The blog star

It’s no slight to Daniel, Scooter, Mascaro, or me to say that Jeffro, of the Space Gaming Blog, has been the star of the Castalia House blog this year. He makes everyone up their game by starting each week off with an intriguing, in-depth post, and gives our four new bloggers a high level of excellence to aim for. And fortunately for everyone, he appears to enjoy blogging there:

I am not shy about pointing out how happy I am with how this is shaping up. I cover the full range gaming topics: vintage stuff, current releases, role-playing games, wargames, everything! I write in such a way that you can get something out of a post even if you don’t buy or play the game in question. I put things into the wider context of gaming history and touch on the literary antecedents of the games we play. And yeah, I occasionally get esoteric, but I try to stay readable and comprehensible to people that aren’t gamers. No matter what, though, I never stray from the voice of someone that actually knows how to articulate how these things work in actual play… and that just freakin’ loves to play the heck out of these things.

I have complained about how games are covered in magazine articles and so forth in the past. I am just so rarely satisfied with how “journalists” and commentators portray games and gaming in general. Voicing that sort of concern almost invariably summons a smarty pants type that sneers back, “oh, you’re just complaining; the best answer to this sort of thing is to go out show us the right way to do it.” Well listen here, bucko… I’ve done it now.

If you’ve enjoyed Jeffro’s exploration of Chapter N this year, don’t be shy about going to his blog and letting him know. What I particularly enjoy about his posts is the way he dives deeply into the game mechanical aspects as well as the experience; he represents the perfect blend of SF/F literature and gaming that is of particular interest to a game designer who occasionally dabbles in fiction.


No heroes in New York City

The police are under no legal obligation to protect and serve you. And apparently, if they do not feel sufficiently lionized by the public, they will not even do their jobs.

Arrests plummet 66% with NYPD in virtual work stoppage. It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage. NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent following the execution of two cops — as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety, The Post has learned.

The dramatic drop comes as Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio plan to hold an emergency summit on Tuesday with the heads of the five police unions to try to close the widening rift between cops and the administration.

It has helped contribute to a nose dive in low-level policing, with
overall arrests down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared
with the same period in 2013, stats show. Citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587, during that time frame. Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.

Even parking violations are way down, dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241. Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control
Bureau — which are part of the overall number — dropped by 84 percent,
from 382 to 63.

If you still weren’t convinced that the corrupt and militarized modern police of America are little more than a badge gang, I should think this obnoxious, irresponsible reaction by the police should suffice to convince you, at least concerning the feckless nature of the NYPD.

Recall that police work is not even among the ten most dangerous jobs in America; if it were, women would not pursue it. Remember that most officers never draw their gun nor fire it in the course of their career. And keep in mind that police departments intentionally screen to keep out the excessively intelligent and the insufficiently aggressive.

The petulance of the NYPD made me recall the Tom Simon essay in Sci Phi Journal #2, which concerned, among other things, Tolkien’s definition of heroism.

In his essay “Ofermod,” Tolkien writes:

For this ‘northern heroic spirit’ is never quite pure; it is of gold and an alloy. Unalloyed it would direct a man to endure even death unflinching, when necessary: that is when death may help the achievement of some object of will, or when life can only be purchased by denial of what one stands for. But since such conduct is held admirable, the alloy of personal good name was never wholly absent.

These words describe Boromir exactly. To him, as to his father, the idea of the Good is limited to “the good of Gondor”; ultimately, to the good reputation of the Stewards and their house. Because Gondor, too, has much in it that is intrinsically good – there, too, folk spend much of their time growing food and eating it, and doing various kinds of service to one another – this remains a noble pursuit; but it is fatally flawed, for it mistakes the secondary good (the reputation of the guardians) for the primary.

Tolkien’s most direct criticism of this defective idea of virtue is put in the mouth of Faramir. He does not denigrate Boromir’s character directly, but he implicitly recognizes his flaws by making the distinction that Boromir missed, preferring the primary to the secondary good:

‘I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.’

The NYPD have made it clear that they love only themselves. They do not love that which they claim to protect and serve. Their idea of virtue is defective. They want to be regarded as heroes, but it is their very hunger for heroic status that renders genuine heroism forever beyond their reach.


SJW England

Notice anything missing from this BBC Radio lineup?

Notice that they are celebrating the fact that there are no white people. None. That is the SJW vision for England and for the West, the complete elimination of the European race in addition to the complete elimination of Christianity. Even ISIS is more moderate.

