sad puppies

Worldcon2016: The Dave Truesdale Affair

Controversial ejectee, Dave Truesdale

Controversial ejectee, Dave Truesdale

Before I write the AAR (After Action Report) for Worldcon 2016 / MidAmericon II, I want to address the controversy over Dave Truesdale’s expulsion from the con for offensive behavior. I missed that panel, so unlike many others I’m not going to pass on rumors and sit in judgment of Dave or ConCom because I wasn’t there. But I did listen to the recording and have read almost everything posted about it.

First, conflict of interest: I’ve had one essay edited and published by Dave in Tangent Online (Fear is the Mindkiller), and I am generally sympathetic to his views. I give him credit for his many years of labor reviewing short stories and running a Hugo-nominated publication. Which doesn’t give him permission to be assaultive, of course, but should count in his favor.

Dave’s initial post with audio recording.

Some points I made in a conversation with Anna Yeatts, who was there and felt stressed by the tension in the room and the very loud and large man behind her (who later discovered he had also been expelled, but by an email he didn’t see until after the con was over):

– It’s not unheard of for a person appointed moderator of a panel to open with a provocative stand against the thesis of the panel written by someone on the program committee. In this case, the posited “Golden Age of Short Fiction” was the topic and even the description suggested it might be debatable. Dave was more incendiary than necessary to make his point, but the panel dealt with it and continued after the disruption to a productive discussion, with Dave doing a good job of moderating. It appears that ConCom’s expulsion without (according to Dave) giving him an opportunity to respond was an overreaction, unless there is more to it.

– Jim Hines has promoted the story that Dave committed further heinous acts which are the real reason for the expulsion, but he can’t name a source and I’m gathering he walked that story back when his source realized the story was being passed around. It’s easy for one person to say “he must have done more than this” thinking the expulsion seemed disproportionate otherwise, and for a listener to take that as “he *definitely* did other bad things, justifying expulsion.”

– Moshe Feder (editor at Tor) comes out as a true liberal, defending free speech even when it’s obnoxious or disagreeable. Which is also my position; you can always leave or respond to speech you disagree with, and banning speech you don’t like encourages the attitudes behind it to go underground, giving them a glamorous outlawed importance they don’t deserve. The best way to discredit bad ideas is to let their promoters speak, counter their arguments, and let others judge for themselves.

– Audience reaction was a big part of the problem. The heckling and booing contributed to the tense atmosphere, and Anna’s fears were in part due to this breakdown in decorum. Dave is partly responsible since he need not have made his point so provocatively, but everyone who turned up the volume shares the blame.

– Tranparency is needed. Far too many people are taking positions based on pre-existing tribal tendencies without any direct knowledge or reliable facts; I’ve read lots of piling-on comments by women who think Dave made misogynist comments and suggested women and PoC should not be included. ConCom needs to release a statement of what facts they had when they decided to expel Dave. Failure to do so has led to more character assassination and speculation about other high crimes Dave supposedly committed to justify expulsion. This itself is damaging to the community.

– The con asked Dave to moderate, which makes the con somewhat responsible for what happened. Dave’s beliefs are well-known, and for some programming people to ask him to volunteer then have other ConCom people judge him severely for his immoderate moderation would seem to repel future moderators from volunteering. It could easily be assumed his views, which are held by quite a few con attendees, are being punished as much as he is. ConCom should make it clear that’s not the case.

This new culture of victimhood — quick to take offense and call for authorities to enforce restraints against speech that disturbs delicate sensibilities — is outlined in the post Men of Honor vs Victim Culture.

At MidAmericon II (Worldcon) Wed Aug 17th- Sun Aug 21st

MidAmericon II (Worldcon 2016)

MidAmericon II (Worldcon 2016)


Flying to KC for MidAmericonII at the crack of dawn tomorrow, so starting to pack now. Cousins are supposed to take us out for BBQ after we settle in at the Marriott, so I hope we don’t get delayed. I grew up in KC (Gladstone, north of the river), but since my mother moved to Tallahassee to be in assisted living close to my brother, there’s no one much to visit except them.

I was a bit disappointed after going through the program when I discovered all the Kaffeeklatsch and beer sessions require signup a few hours earlier — making it unlikely I’ll get any up close and personal time with all those legendary sorts (Niven, Bear, Benford, Resnick, Pournelle,…) So there will be more free time than I expected.

We’re also travelling light, so I can’t bring books to sign or bring back any from those writers I’d want to fanboy. [I have verbed a noun, watch out or I’ll do it to you, too!]

Anyone who especially wants to spend time with me is welcome to drop me a note and we’ll try to get together. I have no book signings –not enough readers yet to merit that kind of thing.

Fear is the Mindkiller

Dune cover art by Henrik Sahlstrom

Dune cover art by Henrik Sahlstrom

[Originally published by Tangent Online]

If a civilization is to be judged on how concerned it is with the weakest members, then we are becoming very civilized indeed. If college campuses are the bellwethers of the future, then we can look forward to a future of restricted speech and thought designed to preserve the feelings of those who perceive themselves to be weak. Crusaders for “social justice” will punish every microaggression with career-ending charges, and the bounds of what one is allowed to say without fear of reprisal will narrow further.

Meanwhile, the Internet’s worldwide range and anonymity allow sociopaths with free time to viciously attack those they want to injure — and allow those who want to make a career of being victims to claim they were attacked. The cruel and sadistic exist in small numbers in all groups and all classes, but their evil actions are used to justify broad-brush condemnations of all members of groups.

This new children’s crusade allows its participants to believe they are defending the weak and defenseless from bullies, with their favorite being the supposed malefactors of the Patriarchy — cis-white-male-heteronormative men. Since a few men in the past treated women and minorities badly, all men must atone and recognize that being male is inherently oppressive. Escaping this judgment, in their view, requires a male to adopt wholesale every cherished belief of the crusade — that there are no gender-based aggregate differences, that unequal outcomes always imply unequal treatment, that women should achieve equal numbers and pay in every job field (unless, of course, it’s undesirable or dirty work.)

This is identity politics, with government viewed as a tool to right wrongs and redistribute a fixed pie of wealth and respect so that everyone gets an equal amount. The pie apparently creates itself, and asking for accountability and productivity in return for a greater share is viewed as racist, sexist, and probably fascist.

