Alt-Internet

Slate planned a hit piece on the Alt-Tech movement, then realized that perhaps the Alt-Right may have a point with regards to Internet censorship being an all-too-slippery slope.

However distasteful its views, the alt-right has smartly framed its battle in terms of “free speech.” This argument has currency elsewhere on the right, too. President Trump is fond of calling out Amazon, perhaps chiefly because of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ ownership of the Washington Post. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said on his show earlier this month that “Google should be regulated like the public utility it is, to make sure it doesn’t further distort the free flow of information to the rest of us.” Former Trump aide and Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon has also argued that tech platforms should be regulated like utilities. Combined with Democrats making antitrust regulation a central tenet of their new policy platform, the internet’s gatekeepers could soon be put on notice as never before.

It would be hard not to spot the irony if one of the most significant threats to big tech’s monopolistic power ends up being caused by hate groups. Gab’s Sanduja believes that Apple and Google shutting out his company from their app marketplaces prevents it from accessing 70 to 75 percent of its potential U.S. market. Even if you agree with banning Gab, the power of a handful of companies to banish anyone from the internet should give you pause. And it is one reason why the arguments of alt-tech advocates may find more and more friendly ears in Silicon Valley, where many entrepreneurs increasingly worry they can’t compete.

It’s also hard not to see this conundrum as big tech’s fault from the start. In a way, the alt-right is calling out the essential tension of the major internet companies, which espouse “don’t be evil” philosophies and want to “bring the world closer together,” yet also owe their popularity (and profits) to an internet where seemingly anything goes, until they say it doesn’t. Banning Nazis may be a perfectly defensible stance, but given the inconsistent transparency and enforcement of community guidelines from tech companies, it also has the whiff of the arbitrary.

In a more plural market, Facebook and Google and GoDaddy would be just as free to boot odious ideologies—but they wouldn’t face the same accusations of speech suppression, because places like Daily Stormer would have more places to go for their social-networking and domain-hosting needs. The early ideal of the internet was that of a great commons where all kinds of diverse opinions could be shared, where people could come to understand each other and to be convinced of new, challenging ideas. That particular utopian wish list may have always been naïve, but the notion that an open internet should not be controlled by a small group of corporations beholden only to shareholders continues to hold sway for a reason. Facebook was only ever supposed to be part of the public commons; the walled garden was never meant to subsume it.

Which may be why Gab and its Free Speech Tech Alliance has gained the trust of Nazis but can also invoke the rhetoric of left-wing antitrusters—well, to a point. “If Google and Apple are straight-up corporations for their political sides, they should openly declare their discriminatory behavior. They should be proud of it,” said Gab’s Sanduja. “They should not be mendacious and talk about change and be different. Stop engaging in sophistry. Come out to us as the major SJW platforms you are.”

The funny thing was that they really wanted to talk to Gab’s Torba, not Sanduja. Because, of course, Sanduja didn’t fit the original intended Narrative of Alt-Tech being nothing but white supremacist Nazis.


Unemployment is a state of mind

Crew commented, correctly, on the fact that many managers and executives are unwilling to hire people who are unemployed. Their reasoning is pretty straightforward: if you were any good, then surely in this time of near-universal incompetence, you would have a job.

And, let’s face it, more often than not, they are correct on the average, even if that is not true in the case of the special, highly skilled snowflake that all of the unemployed readers of this blog indubitably are.

This is nothing new. It has been this way for at least 25 years. So, one can either cry and complain about the situation, or one can accept it and figure out a way to utilize it to one’s advantage. Utilize it? Yes, precisely. Allow me to explain.

20-something years ago, one of my best friends was fired from the small, but elite law firm where he worked, because he had too tender a conscience to simply invent billable hours out of nothing, as they required of their associates. He spent over a year fruitlessly applying to various law firms around the city and got absolutely nowhere, as he ran into the same “if you don’t already have a job, we don’t want you” problem that presently plagues so many unemployed individuals today.

I advised him to get a job, any job at all, even if it was sweeping floors at a fast-food restaurant. When he asked, puzzled, how that would help him find a job as a lawyer, I told him that as a small business owner, if I see a lawyer who is willing to get his hands dirty and do whatever he needs to do in order to get by, that’s exactly the guy I want working for me.

So, still somewhat dubious, he took my advice. He got a job at CompUSA selling computers, mostly because he wanted to be able to talk computers on par with the rest of our social circle. Within six months, he was the store’s best expert on computers, and had become the go-to guy for all the other salespeople. He continued interviewing, to little avail, until a year after taking the CompUSA job, he interviewed with a growing technology consulting company. His legal background was unexceptional compared to all the other candidates, but they were blown away by his in-depth knowledge of computers, particularly when he was able to point out some strategic mistakes they were risking on the basis of their failure to understand where the consumer market was headed.

