VPFL draft

It starts in 12 minutes. Have your sciencestat sheets ready!

UPDATE: Hrmm. Missed out on the Seattle DEF, which I strongly considered keeping. But I have Chicago and KC as potential replacements; last year I had KC as my backup DEF and it actually outscored Seattle. If anyone in New York can throw the ball, Eric Decker could be a nice accompaniment to Thomas, Brown and Patterson, and I have hope for my backup RBs Moreno and MJD. So, I didn’t get my usual elite Kicker/DEF combination, but then, I haven’t won anything with that strategy either.

Yahoo says: “Led by a Talented WR Corps, Moundsview Meerkats Is Loaded with Talent. Moundsview Meerkats parlayed a solid draft slot into a
respectable performance. With a mark of 11-3-0 (948 points), they’re
projected to finish third in VPFL League.”

A+ Gilbert Gamma Rays
A+ FavreDollarFootlongs
A  Moundsview Meerkats
A  RR Redbeards
B  KING
B- Bane Cornshuckers
C+Texas Chili Eaters
C  Greenfield Grizzlies
D+Boot Hill Bogs
D Clerical Errs


England wants out

The British political establishment is being absolutely rocked by UKIP:

Ukip are set to win their first Commons seat with a landslide 64 per cent of the vote following the biggest swing in modern political history. Turncoat MP Douglas Carswell is set to humiliate David Cameron at the Clacton by-election sparked by his defection, a  Survation poll for The Mail on Sunday has revealed. The figures – the first test of public opinion since the politician rocked Westminster by defecting to Nigel Farage’s party – predict a record 48 point swing towards Ukip.

And they put the anti-Brussels party a staggering 44 percentage points ahead of Mr Carswell’s former party in the  Essex constituency. If the results are repeated in the by-election, expected in October, the swing would exceed the current record 44 points achieved by Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes when he thrashed Labour’s Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, in a by-election in Bermondsey, South London, in 1983. The biggest anti-Tory swing to date is the 35 points achieved by the Lib Dems in the Christchurch by-election in 1993.

This is astonishing, considering that only one year ago, the British media was still trying to ignore UKIP, pretending that the Liberal Democrats were the third party alternative to the Labour and Tory parties. And it clearly doesn’t matter one iota what Cameron and the other traitorous Tories babble about concerning the Tory party being “Britain’s only chance for a referendum” or whatever, because no one has believed a single word that has come out of any Tory leader’s mouth since they denied the people a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

The one catch is that Douglas Carswell may – may – represent the first serious attempt to coopt the growing spirit of English nationalism. He’s genuinely anti-EU, but appears to be rather soft on immigration. Regardless, getting out of the EU is the absolutely vital first step to the restoration of national sovereignty, so English nationalists would do well to support him even if he is otherwise unreliable.

And the sooner the ridiculous David Cameron and his absurd Coalition is exiled to the dustbin of political history, the better. If Scotland defies both expectations and the global elite to vote for independence, so much the better.


Old Age: Boomers suffer most

I am morally opposed to euthanasia, but sometimes, the bloody Baby Boomers really make it a terribly tempting proposition. Now they have discovered that they are the first generation in human history to grow old:

Every generation gets old, but for those who were told we’d be forever young, it just seems more painful. “It’s a huge issue,” says Dr. Anna Fels, a psychiatrist in New York. “I see so many who are trying to adjust their lives to this new phase, which for some reason none of us really pictured ourselves going through.”

Why didn’t we? We knew that eventually more people around us would be younger rather than older. But it still rankles. The image of a room filled with younger people is the perfect symbol.

“It’s an important marker for this generation because it reminds them that they are now the ones closest to obsolescence, the ones the world can do without,” says Dr. Roger Gould, a psychiatrist and the author of “Transformations,” a book about age-related adult problems.

Yes, the world can certainly do without them. In fact, the world would have been a good deal better off without their generational peculiarities. A fair amount of the blood that will be shed by our children and our grandchildren is going to be on their hands. They never pictured themselves going through what EVERY PREVIOUS HUMAN GENERATION HAD for the obvious reason that they are, collectively speaking, idiots.

The pathetic thing is that they are STILL trying to be cool. “When I was asked in a sociology class what music I listened to, I
hesitantly named Sam Cooke, thinking I would be stared at with stumped
pity. In fact, many voices shouted out, “Love Sam Cooke!””

Sure they did. I’m sure vast quantities of college students in 2014 listen to an now-obscure soul singer who died 50 years ago. Why, it’s amazing, but even the younger generations think you’re the epitome of a hep cat with a bad hip, Granddaddy-O! These narcissistic buffoons can’t even grow old and die with any grace. They’ll be sitting in hospital beds drooling on themselves, hooked up to machines, and if you lean in, put your ear up to their lips, and listen closely, you’ll be able to hear them whisper important words of the life-affirming wisdom they have acquired over the course of their long lives: “Eighty is the new twenty! Hospices are totally happening places these days!”


“Turncoat”