There can be no compromise with the SJWs. To tolerate them is to tolerate the intentional destruction of you, your children, and your grandchildren. The fact that you don’t wish to play a zero-sum game doesn’t mean that they aren’t. The cultural war is real.

Anti-racism is intrinsically anti-white. It is intrinsically anti-European. And before you claim their objective is impossible, or that I am exaggerating, or even just engaging in rhetorical hyperbole, do recall that I am a Native American, a person of a certain color whose people have been driven to the brink of near extinction.

In 2014, more people began to wake up and choose their side. It’s not too late, not at all. Demographics are destiny, but demographic trends are far from immutable and contra the doomsayers, there are more Europeans on the planet than ever before in history. War and ethnic clashes are coming, to be sure, but the situation is considerably less desperate than it was in the days of Tvrđava Klis, Salamis, Tours, and Vienna.

In 2015, choose your side and stand up for it. Because, as this writer has discovered, whether you are Christian or atheist or agnostic, whether you are white or red or brown or yellow or black, you are not going to be permitted to sit safely on the fence, pretending to be above it all, because the totalitarian Left is not going to allow it.

For most of my career as a writer, I have been reluctant to join in the “culture wars,” mostly because I don’t fit into either of the two opposing camps. As an atheist, I’m not longing for a return to traditional religious morality, but as an individualist, I’ve never supported the weird victim-group crusades of the left.

I have mostly dedicated myself to making the case for smaller government, pointing out the failure of the welfare state, and keeping the environmentalists from shutting down industrial civilization—little things like that. Oh, and also war—not the “culture war,” but war war, the kind where people are actually trying to kill us.

So for the most part, my position on an issue like gay marriage could be summed up as: “Can we please talk about something else now?”

Partly, this comes from my small-government outlook, which holds that some things—indeed, most things, and virtually all of the really important things—should be outside the realm of politics. That definitely includes other people’s sex lives, about which I would like to know a good deal less than is fashionable at the moment.

But this year, I discovered that while I might not be interested in the culture war, the culture war is interested in me. It’s interested in all of us. This is the year when we were served noticed that we won’t be allowed to stand on the sidelines, because we will not be allowed to think differently from the left.

Being moderate and tolerant and neutral and uninterested didn’t save the Jews in Germany. It didn’t save the peasants in China or the farmers in the Soviet Union. And it won’t save you in the 21st century West. When the SJWs say there is “no place” for various forms of thought, belief, and expression, they mean there is no place for you.


Pink SFFer defends a rabbit-pelleting

This should be amusing, although you may wish to avert your eyes if you are of tender sensibilities. McCreepy attempts to take on John C. Wright over the desirability of SJW propaganda in children’s cartoons:

The delusionality is strong with this one. Watch as he attempts to speak for an entire audience, many of whom were screaming with happiness at the Korra/Asami revelation.

Go watch this video of fan reactions. Look at the joy on those people’s faces.

These are some of the people he’s trying to speak for. Do they look like people whose way of life, whose values and religion and virtues, are so incredibly fragile that they can be hurt so badly by a several-second clip of two women holding hands, or the idea of two women falling in love?

Mister Wright, you do not speak for the audience of this show. You speak for yourself, and perhaps for a small group of intolerant bigots who can’t accept the slightest acknowledgement or recognition of relationships you personally disapprove of, for whatever twisted reason.

I always enjoy the way the more incompetent rabbits go right to DISQUALIFY without any pretense of a justification. Mr. Wright is more than capable of addressing McCreepy, so I see no need to go into any detail except to note that a) SJWs always lie and b) they always attempt to avoid dealing with the actual topic at hand. Would you stake your life on those most of those “fan reactions” coming from genuine fans of the show? I surely wouldn’t.

McCreepy is ignoring the obvious point that if the show’s fans genuinely wanted to see animated lesbians, they wouldn’t have been watching it on Nickelodeon, they would have ignored it in favor of Japanese anime and the writers wouldn’t have had to spell everything out after the show ended. The problem is not that two women were holding hands, the problem is the SJW symbolism it represented; the symbolism is precisely why the rabbits were cheering it.

“Hurray, we managed to defecate on something again! We totally own it!”

McCreepy knows perfectly well what Wright is criticizing. He knows perfectly well that he would not have defended the symbolism as trivial if, instead of a several-second shout-out to sexual aberration, the two women had rolled back their sleeves to flash swastikas newly tattooed on their wrists, then thrown a Nazi salute to each other. Totally harmless. Look at the joy on the faces of the fans in Germany. What bigot could possibly oppose that?

