Sunday, February 01, 2015

A SJW Hugo slate

JASON SANFORD IS CAMPAIGNING FOR HUGO AWARDS! I REPEAT: JASON SANFORD IS CAMPAIGNING FOR HUGO AWARDS! Call the Thought Police! Alert the Social Justice Media! Sound the Raciss Siren... oh, wait a minute... never mind, it's all right, he's got his SJW card.
Best Novels

  The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga 1 by Kameron Hurley. See my original review of the novel.
    The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu. This is why we need translated fiction! This novel, which spans recent Chinese history as it revolves around a strange case of alien contact is one of the best hard science fiction novels I've read in years. Can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy.
    Defenders by Will McIntosh. Just when I thought I'd read every type of alien invasion and military SF story out there, along comes Will McIntosh with something new.
    Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. Wow. That's all I could say after reading this novel, which explores what happens when first contact happens in Lagos, Nigeria. I've always loved Nnedi Okorafor's amazing ability to create true-life characters which both resonate with readers and stories and twist you into new directions — and Lagoon does this and far more in superb ways. Unfortunately, the novel is hard to find in the USA (I had to order a copy from the UK). The USA release is slated for later this year.
    Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. If I could, I'd nominate the entire Southern Reach series as one complete work. See my original review of the series.
He's got a woman (check), a Chinese man (check), a white man (tsk tsk), a black woman with an African name (check, check, check), and another white man (seriously? Bad SJW!) Alas, poor McRapey. Too white, and for the first time in his life, too male.

But where are the Native Americans? Where are the Hispanics? Where is the transgendered handicapable lesbian Baha'ist from Papua New Guinea? Why does Jason Sanford hate Mexicans and Indians and Belgians?

Anyhow, I now look forward to seeing all the Hugo voters who pointed and shrieked at Larry Correia treat Jason Sanford in precisely the same manner. Don't you? In the meantime, you can play SJW bingo! See if you can find all five!
  • "explores this topic in a unique and interesting manner."  
  • "An all-too-rare fictional look..."
  • "a subgenre which until recently limited itself in unacceptable ways."
  • "opens our eyes to new realms of possibility and imagination."
  • "beginning an amazing journey as an author..."

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Unready for 4GW

No one serious believed that Obama was even remotely capable of handling foreign policy, but most erroneously assumed that he was smart enough to hand off responsibility for it to foreign policy veterans. That has not turned out to be the case, as Jerry Pournelle notes Peggy Noonan's recent column in the Wall Street Journal:
No one thinks this administration is the A Team when it comes to foreign affairs, but this is unprecedented push-back from top military and intelligence players. They are fed up, they’re less afraid, they’re retired, and they’re speaking out. We are going to be seeing more of this kind of criticism, not less.

On Thursday came the testimony of three former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger (1973-77), George Shultz (1982-89) and Madeleine Albrigh t (1997-2001). Senators asked them to think aloud about what America’s national-security strategy should be, what approaches are appropriate to the moment. It was good to hear serious, not-green, not-merely-political people give a sense of the big picture. Their comments formed a kind of bookend to the generals’ criticisms.

They seemed to be in agreement on these points:
  • We are living through a moment of monumental world change.
  • Old orders are collapsing while any new stability has yet to emerge.
  • When you’re in uncharted waters your boat must be strong.
  • If America attempts to disengage from this dangerous world it will only make all the turmoil worse.
Mr. Kissinger observed that in the Mideast, multiple upheavals are unfolding simultaneously—within states, between states, between ethnic and religious groups. Conflicts often merge and produce such a phenomenon as the Islamic State, which in the name of the caliphate is creating a power base to undo all existing patterns.

Mr. Shultz said we are seeing an attack on the state system and the rise of a “different view of how the world should work.” What’s concerning is “the scope of it.”
Correct diagnosis, wrong prescription. Observe that these foreign policy experts are more than a decade behind William Lind, who described these extra-state upheavals in both ON WAR and FOUR GENERATIONS OF MODERN WAR.

And Lind is also correct to assert that America MUST disengage from "this dangerous world", as the very danger is primarily the result of disastrous Anglo-American meddling in the Middle East. Islam is what it is, but it would not not be resurgent and aggressively expansionary if the British, followed by the Americans, had not made it possible through their insanely inept Middle East policies.

The West needs to adopt a siege mentality, expel the non-Westerners, and let the fire burn itself out. Continued engagement only guarantees that it will be necessary to fight an indefinite number of fires within the West itself.

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The Divide-by-Zero Left

John C. Wright observes how the other side has transformed over the course of his lifetime:
Something rotten, very rotten has happened to the Left just in my lifetime. They used to be champions of free speech; and now they are its most vehement opponents.

They use to be able to give some sort of argument or logical reason for their position, even if an incorrect argument; now they have no argument, none of them, aside from wild and insincere accusations delivered in a mechanical fashion without any hope of being believed, phony as a three-dollar bill.

They used to be firmly on the side of the workingman; now they hate the workingman as a white racist oppressor.

They used to be in favor of free love and the sexual liberation; now they object to rocket scientists wearing shirts with cartoon women printed on them, they object to science fiction magazines showing a scantily clad warrior princess slaying a monster, and they call all sex rape, and demand strict segregation of women and men. On the same day as these protests, they appear in front of the Pope, writhing on the ground naked with crosses and crucifixes inserted into their vaginas. So the Puritan rules apply arbitrarily, without sense or order, to anyone or no one.

They used to be in favor of Blacks and other minorities; now their disgust for all the impoverished and dispossessed is plain to see. All they want is to keep the Blacks on the plantation, addicted to welfare, addicted to crack, their children aborted, their parents unwed.

They used to be in favor of the Jews, and other minorities; now they kneel to Islamic Jihad at every opportunity, vowing that those who slander the prophet of Islam will no be in the future, and ergo the Left now curse the Jews, and pray daily for the destruction of Israel, and a new Holocaust in the warhead of a Muslim nuke.

What? You say that his the not what the Left says? That they say they are creatures of purity, goodness, and sweetness, who live only to help others out of the depth of their hearts and the depth of your wallet? No, that was the old Left, back when the Left still had some scraps of sanity and intelligence.

They serve Sauron and have forgotten their own names.

They do not say what they are, because, if you listen to them, they say that words mean nothing, that truth is relative, that all civilizations are no better than savagery, that no religion is better than another, and that anything which is not illegal is allowed.  So of course they say they are perfect angels: because the word has no meaning to them, no words have meaning, and telling the truth is not correct. Only political correctness is correct.

Now they have gone fullbore barking moonbat mouthfoaming evil.
To summarize: the answer to the question "is the Left evil or stupid?" is "yes". The truth is what we always expected: they never held the values they professed. They were charlatans; they never had any intention of fighting for free speech with which they disagreed, they never gave a damn about blacks, Jews, homosexuals, immigrants, or science.

All those things were to them were tools. All those things were was a means of attacking that which they hate and want to destroy, Christian civilization in the West. They are literally nothing, they stand for nothing, they seek only to destroy and they have absolutely no more conception of what will come after the fall of Western civilization than Karl Marx did the Worker's Paradise.

