2018/01/31

State of the Union

President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to Congress last night. In the hours leading up to the speech, many of the President's supporters voiced their hope that Trump would use the occasion to bludgeon his opponents by, say, reciting the FISA memo verbatim. Others expressed fears that he would instead focus on winning over fence-sitters to the exclusion of his base.

I'm happy to report that the President gave a most satisfactory speech that struck an effective balance between addressing the concerns of his ardent supporters and persuading those among his critics who can still be swayed. Jay Fivekiller had the best assessment of the speech, identifying it as an expertly delivered sales pitch.

Watch the video here.


Highlights:
  • The President deftly wove a compelling narrative into his speech which incorporated the military personnel, civil servants, and concerned and bereaved citizens attending as the First Lady's guests.
  • The Democrats sitting on their hands for or even booing tax cuts, immensely popular immigration reform measures, and rising black employment.
  • Trump giving the Democrats chance after chance to show support for these items prior to each of their churlish displays, giving them ample rope to hang themselves.
  • The President commandeering, in one fell swoop, the heretofore Leftist rhetoric of "Dreamers", much as he did to great effect with "Fake News". From now on, the term refers to Americans pursuing the American Dream instead of aliens seeking to profit from their parents' crimes.
  • Trump's building of a compelling case for why the Wall is needed for the nation's safety before once again calling on Congress to fund it.
Yet Trump's first State of the Union address was not all roses and sunshine. Mention was once again made of offering a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal aliens in exchange for the Wall and immigration reform. However, I'm convinced such talk is no cause for concern.

It seems increasingly likely that Jay Fivekiller is on to something with his contention that Trump is using his calls for a DACA deal to drive a wedge between Congressional Democrats and their base. The Left has already called Trump's offer of eventual citizenship to 1.8 million illegals "white supremacy". The Democrats simply have no leverage.

By not flinching during the government shutdown, the Trump-led Republicans have trapped the Democrats in a Xanatos Gambit where they have no winning moves left. If they accept an amnesty deal for 1.8 million, their barking mad base will harangue Chuck Schumer outside his house at all hours because he did not get amnesty for all 11 million. If he turns down Trump's deal--which he must--his moonbat base will castigate him for not saving the 1.8 million when he had the chance.

How will the current standoff turn out? I still favor a scenario similar to the one the Z Man laid out in his predictions for 2018. In short, DACA expires, but the Republicans give some kind of trivial sop to the Democrats in the infrastructure bill, which will include funding for the Wall. The GOP will use this string of successes, along with the fallout from the FISA memo, to retain control of Congress in the midterms.

If this forecast sounds a bit too sunny, keep in mind that events almost never proceed in a straight line. It's till incumbent upon us to stay alert, informed, and involved. There are worse uses of one's time than helping to melt Congress' phones.

2018/01/30

Fake Journalists vs. EVS

DC Comics artist Ethan Van Sciver is no stranger to controversy. As one of the few openly conservative professionals working in a heavily converged industry, he's attracted the ire of the SJW mob before.

Matters took a sinister and bizarre turn when Twelve Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Dr. Jordan Peterson with illustrations by Van Sciver was released last week. Freelance journalist Nick Monroe has reported that EVS received the following interview request from self-described journalist Asher Elbein via Twitter direct message:
ASHER ELBEIN: Hey, Ethan. There's quite a few allegations going around about bullying and abuse coming from your quarter, and there have been for a while. I wanted to reach out and let you know that I was working on a piece on the subject, and to give you a chance to respond.
I'll be honest. I don't like a lot of what I've seen. But I'm genuinely interested in what you have to say, and I'm open to being convinced.
ETHAN VAN SCIVER: What have you seen that's concerned you, Asher?
AE: Sorry! Want to give you my full attention, but I'm on deadline for another piece. Can we set up a time for a formal interview sometime in the next few weeks?
EVS: Probably not. Ask questions here, I'll answer them. I'd like you to begin by finding this "harassment" of Mr. Ayo. He's been calling me a Nazi for six months, I asked him to discuss it and work it out with me. [H]e got very angry. I backed off and blocked him. This is being used to attack me, and I am surprised you can't see that.
On and on into infinity. Now: I've never met this fellow. This might be something we can work out, let him see my humanity; explain myself. I hoped that would be the case. I was surprised to see him turn it around me as some kind of campaign by me to harass HIM.
At that point, Elbein blocked Van Sciver from sending him further Twitter DMs.