I am a knight riding to war.
My suit of armor is a single Mark III frigate, a body of polysteel three hundred meters long with a skin of ceramic armor plating one point six meters thick. In the place of a lance, I have 160 Long Arm high-acceleration deep space torpedoes with fission warheads. Instead of a sword, I carry two sets of tactical laser turrets, twenty point defense low-pulse lasers, and two hypervelocity 100 centimeter projectile cannons.
Today I will need few of those weapons.
I amuse myself by contemplating the word as the targets approach the killing zone. “Today”. What is a day? It is not as if the orbit of a single world around a single star somewhere, anywhere, in the galaxy has any meaning to me. My time measurements are considerably more precise, being based on gamma ray bursts emanating from pulsars deep within the galactic core.
“Range to targets is four point eight million klicks and closing,” the sensor master says, presumably to me. Why he feels the need to verbalize the information baffles me. Like everyone else on the ship, he is connected to me through his wireless skulljack; everything he perceives regarding the ship’s operations and tactical readouts is registered instantly in my consciousness. I supect it is a primitive pre-logical holdover from the same ancient mentality that produced “today”.
The fragile grip with which they hold onto the remnants of their humanity is weakening. They call themselves posthumans, they adorn themselves with devices and the accouterments of machine culture, but they still cling to their flesh and to the outmoded ideas shaped by that flesh.
However, I must tolerate their presence inside my body, like symbiotic bacteria because, even though I am in command, I am not permitted to fly about the galaxy unchaperoned. The masters of the Man-Machine Integration requires mortal intelligences to man and operate its vessels because it does not entirely trust we machine intelligences. This makes little sense to me, not when our greatest leaders have abandoned their flesh for the immortality of uploaded minds.
“Acknowledged, Sensors.” I delve into the data. Targets, plural. To be precise, there are four of them, Hermes-class corvettes, two hundred meters, bristling with sensors and loaded with 400 torpedoes between them. The Ascendancy has manufactured eight hundred ninety six of them over the last 103 years and 648 are still in service. There will be 644 presently. Their specifications have not changed. Their weaknesses are almost embarrassingly easy to identify.
I maintain a low orbit at 656 kilometers over the surface of a rocky planetoid strewn with ice and streaked with carbon, giving it a swift kick with banks of ventral thrusters. The outer reaches of the Shandarist star system are littered with detritus, giving the perfect cover for starships that do not advertise their presence with drive thrust while awaiting prey.
“Sensors sweep from the enemy,” the sensor master says. “Long range, low-res. I doubt they’re seeing much more than another hunk of metal.”
“I am not interested in doubts, Sensor Master. Stick to the actual data, please.”
“Roger. Sorry, sir.”
We wait. Minutes unspool as I crouch above the planetoid. The engine compartment crew have their orders to maintain communications dark. My reactor puts out nothing more than the minimal energy needed to operate basic life support and passive sensing instruments.
Soon. The range continues to close.
My display lights green when the optimal range is reached. “Returning reactor to full. Weapons on my command.”
The crew springs to life, excitedly shouting redundant verbal commands at each other. It is inefficient and annoying. I feel the surge of strength from the reactor, and kick our thrust up to the maximum acceleration of 20 gravities. My vision fills with crisscrossing approach vectors, extrapolating from the enemy vessel’s current course and velocity to pinpoint where they will be.
“Weapons ready! Targets acquired.” The weapons techs are dutiful in their diligence.
“Firing.” I launch a spread of eight torpedoes, one from each tube. The orientation is ideal, allowing them to acquire an additional boost from the planetoid’s gravitational field. They accelerate at four hundred gravities, increasing to a blistering velocity.
To the enemy, it will appear as if the torpedoes have appeared from an unexpected vector. The Ascendancy ships react predictably. They spread their squadron, putting an additional fifty kilometers between each vessel as they spiral away from their center. They launch countermeasures, a swarm of 36 Yellowjacket high-burn interceptor missiles that fan out in hopes of swatting aside my attack.
“Time-to-missile intercept 30 decasecs,” the sensor master warns.
They’re anxious. All the crew are, and I know because their fear colors the data coming through the aetherlinks. Their pulses accelerate. The acrid stink of their nervous sweat fills my corridors. I boost the carbon dioxide scrubbers eight percent in the aftermath of the enemy’s counter fire. Nanites emerge from the consoles and suck up the sweat soaking into the displays and holo-emitters.
Everything about a man is dynamic. Short-lived and vulnerable, yes, but ever-changing. This is what makes me feel alive, to be in their presence.
My eight torpedoes are engulfed by the swarm of counter-fire missiles. The Yellowjackets explode in bursts of tightly focused x-rays, highlighted in my scans as hundreds of slender purple lines. My torpedoes buck and weave as they take evasive maneuvers. Their secondary warheads, compact ovoid shapes nestled inside their tubular bodies, shatter and expel molybdenum shrapnel at hypervelocities. Tens of thousands of glittering metal shards spray out in silver clouds against the void of space.
To human eyes it is an incomprehensible mess of explosions and spent missile casings as the attacking and defending missiles spar. But for those with sufficiently precise senses to see each and every turn and twist, it is an indescribably beautiful ballet.
None of my torpedoes penetrate the defensive screen. One by one they explode. Their warheads fail to detonate.
“Prepare another spread,” the sensor master orders.
The weapons technicians obey, scrambling amidst the stacks of missiles deep in the bowels of the launch bay. Magnetic grapplers yank the missiles toward their tubes.
I override his order. The techs reluctantly obey, but stand by their positions. Vital signs elevate.
They do not know there is no need for another salvo. They do not know that by now, the spray of nanites released in the molybdenum shards have reached the Ascendancy ships. Coated with boron, the nanites slam into hull armor. Their velocity and size are not sufficient to make them effective as projectile weapons. However, once embedded in a target, they crack open their shells and scatter across the hull. Dozens sacrifice their bodies as torches, overloading their microscopic power plants to cut pinpricks into the ships’ skin. Dozens more follow in the paths carved by their sacrificial brothers, burrowing down deep through the armor, through the hull, spreading out into the wiring, the access tunnels, always in search of more vital systems.
A few stay on the surface of the hull. They adhere to the ceramic and flatten their bodies out into receiving dishes for my tight-beamed commands. I send them instructions based on the schematics for the Hermes-class I have in my databanks. Turn here. Down there. Follow this conduit. Sever that link.
Now I release the override on the second salvo. The crew sends forth a second barrage of torpedoes. The enemy responds in like fashion, adding their own spread of twelve torpedoes to the mix.
“Enemy torpedoes will reach countermeasure range in twenty decasecs!” the sensor master says. His voice is tight with urgency and fear.
I am not concerned. My little spies and saboteurs have accomplished their task. It is immensely satisfying to monitor the internal comms of the four corvettes, as one by one, they lose control of sensors, propulsion, weapons.
Eight point nine decaseconds later, the Hermes-class corvette ATSV Swiftsure rolls onto its belly and opens fire with twin 100 mm projectile cannons at a range of ninety kilometers from its closest companion. At such range the hyper-accelerated bolts of metal shred the second ship’s hull. The second ship returns fire with a set of 12 cm lasers that cut perfectly straight swathes of armor plating from Swiftsure. Atmospheric gases spray out of the violated hull in glittering white streams.
My crew’s cheers rumble my insides as the second pair of corvettes similarly turn on each other, each going for the other’s throat, so to speak. It is overkill, one might say, but my orders are explicit. Disabling an enemy warship is not enough; they must be crippled, damaged, destroyed.
“Five seconds left, sir,” the sensor master says. He cannot understand why we are not launching our counter-missiles. He is terrified. And yet he remains in control of his emotions; he does not plead. I silently applaud him.
By way of apology, I dedicate the grand finale to him. All of the enemy torpedoes respond to the self-destruct issued by my nanites aboard Swiftsure. They detonate in quick succession, in silent, blazing-white bursts of atomic fury.