They were also impressed when they asked him about his strange resume, and he had a ready answer for them. He explained that after being let go, he had plenty of free time on his hands and figured that it was a good idea to get paid to learn something new.

He got the job. Then, when their company was bought by a much larger competitor, the acquiring company was so impressed with his performance in the negotiations and the contract-writing that they not only hired him, but named him the successor to their outgoing lead attorney. Following a second acquisition by an even bigger competitor, he was made a director and the head of the legal department of a $1.5 billion corporation.

Don’t quit. Don’t cry. Don’t complain. Do something, anything. Volunteer for an Open Source project. Become the volunteer IT guy at a local organization. Get a job doing anything. All of these things not only create the possibility of new opportunities, but send a very strong message that you are a professionally ruthless doer who isn’t afraid to work and is reliably going to get the job done.


Change or fall behind

Snidely Whiplash fails to understand why he’s not employed. Crew, who is not only of the Silicon Valley hiring class, but is the #2 Techstar and a member of the Infogalactic Star Council, is unable to set him straight.

Bob: The companies who try to move don’t succeed. They can’t convince their employees to move with them, and they can’t find the people they need in other locations.

Crew: I think this is not true. What you have in Silicon Valley is enormous numbers of H1Bs, some of whom have been laid off in the latest layoff rounds but they vary greatly in quality and putting together a good team can be very difficult.

Crew: Certainly, where I am we need people but we cannot find them and we are in the heart of Silicon Valley, so we do without and things just take longer to do. And the real problem is finding people who know how to balance short-term business needs (implementing what the customer wants to get their business) with longer-term company needs (doing it in a way that is supportable over the long term and doesn’t paint you into a corner.)

Crew: Despite that I still find time to work on Infogalactic and a couple of open source software projects. The reality is that people don’t go for those who have been laid off in most cases. Personally, I would prefer to employ Americans … but Silicon Valley has driven many of them out …

Snidely: And with pathetic attitudes like that, you’re helping to drive them out.

Jack: You still looking Snidely?

Snidely Whiplash: Sadly, yes, Jack. White, laid off, and over 50. Crew up there won’t hire me, no matter my skills or experience, because he’s an idiot.

I suggest that Snidely’s difficulty has less to do with his skills, his experience, or Crew’s purported idiocy than his personality. I’m not at all surprised to hear that he’s unemployed. He complains that Crew wouldn’t hire him, but I wouldn’t be inclined to hire him either. It’s one thing to not play particularly well with others, it’s another thing altogether to pride yourself on your complete inability to do so; even his self-selected moniker is an indication of misplaced pride. It’s not an accident that someone who elects to call himself “snide” reliably goes out of his way to say unnecessarily negative things about almost everything and everyone.

Snidely, that’s your main challenge. Not anti-American discrimination in tech. The moment I hear that negative, superior tone in a man’s voice, I immediately cross him off the list, whether he’s a programmer, an artist, or a writer. Sure, he may be directing it at something we mutually despise now, but I know perfectly well he’s going to be directing it at a co-worker, at the project, or at me before long. My experience has taught that such individuals never prove to be worth their downside, no matter how talented they are.

I’ll give you an example of that negative communication style right in that same thread.

This is how a normal person expresses his opinion: “Hey, it would be great if you would release audio-only versions of the videos. I would prefer to listen to those.”

That is a helpful, positive way to express an opinion. It’s a good idea too. Why not be sure to release the videos in podcast form or make them otherwise available for audio download? I expect we will do just that.

Now, this is how Snidely communicated the same idea: “One thing I would encourage, as it’s probably a make-or-break for me, is to have just the audio portion. Frankly, you’re not that attractive, and both my money and my bandwidth are limited.”

Same idea, different delivery, and it inspires an entirely different reaction: What the Hell? Fuck that guy! One has to read it twice to even register what the relevant opinion is, so distracting is the negativity.

There are three problems in just two sentences. First, the tone is heavily negative (make-or-break, frankly, not that attractive, limited). Second, he twice tries to make the entire subject about him when it isn’t. Third, he insults my appearance, and even worse, he does it without any need to do so in order to make his case. It’s just egregious. Now, I could not care less what some 50-something man happens to think about my appearance, but that sort of comment is not going to go over at all well with the average individual who is vain enough to be making videos.