Note Elbein's opening. It's taken nearly verbatim from the list of ploys exposed by Vox Day that journalists use to coax statements out of their intended hit piece victims: "We're running this story anyway, but I'm reaching out to let you tell your side."

It's always a con. The aim isn't to give you a fair hearing. It's to get you talking so the reporter has material to mine for gotcha pull quotes. Ethan's desire to clear up the misunderstanding and try to humanize his opponents' view of him is understandable, but Elbein never intended to give him that chance, as evidenced by the fact that he blocked his subject. Van Sciver was wise to refuse the offer.

But that wasn't the end of it. After Elbein blocked EVS and all of his followers, the intrepid reporter attempted to crowdsource a witch hunt.

EVS 2

EVS 1
Another journalist weighs in to dispense some DARVO tactics. Hint to Dallin: Ethan's not the one asking his Twitter followers to dig up dirt on a professional he approached for an interview in bad faith.

There's more. Kieran Shiach, an editor at SJW converged site Comics Alliance--and someone who's got an axe to grind with Van Sciver--brazenly tweeted the following:

EVS 3

Here's Van Sciver's take on the whole sordid affair:

EVS 4

EVS5

It cant' be stressed enough: Not talking to the press is a smart move.

We're not done yet. Here's the twist ending:

EVS 6

That's the Editor in Chief of The Atlantic disavowing Asher Elbein. Were Elbein and Shiach LARPing, or is Goldberg running damage control? You decide!

Whether or not you approve of his opinions, Ethan Van Sciver has repeatedly and consistently upheld his dedication to entertaining readers by opposing the kind of insufferable message fic that nearly killed print SF and threatens to kill comics. It's a stance I wholeheartedly share.

Make sure to support Ethan's YouTube channel, where he reveals the secrets of the comic book pros. And if you're hungry for apolitical reading enjoyment, check out my thrilling Soul Cycle novels.

2018/01/29

Nick Cole and the New Pulp Age

This past Saturday marked author Nick Cole's triumphant return to Geek Gab. It's a take-no-prisoners episode in which Daddy Warpig and Dorrinal get Nick to spill all of his secrets for making Galaxy's Edge a smash indie success.


My takeaways from the episode:
  • Publishers are screwed. Not just the Big Five out of New York; any publisher bigger than a one or two-man indie operation. There are many reasons why anything resembling the old publishing model is no longer viable, but Amazon's effective back-listing of any book that's more than one month old is a major factor. Plus, individual authors have the advantage over publishing companies when it comes to coaxing Amazon's algorithm.
  • The pulps are back--or at least the necessity of espousing pulp-era work ethics and sensibilities if you want to earn a living writing fiction. Readers want simple, entertaining books in ongoing series, and they want them now.
  • The author as brand is dead. Kindle whales--the voracious readers you need to drive your sales--aren't primarily loyal to a publisher, or even an author. Instead, they constantly binge on books in their favorite genre. If your next book isn't there waiting to sate readers' hunger when they finish your last one, they won't hesitate to move on to titles by other authors that will scratch their genre itch.
  • Amazon ghettos are real, and they can make or break your book. So saith Nick Cole. Let those who are wise enough to learn from others' experience take heed.
In case you've been living under a rock on Mars, Imperator, the latest from Jason Anspach and Nick Cole, is out now!

Imperator - Anspach and Cole

If you're all caught up on Jason and Nick's stuff, and you're looking for an epic space opera series with more of a fantasy bent, check out my award-winning Soul Cycle, the last book of which is out now!

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

2018/01/26

Who Killed Captain Alex?

This movie is more than a labor of love. It's a work of genius. Who Killed Captain Alex has more heart, devotion to the craft, and fun than anything Hollywood has produced in years.

