Free men are not equal, equal men are not free.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Path to Tyranny

I was looking at a G+ conversation initiated by Eric Raymond when someone of libertarian, nevertrump bent started utterly going off the rails about Trump being a fascist bent on taking over the USA, and his moves just being preparation for a coup.

A bit of background. Eric is a libertarian who* explicitly changed his registration to Republican to vote for someone other than Trump in the primaries, but since the election, has found himself defending Trump more and more as the left has become increasingly more unhinged. This has resulted in a contentious series of G+ postings.

An interesting question came up though - what were the warning signs of a tyrant? Eric's answer:
What's your personal canary in the coal mine?

That's finally a constructive question.

I have several: attempts at prior censorship, attempts to restrict the possession of weapons by political opponents, attempts to coerce the legislature, attempts to amend the constitution to vest more power in El Maximum Lider.

I didn't pick these out of a hat. I've studied the history of fascism and totalitarian revolutions in detail. This was formative of my politics.

We'e not even seeing state-centralist rhetoric from Trump, let alone any of these moves.

Here's one to watch for that generally precedes all of them: the formation of a Sturmabteilung- or baseej-like paramilitary that answers only to the leader.
Let's take a look at these in light of the two major US parties.

Attempts at prior censorship: 

None. Nada. Threatening to sue after something untrue gets published doesn't count. If calling the news fake counts - see Obama - but I disagree that it's censorship, or necessarily a bad thing. Even under Obama, I considered it to be an example of who he considered his enemies, and found it more of a concern when he'd work to block certain outlets from having the same access as the rest of the press, whereas Trump is reducing access to the White House grounds by the press in general, yet, despite mocking outlets that have admitted to carrying water for the Democrats, gives them the same access to press conferences.

Given that even the very uniformly liberal press that carried water for Hillary ended up complaining about how far more secretive the "most transparent administration ever" was, my sympathies for "less access to white house grounds" without having to set appointments, etc. is limited.

Hell, Trump wants them to step on their dick. It's easier to do that when he gives them the rope to hang themselves.

Attempts to restrict the possession of weapons by political opponents:

I would tell my daughter that those who want to control you do not want you to be able to resist.

One side wants all of the citizens to be disarmed - and thus, no longer free citizens. The other is pushing for concealed carry reciprocity, and appears friendly to constitutional carry.

Attempts to coerce the legislature:

Define "coerce". Everything is a negotiation. The entire point of our governmental structure is that they are supposed to be at odds with each other, and through the means built into the constitution, and by appealing to the voters, convince each other it's in their own, and the country's, best interest, to help promote a certain policy.

I have to take coerce to mean not just threatening a politicians re-electability with the public, but 9mm (or higher caliber) lobotomies, threats to murder or kidnap family, etc.

In that context, neither party has crossed the line. That said, the de facto cover provided by the media and leftist politicians for black lives matter, radical muslims, and protestors as they loot, break, and burn, and assault people is troubling. Nice shopping district you've got there, be a shame if anything happened to it.

Attempts to amend the constitution to vest more power in El Maximum Lider:

All sides have pushed the boundaries of executive authority in the last few decades, but one has informed us that he won, he has a pen and a phone.

It seems that Trump is far more affective at using them.

I'll gladly push for reductions in executive power - once previous EO's are repealed -  but I'm not going to cry that Trump is playing the game by the same de-facto rules that the left have been.

That said, nothing in the Trump campaign promises or actions now show that he is attempting to get the constitution changed to give the government in general, much less him more power.

Sturmabteilung:

No, keeping a private security firm doesn't count, as they're not being sent out to crack heads, but, given that various SS people have publicly proclaimed they wouldn't do their jobs, necessary extra precautions.

Even under Obama the closest we came was the massive up-arming of various agencies that, frankly, don't need all the weapons, much less armored riot vehicles. Is this a full blown guard of the true believers? No - but it certainly is out of place with the needs of the respective agencies, and leads to why are we providing more deadly force to the state, in the hands of bureaucracies who's baseline assumptions are more liberal and socialist/progressive?

State Centralist Rhetoric: 

There is a difference between nationalist rhetoric and state-centralist rhetoric. The nation and its people are not the government. One deals with preserving a shared set of assumptions and population groups, the other with gathering power to the state.

Trump is trying to destroy or hamstring agencies, and massively cut regulations. This is the diametric opposite of "state centralist".

The Democrats, on the other hand.....


Update: * I added this in to make clearer that Eric's politics were not Democrat/Republican aligned.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Universal Rights

An ardent feminist was trying to waste my time and attention, spouting about how the God Emperor was taking away abortion rights.

I asked, how is he doing so, and got the expected screed on the recent EO denying federal funding to organizations that perform abortions, culminating in "and it's my right."

I answered: no, it isn't. No-one has a right to demand that I pay for your choices

The simple reason is that there can be no universal right that requires anyone else to act to provide it to you. There is no right to an abortion, there is no right to health care, there is no right to food, there is not even a right to be given weapons - though there is a right own weapons, and to carry weapons that you own upon your person as a free citizen, if you so choose.

There are rights that are not universal, by mutual contractual or voluntarily taken obligations - an officer has the right to order his troops into near certain death because that is the oath those troops swore upon enlisting, and even those orders have limits as to what constitutes a legitimate order. A man may not be allowed to enter a private club unless he is a member, and his status and seniority in it may give him the right to demand access to particular rooms, tables, or priority of service. In the past nobles had rights that others didn't, by law or custom - but again it was limited to said nobility, not available to all people.

All of those rights to demand performance or access from others were codified by law due to power, contract, or status, and limited to a relative few. Any universal right must be a negative right - one that can be obtained by people around you - and the government - doing nothing.

How can there be a "right" to health care if there are no doctors or nurses available to provide it? If they are available, but are already booked up, you do not have a "right" to their time before everyone else. If a doctor decides to quit his practice and become a carpenter, you do not have a right to demand he drop his work to attend to you.

Yes, yes, I know, emergencies, first aid, etc. - but the point stands. If two people are bleeding out, and there's only one doctor, or person to provide aid, who does he attend? It's his judgement on how to best save one or both, and what is possible with the time and resources at hand, not yours.

In the end, regardless of whether or not one agrees with or disagrees with abortion, birth control pills, or gasoline, I can choose to allocate time and money to obtain those which I find moral, but no one has the right to demand that others pay for me to obtain them.


Friday, January 27, 2017

A little More Anastasia Ashley

Since it's still Friday, it's worth noting that the lady I posted earlier knows how to ride a surfboard.



Commands & Colors: Ancients is Coming to the PC

The core Commands and Colors system developed by Richard Borg has been the basis for a number of games by a number of different companies that have adopted some version of the dice and command card mechanic. These include Commands & Colors: Ancients and Napoleonics, Memoir 44, Battle Cry, BattleLore, and Battles of Westeros. Only a couple of these, like Memoir 44 and Command & Colors: The Great War, now have computer versions available outside of playing the electronic "board" version via Vassal. So I was very happy to see the following announcement relayed via Rolling Boxcars:
We are pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement with HexWar Games Ltd., of Elgin, Scotland, to develop digital versions of Command & Colors: Ancients and Command & Colors: Napoleonics. HexWar Games Ltd. is a 12-man games studio with a long history of converting board games to digital games. Their most recent releases have been The Great War, from PSC Games, and 1775 from Academy Games. Their recent The Great War release uses the Command & Colors game engine by Richard Borg.