Most of the people in the movement haven’t thought it through and have a cartoon view of good guys vs bad guys. They think they are defending the weak against bullies. In so doing, they lose empathy for those different from themselves, just as they believe their enemy has. The loathed Others are the mass of hateful and ignorant who disagree with any element of their program, and are labelled the Red Tribe, Red States, Republicans, traditionalists, conservatives, and so on. Meanwhile, political manipulators use their feelings to get their votes and use them as foot soldiers in bringing down opponents. The control of public education by statists has reduced the level of understanding of civics and constitutional government among young people, with a focus on climate change, recycling, and inequality all designed to make solution by government action seem necessary, if only inconvenient naysayers could be eliminated. The executive-branch use of Title IX warning letters to enforce the fake “rape culture” panic on campuses receiving public money is another tool being used to squelch free speech. When the problem is uncontrolled Other People Doing Bad Stuff, you vote in the people who promise to control them, and those politicians have an incentive to exaggerate problems further rather than help resolve them.

What does this have to do with science fiction? Much of this culture war has appeared in the Hugo controversy. A friend recently sent me a call for submissions to a new ‘zine focused on LGBTQ-etc topics and authors, and I considered what I might submit, since I love getting a microvalidation. Then I realized how retrograde the whole idea is to me.

Sexuality, romance, and pair bonding are always going to be elements of many engaging stories, but these problems are not different with LGBTQ-etc folks, though there are unique riffs based on being a minority or less understood. I guessed I was gay very young — like ten years old — but I always felt so different from everyone else in so many ways that that additional difference seemed minor. Readers should normally be able to get into any character’s problems, no matter what their flavor. I searched for gay characters when they were rare and it was always delightful to find them written well, as courageous people with problems and not sad-sack victims. But there are plenty now, sometimes too idealized and fighting cartoon villains — demonizing cis-het-white-males is just as bad as demonizing gays was. Making a character’s gayness the central theme is odd now, like having a female character whose only goal is marrying well in a modern context. Just not that interesting to me.

The drama around the AIDS epidemic, of course, is a worthy subject. Here’s the trailer for a friend’s documentary making the film-festival circuit; it’s about gay men who thought they were going to die moving to Palm Springs and living long and productive new lives. Touching: Desert Migration. I know most of the people in it, though I avoided the suffering by fleeing Boston when my friends started to die, and I was lucky and shy enough to not be directly touched.

In my MIT creative writing courses, I had a friend, David Feinberg, a geeky über-Jewish boy who tried to write like James Joyce. After he left school and moved back to NYC, he started writing about his life with AIDS. Freed of the urge to be “literary,” he wrote passionately and hilariously of what he was going through. See David Feinberg — he had a crush on me in school which I avoided seeing.

There were four of us in that group, all taking the advanced physics course and creative writing as freshmen. Alanna Connors was the beautiful blond girl from Connecticut, super-smart. If I had one last thought of being straight, it was because of her! She did some great work in astrophysics and died recently after years struggling with breast cancer. https://hea-www.harvard.edu/astrostat/alanna/

The last was Dave M, who got me my first permanent job at BBN Labs. He’s the only one left, other than me, and spends a lot of his time promoting home schooling from the progressive perspective.

I guess my reaction to “kids these days” and their desire to protect every special snowflake is based on living through the crucible of real trouble and life-and-death problems. Having a special LGBTQ zine is an idea of the past, that we needed protected spaces to get our writing published. It’s not true and it’s self-ghettoizing. Every second they spend attacking people for “microaggressions” is time not spent doing the productive things that would better their lives. It’s good to have empathy and make kindness toward abstract others a guide; it’s bad to stomp all over well-meaning real people for being insufficiently perfect, thus putting them outside the pale of your empathetic concern.

Science fiction has always been about freeing the mind to imagine, and one of the key take-aways has been seeing inside people to understand their actions and motivations, to not judge others based on their superficial characteristics. Even the most alien society can be understood based on the underlying biology, economy, and culture, and empathy for even the strangest Other is possible.

But victim-based identity movements require villains, who must be dehumanized and presumed hateful and ignorant, if not actively and intentionally evil. Feminism began as a movement to get equal rights and respect, but even in its early days, parts of it were aimed at getting special treatment for women — lesser prison sentences, exemption from the draft, alimony by default in divorce, child custody preferences. While one arm of the movement got the vote for women and opened up all fields to accomplished female candidates, the other created preferences for women based on their supposed fragility and the sentimental desire to protect potential and real mothers from hardship.

Today’s third-wave feminist activists denigrate women who choose to be full-time mothers or step away from the professional treadmill, and actively oppose men with what I will gingerly call “masculine virtues,” like self-defense, foresight, hard manual labor, and profitable enterprise. They believe women who want to enter tough, high-commitment fields deserve to be represented in equal numbers regardless of their willingness to sacrifice personal and family time, because employment is just booty to be divided and spread equally. Government should, if not directly employing everyone, force private companies to change the requirements of jobs so that women can have it their way. And to a great extent this is happening, with female-dominated HR departments gradually reforming big workplaces to take away rewards from the most-productive to make the diversity numbers look good. Some of these reforms have obviously been good for society and business, but once started, the push for change continued, and now it may be past the point of diminishing returns to the point where it damages us all. A software company that has a diverse workforce of excellent programmers will do well; if the same company is forced to implement employment quotas to make its workforce match some ideal race, sex, and age goals, it will be crippled compared to its competitors.

A significant chunk of the population is still guided by the sentiment that women are weak and need more protection. These people are the Baptists in a bootleggers-and-Baptists coalition that unites to give statists more and more power to meddle and regulate, with the bootleggers being political parties that use these sentiments to justify their social engineering. Every new law and regulation is an opportunity for graft and extracting campaign contributions from businesses who want to be left alone or mold the law and regulations to hurt their competitors more, and every new edict (beyond dealing with obvious externalities like pollution) decreases the total wealth and growth rate of the economy. Politicians whip up fear — fear of terrorists, illegal immigrants, “the 1%,” sexist men, authoritarian Christianists, whatever works — to gain power, and then shy away from any actual solutions so they can repeat these emotional hooks for the next election. “Fear is the Mindkiller” — make someone afraid, and you weaken their reasoning power.