I propose sending all Hollywood actors, directors, producers, and executives to Uganda for extended apprenticeships in the Wakaliwood way of film making.


2018/01/25

Together or Separately

noose

The legacy media propaganda machine is currently mobilizing for a two minutes hate against Dr. Jordan Peterson. Apparently the good doctor went on the Beeb to point out some basic facts about economics and human psychology that your average high school student used to take for granted.

The journo they sent in to trap him ended up turning herself into a living example of Peterson's points. That's not surprising, because the anti-intellectual cult the Left is beholden to requires them to take it on faith that anyone outside the cult is either stupid, insane, evil, or all three.

I didn't watch the debate itself. Though I've sampled my share of "must-watch" Jordan Peterson videos, I've never heard him say anything particularly interesting. His specialty is doling out what used to be called common sense to young adults whose society has utterly failed them on every level.

That's not a knock against Peterson. We've had a couple of generations raised without fathers in deed or in fact, and he fulfills the vital role of imparting useful life skills and counteracting media and academia-inflicted brainwashing. Which is why the media has to destroy him.

As others have pointed out, the press is geared up to run the MILO script on Peterson. They know that further debate is useless--not that they ever meant to beat him in a good-faith contest of ideas; rather they tried and failed to trip him up. So they're trotting out the tactic that's been their go-to gambit since #GamerGate: make vague, unsubstantiated claims of harassment, blame Peterson's fans, and smear him by association. His continued presence is a painful reminder of their humiliation, so the game now is to get him de-platformed and disemployed.

I hate to break it to the hacks in the press penning their hit pieces as we speak, but it won't work this time. Peterson has two things that past conservative victims of the hate mob lacked: tenure and his own massive platform that doesn't rely on old media.

That's good for Peterson, but what about past and future casualties of SJW shriek swarms who lack the same protections? As I've noted before, they're pretty much screwed. After all, the Left wouldn't bother trying to disemploy and de-platform hatefact purveyors on the Right if Conservatives didn't indulge them.

It's been said before, and it bears saying again: Conservatives' main weakness is their critical lack of solidarity. It comes from the nasty individualist streak in their capitalist and Liberal influences. I've seen right-leaning business owners flatly refuse employment to like-minded friends because the job-seekers' unemployment exceeded an arbitrary 18 month limit. Even an otherwise solid guy like Stefan Molyneux, who speaks passionately about the need to put winning first, says he won't hire people who've "lost momentum".


One big advantage of being on the Left is that, if you check the right boxes and recite the proper credal formulas, the cult looks out for you. Note the curious phenomenon of lefties in media and business "failing upward". SJW editors from protected groups who bankrupt venerable sci-fi magazines don't have to apply at Target. They're given cushy writing assignments at Marvel Comics. When their unreadable books are inevitably cancelled, there'll be junior college associate professorships waiting to break the fall.

Conservatives who publicly speak uncomfortable truths are in for a rougher ride. First, the bow tie-bedecked moderates can be counted on to show up and virtue signal at the victim's expense. "Sure, he denounced the harassment," they'll say, "but if he meant it, he'd disavow his unruly followers who're causing all the trouble." Always conveniently forgotten is the fact that it's the Left who are stirring up fake outrage to distract from their loss.

After that, the employer will decide it's best to discontinue their working relationship with the victim because nothing says "sound, long-term business planning" like sacrificing a productive employee who reliably adds value to the company for the sake of dispersing an angry mob that would've lost interest and gone away on its own if management had just ignored them.

The abandoned ex-employee whose name is now mud in the industry where he was a twenty-year veteran is then told to apply for a minimum-wage job so he can at least "re-enter the workforce". At that point, one of two things happens:
  1. He finds that all available entry-level jobs have already been filled by women, minorities, and illegal aliens thanks to affirmative action laws that Conservatives were too spineless to repeal and immigration laws they were too lazy to enforce. (And capitalist employers love them because they're cheaper!)
  2. He gets the minimum-wage job, earning less than he did on unemployment and food stamps. The aforementioned factors keep him from getting promoted, and he's right back in the unemployment line in a few months when the almost certainly temporary job ends.
But at least the disemployed hate mob victim is doing his best to avoid relying on collectivism and pull himself up by his bootstraps!