Because this is quite a major project for HexWar, they have also partnered with Lordz Games Studio of Belgium, for them to develop a world class user interface and superb game graphics. Lordz Games Studios recent success include Panzer Corps and Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon.

Development for the digital Commands & Colors Ancients has already been underway for some months. According to our last word from our friends at Hexwar, they plan to release the base game of Command & Colors: Ancients for the summer 2017, and the base game for Command & Colors: Napoleonics for the end of 2017. All the additional expansions, for both games, will be released as add-on packs over the next couple of years.

The initial target platform will be for PC and Mac, and then for iPad, a couple of months after the PC release. The intention is to eventually release for Android and possibly for iPhone. Other features in development are cross-platform multiplayer and a scenario builder.

We look forward to giving you all regular updates on this project. We anticipate that we will have some early game graphics to show you as part or our February monthly update.

Treat Barbarians Like Barbarians

Ace of Spades is, as Vox Day noted, coming around, as evidenced by a recent post on how "How Losing My Political Values Helped Me Gain My Freedom":
Donald Trump isn't the bully; he only insults and abuses people in power who have attacked him. They're the fucking bullies. The left, with their smears, their witch hunts, their slanders, their insults, their riots, their violence, and their weaponizing of the federal bureaucracy.

There aren't any rules anymore because the left only applies them one way. And in doing so, they've left what once was a civil compact between the two parties in smoldering ruins.

I have no personal investment in Donald Trump. He is a tool to punish the left and roll back their ill-gotten gains, no more and no less. If he succeeds even partially in those two things, then I'll consider his election a win.

Further, I no longer have any investment in any particular political values, save one: The rules created by the left will be applied to the left as equally and punitively as they have applied them to the right. And when they beg for mercy, I'll begin to reconsider. Or maybe not. Because fuck these people.
Civilized behavior is for civilized people. When people violate those standards, we must push back. And as noted in a Campbell essay Pournelle included in his Imperial Stars anthology for Baen, the barbarians are just as likely to come from within.

I noted in a very late comment there:

Civilized behavior is something we owe civilized people.

People who demonstrate they don't care about that - those who put themselves outside the law, also, morally, put themselves outside the limits.

Some, as in the prisoners dilemma, will, once you punch back, back off and say "sorry" and straighten out and act right.

Others will double down. Worse, even if you don't punch back, they'll take it as weakness and double down, triple down, and then cry if you ever even say "no."

It may only be a "minority" of the left, but it's a LOUD one. Many of the offenders are in positions of power, status, adn influence. And those in positions of status who do not engage in this behavior nevertheless cover for it.

I dare any leftist to find me a case of protests similar to Friday's after Obamas inauguration. Even if they manage, or go "muh abortion clinic bombers", you won't find the behavior of those violent scum excused.

The left does it. The left doesn't care. The die hard among the left refuses to believe when you show them.

They wanted to break heads, scream nazi, and put people out of jobs? They wanted to put themselves outside the law and that behavior on the table?

They should have been careful what they wished for.


#GirlFriday - Anastasia Ashley

A little bit of summer for warming up a cold day.









Thursday, January 26, 2017

Take on Me - the Metal Version

Something a bit lighter for today - Leo Moracchioli does some excellent metal covers of various popular songs. He has a better ear for what works in his chosen genre than Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (who have some fun punk covers but really overdo it), as well as a better feel for what makes the song tick, and how to adapt them to metal.

So, not quite #throwbackthursday - Take on me.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lying Media - Business Insider Edition

I'm usually not inclined to do simple "look at this idiocy" posts - if a lesson can't be learned, a principle displayed, it's usually pointless. That said, this deserves some analysis, if nothing else, as an example of pure-grade bullshit.

Why?

It's an article that basically undermines its own headline and premise within itself.

I, teeth gritted, at least have to give Business Insider props for reporting the facts - before completely ignoring them.
An inaccurate report on the conspiratorial website InfoWars led more than 100,000 individuals this week to sign an online petition calling for Comedy Central to fire a comedian who tweeted a tasteless joke about Barron Trump, President Donald Trump's 10-year-old son.
Well. That's a problem, isn't it? So how was it inaccurate?
The problem? The New York City-based comedian doesn't and has never worked for Comedy Central.
..... 
The controversy started on Monday when InfoWars writer Paul Joseph Watson, a prominent conspiracy theorist, wrongly identified Spinola as a Comedy Central writer in a story about the comedian's tweet.
 Hmmm... So Paul Joseph Watson just made shit up? Skipping forward a bit:
Spinola told Business Insider he suspected that after "Saturday Night Live" writer Katie Rich was suspended for a tweet on Trump's youngest child that conservatives went searching for jokes other comedians had made. At the time, his bio said he was a "Comedy Central content contributor" because the channel had featured some of his work on a show.
Ok - so a guy claims in his bio he's a "content contributor" and it's PJW's fault for not reading his mind and realizing it was self-aggrandizing bullshit to make his work look more important than it seemed? And BI, of course, just glosses over that point, that the person misrepresented himself, is at best a liar, and more likely worse, a bullshitter.

Again, the only reason anyone thinks this idiot works for Comedy Central is because the idiot - in a legally deniable way - claims he did. 

So what was this "joke"? Given the current level of honesty on this idiots bio, and at BI, I expect more bullshit about how it wasn't a big deal.
In the now-deleted tweet, Spinola joked that Trump's 10-year-old son "looks like a very handsome date-rapist-to-be." In a follow-up post, he doubled down.
SJW laws one and two - and a truly horrible joke. Given we have entire, long-running TV series based on how awful men are due to rape culture, and they should be locked up, what kind of same person in their right mi...

Nevermind.

If I understand the article, the problem here isn't that a comedian filled his bio with bullshit to make his work seem more important, or that he made a horribly tasteless and vile joke, or that he doubled down on it. It's that PJW didn't verify whether the guys own self-claimed bio meant he'd sold some work to them or worked for them regularly.
But Spinola has never worked for the channel in any official capacity. He has since deleted the tweets, acknowledging it was insensitive to joke about Trump's child. 
"I knew the tweets were wrong," he told Business Insider. "They are just dumb. They weren't something I would say onstage or something I stand by."
... 
"As a comedian, I make a lot of jokes that are not great," he later added. "A lot of comedians make a lot of jokes that are not great. I made a mistake by attacking a 10-year-old boy."
Insensitive?

Before his last decade of life, when he let his bitterness overcome him, and he still took potshots at leftist idiocy - the Earth wanting plastic for itself and his evisceration of feminists being classics along with the language used at airlines - Carlin had a very serious sketch about how we distance ourselves from the emotional impact of words through euphemisms, and traced the evolution of the term "shellshock" into PTSD.

BI manages to gloss over that even the bullshitting comedian said the jokes were wrong. Even if the comedian then tries to minimize it later in the article.

If you can stomach reading the whole thing, it then goes into how he's getting angry messages, supposed death threats, and so forth. While I'm sure he's getting angry messages, I'm also sure the degree to which there are actual threats, etc. are over exaggerated. But it's milked for the fake news and victimhood angle. And he shows that his apology was pro-forma - he still doesn't realize how vile his statement was, if he thinks the anger directed at him is so awful.
But Spinola did say he found it odd that people were defending Barron Trump by "doing things 1,000 times worse." 
"Shows how dangerous fake news can actually be," he said.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Thieves, and Liars.

Didact's comment on my last post freed up a little bit of memory, and reminded me of this bit of industrial from Ministry's "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste":


You talking heads in most of the MSM, even most of the "conservative" media? This is how we view you. As Tom Kratman noted in his article on Rosie's "lets declare martial law" comment - we hate you. You are dishonest, poisonous, Wormtongue hacks.