It is not possible to compromise with them because there is no middle ground on which to meet them. It is like trying to divide by zero. It's not merely undesirable, it can't be done. Their principles and their objectives are a constantly moving target, always pushing the outer limits, stretching them out further.

Reject them. Don't seek their approval or try to reason with them or hope to win them over through dialectic and discourse. Their sickness is not of the mind, but of the soul.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Greco-German chicken

I have the impression that the Greeks are not bluffing here:
As Deutsche Bank's George Saravelos politely puts it, "Developments since the Greek election on Sunday have moved very fast." And indeed, so far the new Tsipras cabinet, and here we focus on the words and deeds of the new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, has shown that the market's greatest hope - that the status quo in Greece will continue - has been crushed into a pulp (and so have Greek stock and bond prices) especially following yesterday's most recent comments by the finmin in which he said that Greece "does not want the $7 billion" from the Troika agreement and that it wants to "rethink the whole program", culminating with an epic exchange with Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem in which Greece made it clear that the "constructive talks" are over.

And suddenly the Eurozone is stunned, because what had until now been its greatest carrot when it comes to dealing with Greece, has become completely useless when the impoverished, insolvent nation itself says it no longer needs a bailout, seemingly blissfully unaware of the consequences.

So earlier today the ECB's Erikki Liikanen, tired of pleasantries and dealing with what to Europe is a completely incomprehensible and illogical stance, one which is essentially a massive defection by Greece in the European "prisoner's dilemma", and which while leading to a Greek financial collapse and Grexit - both prerequisites to a subsequent Greek economic recovery unburdened by the shackles of the Euro - would also unleash a European depression, came out and directly threatened Greece that it now has 1 month until the end of February to reach a deal with the Troika, or else the ECB would cut off lending to Greek banks, in the process destroying the otherwise insolvent Greek banking sector.

And since only the ECB backstop has prevented a banking sector panic, the ECB is essentially betting the house, and the sanctity of the Eurozone (because after a Grexit all bets are off which peripheral leaves next) that the threat, and soon reality, of a bank run (at last check Greece had about €145 billion in deposits still left in its bank after JPM's latest estimate of €15 billion in outflows in January) will finally force Varoufakis and Tsipras to sit at the negotiating table with the understanding that not they but the Troika has all the leverage.
 Meanwhile, Germany has already ruled out any debt cancellation: "German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out any cancellation of Greece's debt and said the country has already received substantial cuts from banks and creditors."

The challenge that the EU faces is that they have nothing. Their only argument is that of a coven of vampires arguing with their victim: "you need to keep letting us bleed you, because if we die, you die." But that argument means nothing to a dying man.

Once it's clear that they can't get any more out of the EU, it costs Greece nothing to allow the entire Euro edifice to collapse. They are already bankrupt, and it is no longer in their interest to permit the EU to continue concealing that simple fact.

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RIP Colleen McCullough

Razib Khan mentioned her death at Unz:
I was aware that Colleen McCullough was ill, so sadly it is no surprise that she has died. To many McCullough is known for her Masters of Rome series. I particularly think that the first two books in the series, The First Man in Rome and Grass Crown were exceptional. The later novels cover the career of Julius Caesar and his heirs (both Augustus and Antony), which are rather well known to us. In contrast the life and times of Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla are not familiar to many modern people. In fact it is likely that their names would not ring a bell with the vast majority of people due to the decline of the classical education (which was the province of a narrow elite in any case when it was in vogue). But these were significant figures in their time whose influence echoes down the generations.
I never read The Thorne Birds, but I did enjoy the first three Rome novels. The Masters of Rome series inexplicably fell off a cliff with the fourth novel, Caesar's Women, but the first three were both entertaining and educational. I even suspect, to a small extent, they may have had some influence on my choice of Rome's Social War as a conceptual start to Arts of Dark and Light.


Sad Puppies, working as designed

This criticism of award-eligibility posts by what appears to be a garden variety pinkshirt proves that the International Lord of Hate effectively made his point last year with Sad Puppies 2, and also underlines the importance of The Ensaddening:
It’s that time of year again when the blogosphere is suddenly full of awards eligibility posts. Some people consider them useful and some people think they’re a bad thing. I used to believe there was something a little bit off about them, and I put that down to being, well, British. Blowing your own trumpet and all that. Bad form, you know. But my opinion on them has hardened of late. Having seen what a mockery the Hugo Awards were last year – which is not to say they haven’t been for many, many years – but in 2014 I was more than just an observer on the sidelines…

In 2014, I joined the Worldcon, which allowed me nominate works for the award. I took my vote seriously. I read novels I believed might be award-worthy, so I could put together a reasonably well-informed ballot. But the way everything worked out only brought home to me quite how corrupt is the culture surrounding the Hugos. And part of that culture is the awards eligibility post.

So why are they bad?

For one thing, awards are not about authors – they’re about what readers think of individual works. When an author enters a conversation about their book, they skew the conversation. We’ve all seen it happen. It usually result in authors bullying fans. When an author does the same with awards, they skew the awards.

It’s not a level playing-field. If Author A lists the eligible works they had published in 2014 and a couple of thousand people see that list, and Author B does the same but hundreds of thousands of people see their list… and if 0.01% of those people then nominate a work, guess who’s more likely to appear on the shortlist? Popular vote awards are by definition a popularity contest, so to make it acceptable for those with the loudest voices to shout across the room just makes a mockery of the whole thing.

Awards are fan spaces. Authors should not invade fan spaces. This is not to say that authors are not fans themselves. And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t behave as fans in fan spaces. But an awards eligibility post is an author-thing not a fan-thing. (This leaves posts where authors recommend others’ works in something of a grey area. Big Name Authors have Big Loud Voices, and their endorsement can still skew an award.)
The amusing thing is that most of these would-be critics of Larry Correia know perfectly well who is the individual most to blame for the current state of the Hugo Awards, but they are hesitant to point fingers and call him out for the fraud that he is. And that individual is none other than our old friend McRapey, who was the first to breach the dividing line between author and fan when he openly campaigned for the Best Fan Writer award, and managed to get himself nominated for it in 2007 before winning it in 2008. He justified his actions at the time by claiming that "authors are fans too". I've repeatedly shown that McRapey is a charlatan and a liar, but he does have a gift for ruthless self-marketing; his SFWA presidency was part and parcel of the same self-inflating campaign.