Individualism is poison. It was introduced into right-wing thought by the enemy, and they count on it to keep their opposition atomized, cut off from support, and vulnerable to their Alinsky tactics. 

Don't play along. Are you a business owner or manager who knows someone who's been disemployed by SJWs? GIVE HIM A FUCKING JOB.

But what if he's been unemployed for two years?

It doesn't matter.

But what if he drinks?

Doesn't matter.

But what if he stole from his last company to buy meth?

Who gives a shit?

If you're hiding behind any of these excuses, you clearly don't understand that this is bigger than him, you, or your precious little company. Culture warriors need something to fight for and resources to fight with. Yes, the ideal is planting oak trees we'll never live to nap under. We still need a reliable support structure to have our backs while we're digging.

Standing up for the truth at grave personal risk is heroic. But imagine if it didn't have to be. Heroes are always a tiny percentage of the population. The easier you make it for ordinary guys to speak plain, obvious truth, the more soldiers we'll have on our side. 

Still don't feel comfortable offering Frank an internal position now that he's been out of the game for a while? Come up with a make-work position and give it to him on a contract basis. Let him know it's temporary, and he'd better leave any bad habits he's picked up at the door because you're doing him a massive favor. Unless he's a total screw-up, he'll get the hint. That way, Frank can fill the employment gap on his resume with a job that's technically in the industry. He can use the time and money you're giving him to hone his skills on the job or get more training. If he puts in any effort at all, he'll be able to get a real job in his field before the contract runs out.

Or you can throw Frank to the wolves and hope they don't come back for you next time.

With this final novel, Mr. Niemeier has created a work of art and beauty that I believe will stand the test of time.

2018/01/24

Reader Praise for The Ophian Rising

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

Reader Sebastien LaQroix reviews my new book The Ophian Rising and stands it up against the dreary, nihilistic, and often downright sadistic offerings from the Big Five New York publishers.
The Ophian Rising is the fourth and final book in Brian Niemeier's Soul Cycle series. All I can say is WOW! Mr. Niemeier gives one hell of a farewell to his series, one of the most beautiful and memorable fantasy/sci-fi series out there.
The Ophian Rising (OR) takes place nearly 200 years after Shaiel's failed attempt at universe domination. The cosmos has enjoyed relative peace and prosperity due to the wise and just rule of Astlin, Xander and the rest of the Zadokim. However, there are rebels out there, the Ophians, who view the Astlin and the rest as tyrants and want nothing more than to overthrow them. To complicate things further, Astlin has been dabbling in some forbidden magic in an attempt to bring back her family which, of course, leads to disaster.
Like Souldancer, OR is not a direct sequel in that it takes place 200 years after the events of the previous book. However, I actually enjoy this. Mr. Niemeier moves forward in time to show what a society ruled by immortal Zadokim would look like. And it is a fascinating one where Mr. Niemeier's imagination and creativity shine brightly. We've got ether gates, diamond encrusted swords, horrific monsters made of barbed chains, frozen hells with pits that lead into terrifying abysses, the list goes on. OR, like the rest of the series, injects you with a sense of wonder that's quite rare to find nowadays. It short, it's mind-blowing.
Like all of Mr. Niemeier's novels, OR starts somewhat small in scope with Queen Astlin trying to find the Ophians. Yet, as further players are revealed, the stakes rise higher and higher. By the end, characters are fighting for the fate of the cosmos itself. I know of no other writer who can pull that off so well.
The writing, pacing, and overall structure has improved considerably since the first book. The book itself moves very quickly with things constantly happening, and they only pause enough to let you catch your breath. The novel twists and turns without having things come completely out of left field. You just can't help but drink everything in as it happens.
A whole host of new characters are also introduced and they are all great. I especially love Tallon, the smuggler who REALLY looks up to Jaren Peregrine. The evolution of older characters like Nakvin and Astlin is also something to behold. We've come along way since Nethereal and Souldancer, and these older characters still feel like themselves despite all the suffering and transformations they've undergone. Finally, while we may never get another Shaiel, the villains are also evil and downright terrifying. Mr. Niemeier is also not afraid to kill off major characters. Yet, Mr. Niemeier doesn't do it out of pure sadism like some of the more popular authors out there.
One last word about the series as a whole. Now, the entire series is full of violence, death, evil gods, fates worse than death, betrayal and damnation. Yet, Mr. Niemeier manages to balance all that out with hope, redemption, courage, sacrifice, and good triumphing over evil. With this final novel, Mr. Niemeier has created a work of art and beauty that I believe will stand the test of time. I will be passing along to anyone who wants a way out of the filth and nihilism that seems to plague so much of modern fiction. This, I believe,  is Mr. Niemeier's greatest achievement with the Soul Cycle series.
We've spent a lot of time on this blog shining a spotlight on the decline of Western pop culture. Many readers have asked what can be done to turn back the tide of despair and blandness. The first step is to stop giving money to people who hate you, and the second is like it: Support creators who working to bring truth and beauty back to the market.

