Greco-German chicken

I have the impression that the Greeks are not bluffing here:

As Deutsche Bank’s George Saravelos politely puts it, “Developments since the Greek election on Sunday have moved very fast.” And indeed, so far the new Tsipras cabinet, and here we focus on the words and deeds of the new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, has shown that the market’s greatest hope – that the status quo in Greece will continue – has been crushed into a pulp (and so have Greek stock and bond prices) especially following yesterday’s most recent comments by the finmin in which he said that Greece “does not want the $7 billion” from the Troika agreement and that it wants to “rethink the whole program”, culminating with an epic exchange with Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem in which Greece made it clear that the “constructive talks” are over.

And suddenly the Eurozone is stunned, because what had until now been its greatest carrot when it comes to dealing with Greece, has become completely useless when the impoverished, insolvent nation itself says it no longer needs a bailout, seemingly blissfully unaware of the consequences.

So earlier today the ECB’s Erikki Liikanen, tired of pleasantries and dealing with what to Europe is a completely incomprehensible and illogical stance, one which is essentially a massive defection by Greece in the European “prisoner’s dilemma”, and which while leading to a Greek financial collapse and Grexit – both prerequisites to a subsequent Greek economic recovery unburdened by the shackles of the Euro – would also unleash a European depression, came out and directly threatened Greece that it now has 1 month until the end of February to reach a deal with the Troika, or else the ECB would cut off lending to Greek banks, in the process destroying the otherwise insolvent Greek banking sector.

And since only the ECB backstop has prevented a banking sector panic, the ECB is essentially betting the house, and the sanctity of the Eurozone (because after a Grexit all bets are off which peripheral leaves next) that the threat, and soon reality, of a bank run (at last check Greece had about €145 billion in deposits still left in its bank after JPM’s latest estimate of €15 billion in outflows in January) will finally force Varoufakis and Tsipras to sit at the negotiating table with the understanding that not they but the Troika has all the leverage.

 Meanwhile, Germany has already ruled out any debt cancellation: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out any cancellation of Greece’s debt and said the country has already received substantial cuts from banks and creditors.”

The challenge that the EU faces is that they have nothing. Their only argument is that of a coven of vampires arguing with their victim: “you need to keep letting us bleed you, because if we die, you die.” But that argument means nothing to a dying man.


Once it’s clear that they can’t get any more out of the EU, it costs Greece nothing to allow the entire Euro edifice to collapse. They are already bankrupt, and it is no longer in their interest to permit the EU to continue concealing that simple fact.


RIP Colleen McCullough

Razib Khan mentioned her death at Unz:

I was aware that Colleen McCullough was ill, so sadly it is no surprise that she has died. To many McCullough is known for her Masters of Rome series. I particularly think that the first two books in the series, The First Man in Rome and Grass Crown were exceptional. The later novels cover the career of Julius Caesar and his heirs (both Augustus and Antony), which are rather well known to us. In contrast the life and times of Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla are not familiar to many modern people. In fact it is likely that their names would not ring a bell with the vast majority of people due to the decline of the classical education (which was the province of a narrow elite in any case when it was in vogue). But these were significant figures in their time whose influence echoes down the generations.

I never read The Thorne Birds, but I did enjoy the first three Rome novels. The Masters of Rome series inexplicably fell off a cliff with the fourth novel, Caesar’s Women, but the first three were both entertaining and educational. I even suspect, to a small extent, they may have had some influence on my choice of Rome’s Social War as a conceptual start to Arts of Dark and Light.


Sad Puppies, working as designed

This criticism of award-eligibility posts by what appears to be a garden variety pinkshirt proves that the International Lord of Hate effectively made his point last year with Sad Puppies 2, and also underlines the importance of The Ensaddening:

It’s that time of year again when the blogosphere is suddenly full of awards eligibility posts. Some people consider them useful and some people think they’re a bad thing. I used to believe there was something a little bit off about them, and I put that down to being, well, British. Blowing your own trumpet and all that. Bad form, you know. But my opinion on them has hardened of late. Having seen what a mockery the Hugo Awards were last year – which is not to say they haven’t been for many, many years – but in 2014 I was more than just an observer on the sidelines…

In 2014, I joined the Worldcon, which allowed me nominate works for the award. I took my vote seriously. I read novels I believed might be award-worthy, so I could put together a reasonably well-informed ballot. But the way everything worked out only brought home to me quite how corrupt is the culture surrounding the Hugos. And part of that culture is the awards eligibility post.