Since then, other authors have attempted to follow Scalzi's path to status among the publishing gatekeepers, including Jim C. Hines, the 2012 winner, and Kameron Hurley, the 2014 winner. Hurley even puts a price tag on her Fan Writer Hugo.
If you want to know what magical thing happened between MIRROR EMPIRE and THE STARS ARE LEGION to finally get me to what most folks in the industry used to consider a solid mid-lister advance, it’s one word:


So when people tell me that Hugos don’t matter, awards don’t matter, and promotion don’t matter, you can imagine the $13,000 face I make.
(That's the point that Brad Torgersen missed in his calculations of Hugo value. They are worthless for selling books to readers, but they are very helpful for getting advances from status-seeking pinkshirt publishers.) But there is more than that. As Kaedrin points out, even if we ignore Scalzi's two Dadaesque nominations for Redshirts and "Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue", it appears that his 2006 nomination for Old Man's War may be sketchy. Unless the rules have changed, how can anyone argue that The Martian is not eligible given that Old Man's War was also self-published more than a year prior to its 2006 nomination?
The Martian suffers from eligibility issues - it was self published in 2012, then snapped up by a publisher and put into fancy editions and audio books in 2014 (where it has sold extremely well). General consensus seems to be that it will not be eligible, but I think there are a few things going for it. One is that self-published works that get bought up by a real publisher and come out a year or two later have made it onto the ballot before (an example that comes to mind is Scalzi's Old Man's War, which was self-published in 2003 or 2004, after which it was promptly bought up by Tor and republished in 2005, garnering a Hugo nomination in 2006).
The Hugo Awards are corrupt. But Sad Puppies isn't what corrupted them. Quite to the contrary, Sad Puppies is a necessary part of the process of cleaning them up and restoring them to something that actually recognizes excellence in genuine science fiction and fantasy. 

Read more »

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Republicans have clever new plan for failure

The establishment's "electable" candidate in 2016 will not be Mitt Romney:
In a talk with his eldest son, Tagg, between runs down the mountain on Monday, Mr. Romney, 67, said he had all but decided against a third bid for the White House. The conversation, according to a person familiar with it, came after days of increasingly gloomy news reached the Romney family.

Donors who supported him last time refused to commit to his campaign. Key operatives were signing up with former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. The Republican establishment that lifted Mr. Romney to the nomination in 2012 in the face of scrappy opposition had moved on.

The news on Friday that Mr. Romney would opt out of the race revealed as much about the party in 2015 as it did about the former Massachusetts governor’s weaknesses as a candidate. Republican leaders, especially the party’s wealthiest donors, are in an impatient and determined mood. They are eager to turn to a new face they believe can defeat what they anticipate will be a strong, well-funded Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton....

The campaign to deny Mr. Romney another chance began almost immediately after he mused to donors at a Friday get-together in New York City on Jan. 9 that he was open to the possibility of another run. By that Sunday afternoon, William Oberndorf, a prominent California investor who supported Mr. Romney in both of his previous presidential campaigns, had emailed a group of 52 powerful Republicans, including former Secretary of State George Shultz, the investor Charles Schwab, Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois and the Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos with a blunt message: we need to support someone else.

Mr. Oberndorf wrote: “We are fortunate in Jeb Bush to have an extremely talented and able candidate who, I believe, has a far better prospect of winning a general election than Mitt. Moreover, Mitt has now run twice and has had his chance to be president. It is now time to cede the field to others.”

Mr. Oberndorf requested that those on the email contact Mr. Romney’s longtime finance chief, Spencer Zwick, to make it clear that they did not want Mr. Romney to run again. And many of them did, Mr. Oberndorf said in an interview on Friday. “Of everybody I contacted, I only heard from one person who thought Mitt should give it another shot,” said Mr. Oberndorf. In the weeks after he expressed renewed interest in running, Mr. Romney contacted some of his most loyal supporters. But often, he found Mr. Bush had gotten there already.
It's amazing, though not entirely surprising, that the bi-factional ruling party wants to set up another choice between Bush and Clinton. It's as if they can't even bother pretending that Americans live in a democracy anymore, never mind a republic. It increasingly reminds me of the arrogance of the EU establishment, which is now openly anti-democratic.

Cicero was right. It's not dictatorship that follows democracy, but aristocracy.

And the cluelessness of the arrogance is downright amusing. On what planet did Romney think anyone actually wanted him to be president? Then again, on what planet does anyone outside the Republican establishment want another Bush, much less one who is an anti-American open borders lunatic.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Does this actually count as news?

George R.R. Martin will not deliver in 2015:
George R.R. Martin's "The Winds Of Winter", the fifth book of his bestselling fantasy saga "A Song Of Ice And Fire" (known to television fans as "Game Of Thrones") will not be published in 2015. Jane Johnson at HarperCollins has confirmed that it is not in this year's schedule. "I have no information on likely delivery," she said. "These are increasingly complex books and require immense amounts of concentration to write. Fans really ought to appreciate that the length of these monsters is equivalent to two or three novels by other writers."

Instead, readers will have to comfort themselves with a collection, illustrated by Gary Gianni, of three previously anthologised novellas set in the world of Westeros. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" takes place nearly a century before the bloody events of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Out in October, it is a compilation of the first three official prequel novellas to the series, The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight, never before collected.
I know, I know... but my monster book, the second novel in Arts of Dark and Light WILL be out in 2015. Most likely late 2015, but 2015 all the same. As for The Winds of Winter, he's going to have to step up his game considerably from A Dance with Dragons, because frankly, that was pretty bad. I'm not entirely sure he's going to be able to come back from it.


Mailvox: thought of the day

A Nameless Reader has an observation:
Random thought: The fact that people who are skeptical of one "consensus" tend to be skeptical of other consensuses suggests there's a correlation in mental capacity - since one has to have a very high level of intellectual self-confidence and an ability to do independent research and thinking in order to sustain an argument against, e.g., evolution, global warming, Austrian investing, or vaccination, when there is enormous "consensus" pressure to adopt the other opinion, it would make sense that such iconoclastic beliefs would bundle.
I don't think there is any question about this. I have zero regard for consensus on the grounds of MPAI. In fact, if someone who I otherwise consider to be intelligent falls for an observably incorrect consensus position, I tend to keep a skeptical eye on his future assertions and conclusions.

Everyone makes mistakes, but falling for the appeal to authority, or worse, the appeal to popularity, simply is not indicative of an functioning and intelligent mind. Consensus is another word for "lowest common denominator".

But keep in mind I'm not talking about skepticism and iconoclasm for their own sake, I'm talking about maintaining an open mind when there are obvious holes, if not outright flaws, in the consensus position.

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Science is raciss

It's now impossible to claim that we are all the same under the skin, thanks to DNA phenotyping.

Parabon's Snapshot Forensic system is said to be able to accurately predict genetic ancestry, eye colour, hair colour, skin colour, freckling, and face shape in individuals from any ethnic background.

Each prediction is presented with a ‘measure of confidence’.

As an example, the test can say a person has green eyes with 61 per cent confidence, green or blue with 79 per cent confidence, and that they definitely don’t have brown eyes, with 99 per cent confidence.

Based on ancestry, and other markers, the test also creates a likely facial shape. From all of this information, it builds a computer generated e-fit.

Science is gradually obliterating the secular myths, one by one. My expectation is that most of the "racist pseudo-science" that was supposedly falsified (and which in most cases was simply declared out of bounds by equalitarian anti-scientists), are going to come back in vogue with a vengeance and on a sound scientific basis.