Bringing it back to SF, there’s now a large number of writers who are supported by jobs in academia, government, or the literary publishing world, which tends to be progressive and to denigrate blue-collar, military, pop cinema, or other less literary science fiction. As the number of participants in the community who are supported by political and committee decisions grows vs. those who make their living in the market, the tendency to elevate less accessible litfic, especially if it supports a Progressive worldview, grows. To pretend this is not so is to miss why people on both sides of the Hugo kerfuffle have felt disrespected and threatened. Throw in the actions of Internet trolls and chaos-provocateurs, and you have a recipe for polarization.

Respecting differences in culture is what we are supposed to be about, and giving fellow fans the benefit of the doubt and not condemning them for their “unenlightened” culture and story preferences would be a good start toward healing the rift caused by the Hugo kerfuffle.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


Mirror Neurons and Irene Gallo

Sad Puppies 4 Logo

Sad Puppies 4 Logo

Scott Alexander took note of the Irene Gallo episode in his excellent post on the morality of intertribal warfare between SJWs and anti-SJWs, “Fearful Symmetry.”

The “mirror neuron” was a theorized but now mostly discredited idea that humans and perhaps a few other animals had specific neurons that fired when recognizing and emulating another being’s thoughts. The sympathy or empathy they were supposed to generate has always been one of liberalism’s strongest weapons.

A Christian doesn’t decide to tolerate Muslims because she has investigated Islamic doctrines, she decides to tolerate Muslims because she can put herself in a Muslim’s shoes and realize that banning Islam would upset Muslims in the same way that banning Christianity would make her deeply upset.

If the fear and hypervigilance that majority groups feel in social-justice-dominated spaces is the same as the fear and hypervigilance that minority groups feel in potentially discriminatory spaces, that gives us a whole lot more mirror neurons to work with and allows us to get a gut-level understanding of the other side of the dynamic.

Scott Alexander quotes from a comment on an earlier post:

About the same time that sort of thing was happening in that online community, the same thing was happening in the real-world meat-space gatherings, also quite literally with shrill screams, mostly by [redacted] [redacted]s, who would overhear someone else’s private conversations, and then start streaming “I BEG YOUR PARDON!” and “HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT!”, and by [redacted] [redacted]’s who were bullying their way onto programming committees, and then making sure that various speakers, panelists, artists, authors, dealers, and GoHs known to be guilty of wrongthink were never invited in the first place. Were it not for the lucky circumstance of the rise of the web, the market takeoff of ebooks, especially a large ebook vendor (named after a river)’s ebook direct program, and the brave anchoring of a well known genre publisher that was specifically not homed in NYC, the purging of the genre and the community would have been complete.

Almost nobody wants to physically murder and maim the enemy, at least at the start. That’s, well, the Final Solution. Plan A is pretty much always for the enemy to admit their wrongness or at least weakness, surrender, and agree to live according to the conqueror’s rules. Maybe the leaders will have to go to prison for a while, but everyone else can just quietly recant and submit, nobody has to be maimed or killed. [The social justice community] almost certainly imagine they can achieve this through organized ostracism, social harassment, and democratic political activism. It’s when they find that this won’t actually make all the racists shut up and go away, that we get to see what their Plan B, and ultimately their final solution, look like.

I think Irene Gallo is very talented and focused on her work, and that she sincerely did not question what she had heard from people around her, that Puppies were “unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic.” It was poor judgment to post a Facebook update entitled “Making the Sad Puppies Sadder,” plugging “The Geek Feminist Revolution” by Kameron Hurley; the title of the post alone was a slam at part of the publisher’s audience, and unwise. Her off-the-cuff explanation of what Puppies were was just stating openly what everyone around her thought, and she presumably assumed it was uncontroversial among people reading her. The audience for *that book* would definitely be likely to agree with her… but it was still unwise to be doing PR that denigrates whole classes of customers.

I have some sympathy for Irene; social media mobs fixating on an unwise comment or tweet are never good for anyone, and I suspect she wouldn’t hurt a fly or intentionally be rude to anyone. But the incident *does* reveal the likely consensus in her immediate social environment, a consensus which is dismissive and intolerant of people in the other tribe(s). You can see this dismissive attitude among some commenters on File770, who use snark and ad hominem attacks to repel anyone they suspect has Puppy sympathies.

So now let’s talk Brad Torgerson, who has been roasted there with a lot of guesses and insulting presumptions. I was only paying a little attention when I read about the SP3 efforts and started to notice Brad. I suspect he, like other SP3s, expected their little protest to result in maybe a few noms, and he slapped it together in the limited time he had. Now we have people with the benefit of hindsight asking why it was so slapdash — the answer is because they didn’t expect to be very successful, and they were as shocked as anyone when they swept a few categories. We can now guess this was because of the more militant RPs truly block-voting, but no one knew that would happen, so it’s not reasonable to rake him over the coals for not being a strategic genius or putting together the best-thought-out list of nominees.

I know enough about Brad to assume that he’s generally kind and polite to everyone in person, and doesn’t go after people who don’t attack him. He is not perfect, but far from “unrepentantly racist, sexist and homophobic.”

This “attack the slightest flaw” pack behavior is destructive, and I would hope most commenters at File770 are kinder in person. And spending too much time warding off Vox Day is just feeding him; he thrives on chaos and being the center of attention of outraged Right Thinking People, which gets him more fans, and so on. Do you help or hurt someone like this by constantly speaking of them? Like Ann Coulter, he is making a career of being tactless and violating social taboos. This comment fragment from Scott Alexander’s post gets it right:

Vox does this cutesy coquettish flirting with white supremacy precisely so he can say “Why are you getting mad? I didn’t say neo-nazis were good I just said they might not be so bad, why are you getting all upset when I’m just trying to have a calm conversation?”

It really impresses his fans but all I see is a little kid waving his arms in front of his sister’s face and going “I’m not touching you! You can’t get mad because I’m not touching you!”

 

SJW leftism is the mechanism by which the scribes and academics in our society co-opt the victimization of distant others to defeat their imagined opponents — people independent of their committees and those who are too busy working in profit-making enterprises to watch their every utterance for perfect political correctness. The debates over “rape on campus” are not about rape, really. They are about using the victimization of rape survivors to ideologically cleanse academia, assisted by the current administration’s Title IX bludgeon. It only works because it isn’t rape survivors against evil rapists, it is administrators of universities and the US Dept. of Education against young men and the few remaining professors who might not toe the party line on sexual politics. And it plays into a manufactured “war on women” theme intended to put another Democrat in the White House.