So, Snidely, why would you EVER say anything like that? You didn’t need to justify your preference for audio over video, because I was openly asking for everyone’s opinions. And why are you whining and complaining about who Crew hires or doesn’t hire? You not only haven’t given him any reason to consider hiring you other than empty public posturing, you’ve given him excellent cause to not even accept you as a volunteer for any of the high-profile projects he manages. That’s not intelligent. That’s self-sabotage.

Now, I understand that this is a very challenging labor environment. It’s stressful for everyone. Even those with seemingly secure jobs know that they could lose them at any time due to an untimely comment overheard by the wrong person, a corporate acquisition, or a corporate move. One friend of mine, long self-employed, was convinced by his wife to take a great job offer at one of the strongest, most successful Fortune 50 technology companies in the world, in the interest of stability. He was even assigned to a mission-critical project. I would have sworn he had some of the best job security on the planet.

Nine months later, the CEO announced that the corporation was shutting down all its activities in my friend’s state. Since my friend was mission-critical, he was given the opportunity to uproot his family and move across the country to a place they knew no one. He wisely declined. So much for stability and job security.

The point is that in this environment, you have to continually up your game. And whether your weakness is on the skills side, the experience side, or the personality side, you have to shore it up. As I mentioned in last night’s Darkstream, video was never my medium. It still isn’t my preferred one, but I have upped my video game, and I am going to continue to increase it because that is what I have to do if I am going to be at all relevant to the 90 percent of the population that is post-literate.

The times always change. We can either change with them or we can fall behind.


Mailvox: of scraps and subscriptions

An email today from a sane man who finds himself caught up in a crazy world:

I want you to know I appreciate what you are doing. I’m in tech and the number of pozzed out SJW folks I interact with on a daily basis in that capacity is nearly unbearable. It feels like fully 1/5 – 1/4th of all articles, blog posts, and podcast episodes I see out there on most feeds are identity politics bullshit these days. There seems to be an overbearing need for virtue signalling from guys that make six figures and can’t get an attractive girlfriend. It goes all the way up to a number of well-known blogger/podcasters who should have their lives together, based on the amount of income they bring in, but yet continue to white knight for fairly dubious (aka, low value) scraps of female attention.

I must also relate a story. I recently had dinner with a silicon valley startup dude (I say “dude”, because he was allegedly a founder, but not particularly successful) regarding the possibility of Silicon Valley startups outsourcing to other parts of the US (particularly the deep south and rust belt). I pointed out that low ping times, similar timezones and laws, and better optics around outsourcing might eventually make the numbers work well enough for at least some companies to try it out. It was at this point that I was subjected to an extended rant about how his company would never do that as (summarized) “we don’t want to hire people who are going to be bringing racism into the office and wanting to take time off in the fall to duck hunt and f#$% their sisters”. This individual stated this, loudly, in front of numerous witnesses without a hint of fear of consequences. It is this sort of behavior and the cucking I described in the previous paragraph that makes me believe that the alt-tech revolt is just getting started – I know dozens already who are hopping mad about this sort of thing and I send them to your blog. I certainly am motivated to help grease the skids for it.

That is a great observation on the driving force behind Silicon Valley virtue-signaling, and it indicates that it is going to be possible to red-pill some of the seeming SJWs. They are operating on a false paradigm, and moreover, they have to, on some level, know it. I mean, it just isn’t working for them, is it.

But regardless, the Alt-Tech revolt is just getting started. We’ve set the Voxiversity launch date to September 11th, the Alt-Patronstarter site is already fully functional, and I’m putting the subscriptions together now. There will be six levels of monthly subscriptions, from $5 to $500, and while I have most of the rewards identified, I’m interested in hearing additional ideas from those of you intending to support this foray into video production.

The Alt Hero kickstarter will be launched two weeks after Voxiversity. It will not be a subscription, just a straightforward fund-or-kill 30-day campaign.

Share your thoughts.


Google’s gold, Google’s rules

I don’t know why anyone expected it to be any different. Google is paying for results, not research:

The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left.

But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had chaired New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.

The statement disappeared from New America’s website, only to be reposted without explanation a few hours later. But word of Mr. Schmidt’s displeasure rippled through New America, which employs more than 200 people, including dozens of researchers, writers and scholars, most of whom work in sleek Washington offices where the main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.” The episode left some people concerned that Google intended to discontinue funding, while others worried whether the think tank could truly be independent if it had to worry about offending its donors.

Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google, which is now part of a larger corporate entity known as Alphabet, for which Mr. Schmidt serves as executive chairman.

Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that “the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,” according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team — nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows — would be exiled from New America.