Sad Puppies: the last day

These are the final hours to register for Sad Puppies 3: The Ensaddening. January 31 is the last day to register as a supporting member of WorldCon. Here is why you might want to consider doing so even if the idea of spending $40 to poke a sharp stick in the collective eyes of the SJWs who are doing their level best to destroy the science fiction and fantasy literature you love for the next two years isn't enough in its own right.
  1. Hugo Awards are worth around $13,000 to an SJW, according to one Kameron Hurley. For a fraction of one percent of that, you can deny multiple SJWs their ability to commit Pink SF and force them to spend their time delivering pizzas instead. (Have no fear, the awards are worth absolutely nothing to us in financial terms, because the gatekeepers who value them for marketing purposes won't publish even national bestselling authors of the Right; they are far more driven by intersectional equalitarian ideology than by evil capitalist business sense.)
  2. Short of wiping their hard drives and deleting their current manuscripts, there is literally nothing you can do that upsets the SJWs more than putting the sort of right-wing writer they have spent two decades working very hard to suppress in the limelight that they seek for themselves.
  3. The more obvious our numbers, the more it encourages the moderate elements at the major publishers to rein in the left-wing inmates who have taken over the SF/F asylum. The Toad of Tor is no longer at Tor and it is unlikely that her dismissal would have taken place without the fact that people were finally standing up to her crude bullying, causing her to double-down and attract the attention of higher-ups at the publisher. Tor's German owners don't give a damn about politics or the imperative of strong female characters and they're only beginning to understand how the SJWs running their subsidiaries have let them down.
  4. It's very good value for the money. Last year, the $20 spent on a supporting membership got you the complete Wheel of Time series, the complete Grimnoire Chronicles, and sundry other works as well. Granted, it also got you a fair amount of Pink sludge, but no one is going to make you download it. The more of you that register, the more likely it is that there will be great stuff that you want to read as part of the Hugo Packet.
  5. Sarah Hoyt says: "I suggest we kick them while they’re down and make them fight for the awards and prestige they crave. Also, that we point at them and make duck noises."
  6. We have the momentum. Last year, the Dread Ilk showed up in respectable force without me doing anything more than putting up a single post with a modified version of Sad Puppies 2. This year, we're locked, loaded, and ready to be all that we can be. Trust me on that. About which more soon....
A supporting membership is $40 and gives you the right to participate this year and next year, as well as receive the material in the Hugo Packets both years. So heed the words of Wendell, our fine spokesmanatee, and end puppy-related sadness now!

Note to the Dread Ilk already on board: keep your powder dry. Registration is all that is necessary or desirable right now. The next step is in process.


Medical extortion

Pediatricians are increasingly behaving in an openly unethical manner:
With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won't get them vaccinated.

"Parents who choose not to give measles shots, they're not just putting their kids at risk, but they're also putting other kids at risk - especially kids in my waiting room," the Los Angeles pediatrician said.

It's a sentiment echoed by a small number of doctors who in recent years have "fired" patients who continue to believe debunked research linking vaccines to autism. They hope the strategy will lead parents to change their minds; if that fails, they hope it will at least reduce the risk to other children in the office.

The tough-love approach - which comes amid the nation's second-biggest measles outbreak in at least 15 years, with at least 98 cases reported since last month - raises questions about doctors' ethical responsibilities.
Any doctor who attempts to force a treatment on a patient against the will of the patient or an underage patient's parents should lose his medical license. It is absolutely unethical for a medical professional to behave in this outrageous manner, and those who stupidly think that this would be a great idea should stop and think about the obvious consequences for a few seconds.

Measles is not a major health risk to anyone; statistically speaking it is considerably lower down the risk chain than obesity, smoking, homosexuality and even gun ownership. If the "tough love" approach is deemed to be permissible, then doctors will be able to use any of those factors to cull patients from their list, and given the way in which Medicare now influences how they are compensated, there are entire patient classes that they would love to be able to stop serving. The sword always cuts both ways.

The very minor risk to other children in the office is easily managed; a doctor can have "unvaccinated" days in which those children who are not vaccinated according to the presently recommended schedule are seen. (Which in reality is almost everyone; I know very few parents who have managed to stick to the complete schedule, not even the strongly pro-vaccination ones.) Furthermore, some children cannot be vaccinated because they, or their siblings, have had sufficiently negative reactions to their first vaccinations. Are they going to be barred from all medical treatment simply because one specific treatment is harmful to them?

Before you leap to any conclusions or assume that this is personal, let me remind you that you have absolutely no idea what vaccinations my children have or do not have. My argument against this unethical and dangerous policy has absolutely nothing to do with my preference for limited and delayed vaccine schedules; even the most rabid pro-vaccine supporter should be capable of seeing the inherent danger in it.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

A true team player

I picked Belichick and Brady to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl before the playoffs started. I'm not changing that prediction now barring Brady being ill at gametime; this is their last hurrah, they know it, they've got a healthy Gronk, and Belichick has had two weeks to prepare. That being said, I really like Richard Sherman, as for all his flash and attitude, he is far more a hard-working team player than many a fan and media favorite.
I was lucky to be drafted by Pete and John, who assembled around me one of the most talented and diverse defensive backfields in football. More than I want individual success, I want to be remembered as part of the Legion of Boom, which is why all of us are on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine this week. In football, unlike various other sports, it takes a total team effort to be successful.

I can’t perform at this level without Kam Chancellor, the lion of the Legion, the guy who once picked off Peyton Manning by ducking to make it appear as though he couldn’t leap for the ball. He’s also the guy we go to with our problems, who doles out advice about a lot of issues that arise outside of football.

I can’t perform at this level without Earl Thomas—The Example—who can show you how to do the right thing better than he can explain it. When everybody else is joking, he’s locked in, a reminder of what we’re here for.

I can’t perform at this level without Byron Maxwell, our chill guy, oblivious to the pressure. I remember him joking around with Carroll in our rookie camp, saying that if he was allowed to play nickel he’d choke out the slot receiver. Carroll relented and Maxwell delivered, only to get injured in camp. Now he’s the corner on the other side, and his consistently high level of play makes QBs’ decisions very difficult.

I can’t perform at this level without Jeremy Lane, the scrappy guy from Tyler, Texas. Competition brings out the dog in him; just look at what he’s done to the Packers’ Randall Cobb.
He's also entirely sound on Roger Goodell. One thing I always pay attention to with regards to public figures is how they are regarded by those closest to them. The men who tend to have the strongest characters are those whose friends and colleagues are loyal and stand by them even when the heat is on. The fact that Sherman, the most famous and outspoken member of the Legion of Boom, doesn't pretend to be the top dog but instead defers to Chancellor as the leader, helps explain why a collection of fairly low draft picks - one first-rounder, two fifth-rounders, and two sixth-rounders - evolved into the most fearsome defensive secondary of all time.

It's strange how many people involved in team sports insist on focusing exclusively on individual talents when the evidence clearly indicates that how well you operate as part of a unit is more important for ultimate team success than your individual talents. I suspect it may not be an accident that at least two of the Legion of Boom members, including its leader, are devout Christians. And although Sherman doesn't come right out and say it, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the original plan had been to put him on the cover alone.

And if the Seahawks do knock off one of the two best pairings of coach and quarterback in NFL history, that will be further testimony to the sum being greater than the whole of the parts. I can honestly say that aside from the original Purple People Eaters and the Buddy Ryan Bears, I haven't enjoyed watching a defense more than Seattle's over the last two years. I wasn't the only one who decided the Super Bowl was over after seeing this hit by Chancellor. Watch the battle between him and Gronkowski for an early clue on how the game will turn out.