Death of “Wired”: Selected Comments

RIP Wired

RIP Wired

The Wired article I posted about here created quite a stir. It is from the latest issue, which I’ve looked through — it looks like a desperate ploy for attention, and the readers reacted in the Wired.com comments on the editorial lead-in story, “The Battle for Equality is WIRED,” with these perfect skewerings:

You know what the saddest part of this is? The equality movement had won. It won ages ago, decades. Oh, those beating the drum may not think so, but they had. I turn 40 in a week. When I was a kid, it was drilled into me to treat people with compassion whether they were white, black, straight, homosexual, whatever. I was happy to do it. The only missing element to the change that the equality movement wants was one that change requires – time. Over time, with little nudging, minds would change, attitudes would change.

But no, it’s wanted right now. People are to simply wake up and instantly think in a completely different way. To accomplish this, the movement has used the tools reserved for the worst of budding oppressive regimes – shaming, fear, threats to livelihood, all behind a facade of inclusiveness and friendliness, a mockery of compassion, and a play of weakness even as the movement has held all the power. The question of government is no longer how to promote freedom for us all by finding common ground, but whose side it will take. Because the movement has snapped the common thread among us, it is required that a “side” must be chosen within this country (Talking the U.S. here). And while it may seem the movement is ahead, trust me, there is NO winner in such a scenario.

Note that I said in the beginning that the equality movement “had” won. This barrage of constant propaganda, this barbaric level of social engineering to force people to crawl into their own heads and hide, while having to outwardly smile and pretend to behave as told is beginning to fail. Just looking at comments on articles such as this is evidence of it. They’re sick of it – I’m sick of it. Equality and diversity are lofty, wonderful goals – but as with anything else, they twist into a tragic evil when they become an obsession. And in the United States, at least, this has become an obsession.

I know by now anyone who disagrees with me is probably foaming at the mouth thinking me the root of all evil. But this isn’t a “I can’t wait to see you fail” message. Actually just noting that the path this movement is no longer attracting people, it’s pushing them away. The answer? Stop pushing. To be truly inclusive is to invite everyone with the understanding not everyone will take that invitation.

To sum up for Wired – Perhaps maybe you should take the suggestions I see from many on here and return to a focus on, I don’t know, technology? How about a positive-toned magazine showing what the best and brightest in the world are creating, and how it can help? I miss that optimism Wired once had. Frankly, if I want drab “oh what a horrible unfair world we live in” media, I have essentially almost every other publication or news broadcast around to look at.

And that’s the end of my rambling.

Problem is, morally driven people simply can’t accept their quest is over, that they won or even leave it alone. That’s because, deep within, we are addicted to righteousness. That feel good sensation of being just and fair, on the side of good. Religion thrives on that addiction. People will devote their entire lives to get it and keep it flowing.

But currently religion no longer is the main purveyor of moral righteousness, at least in the West. It’s all these secular moral quests (feminism, pacifism, the green movement, etc), started mostly during the XXth century and with good reasons behind them. Created to supposedly change and fight the older moral codes and former causes for feeling righteous and good, but mostly, as a replacement for religious fervor and righteousness.

It’s also a matter of education: since the counter-culture movement started, most educated people has been raised with the liberal mindset almost burned into them as an unthinking code of behavior, and the unflinching belief that they are special and worthy, whatever they are, with their goal in life being happy.

But guess what? life really doesn’t warrant those expectations of self-importance and value all the time. Even people raised in the most liberal and sensitive background can be mistreated, undervalued and unhappy with their overall life.

What’s wrong with the world then? if the liberal mindset won and I’m aligned with it, why am I so unhappy, aimless and lacking purpose?

It must be a conspiracy of course! the Man and the old boogeymen have made a return and one with a vengeance! because other people can’t see the ugliness me and my Internet-enabled peers have seen. And thanks to the Internet, I now have an echo chamber of people keeping my confirmation bias strong and going.

James May posted these two comments on my piece which deserve to be read more widely:

Science fiction author Robert Heinlein had an imaginary Future History timeline which included an era called “The Crazy Years.” It’s amazing the SF community was the first to completely fall to our current gender feminist madness, the irony being SF was the most prepared to avoid it by being a canary-in-a-coal-mine genre of warning literature of precisely this type of dystopian world. Even more irony is we were sandbagged by Orwell’s perceptual trap where authoritarian fascism wormed its way in by talking about wheel chair access, social justice and allergies to scented products. The modern KKK is probably kicking themselves for not coming up with that first.

Typical of our new lack of self-awareness is our Orwellian habit of looking at bald-faced racism and bigotry straight in the face and calling it “anti-racism” and “anti-bigotry.” A small slice of how stupid our community has become is typified by TorCom’s Liz Bourke and her column “Sleeps With Monsters,” the title of which is a quote from a poem by the insane lesbian feminist Adrienne Rich. In that 1963 poem Rich shows marriage in the same dystopian light Orwell did his future England, a place of scuffed edges, dead dreams and hollow stupidity. Why are we not surprised a bigoted lesbian ideologue like Bourke was among the first to fist-pump Ann Leckie’s SF novel Ancillary Justice, a mediocre work but which had the good sense to signal boost lesbian feminist dogma about “genderblindess,” the cure for Rich’s “compulsory heterosexuality.”

In keeping with the idea of seeing marriage as a cultural cul-de-sac, we have retroactively not only declared all SFF prior to 2009 or thereabouts as a woman-hating, racist, homophobic delight through our new “feminist” lens, but any straight white male who had the temerity to be born without apologizing to our new overlords for the East India Company, the Atlantic Slave Trade, and pretty much any evil humankind has ever indulged in, as long as all other ethnic groups who did the same are thrown into Orwell’s memory hole. We have also decided to wage war on success itself and build statues to failure who talk to us about imaginary restaurants full of menacing face-punching “white cis dudes.”

The Wired article is fit only for Orwell’s Ministry of Information and as an illustration of how far we’ve fallen, been duped, become stupid and utterly unworthy of a legacy where E. M. Forester and Ray Bradbury shouted at us to no avail. Adrienne Rich is our literary hero now, and God help us.

Let’s call the Wired article what it is: lying. It lies from the beginning to the end. I’d need to write a short book to unpack all the falsehoods. One bald-faced lie even touches on GamerGate, and the irony there is one of the sore points with GamerGate were unethical articles like this one which put forth premises with no sourcing or quotes whatsoever and treats them as gospel. And that gospel is the same as in GamerGate: a moral ethos based on straight white men always being wrong and always up to something. For a sick ideology which laughs at the idea of “cabals,” the justice league of race and gender stipulates any time there are too many men, whites or heterosexuals in a hobby there’s some sort of collusion at work, though these sorry “feminists” never provide any proof of such a thing other than demonization theories about “white male cis privilege.”