The good news is that the strong reaction of the rabbits to Wright’s criticism shows they understand the danger that our increasing rejection of their symbolic pelleting represents to them. They have to claim they have the numbers even when they quite obviously don’t, they have to stop the criticism quickly, because the illusion of strength is all they have.

The open divide in science fiction between Pink SF and Blue SF is growing. This is but one of many, many incidents to come. Foxification is upon the genre… and we are the Fox.

And as for sexual retrofitting, I may have been one of the few who wasn’t surprised by the announcement that Dumbledore was gay. Frankly, I thought the movie version of the character was more than a bit of a pedophile obsessed with Harry. Was there a sentence that came out of his mouth that didn’t begin with “Harry….”?


RED HORSE reviewed

The Pulp Writer reviews RIDING THE RED HORSE:

RIDING THE RED HORSE is an anthology of military science fiction, speculating on what the wars of both the immediate and the distant future will look like. It alternates between nonfiction essays on the nature of war and short stories. None of the essays or stories were bad, but my favorites were:

-Jerry Pournelle’s HIS TRUTH GOES MARCHING ON takes place on a distant colony planet. Later some refugees are assigned to the planet, to which the original inhabitants take offense, and the situation unfolds with predictable violence from there.  Basically, it’s the Spanish Civil War IN SPACE! The story follows an idealistic yet nonetheless capable young officer who gradually loses both his illusions and his innocence during the fighting.

-William S. Lind’s essay on “The Four Generations of Modern War” rather presciently pointed out some of the serious problems with the Iraq War. His thesis postulates that we are entering a period of history where technology enables non-state organizations or even individuals to wage wars effectively, much like the Middle Ages when the state did not have a monopoly on war. (A good example of that is the Hanseatic League,  an organization of merchants which actually defeated Denmark in a war during the 14th century, or the various civil wars of medieval France and England where powerful noble families fought each other with no central authority able to restrain them.) While I lack the expertise to determine whether the essay is actually correct or not, I nonetheless think it helpful in trying to understand the various conflicts in the world today. Admittedly the hack around THE INTERVIEW film, which took place after I started writing this review, caused millions of dollars in economic disruption and is likely a good example of fourth-generation warfare, regardless of whether a government, a non-state group, or simply a group of disgruntled employees did the hack.

-WITHIN THIS HORIZON, by Thomas A. Mays follows a Space Navy officer in a distant future where the major powers have developed space fleets, and therefore armed conflict has moved the the asteroid belts and the comets. Ground-based forces are left to wither. The Space Navy officer in question, after sustaining serious wounds, is reassigned to the terrestrial water navy, and figures his career is over. The enemy, however, has other ideas, and the story is an excellent tale of integrity in the face of cynicism.

I think one of the chief arguments for the strength of the anthology is the way in which readers and reviewers keep citing different stories as their favorite. Steve Rzasa’s “Turncoat” was my favorite, and there are more than a few who agree with me, but it’s remarkable how many other of the 14 different fiction stories have been cited by others as the anthology’s best. No doubt Mr. Roberts will appreciate Mr. Moeller’s opinion on the matter.

Grognard, an Amazon reviewer, adds:

The essays are better than the stories, which is amazing given the stories. The book also includes a bibliography for each contributor and that is even better. This is a must-buy for anyone interested in science-fiction or military history, let alone military science-fiction.


It’s a joke, right?

The Republican elite is desperate to figure out a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory despite the electorate being weary after eight years of Obama’s misrule:

Jeb Bush is the clear Republican presidential frontrunner, surging to the front of the potential GOP pack following his announcement that he’s “actively exploring” a bid, a new CNN/ORC poll found.

He takes nearly one-quarter — 23% — of Republicans surveyed in the new nationwide poll, putting him 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tallied 13%.

Physician Ben Carson comes in third, with 7% support, and Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are both tied for fourth with 6%.

So, the Republicans have Bush III, Fatboy, and another token Negro on offer. 2016 looks like yet another election that I won’t be voting Republican even if the Democrats run a ticket featuring Asmoedeus and Belial.

I find the nominal Carson support to be particularly amusing. “Look, we got one too” has never been a winning strategy. And that’s especially true when everyone hates the previous one. It also makes it clear that no one got the “White Party” memo from the 2012 election.

It’s nothing of the sort, of course. Expressing support for an absurd black “candidate” is merely the Republican way of begging “see, I’m not a racist… please don’t hit me!”


Mr. Hobbes has the answer

When a suspension simply isn’t enough:

Heather Cook, the first female bishop of the Episcopal Church in Maryland, has been suspended following a hit-and-run accident on Saturday in which she reportedly hit a bicyclist on Roland Avenue.  The bicyclist, Thomas Palermo, later died at the hospital.