Enjoy.


Alternative Facts? More FakeNews

Frankly, it's a rhetorical miss and is already being lambasted. Of course, one reason for that is it's the easiest handle for the media to grasp to do anything, anything at all to shield themselves from claims of bias.

For context, Sean Spicer gave a very short press conference on the 21st. I it he lambasted the media for it's reporting, specifically on two points. The first, a reporter claiming that the statue of Martin Luther King had been removed, and later retracting it, and the second related to attendance numbers.


The first was used as an example of how the media is ready to jump to conclusions, and not even seek out the truth, before posting something.

The second is due to a pair of published photos, one taken at the height of Obamas inauguration, and the second, from eyewitness reports and also, from shots taken of the inauguration itself, taken a bit early, showing very sparse attendance. This is where Spicer verges into spin doctor territory - and bullshit or something approaching sets my teeth on edge - yet at no point does he tell a lie that I can parse, as long as you parse carefully.

No, even with "we used lawn coverings", the physical crowd is not what it was at Obama's. Though listing out the available crowd space at each zone is useful in getting an estimate.

That said, the photo published, IIRC, by the NYT, was sparser than the crowd shown in photos from the inauguration itself, and various witnesses in the area have remarked that they know the space was more populated during the inauguration. The NYT used a bullshit photo to make the point that attendance was lower because Trump was unpopular. While physical attendance was lower, it wasn't LOW, and certainly not as low as they implied by falsely implying an apples-to-apples comparison of the photos. It's also worth keeping in mind that DC is not precisely a haven for Trump supporters - so people attending would have, on average, been traveling further if they bothered.

Which brings us to online attendance, which Spicer specifically included. And this is where the press bashing Kellyanne Conway are tripping over themselves.

From Politico:
Without taking reporters' questions, Spicer called Trump's inaugural crowds "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." Photographs, however, show the crowd to be considerably smaller than former President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.
They didn't give the full quote. If Spicer had said exactly that, and only that, it likely would have been untrue. USA Today was more honest with the quoting, but still pressing the "Alternative Facts" line without giving it the context as not "alternative to the truth", but "alternative to the media narrative".
While aerial photos showed that Trump drew a smaller crowd to his inaugural address than President Obama did, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Saturday: "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe."
Note again, the use of bullshit. They conflate the physical crowd with Spicer's statement. Or the timing of the presented photos with reality.

However, when comparing the inauguration with other more recent events, it still came out on top. For example, the 2016 Euro soccer tournament final peaked at 7.3 Tbps and 3.3 million concurrent viewers. The Rio women’s team gymnastics final hit 4.5 Tbps and 1.5 million concurrent viewers.
At its peak, 4.6 million concurrent viewers watched the inauguration. 
“The presidential inauguration is the latest in a series of record-breaking live, online video streaming events that we have supported over the last year,” said Bill Wheaton, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Media at Akamai, in a statement. “More people than ever are watching video online, and it’s being done across more devices at increasingly higher levels of quality.”
The statement Spicer made about attendance, as stated, is true in both detail and in spirit.

The statement made about CIA attendance goes against the "unpopular" narrative.

It's worth noting that in the two articles I linked, neither mention the MLK bust tweet. Maybe because it doesn't fit their narrative?

An update: FWIW - to the extent that crowds were smaller, how much of that was the supposed "lack of popularity", and how much of it was lack of willingness to travel when they could watch it online or on TV? How much of it was a lack of willingness to travel given that any Trump supporter with two brain cells to rub together knows there will be protests, and is less likely to want to go somewhere where trouble is brewing, especially when they can't go armed (because DC is a bastion of freedom and second amendment... crap, can't say that with a straight face...)? Finally, how many people were delayed by the protests that deliberately acted to cut off and restrict access to the inauguration?

The protests that they covered very passively, as if they were just people marching around and a couple storefronts and cars damaged?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Immigration - a Rant

Not too long after posts on immigration by myself, and a followup on it and "skin in the game" in "Fixing the Magic Dirt Problem" by the Didact, here's a rant by the inimitable Razorfist. I largely agree with it, and though I'd likely be more restrictive on even legal immigration numbers than he is, I think every point he makes here is pure gold.


While I agree that it's surprising how many people actually want restricted immigration despite their supposed politics - it's still surprising how many people who drank the SJW koolaid are true believers.

He also spends a lot of time on something many immigration debaters ignore - the country the immigrants are coming from.

Update - the woman yelling "stop splitting up families"?

Stefan Molyneux has an excellent response - should we not send a murderer to jail because "it breaks up the family"? What about a deadbeat "child support in arrears" dad?

Update 2: BTW - The "deadbeat dad" argument is for the feminist types who believe jailing such people is a good thing. Wouldn't work on me. Leaving aside the "so how is he going to pay you now" argument, the entire divorce/child support industry is a money extracting scam for the benefit of the legal system and not the families, or the kids.

It is worth noting though that feminists are perfectly happy to split up families, ignore abuses of visitation, put dads in jail, etc. if they're not immigrants or violent criminals.

Iron Maiden - Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Powerslave is still one of my favorite albums by these guys.



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Very metal Noise Pollution

OK, Vox showed this vid, a metal cover of an Adele song.


OK. That was... awesome.  Sure - there's harder metal out there, but as much as, say, Amon Amarth has awesome music, death metal vocals aren't my thing. The symphonic end with Nightwish and Within Temptation, a little Five Finger Death Punch, a little Drowning Pool...

And these guys rock. And they're willing to go out on a limb, and to look silly doing so. Take a look at the vid for Gangnam Style.


Or Shakira's Waka Waka - I haven't listened past her first couple albums but the lady does have talent (not just looks), and these guys put an entirely new spin on it.


You can also find covers of Gangsters Paradise, Eye of the Tiger, The Final Countdown, and music from Frozen, among other things. Ant they're on iTunes, Amazon, etc.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Didact, on the Ascension

Some joyful commentary:
His victory is a victory for men everywhere who are tired of being spat upon, sick of seeing our masculinity being torn down and derided, fed up of watching our most cherished principles and ideals being buried under the landfill of modern culture, and enraged at seeing the country that we love being treated like an abused crack-whore.
Go read the whole thing.

One Moment, and The Writing's On the Wall

Some more stuff from OK Go.

First, pointed out to me by Man of The Atom, some fantastic work in slow mo photography:


And then some truly impressive visual trickery.


Upside Down and Inside Out

OK, they're a bunch of hipsters, and the music, while fine, is not to my taste, but OK Go is known for some very wild optical and other tricks in their videos.


And, how they pulled it off.


Girl Friday

First, a lady who apparently is a boxer, Brye Ann Rusillo. Have no idea if she's any good, but she does have a couple things going for her.


And it's always good to spend some time on the beach:







The God-Emperor Ascends the Cherry Blossom Throne

Today, we mark a moment of hope. The cultural war is far from over - we have only, finally, begun to fight - but it is the first step.



All of your safe space as well.

The next is far more important. Even if TGE drains the swamp, builds the wall, butchers the government back into sensible size and scope, the SJW's and "tolerant" left will double down. They will work harder to contain us, destroy us, ruin our lives, and not see the false progress they've made reversed. I've recently posted my own considerations of the hazards involved, and in either case we must be strong, resourceful, and set aside fear.