In a few short years these nuthatches have ruined our hobby. I’ll tell you this, anyone who holds N. K. Jemisin up as a voice of social justice is too far gone to reach.

The Death of “Wired”: Hugo Awards Edition

RIP Wired

RIP Wired

Wired magazine used to be a go-to for in-depth technology reporting. Silicon Valley read it for accessible yet deep articles about upcoming tech and personalities. A tradition of quality writing now sadly being plowed under as ad revenues fall and good writers are replaced by cheap hacks.

Today’s proof: Amy Wallace’s article, “Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards and the Battle For Pop Culture’s Soul.” We’re already in trouble with the title, with its assumption that pop culture is a singular entity whose soul can be fought for by religious factions. Drama alert!

The writer inserts her partisan judgment frequently, starting off with a nice portrait of Marko Kloos, who withdrew his work to avoid getting involved in the Hugo Kerfuffle. She spins his decision:

Which is why it was so devastating when he realized a few weeks later that his short-listing was, in his eyes, a sham. It turned out that activists angered by the increasingly multicultural makeup of Hugo winners—books featuring women, gay and lesbian characters, and people and aliens of every color—had gamed the voting system, mounting a campaign for slates of nominees made up mostly of white men. Kloos, who is white, says he was sickened to see his name listed.

This isn’t a very good representation of Kloos’ actual views. Like a shyster lawyer, she inserts as fact assertions about the Sad/Rabid Puppies campaigns that aren’t true — “When did you stop beating your wife?” The campaign was not against multicultural/multiracial/gay characters, but against giving preference to such works. The Sad Puppy campaign was motivated by a desire to see quality stories win the awards.

She lets her mask slip further:

But like the sound of starship engines, the Hugos don’t exist in a vacuum. “Gamergate” spawns rape threats aimed at women who have the temerity to offer opinions about videogames. The leading representatives of mainstream political parties build platforms around fear of Muslims and Planned Parenthood.

So now we know she’s incapable of objectivity, because in each of these controversies, there’s a Blue Tribe conventional wisdom: Bad People oppose the Forces of Goodness! And she only knows good people who all think alike. She is bien pensant — a fancy French term for right-thinking. “All right-thinking people agree…” is the end of critical thinking, and since everyone she knows agrees on those controversies, no independent reporting or thought is required to put her credibility on the line by casually taking one side. Christopher Hitchens is spinning in his grave.

Digging the hole deeper, she claims the Puppies want no diversity in science fiction:

So trying to crush diversity of authors, of characters, of stories, of themes in sci-fi crushes the whole point. Which is perhaps the main reason to worry about Puppygate: Sci-fi that accommodates only one future, one kind of politics, and one kind of person just isn’t doing its job.

The various flavors of Puppies differ, but one thing they’re not is anti-diverse — there are women, people of various colors, gays (like me), religious, atheists, and on and on. The one thing they have in common is that they oppose elevating political correctness above quality of writing, originality, and story in science fiction. Many of the award winners in recent years have been lesser works elevated only because they satisfied a group of progressives who want their science fiction to reflect their desired future of group identity and victim-based politics. For them, it is part of their battle to tear down bad old patriarchy, to bury the old and bring themselves to the forefront of culture (and incidentally make a living being activists in fiction.) These people are often called “Social Justice Warriors” – they shore up their own fragile identities by thinking of themselves as noble warriors for social justice. Amy Wallace places herself with them by portraying the issues as a battle between racist, sexist white men and everyone else.

She then goes on to give some space to Larry Correia, Brad Torgerson, and Vox Day (Ted Beale). While her reporting about them is reasonably truthful, they report that she promised to interview Sarah Hoyt (who ruins the narrative as a female Puppy) but did not do so, and left out material from other interviews that did not support her slant. Tsk!

The piece is very long, but written from a position of assumed moral superiority and elite groupthink, a long fall from classic Wired‘s iconoclastic reporting. It’s sad when a quality brand goes downhill — as a longtime subscriber, I’ve noticed the magazine has grown thinner in the last year as ad revenues declined and competition from upstarts like Fast Company ate into their market. Now they are me-tooing major controversies for clicks. Once you see this dishonesty in reporting, you should never view such sources as reliable again.

[For more followup and comments on Wired’s recent tilt, see “Death of Wired: Selected Comments.”]

“Fear is the Mindkiller” – Published at Tangent Online

Dune cover art by Henrik Sahlstrom

Dune cover art by Henrik Sahlstrom

Tangent Online has published my essay on culture wars in science fiction here. A key paragraph:

A significant chunk of the population is still guided by the sentiment that women are weak and need more protection. These people are the Baptists in a bootleggers-and-Baptists coalition that unites to give statists more and more power to meddle and regulate, with the bootleggers being political parties that use these sentiments to justify their social engineering. Every new law and regulation is an opportunity for graft and extracting campaign contributions from businesses who want to be left alone or mold the law and regulations to hurt their competitors more, and every new edict (beyond dealing with obvious externalities like pollution) decreases the total wealth and growth rate of the economy. Politicians whip up fear — fear of terrorists, illegal immigrants, “the 1%,” sexist men, authoritarian Christianists, whatever works — to gain power, and then shy away from any actual solutions so they can repeat these emotional hooks for the next election. “Fear is the Mindkiller” — make someone afraid, and you weaken their reasoning power.

For Some Writers, Only the “Political Now” Matters

Ancient SF

Ancient SF

One thing that’s lacking among our progressive brethren is humility, a sense of what they don’t know and should not try to fake knowing. They are ahistorical and programmed by a faith-based belief system (for example, the faith that “all gender roles are social constructs with no biological basis.”)

So you suggest gently to a young writer that they should not try to write science fiction without understanding the science well enough to project it plausibly. Especially if the writer is a young woman, she will protest and say something implying science is also just a social construct, meaning “whatever I feel it should be, it is.” Or ask that historical novels be reasonably well researched and plausible — which is asking too much for some. They believe it is unfair to criticize some people for writing implausible or inconsistent stories, because by doing so you are discriminating against them and interfering with their right to succeed. Ultimately, of course, readers determine what is read, but by influencing what is promoted and made available at retail, progressives are insuring readers get less of what they want and more of what the nomenklatura think is good for them. And these literary-progressive writers are encouraged by academia and grants to think their status entitles them to success as writers — and while the very best of them will be successful writers, the majority will not be read by anyone outside their mutual support group.