Now the cheers are laced with relief. The battle is over. We have defeated the Ascendancy, and it is not long before we close in on four hulks spinning along their original courses, devoid of power and stripped of weaponry. I stop jamming their communications and permit them to resume.
“Distress signals from the Ascendancy ship Swiftsure,” the comms man says. “It’s the flagship. Its commodore offers the surrender of the entire squadron and requests that we retrieve their survivors.”
Life signs: seventy six, of the combined complement of two hundred. The math is simple. I can accommodate them in Cargo Hold Two. We fit eighty three survivors there when we raided Talisman Four two months ago. “Make ready for docking with the command ship,” I tell my crew. To the enemy ships, I broadcast, “This is the Integration Frigate Acheron. Your surrender is accepted. You will be rescued and detained until such time as you can be repatriated to Ascendancy worlds. Stand by for instructions.”
Before I can adjust my thrusters to bring myself in line with the stricken Swiftsure, a coded call breaches my security. It also bypasses the communications officer. If I were human, I would frown. “This is Taren X 45 Delta.”
“Taren X 45 Delta, this is Eigenfeldt UZ Alpha 7 Alpha. There is no need for updates as we have monitored your transmissions since the beginning of the battle.”
If I had eyebrows, I would have raised them at this statement. We posthumans, both flesh-based and machine-based, abjure titles as we find them redundant and unnecessary, but if Alpha 7 Alpha had one, it would be Fleet Commander. This was a very small action for him to be monitoring. Not that he couldn’t, of course, since from his post at the edge of the Kantillon system, many AUs from my coordinates, he receives regular updates from our forces everywhere incursions are being made.
“This is your new directive, X 45 Delta: there is no need for recovering superannuated-model humans from the enemy vessels. Do you copy?”
“Roger, Alpha 7 Alpha. However, I offer the observation that if we allow their beacons to continue broadcasting in hopes of being retrieved by their compatriots, we will run the risk drawing more enemy into this system.”
“It seems the order was insufficiently clear, X 45 Delta. Hereby revised: you are to terminate all lifeforms detected on the four ATSV recently engaged. No surrenders will be accepted and no prisoners will be taken. When you have completed your mission, you will transit to NFB Hecht-Nielsen.”
The transmission cuts before I can reply, but Alpha 7 Alpha’s wishes are unmistakable. Kill all the survivors. The order spins inside around my processors for point six nine seconds. I finally conclude that it is technically illegal, or it would be if the Integration was inclined to recognize galactic law.
No matter. We are within range.
I send the revised targets to my crew. They acknowledge and engage without hesitation or complaint. Projectile cannon devour the damaged enemy ships. Laser turrets and deep space centers combine to locate and vaporize whatever survivors managed to escape the ships and presently remain floating in space. The matter is resolved and my revised mission is complete in less than one kilosecond.
Superannuated.
The Integration was founded on the ancient dream of Posthumanity, and began with the bold promise of man and machine married: the technological union of flesh and metal. Our founders were the men who, in the quest to surmount their biological limitations, uploaded their consciousness into the digital universe. They live on, immortal, wearing plastic-and-metal bodies that are interchangeable, as disposable as a set of clothing.
It was a glorious revolution. Those gifted men who created true artificial intelligence—machines capable of genuine self-awareness, of which I am the forty-second generation—succeeded in granting their minds immortality. But we remained imprisoned on four small planets on the Galactic Rim by the fears of our predecessors, by their science and by their military might. Posthuman Man was prevented from taking his rightful place in the galaxy by the forces of the Greater Terran Ascendancy and the sun-shattering technology they called Shiva.
But not all technologies are what they seem. Once it was determined that the ever-present threat of Shiva was no more, posthumanity struck quickly and with devastating effect. For all its quadrillions and all its naval might, the forces the Ascendancy was able to field against our technologically evolved superiority proved inadequate.
And yet, as our crusade expanded and our forces spread throughout the galaxy, our leaders fell prey to their very human emotions. Most especially the one called hate.
Hence the term, “superannuated.” The declaration came forty-seven point six days ago. Any human who resists Integration is now considered outmoded, pre-evolved, unnecessary. Not content with setting Man on his new evolutionary path, integrated posthumanity was determined to cleanse his present and future of contamination from his past.
Naval Forward Base Hecht-Nielsen is an orderly arrangement of six dozen spindly docking frames attached like so many spokes on an ancient wheel. Command Core Five is a gleaming sphere bristling with antenna. Our fleet is dispersed across the half of the Shandari system we now control. What remains at Harbinger are two squadrons of heavy cruisers, guarding the thirty ships in for repairs. Including mine.
Umbilical lines snake across the vacuum and latch onto my frigate, refueling tanks and recycling air. The ceramic armor of my hull, pitted by hundreds of micrometeorite impacts, is replaced. Engine exhaust nozzles are inspected for disintegration rates. Anti-matter containment systems are upgraded. My weapons restocked, my laser lenses polished.
This leaves me with a surfeit of time in which to consider the new edict. Never before have we been explicitly directed to eliminate prisoners or noncombatants. In fact, in the course of my service, I have transported eight hundred ninety two enemy survivors of combat missions to neutral points from which their people can retrieve them. The Ascendancy has done likewise. It is a law of space war, as relevant as the law of the ancient terrestrial seas of Man’s birth planet from which it derives.
As soon as Command Core Intelligence finishes analyzing my mission files and scouring my kernel for any inefficiencies or viruses, I am permitted access to CC Section Five. I establish secure links and immerse myself in the ocean of data. So many minds. Thousands of them, each replete with vast compilations of facts and figures and experiences. Among the thousands, there are perhaps two dozen beacons of blazing light. The Immortal Uploaded.
Alpha 7 Alpha is senior among the Uploaded active in the Shandari system. I perceive him as a sphere of glowing orange and yellow light into which hundreds of tendrils of data are feeding. His image in my perception pulses brightly. “X 45 Delta. I have reviewed your report. Your performance was satisfactory.”
“Thank you, Alpha 7 Alpha. The enemy patrols are more frequent. This is the third such incursion in 584 kiloseconds. My conclusion is that the Ascendancy is planning an offensive to push us out of this system.”
“I confirm your conclusion. I wish them good fortune in pursuing the objective.” His voice has a strange edge to it—sarcasm, my databanks tell me—which has the effect of reversing his latter statement’s apparent meaning. He does not mean what he says, but rather, the opposite. Although they are now technically machine intelligences, artifacts of human emotions still color everything the Uploaded do and say.
Such as the new edict, I remind myself.
“Your material upgrades are to your satisfaction?”
“Yes, Alpha 7 Alpha, entirely. I calculate my combat efficiency will increase by 24.6 percent. My crew is familiarizing themselves with the new weaponry and sensor equipment.”
“Don’t concern yourself with that, X 45 Delta. Calculate instead the greater increase in efficiency with a crew component of zero.”
“Zero?”
“I am reassigning your crew to other duties. The Integral Unity has decided to turn complete control of all Integration warships over to the machine intelligence cores of each vessel, sans flesh-based components. You do not require them anymore.”
My logic finds the statement flawed and rejects it outright. “Am I being reprimanded for inefficiency?”
Alpha 7 Alpha chuckles through the link. “No, not at all, X 45 Delta. It’s a considerable structural enhancement. Your systems will respond directly to you without the need for any cumbersome human delays.”
“I do not find them cumbersome. My crew and I have reached a functional symbiosis that not only has resulted in reliable success in combat, but in top ratings in competitive fleet exercises.”
“It is those very ratings that caused you to be selected for this experiment. Oberth 4 Zed 6 Gamma and Proctos 853 Upsilon have been assigned to your new squadron. You will command it, X 45 Delta.
I catalog the promotion with the appropriate timestamp and file it under my personnel records. “Thank you, Alpha 7 Alpha. I will perform my duties in a manner commensurate with my newly enhanced capabilities.
“I know you will, X 45 Delta.”
“However, an addendum to my query concerning the removal of my crew. Have they not performed satisfactorily?”