While she asserted in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, that the decision was “in no way based on the content of your work,” Ms. Slaughter accused Mr. Lynn of “imperiling the institution as a whole.”

Now we have Fake Funding to go with Fake News, Fake Traffic, and Fake Ads. I don’t have any problem with Google expecting the people it funds to obey them and sing from Google’s songbook, only with the pretense that things were ever going to be otherwise.


Compression and decompression

The producers of A Game of Thrones learned the wrong lessons from George Martin’s mistakes:

Too often over the last three seasons—particularly since “Hardhome” in season five, when the series began to chart its own course—the show’s secondary characters and plots have seemed lost. Game of Thrones just doesn’t have time for anyone who isn’t Jon, Daenerys, or the Night King anymore. The show has shed George R.R. Martin’s most frustrating tics, which ultimately weighed his story down: his insistence on meticulous world-building, on resisting deus ex machina resolutions, and on subverting fantasy tropes. But in racing toward the end—in giving fans the resolution they have demanded—Game of Thrones has over-learned from Martin’s mistakes, taking the story too far in the other direction.

Paradoxically, the show has also become grander, more ambitious than any television series before it. Season seven was cut to only seven episodes, as opposed to the ordinary ten, presumably to pay for all the action. Its showrunners needed money for its first naval battle, a dragon assault on the Lannister army, round two between Jon and the Night King, and, most spectacularly, an undead dragon taking down an 8,000-year-old magic wall made of ice. But for all of their scope and masterful aesthetic execution (particularly in the case of the horribly named “Loot Train Battle”), these scenes all lacked the punch of “Hardhome,” when Jon first confronts the Night King and the show’s stakes at long last come into view.

This is because they were in keeping with the show’s post-“Hardhome” modus operandi: moving pieces around to prepare for a final sprint to the finish. The naval battle at the beginning of season seven served to eliminate the Sand Snakes (who never worked anyway) and kick into gear Theon’s redemption arc (which was then ignored for the next several episodes). The assault on Casterly Rock came about for no other reason than to even the odds by taking the Unsullied out of the picture, though they reappeared in the finale with no explanation.

Most egregiously, the “Frozen Lake Battle” (also horribly named) was necessitated by a plan to capture a wight that made absolutely no sense at all. The reason for its existence was to neatly get things done, in this case to give the Night King a dragon and to provide an excuse for finally bringing all the show’s far-flung characters together. As well-executed as many of these plot developments were, they never arose naturally from the show’s characters—instead they were imposed by the show’s writers, who are suddenly very pressed for time….

The show’s other standouts have been largely abandoned or turned into secondary figures, including the Starks. The culmination of the Littlefinger plot was thrilling, but overall it was narrative thumb-twiddling, a way to take a character off the board while giving something for Arya and Sansa to do while Jon was away.

The sad truth is that this is probably where the novels are going as well. Martin has concocted many of his characters to buy time for his primary story. It is Martin’s great strength that so many of them—including a number who never made it into the show—are so rich and real, but they too are ultimately extraneous to the main plot revolving around Jon and Dany.

Although I am contemptuous of George Martin as an individual, and although I am increasingly confident that ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT will eventually be seen by most fans of epic fantasy to be considerably superior to A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE once both series are finished, I continue to look on the books and the HBO series alike as a tremendous learning experience, if not an irreplaceable one.

The truth is that I’m grateful to Martin for the various mistakes he has made. Without the tedious debacle that was A Dance with Dragons, I never would have even thought about daring to begin my own epic fantasy. And without his spiraling out of control thanks to the introduction of 13 new perspective characters, bringing him to a total of 22 in one book, I would never have learned the importance of keeping them under such tight discipline. Without his foolish decision to go back and untie the Mereen Knot, I would not have grasped the importance of allowing the greater story to flow naturally, and not getting caught up in always explaining exactly what happened to whom.

Here is what most readers, even most writers, simply don’t realize. Writing epic fantasy is very difficult. I would estimate that it’s about 5x more difficult than writing a novel of normal size, not counting the extra time required to account for the additional length. Not only that, but periodically publishing large books is the exact opposite of what a writer should do if he wants to maximize his book sales in the current environment. So, most writers simply cannot write epic fantasy, and even if they happen to possess the ability, they can’t afford to do so.

