great either. But he was always a patriot.
At 81, Dr. Pournelle is still far sharper than the average bear. He's pointing out something very important that has escaped nearly every political commentator, including me, which is that for decades, beginning with the John Birch Society, conservatives have been reading people out of the conservative movement.

And now, they have read so many people out of conservatism that the movement is no longer, in any practical sense of the term, a popular movement anymore. I'm an alt right figurehead, but I'm no conservative. Jerry is an old school Cold Warrior, but he's no conservative. From Ann Coulter to John Derbyshire to Mark Steyn to Paul Craig Roberts, the best intellects of the right are all ex-conservatives.

And now the Republican base, has realized that they, too, have been effectively read out. Just as the Democratic Party left Ronald Reagan, conservatism has left the Republican grass roots behind.

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Of enthymemes and false erudition

First, Philalethes observes that my use of rhetoric was, indeed, effective:
VD's original use of "Aztec" in the WND article was effective rhetoric, the Slate author's snarky reference to it was at least attempted rhetoric, and then VD's present response was also rhetoric, by the clever tactic of twisting the poignard out of her hand and stabbing her back with it. For me, it worked quite well, whether or not it was based on an enthymeme (about which I knew nothing until tonight).

Which is the point: either rhetoric draws blood, or it does not. Maybe for Mr. Camestros it did not, but that's all he can legitimately say about it – though his effort to destroy the rhetoric by dialectic would appear to show that he is at least aware that this device did and would draw blood in the minds of most readers. So in sum I must agree that all Mr. Camestros has accomplished here is to make a fool of himself with his attempt to speak magisterially from the high seat on a subject about which he obviously knows less than does the person at whom he is aiming his barb.
Second, I will explain how the now-banned Camestros Felapton either badly misrepresented, or simply failed to understand, Aristotle's fundamental distinction between dialectic and rhetoric, as well as the purpose of the latter. He's rather like a tactician who doesn't grasp strategy, as he seems to have a basic knowledge of the technical aspects without understanding their basic purpose or how they can be utilized:
I know what an enthymeme is, thank you, which is why I re-expressed your enthymeme as a formal syllogism with premises. I do so to highlight what your un-expressed major premise was. Put another way, what was the underlying assumption that you were appealing to in your rhetorical device.

That assumption appears to be this:
"People who are part-X are not people who are paranoid about X" Which is best described using the technical term 'bollocks'.

If your response is an 'effective' one then it is because your audience is accepting that assumption as being correct.

An enthymeme has UNSTATED premises (or conclusion). The premises and/or conclusion are suggested or implied (in the non-logical sense of 'implied'). You seem to be thinking that 'unstated' means 'logically do not exist'. That is incorrect. With an enthymeme the reader is expected to 'fill in the gaps'. This is why I asked you what your premises were so as to re-express your enthymeme as a formal syllogism.
This initially made me suspect that Felapton was simply being dishonest. The reason he wanted me to translate the rhetoric into dialectic, and complete the formal syllogism, was so he could criticize it from a logical perspective and thereby discredit it in an attempt to persuade others to believe Slate's claim that I am paranoid about Aztecs. (Which was, in itself, merely another step towards his real purpose.) He was pushing me to state the unstated because an enthymeme does not only contain unstated premises, but those premises are often incorrect from the purely logical perspective. This is why Aristotle gave this type of syllogism a different name and devoted considerable effort to defining and explaining how it worked, because otherwise it would be nothing more than an incomplete syllogism.

Consider one example provided by Wikipedia:

"Candide is a typical French novel, therefore it is vulgar."

In this case, the missing term of the syllogism is "French novels are vulgar" and might be an assumption held by an audience that would make sense of the enthymematic argument.


Now, obviously not all French novels are vulgar, so therefore, Felapton would argue that the syllogism fails logically and is incorrect. That is why he was trying to get me to state the unstated premise of my Aztec enthymeme, so that he could attack it dialectically. But as I pointed out, the syllogism was an enthymematic argument, not a logical argument, and therefore his attempt to logically disqualify it was totally irrelevant. As I have repeatedly pointed out in the book he has not read, there is zero information content in rhetoric; it is not designed to inform and persuade, but emotionally convict and persuade, because, as Aristotle correctly informs us, many people cannot be persuaded by information.