Initially science fiction was about future science and the reactions to it from individuals and societies not too different from those of the day. Then the New Wave introduced a greater emphasis on imagined future or alien societies with quite different motivations and systems — when well-done, the rules of the imagined societies were plausibly projected from the biological, social, and economic motivations of the members of the society. In fantasy, you again had plausible workings-out of magic systems, fantasy entities, and societies of elves and the like. It’s the working out and understanding of the story problems presented by an imagined plausible world that expands the mind and increases understanding of very different Others.

If stories include mostly characters who behave as modern progressives think they should, any broadening effect is lost. Modern taboos and habits of thought were developed to match a modern milieu, and it is wrongheaded and anti-diversity — a variety of cultural imperialism! — to imply that people of the past and future would adopt and benefit from current ideas of “correct thought.” This error is a variety of presentism — applying standards of the current day to past and future societies.

Progressives accept an alien biological imperative and will sit still for stories where, say, the male sex of the G’Tharr are confined to their homes but no one in their society is especially interested in equality. But when the society is recognizably human, then suddenly the correctness goggles appear, and characters who behave like the perceived recent enemies of their tribe are not tolerated.


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best

Hugo Awards

Hugo Awards

The online discussion on the Hugos kerfuffle is winding down into endless nitpicking between entrenched opponents. As a long-term reader outside the Con/Fan culture, I have a few observations about how new technology and mainstream success of SFF tropes has marginalized written SFF fan culture while exploding the number of choices available, and thus the reader’s problem of reliable guidance in choosing what to read.

Looking back, SF, and later Fantasy, was entertainment for people who wanted to dream of future technology and space travel. Pioneers like Jules Verne used predicted future science and technology as elements combining with more conventional adventure, romance, thriller, and mystery stories to create a mix that was intensely appealing to readers of a scientific and futurist bent, sometimes viewed as escapist because of the contrast with the everyday lives of the time.

As the science of science fiction turned to reality, SF readers evolved to appreciate more nuanced stories with more speculative human interest, with alien civilizations and future humans interacting to reflect issues of culture and politics; this broadening was reflected in “New Wave” science fiction, which also used the more complex literary forms and techniques of literary fiction.

One of the faultlines in readership was already visible: simple, strong stories with linear narrative versus more sophisticated but less broadly accessible storytelling. Where a simple story with many levels can entertain readers at all levels of sophistication (example: the Harry Potter books), a more literary and adult version of similar topics of magic and coming-of-age (example: Lev Grossman’s The Magician) is not going to be as widely read, and only advanced readers will be able to understand and enjoy all of it. Both types can be great achievements, but most people would say only the sophisticated form is “literary.”

So when we’re handing out awards, do we want to recognize just the more sophisticated, but less popular works? I think that should depend on the awards. In the case of SFF, we have the Nebulas as a juried award from an organization of writers, who should be well-suited to picking based on achievement of craft, the recognition of the skill of the writer and the polish of the work. While such a group may choose to recognize an exceptional work that is also accessible, it is more likely they will be impressed by a work that is novel — it does something different, or in a new way, that demonstrates creativity. There will be a natural tendency to award the more advanced and literary over even the most excellent popular work.

Again, look back: when the Hugos began in the 1950s, there might have been a few hundred thousand dedicated readers of SF. Media and communications limited contacts between fans so that face-to-face conventions and clubs were the primary medium to pass along reviews and recommendations. Mainstream media had only the simplest types of SF: space adventure serials and monster stories. Comics were disreputable, to be replaced by real books for young readers as quickly as possible.

This all changed in the 1960s, with Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits on television, then Star Trek and Star Wars, which made science fiction tropes mainstream. Children from then on were raised on simplified staples of science fiction, and this provided an expanded audience for a whole new media universe of movies, games, comics, and anime. Novelizations of already-popular science fiction worlds started to sell in larger numbers than original stories.

So the Hugos are represented as “science fiction’s most prestigious award.” Depending on who’s blathering about it, they are either awards for quality science fiction for all readers, or the award presented by WorldCons which has become prestigious because of its long history of highlighting quality works. There’s a tension between claiming ownership for just Con-attending fans and claiming it represents quality for all fans, including readers outside Con fandom.

One horror often mentioned is the idea of a People’s Choice Award, meaning the lowest common denominator, the hordes of less discerning fans, might overwhelm quality works and choose, for example, the (mediocre but very popular) Twilight series of sparkly vampire romance novels, beloved of teen girls.

The Hugos that I grew up with were useful guides for readers not in touch with Cons and fandom looking for a good book to read, something worth the money and time. Why might that have changed in the past few years, as the Puppies contend?

The explosion of popular interest in all SF media has meant younger fans are now flocking to Comicons and other new festivals, and online spending time talking about movies, games, and anime, far more than SFF books. While readership has stalled for books, participation in other forms has ballooned. For those of us who grew up reading SFF in the 1960s, there’s not a lot of original thinking in the other media, and so we tend to dismiss them as derivative — and they often are. But that is where the future readers went.

As a result, WorldCon attendees are older than SFF readers generally, and far older than the body of possible readers that could be drawn into reading science fiction and fantasy as a regular habit. WorldCon Fandom’s cherished culture is a mix of whimsy, counterculture from the 60s, and insider references. The cultural gulf between them and average readers, especially younger readers, is larger than it has ever been.

One of the Puppy complaints is about the zealous progressive tendency they think has held back works that don’t advance that agenda, and authors who don’t represent “intersectional” minorities. There is probably some truth to that complaint — for example, “MilSF” (military SF), unless it is consciously antiwar (as in Forever War), is going to have a hard time winning over WorldCon voters no matter how good it may be, and the obvious fact that a lot of the subgenre is not very well written is used to denigrate all of it.

But the real problem is not political skew, that is a symptom. The issue is insularity, a consequence of the very small numbers of people who have been voting. Fans who are active in fan affairs are more likely to vote, and naturally favor friends, and publishers and writers work to befriend them. Publishers and writers who have an active Con and online presence are favored over those who do not, even when the works are of the same quality. The Brits as a class have been slighted for some time, for example, because they simply have less presence and contact with the bulk of US Fandom.