Then factor in the fact that several of those who have actually written epic fantasy have done so in the form of cheap Tolkien knockoffs, which provide no useful lessons to the aspiring epic writer, and perhaps you’ll understand why I appreciate the chance to learn from GRRM in real time. Here is how I rank the writers of epic fantasy:

  1. JRR Tolkien
  2. Stephen Donaldson (Covenant)
  3. Margaret Weis & Terry Hickman (Dragonlance)
  4. David Eddings (Belgariad)
  5. Glen Cook
  6. Steven Erikson
  7. Raymond Feist
  8. George RR Martin
  9. Joe Abercrombie
  10. CS Friedman
  11. Tad Williams
  12. Daniel Abraham
  13. Brandon Sanderson
  14. R. Scott Bakker
  15. Mark Lawrence
  16. Terry Brooks
  17. Robert Jordan
  18. Terry Goodkind

Obviously, your mileage may vary, as may what you consider to be “epic fantasy”. I would have Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Tanith Lee, and Anne McCaffrey all ranked above Dragonlance, but their work is better categorized in other categories. It’s rather amusing to see how many “best epic fantasy” lists feature works with descriptions that begin “okay, it’s not actually epic fantasy, but [insert other sub-genre here]|.

I don’t know where AODAL will end up once it is complete. Towards the top, I hope. But there is only one way to find out, and that is to finish Vols. II through V.


#BoycottCampingWorld

A Fake American businessman, the CEO of Camping World, does not want Trump-supporting customers:

Marcus Lemonis: If you’re OK with what Trump said, don’t shop at my business

“There’s no doubt that there is probably not many consumers in this country today that are in favor of what has been said in the last couple days and if they are, quite frankly, don’t shop at my business,” said Lemonis, who is CEO of Camping World and host of CNBC’s “The Profit.”

In a chaotic Tuesday news conference, Trump appeared to equate torch-bearing white nationalists with the protesters who demonstrated against them. Trump’s statements led to a wave of CEO resignations from his advisory councils and on Wednesday, Trump abruptly dissolved the councils. Trump’s announcement came shortly after a member of the Strategic and Policy Forum told CNBC the group had decided to disband.

Lemonis told “Power Lunch” he is “horrified” by what he’s been hearing and seeing from this administration.

He said it’s important that CEOs speak for themselves as individuals on policy and also speak for their companies as it relates to policy that affects their businesses. However, they should be very careful, he said. “I’m concerned about certain CEOs dancing on the fence, fearing retaliation or fearing something. It’s scary right now,” Lemonis said.

Now that #BoycottCampingWorld is trending, the Fake American born in Lebanon quickly retreated and apologized, only not really. It’s a pathetic piece of groveling pity theatre in which Lemonis attempts to simultaneously mitigate the damage to his company while continuing to virtue-signal. If the Camping World board has any sense of self-preservation at all, it will demand his resignation before the end of the week.

When I came to this country as an infant I had no idea what would be in store for me. A place where most get a chance to succeed. With a loving family and a ton of luck I was given my shot. Now the road wasn’t as easy as some think. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth but I was more fortunate than others in the sense of having two great parents, a roof, always food and clothing and provided a good education. During those years I had my own internal struggle like most do. Struggles that are kept secret in some cases and others than are out for all to see. As a kid, I was bullied. Now that doesn’t make me special or require any special privilege but it does stick with you. As I grew up I knew I needed to be someone and do something. It was the only way I could prove to myself and others that I was worth more than they thought of me but quite frankly needed for my own mental health. I am much more insecure than people know. I get depressed, sad, scared etc. but who cares we all do.

Over the last 15 years I have been blessed to be part of building a business with people that believed in me. Something new for me. I was given a chance to build something that I could leave as a lasting legacy. Even though I started experiencing success, I never quite felt fulfilled. It’s not about the money. I felt like I needed to do more, to contribute more. Thru those years I made mistakes. A lot of them. Struggled with personal relationships, mistreated friends, etc. I suppose that’s human but I couldn’t understand why. The last five years I spent my time working on my business but also dedicated my life to small business. It was a way for me to help the underdog. I never did it for the money or the attention but rather to fill a void. I felt like I had to do it to payback a place that gave me a break. I made plenty of mistakes during this process as well. Trusted people who I shouldn’t have, made deals I shouldn’t have and sometimes did it for the wrong reason. But who cares, we all make mistakes.

Over the last year I have, or at least I thought had, really grown. It’s funny but in my mind, I had grown up. I felt like I needed to consider how serious things got around here. Everything became intense and confrontational. Skin started to thicken, tensions started to rise and heels dug in. I suppose it’s more of a protective measure for me and probably others as well. Now in this moment no one person was to blame for this. I started having sensory overload. I’m sure over the last year I felt the need to be more careful, be less trusting and I maybe didn’t even know it was happening. You watch tv and everyone is arguing. Yes, everyone. You drive in your car and everyone is aggressive. And mistakes are made. As a child being bullied didn’t make me different or special it made me more sensitive, more forgiving, more focused and helping.