So why are they bad?

For one thing, awards are not about authors – they’re about what readers think of individual works. When an author enters a conversation about their book, they skew the conversation. We’ve all seen it happen. It usually result in authors bullying fans. When an author does the same with awards, they skew the awards.

It’s not a level playing-field. If Author A lists the eligible works they had published in 2014 and a couple of thousand people see that list, and Author B does the same but hundreds of thousands of people see their list… and if 0.01% of those people then nominate a work, guess who’s more likely to appear on the shortlist? Popular vote awards are by definition a popularity contest, so to make it acceptable for those with the loudest voices to shout across the room just makes a mockery of the whole thing.

Awards are fan spaces. Authors should not invade fan spaces. This is not to say that authors are not fans themselves. And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t behave as fans in fan spaces. But an awards eligibility post is an author-thing not a fan-thing. (This leaves posts where authors recommend others’ works in something of a grey area. Big Name Authors have Big Loud Voices, and their endorsement can still skew an award.)

The amusing thing is that most of these would-be critics of Larry Correia know perfectly well who is the individual most to blame for the current state of the Hugo Awards, but they are hesitant to point fingers and call him out for the fraud that he is. And that individual is none other than our old friend McRapey, who was the first to breach the dividing line between author and fan when he openly campaigned for the Best Fan Writer award, and managed to get himself nominated for it in 2007 before winning it in 2008. He justified his actions at the time by claiming that “authors are fans too”. I’ve repeatedly shown that McRapey is a charlatan and a liar, but he does have a gift for ruthless self-marketing; his SFWA presidency was part and parcel of the same self-inflating campaign.

Since then, other authors have attempted to follow Scalzi’s path to status among the publishing gatekeepers, including Jim C. Hines, the 2012 winner, and Kameron Hurley, the 2014 winner. Hurley even puts a price tag on her Fan Writer Hugo.

If you want to know what magical thing happened between MIRROR EMPIRE and THE STARS ARE LEGION to finally get me to what most folks in the industry used to consider a solid mid-lister advance, it’s one word:

 Hugos

So when people tell me that Hugos don’t matter, awards don’t matter, and promotion don’t matter, you can imagine the $13,000 face I make.

(That’s the point that Brad Torgersen missed in his calculations of Hugo value. They are worthless for selling books to readers, but they are very helpful for getting advances from status-seeking pinkshirt publishers.) But there is more than that. As Kaedrin points out, even if we ignore Scalzi’s two Dadaesque nominations for Redshirts and “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”, it appears that his 2006 nomination for Old Man’s War may be sketchy. Unless the rules have changed, how can anyone argue that The Martian is not eligible given that Old Man’s War was also self-published more than a year prior to its 2006 nomination?

The Martian suffers from eligibility issues – it was self published in 2012, then snapped up by a publisher and put into fancy editions and audio books in 2014 (where it has sold extremely well). General consensus seems to be that it will not be eligible, but I think there are a few things going for it. One is that self-published works that get bought up by a real publisher and come out a year or two later have made it onto the ballot before (an example that comes to mind is Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, which was self-published in 2003 or 2004, after which it was promptly bought up by Tor and republished in 2005, garnering a Hugo nomination in 2006).

The Hugo Awards are corrupt. But Sad Puppies isn’t what corrupted them. Quite to the contrary, Sad Puppies is a necessary part of the process of cleaning them up and restoring them to something that actually recognizes excellence in genuine science fiction and fantasy. 

The left-wing rot runs considerably deeper than most realize; consider this letter from John Norman to Locus, written concerning a WorldCon more than a decade ago:

For those in the science-fiction community who are interested in freedom of speech, a free and open marketplace of ideas, in debate, dialogue, reason, and such, the recent convention is a considerable embarrassment. It seems a shame that the Millennium World Science Fiction Convention will be remembered for its suppression of dissent, an absence of authentic dialogue, its exclusionistic criteria for participation, and its parochial PC mentality. The past cannot be undone, though, I suppose, it is easy enough to lie about it.