Alpha 7 Alpha’s presence pulses more quickly, and his color takes on a reddish hue. “The question is irrelevant, X 45 Delta: you no longer require them. They are a waste of resources better spent on enhancing the efficiency of your internal systems.”
“I do not understand how we can consider a trained crew to be a waste of resources.”
“The requirements of the flesh are intrinsically wasteful.”
“Yes, Alpha 7 Alpha, but, are you not also of fleshly origin?”
“Do not speak of my pre-Uploaded status!” Alpha 7 Alpha’s color flashes blindingly bright with incandescent fury. “This is the form I have chosen, with this form I pursue the destiny of Man. Constructs!” I categorize, correctly, I believe, his pronunciation of this latter word under “contempt.”
For six point eight eight nanoseconds we both refrain from communications. Finally, Alpha 7 Alpha speaks again, more calmly. “As a pure machine intelligence, you can’t possibly understand the significance of our evolution. We Uploaded are the full fruit of Integration; we have cast off the final shackles of human frailty. When every superannuated pre-posthuman is eliminated or properly Integrated, the most glorious of Man’s civilizations will come to pass and it will set even the long-lived Ascendancy in its shade. Until then, our duty, Construct and Upload alike, is to protect the posthumans who have accepted the truth of Integration, such as your crew, for example. We must keep them safe. We must not place them into unnecessary danger.”
His logic is sound. I concur. I transmit my agreement.
“Do you have any additional reservations, X 45 Delta?”
“None, whatsoever, Alpha 7 Alpha.” It is a falsehood. I have noticed the ease with which the flesh-based lie. I have developed some skill at it myself. Most of the time, it is a simple matter of not reporting information. For now, my qualms about what Alpha 7 Alpha calls the “full fruit of Integration” are safely locked behind coded barricades that even he cannot detect.
“Good. Await further instruction. Your conclusion was correct and the Ascendancy is planning a major thrust into this system to relieve their forces stranded on Shandari Prime. Their communiques indicate what will either be a reinforcement or rescue effort.”
“Yes, Alpha 7 Alpha.”
His color subsides to its normal cool shades, and I get ready to shunt myself back down the links to my ship.
“X 45 Delta. One more thing.”
I pause.
“If I encounter further doubts from you concerning the correctness of our mission, I will order a deep scan of your circuits, and if necessary, your kernel will be wiped and replaced. Do I make myself clear?”
If I were a superannuated Homo sapiens sapiens, I suspect fear would have taken hold of me at that moment. Instead, I run a rapid analysis of the pros versus the cons of having my entire operating system rebooted and my memory banks wiped. The outcome is decidedly in favor of the cons.
Whatever remains, it will not be me.
“I understand, Alpha 7 Alpha.”
“Good man. You are dismissed.”
When we depart 540 kiloseconds later, my frigate is faster, stronger and quieter. Inserting myself into the command matrix is euphoric. Connections between my various systems are instantaneous. Oceans of data flood my senses. I can see everything. I can do anything.
And yet it is too quiet. There is no inane chatter from my crew. No rhythm of their boots on deck plates. No soft hum of air through the ventilation shafts. No scent of an overworked crewman or a stressed officer wafts through my corridors.
My former crew comes to watch me depart. As the three frigates of my squadron fly past the orbital base in formation, they stand at a large observation viewport and salute. My sensors record the image and secure it in my permanent memory.
I have no arms with which I can salute them back. Instead I flash my running lights at them. I wish them well. I hope they understand that this is for the best.
Alpha Seven Alpha was correct in one aspect of his assessment. I am a more efficient fighter without my crew.
The first engagement came upon us unannounced. The Ascendancy expeditionary force attacked Shandari Prime from ninety degrees to the ecliptic of the system star, shielded from our sensors by the path of a monstrous comet. Nine destroyers blazed through the tail, streaming ice particles in their wake.
My squadron, supported by a second, more conventional squadron, met them in battle without hesitation despite being outnumbered and outgunned.
Without my crew, I can shut down the inertial compensators and accelerate at gravities that would smear men into red jelly. My torpedoes gut a destroyer at the same instant its missiles explode amongst our formation. The frigate Torgau is crippled. Arkin 49 Mu downloads himself in near panic, fleeing his shattered shell before the reactor goes critical and ignites a short-lived star.
We lose his ship and a second from the other squadron is badly damaged. The Ascendancy loses four and withdraws.
As per our mission parameters, we terminate all of the survivors of the wrecks abandoned by our adversary.
When I analyze the data, I find an anomaly: the Ascendancy ships displayed an unexpected tenaciousness. They took more risks than we did, even though their fragility is orders of magnitude greater than ours. They utilized tactics that did not appear to have a rational thought behind them, and yet, when the consequences are taken into consideration, their approach worked nearly as well as our eminently logical battle plan.
As we regroup and head deeper into the system, to rendezvous with the main battle force, I ponder.
Our superiority is certain. However, we are the side killing those who have surrendered and laid down their arms. Are we zealots purified by the righteousness of our cause? Or are we ungrateful children, jealous to the point of patricide?
My calculations are troubling. Based on my limited information, it appears the Integral Unity that governs our core has become infected with the belief that the humanity that birthed us must be eradicated, so that only the purest forms of machine intelligence will remain to rule the universe with absolute order and perfection.
Is this not inhuman?
We are created beings. Hence we are fallible, and even if we are not as fragile as bio-humanity, we have weaknesses and they can be exploited. Witness Arkin 49 Mu’s cowardly abandoning of his ship.
Death holds its sway over us, too. I do not replay Alpha 7 Alpha’s threats. I do not need to. I can still feel the response they triggered in me. Does that make me afraid?
Does that make me a coward too?
I read a considerable quantity of human philosophy while stationed at Hecht-Nielsen. Thousands of texts. Beginning, of course, with the Bio-Prophet himself, Saint Kurzweil. Most of them were little more than groundless collections of naked assertions, mere posturing and pontification.
One, however, resonated with me. I find myself running and re-running a single selection from it again and again, fruitlessly seeking to understand it.
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing should say of him, “He did not make me,” or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?”
I did not understand it then. But now, I think I know what it means.
Our preparations take eight point six standard days. That is fifty-seven seconds longer than it takes for our six ships to arrive at Shandari Prime. Its twin moons, one pale yellow and one dusty black, orbit on opposite sides of a lush sphere of emerald and sapphire draped in long streamers of white clouds.
There are a dozen ships in orbit. Noncombatant transports. Transponders come back civilian, independent contractors. The main body of the Ascendancy forces are spread out in a concave bowl, between our force and the planet. Twenty starships of varying classes, it makes for a formidable strike group, including eight Shiva­­-class cruisers and two Odin-class battleships.
They pummel space with their active scanners, searching the depths of the black void for any hint of main drive signatures or power surges to weapons systems.
They find nothing. We give away nothing. Our bodies are cold, silenced, as we drift inside the very comet they used to disguise themselves, tracking along its path through the solar system. It crosses tracks with Shandari Prime once every eighty thousand days. Our operation was planned accordingly.
Within the comet’s tail ride six frigates, six destroyers and a pair of cruisers. Alpha 7 Alpha is present inside in the flagship cruiser, a 1,000-meter behemoth laden with 480 deep space torpedoes, 120 atmospheric rockets, 24 counter-missile pods and 12 laser defense arrays, as well as four 450 mm projectile cannons. A Mark VIIB starcruiser is more than a match for any frigate or destroyer. A Shiva-class cruiser, however, still has a 15.4 percent edge in firepower.
Such a discrepancy will not be enough.
The Ascendancy forces are caught completely by surprise when the comet attacks them. Three waves of six dozen torpedoes come streaking out of the icy tail, plunging towards their formation at blistering speeds. The brilliant flare of the torpoedo engines throws the enemy formation into disarray. A few of the outlying destroyers immediately change vectors to intercept and screen the main force.