The future of SF

"Science Fiction for the Fourth Generation": Ann Sterzinger reviews Riding the Red Horse in Taki's Magazine:
Here’s a brilliant idea for an anthology: collect essays about the changing face of war and war technology, then alternate them with short stories and novel excerpts from the cutting edge of military-focused sci-fi and fantasy.

Riding the Red Horse, edited by fantasy star Vox Day and Army Ranger vet Tom Kratman for Castalia House, is a tailor-made compromise for those time-pressed souls who find the consumption of unalloyed fiction to be too useless a practice in which to indulge. It’s also a treat for sci-fi readers who retain an interest in the world around them—and the two groups’ overlap is large enough to make it a very good idea indeed.

Every tale or essay is fronted by an editor’s introduction, placed conveniently before each piece rather than in some tedious index or intro; they perk up the reader’s ears for the key factual and speculative themes of the collection.

Essays are fully half the mix, with the fiction serving as not only pleasure reading but as exercises in imagining how the technological and population changes the essayists describe might play out in the future. The tone is set early on by William S. Lind’s discussion of the four generations of modern war strategy, in “Understanding 4th Generation War.”

Lind’s unsettling conclusion is that the U.S. military is stuck in the second-generation mindset used by the French in World War I, while our adversaries—particularly those who aren’t based in a state, i.e. the jihad—have moved on to an updated version of pre-nation-state warfare, where neither the battlefield nor the combatants are clearly defined. Lind writes: 

We have no magic solutions to offer, only some thoughts. We recognized from the outset that the whole task might be hopeless; state militaries might not be able to come to grips with Fourth Generation enemies no matter what they do. ...

“Wherever people go, conflict seems to follow, and one always prefers to be on the winning side—so we might as well be ready for the physics problems we’ll encounter if the conflicts move into outer space.”

His essay is preceded by a dramatic fictional illustration of the unpredictability of the near future of war, albeit a state-based one: Eric S. Raymond’s “Sucker Punch,” a near-future military tale in which an American attempt to stop a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is rendered both impossible and unnecessary by the gruesome new weapons both sides have in store for each other.

The American pilots’ disorientation is so stark as to be almost darkly humorous: 

“Hey. What are those flashes from the tin cans?”

Blazer: “Cool off. We’re stealthed, and radar’s clear. They’ve got nothing in the air that can hit us at angels twenty.”

Blazer’s plane disintegrated less than three seconds later.

 This is what future sci-fi is going to look like, this collection predicts: as nervous as its past, with future-tech tactical guesses mixed into the drama. (Although if you prefer your sci-fi laced with humor, the winner in the anthology is longtime Navy fleet veteran Thomas Mays’ “Within This Horizon”—with Rzasa’s solo contribution, “Turncoat,” as an oddly touching runner-up.)

This focus on military realism doesn’t surprise me in a Vox Day-branded anthology. What makes A Throne of Bones, the fantasy series that gave Day his name, outstanding is the weakness of his magician characters—which makes his military generals work harder, which is more interesting to read than the standard Robert Jordan-type fantasy plot wherein Rand Al-Thor points at your army and it disappears. The authors in this anthology are reclaiming the same logic for sci-fi; instead of seeing the limitations of physics as an inconvenience to be juked around, they turn them into the driving power of their story lines.

The stories and essays talk back to each other in this manner constantly; regardless of whether their predictions will be accurate—my own military and technological knowledge is too poor to place any bets—they result in a conversation so entertaining and stimulating that the reader feels most privileged to listen in, especially for an entry fee of five dollars.

Riding the Red Horse hasn't been what one would call extensively reviewed in the SF press, but you know, I think we can live with that. This is just an excerpt from a fairly long and detailed review, so you'll want to read the whole thing.

UPDATE: We were just informed that one of our authors has been nominated for the 2015 Prometheus Award. Go to the Castalia House blog to find out who it is!

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The Iron Law in the USAF

Jerry Pournelle posts an informative and timely explanation of the US Air Force's self-assisted decline into military irrelevance:
The heart of the USAF’s institutional culture was Strategic Air Command (SAC). It was where the pilots that learned how to do teamwork, logistics and (nuclear) strategy. That was where officers were groomed for senior flag rank command slots.

When SAC was stood down, Tactical Air Command (TAC) took over in the form of the renamed Air Combat Command (ACC). We are talking fighter jocks, the prima donna’s, the cowboys. The anti-intellectuals who are scared to death of people smarter than they are. Look what happened after the Gulf War when ACC was in charge.

Col. John A. Warden, the architect of the Gulf War air campaign was black balled by Gen. Horner. He retired a thrice passed over Col. at the Air Command and Staff School.

Gen. Corder — the man who put together the 1980’s USAF SEAD doctrine used so well in the Gulf War — was effectively sacked by the USAF chief of Staff (CoS) for disobeying a “strong suggestion” to lie to Congress about the need to retain the F-4G Wild Weasels. (The then CoS was trying to retain more F-15C’s in the force structure.) His efforts to deploy a missile warning system** to protect USAF planes was cancelled partially in retaliation.

When Corder’s allies in Congress started making noise in 1993 about the draw down of F-4G Wild Weasel and EF-111’s, the USAF put the recently retired Corder on a special six month SEAD study to satisfy them. Then the Air Staff sat on the results for close to three years. Corder, under the legal restrictions of the Reagan era secrecy laws, was thus effectively silenced while the deed was done. The downing of Capt. O’ Grady in Bosnia was a direct result of the purging of F-4G Wild Weasel and EF-111 Spark ‘Vark’s from the USAF force structure and senior ACC staff’s willing EW incompetence.

USAF CoS Fogleman, for all his faults, recognized the lack of institutional professionalism. His support of the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Alb. and attempts to create a USAF doctrine codifying entity like the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) were what was needed.
Unfortunately, Fogleman could not delegate and his reforms died with his military career. The inability to delegate is a defining fault of USAF fighter pilot culture. Fogleman’s successors haven’t tried to address these core institutional issues since then. The F-22 budget wars and the real wars since 1997 have left the USAF CoS no time for anything else, assuming they were interested.

Jerry adds: The Iron Law even in the military, dammit. The purpose of warriors is to win wars.  It takes one force to gain and keep air supremacy, another to support the ground army.  The army can win without ground support if the other guy also has none, and we used to plan Cold War battles in which neither side had supremacy.  That was tough and the obvious conclusion is that air supremacy is vital; but that does not mean that support of the ground forces is not important. If the Air Force won’t give it, take the mission away; and if USAF blocks that, abolish USAF and bring back USAAF.

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Probability and belief

A few days ago, in Probability and the Problem of Life, I pointed out that there is no need to precisely calculate probabilities that we cannot possibly know in order to reach logical conclusions about them. Contra the opinions of the misguided math fetishists, logic is the foundation of math, not the other way around, and we can reach perfectly sound logical conclusions even if we are not able to make precise mathematical determinations or quantifiy all of the various factors involved.

Throughout the course of the discussion, it soon became abundantly clear that those who defend the theory of TENS on probability grounds do not actually believe their own position. Furthermore, it is relatively easy to demonstrate that although the very low probability events to which they appeal are mathematically possible, they are so highly improbable that no sane human being can credibly feign to take seriously, as evidenced by their own daily behavior with regards to other, much more likely events.