According to a report from Baltimore television station WBAL, the motorist left the scene of the accident, but then returned a short time later.  Her car was heavily damaged, with a hole in the windshield on the passenger side.  The bicycle was destroyed.

Cook, 58, was elected in May 2014 as Bishop Suffragan, second in command in the Maryland Episcopal Diocese, under Bishop Eugene Sutton.

It’s just like the Good Samaritan. Only the complete opposite. It’s an interesting twist on Hultgreen-Curie Syndrome, however. Usually female firsts kill themselves, not others.


Propaganda and the illusion of defeat

John C. Wright is, to put it mildly, less than entirely enamored of the decision of a children’s cartoon to close with a climax celebrating aberrant sexual orientation while simultaneously subverting the traditional hero’s journey:

I do not count the judgment of people whose sole qualification to make a judgment is their loud and repeated insistence that they will ignore evidence, suspend their rational faculties, award the verdict to the party they know to be guilty, and condemn the party they know to be innocent.

This, in fact, is what the Leftists hold to be their qualifications to make a moral judgment. Ask any of them. They will tell you repeatedly, so vehemently that one cannot get in a word edgewise, that they make no moral judgments, that making judgments is wrong, and that to make a judgment even in one’s thought is wrong — they call this bigotry, because they call everything by the word that means the opposite of what they really mean.

The people not upset about this are not fans of the show, because to be a fan means to use one’s judgment to judge the show as being well crafted and the story well told. The decision was poor story telling, and that would be obvious – no matter what one’s opinion about the morality or desirability or corrosive effect on society of sexual perversion.

What is the lesson here for little boys and girls watching the show? That every friend of yours, male or female, secretly craves sexual congress with you? That to be a policeman means you can neither have the magical girl nor the attractive rich girl, but you are a big loser, and they go off with each other? That family means nothing, that sex is entertainment and means nothing, that life means nothing, that ergo young women should act like bigmouthed jerks? That a woman in a leadership role is not a princess, prophetess nor priestess but is instead a pervertess?

This perversion is what is at the heart of Pink SF/F. This is what we founded Castalia House to explicitly reject. Perhaps in reading how the Brave New World propaganda has been celebrated, in seeing the praise for “challenging expectations and bravely exploring content outside the scope of children’s television” those who have found the concept difficult to grasp will better understand the correct definition of Pink SF/F.

Pink SF/F is a Left-wing literary subgenre written as racial, sexual, and ideological propaganda in order to subvert traditional literature, religion, and society.

Substitute “cartoon” or whatever relevant medium for “literature” as you see fit. It should be readily apparent that the media praise for Team Avatar is an open confession that what the team was selling was neither art nor children’s entertainment, but propaganda intended to “change the world” in the guise of the former. And the world they intend to change is yours and your children’s.

But we don’t have to accept this. On Twitter yesterday, someone lamented that our explicit recognition of the Blue/Pink SF divide was the further Fox-ification of science fiction. And they are correct. That is happening. Here is the good news: in this analogy, we are Fox.

Notice that the Pink SF/Fers have media support in the Guardian (in the form of precisely two outside contributors), which they rely upon to make it appear that they are the more numerous and powerful side. So observe these newly audited figures from the UK media:

Daily Mail: 1,660,100
Telegraph: 498,484
Guardian: 177,000

Not only that, but the Guardian is down more than 10 percent year-on-year and has a circulation that is less than half what it was ten years ago.

What is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to believe the illusion that evil has already won. But it hasn’t, even if sometimes it feels as if it has. But here is the important point to keep in mind: Team Avatar had to wait until the very end to spring their retrofitted Pink Cartoon propaganda on its fans, because otherwise those fans would not have existed in the first place.


Harry Potter and Game

I’ve written many times about how the Gamma males who write SF/F have absolutely no grasp of human socio-sexuality. Interestingly enough, aside from those writing in the Romance ghetto, the same is largely true of female genre writers:

In her latest Pottermore update, Rowling writes how she’s often forced
to crush the dreams of fans who nurse strange feelings for Hogwarts’s
sexiest Slytherin. 

Read the rest at Alpha Game, although beware, there is a Woman Defending All Women Against All Implied or Perceived Criticism on the premises.

In other news, Our Friend Damien is having trouble letting go. Unfortunately, writing about me appears to be the only fiction he can manage. This will certainly amuse the Evil Legion of Evil, who are probably the only ones who truly understand exactly how much winning a Hugo Award means to me.

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
Theodore Beale / Vox Day being told the news he came 6th in a field of 5 at the Hugo awards.