Honest WorldCon Fans can see that this criticism hits home, and this year’s kerfuffle should be used to advance the cause of more and broader participation. Someone pointed out that the Locus recommended list came close to predicting the nominations until recently, and the obvious reason is that it was one of the only guides to what qualified for nomination! So if anything one could celebrate the end of one magazine’s ability to determine the nomination list, and look forward to more lists of qualified works to guide the clueless on what to read and nominate.

“What to read next?” used to be answered, for me as an isolated reader, by looking through the list of new releases at Amazon. By scanning for authors I had read and enjoyed before, and occasionally taking a chance on a highly-rated book by an author new to me, it wasn’t hard to find good books. That began to change ten years ago, when the number of new releases began to grow and the quality of novels in general started to decline. This was before the explosion of self-publishing, which has made it worse, but the result was that the wheat was lost amid the surfeit of chaff. And the Nebula and Hugos each year were good guides to the best new fiction — this has also changed, as some recent winners were not all that satisfying to read or truly creative, from my point of view.

I think it was GRRM who recently observed that readers who didn’t regularly read fanzines were not committed enough to qualify as True Fans. Fanzines are certainly one way to communicate reviews and find better reading material; the fanzine for you is the one that shares your reading tastes, and so a curated list from a fanzine partly solves the problem of finding quality work, and could also be the key to suggesting lists of qualifying works for nominations. I have yet to subscribe to even Locus, and I probably should, but like everyone else I already have a vast amount of input to keep up with, and I suspect it would stack up unread somewhere. An online version that works with CSS might work for me, but I haven’t seen the right one yet.

From Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery: The Hugo Nomination Problem or, I Am a Bad Reader:

This is the point where I obviously speak only for myself, but what I need is help, to be honest. I don’t need someone breathing down my neck and telling me I need to nominate when I have no idea what the hell I’d even nominate. Some of it’s a self-actualization issue, where I need to just get off my ass and find the time to read more, and try to read things the actual year they come out. But it’s pretty overwhelming, guys. We are blessed to live in an age where your genre choices are not limited to what you can find on the spinny racks at the grocery store, or on that one shelf in your local library where the dude with the funny-smelling coat always hangs out. Which is awesome! But it also means that there’s so much coming out every day, at some point book mountain gets so high that you’re like fuck this, I don’t even know where to start so instead I’m going to make myself a cup of tea and play World of Warcraft while Captain America: The Winter Soldier plays on the TV in the background.

I’m sure this does not reflect on me well as a human being. I also know I used to read a hell of a lot more back before I didn’t have a full time job and a part-time writing gig and a daily commute during which reading tends to give me severe motion sickness. But here it is, the call for help. I seriously need some helpful soul, or maybe some kind of crowd-sourced thing that can tell me what I should be reading as things come out so I’m not floundering under drifts of pages on book mountain when the Hugo nomination period opens. Preferably some recommendation engine where my fellow writers, bless you guys I love you all but damn I know how we are, are not allowed to nominate or push their own books. I don’t want reviews, I don’t even want opinions, I just want a simple list or titles and authors and maybe a helpful link where someone can say hey, I think this book should totally get a Hugo, and then other people who agree can maybe give it a plus one, and that’s it. Let me form my own opinions.

If you don’t live and breathe fandom and live in a commune of SFF fans, this is a problem for you, too. One suggestion I have is for WorldCon people to join with others to develop their web presence and nominations booklet into something like a compendium of reader recommendations and a bundle for sale to give some revenue back to the nominees and their publishers for making their work available, as the Nebulas do with their yearly anthology. And this could be combined with some reforms in award categories to allow self-published works to have time to overcome obscurity when they are really good; it is a travesty, for example, that The Martian was disqualified for having been published in obscurity a few years ago even though it is recognized this year — following mass-market success — as one of the best novels widely read and *noticed* last year.

The idea is to take WorldCon into the future — to make it both a face-to-face and virtual presence, allowing much broader participation, and to start accepting the new media fans as they mature and want more advanced kinds of science and story. The problem of small groups destabilizing the awards goes away if participation is broadened, while the idea of ring-fencing the awards to keep out barbarians will ultimately continue the relative decline of WorldCon and old-school fandom into old age and irrelevance.

On File770, one longtime WorldCon supporter quoted me and commented:

JJ on April 29, 2015 at 8:02 pm said:

Jeb Kinnison: “I think we can get most reasonable people to agree that an award that supposedly recognizes the best SFF should be more broadly representative of the readers, including the vast majority who can’t take time out from busy lives or afford to go to conventions. Having a tiny in-group select award winners from their friends and people they know leaves out most of the writers, and almost all of the readers.”

Here is yet another person claiming that an awards program which was created and lovingly nurtured by Worldcon members for decades should somehow “belong to everyone” — without explaining how that’s actually supposed to work. Will “everyone” be putting in hundreds of volunteer hours every year to continue the program? Which day of Worldcan can we expect this “everyone” to be showing up to help?

It’s incredibly ironic that a bunch of self-described conservatives and libertarians think that they should be free to take for themselves, and give away, the labors of someone else’s initiative and ceaseless hard work, isn’t it?

Well, that was emotion-tugging. “Ceaseless hard work” is a bit hyperbolic. I don’t think anyone wants to take away the credit due to the WorldCon volunteers past and present for their hard work, or suggest taking away the awards for themselves. On the contrary, by developing non-attendee memberships and online voting, WorldCon already recognized that the views of the community that cared enough to pay and vote even when they couldn’t attend are important, and WorldCon reps have commonly told outsiders that not only are the Hugos the most prestigious award in SFF, but also are supposed to represent all readers’ interest in quality SFF. His suggestion that “showing up to help” is required to have any stake in the process is emotionally understandable, but not practical if there is to be wide participation.

So the classes of people who read SFF include:

The outer circle who like SFF ideas and stories but take them in the form of movies, games, and comics. This class includes several billion people, mostly young, across the world, and should be a primary target of recruitment to increase numbers of book readers and sales. I was recently contacted by a Chinese media company who wanted to sell my books translated into Chinese to their customers who largely read on their phones.

A hundred million people read some English-language SF. They never go to cons or read fanzines; they pick what they read by store display, word of mouth, or Amazon listing, and follow up on authors they like, and they are also fans of other media SFF which is widely promoted; it is impossible not to hear about the latest Marvel-universe movie, for example.