WRF3 asked me to identify the precise point at which mathematical possibility and belief part company; I said that for me it was somewhere between 1 in 4,165 and 1 in 17,347,225. The latter are the odds of being dealt four aces twice in succession from two properly shuffled card decks; I would not view that as credibly possible and continue to play poker with a machine that dealt out such hands. The absolute outer limit for even the most credible individual is probably 1 in 72,251,192,125, which would be three such unlikely hands.

But the reality is that for the average individual, the credibility ratio is much lower. Consider the recent statistical evidence of the New England Patriots having systematically cheated by deflating the football since the 2007 season:
While speculation exists that “Deflate Gate” was a one time occurrence, data I introduced last week indicated that the phenomena MAY have been an ongoing, long standing issue for the New England Patriots. Today, that possibility looks as clear as day.

Initially, looking at weather data, I noticed the Patriots performed extremely well in the rain, much more so than they were projected.  I followed that up by looking at the fumble data, which showed regardless of weather or site, the Patriots prevention of fumbles was nearly impossible.  Ironically, both studies saw the same exact starting point:  2007 was the first season where things really changed for the Patriots.  Something started in 2007 which is still on-going today.

I wanted to compare the New England Patriots fumble rate from 2000, when Bill Belichick first arrived in New England, to the rest of the NFL.  Clearly, one thing I found in my prior research was that dome teams fumble substantially less frequently, given they play at least 8+ games out of the elements each year.  To keep every team on a more level playing field, I eliminated dome teams from the analysis, grabbed only regular season games, and defined plays as pass attempts+rushes+times sacked.  The below results also look only at total fumbles, not just fumbles which are lost.  This brought us to the ability to capture touches per fumble.

To really confirm something was dramatically different in New England, starting in 2007 thru present, I compared the 2000-06 time period (when Bill Belichick was their head coach and they won all of their Super Bowls) to the 2007-2014 time period.  The beauty of data is the results speak for themselves:

The data is jaw dropping, and this visual perfectly depicts what happened.  From a more technical perspective, John Candido, a Data Scientist at ZestFinance who is a colleague of mine over at the website and was also involved in the development of this research, comments:

Based on the assumption that plays per fumble follow a normal distribution, you’d expect to see, according to random fluctuation, the results that the Patriots have gotten since 2007 once in 5842 instances.

Which in layman’s terms means that this result only being a coincidence, is like winning a raffle where you have a 0.0001711874 probability to win. In other words, it’s very unlikely that results this abnormal are only due to the endogenous nature of the game.

Many of the arguments giving the Patriots the benefit of the doubt are evaporating.  While this data does not prove they deflated footballs starting in 2007, we know they were interested in obtaining that ability in 2006. (This is something I found out AFTER I performed the first two analyses, both of which independently found that something changed starting in 2007.)
I was skeptical when I first read the analyst's theory, because he initially used fumbles lost rather than all fumbles; it is generally believed by football statisticians who have considered the question that fumble recoveries are random. And when fumbles rather than fumbles lost are utilized, the Patriots are considerably less of a radical outlier, although they are the only team that plays outdoors that fumbles as little as a dome team.

My first thought was that the anomaly was more a result of New England's pass-happy offense than statistical evidence of ball deflation. However, a look at the passing statistics showed that New England was pass-happy as early as 2002, when they threw 601 passes, compared to 582 in 2014, and the fact that their plays per fumble from 07-14 increased so dramatically from 00-06 after the rule change that they requested does tend to confirm the analyst's original suspicions.

 But my point is not to take a side in the latest New England scandal, only to observe that for the professional statistician, observation of a successful event against 1 in 5,842 odds is sufficient to indicate the results observed are probably not obtained naturally. And while this statistical evidence is not absolute proof (although it is interesting to see that the statistician's odds are in the range I suggested should preclude belief), it is enough to indicate that the greater part of one's efforts should be directed at discovering the precise nature and mechanism of the unnatural tampering indicated rather than on the unlikely natural explanation.

"The bottom line is, something happened in New England.  It happened just before the 2007 season, and it completely changed this team."

Which brings us back rather to my long-held position contra Mr. Sherlock Holmes: Once you have calculated the sufficiently improbable, you must reconsider your assumptions of the impossible.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The devil called Driscoll

I know nothing about this "Pastor Driscoll" except for what I've read at Dalrock's. And I would bet considerable money that he's a Swaggart/Bakker debacle just waiting to be uncovered and exposed:
I’ve referenced Pastor Driscoll’s sermon Men and Marriage in several recent posts.  This is the sermon to watch, or better yet, read, if you wan’t to understand what I was describing in The only real man in the room.  In this sermon Driscoll opens with the prayer I quoted from in Fragging Christian Headship:
Father God, I pray that our time would be pleasing to you, that it would be profitable to us, Lord God, as well. I pray for those men who are here that are cowards, they’re silent, passive, impish, worthless men, they’re making a mess of everything in their life and they’re such sweet little boys that no one ever confronts them on that. I pray for the women who enable them, who permit them to continue in falling, those who are mothers and sisters and girlfriends and wives. I pray, Lord God, for those men who are chauvinists, those who are mean, who are brash, who are rude, who are harsh, who, Lord God, think they are tough when in fact they are Satanic. God, I pray for those men that they would have the courage today to not fight with a woman, but to fight with you, to actually find their rightful place in creation, that they might receive a good rebuke so that they can become honorable rather than dishonorable sons. God, I pray for my tone, I pray for our men, and I pray for the women who are listening in. I pray, Lord God, that they would know this comes from a heart of passion, deep concern, and love. I pray, Lord God, that we would think biblically, critically, humbly, and repentantly, and that, Lord God, there would be dramatic life change by the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus, Amen.
If you read the sermon, you will see that Driscoll repeatedly makes it clear that when he uses terms like dishonorable, Satanic, cowards, passive, impish, worthless, jokes, losers, imbeciles, fools, etc. he isn’t just referring to a few “peter pan” men who don’t have jobs and/or aren’t married.  He is talking about the husbands and fathers who sought out the church lead by Driscoll, the men who brought their wives and children to the sermon.
…most of you men don’t know what masculinity truly is
Driscoll defines the six types of worthless men he regularly comes across.   They are all either cowards or chauvinists and bullies.  And again, Driscoll is addressing this not to men outside the congregation, or even a smallish subset of the men in the congregation.  He means nearly all of the men in the congregation:
Were this a women’s conference, I would not call you all idiots and imbeciles and fools, that you’re a joke, okay? But you men, this is where it needs to go. You’ve been glad-handed and buddied up and positive thinking and you’re a winner and Jesus loves you and you can do better. And I’m telling you, you’re a joke. And the real men in the room know it and they see it. And maybe there’s one woman that you fooled and she doesn’t see it because like Eve, she’s deceived.
The hallmark of a real man, a real Christian man, according to Driscoll, is looking around at the other men in the room and knowing that they are pathetic compared to you.  This is of course exactly what Driscoll is doing throughout the sermon. Again, this is a sermon about men and marriage, and married men are Driscoll’s primary target.  While he makes a short stop in Genesis for background, the inspiration for the sermon is one single verse, 1 Pet. 3:7
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
The disparaging of the men in the room goes on to the very end of the hour and seven minute sermon.  I’ll repeat that I highly encourage you to read the transcript.  There is simply too much to quote, as the stream of invective against the men in the room is non stop.
This guy is the epitome of the wolf in sheep's clothing. He's a wannabe cult leader, not a man of God. Reading his words, I can scent the stink of feminist-appeasing, neighbor's-wife-seducing sulfur. The joke, the evil joke, is him.

