I’m not so sure

I think John Scalzi is three-quarters right on this, but it’s not the slam dunk he thinks it is:

This conspiracy against men is apparently aided and abetted by the author’s belief, expressed in his comment section, that the publishing industry doesn’t actually make money, nor apparently is intended to. Leaving aside the fact that this is an assertion which I suspect will come rather as a surprise to most of the editors and publishers I know, I’m not entirely sure I’m following the logic there. Publishing is controlled by women, and therefore it won’t publish work for men, and that’s why it doesn’t make money? Because it’s not supposed to make money, publishing is controlled by women, who won’t publish work for men? The dark feminist conspiracy won’t let men publish their work unless they check their testicles at the door, and enter the room bearing fruity drinks and amusing coupons for foot rubs? Something along those lines. It’s kind of confusing to me.

I don’t think there’s any publishing conspiracy against men, myself, but that the sales numbers do tend to indicate that there may be too much female influence on decisions made regarding what will appeal to men. Scalzi is right to suggest that a problem finding a publisher likely isn’t with the publishers in most cases, but then, how does he explain precisely the same complaint being voiced by bestselling authors Tucker Max and Maddox?

No woman who finds Tucker Max or Maddox offensive was ever going to sign them to write a book, (despite the ample proof that at least Tucker’s female fans are among the most appreciative in the world), which is why “mainstream publishers would have nothing to do with them” according to the New York Times. As Frank Kelly Rich points out, “it took the Web to help fratire get around the hang-ups of mainstream publishing houses that professed to be searching for the male equivalent of chick lit, but which were frightened when they actually saw what it looked like.”

Publishers usually kill a book it offends someone on the pub board, regardless of the sales projections. That’s why I was paid off by a conservative publishing house that didn’t want to publish a book it had already signed and which the editors loved; the kill decision came two days after learning that I wasn’t intending to restrict my criticism to the left side of the political spectrum. The sales projections were among the highest for any of the books they’d signed at that time, but they killed it anyway after having someone at Fox News examine the chapter on Bill O’Reilly.

As John may remember, there were also SFWAns who stated that I’d never get published at Tor due to my politically incorrect opinions about the dearth of women writing hard science fiction being discussed on Electrolyte. (A moot point, since I’ve never been a big Tor fan.) Now, I don’t know if it’s video games, the fact that men are more likely to circumvent the publishing system – I mostly read pirate ebooks on my Treo and don’t buy a physical book unless I wish to cast a financial vote of support for the author – or that increased female influence in publishing has had the unintended result of decreasing the appeal of modern fiction to men, but it seems something is causing men to buy less fiction than before. Given that the same thing has happened in television, I suspect it’s mostly a combination of 1 and 3.

Still, none of this excuses a bad author’s failure to get published, and anyway, smart women in publishing will come to understand, if they don’t already, that no one can control the market. If a void is created, that void will eventually be filled. The ratings abuse of CNN by Fox News has demonstrated how foolish it is to ignore the void; if the mainstream publishers won’t provide men with what they want, men will simply go elsewhere.

And it’s clear that mainstream publishing and the conventional book business is in trouble. I didn’t even bother looking for a publisher to replace Pocket Books, I mean, what was the point? In the time it would take to find a publisher, I could publish it myself and write another book. And having been thrice rejected by pub boards after being specifically solicited by an editor, I won’t even talk to a publisher that approaches me anymore unless I’m speaking with the ultimate decision-maker.

The freedom is of self-publishing is great; instead of a stupid stock photo cover which I’m under pressure to approve, I have a fantastic Rowena cover painting and no one can tell me that I can’t release free PDB and PDF versions to the Net. Maybe I won’t make any money on it, but so what? Writing fiction is one of the least efficient means of producing income known to man, so you might as well embrace it as an interesting hobby instead of an income-producing career.

Mailvox: yeah, I’ll get right on that

PS writes again:

I am demanding you remove what I wrote from your site. That was private e-mail-not some bullet points you could take and dismantle for your nine readers.

It seems rather odd to be perturbed at the thought of having one’s feeble attempt at criticism exposed to an audience of nine, especially since I did not and will not reveal PS’ identity or email address, but strange are the ways of Man. At least he’s willing to admit that his points, such as they were, were indeed dismantled.

Now, as to the etiquette of publishing one’s incoming email. If two individuals are engaging in private communication via email or any other form of communication and one party suddenly publishes that communication without permission from the other, that is a clear breach of trust and etiquette. However, one does not have the right to abuse another individual via email, as PS did, and expect that unprovoked attack to be quietly and privately endured. Furthermore, the original purpose of this blog was to provide me with a means of addressing numerous emails that are similar in content in one shot, so no one should be surprised when I do so.

Many people email me and request that I not respond via the blog. I never do… although I’m under no obligation to respond via email either.

Now, it’s important to underline that there’s nothing wrong with expressing one’s opinions about another individual, much less that individual’s publicly expressed ideas. I have no problem with PS or anyone else attacking my columns and blog posts. But to expect one’s unilateral attacks to be protected by the person assaulted is really a bit much, even if they are embarrassingly inept.