A few million read mostly SF. They may occasionally read fanzines or io9-like sites, but again have little contact with Fandom. I was in this class, and haven’t read an SFF magazine since Omni.

A few hundred thousand obsessively read SF and may account for about half of sales. These are the readers who are committed enough and knowledgeable enough to nominate, and many do go to regional Cons (but only a small number to Worldcon). Many are also game, anime, and film fans, and those under about 50 are likely never to have been involved with Fandom.

Remember there are ten times as many regular readers of romance. Romance mixed with paranormal (like Twilight) or science fiction (Hunger Games) sells to YA readers in large numbers; they are mostly female. Science fiction which feeds their romantic interests can bring them into more advanced science fiction.

“Curating” means selecting for quality and audience. WorldCon has been tending to curate for a small and eccentric audience, and favor-trading, log-rolling, and political prejudice has been apparent since… forever. WorldCon has already recognized the outreach possibility of the Internet. There is no longer a reason for what purports to be *the* award of SFF fans, not Worldcon attendees, to be closed to the fans who can’t be there, or as GRRM remarked, aren’t fannish enough to regularly read fanzines. If the award is to be chosen by small groups with a certain Fannish mindset, then it’s not *the* award of SFF readers and not a useful guide to quality for those who don’t share the mindset. And it will tend to slight publishers and authors who haven’t sucked up to the attendees and “curated” their online presence to groom their own fans. Some decry the possibility that the Hugos might become a mere popularity contest, with “Twilight”-ish popular works swamping the less-accessible quality fiction; but that ignores that the status quo prior to Puppies was a popularity contest among a small and not necessarily representative group shot through with personal conflicts of interest and logrolling.

We can honor all the work of the elders who curated and nurtured the Hugos when there was no other way for fans to get together. We can also open up the nominating and voting to committed readers who haven’t been Fannish, and the effort involved is more about software and thinking about systems than sitting at tables and handing out papers while chatting with passersby. There are problems with nominating voters being unaware of what qualifies, and problems with qualifications — suggestions about more classes for long works and allowing small pub and self pub books more time to be discovered are good.

As a new author, I’d like to preserve a large market for fiction because it is inevitable that larger media productions will be unable to pioneer new ideas or truly eccentric new virtual worlds — there are just too many people involved in these larger productions to take as many risks on unique visions, and until the tools for game storytelling, for example, are easily accessible and usable by singleton game authors, games won’t be the medium to create the experience of the great novel or story. Opening up the Hugos and doing more outreach to fans of other media would help a lot in renovating fandom and bringing in more new readers. And if the field doesn’t start gaining more readers, it will die, since it is already harder to make a living writing SFF than it used to be. If the only writers left working are supported by academia or other jobs, the field will lose its finest future works.

Sad Puppies Fallout: Vox Day and John C. Wright

sad_puppies_3_patch
[Pulled out of comments on Sarah Hoyt’s blog]

[Edit: further comments on Vox Day added after reading more of his blog]

And this is where I get to talk about Vox Day and John C. Wright, respectively the evil genius and the epitome of Badthink.

Vox is an example of an agent provocateur; he dances right up to the line to outrage stupid people who can’t parse what he says, then carefully avoids crossing it. Outraged progressives attack, his fans are engaged, and off he goes to huge traffic and increasing notoriety, which converts to more attention and sales. Using his name is now like invoking Voldemort. It’s not something I would do, but every ecological niche is filled in a complex society…

When I came out with my first book “Bad Boyfriends,” which was a sincere effort to help the clueless with useful information about attachment types and how they can determine relationship satisfaction, I had some reviewers mentioning that it was a “red pill” book, which I thought referred to the Matrix, where swallowing the red pill meant accepting the truth instead of living a comforting lie.

Then I discovered the huge number of (mostly but not entirely) men in the red pill / MRA movement. Looking through their writings, I found much that was useful mixed with some pseudoscience that was confirming their beliefs. So while sympathetic, I couldn’t agree with everything, but thought their point of view was important and a useful counterpoint to the feminist-dominated discourse increasingly taking over. I wrote a lot of pieces supporting some of their better points, and the guys at A Voice for Men asked me to do a piece or two. So I did. The commenters were an interesting mix of thoughtful and rabid, but I didn’t have any trouble soothing them when it was clear I sympathized even when I could not fully agree.

Those posts went up on Reddit and I had 4000 page views a day. Vox has this game down cold; he is serving red meat to starving men who need to hear alternative viewpoints.

I stopped writing for AVfM when one of my posts (which said some kind things about Emma Watson’s UN-based effort, which included a concession to male issues — see http://jebkinnison.com/2014/09/24/emma-watsons-message-intelligence-trumps-sex/) was seen as insufficiently rabid by many commenters. AVfM disowned it (must not upset base!) and then was set upon by one of their old opponents, David Futrelle at We Hunted the Mammoth, and his commenters.

Yikes! So much hate on both sides. So I stopped trying to mediate that war.

I don’t know Vox Day, and I haven’t read much of his work, so I am unable to disavow him or apologize for him. As someone remarked, if he didn’t exist, they would have to invent him, or some other Emmanuel Goldstein. [Edit: Having read quite a bit more of his writings, I can see where the widespread revulsion comes from. He often promotes pseudoscience which confirms the biases of his fans — I don’t have a problem with beliefs unsupported by evidence unless they are aimed at harming groups of people, but he promotes some that are intended to justify hatred against whole classes of people. In that, he’s just another quack, profiting by feeding fears with pseudoscientific justifications.]

As for John C. Wright, I’ve read and admired a lot of his work (but he owes me for the time spent to resolve the endless throne room battle scene in “Judge of Ages”!) The first book of his I read, “The Golden Age,” fixed him in my mind as someone I would happily read. But of course his Renaissance Man (from the actual Renaissance!) qualities include enough knowledge of history to disdain the current political line and its enforced forgetfulness. Like Orson Scott Card, he has some beliefs that the progressives find heretical, and he has tactlessly expressed them. But where others get a pass because their offbeat beliefs aren’t central to SJW causes, he does not. I remember reading Charles Stross’ first post on LiveJournal commenting on how Wright was now deemed too incorrect to be acceptable in civil society….

But again, I don’t know Mr. Wright other than from his works, which are usually very good. A writer who can get away with that level of digressions without causing me to toss the book has to be good.