No man who runs around posturing as "the only man in the room" in this manner is a Christian leader. He's an Alpha male, a pathological seducer who can't stand the fact that there are women in the room who prefer another man to him. I can just about guarantee you that he would react very, very badly to me if I merely walked into his church with Spacebunny and stared at him. His sort of Alpha absolutely hates Sigmas because a) we tend to marry attractive women and b) we see their bullshit for what it is.

Dalrock's close was beautiful: "Miss Flowahs got Driscoll’s message, and no doubt so did the women in attendance." His real message, not the fake sermon given as cover.

I never trust a man who pretends to be talking to God when he is actually talking to the people listening.

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The banning of an SJW

One of Wikipedia's worst SJWs, the anti-GamerGate Ryulong, has been banned indefinitely for his all-too-typical thought-policing:

Ryulong banned

5.3) (Was 4.5) Ryulong (talk · contribs · logs · edit filter log · block log) is indefinitely banned from the English Language Wikipedia. They may request reconsideration of the ban twelve months after the enactment of this remedy, and every twelve months thereafter.
  1. (first choice) As always, banning someone is not something we should want to do, but sometimes it is the best thing for the project. Ryulong has acted very poorly in this topic area, and it is clear that previous sanctions and blocks have failed to have the desired effect of ending disruptive behavior. A revolving door of speedy topic bans, chasing the problem from area to another, is not the answer. This is. I sincerely hope that at some point in the future he will be able to return and be a productive member of this community again, but for now he needs to go. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:15, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
  2. Will prioritise later if need be,  Roger Davies talk 23:38, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
    Equal first choice,  Roger Davies talk 11:31, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
  3. First choice. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 23:56, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
  4. Last Choice I would love to not do this but I don't think anything else has a snowball's chance of passing --In actu (Guerillero) | My Talk 01:15, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
  5. First choice. Salvio Let's talk about it! 10:46, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
  6. Last choice of presented options (Right now). I think if we're dealing with this on a purely pragmatic level this might be best for the project, but I do think that it would only be fair to attempt to apply some of the alternatives first, although I'm a bit concerned as to their potential efficacy, given the history. NativeForeigner Talk 07:26, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
    Nonetheless, support. NativeForeigner Talk 19:48, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
  7. T. Canens (talk) 17:12, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
  8. If the 1RR does not pass, then first choice of what's left. Still oppose if the 1RR somehow moves back to passing. The more I look at the history here, the more I am sure the problems are far wider than just this single topic, as I see it, Ryulong doesn't seem able to "hold his fire", and not get into edit wars. This also, per his block log, is independent of topic areas. Without very, very strong measures to stop them from continuing to edit war throughout the encyclopedia, I don't think we have any other choice. Also, even to this morning, I still see evidence of ongoing battleground mentality. I really, really don't like this, but I can't support their staying on the project without a strict 1RR and a topic ban at this point. And only one of those is going to pass. Courcelles 22:02, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
  1. My mind is open on the other proposed remedies, but I will certainly not be supporting this. Newyorkbrad (talk) 03:41, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Neither will I. Need to contemplate the rest of it, but this is not the solution. Courcelles 03:48, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Excessive in the circumstances. I'm open to some alternative. DGG ( talk ) 05:33, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
    • I would like to try something else. --Guerillero | My Talk 07:53, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
  2. I've decided to oppose this, albeit weakly. I'm hoping that the other remedies regarding Ryulong will end this situation, but I don't quite think a siteban is the best course forward here. GorillaWarfare (talk) 02:32, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
  3. -- Euryalus (talk) 05:13, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
  4. Given the circumstances here, I don't think this is called for. For clarity's sake, though, this is very likely the absolute last chance. Seraphimblade Talk to me 01:14, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
  5. LFaraone 18:45, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
  1. I find my view on this changing from day to day, so it would be fairer if I abstained. DGG ( talk ) 20:47, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
Noting that I skipped this intentionally—still thinking on it and will come back soon. GorillaWarfare (talk) 17:23, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
  • @NativeForeigner: I tried to fix the numbering, but clarification of your exact meaning would be useful here. Courcelles 20:01, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Of course, a perusal of the process tends to illustrate why Wikipedia is so hapless when it comes to policing outrageous behavior by its editors. Because it was started by an SJW-sympathetic individual and was rapidly taken over by SJWs of varying rabidity, the site remains hopelessly biased and largely worthless on anything of even moderate political contention.

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As always, a public apology only compounds the error by displaying weakness to those who are always hunting for it:
Devastated’, ‘a complete fool’ and ‘an idiot’; ‘thoughtless’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘shaming’: that is how the actor Benedict Cumberbatch described himself and his actions this week in an elegantly worded but nonetheless grovelling apology.

It was fully 150 words of heartfelt self-flagellation, in which the actor all but stripped naked and covered himself in ashes before lashing himself to the mast of public opinion.

And all for what? A well-meaning slip of the tongue.

He used the term ‘coloured’ during an interview on an American chat show. Perhaps not the most politically correct racial terminology, but certainly not the most derogatory either.

At worst, perhaps, rather old-fashioned. The kind of thing your granny might say, and which might compel you to lean over and gently whisper in her ear: ‘No one says “coloured” any more, gran, it’s not the done thing.’ To which she might reply: ‘Really, dear? I had no idea.’

A term, moreover, contained in the very name of one of America’s leading African-American civil rights organisation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People....

Of course, in today’s world the poor fellow had no choice but to apologise.

Not only does he inhabit the oh-so-progressive world of entertainment, where to deviate even slightly from the accepted nostrums of liberalism can mean instant alienation, he also has as an ancestor an 18th-century sugar plantation owner in Barbados which, in the eyes of some, practically makes him a slave-trader himself.
As a Person of Color myself, I should like to absolve Mr. Cumberbatch of any lingering guilt over his PR faux pas. And to advise him, as I have myself been reliably informed, that time is rapidly running out on the term "People of Color" and that the next politically approved appellation for individuals of African descent residing on the North American continent is still being discussed by the Grand Council of Racial Relations and will be announced to white people sometime in the next 18 months.

I understand "Basketball American" is the present frontleader, but the situation is fluid as "Shaded Americans" or "Shades" also has its advocates. As for we Native Americans, the correct form of address will be the individual's tribe, with all of the onus being placed on the individual addressing the erstwhile Native American to correctly identify his tribe prior to addressing him. An incorrect tribal identification will, of course, be considered greatly offensive and will require a placatory offering of money, alcohol, or sexual favors to set straight.