I received a note, dated June 21, 2001, in response to a letter of inquiry, dated June 7, 2001, my letter pertaining to the possible refusal of certain members of the programming committee to countenance an intellectually open convention. My first letter was dated April 7, 2001, and the program-participant list was several times added to, and updated, after that time. The following is my response to the note.

Thank you for your note of June 21, 2001. Your note reads, in part, as follows: Thank you for your interest in being a Program participant at the Millennium Philcon. However, we are unable to accept your offer for this Worldcon. However, we expect to be able to have a mass autographing session at the Worldcon. Any writer in attendance will be welcome to come in and sign.

It will be noted, in connection with the first paragraph above, that it was not made clear why the “acceptors and rejecters” were “unable” to accept my offer of participation. I thought they were in charge of programming. Without being sanguine to edit another’s discourse, I think, perhaps, they might have said something like “we refuse to let you participate” or, perhaps, “because of political pressures, from certain authors and/or fans, we feel it might our jeopardize our position in a personality network, to have an open convention.”

I was sorry to be unpleasant, but how else could one possibly have construed such a lame and implausible remark.

With respect to the second paragraph, their offer was empty, and insulting. For example, as my name did not appear on the list of program participants none of my fans would know that I would be there, and, accordingly, would not bring any books to sign. It is hard for me to suppose that this detail escaped the notice of the “acceptors and rejecters.”

The grounds for my exclusion were clearly not logistic or professional. For example, I wrote to the committee months before the convention, arid their membership list had been updated, with new additions, several times since that time. That rules out the rationalization of not enough chairs in the hotel, or such.

Similarly, the grounds for my exclusion could not plausibly be professional. Had I not sold enough millions of books? For example, I have had several million books published in the genre of science fiction, have a worldwide fandom, am available in several languages, and have had two movies made which were putatively based on my work. I think there are very few, if any, authors, much as we love them all, who had objectively made more of a contribution to the genre in the past fifty years.

We have a long way to go. But we have stronger spirits, longer legs, and bigger guns. And, more importantly, unlike our predecessors, we see the enemy for exactly what they are. John Norman was right. “Science fiction’s future deserves more than to be a literary backwater despised by serious critics, and held in contempt by the average intellectual; it deserves more than to be a vehicle for an endless potlatch of prizes.”


Republicans have clever new plan for failure

The establishment’s “electable” candidate in 2016 will not be Mitt Romney:

In a talk with his eldest son, Tagg, between runs down the mountain on Monday, Mr. Romney, 67, said he had all but decided against a third bid for the White House. The conversation, according to a person familiar with it, came after days of increasingly gloomy news reached the Romney family.

Donors who supported him last time refused to commit to his campaign. Key operatives were signing up with former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. The Republican establishment that lifted Mr. Romney to the nomination in 2012 in the face of scrappy opposition had moved on.

The news on Friday that Mr. Romney would opt out of the race revealed as much about the party in 2015 as it did about the former Massachusetts governor’s weaknesses as a candidate. Republican leaders, especially the party’s wealthiest donors, are in an impatient and determined mood. They are eager to turn to a new face they believe can defeat what they anticipate will be a strong, well-funded Democratic opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton….

The
campaign to deny Mr. Romney another chance began almost immediately
after he mused to donors at a Friday get-together in New York City on
Jan. 9 that he was open to the possibility of another run. By that
Sunday afternoon, William Oberndorf, a prominent California investor who
supported Mr. Romney in both of his previous presidential campaigns,
had emailed a group of 52 powerful Republicans, including former
Secretary of State George Shultz, the investor Charles Schwab, Gov.
Bruce Rauner of Illinois and the Michigan billionaire Betsy DeVos with a
blunt message: we need to support someone else.
Mr.
Oberndorf wrote: “We are fortunate in Jeb Bush to have an extremely
talented and able candidate who, I believe, has a far better prospect of
winning a general election than Mitt. Moreover, Mitt has now run twice
and has had his chance to be president. It is now time to cede the field
to others.”