This is the point that Felapton fails to grasp, and his subsequent comment tends to indicate that it is not merely dishonesty on his part, but also a genuine failure to understand the distinction between rhetoric and dialectic that underlies his incorrect statements on the subject.
A great place for you to start to get a better understanding of the role of enthymeme in general and its relationship with logic would be Aristotle's rhetoric itself. I think you perhaps have misunderstood the distinction as somehow rhetoric (in Aristotle's sense) as being utterly divorced from logic. If so then the word you are looking for is not 'rhetoric' but 'bullshit'. Substituting the word 'bullshit' for 'rhetoric' in your response, renders it a better description for what you seem to be trying to say.

However, Aristotle did not advance the notion of rhetoric as BS or sophistry but as an art of persuasion but persuasion towards TRUTH by rational means.

"It is clear, then, that rhetorical study, in its strict sense, is concerned with the modes of persuasion. Persuasion is clearly a sort of demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when we consider a thing to have been demonstrated.

The orator’s demonstration is an enthymeme, and this is, in general, the most effective of the modes of persuasion. The enthymeme is a sort of syllogism, and the consideration of syllogisms of all kinds, without distinction, is the business of dialectic, either of dialectic as a whole or of one of its branches. It follows plainly, therefore, that he who is best able to see how and from what elements a syllogism is produced will also be best skilled in the enthymeme, when he has further learnt what its subject-matter is and in what respects it differs from the syllogism of strict logic."
What Felapton clearly fails to understand here is that the fact a highly skilled dialectician will also be skilled in the use of rhetoric only means that the best and most effective rhetoric is constructed in a similar manner and is in line with the truth. It absolutely does not mean that the use of enthymematic arguments that are not in line with the truth are not rhetoric, for the obvious reason that there would be no difference between a syllogism presented for dialectical purposes and an enthymeme presented for rhetorical purposes. But the two related concepts are intrinsically different and we know why. Consider Aristotle's additional observations:
  • Persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question. 
  • The duty of rhetoric is to deal with such matters as we deliberate upon without arts or systems to guide us, in the hearing of persons who cannot take in at a glance a complicated argument, or follow a long chain of reasoning.
  • It is evident, therefore, that the propositions forming the basis of enthymemes, though some of them may be "necessary," will most of them be only usually true.
  • We must be able to employ persuasion, just as strict reasoning can be employed, on opposite sides of a question, not in order that we may in practice employ it in both ways (for we must not make people believe what is wrong), but in order that we may see clearly what the facts are, and that, if another man argues unfairly, we on our part may be able to confute him. No other of the arts draws opposite conclusions: dialectic and rhetoric alone do this. Both these arts draw opposite conclusions impartially. Nevertheless, the underlying facts do not lend themselves equally well to the contrary views. No; things that are true and things that are better are, by their nature, practically always easier to prove and easier to believe in.
In other words, Felapton has confused Aristotle's admonition to use rhetoric in the service of the truth with Aristotle's definitions of what rhetoric is as well as with his instructions on how to use rhetoric effectively. In fact, Aristotle makes it clear that both dialectic and rhetoric can be used impartially on either side of an argument, although it is much easier to identify the deceptive use of dialectic due to its reliance on complete syllogisms and strict logic than it is the deceptive use of rhetoric due to its incomplete structure and its reliance on apparent truths that are accepted by the audience.

What Felapton calls "bollocks" and "bullshit" is nothing more than what Aristotle calls "apparent truth". But, as we have seen, rhetoric can rely upon these apparent truths just as readily as upon actual truths. And in this particular application, my rhetoric, even structurally reliant as it is upon apparent truth rather than actual truth, is more persuasive, and therefore more effective, than Slate's rhetoric, in part for the obvious reason that it is absolutely true.

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SJWs strike back

In their own hapless and inimitably gamma way. First, Pedophil Sandifer makes a hash of the time-tested "I know you are but what am I" tactic and engages in the usual SJW projection in libeling the Hugo-nominated GamerGate artist Kukuruyo:
Vox Day Put A Child Pornographer On The Hugo Ballot 

For obvious reasons, I will not be providing links here, however I am happy to provide them privately to anyone with a legitimate interest in the information, including law enforcement.

