science fiction

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.

Review: Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson

"Freehold" by Michael Z. Williamson - cover photo by Baen Books

“Freehold” by Michael Z. Williamson – cover photo by Baen Books


On the plane back from LibertyCon I was able to finish up Freehold, first in the series by Michael Z. Williamson.

Looking over the reviews at Amazon, I see many five-star reviews (completely justified) and lots of one-star reviews apparently motivated by hatred of the book’s libertarian bent. One review starts out, “I really wanted to like this book, but it quickly became a tired repetition of Libertarian fantasy…” — that review’s not marked as verified purchase, so I suspect it’s just anti-libertarian axe-grinding.

What’s amusing is that Williamson’s “libertarian paradise” of planet Freehold, a breakaway colony of an Earth ruled by a micromanaging UN, is far from a paradise — it’s just different, relying on individualist philosophy, much as in the US Blue Tribe urban areas are politically very different from rural Red Tribe areas. These differences are exaggerated in this future, but neither Earth under the UN or Freehold under its minimal government are portrayed as perfect. Those negative reviewers illustrate exactly the issue addressed in the book — the collectivist Earth government can’t tolerate even the peaceful co-existence of a civilizational cousin that shows them up by thriving and outdoing them in growth and technological progress without the endless regulatory bureaucracy they believe in. People who believe in the One True Church of Government cannot tolerate even a fictional exploration of alternatives, where every individual is held accountable for their actions and those who don’t work, don’t eat. Heresy!

Aside from the politics, this tale of conflict is superbly-written and engrossing. Kendra Pacelli is a UN Forces worker in logistics, framed for embezzlement and forced to escape to Freehold. Williamson spends the first half of the book detailing Kendra’s escape, exposure to the individualist culture of Freehold, and training for the armed forces of Freehold. She goes through old-school boot camp, contrasted with the soft training she had received on Earth for the much less disciplined UN force. She also meets two attractive love interests and loosens up enough to enjoy Freehold’s casual nudity and permissive attitudes toward sex, which are contrasted with Earth’s prudery and acceptance of rape as something that happens but is no big deal.

So there is more on Williamson’s mind here than libertarian politics. Some action-oriented readers will find the first half slow as he builds up detail about Kendra’s character and contrasts her military training with Earth’s (and we are seeing this relaxing of training standards going on right now in the US.) But this buildup pays off in the second half, as UN forces invade Freehold and the surviving Freehold forces fight back with guerrilla warfare and incredible sacrifices to free their planet.

The lack of respect for liberty and military mindsets is an increasing problem with the academic, government-reliant culture of the pampered urban citizenry in the US. If you are unable to identify with Kendra, who is one of the best active female characters I’ve seen in fiction, you need to get outside your bubble more. Government schools no longer teach the history of Western civilization, and it shows when supposedly educated people recoil in horror at realistic depictions of war and frontier society.

Williamson is an increasingly rare type — the fully-civilized man, capable of violence and aggression when called for, but also a well-read student of history capable of great emotional sensitivity. Some passages brought me to tears, and he keeps the political commentary incisive and plot-driven.

Sarah Hoyt’s “Through Fire” – Darkship Book 4

Through Fire - Darkship Book 4 by Sarah Hoyt - photo Baen Books

Through Fire – Darkship Book 4 by Sarah Hoyt – photo Baen Books

Through Fire, Book 4 in Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship series, came out last month and I bought it immediately, but despite its can’t-put-it-down action, I had to put it down until this week.

It’s a fine entry in the series, plunging us into action on the Seacity Liberté, which unlike the last book in the series I read, A Few Good Men (review here) is dominated by French cultural influences, with the rebellion set in motion in the first scene modeled on the French Revolution and its Terror.

The book is set on Earth hundreds of years from now, after war and nanoplagues have devastated continental civilization. Genetically-engineered Good Men run the world as a feudal dictatorship from Seacities established as refuges. Simon St. Cyr, the Good Man of his Seacity Liberté, is hosting visitor Zen Sienna, a bioenhanced woman from the space habitat where genengineered refugees fled to escape persecution. She has fled her own people after the trauma of sacrificing her own husband to evade capture in a previous book. The rebels who take control of the city are out to guillotine the genetically-enhanced, and so both Zen and the Good Man’s retainers are on the chopping block of revolt. The USAians of A Few Good Men are less important to this story, though they do appear in force to help fight the rebels and assist in the final defense of Liberté from the forces of the Good Men.

Simon, insulated from the real world by his status as a Good Man and ruler, is contrasted with his security man Alexis, a rough-hewn hulk who has been a rebel betrayed by his fellows and saved by Simon, now in Simon’s service. Or is he? The book opens with an attack on Simon’s palace, and Alexis is given the duty to get Zen away from the scene and safe. Much as in A Few Good Men, a subtle romance begins as Zen and Alexis fight their way to safety and return to rescue Simon and hold off both a French-style revolution and an attack from the remaining Good Men.

Hoyt’s writing is smooth and serves the adventure story well. The story is told in first person from Zen’s point of view, and there are a few places where the dialog is overlong to fill her in on matters she (and the reader) needs to know to make sense of the different factions, but Hoyt keeps the story moving fast enough. Swashbuckling and understated romance combine in a tale to satisfy all audiences.

Now that I’ve enjoyed #3 and #4, I need to go back and read the first two!

I’ll Be At Libertycon July 8-10 in Chattanooga

Planning to attend Libertycon to see the people and hobnob with some greats. I think they’re almost sold out of tickets, but you might check. My schedule:

Scheduled Programming Events Featuring Jeb Kinnison

Day Time Name of Event
Fri 01:00PM Weaponized Artificial Intelligence
Fri 05:00PM Opening Ceremonies
Sat 01:00PM Perspectives on Military SF
Sun 10:00AM Kaffeeklatsch

 

You might also be interested in these…

Shrivers

Nemo’s World

Red Queen

 

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.