And so...
Lord. May the God-Emperor do your will. May we find the strength to as well to follow your will, to vanquish the foes of humanity - those which deny it and anyone but themselves as gods above us - to set freedom across the land, and at the end, to show mercy to those who deserve it, and justice to those who do not. May our resolve be unwavering, our aim be true, and souls find contentment in just righteousness.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Apprenticeships

Have to hat tip +Foo Quuxman on this one.

The article in question deals with a rise in apprenticeships - which even without reading the article immediately brought several things to mind, mostly tangental to the article.

One - "skin in the game". It's brought up in the article, and is a fantastic point. Stepping back a bit, this applies to everyone involved in an apprenticeship. It's also antifragile.

I know people in several technical fields who love the high school students they get as interns, and wish they could take them on as apprentices instead of having to un-train them after college, to learn the real job. Where in the past, I'd figured that college was at least useful for STEM, these days, beyond resources available that may be expensive to gather, to give hands-on experience,  even in a number of STEM fields a college degree is becoming less useful.

What does college offer, say, an architect, that an apprenticeship cannot? Especially if they already keep a spare workstation for interns, they already have the computers, software licenses, plotters, and experienced people who can pass on knowledge.

Ditto a software development shop. Courses on basic theory can be taken as needed, but a lot of programmers are still effectively self-taught.

Better yet, in an apprenticeship, the people learning get to work on real projects.

But that's not what makes it antifragile.

The apprentice, as more than an intern (and since technical fields, unlike most of the entertainment biz, pay their interns), would make enough to get by rather than be paying for the privilege. He doesn't accumulate a huge vulnerability in case there's any hiccups down the road. For the employer, he would get to skip the time required to untrain a college grad. There's constant growth and feedback.

Both could quit if they realize it's not working out, without, again, racking up a huge, all-cost investment in anything.

The core principle of antifragility is to act in a way that minimizes the harm if things go badly, but gives you a significant benefit if they go well.

In short, there are a number of technical fields that, if it were not for a de-facto a requirement to have a degree for licensing, a system of apprenticeships and qualification exams for certifications (if the person wants to claim membership in a professional standards organization) would be all that is needed.

After all, if the employer signs off on a design by their apprentice before declaring them graduated, it's his skin in the game, and name on the line.

Sand Won't Save You

Chlorine Triflouride is truly nasty stuff. Courtesy of "Things I Won't Work With":
It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water-with which it reacts explosively.
Go read the whole thing. Yes, there are chemicals that scare even the less sane chemists. The series of posts is awesome.

UPDATE: Per infogalactic, a hypergolic propellant is one which spontaneously ignites when the two components come into contact with each other.

Anonymity, and "Bad" Views

In a recent posting Vox Day notes that the ability to dox effective opponents of the leftist narrative has reached a point that anonymity, even moderately strong steps, can no longer be considered effective to protect oneself from blowback if your lifestyle is not antifragile. In the comments he notes:
There is nothing veiled about it. The situation changes. 10 years ago, it was possible to remain anonymous. These days, it is almost impossible to do so, not only due to social media, but the way in which governments and corporations are gathering data.

These days, it's very, very easy to slip up and drop a clue, but even if you perfectly manage your own behavior, a personal friend might put a picture on Facebook, a trusted colleague might get angry and betray you, or hackers might obtain access to your Apple or Yahoo account.

What was reasonable a few years ago is no longer viable.
and
I guess you couldn't have spelled it out any more clearly, but does this mean I should give up trolling anonymously?

If you aren't willing to pay the price of being outed, yes. The only thing presently protecting you is your irrelevance. If you become effective, they will focus on finding out who you are.

If you genuinely have no reason to care about being outed, then you're fine.
In all things, given the lock that Google, Facebook (which I basically don't use), etc. have on online life and access, if one is effective enough, or gets noticed by / irritates the wrong person, someone will have the resources to track you down.

My own situation is only moderately antifragile. I mention "liberal" people I know a lot, and that is because while my overall state is red, the area I'm in and its environs are solidly blue, if not overwhelmingly. Unfortunately, most of the red crowd are very blue pill - and nearly just as loudly point and shriek at accusations of racism, sexism, whatever as any SJW pointing the way for them. That said - while I'd almost be guaranteed to lose  a significant number of clients if someone contacted them, I'd still be employed, and have means to get by until I could rebuild.

I'm strongly enough covered that no-one from my immediate life stumbling into this is likely to recognize who I am from personal details. The backtrail for phone and email leads to dead ends - protonmail is awesome. There's actually a stronger chance that someone I know who's pointed to this page may recognize arguments that I made, or my mode of speech - but that has more plausible deniability, and does require that someone here that I know and have talked philosophy or politics with has seen these pages and makes the connection. In accessing sites such as disqus, blogger, wordpress, I'm logged in under one of two VPN services from any of five different geographical areas. Passwords are very long, and stored in a local, further encrypted archive.

In short, until I piss off and come to the attention of someone who can correlate connections from twitter, google, etc. back through VPN's and TOR or obtain what should be personal info out of those accounts - which are unlikely to be hacked by normal means, and don't lead to accounts with my name on it - I'm safe.

At that point, all bets are off.

So I'm faced with a choice. I'm not committing yet. On one hand I won't say "I will never let this blog and persona to be great or effective" and duck my head. I may not reach greatness, but I certainly don't want to aim for mediocrity. And I'm probably in little danger of coming to the level of scrutiny in the next year that would make me shut down these accounts before I meet my goal of a full year of daily (m-f) activity.

That said, brand. If I wish to not only survive exposure, but to do well regardless, I need to develop scalable, antifragile sources of income. That means finding a way to put myself out there in a recognizable way that people can get back to and work with me, to connect with people, that there's a discoverable footprint associated with me, online or in the real world, linked to my name, to my bank accounts, and so forth. I may not have to draw the curtain back and publicly associate my name with my thoughts here, but some aspects will have to be in my name, and time spent on that will be time I can't spend here.

It's not time to choose yet, but it is certainly time to begin operating in the knowledge that a choice will need to be made.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kate Upton Floating in Zero G

I normally reserve the pulchritude for Fridays, but who couldn't use a little more of Kate Upton and her gravity-defying assets defying a little more gravity?


Equitable?

The internet, of course, gave us Poe's Law: without a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extreme views will be mistaken by some readers or viewers as sincere expressions of the parodied views.

So of course, given the rise of social justice warriors, race baiting, feminism, etc., more and more things become normalized enough that they cannot be parodied.

Take this recent article from the Huffington Post, about a new app called "Equitable":
The app, called Equitable, is designed to split group restaurant bills based on gender and racial wage gaps. So if you’re a white man brunching with a black woman and a Latina, be prepared to pay a little extra for that avocado toast. Hey, it’s not our fault! It’s the patriarchy.

According to the app’s website, “EquiTable helps you avoid the entrenched discrimination that exists in our society. It doesn’t split the bill equally — it splits it equitably. You pay what you should to balance out the wage gap.”

The app uses Bureau of Labor Statistics data in order to calculate who should pay what at the end of dinner or brunch, ensuring that those with less privilege (anyone whose not white and male, basically) pay less to eat.
Yes, it exists. This is not a parody - the app is on the app store.

Now, any self-respecting shitlord will immediately take the example of Shaun King (aka Talcum X*), and Rachel Dolezal to heart, and make sure they are trans black lesbian women with some additional trans handicap while eating lunch.

That is, if they bother to do more than look at the people around them and say "how are you going to make me pay more?"