Don't call me Cherokee.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cuckoo for peer review

Scientistry at its finest:
Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using The article is entitled "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?" and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: "The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals." Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. (They have not "published" it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a "processing fee." Shrime has no plans to pay them.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews, as you can see at the end of this article. One publication says his methods are "novel and innovative"!. But when Shrime looked up the physical locations of these publications, he discovered that many had very suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.

Many of these publications sound legitimate. To someone who is not well-versed in a particular subfield of medicine—a journalist, for instance—it would be easy to mistake them for valid sources. "As scientists, we’re aware of the top-tier journals in our specific sub-field, but even we cannot always pinpoint if a journal in another field is real or not," Shrime says. "For instance, the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology is the very first journal I was ever published in and it’s legitimate. But the Global Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology is fake. Only someone in my field would know that."
You can trust scientists. Because global warming. And they have proven that birds are, indeed, cuckoo for cocoa puffs.


Pinkshirts killing SF/F 2

It was rather amusing to see some people attempting to shake off yesterday's post on the decline in science fiction by pointing to the fact that overall print fiction had declined 8 percent, so the 7 percent decline in science fiction meant that the genre was actually outperforming. Never mind the fact that it had declined 21 percent the year before.... and after a little more research, I discovered that it had declined 21 percent the year before that as well.

In fact, SF print sales are now about half what they were in 2008. I don't place TOO much confidence in this chart, because it shows around 4 million in 2012, whereas the PW numbers indicate they should be around 5.6 million. But it does suffice to indicate that what we are witnessing is a pretty serious trend and one that involves more than the mere shift to ebooks.

A decline from a combined 26 million in print sales to 12.7 million in only five years is bordering on the cataclysmic; remember, ebooks eliminate any need for the expensive structure of the mainstream genre publishers, a fact that has probably not escaped the owners of Tor and other imprints. I'll put together some charts once I get some better numbers, but the point is that the anecdotal evidence of people increasingly avoiding the Pink SF produced by the self-appointed gatekeepers is supported by the data trend.


Abolishing the Air Force

Jerry Pournelle wants to get rid of the Air Force:
I also intend to do an essay on why we should abolish the Air Force and return to an Army Air Force which is not a separate service. The purpose of military forces is to win wars. The purpose of the Air Force is—well, they no longer know. When we had SAC we knew – “Our profession is peace” was not just a slogan – but that too is neglected in the Modern Air Force. Deterrence and maintenance of nuclear weapons, being ready to use weapons when your fondest wish is that they will never be used – that does require a different kind of military. We once had that in SAC but the end of the Cold War was the end of SAC, and the nuclear deterrence force is, well not what it once was. It is subject to the Iron Law now.

As to the rest of the Air Force, it is more interested in the Air Force than winning wars, and considers supporting the field army as beneath contempt. A slow old Warthog does a much better job, but there is no glory in that. Best to use fast jets… which of course are imprecise and cause a lot of collateral damage. Everyone knows that a force of propeller driven P-47 fighters of WWII would be more effective for supporting the field army than what we use. And the Army must be crippled, not allowed to have effective air power in taking territory. You must use modern jets at high speed.

Now the Air Force has a mission that the Army at present does not have: Air Supremacy. And that is a different mission from supporting the field army. It involves engagements with Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) as well as strikes against the enemy base of operations. The glory is in air to air combat, but that is not the effective way to air supremacy.

That is the main argument for an “Independent Air Force” and the bitter fights that ended with creation of USAF. It is true, ground army commanders tend to select the wrong targets to sortie against, and endanger air supremacy; thus the argument for independence, which USAAF eventually won (before SAC existed or any but a few knew would be needed.) Hiroshima ended the debate. But now the Cold War ended and USAF killed SAC as not glamorous – not career building any longer. As to the Warthogs, give them to the National Guard! Real pilots don’t need them!

Sure, I exaggerate but not much: the Air Force keeps trying to get rid of the Warthogs, but never by giving them (and the ground support mission) to the War Department. Better that GI’s die than USAF give up a mission even though it does not want it.

Drones will change all this, but why wait?
Actually, as Eric S. Raymond demonstrated in both "Sucker Punch" and "Battlefield Lasers", the Air Force is very close to obsolete anyhow. My expectation is that they'll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space, in order to compensate for the vanishing ability of their planes to survive in the atmosphere.

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A proper Hobbit

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: Another, even more reduced option:
After about 312 new edits and cuts and almost 5 hours removed from the trilogy, this single film combines the three Peter Jackson movies into one immense epic that accurately tells the story of Bilbo, while maintaining what new ideas and battles have been implanted in Jackson’s retelling (such as the Battle of the Five Armies containing orcs instead of goblins). 
The following is a list of all the major edits/alterations to the films for this single edit. Scenes aren’t always simply removed, sometimes they are repositioned or sometimes specific elements are taken out or added in for coherency or pacing:  
  • Removed all of Elf-Dwarf Love Triangle Plot
  • Removed all of Gandalf’s necromancer adventures
  • Removed most of orc scenes/battles/mentions in first 2/3’s of the film (including removing frames with orcs from the post-goblin escape scene at the end of “Unexpected Journey”)
  • Removed Bilbo killing a wolf - the first thing he kills is the spider in Mirkwood forest, giving the sword the name “Sting”
  • Removed all of (elder) Bilbo’s introduction to the lore
  • Removed all of the heavy foreshadowing for LOTR and the evil of the ring - kept to the spirit of the book, it was a playful invisibility ring!
  • Added a deleted scene of the Shire villagers as an intro to the film
  • Reduced much of the Dwarves’ dinner at Bilbo’s
  • Created faster transition to Bilbo getting out of the house
  • Reduced Rivendell
  • Reduced Stone Giant scene
  • Reduced goblin scene, re-ordered dialogue to mirror book interactions between Thorin & Goblin King
  • Kept Gollum scene entirely intact - no cutting between that and the goblin lair, although shortened as well as removed Gollum beating the corpse in the beginning
  • Created voice-over transition into Beorn scene at the beginning of “Desolation of Smaug”
  • Reduced Mirkwood forest & Woodland Realm capture scenes
  • Heavily reduced Laketown capture (all of Laketown is about 10 minutes total now)
  • Removed Smaug battle scene with dwarves in the mines (kept Bilbo’s conversation with Smaug, the battle was outrageously cartoonish and long)
  • Removed Bard using his son as a bow, the shots dance around it and the scene is intact 
  • Rearranged much of Battle of Five Armies for coherency of Bilbo concealing and giving away the Arkenstone without the need for so many silly slow-motion Thorin bits
  • Removed many elements of the Battle of Five Armies that contained too much CGI monsters or silly battle actions (like repeated head-butting) 
  • Reduced and rearranged the battle to get to Thorin quicker
  • Removed elves from the final fight scene (Kili fights the orc in order to protect Bilbo instead of his elf love interest)
  • Removed final flash-forward scene, the film ends with Bilbo finally coming home


Monday, January 26, 2015

Stop the Ensaddening!

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

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

wendell2 (2)

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

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


Pinkshirts killing SF/F

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

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

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

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

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


The face of the Devil

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

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

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

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

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

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


The real fear of the Eurocrats

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

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

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

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

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