As I continued over the last several months to read, listen and observe I noticed that my conviction was weakening. I felt like I needed to just accept the way things are and move on. Which felt like a mistake. If you have noticed I have said mistake a bunch of times and I’m sure there are typos and grammar mistakes all over this free form written document. Sometimes those mistakes come out of my mouth. The mistake I made in the last week was not being clear. Do I wish that there was more speed of clarity and conviction around the violence? Yes Do I think that hate and violence has taken over everywhere? Yes

Do I think one person is to blame? No Do I think that there are two sides to every story? Yes While I stand strong on my position that violence, hate, bigotry is unacceptable from anyone regardless of what side you are on and that all of us need to be accountable, only I am accountable for my actions.

Last week I gave my opinion on what had happened. I made the mistake of letting my fear and emotion talk about subjects that I shouldn’t have. As the CEO of a business, I am responsible to take care of the people that work there. I opened my mouth and put them in harm’s way. While I know, that the headline published was taken out of context and I have to live with that.  There should have never been a headline and I gave a chance to live.

My apology is sincere. It is to my employees who have been forced to deal with this. I am nothing without you. I am here to serve, guide and protect you. I will work harder. Please forgive me. Please don’t punish them. I apologize to anyone who has supported their cause, their political preference, their candidate, their beliefs. I was Not raised this way and have always been taught to respect everyone. This is a free county and my fears shouldn’t be projected on anyone. I am asking for your forgiveness. I should have not disrespected that and will not again. I apologize to the people who have followed my show for years and have said they have learned so much and are inspired, who now say that have been let down and will never trust me again.

I DO NOT apologize to anyone who is in favor or hate, violence, bigotry or racism. And I will do my part to help eliminate it from both sides. One way I do that is by being an example. You are the reason I made this mistake. You took my common sense away and purpose. I will not let you beat me or beat me down. I am a man of conviction. Most of the time it’s what people like about me. In this case it’s quite the opposite. I have not written this because I worry about what it means to me financially, because that’s normally the response I hear when I say I’m sorry. I have written this because I know what has been my purpose up to now, which is to help people and I want to be able to continue that. People make mistakes. Obviously, this past week I’m the poster child.

They will complain, of course, that we are taking their words out of context. That’s really too bad. But the principle of fair play dictates that both sides are allowed to play by the same rules.


Starbucks is not the answer

Sadly, it turns out that putting a coffee shop and an art gallery on the corner is not the ticket to economic revitalization:

One of the most influential thinkers about cities in postwar America, wants you to know that he got almost everything about cities wrong.

If you live in an urban center in North America, the United Kingdom, or Australia, you are living in Richard Florida’s world. Fifteen years ago, he argued that an influx of what he called the “creative classes” — artists, hipsters, tech workers — were sparking economic growth in places like the Bay Area. Their tolerance, flexibility, and eccentricity dissolved the rigid structures of industrial production and replaced them with the kinds of workplaces and neighborhoods that attracted more young people and, importantly, more investment.

His observations quickly formed the basis of a set of breezy technical solutions. If decaying cities wanted to survive, they had to open cool bars, shabby-chic coffee shops, and art venues that attract young, educated, and tolerant residents. Eventually, the mysterious alchemy of the creative economy would build a new and prosperous urban core.

Today, even Florida recognizes that he was wrong. The rise of the creative class in places like New York, London, and San Francisco created economic growth only for the already rich, displacing the poor and working classes. The problems that once plagued inner cities have moved to the suburbs.

To make his case for the creative class, Florida subjected it to strange quantifications. Combining census data on occupation, education, “coolness factor” (based on the number of young people and the quality of “nightlife and culture”) and, bizarrely, the number of gay male residents, he developed a “Bohemia Index” to calculate this group’s magical effect on urban economic growth.

Florida reassures readers that all human beings are fundamentally creative animals, but only a third of us can make a living that way. The creative classes — to which you may, unknowingly, belong — include journalists, college professors, tech workers, graphic designers, and artists of any kind: basically anyone not working in the repetitious and decidedly uncreative manufacturing or service sectors.

The “creative classes” both diagnosed the present state of cities and offered recommendations for future action. Along with Jane Jacobs, Richard Florida has served as an inspiration for mayors, developers, and planners who pedestrianized streets, built bike lanes, and courted cultural attractions like art galleries and theaters.

So, as it turns out, entertainment is not the core of the economy. Someone had better let Disney know the bad news. I suspect they’ll need to come up with some other metric that serves as a more accurate proxy for race.