* Even Snopes could only defend his claim to being black on the technicality of because "he said so" and the one drop rule - the latter assuming he truthfully threw his mother under the bus for being a slut.

Review: Oath of Fealty

Pournelle is one of my personal heroes. While I might argue that Dan Simmons or Gene Wolfe are better prose stylists, that Larry or Ringo can capture me with the chaotic rush of their stories and their wonderful characters, or that Wright can floor me with the scope of his vision and the direct poetry of his words, I keep coming back to Pournelle. His editorship of There Will be War that I stumbled into while in middle school, was a turning point in my life. Finding a battered copy of the Mercenary on a library sale spinner was another - and I treasure the collected Falkenberg/CoDominum stories in The Prince. The later realization that the first true short story in The Mercenary was based on the Nika revolt in Constantinople jumpstarted a love of history that high school boredom and teachers had nearly crushed out of my soul. I'm not the only one who found Pournelle fundamental and underappreciated, outshone by better-known names; Jeffro has reviewed King David's Spaceship in it's role as an inspiration for the role playing game Traveller.

In addition to his own work, Pournelle also was half of what was, in my mind, one of the best collaborative pairings in science fiction. Pournelle, alone, had studied aerospace engineering, sociology, and other subjects, with an ability to understand the impact of technology from his own and other disciplines that few had. His take on the future was full of hope and adventure, swords and impossible quests, but also gritty. The militaries acted like functioning organizations. The technology felt lived in. The consequences of his tramline based FTL system in the CoDominium books, and the stories like King David's Spaceship that followed, followed rules as merciless and consistent as any "hard" science fiction work. He had a feel for history that breathed life into his stories, even when not explicitly informed by true events.

The other half was Niven - with an eye toward the utterly fantastic. Niven could get in someone's head. His stories featured aliens that were truly alien, their very thoughts and assumptions driven by their instincts and biologies. Looking at his stories, he lived and breathed the big ideas of stellar constructs, and what if. His Ringworld inspired, among other things, the setting for Halo.

The two together? Amazing.

In my opinion, and despite the high esteem in which I hold Dune, Their work on The Mote in Gods Eye is easily not only the best first contact novel ever written, but the best science fiction book written short of Gene Wolfe's long and new sun books, while being far more accessible. There is a scene near the end, the result of events that could only have come from both authors working together, that is the stuff of utter nightmares, and yet, only involves one space suit, and its contents.

So - all these words, and I've yet to mention, among their other works, Oath of Fealty.

When Pournelle stopped There Will Be War at the ninth volume, he started a new project, published by Baen, called Imperial Stars. It explored governments of the future, more than straight warfare. Included in the essays was an old Campbell essay where it was discussed tribesmen, barbarians, and civilized people, and that to a barbarian, civilized people looked an awful lot like weird tribesmen, subsuming themselves to the tribe. he closed with the point that future political changes past "civilized" may take on structures that look a lot like the old, to our current selves.

To me, Oath of Fealty is borne of that essay. It centers on a large arcology - think of it as a massive building which is a self-contained city - the first one to be successful, built near LA, called Todos Santos. From Infogalactic:
In the near future, a race riot results in the destruction of an area just outside Los Angeles. The city sells the construction rights to a private company, which then constructs an arcology, named Todos Santos. The higher standard of living enjoyed by Todos Santos residents causes resentment among Angelenos. The arcology dwellers have evolved a different culture, sacrificing privacy - there are cameras (not routinely monitored) even in the private apartments - in exchange for security. The residents are fiercely loyal to the arcology and its management, and the loyalty runs both ways. During the course of the novel, Todos Santos is compared to a feudal society, with loyalty and obligations running both ways, hence the title. 
Pro or con, it explores issues of modern crime, of security, of the surveillance state, of loyalty, of the fragility of large and complex systems, ecoterrorism, and of the debts and obligations of feudalism. It also features one of the earliest examples of computer interface implants, beating out the more fantastic version that would show up in the works of William Gibson by a couple years.

Also, near the very beginning, is a scene that still makes me laugh in a dark way. Due to the popularity of the tall building for wannabe jumpers, the management made it very difficult to get to the roof. Since they couldn't stop everyone though, there was one, final, psychological mindfuck. As the prospective jumper finally approaches the edge, he is greeted by a diving platform. Scrawled on the wall near this by some anonymous resident, is the graffiti "Think of it as evolution in action."

That phrase describes both the societal changes in Todos Santos, as well as the individual jumper taking himself out of the reproductive pool. Most who made it that far are... dissuaded, realizing that not only did the universe not care about their grand gesture, but were willing to give them a few extra feet of height for the sendoff, and mock them.

The story fits well into the tone of Pournelle's short stories in High Justice, of individuals and companies doing what they can to stand up against tyrants, and worse, bureaucracies that take over every aspect of life. It's a fun, but thoughtful read.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Responsibility and Authority

To demand that others suffer responsibility for the consequences of your choices and actions, is the heart of tyranny.
A favorite tagline I see over on Pournelle's site, is "Free men are not equal, equal men are not free." It is catchy, and encapsulates very nicely a central theme of the book "Equality: The Impossible Quest" that equality is a myth, that any attempt to establish equality on one axis inevitably results in inequality on others. Worse, not all inequalities are equally harmful when one attempts to overcome them - as some result in far more bloodshed than others.

Even in Christian equality before god, it is a type of equality of opportunity. We are not all born of the same station, with the same resources, or the same abilities. It's more that God is so much greater that the differences we see in this mortal coil matter not to him, so much as what we choose to do.

Yet we are still judged by our choices - or shaped by them. Some are raised to heaven, others suffer. Wherever we end up we put ourselves there by how we chose.

And we do not make the same choices.

So there is another expression that ties into the concept of freedom, one I no longer remember where it originally came from, or the original wording. It centers around the concept of balancing responsibility and authority. I usually point out that "Authority without responsibility is tyranny, responsibility without authority is slavery."

This one statement covers "power corrupts" - for is not authority to act without suffering the consequences the ultimate form of power? And how can one be free when one is held responsible for the consequences of decisions one is not allowed to make? A woman who wants to sleep with dozens of men, and have her poor choices subsidized by someone else is a tyrant, for she is making others work to cover the responsibility of her choices. A man forced to pay taxes to subsidize the poor choices of others is a slave, for he is responsible for decisions others make, without a say in the matter, or over his own time, his own sweat, his own blood and pain and work. They are taken from him and he will be imprisoned, or killed, if he puts up enough of a fuss.

As one gains in authority in business, in a military organization, one also gains responsibility. A captain of a ship will lose his command if it runs aground, even if he wasn't on the bridge. Ultimately, it was his job to know his OOD's could stand the watch on the bridge, could cross check the navigators, that departmental heads were on top of their chiefs, who ensured that lookouts knew their duties, and so forth. It doesn't matter if he had any ability to affect the outcome directly, he has the power to order them to their deaths, and he's responsible for ensuring the crew can do their job.

The two are never in perfect balance - no system is static - but despite the occasional saint, the temptation of lack of consequence can undermine any soul.  The tyrants, petty or great, are no longer told that they too are human, that they can fail, that their decisions can turn around and kill them. And those made to pick up the pieces at gunpoint, literal or figurative, become angry and bitter, lash out.

If you're thinking there's any parallel between this, and liberals/the uniparty vs. the tea party/alt-right/alt-lite....

I have no idea what you're talking about.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Tom Kratman plays Cassandra for Liberals

...and will be ignored. That was her fate after all, to see the future and not to be believed.