VPFL Week 8

101 Mounds View Meerkats
50 Mile High Club

87 COS McRays
84 Pale Horse Cowboys

76 Burns Montgomerys
43 Greenfield Grizzlies

71 Santa Barbarians
58 Newport Sea Dogs

59 West Texas Vikings
37 East Mesa WhiteTrash

Well, that was a bit of a melt-down by the Vikings last night. Can’t say I’m too happy about it, but at least the Meerkats have climbed back into the mix on the strength of contributions from everyone but Mr. Jones-Drew. If this wasn’t a keeper league, I’d have dropped Reggie Bush already, but I’m a bit loathe to do that yet.

Mailvox: critics sans criticism

PS doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of how one goes about making a case against someone:

Are you embarassed at all that you write this article on ‘clowns of reason’ on a goofy far-right site that’s founder believes Dinosaurs were Dragons and lived with humans and there are hundreds of articles and columns praising creationism? (“Scientist Confirms: Noah’s Ark Real!”, “Did Creation Happen on October 20th, 6004 BC?”, “‘Gays’ hastening the upcoming Rapture?” etc.).

No, not particularly. I’m only responsible for my own work. Personally, I find the pro-Republican “This is the Most Important Election Ever” columns that run every two years like clockwork to be more embarrassing.

It seems to me that you hope to be a delightfully contrarian intellectual (“I joke that women shouldn’t vote! Aren’t I a stinker?”, “I’m a Christian Libertarian-Can you believe it!?”, “I’m an evangelical-but I”m in Mensa! Bet ya didn’t see that comin’!” “I love shitty post-modern literature like Umberto Eco but I really love the Bible most of all!”, “I hate Michael Moore-but I have a semi-Mohawk etc.) but are stuck at a hilariously wingnut website that is only visited by liberals who want to laugh and strange smelly men who hold their shotguns in one hand and their bible in another.

I am not joking about women’s suffrage, of course. But how dare PS suggest that the great dottore writes post-modern literature? That’s far and away the most offensive thing in his email! PS fails to realize that although his intellectual heroes are frauds, it doesn’t mean that everyone is.

I know it probably hurts that only a few people read you, but don’t take it out on brilliant scientists and intellectuals who think more in one day than you do in a year. Drown your sorrow in Joy Division, Ayn Rand and William Dembski and call us when you start to think logically.

Actually, I’ve sold a bt more than half as many books as Sam Harris and my WND
readership is much larger than his blog. For whatever that’s worth, anyhow; while one always hopes for an audience, it isn’t the main reason one writes. Furthermore, I note that like WT, PS doesn’t even attempt to defend Harris’ factual and logical errors elucidated in today’s column, most likely because it can’t be done. As is so often the case with this sort of critic, he doesn’t actually say anything, he’s merely crying like a child upset about his little friend getting spanked in front of him. It is sad that I can tear apart in fifteen minutes what takes those clowns months and months to painstakingly assemble, but then, the chances are that I’m rather more intelligent than they are.

Thought knows no labor theory of value, its defining factor is quality, not quantity. One hopes that PS will consider bringing an actual argument next time.

Mailvox: a college query

AM4 is considering his options:

Reading your columns and blogs as a high school student has definitely opened up my eyes to thinking and true reason, and not the atheistic and immoral “thinking” that everyone else around me uses. So, I find myself, a senior and wondering, what would you recommend that a student should look for in a college? I’m a Christian and I’m interested in history or economics, since both fields appeal to me. I just want to go to college and learn and be educated and rise above the muck that seems to be post-Vietnam Western Society.

AM4 must first understand that one does not go to college to learn or be educated, much less rise above the post-modern muck. Indeed, it is where one goes to immerse oneself in it. The modern university provides three things:

1. A four-year immersion in left-wing, secularist propaganda.
2. Preparation for the post-graduate studies of professional technocrats. (optional)
3. The Ticket.

The Ticket is one’s pass into the white collar salaried ranks. The value of one’s ticket depends upon the brand name, of course, but that’s all it provides. In fact, the average non-technocratic graduate of Harvard is probably less well-educated than the average home-schooled junior from a traditional liberal arts perspective.

The Ticket aside, experience and connections trump degrees. So, I recommend arranging for the acquisition of a discount brand-name ticket – something like the Harvard extensions or some other big name equivalent – combined with pursuing internships in the field of your interest. Economics or history, one can study on one’s own to greater effect than gets at university… yesterday I picked up a forty-page paper entitled “Condottieri and City-State” that I wrote my senior year in college and was embarrassed by its callowness. Having a friend hold you accountable to finishing your readings in Gibbon or Mises or Schumpeter will substitute for a professor very nicely indeed and it will cost substantially less.

The reality is that once you get that first job, no one will ever ask where you went to school again, and unless you happen to be one of those insufferable losers whose life will be forever defined by acceptance to a school with a reputation, you won’t think twice about it either. In the real world, success is defined by either results or political machinations, not expensive pieces of paper.