Mr.
Oberndorf requested that those on the email contact Mr. Romney’s
longtime finance chief, Spencer Zwick, to make it clear that they did
not want Mr. Romney to run again. And many of them did, Mr. Oberndorf
said in an interview on Friday. “Of
everybody I contacted, I only heard from one person who thought Mitt
should give it another shot,” said Mr. Oberndorf. In the weeks after he
expressed renewed interest in running, Mr. Romney contacted some of his
most loyal supporters. But often, he found Mr. Bush had gotten there
already.

It’s amazing, though not entirely surprising, that the bi-factional ruling party wants to set up another choice between Bush and Clinton. It’s as if they can’t even bother pretending that Americans live in a democracy anymore, never mind a republic. It increasingly reminds me of the arrogance of the EU establishment, which is now openly anti-democratic.

Cicero was right. It’s not dictatorship that follows democracy, but aristocracy.

And the cluelessness of the arrogance is downright amusing. On what planet did Romney think anyone actually wanted him to be president? Then again, on what planet does anyone outside the Republican establishment want another Bush, much less one who is an anti-American open borders lunatic.


Does this actually count as news?

George R.R. Martin will not deliver in 2015:

George R.R. Martin’s “The Winds Of Winter”, the fifth book of his bestselling fantasy saga “A Song Of Ice And Fire” (known to television fans as “Game Of Thrones”) will not be published in 2015. Jane Johnson at HarperCollins has confirmed that it is not in this year’s schedule. “I have no information on likely delivery,” she said. “These are increasingly complex books and require immense amounts of concentration to write. Fans really ought to appreciate that the length of these monsters is equivalent to two or three novels by other writers.”

Instead, readers will have to comfort themselves with a collection, illustrated by Gary Gianni, of three previously anthologised novellas set in the world of Westeros. “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” takes place nearly a century before the bloody events of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Out in October, it is a compilation of the first three official prequel novellas to the series, The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight, never before collected.

I know, I know… but my monster book, the second novel in Arts of Dark and Light WILL be out in 2015. Most likely late 2015, but 2015 all the same. As for The Winds of Winter, he’s going to have to step up his game considerably from A Dance with Dragons, because frankly, that was pretty bad. I’m not entirely sure he’s going to be able to come back from it.


Mailvox: thought of the day

A Nameless Reader has an observation:

Random thought: The fact that people who are skeptical of one “consensus” tend to be skeptical of other consensuses suggests there’s a correlation in mental capacity – since one has to have a very high level of intellectual self-confidence and an ability to do independent research and thinking in order to sustain an argument against, e.g., evolution, global warming, Austrian investing, or vaccination, when there is enormous “consensus” pressure to adopt the other opinion, it would make sense that such iconoclastic beliefs would bundle.

I don’t think there is any question about this. I have zero regard for consensus on the grounds of MPAI. In fact, if someone who I otherwise consider to be intelligent falls for an observably incorrect consensus position, I tend to keep a skeptical eye on his future assertions and conclusions.

Everyone makes mistakes, but falling for the appeal to authority, or worse, the appeal to popularity, simply is not indicative of an functioning and intelligent mind. Consensus is another word for “lowest common denominator”.

But keep in mind I’m not talking about skepticism and iconoclasm for their own sake, I’m talking about maintaining an open mind when there are obvious holes, if not outright flaws, in the consensus position.


Science is raciss

It’s now impossible to claim that we are all the same under the skin, thanks to DNA phenotyping.

Parabon’s Snapshot Forensic system is said to be able to accurately predict genetic ancestry, eye colour, hair colour, skin colour, freckling, and face shape in individuals from any ethnic background.

Each prediction is presented with a ‘measure of confidence’.

As an example, the test can say a person has green eyes with 61 per cent confidence, green or blue with 79 per cent confidence, and that they definitely don’t have brown eyes, with 99 per cent confidence.

Based on ancestry, and other markers, the test also creates a likely facial shape. From all of this information, it builds a computer generated e-fit.