So Tom explores the question of Martial Law, as proposed in jaw-dropping stupidity by Rosie O.

It starts:
Dear Rosie…

…you unbefuckinglievably stupid and ignorant twat.1 Oh, and all you morons who agree with the silly bint, too.
In case you think he's being a bit rough on the poor whale lady...
But let’s just override that. Let’s go ahead with your fantasy a tad further. Let’s suppose that Trump is somehow preemptively locked away so that he can neither take the presidential oath nor transmit to anyone that he has. Let’s further suppose that (okay, this is a stretch) the military (which is to say that a majority of the politically corrupt moral and intellectual whores we call “flag officers”) decides that President Obama’s declaration is constitutional and that, as commander in chief, he is the proper ultimate martial authority to oversee martial law. At noon on the 20th Trump does not take his oath of office and martial law is announced.

As 12:01, Eastern Time, the civil war begins. I know it begins at that time because if no one else does I’ll start it myself. Now you, in your vast knowledge of history, can only think, “Well, so what? We won the last one.”

Yeah, and what were the odds in manpower then? What are they now? And where was the industry then? Where is it now? And how evenly was the martial spirit divided then? Where is the martial spirit now? And did the military hate the federal government back then as it tends to hate it now and will definitely hate it in that lefty martial law future? Just go to the red state-blue state map from the last election. No, instead go to the red county-blue county map. All that red stuff? They hate you.

So either way, whether Trump takes the oath and the military follows him, or he doesn’t and the military rebels against their senior officers and follows him, the result is ultimately the same: Martial Law but in hands that hate you.

What does that look like, by the way, as it ultimately plays out? Well, I want you to imagine a long ditch, Rosie.
Yes, the country is divided. One part may have disliked the other, but harrumphed, and been happy to go on its own way. The other? The other thought they were soooo special, so much better, that they had to tell everyone how to live, whether they wanted it, or not.

I'm not sure hate even qualifies. After watching BLM, the meltdowns, the condemnation of nearly half the country, the fake rape claims, the fake hate crimes, and everything the last few years...

It's a cold, hard, anger.

There's a reason we are slow to anger, we turn the other cheek, etc. Because once we decide the problem has to be dealt with, we tend to be thorough. Walter Russel Mead - liberal that he was - nevertheless saw a glimpse of this aspect of western civilization when he tried to describe what he called the Jacksonian Tradition in American politics.

Stephan Molyneux observed in an interview with Vox Day, that Europeans are very, very nice, until suddenly, they are very, very not. Others have observed "black people burn cities, white people burn continents."

We may be better able to rebuild them as well, but that's small consolation to the well meaning when everything goes up in flames.

The rabbits keep pushing, thinking our anger, our hatred, is as theirs - transient. A show to make people back off.

May god help them if, as Rosie proposes, they do something truly stupid.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Germans, Being Germans.

The topic is serious, but perhaps one of the best illustrations of the mentality I'm going to discuss is nonetheless funny. As has been observed, Eurpoeans are very, very nice. Until they, very suddenly, are very not. The video below is a gag, where the husband of a typical german couple, in a typical german house, with their typical garden, decides to do something about cars that have been driving through the neighborhood too fast.


Note their appearance and behavior - mildly neurotic. Slightly OCD. Pleasant. He's positively excited about finding a solution. And though said solution is played over the top for laughs, and the housewife is horrified, I can tell you that the Germans - mostly engineers - I know tend to fit this profile. Very pleasant Will avoid rocking the boat. If they have a nice car will park it around the back or in the garage because showing off even moderate wealth is considered tacky. And if they decide to do something about a problem, once it has awakened their ire, they will very matter-of-factly, very totally, make it go away. When they commit to something, they can be a bit... extreme.

In the same vein, this recent article at Gates of Vienna - "When a German is Aggravated Enough, a German Strikes” (with translation below):
The following video was made by a German YouTube satirist named Hagen Grell. Despite the humor in it, his entertaining rant has an edge — it expresses a fundamental truth about the hidden undercurrents of German culture, using satirical means.

Girl Friday - Denise Milani

Enjoy.





The Butthurt is Gloriously Strong at Forbes

Forbes recently published an article on Chuck Johnson titled "A Troll Outside Trump Tower Is Helping To Pick Your Next Government".

Yeah, the butthurt is glorious.
An internet troll, who was once called “the most hated man on the internet” and is banned from Twitter, is recommending candidates to serve in the Trump administration.

Charles “Chuck” Johnson, a controversial blogger and conservative online personality, has been pushing for various political appointees to serve under Donald Trump, according to multiple sources close to the President-elect’s transition team. While Johnson does not have a formal position, FORBES has learned that he is working behind the scenes with members of the transition team’s executive committee, including billionaire Trump donor Peter Thiel, to recommend, vet and give something of a seal of approval to potential nominees from the so-called "alt-right."

The proximity to power is something new for Johnson, a self-described “journalist, author and debunker of frauds,” who has made a name for himself by peddling false information and right-wing conspiracy theories online. In the months leading up to the election, Johnson, 28, used social media and his website GotNews.com to stump for the President-elect while also publishing misinformation on Trump’s detractors. Now, Johnson is helping to pick some of the leaders who may run the country for the next four years.
Troll, like "racist" is something liberals call people when they have nothing better that "you're hurting our feelings" to fall back on. The only reason I give this article any credibility whatsoever is that my initial response to the article is not the "oh crap" I'm sure Forbes is aiming for, but instead "awesome." That said, it's likely this is just another fever dream called up in the vein of "Russhia Haxxed Mai Elecshunz". Oh, and we can't have any approval from the alt-right, can we?

Love how he's labeled "fakenews" without actually using the term - "peddling false information and right-wing conspiracy theories". I will grant this - GotNews has hysterically hyperbolic click-bait headlines. Typing the articles in all caps might actually tone them down. Yet, everything I've seen there is meticulously researched, with backing information, a lot of which has enough info for you to cross reference it yourself. While they don't retract, they constantly post updates as new information comes to light.

This is of course far different from so called "news organizations" that butcher video to claim the opposite of what the video shows you.

In the end, I'm not sure if this is true or not. If not - hey, I don't expect accuracy anymore out of the legacy media. If so - then I'm sure I'm hardly the only person who thought "awesome," and they will fail in scaring people off.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One More Time, With Feeling.

Nick Cole's post has certainly struck a chord. To add to the list of those commenting on it (after Vox Day, and others) is now Brian Niemeier, author of the Soul Cycle trilogy.
I've certainly taken Nick's platform-building advice to heart. Let's test it by seeing how many copies of my book this post sells.
Oh, yeah, if you haven't started the series yet, get it on the top of your must-read list. I can't claim to have done more than finish the first, and start the second, but it's been one heluva ride. 

I Forgot One Thing - Name of the Wind.

Since I was covering "well crafted crap" yesterday, I forgot one book that stands out as a rare work I haven't finished, no matter how fine the prose, briefly mentioned in my gushing over John Ringo's Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge.

Holy shit did I get sick of Kvothe - to the point I had to look up his name because I have him tagged mentally as "whiny selfish Marty Stu asshole gamma victim" the character so revolted me. I think I stopped somewhere at the point he was getting kicked out of the magic school or something.

God he was insufferable, and I don't think I would have gotten past the second or third chapter once the protagonist was shown to be such a useless anklebiter if the prose hadn't promised better, and it hadn't gotten so much praise.