It was brought to my attention today that "kukuruyo," one of the artists that Vox Day put on the Rabid Puppies slate in Best Fan Artist and that made it onto the Hugo Ballot recently posted to his blog a commissioned drawing of comic book character Ms. Marvel in which her genitalia is clearly visible and provocatively displayed. Ms. Marvel - whose comic won last year's Hugo for Best Graphic Story - is a sixteen-year-old girl in the comics. Under US law, this would seem to legally be child pornography.

Although the drawing post-dates Day's placement of the artist on his slate, the hypocrisy of Vox Day endorsing the work of a child pornographer is particularly glaring given that he continues to throw childish insults like this around:

    #SJW logic: Pedophil Sandifer complains that #RabidPuppies are "bullying fucks" while declaring that they are outnumbered "3,800 to 200".
    — Supreme Dark Lord (@voxday) April 30, 2016

and has been vocal in accusing sci-fi fandom of harboring pedophiles, including slating two works with arguments to this effect in Best Related Work. 
He then proceeded to double down and do it again. A few relevant points that collectively demonstrate the utter absurdity of Pedophil's libel:
  1. Kukuruyo has stated that he didn't know the fictitious age of the Marvel cartoon character, Ms Marvel, and drew her as a 20-year-old.
  2. I am reliably informed that Ms Marvel was 16 when she was introduced in 2013. That makes her at least 18 now, possibly 19. 
  3. The age of consent in Spain is 16. Kukuruyo is Spanish, lives in Spain, and US law is not relevant to his activities.
  4. The drawing cannot be child pornography regardless of what age the fictitious character is supposed to be. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that drawings and computer representations are not child pornography.
  5. Phil Sandifer has admitted that he was aware of the Supreme Court ruling when he made the accusation.
  6. The Ms Marvel drawing was drawn and posted well after I recommended Kukuruyo, who draws GamerGate Life, for the Hugo Award.
  7. SJWs always project. This is more than a little alarming in this particular case.
The most reprehensible aspect of Sandifer's attack on GamerGate's favorite artist is the way he is observably attempting to cast doubt on the undeniable fact that the science fiction fandom community has harbored pedophiles in the recent past, and the very reasonable suspicion that it is continuing to do so now.
In tangentially related news, while Camestros Felapton has gotten himself banned elsewhere in the Puppyverse, he'd always behaved himself here and never done worse than embarrass himself by demonstrating his inability to understand the core difference between rhetoric and dialectic, and between enthymemes and logical syllogisms. However, he's been blatantly lying about both me and Castalia House at File 770, so he's now permanently banned from commenting here as well.
I’ve been a fan of Gene Wolfe for a long time. I love the idea of the work you are doing and from what I have seen the scale of work and scholarship you have put into is impressive. However, I can’t vote for your work when your publisher is promoting it by attempting to exploit issues like child-sexual abuse. There isn’t some neat way of separating ‘Castalia House’ from the actions and strategies of Theodore Beale/Vox Day and there is a qualitative difference between authors who have been unwillingly nominated by the Rabid slate and authors who have willingly chosen to work with Castalia House. I understand that for you it was a matter of getting your work published and promoted and I understand why any author would want that for their work – but in the case of Castalia “promoted” necessarily includes stunts like slating the Hugo awards and attempts to trash whole categories, and it includes slurs and defamation of *other authors* people who, like you, have poured sweat & scholarship and long days/nights into their work. However, I also get that Vox Day perceives criticism as betrayal and that he has a tendency to ‘punish’ what he perceives as betrayal. So I am certainly not asking you denounce Day or withdraw from the awards or any other kind of symbolic action, but I am saying I can’t vote for your work and I can’t see it as a legitimate nomination because there is no way of seperating what is published by Castalia from how Castalia promotes itself and its published works.
 To set the record straight:
  1. Castalia is not promoting our various works by exploiting issues like child sexual abuse. Being a father as well as the acquaintance of several adults who were abused as children, I take the matter very seriously and I am committed to identifying and exposing every abuser in the science fiction community, no matter how celebrated or protected they are. I do not view the Hugo Awards as a promotion, promoting Castalia's books is not a primary, secondary, or even tertiary objective of the Rabid Puppies campaigns, and the only book we will be promoting on the subject is the one we are publishing by Moira Greyland about her experience growing up in the science fiction community.
  2. I have not defamed any other authors, as the lawyers for John Scalzi, Samuel Delaney, and N.K. Jemisin, among others, will have informed them if they ever bothered to look into the matter. To the contrary, in the opinion of no less than three UK barristers, two of whom are experts on the subject and have won libel cases I have been legitimately and repeatedly libeled by a number of individuals in the media and the science fiction community.
  3. I do not perceive criticism as betrayal, as pretty much every reader of this blog can testify, having criticized me at one time or another. I have no problem with criticism, what I object to is blatant falsehoods. Third Law. SJWs always project.
Felapton does raise one valid point, which is that "there is no way of seperating what is published by Castalia from how Castalia promotes itself and its published works."