Of Clausewitz and the clowns

Fred is not religious, but he conspicuously fails to get the New Atheists’ collective back nevertheless in Peeing on Hydrants:

The aggressiveness of males has wreaked unremitting havoc throughout history in the form of war. Women don’t do war, don’t like war, don’t fantasize about war. They put up with it. Lysistrata, though written by a man, captures the distaff mind well.

These days every war is said to have some justification of the most solemn import, but it’s just Crips and Bloods. Among primitive peoples a young man becomes a warrior through some curious rite, and then goes on raids to steal horses and women. With us it’s boot camp, jump wings, Ranger patch, and raids to impose democracy. The essential difference is as follows:

What we call statesmanship is, emotionally and morally, indistinguishable from gang war in South Chicago. The scale is more imposing and, under some administrations, the grammar better. Aggressive males rise to power in heavily armed countries of many millions. Then they push and shove, bark and bow-wow at others like themselves in other countries. The tribal trappings remain, particularly among the warriors: Baubles and medals and patches and different hats, talk of honor and duty and valor. Nah. Males dogs in an alley.

Of course, if we can only manage to eradicate religious faith, that will eliminate male aggression, right? Seriously, how does anyone who has either a) read any military history, or, b) celebrated more than ten birthdays manage to read Harris or Dawkins with a straight face?

It doesn’t matter which military philosopher one selects. In every instance, the New Atheist creed is punctured and deflated. If war is the continuation of politics by other means, then religion can only be a bit player at best. And if war is the only right and proper object of a prince’s meditation, that leaves little room for religious contemplation or even motivation. One will likewise peruse the works of Vegetius and Sun Tzu in vain to discover any means of making use of religion in pursuit of the general’s art.

If religion was so useful for making war, one would expect at least one of the authors of the classic military texts to have noticed at some point in time. The truth is that religious fanaticism is not a particularly useful aspect of war on either a tactical or strategic basis.

The leading New Atheists aren’t merely intellectual buffoons, they are poorly-educated, ignorant, intellectual buffoons, Dawkins’ genuine achievements in other fields notwithstanding. They are a public testimony to the failure of Oxford and Stanford as educational institutions.

Mailvox: convinced by clowns

WT is most impressed by the New Atheist luminaries:

You cringe at Harris’s opening in The End of Faith where he says, “one can easily guess the young man’s religion.” I began your article interested in any commentary you might have on the role religion has played and does play in the world. When you began defiling perhaps three of today’s most insightful intellectuals, it was “painfully easy” to guess that you were another mind grabbed too young to see the trap. What a waste. I live in Egypt and the society is absolutely intellectually stifled by Islam just as you have been stifled by your irrational beliefs. Somehow, it looks as if you’ve managed to sidetrack all the contradictions and manage to (with a straight face) challenge a trio of men that are pointing you do your escape route. Just as Letter to a Christian Nation will not make many converts, so do I doubt that you will find your way out. I wish you luck.

One can’t defile that which is already foul. I didn’t make Harris’ factual and logical errors, I merely pointed them out. One can almost see the alarm on WT’s face as he realizes that I’m not content to play defense and attempt to defend something that does not need my help to defend itself, but rather taking the weapon that “today’s most insightful intellectuals” wrongly claim as their own and turning it upon them and their incompetent arguments for atheism.

The vast majority of atheists come to their lack of belief by emotion, not reason. One can see this in the passion, sometimes anguished, that lurks behind their angriest questions. While this does not mean that many don’t have genuine and rational reason for doubt, it means that their lack of faith is usually built on a shaky foundation which is prone to undermining by applying reason to their own emotional assumptions.

Attacking error-prone critics such as the trinity of clowns does not defend God or Christianity, of course, except in the inoculation it offers to their specious attacks that the insufficiently contemplative find convincing. You’ll note that WT does not even attempt to defend Harris or question any of my points but instead contents himself with irrelevant and baseless statements; no wonder he is impressed by Harris and his method of argument.

Secularism to blame for Islamic terror

An excellent article in the New York Times magazine:

No law can exist for a millennium without being broken, and there are scattered historical reports, mostly from Christian chroniclers, of Muslim forces acting outside the bounds of lawful jihad, without the authorization of the scholars. Men were always considered legitimate targets, and Muslim armies sometimes slaughtered them just as Muslims could be slaughtered by their enemies. Remarkably enough, though, the legal principles of jihad protecting women, children and fellow Muslims survived well into the modern era, when the secular regimes of the Muslim world began to fight according to secular ideas. The World War I Armenian genocide, which took place in the last, secularizing gasp of the declining Ottoman Empire, was the first really substantial systematic violation of the ban on killing women and children in recorded Islamic history.

This is yet another example of one of the great ironies of secularism. Secularists, particularly militantly atheist ones, constantly posit religion as a source of violence and evil, and yet the historical record very clearly shows, even in the case of Islam, that religion tends to be a mitigating factor in reducing the level of violence that is integral to every human conflict between rival forces.

By any means necessary is not a religious notion, it is a fundamentally secular one. For only secularism knows no inherent bounds upon it and it is this secular notion that has released the world’s militaries from past strictures of civilized behavior.