A disappointment

‘Game Of Thrones’ Audience Disappointed By Season Finale’s Bland, Uninspired Incest

Criticizing the show’s reluctance to explore new creative ground, Game Of Thrones fans reported being disappointed Sunday by the bland, uninspired incest in the HBO drama’s season finale.

“You’d think this far into the show’s run they’d have found some new angles on incestuous relationships, but this was just more of the same, by-the-numbers intercourse between blood relatives we’ve seen before,” said local viewer Jaime Cohn, echoing the views of thousands of fans who complained about the series’ increasingly derivative depiction of sexual relations between siblings and other family members. “In the early seasons, it felt like the show’s creators weren’t afraid to take risks on fresh ideas like incest involving twins or even between multiple generations of the same family, but since then it hasn’t really progressed at all. By this point, they should be experimenting with things like group sex with identical quadruplets, but it’s pretty obvious that the writers are just on autopilot now.” 

Despite their disappointment with the episode’s lackluster incest, fans almost unanimously agreed that the show’s latest season had staked out bold new territory in terms of narrative implausibility.

As for myself, I was a little shocked. There has been no rape at all this entire season. Which would seem impossible for A Game of Thrones, until you recall that the series has passed the material from George RR Martin’s novels. But I’m sure Martin will rectify this shocking and uncharacteristic omission when he finally gets around to writing the novelization of the TV series based on his previous novels.

There is still a long way to go, but I have to admit that I am increasingly confident that ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT will eventually come to be seen as superior epic fantasy in comparison to A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.


The Terrible Cowardice

This is a guest post from an occasional contributor who prefers to remain anonymous. Please don’t assume that he speaks for me or that I necessarily agree with any or all of his various assertions and conclusions.

The Terrible Cowardice of the Left

I grew up in England.

I came of age as the Spice Girls were soaring to the top of the hit parade.  ‘I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want’ echoed from every bedroom.  Girls strode around proclaiming the new age of GIRL POWER, boys insisted – unconvincingly  – that they only listened to the Spice Girls for the music.  It was the dawn of a whole new age.

Well, actually it wasn’t.  But we thought it was.

There was a girl at my school who I’ll call Jane.  She was one of the blessed, as far as looks were concerned.  I don’t think there was a single boy who didn’t lust after her.  A smile from her could brighten up your whole day.  She would have been a cheerleader, if we’d had cheerleaders.

There was also a boy who I’ll call Kevin.  He was a nerd.  Spotty, glasses, slightly overweight, maybe not the ugliest boy in the school, but certainly in the bottom ten.  He was the kind of person whose mere existence attracted bullies. I’d known him since I was a child, but we’d never really been friends. People who stood too close to him got bullied too.

So one day, Kevin takes it into his head to ask Jane – yes, JANE – out.  I’d never thought he had it in him. I never dared ask her out. But he did it.

Jane gaped at him, let out an incredulous laugh and told him, in no uncertain terms, that she wouldn’t go out with him if he was the last person on Earth.  She ripped him a whole new one.  Kevin staggered off, looking as though someone had punched him in the head.  Boys laughed, glad that they hadn’t been the target of her wrath; girls laughed and chatted about Girl Power.  Jane’s victory would have made her the most popular girl in the class if she hadn’t already held that title. I imagine Kevin wanted to blink out of existence and die. But he had to keep coming into school for the remaining year. People were rubbing salt into his wounds until we left for university.

There was another person  in this little story.  Gaston – believe me, the name fits – was a football player.  He was handsome, muscular, and had a habit of playing cruel jokes on his victims.  He was the jock’s jock.  He’d once thought it was amusing to shove my head down the toilet, then yank down my trousers when I tried to escape.  He was popular because students preferred to have him on their side than against them. It won’t surprise you to hear that Gaston started to date Jane in our final year of school.

A few weeks before we left the building for the last time, we were in the gym for our regular torture session.  Jane was wearing a skirt an inch or two above the knee, drawing all of our eyes.  And then Gaston takes it into his head to flip her skirt up, exposing her underwear.  We all saw.

Jane let out a nervous little laugh and brushed her skirt back down.

I can imagine just how humiliated she must have felt, at that moment.  If I – a boy – hated having my bottom exposed, it must have been far worse for her.  Everyone had been looking at her bum.  I expected her to tear into Gaston with all the vitriol she’d hurled at Kevin.  Girl Power, you know?

She didn’t, of course.  She tried to pass it off as a joke, but I could tell she was upset.