Platforms, and Building Them


I joked in my 2016/2017 post that the "dark secret" of this blog was that it's as much for me to develop a set of habits, to do something every day, making it a priority, as it is about anything else. Providing at least some useful insights or interesting info is how I hope to get and keep an audience, but without putting up posts, I can't put up good posts either.

So buried in Nick Cole's recent post on platforms, was this:
Here’s what you need to know to do the same thing.  It’s easy.  In fact, it’s never been easier.

  1.  Blog regularly.  Six days a week.  Say something.  Anything.  Even repost someone’s article (like this one) and add a comment to get readers interested and sharing the post even if it’s not yours. People who click on it will land on your website and they might get interested in your books.
  2.  Stop going on Facebook and giving them free content by just posting stuff.   Take the time to write a blog post from your own website and then post it to Facebook.

Do this faithfully and start connecting with your readers regularly.  In time you’ll build an audience that will be yours and not some SJW media mogul’s who might decide to blacklist you because you think DNA determines gender.  Or global warming is a big lie.  Or civil rights is just a con game some crooks are using to stay in power.  Or Gweyneth Paltrow’s latest film sucks.  Whatever. Build your own platform.  Even if you’re not interested in causing trouble you’ll have an audience you can direct market your book to any time you want.
Now, I don't have a book to sell, or anything else yet. You may say that whatever I do in the future I'm developing a skillset, or what Scott Adams would call a skill stack, that should help me out.

Nick also wrote the excellent book, CTRL-ALT-REVOLT, available at Amazon. It has interesting characters, a fun story, and is just, in general, a great read.





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

SJW's Produce Terrible Work

I have not finished Forbidden Thoughts yet, so a review will have to wait. Overall I'm enjoying it so far but some of the complaints noted by several people are, IMO, valid criticisms... certainly a couple stories preach with a 4x4 that did not have to.

That said, the intro, by Milo, was brilliant. And in that, the following leapt out at me:
"SJWs produce terrible work SJWs are fantastic at complaining, but terrible at creating. Like games and comics, SJW science fiction is drivel. The low quality of the content is why controlling industry awards, publishers and hobby journalism is critical" from "Forbidden Thoughts"
OK. What do we mean by "terrible work."

There are of course obvious choices with cardboard cutout characters standing in for not just conservatives, but for strawman versions of them. There is the "humor" of Jon Stewart and Colbert, that occasionally is funny when apolitical, but devolves to "they're stupid" when their favorite whipping boys are the subject. There is movie after movie with fundamentally ugly, miserable views of humanity where even the protagonists - I cannot call them heroes - are ugly.

But I don't believe, especially given the context of the comment, that Milo is talking about such incompetent and obviously incompetent and ugly dreck that even liberals blanch. I want to discuss the competent - where the craftsmanship is there, but the work itself is hollow, or rotten.

Take Game of Thrones. Yes, I'm going there, because having read a number of works from before ASoIaF like the Sandkings, or the Tuf stories (which should have been a hint, frankly...), and finding them darkly amusing, and hearing so much about the epic fantasy series, I sat down and started reading it.

And my sense of disgust and disappointment as I finished the first book was so profound, I never cracked the cover of the second.

Is he a bad author? No. He's an excellent writer, and as evidence I'd submit that the visceral reaction I felt to the incest, depravity, the killing off of the Starks, and the betrayal and futility of all that is virtuous in the quest for "realistic" (and hitting instead unceasingly grim) is a mark of the impact his writing had. Ditto how the Tuf stories, and the SandKings are so vividly recalled after all these years.

But his stories are hollow, lacking in true joy or light.

Take Stephen King. I've read It, The Stand, The Long Walk, The Running Man, Dreamcatcher, Cycle of the Werewolf, Eyes of the Dragon, and the Gunslinger books through Wizard In Glass. I'd also seen Misery. Over time, several overarching themes became apparent - King's disgust with people, with civilization in the fore among them. In the Stand, like any good horror story, at the end, the horror was civilization itself and all the trappings built up, and the town of "good" survivors had started becoming a bunch of controlling busybodies. The sense of decay, especially in Roland's background, is palpable. The mundane horror of The Long Walk still palpably haunts my memories. He's celebrated for bringing out the horror and evil in people and the mundane rather than overtly supernatural things - and after a while one gets the sense that not only is it inevitable that some people are evil, but that most are helpless. Add to that increasingly shallow "good" and "bad" (conservative, of course) characters as portrayed in "Under the Dome", and no, I no longer read him.

Compare this to Dean Koontz, who often explores the darkness in people, but also has the theme of virtue, nobility, and without making it a pointless game for chumps. In Watchers there is both the "evil" monster, born of meddling in things man was not meant to know, but also the dog. The moonlight bay series also explored many of these issues - technology being something that enabled people to be more - more good, or more evil - and civilization being overall a force for good.

So King is again, an excellent writer, who passes off toxic sludge for stories.

In the Walking Dead, the creator openly opines that it isn't just about the drama of good and bad people in a horrible situation, but that it's about how even compared to the monsters, we are the real horrors.

What about games?

I'll leave the controversy over triple-A titles aside, and look aside, at the stuff recommended on, for example, the iOS app store. I'll also focus on stuff that is at least well crafted rather than, say, Depression Quest. 

Sure, a number of puzzlers, racing games, and traditional twitch games exist, but I'm also struck by the kudos I'd seen for apps like Monument Valley. it is, indeed, a beautifully executed puzzle game, with an interesting art style, yet in the end, it's not a very deep one. The puzzles were noted by Polygon - the same guys who couldn't play Doom as well as a noob - as being not very difficult, and there aren't many of them. The "story" is not only shallow, but in true liberal fashion explicitly eschews conflict. From the developers app page:
AN ILLUSORY ADVENTURE OF IMPOSSIBLE ARCHITECTURE AND FORGIVENESS
 In the end, it's beautifully crafted, was worth the time spent playing through it for some clever puzzles, but did not have not much other substance, and little replay value.

Or look at the praise heaped on Journey. Again, it looks beautiful. The mechanics and responses and environment are crafted with attention to detail and usability. It's also an "experience."
But occasionally you’ll bump into another player on the same pilgrimage. You can only communicate with musical notes, but these sonic interactions feel reassuring, reminding you that you’re not alone. The identity of your companion is never revealed, either, but you feel a connection to this mysterious other player as you make your way through your journey.
And it also explicitly eschews competition or violence:
The multiplayer component of Journey was designed to facilitate cooperation between players without forcing it, and without allowing competition.[13] It is intended to allow the players to feel a connection to other people through exploring with them, rather than talking to them or fighting them. The plan was "to create a game where people felt they are connected with each other, to show the positive side of humanity in them."
But wasn't I just complaining that things were too dark? 