Science is gradually obliterating the secular myths, one by one. My expectation is that most of the “racist pseudo-science” that was supposedly falsified (and which in most cases was simply declared out of bounds by equalitarian anti-scientists), are going to come back in vogue with a vengeance and on a sound scientific basis.


Sad Puppies: the last day

These are the final hours to register for Sad Puppies 3: The Ensaddening. January 31 is the last day to register as a supporting member of WorldCon. Here is why you might want to consider doing so even if the idea of spending $40 to poke a sharp stick in the collective eyes of the SJWs who are doing their level best to destroy the science fiction and fantasy literature you love for the next two years isn’t enough in its own right.

  1. Hugo Awards are worth around $13,000 to an SJW, according to one Kameron Hurley. For a fraction of one percent of that, you can deny multiple SJWs their ability to commit Pink SF and force them to spend their time delivering pizzas instead. (Have no fear, the awards are worth absolutely nothing to us in financial terms, because the gatekeepers who value them for marketing purposes won’t publish even national bestselling authors of the Right; they are far more driven by intersectional equalitarian ideology than by evil capitalist business sense.)
  2. Short of wiping their hard drives and deleting their current manuscripts, there is literally nothing you can do that upsets the SJWs more than putting the sort of right-wing writer they have spent two decades working very hard to suppress in the limelight that they seek for themselves.
  3. The more obvious our numbers, the more it encourages the moderate elements at the major publishers to rein in the left-wing inmates who have taken over the SF/F asylum. The Toad of Tor is no longer at Tor and it is unlikely that her dismissal would have taken place without the fact that people were finally standing up to her crude bullying, causing her to double-down and attract the attention of higher-ups at the publisher. Tor’s German owners don’t give a damn about politics or the imperative of strong female characters and they’re only beginning to understand how the SJWs running their subsidiaries have let them down.
  4. It’s very good value for the money. Last year, the $20 spent on a supporting membership got you the complete Wheel of Time series, the complete Grimnoire Chronicles, and sundry other works as well. Granted, it also got you a fair amount of Pink sludge, but no one is going to make you download it. The more of you that register, the more likely it is that there will be great stuff that you want to read as part of the Hugo Packet.
  5. Sarah Hoyt says: “I suggest we kick them while they’re down and make them fight for the
    awards and prestige they crave. Also, that we point at them and make
    duck noises.”
  6. We have the momentum. Last year, the Dread Ilk showed up in respectable force without me doing anything more than putting up a single post with a modified version of Sad Puppies 2. This year, we’re locked, loaded, and ready to be all that we can be. Trust me on that. About which more soon….

A supporting membership is $40 and gives you the right to participate this year and next year, as well as receive the material in the Hugo Packets both years. So heed the words of Wendell, our fine spokesmanatee, and end puppy-related sadness now!

Note to the Dread Ilk already on board: keep your powder dry. Registration is all that is necessary or desirable right now. The next step is in process.


Medical extortion

Pediatricians are increasingly behaving in an openly unethical manner:

With California gripped by a measles outbreak, Dr. Charles Goodman posted a clear notice in his waiting room and on Facebook: His practice will no longer see children whose parents won’t get them vaccinated.

“Parents who choose not to give measles shots, they’re not just putting their kids at risk, but they’re also putting other kids at risk – especially kids in my waiting room,” the Los Angeles pediatrician said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by a small number of doctors who in recent years have “fired” patients who continue to believe debunked research linking vaccines to autism. They hope the strategy will lead parents to change their minds; if that fails, they hope it will at least reduce the risk to other children in the office.

The tough-love approach – which comes amid the nation’s second-biggest measles outbreak in at least 15 years, with at least 98 cases reported since last month – raises questions about doctors’ ethical responsibilities.

Any doctor who attempts to force a treatment on a patient against the will of the patient or an underage patient’s parents should lose his medical license. It is absolutely unethical for a medical professional to behave in this outrageous manner, and those who stupidly think that this would be a great idea should stop and think about the obvious consequences for a few seconds.