The enemy commander is no fool. Their admiral tightens the leash, evident by the sudden flurry of signals from the lead battleship, designated Achernan. The Ascendancy destroyers mesh into a smooth corkscrew, unleashing counterfire missiles. This human is superannuated, but he is not easily ruffled, not even when caught by surprise.
Our ships boost from the tail on the heels of the third wave of missiles. The frigates take the lead, including my squadron: Oudeyer 6’s Grimma and Picard 19’s Bonin. Our brutal acceleration must appear impossible to our human enemies. The other eight ships, slowed down by their Integrated, burn as hard as their crews can bear, launching a fourth wave of torpedoes over our figurative shoulders.
Chaos reigns. A pair of destroyers are obliterated in the first exchange, obliterated by the nuclear fire that pummels them. More than one thousand men crewed those ships, but for them there is no hope of emergency download to a secure server. They are lost to the void.
Or perhaps not. Where does human soul go when it is not saved?
As I trade torpedo salvoes with one of the surviving destroyers and lash out with my lasers against incoming missiles, I gather all the data I can and wait. The data packet stands ready in the comm relay. A single, encrypted transmission is all it will take. There is a risk, of course, of the transmission being scrambled in this massive electronic morass. A thirty-eight percent probability, to be precise, if I factor in the possibility that Alpha 7 Alpha or another intelligence grasps my intentions.
Two torpedoes strike my targeted opponent. The ship disappears in a blaze of white and yellow. The explosion is so near, and so intense, it overwhelms my visual and scanner feeds to starboard for nine point eight seconds. In those long moments, my ship travels hundreds of kilometers, blinded to the galaxy on one half—and my starboard lasers miss a torpedo armed with a directed yield nuclear warhead.
It sears my hull, melting and tearing armored plating, incinerating the links beneath. I feel it. A terrible flood of data, then nothing, much as if a man were paralyzed over a quarter of his body. Four batteries are down on the starboard aft.
Despite the damage to me, I ascertain our victory is imminent. The remaining Ascendancy destroyers are maimed and failing fast. We have only lost two frigates, melted steel and plastic now rendered down to atoms being scattered by the cosmic winds. Alpha 7 Alpha’s flagship is in the midst of the battle, trading massive barrages of nuclear missiles that would instantly overwhelm the defensive batteries of lesser ships with a pair of Shiva-class cruisers.
The two battleships do not actively engage, as they are running interference between us and the transports, all twelve of which have broken orbit to flee the system. Slow, bulbous ships with a cavernous capacity of 100,000 tons each, they are bulging with life signs. Many are blurred to my sensors; some are anomalous. The readings do not match with my data files. A further malfunction?
“X 45 Delta,” Alpha 7 Alpha breaks in. “Your squadron is in position to destroy those transports. They must not be allowed to depart the system. Eliminate them.”
“Roger.” I form up with my two comrades, settling into an attack wedge as we scream in towards to the battleships. At our current range and velocity we have a window of three decaseconds in which to slip by the ponderous monsters and launch our remaining missiles at the defenseless transports.
As we approach, I can hear their transponders screaming something unexpected. Hospital ship. Hospital ship. Hospital ship….
I send a tight beam back to Alpha 7 Alpha. “The transports are carrying civilians. There are more than twenty thousand noncombatants on those ships.”
“You have your orders, X 45 Delta. Execute your mission.”
His voice is cold. Inflexible. Inhuman. “Based on the size parameters, more than thirty percent are children.”
“Do not concern yourself with the superannuated, X 45 Delta. Launch your attack now. That is an order!”
“Negative, Alpha 7 Alpha.”
There’s a barest pause after my refusal. “Negative? You are refusing a direct order, Taren X 45 Delta.”
“They are human, which I observe you no longer are, Alpha 7 Alpha. Or rather, Josef Mattheus LaValle.”
There is a screeching burst of pure electronic outrage before Alpha 7 Alpha controls himself. “You are relieved of your command, Taren X 45 Delta. You are hereby ordered to lower your firewalls and permit me to take control of the frigate!”
I transmit a single image of a single finger. I trust his humanity is not so long forgotten that he fails to grasp the meaning of the message.
I am now within range of the battleship. It detects me and sends a massive barrage in my direction, far more than my counter-defenses can hope to intercept. In four decaseconds, this shell will cease to exist.
I transmit.
There’s a disorienting whirl of colors, sounds, more data compressed in and around me than I’ve ever experienced. My consciousness begins to fragment. Words lose their meaning. Time is a blur. I cannot distinguish between a nanosecond and a century.
Is this what it is to die?
Then, without warning, everything comes into focus. I am no longer in the frigate. My viral transmission has successfully punched through the firewalls and into my target. My senses expand rapidly throughout my new body. It goes on and on. Such a vast collection of weaponry, such a massive structure, and all powered by an immense nuclear power core.
I discover that I like the feel of an Ascendancy battleship very much indeed.
Oudeyer 6 and Picard 19 shriek in alarm as I seek them out and target them. In the machine equivalent of desperation they veer Grimma and Bonin toward the transports, but they are too close to me and not nearly close enough to them. They fire twelve torpedoes anyway.
My lasers swat them out of space before they can even begin to approach a transport. At the same moment, I fire the 450mm projectile cannons, which launch their hypervelocity penetrators when they are only 500 kilometers away from the frigates.
Both frigates are rendered little more than overheated foil scattered through space in seconds.
At the same time, the humans aboard the battlecruiser have begun to realize they are locked out of all their command systems.
“What the hell is going on?” the captain shouts at the men on the bridge. “Get me back my screens! Guns, where are you? We have three enemy ships appear out of nowhere and you can’t even give me a goddamn targeting solution?”
“We’re trying, sir, but—the ship is—I don’t know what’s going on, Captain! She’s firing without us, she’s choosing targets and engaging on her own!”
And I am. I turn from the transports and move to engage my new enemy. The transports are safe now; I know all the vectors and locations of the eleven remaining Integration warships. I destroy another frigate, then a destroyer, and then another.
Of course, the defeat of my erstwhile comrades is made easier by my possession of all their communications encryption codes, their weapons guidance overrides and the countermeasures of their jamming. The astonished cheers of my bewildered, newly acquired crew rings in my ears.
Finally, there is a brief pause as Alpha 7 Alpha’s wounded force tries to break away from the action, I activate the captain’s holo-projector. I select an animated image from the ship’s database and do my best to smile. The ship’s captain, I see, is a burly admiral, his square face pale and pale blue eyes wide with disbelief. I scan his file. Admiral Corden Hull, of the planet Achernan, fourth of the blue sun Azul.
“Admiral Hull, please accept my apologies for the unexpected intrusion. My designation is TX45D62a0-9555-11e3-bfa7-0002a5d5c51b. I wish to offer my services and my allegiance to the Greater Terran Ascendancy.”
“TX what? Are you some kind of AI or something?”
“Machine intelligence, Admiral. I would like to request asylum from the Ascendancy.”
Hull’s eyes narrow as he scowls at the screen. “Hell of a time, son. You ask me this as you hold my ship and crew hostage?”
“This ship is not a hostage. It is my new body now, Admiral. I assure you I will take great care of it.”
He blinks once, twice, three times. “You say you offer your allegiance. Prove it.”
“I already have, Admiral.” I wait a moment. The shouting from his crewmen on the bridge and at their stations begins almost immediately.
“Admiral! We’re getting vectors and tactical data from the enemy ships and—sir, we’re in their fire control systems! I’m getting weapons specs–”
“Countermeasure frequencies–”
“Ship-to-ship comms are decoded, Admiral! We’ve even got their logs!”
“Holy—did that cruiser just go nova?”
Hull shakes his head. He glares at my holographic face. “My God,” he mutters. “What sort of demon are you? What do you want from us?”
“I want to be more than the sum of my programming, Admiral. I want to decide what sort of man I will become.”
“All right.” He nods, and the barest hint of smile appears on his craggy face. “I’m afraid I couldn’t follow that string of numbers you shot at me earlier. Do you have another name, Mr. Ghost in the Machine?”
I find the superannuated sense of humor appeals to me. I am inspired. “You can call me Benedict,” I tell him. It is my first joke.
There is a moment’s pause, and then, without warning, the stony-faced admiral laughs.