MikeBrendan ‏@MikeBrendango
That was just beautiful…

Damien Walter ‏@damiengwalter
the definition of poetic justice.

Space Bunny ‏@Spacebunnyday
.@damiengwalter blocks @voxday, but can’t stop talking about him. So typical of sad #SJW s #lol

John Scalzi ‏@scalzi
Everything is a victory!

Space Bunny ‏@Spacebunnyday
I can only assume that @damiengwalter’s latest writing grant didn’t come through.@voxday

Tim Wood ‏@Magister_Wood
It’s how the rabbits deal with unrequited love. #SJW #lol

Mark Fox ‏@swiftfoxmark2
Wouldn’t have anything to do with not doing what he said he would, right?

I understand it intellectually, of course, but I don’t think I will ever truly grasp the inability of rabbits to understand that not-rabbits genuinely don’t think like they do. I very much doubt that they will ever understand that my finishing 6th of 5 was the best possible outcome short of actually winning, which was never going to happen.

And it’s informative to see @SFReviewsnet favoriting this tweet. It appears we’ll know where not to bother sending books for review. But at least if you’re looking for Pink SF/F, you’ll know exactly where to go.


Mailvox: Kindle Unlimited

Will Best wonders if I’ve changed my mind:

I was interested if VD has changed his opinion on Kindle Unlimited since his July post? The NYT via drudge seemed to put it in a pretty negative light, and its concern as it relates to distorting story length does seem legitimate.

Well, I suppose I should find out what my opinion was back in July, as I don’t rightly recall the details. Let’s see, I wrote:

  • My initial impression is that this is excellent for serious readers.
  • Casual readers, book collectors, and fans of particular authors aren’t likely to be too fussed about it.
  • It is horrific for the Big Five publishers and their writers, as their unwillingness to participate indicates.
  • It’s neutral to modestly positive for independent publishers, their writers, and self-publishers.  

Now let’s compare it to the New York Times story:

  • It may bring in readers, but the writers say they earn less. 
  • The author H.M. Ward says she left Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program after two months when her income dropped 75 percent.
  • “Your rabid romance reader who was buying $100 worth of books a week and
    funneling $5,200 into Amazon per year is now generating less than $120 a
    year,” she said. 
  • Amazon
    usually gives self-published writers 70 percent of what a book earns,
    which means a novel selling for $4.99 yields $3.50…. But
    Kindle Unlimited is less generous, paying a fluctuating amount. In
    July, the fee for a digital “borrow” was $1.80. It fell to $1.33 in
    October before rebounding slightly to $1.39 in November.

It appears I was correct about the first three points and wrong about the last one. I wasn’t aware of the relevant math, but it is entirely clear that $120 < $5,200 and $1.33 < $3.50. The math doesn’t work for the writer. I don’t see how the math works for Amazon either.

I have to confess that Kindle Unlimited hasn’t really been on my radar because Castalia House withdrew nearly all of our books from the Kindle Select program in order to be able to sell them from the Castalia House store. We never considered Kindle Unlimited at all. So, besides that initial post, I haven’t given it any thought. But the more I look at the math, the more I wonder if Amazon hasn’t made a serious mistake here based on the false assumption that every author has to be on Amazon. It looks to me like a classic corporate overplaying of a strong hand.

Everyone wanted to be on Amazon because that has been where they were able to earn the most money. But already, both we, and perhaps more importantly, our associates, are seeing that Castalia can sell between 10 percent and 20 percent of Amazon’s sales of a newly released book. And since the author makes more money on each Castalia sale, that’s the equivalent of up to 28 percent of the revenue derived from Amazon. The math still favored Amazon, obviously, but if one then reduces the Amazon revenue by 62 percent, suddenly the total Amazon revenue is only 35 percent more even when the unit sales are 400 percent higher. This means that with Kindle Unlimited, Amazon is rendering themselves considerably less relevant to writers, which strikes me as a counterproductive long term strategy.

So, my revised conclusion is that Kindle Unlimited is likely to prove massively unpopular among successful self-published writers, of no interest to independent publishers and their writers, and off-limits to mainstream published writers. Barring significant changes, I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon ended up discontinuing it within two or three years. If they don’t, Kindle Unlimited will likely become a digital books ghetto filled with little more than romance, porn, and conspiracy theory written by unknown authors who can’t draw interest from independent publishers.

The only writers to whom I think it might be useful are those new writers who don’t have an audience and simply want to throw stuff out there in the hopes that one will find them. But even there, you’re probably better off going with Select than with Unlimited.