But why didn’t she light into Gaston?  Why didn’t she dump his ass on the spot?

She was scared.  Kevin might have been a boy, but he was no threat to her.  There were plenty of girls who could have beaten him up, in that school.  Gaston could have broken her effortlessly.  He’d beaten me up, once or twice.  No one wanted to get on his bad side, even if it meant accepting public humiliation.  She let him get away with it.

No one else tried to stop him either.  Gaston committed blatant sexual assault and got away with it.  And who could blame them?  The teachers had very little power to discipline their charges.  None of the boys or girls wanted to make an enemy of him …

I have no idea what happened to any of them, after I left school.  And I don’t really care.

A brave man or woman is someone who stands up to great odds, accepting the risk of serious injury, or even death, in the name of their cause.  Sometimes, this is as simple as standing up in front of an angry crowd and speaking the truth; sometimes, it is as complex as multi-leveled combat operations.  Many on the Left say that they are brave, that they are putting everything on the line.  But is that actually true?

It is easy to stand up to someone as puny as Kevin.  Jane was in no danger.  Even if Kevin was strong enough to hurt her, I have no doubt that all the boys would have piled onto him before he could do real harm.  We didn’t have virtue-signalling in those days, but we certainly did have white knighting.  Gaston?  It’s a great deal harder to stand up to someone so strong, so popular, so entrenched as the good guy that it would be difficult to undermine him.

The thing I’ve noticed about the Left these days is that it is largely composed of cowards.

Pretend, for the moment, that you’re a feminist.  You believe, very firmly, that women should have equal rights to men.  You may even believe that women are superior to men.  So tell me, why aren’t you protesting the migrant crisis in Europe?  Why aren’t you standing up for the rights of Muslim women?  Why do you not see Radical Islam as a threat to your very existence?

One possible answer, of course, is that feminists are more concerned with problems closer to home.  (Which ignores the fact that this problem is moving increasingly closer to home.)  But another is far darker.  Feminists are scared.  Western men do not, in general, have a habit of beating or shooting women who defy them.  And those who do are not regarded as heroes by the rest of the male population.  But Islamists?  Radical Muslims regard feminism – the radical notion that women are human beings, as Marie Shear put it – as poison.  They do NOT regard women as human beings.

This problem is deeper than you might suppose.  A person raised in a different culture might have very different ideas about the way the world works than yourself.  The idea that a woman who doesn’t cover herself from head to toe is just asking for it is horrific, as far as I am concerned, but that doesn’t mean that migrants don’t have that opinion.  And the idea that they are going to instantly change, the moment they set foot in the West, is laughable.

All the concepts we take for granted, that a woman can say ‘no,’ that underage children are not to be touched, are not graven in stone.  They’re cultural norms that have become part of our lives so much that it is hard to believe that others don’t share them.  But they don’t.

Or pretend that you’re a homosexual.  Conservatives may dislike homosexuals, but radical Muslims throw homosexuals off buildings.  Which one of these is the true threat to homosexuals?  Why aren’t homosexuals protesting migrants?

Because they’re scared.

On one level, the political elites in both Europe and America managed to declare discussions about immigration taboo.  This had the effect, for better or worse, of pushing such matters into the hands of the far-right.  But it also made it impossible for feminists or homosexuals or other liberal groups to oppose immigration without being branded racists or worse.  And while a person from the Right may shrug off the charge of racism, a person from the Left would take it far more seriously.  The Descending Hierarchy of Victimhood puts Muslims below feminists and homosexuals, thus providing cover for anything they do to anyone above them.  Anyone who challenges Muslims is ‘punching down.’

But on another level, people who question radical Muslims, people who oppose them, are threatened, attacked and sometimes killed.  This is a very real problem.  Feminists and homosexuals and leftists in general are scared of being hurt and killed.  And who could blame them?  No one is immune to fear.  It is difficult to muster the bravery to fight back when you know that everyone will side against you, that  authority, however defined, will not protect you.  Instead, they choose to deny reality and attack people who can’t – who won’t – hit back.

The Left has long since cast aside its ability to make moral judgments.  It is incapable of understanding that a person who has had a bad upbringing – or whatever – still needs to suffer the consequences of their actions.  Instead, it has created a situation where real threats are ignored and imaginary threats are blown out of all proportion.  Few on the left dare to oppose it for fear of being smeared by the ‘racist’ brush.  And it has betrayed its own people.

The good thing about this is that more and more people are becoming aware that the emperor has no clothes.  The bad thing about this is that a great many innocent people, feminists and homosexuals and everything else, will suffer for the Left’s cowardice in the face of the true enemy.