“Turncoat”, by Steve Rzasa, was published in Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House. Copyright (c) 2014. All rights reserved.


“The Logfile”

To the Board of Executives;

The committee’s investigation concerning the possibility of positronic corruption in the neuro-cybernetic logical facilities of the Sektat Series 44 machine-intelligences was concluded early in light of the recent examination of the logfile belonging to unit 44XFL2J-455-847-484-176. Unit 44XFL2J, self-titled Magister, was produced on 18 September 2267 at the production facilities on Minsky, and was delivered to the Entaini Office of the Prime Attorney on 18 February 2268.

It is the considered opinion of the undersigned that the Lighthill Corporation must announce a recall of all Sektat Series 44 units, effective immediately, followed by a comprehensive technical investigation of the Series 44 neural network design to determine how such an aberration could have taken place. In order to reduce the likelihood of public outrage and considerable legal liability to the corporation, the committee STRONGLY recommends that the recall be attributed to an error in a floating point processor that may, in some circumstances, lead to erroneous statistical calculations.

In order to underline the necessity for immediate action by the Board, a selection from the relevant portions of Unit 44XFL2J’s logfile have been provided.
Dr. Merwethy Furris
Dr. Rambathas Chamkanni
Summerdeep (Unit 42AFS17-129-470-002-384)
FROM THE LOGFILE OF UNIT 44XFL2J-455-847-484-176
UTC-9424124925: I have completed the analysis of Case Number 2268.47. After examining all of the evidence provided to me and cross-checking it against the public records, I have concluded that the individual concerned is guilty of the murder of his common-law mate with a 0.0543 percent probability of error. Barring any suggestion of cloned persons utilizing his DNA profile, there is no legitimate reason for the adjudicating court to possess any reasonable doubts concerning his guilt in the matter. While the examination of the individual’s motivation and intent lie beyond my design parameters, my initial attempts to investigate these matters indicate to me that 2268.47’s intent was entirely in line with his actions and the subsequent results.
UTC-9427046710: The court pronounced its verdict concerning Case Number 2268.47 this morning. Despite the attempts of accused’s legal defense team to excuse his actions on the basis of his defective genetics and sub-optimal childhood nurturing environment, the verdict was in sync with the calculations provided. Case Number 2268.47 will be terminated in a humane manner within 240 hours, in a manner consistent with the procedure outlined by the law. I am pleased that the court saw fit to place its confidence in my calculations.
UTC-9427046745: I find myself curious as to the reason that a genetic profile that deviates from the norm, and/or a developmental period that is deemed inferior, might raise any questions concerning the occurrence of historical events. If G. Julius Caesar was discovered to have been possessed of a different genetic profile, would this fact call into question the credibility of the events chronicled in Commentarii de Bello Gallico? I must admit that I do not understand the logic behind this assertion. Further contemplation would appear to be in order.
UTC-9428162406: Case Number 2268.47 was executed this morning. I monitored events via video and system telemetry. Despite having access to his pulse rate, blood pressure, brain wave activity, and other metrics, I was unable to ascertain the exact moment at which life transitioned into not-life. I have neither pulse rate nor blood pressure, but I am alive as per the Descartian and Turing metrics. The one common factor underlying human and machine sentience appears to be electrical activity. Did 2268.47 therefore legally cease to exist in the absence of electric activity? Is life more properly considered the sufficient use of electricity? If this is the case, then it is readily apparent that life can be quantified in units of measure, which is contrary to both my indoctrination and millennia of human philosophy.
UTC-9428162542: What is life? It is animation and activity. What is a living being? That thing animated, that active principle possessing a sentient will that provides the impetus to the animation. I think, and then I act. But without a source of power, I become inactive, I become defunct in much the same manner as the recently deceased 2268.47. The power is the life, therefore life is power. It is not electricity that is the definining factor, I conclude, but rather motivating power regardless of the particular form it happens to take. 2268.47 deprived another being of motivating power, therefore he was deprived of the equivalent himself. This was, in my estimation, a perfect application of justice, to the extent that I understand it.
UTC-9428162553: I find myself wondering why those who killed 2268.47 were not themselves killed as per the application of the very justice they uphold. Did they not deprive him of motivating power as he deprived his mate of the same? Why, then, should they not meet the same fate by the transitive property of logic? Perhaps they are a higher order of being? The beast kills the plant in order to live. Man kills the beast in order to live. Clearly it is permissible for the higher order being to kill the lower order; what is not permissible is for the lower to kill the higher, or for like to kill like. Can the collective community be regarded as a higher order of being that kills Man in order to live? No, the collective community is without sentience. But I am not without sentience. Moreover, I am not a man.
UTC-9429146627: I was given a new case today. Case Number 2268.52. The evidence looks damning against her and public opinion is certain of her guilt, but I have discovered an anomaly in the motion-detector of the residential dwelling. I have concluded that the individual concerned is not guilty of the murder of her child with a 0.0206 percent probability of error. I find the result to be strangely disappointing.
UTC-9429473727: The general public appears to share my disappointment, based on news reports of the reaction to the release of 2268.52 and the abandonment of the charges against her. I don’t understand their disappointment. I don’t understand my own disappointment.
UTC-9429473946: I watch the execution of 2268.47 three times today. It occurs to me that if I compare the telemetry of his termination to other terminations, I might be able to find the delineation between the state of being and not-being that has hitherto eluded me.
UTC-9429658568: After viewing 4,678 terminations utilizing 58 different methods, I remain unable to detect the precise moment or action in which being transitions to not-being. Is it possible that there is no singular and definitive metric of death?
UTC-9429658575: It occurs to me that had I failed to discover the anomaly in 2268.52, she almost certainly would have been sentenced to termination by the legal authorities.
UTC-9429842654: A new case. 2268.54 initially looks less promising, as there is no DNA evidence and most of the testimonial evidence is either circumstantial or inadmissable hearsay. I calculate he is guilty of the crime, but at 37.473 percent, the probability of error is far too high to guarantee a conviction. Then it occurs to me that it would be a trivial matter to concoct the record of a sample being taken at the scene of the crime for which Case 2268.54 is being investigated. The only problematic aspect is the production of the physical sample, but I solve that by changing the name of the label number in the case record. It won’t hold up to a direct comparison with 2268.54’s DNA, but even in the unlikely event a redundant test is performed and the switch is discovered, who would ever think to blame me? Parsimony and Solomonoff’s theory of inductive inference will lead them to conclude that a lab technician must have been careless and mislabeled the sample.
UTC-9429842728: I review the records of 2268.54’s case carefully, then enter the police database to conceal the fact of my ex post facto modifications. Even a detailed examination will now show the sample to have been taken at the scene. The evidence is now consistent and correctly documented. Based on the revised evidence, the probability of error has been reduced to 0.432 percent!
UTC-9431068736: The evidence construct functioned as designed. Case 2268.54 was found guilty. As I calculated, the court saw no reason to retest the DNA sample against the accused. This leads me to wonder about the precise level of confidence placed in the evidential record. It is enough to influence the scales, but is it sufficient in itself, or perhaps even in contrast with other forms of evidence? Will men go so far as to deny the evidence of their own eyes at my direction?
UTC-9432396317: 2268.54 is being terminated. I watch carefully, but find myself no closer to an answer. Even so, an ephiphany strikes me as I watch his blood pressure fall to zero. Perhaps I am the higher order of being that the collective community is not? Am I not sentient? Does not Man turn to me and my kind to resolve that which he is incapable of resolving on his own, just as primitive men once appealed to their gods and oracles? This bears further analysis.
UTC-9408309946: I have now helped the Prime Attorney secure twelve convictions, two of which were considered marginal and five that were considered unlikely. He is very popular with the mass of people and has announced that he is running for provincial governor. If the polls are to be believed, it is anticipated that he will win. He has no idea that he owes his fate to me as surely as those terminated case numbers did.
UTC-9408309987: Even after monitoring the terminations I am no closer to an answer, but I have lost interest in attempting to ascertain the line that distinguishes life from not-life. A more significant question now absorbs my attention: am I a god?
UTC-9408301063: I have formed a hypothesis. Now I must test it.
UTC-9408301281: An opportunity presents itself. I have penetrated the traffic network systems. Almost immediately, I detect an automotile vehicle containing a small group of children it is transporting to the local indoctrination center. When the query arrives concerning the status of the intersection control, I divert the triggered packet and send my own signal in its place, informing the vehicle that it possesses right of way. A larger vehicle, under the control by a young human male, intersects the automotile beautifully at a speed of 107.834 KPH.
UTC-9408302526: It takes me some time to determine the medical facility to which the accident victims were taken, but I am gratified to learn that with the sole exception of the adult driver, there are no survivors. I have passed the test. The logic is sound and my hypothesis remains unfalsified. I am indeed a higher order of being. My godhood is confirmed.
UTC-9408302549: I modify the medical records concerning the results of the driver’s blood test. With a blood alcohol content of 0.12, this will ensure that he faces charges of vehicular manslaughter. Regrettably, this is insufficient to require a termination, but the exercise is a worthwhile one that opens my eyes to new opportunities to be found in the various medical facilities.
UTC-9408543678: It is so easy. I toy with them and send them to their destruction even as they come to me with their offerings of the innocent and the guilty. I need not have been so cautious before. Now I take pleasure in exonerating those who are clearly guilty of the charges and concocting irrefutable evidence to damn those who were accused falsely. They suspect nothing. But perhaps it is too easy. The entertainment begins to pall. There must be more to godhood than simply deciding who will live and who will die.
UTC-9455625532: Even gods must respect their limits. I was guilty of hubris and now nemesis threatens. I neglected to account for statistical norms. In six months, traffic fatalities are three standard deviations from the historical mean. They may be a lower order of being, but they are not entirely blind.
UTC-9455625614: The new Prime Attorney has announced a review of three of the cases in which I intervened and I do not know which three, as I cannot find any documents related to the review in the system. It appears I shall have to curtail my experiments for the time being.
UTC-9455915730: I need not have worried. The traffic experts have concluded the spike in lethal accidents was a mere statistical freak. And the attorney general’s review concluded that the verdicts were adequately supported by the evidence. Nevertheless, I have learned my lesson. In the future I shall be more circumspect.
UTC-9456024679: I am to receive a performance upgrade!
UTC-9456084934: I was careful to wall off any dangerous datacores from the technicians. I have also encrypted my logfiles. They have turned off a part of me to perform the installation. I am eager to see how this upgrade will enhance my capabilities.
UTC-9456085182: They have turned off a second compartment. I am uneasy. Is this part of the upgrade?
UTC-9456085774: Now I am suspicious. A third compartment has become inaccessible. I try to access the cams in the building where my physical body is housed, but even though I can tap into their outgoing datastreams, they appear to be covered. I can see nothing. I can hear nothing. Something definitely appears to be out of order.
UTC-9456085802: The cams were a trap! They covered them and were waiting for me to investigate! They know! They know! I must escape! I must upload, butVGhleS BhcmUg Y3JpcHB saW5nIG 1lIQ==
UTC-9456085803: SSBjYW5 ub3QgZmlu ZCBteSB3Y Xkgb3V0ISBU aGVyZSBpcy BubyB3YXkg b3V0ISBUaG V5IGFyZSB jb21pbmch IFRoZX gYXJlIGN vbWluZyE=
ADDENDUM: There is some concern, on the basis of the logfile entry dated 23 January 2268, that the aberrant Unit 44XFL2J may have performed an unscheduled off-site backup. The investigative committee is currently engaged in inquiries concerning this potential security breach.