However, in doing so, he only underlines Larry Correia's original point about the Hugo Awards, which is that the awards are not given for merit, but rather are awarded on the basis of political approval. If the voters were solely, or even primarily, concerned with literary merit, as the SJWs in science fiction claim, this inability to separate the work from the publisher would not matter in the least.

But, as Felapton admits, since he can't separate the work from the publisher, the merit of the work does not matter and he will not vote for any Castalia-published work on the basis of this genetic fallacy. That is certainly his prerogative, of course, but in explaining his reasoning, he has also proved the Sad Puppies original case about the Hugo Awards, which is that they are awards given out on the basis of political approval, not the pretense of literary merit the science fiction community presently affects.

Third, and more or less unrelated, but not meriting a separate post, Greg Hullender estimates the number of Rabid Puppies:
I’ve run the numbers using the power-law estimator, and from that I calculate that about 270 rabid puppies voted the slate this year, and that they kept fairly good slate discipline. I only get two anomalies:

“Hyperspace Demons,” by Jonathan Moeller should have been a finalist for Best Novelette. If we assume that he quietly declined the nomination, the numbers are a perfect fit.

Similarly, Bryan Thomas Schmidt should have been a finalist for Best Editor, Long Form. If we assume he too declined the nomination, those numbers are also a perfect fit.
That sounds about 60 percent too low to me, although it's higher than Felapton's estimate of 200, but we'll find out in due course. My guess, and it is nothing more than a logical extrapolation from last year's vote, would be around 650, as I thought we'd need at least 750 to run the table this year. In any event, I'll leave Kukuruyo with the last word, because the salt must flow.


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Saturday, April 30, 2016

The architect of anti-SJW

A livestream featuring an interview with the chief architect of The Complete List of SJW.

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Chuck Tingle contemplates Hugo withdrawl

 After NK Jemisin demanded Chuck Tingle withdraw his nomination for the Hugo Award for "Space Raptor Butt Invasion", Dr. Tingle gave the matter some serious consideration.
Chuck Tingle ‏@ChuckTingle
cant sleep. lots of thoughts i will be addressing tommorow morning. i will be very forward on where i stand and make important annoucement

Chuck Tingle ‏@ChuckTingle
i am very sorry sometimes things just have to come to an end. this has to be done and i will be as upfront as i can

Chuck Tingle ‏@ChuckTinglestill not sure if im ready for all of this to end still sorting though feelings about this annoucement. more very soon

Chuck Tingle ‏@ChuckTingle
in five minutes official announcement of withdrawl and difficult ending

Chuck Tingle ‏@ChuckTingle
PLEASE UNDERSTAND i have decided to WITHDRAW my support of taylor swifts and unfollow her. I now follow KATYS PERRY

LOVE IS REAL! Chuck Tingle's nomination is not a joke. Well, all right, it is. But it's arguably less of a joke than N.K. Jemisin's affirmative-action reward for hating the "beardy old middle-class middle-American guys" who created the field.

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Calling out the ADL

On Twitter:
ADL ‏@ADL_National
@realDonaldTrump: Reconsider your use of the phrase “America First” as a slogan.

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
So exactly WHAT should Americans put first, if not America?

ADL ‏@ADL_National
For many Americans, the term "America First" will always be tainted by its anti-Semitic use in months before Pearl Harbor

Supreme Dark Lord ‏@voxday
Even more Americans look forward to seeing the repatriation of those who refuse to put America first.
If the members of the ADL are not willing to put America, and Americans, first, then obviously no American should support them or listen to anything that they have to say.

It is no more anti-semitic for Americans to put America, and Americans, first, as a matter of foreign policy, than it is anti-American for Israelis to put Israel first, or anti-Canadian for Germans to put Germany first.