Yes - bear with me. Let's turn back to books, and my least favorite puppeteer who ruined the Writing Excuses podcast for me even before I discovered she was an SJW. From Jeffro's review of Lady Astronaut of Mars:  
The author appears to be extremely aggressive in her attempt to counter female stereotypes in science fiction, but she doesn’t seem to have anything compelling to offer in their place. There is no power here, no virility, no beauty, no passion, and no meaning here. There’s just a woman that strikes me as being an inadvertent reductio ad absurdum to our culture’s dominant views on women and women’s roles. Sure, she gets to be the hero and the astronaut in the end… but her sacrifice is more about her and how it makes her feel than anything else. She’s so myopic… and yet, she really would have been happier if she’d just been a mom and stayed at home. (Everyone else would have been happier, too. She’s strikes me as being the sort of person that you’d never want to do anything for you because she’s such a martyr that you’d never hear the end of it.)
I don’t have anything against this author personally and have no idea what else she’s done. Just based on reading this, I can only conjecture that she’d hate the sort of works that I prefer– Tolkien’s writing, for example. She strikes me as a competent wordsmith, but I don’t know that I can readily forgive her for using her talents to make something that is so intentionally ugly and hollow. Maybe I should feel sorry for her for her lack of imagination? Ah well, I guess this is all that’s left when a person has purged the chainmail bikini from their science fiction and fantasy. At the very least, this piece graphically demonstrates where that sort of idiocy ultimately leads….
"She strikes me as a competent wordsmith " - That's what all these works share. They're well executed, but ultimately hollow. The craft and beauty are ultimately skin deep - the quality of the word arrangement, the beauty of the art style - but substance and depth are lacking. Some have putrid cores that cynically see the worst in people, other's possess an equally monochromatic core of forced harmony.  The latter are pleasant, but ultimately are as transient as cotton candy.

They are incomplete.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

But We're Only Getting Started

So a recent G+ post by Jeffro was the Washington Post whinging and crying that maybe, maybe, they should give up the hashtag/catchphrase "fake news" as it's been (clutch pearls, please, and faint) "tainted". It seems conservatives have changed the meaning and been using to dismiss (implied "just") "liberal claptrap."

Of course, there's a completely un-selfaware (and accurate) definition of "fake news."
Fake news has a real meaning — deliberately constructed lies, in the form of news articles, meant to mislead the public. 
Unselfaware, and implied "just" because for the WaPo to admit that it and it's brethern had indeed "deliberately constructed lies, in the form of news articles, meant to mislead the public", would go all to far in explaining why, oh why, the hashtag was turned around on them by a right that had begun to learn from GamerGate.

We started punching back, and pointing out, in a way that hurts, that they are rotten, miserable, dishonest people.

On a related note, the wife of the awesome Alexander Macris, creator of the old-school D&D style Adventurer Conqueror King role-playing system, posted a link to the following Mitchell and Webb skit. It was in response to the snobbery on high display at the golden globes, but Alexander's retweet quote, "If only they could be that self aware", is entirely relevant here.



I'll have to write up  a summary of fake news - maybe even create an infogalactic page if one doesn't exist already.... (checked, doesn't, but now intend to start a stub page for media lies going all the way back to 60 minutes and the truck collision reporting to Rather and the NG papers to blatant video butchery on the part of CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. - and I'll forward #Fakenews to that)

If anyone else starts the project before I do, let me know here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

#MetalMonday


A friend of mine in High School handed me a mix tape full of various rock music, and on the second side of said tape, he included the song I'm linking to here.

Until that point in time, while I had a minimal familiarity with Iron Maiden, etc., I had no idea that metal could be anything but Scorpion-glam, or annoyingly noisy stuff (with some exceptions for Priest and Maiden) compared to Floyd, Led Zeppelin, etc.

Holy shit.

I can blame my love for both symphonic and power metal on this one damn track.



Just got back from a long trip so likely all I'm posting today...

Friday, January 6, 2017

Girl Friday - redheads

Enjoy.







Speaking of Losing Daring Fireball, and Apple Missteps...

To follow up on the notes in my previous post where Apple really dropped the fucking ball - and other people, even fanboys, are arguing that Apple is provably losing it on multiple fronts - John Gruber points to an article called "Capitulation."
Yes, I bought a new Mac Pro. For certain values of “new”. Hear me out, though, after the jump.

Why?

So, my last post was about my angst about replacing my 2008 Mac Pro tower, the best Mac I’ve ever owned. So what happened? Well, upon further reflection:

  • The idea of a 2012 Mac Pro, even the CPU-upgraded Ramjet aftermarket ones, fell off the radar because with Apple’s definition of obsolescence, that hardware will become unmaintainable as soon as 2018.
  • Similarly, someone pointed out that with the very idea of a third-party graphics card no longer in any of Apple’s shipping Macs, it could become difficult for the Hackintosh community to keep going. No idea if this is true, but it makes sense, I guess?
  • If I wanted a year-old iMac, or the new MacBook Pro, I could have bought either of those ages ago and wouldn’t be in this position.
  • Waiting isn’t really an option, with my 2008 machine not supported by Sierra.
I think my needs, for development and especially for video work (Motion and Wirecast, mainly) are best served by the Mac Pro. Even the pathetic, three-year-old Mac Pro, because what I want is lots of cores, silent operation, and expandability of RAM and storage, something the iMac and MacBook Pro can’t offer.

I’d been catching up financially for a while, and finally had a $4,000-5,000 budget to work with. What made finally pull the trigger, ironically, was Tim Cook’s ham-fisted, half-assed claim that desktop Macs remain strategically important to Apple. Marco Arment parsed this as suggesting the Mac Pro is likely dead within Apple, given the fact that Cook explicitly equated the concept of the desktop with the iMac and only with the iMac.

If Marco’s right, then the choice is either today’s Mac Pro, or no Mac Pro.
I know that I'm a long-term Mac user - and the OS frankly is a completely different beast under OSX than it was in the OS9 and older days, so much so that (as much as I loved some aspects of it), it would have died  a well deserved death languishing as it was before Jobs return. A lot of us would have turned to Linux or Windows, or both, without it. And yes, I know there are people who bitch about the prices - and it's mostly unfair as Apple never targeted the bargain or low-end crowd. Yes, in the last few years the desktop and laptop hardware has languished, and it took a few years after Jobs came back to really get the combination of hardware and software fully up to par (~ 2003), but the time period in the middle, after Apple perfected their logistics chain, until Steve died, was some of the best bang for the buck you could get if you needed those features.

Yes, there were cheaper computers, especially, though less so over time, if you were willing to assemble them yourself. Yes, you could get more RAM, faster processors, bigger screens, etc. for the price, but if you needed the array of connectors Apple provided, with a good screen, a good keyboard, a trackpad (on the laptops) that is still, frankly, generally unmatched even on "high end" windows laptops, in a solidly built enclosure that could take a beating, it was hard to beat apple kit at any price.

I know one exec who still insists on Macbook airs to run Windows for his personal use even though I've recommended Dell and similar options because - especially with a back injury he had at one point - he utterly values the size and slimness of them, and the reliability compared to the returns for some of the other office computers.

The laptop I'm typing this on, I purchased because out of the four options I looked at for Wintel-based machines with similar RAM, CPU, screen resolution, weight specs three years ago only one was marginally cheaper, the rest were more expensive than this Mac. And no, I'm getting around too much for a "portable desktop" brick.

This year, seeing the new Macbook Pro with the "active" function bar zone? I'm glad that I'm not buying a laptop this year, and either the prices will come back down over the next twelve months - I don't need the price hike to effectively embed an apple watch in my keyboard - or I'm likely jumping ship when it comes time to get my regularly scheduled replacement.

My phone is free and clear, over two years old, and I'm not buying the latest iPhone because the issues with the lack of headphone jack and the non-mechanical home button, though not showstoppers, combined with the fact that my "6plus" is "fast enough", mean I have no problem waiting to see what comes around the corner. Also, the current android offerings, though far better than they used to be overall, don't impress me either. So I'm sticking with what I have.

In short, until I absolutely have to on both the phone and laptop fronts, I'm waiting to see if anything comes out that impresses me enough to either stay with Apple, or shift to MS/Linux. I already use Mint in VMWare roughly 20% of the time. And If I have to because something breaks?

I fully agree with the sentiment of that article's title. Capitulation is exactly the right word.