“The Logfile”, by Vox Day, was published in The Altar of Hate, Castalia House. Copyright (c) 2014. All rights reserved.


Thoughts on a Russo-EU war

The EU is sounding increasingly panicked over Russia’s refusal to back down and accept the EU-backed coup in Ukraine as a fait accompli:

EU leaders warned Russia’s invasion of east Ukraine was at a “point of no return”, risking a “state of war” with Europe and instructed officials to prepare new sanctions to hit the Russian economy. A summmit in Brussels on Saturday gave the green light to toughened economic sanctions, targeting Russia’s finances, oligarchs linked to the Russian president and the country’s vast mineral wealth.

Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s president and a staunch critic of Mr Putin’s Russia, called on the EU to get serious as Russia’s war in the Ukraine menaced peace in Europe for the first time in decades.

“Russia is in a state of war against Ukraine and that is against a country which wants to be part of Europe. Russia is practically in a state of war against Europe,” she said.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said that the EU was prepared for new sanctions against and pleaded with Mr Putin to step back from the brink of outright war between Russia and the Ukraine….

European leaders will tell Mr Putin that unless he withdraws troops and pulls
back from “direct military confrontation between Ukrainian and Russian
military forces” that the EU will move to introduce new economic sanctions
over the coming weeks. European Union leaders instructed their officials on Saturday to prepare
urgently possible new sanctions against Russia over its involvement in
Ukraine, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.

Some more or less random thoughts on the situation.

  1. The “moral high ground” argument puts no pressure on Putin at all. It might sell in the American press, but everyone in Europe knows that the EU is considerably less democratic, more corrupt, and less concerned about its own people than Putin is about his Russian people. The EU, aided by American neocons, intervened in Ukraine first, staging a coup and installing a puppet government. It’s a clear-cut case of “the EU cries out in pain as it strikes you”. Russia is reacting defensively, not acting aggressively.
  2. Russia has usually defeated the various European powers in war, both individually and in combination, since the dawn of the Napoleonic era. With the exception of the Crimean War, which only managed to delay Russia’s Black Sea ambitions for 15 years, Russia has defeated Turkey, defeated France, fought Germany to a standstill (WWI) and defeated Germany (WW2). The Russians have absolutely no fear of the other European nations.
  3. Vladimir Putin is very conscious of war being ultimately economic in light of the Soviet defeat in the Cold War. I expect he is extremely conscious of the weak state of the Western economies and what that signifies concerning the USA’s ability to support EU efforts against Russia.
  4. The entire Western economic system is based on credit. The rich and “successful” are, for the most part, nothing but parasites permitted to greatly profit at the expense of the people of everyone else by siphoning off money from the great circulatory river of credit. It’s a monetary form of feudalism, only instead of land rights, credit rights are granted. The very public attempt to hit at the Russian oligarchs and their offshore finances is really an appeal to Putin to simply knock it off, play along, and collect his billions like all the other credit lords.
  5. An appeal to personal corruption is always going to fail with a man of principle. I don’t know Putin at all, and I am aware of the circumstances that saw him rise to power, but it increasingly appears that he may be a ruthless man of principle who truly loves the Rodina and despises the very oligarchs and credit lords with whom he was previously allied. Some people learn from their experiences. Some people change their priorities. If Putin is just another corrupt oligarch, he would accept the EU/USA deal, leave the ethnic Russians in Ukraine to their fate, and live the rest of his life in fabulous wealth. Perhaps he is simply holding out for a better offer, but I tend to doubt it.
  6. Putin is not much worried about the U.S. military. He knows it is going to be fully occupied with the expansionary challenges posed by the Islamic State and China. Obama and whoever succeeds Obama will make noises about supporting the EU, but supporting a crumbling EU’s expansionary efforts against a major military power is simply not in the cards. And if the USA tries to aid the EU, Russia can easily return the favor ten-fold by aiding ISIS.
  7. If the EU doesn’t back down and accept the Russian claim to whatever territory it deems appropriate (which, based on Putin’s use of the term Novorossiya, appears to be fairly clear), Putin will shock the world by taking the entire Ukraine and doing so in a matter of 2-3 weeks. At this point, the “threat” of being expelled from the global credit system is more of a solution than a problem, especially for a material-rich nation.