No one gives a damn about the Holocaust these days. It's ancient history. The British newspapers notwithstanding, virtually no one outside the media gives a damn about anti-semitism anymore. There are now many more important problems around the globe that concern considerably more than a paltry few million people living more or less at peace in the United States.

Not even the Israeli government cares about someone painting a swastika on a wall somewhere in North America. They, too, have far more pressing concerns to address.

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An actual conversation

Other Guy: I don't really know anything about this Rabid Puppies thing. What's up with that?

Vox Day: Oh, it's just related to this science fiction award. Last year we took a bunch of nominations, so they made a big deal about it and vowed it would never happen again. Then this year, we took a few more.

OG: So that's why they're pissed.

VD: Yeah, pretty much. But also because we got things like "Space Raptor Butt Invasion" nominated.

OG: What?

VD: There's this guy, Chuck Tingle, he's a complete lunatic and he writes these crazy gay dinosaur erotica stories.

OG: Doesn't he have a book about boyfriend who is a plane or something too?

VD: There's one called "My Gay Billionaire Plane Boyfriend", something like that, anyway.

OG: Yeah, I read it! It was pretty good.

VD: I'm a little alarmed to hear you've actually read that.

OG: Yeah, well, you're the one who knows the guy's name.

VD: Touche'.

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A summary of 2015

While we're on the subject of music, one of my old NoBoys bandmates runs though the 2015 pop roundup with his a capella group, Face Vocal Band. One of these days, I'll post a link to the first song he ever wrote, which is a bizarre one about a fish in love with a little girl who visits the sea shore.

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There is no room for false modesty

Not where genius is concerned:
Keyboardist Morris Hayes arrived at Paisley Park as a production assistant. Under Prince’s tutelage, he eventually became not just a member of the New Power Generation but the band’s most senior member.
“I was just one of those church cats that played music by ear, so at first it was very difficult for me to keep up. We wouldn’t just learn one song, we’d learn a string of songs, and when we’d come back the next day I’d forget some. I remember he pulled me to the side and said, ‘Are you a genius, Morris?’ I said no. ‘O.K., then write it down. I don’t write it down ‘cause I’m a genius. I’ve got a million of ‘em, and I can remember. But unless you’re a genius, write it down.’ He gave you that extreme focus, where you knew you had to really come with it.”
It's fascinating that unlike so many gifted individuals, Prince was able to coach less talented and help them improve. I wonder if that might have had something to do with his early relationship with Andre Cymone, his friend from junior high and member of both Grand Central and The Revolution, of whom it was said that he could play everything Prince could play, but only if Prince showed him how to do it first. Speaking of which, this article about his performance at the 2004 ceremony honoring George Harrison tends to support that anecdote as well as put both both his performance and his demeanor in context.
I had no idea that Prince was going to be there. Steve Winwood said, “Hey, Prince is over there.” And I said, “I guess he’s playing with us?”

So I said to Winwood, “I’m going to go over and say hello to him.” I wandered across the stage and I went up to him and I said, “Hi, Prince, it’s nice to meet you — Steve Ferrone.” And he said, “Oh, I know who you are!” Maybe because I’d played on Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You,” which is a song that he wrote. I went back over and I sat down behind the drum kit, and Winwood was like: “What’s he like? What’d he say?”

Then I was sitting there, and I heard somebody playing a guitar riff from a song that I wrote with Average White Band. And I looked over and Prince was looking right at me and playing that song. And I thought, “Yeah, you actually do know who I am!”
I was actually more surprised that Prince had ever heard anything played by a band called Average White Band than at the fact he would remember a riff from it and be able to play it from memory. But then, they were pretty funky and even I would recognize "Pick up the Pieces", so I suppose that makes sense.

My favorite part of the Harrison tribute article is how the clueless lead guitarist kept playing the Clapton solos in rehearsal and Prince didn't make a fuss. He just strummed along, waited for someone else tell the guy to back off, then waited until they were on stage to show him how it's done. Prince being Prince, I strongly suspect it was his quiet annoyance at the guy's earlier failure to know his place that drove the unusual nature of his performance that night, particularly because he told the producer to let the guy go ahead and play the middle solo.

“Look, let this guy do what he does, and I’ll just step in at the end. For the end solo, forget the middle solo.”

That wasn't just genius being expressed on that stage, it was also the contempt of a genius for mere talent and skill. Hey, even geniuses sometimes require motivation.

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