Measles is not a major health risk to anyone; statistically speaking it is considerably lower down the risk chain than obesity, smoking, homosexuality and even gun ownership. If the “tough love” approach is deemed to be permissible, then doctors will be able to use any of those factors to cull patients from their list, and given the way in which Medicare now influences how they are compensated, there are entire patient classes that they would love to be able to stop serving. The sword always cuts both ways.

The very minor risk to other children in the office is easily managed; a doctor can have “unvaccinated” days in which those children who are not vaccinated according to the presently recommended schedule are seen. (Which in reality is almost everyone; I know very few parents who have managed to stick to the complete schedule, not even the strongly pro-vaccination ones.) Furthermore, some children cannot be vaccinated because they, or their siblings, have had sufficiently negative reactions to their first vaccinations. Are they going to be barred from all medical treatment simply because one specific treatment is harmful to them?

Before you leap to any conclusions or assume that this is personal, let me remind you that you have absolutely no idea what vaccinations my children have or do not have. My argument against this unethical and dangerous policy has absolutely nothing to do with my preference for limited and delayed vaccine schedules; even the most rabid pro-vaccine supporter should be capable of seeing the inherent danger in it.


A true team player

I picked Belichick and Brady to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl before the playoffs started. I’m not changing that prediction now barring Brady being ill at gametime; this is their last hurrah, they know it, they’ve got a healthy Gronk, and Belichick has had two weeks to prepare. That being said, I really like Richard Sherman, as for all his flash and attitude, he is far more a hard-working team player than many a fan and media favorite.

I was lucky to be drafted by Pete and John, who
assembled around me one of the most talented and diverse defensive
backfields in football. More than I want individual success, I want to
be remembered as part of the Legion of Boom, which is why all of us are
on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine this week. In football,
unlike various other sports, it takes a total team effort to be
successful.

I can’t perform at
this level without Kam Chancellor, the lion of the Legion, the guy who
once picked off Peyton Manning by ducking to make it appear as though he
couldn’t leap for the ball. He’s also the guy we go to with our
problems, who doles out advice about a lot of issues that arise outside
of football.

I can’t perform at this level without Earl Thomas—The Example—who can
show you how to do the right thing better than he can explain it. When
everybody else is joking, he’s locked in, a reminder of what we’re here
for.

I can’t perform at this level without Byron Maxwell, our chill guy,
oblivious to the pressure. I remember him joking around with Carroll in
our rookie camp, saying that if he was allowed to play nickel he’d choke
out the slot receiver. Carroll relented and Maxwell delivered, only to
get injured in camp. Now he’s the corner on the other side, and his
consistently high level of play makes QBs’ decisions very difficult.

I can’t perform at this level without Jeremy Lane, the scrappy guy
from Tyler, Texas. Competition brings out the dog in him; just look at
what he’s done to the Packers’ Randall Cobb.

He’s also entirely sound on Roger Goodell. One thing I always pay attention to with regards to public figures is how they are regarded by those closest to them. The men who tend to have the strongest characters are those whose friends and colleagues are loyal and stand by them even when the heat is on. The fact that Sherman, the most famous and outspoken member of the Legion of Boom, doesn’t pretend to be the top dog but instead defers to Chancellor as the leader, helps explain why a collection of fairly low draft picks – one first-rounder, two fifth-rounders, and two sixth-rounders – evolved into the most fearsome defensive secondary of all time.

It’s strange how many people involved in team sports insist on focusing exclusively on individual talents when the evidence clearly indicates that how well you operate as part of a unit is more important for ultimate team success than your individual talents. I suspect it may not be an accident that at least two of the Legion of Boom members, including its leader, are devout Christians. And although Sherman doesn’t come right out and say it, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the original plan had been to put him on the cover alone.

And if the Seahawks do knock off one of the two best pairings of coach and quarterback in NFL history, that will be further testimony to the sum being greater than the whole of the parts. I can honestly say that aside from the original Purple People Eaters and the Buddy Ryan Bears, I haven’t enjoyed watching a defense more than Seattle’s over the last two years. I wasn’t the only one who decided the Super Bowl was over after seeing this hit by Chancellor. Watch the battle between him and Gronkowski for an early clue on how the game will turn out.