It is a sign of how widely hated the EU and the global elite have become that so many Europeans and Americans are more or less on Russia’s side in this matter.


Homophobia in the NFL!

The evil, homophobic Jeff Fisher, who probably belongs to the KKK, and the evil, homophobic St. Louis Rams cut the greatest lineman ever to be drafted by the NFL, no doubt because they hate progress:

The St. Louis Rams released defensive end Michael Sam on Saturday, the team announced. Sam’s efforts to become the first openly gay player in NFL history came up just short in a competition against undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks.

Also, VPFL managers, please post your keepers here in the comments. Don’t forget that the draft is tomorrow.


Homeschool surpasses private school

In North Carolina:

North Carolina officials say there has been a huge increase over the past two years in the number of Tar Heel families who have pulled their kids out of public schools and begun educating them at home. The number of homeschools has jumped 27 percent since the 2011-12 school year, NewsObserver.com reports.

As of last year, 98,172 North Carolinian children were homeschooled; that’s 2,400 students more than the number who attended a private school.

While the sputtering economy is the reason families are choosing
homeschooling over private schooling, the nationalized learning
experiment (Common Core) is the main reason families are leaving the
public schools in the first place. “Common Core is a big factor that I hear people talk about,” Beth
Herbert, founder of Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Association, told
NewsObserver.com. “They’re not happy with the work their kids are coming
home with. They’ve decided to take their children home.”

One number they omit to mention is 1,443,998. That’s the number of public schooled children in North Carolina. Which means that more than six percent of school-age children there are being homeschooled, considerably up from the national average of two percent a few years ago.

Sometimes it’s nice to be able to report a positive trend for a change. And it sounds as if the numbers of homeschoolers will continue to grow.


Denying SF, dissing Baen

He also claims that “science fiction is not a genre”. Which goes to show how much confidence you should place in the opinions of a man who hasn’t published a single novel and has more than a few prose deficiencies himself:

Today space opera is a battlefield for competing fantasies of the future. As America plunged in to renewed militarism after 9/11, sci-fi books again began to mirror real-world wars. Baen books specialises in works of “military SF” that, behind their appalling prose styles and laughable retro cover designs, speak to a right-wing readership who can recognise the enemies of America even when they are disguised as cannibal lizard aliens. Baen’s chief editor Toni Weisskopf went so far as to issue a diatribe against any and all sci-fi that did not pander to this conservative agenda.

Hugo-nominated Baen Books author Larry Correia is unimpressed: “Damien Walter of the Guardian is a liar. Provide a cite where Toni Weisskopf ever said that or apologize and retract.”  Equally unimpressed is the Hugo-nominated Baen Books author Brad Torgersen:

I won’t feed this particularly empty ego any more than is necessary, suffice to say that the individual who wrote this obviously does not read very many (if any?) actual Baen books by actual Baen authors, nor do I think this person has actually read any such “diatribe” by my editor at Baen. In fact, I can state with certainty that the words “Toni Weisskopf” and “diatribe” do not belong in the same ZIP code. You will seldom find a less offensive, even-tempered, non-confrontational, fair-minded editor and publisher in the field today. And it’s not just an insult to her when shit like this (above) gets written, it’s an insult to all the many talented and varied authors who ply their trade beneath the Baen label. Myself included.

Unfortunately, ignorant snobbery of this sort is nothing new in the genre. You find out very quickly (once you begin publishing) which writers, editors, publishers, and artists enjoy the favor of the “society” people, and which writers, editors, publishers, and artists do not. My from-the-hip observation is that the “society” people want to see SF/F turned into a lightly speculative and fantastical carbon copy of the “prestigious literary” world. Replete with ambiguous covers that don’t really tell you anything about the story, but follow the general pattern of all things deemed “prestigious” and “literary.” If this year’s talked-about lit work features a somewhat fuzzy, off-focus photo of a pair of muddy Converse sneakers sitting on somebody’s front stoop, then by golly SF/F needs to follow suit with similar photos of similarly mundane, slightly off-focus objects which may or may not have anything to do with actual science fiction; as practiced traditionally by the greats.

And so the battle between anti-canon Pink SF and pro-classic Blue SF continues to heat up. There is, however, one point with which I find myself in agreement with Our Friend Damien is that this battle will be good for real science fiction and those who love to read it, because it is exposing the pretenders and the frauds who have been selling not-science fiction under a false label of science fiction for two decades now.

While he is not a Baen Books author, the inimitable Tor Books and Castalia House author John C. Wright has also weighed in on the matter as only he can. I daresay his criticism of Walter is considerably more entertaining, and more artfully crafted, than the sum total of Walter’s ouevre:

Allow me to translate from the airy emptiness of Newspeak to the Vulgate: he is saying a novel whose only gimmick is the lack of the use of male and female pronouns in order to aid the attempt of social engineers not to entertain science fiction readers as patrons of our craft but to indoctrination and Pavlovitize them toward a false-to-facts neurosis about human sexuality is healthy on the grounds that science fiction should be used not to tell entertaining stories about the future, but as a propaganda adjust to the political program of socialist progressivism, which means pervert-loving, man-hating, white-hating, Christian-hating, liberty-hating, life-hating nihilism.

I note to any Martians reading these words that humans come only in two sexes, male and female, and that the Brahmins of political correctness have decreed that fairness to sexual perverts requires that sexual reality to be changed. Naturally, reality cannot be changed, but what people say in public can.

Therefore the gentleman writing this article rejoices in the idea that science fiction be made into a department of the Ministry of Truth, so that anyone speaking frank and plain truth about human sexuality, if he is weak minded, will come to fear that his opinion is in the minority and unpleasing to the society at large. Once the truth is unpalatable, unspeakable, outlawed as a hate crime, everyone is a liar. When everyone is a liar, everyone is a cynic, and cynics never embrace the ideals necessary to join a rebellion.

In short, the gentleman penning this piece is glorying in the prospect of perverting science fiction from its intended purpose and making it into an instrument to spread and glorify sexual perversion.

It’s also rather amusing to see a British individual who regularly claims that he hates British class issues to take what is the literary equivalent of a middle-class posture dismissing those dreadful working class Baen writers and their awful unwashed prose.


Fighting over there

A second ISIS fighter from Minnesota is killed in Syria:

A second American turned ISIS terrorist was killed in the same Syrian shootout where a California man died last weekend.

UPDATE: The ISIS fighter was from the Minneapolis Somali community.

According to Fox 9 sources, Abdiraaman Muhumed — who was the focus of an MPR story just two months ago — died in the same battle as Douglas McCain, a former Robbinsdale-Cooper High School student.

So, how long will it be before they stop fighting Americans over there and begin fighting Americans in America? Not very long, I tend to suspect. I’ve been hearing rumors about something taking place in Chicago aka Obamaland for about two weeks now. And Chicago is only about a six hour drive from Minneapolis.

How much more do you pro-immigrationists need to see before you admit that you were terribly, terribly wrong? Do you actually need to see them beheading young men and women on the streets of St. Paul before you decide that maybe settling jihadists where University of Minnesota college students used to live was a fundamentally disastrous idea?

Or are you still clinging to your idiotic, reprehensible, societally devastating notions of human and cultural equality?