2018/01/23

Ground Zero

Ground Zero

Often of late this blog has turned an unflinching eye to the rapidly accelerating meltdown of popular Western culture.

By now we all know that movies are watered-down retreads mostly produced for overseas markets by people who neither understand nor care to understand their former core audience.

Top 40 radio is a wasteland of overproduced, oversampled prefab corporate drek that's aggressively empty of substance but is designed by behavioral psychologists to get that nothing stuck in your head.

Comic books--one of only four original American art forms--shamble on long after the speculator crash that killed them: useful to their multinational conglomerate masters only as movie IP farms. For now.

The decline has been underway for a long time--at least since the Commie infiltration of science fiction back in the 30s. But ongoing discussions with others who've noticed pop culture's terminal descent have led me to ponder when the West's cultural decay reached critical mass.

In the 80s, only pearl-clutchers blustering about satanic messages hidden in Ozzie records thought civilization was going downhill. The 90s began with a fresh influx of optimism when the wall came down and for a minute it looked like we might get our bright shiny Star Trek future after all.

The speed with which the optimism bubble burst must have set some kind of record. I won't get into the possible causes here--though the Bush and Clinton dynasties almost certainly bear some of the blame. My purpose today is to identify Ground Zero: the exact point where Western pop culture exploded to leave us picking up the shattered pieces ever since.

Obtaining the answer required only a moment's reflection. It occurred to me that I knew exactly when, as commenter JD Cowan phrased it, the culture "froze" before melting into a stagnant puddle. I lived through it, and in retrospect, I knew the moment when it came--even if I didn't want to admit it to myself at the time.

Pop culture ground zero was 1997.

That was when the sputtering engine of creativity stalled, and it happened almost exactly at the beginning of that year. The dividing line between the last semblance of a healthy culture and the subsequent smoking crater is that sharply defined.

Let's recap.

Music
U2 - Pop

The fascinating--and now tragic--career of Irish rock band U2 serves as an effective microcosm of unfulfilled 80s optimism. After the band came within a hair of producing the next Sergeant Pepper's in 1991 (appropriately enough, inspired by a trip to post-wall Berlin) the music world eagerly anticipated what would surely be U2's earth-shattering redefinition of rock music as we knew it. The fans held their breath and waited.

And got a half-assed offering of scraps from the prior album.

And waited.

And got a bizarre collection of ambient tracks written for real and fake movies.

And waited...

...until early February of 1997 when the first single from the band's forthcoming album Pop hit record store shelves.

And it was OK. While Pop is hardly the disaster that tin-eared critics make it out to be, the rushed, unfocused effort fell far short of the musical revelation that many had been expecting for six years. Since then, U2 has fallen into the trap of trying to be what they think everyone thinks they should be--which pretty much sums up the crisis in popular music.

Comics
The American comic book industry had already been moribund for a while when 1997 rolled around, but that year in comics is remarkable for being a time when nothing worthwhile happened.

Superman Blue
Seriously, Supersmurf was the closest thing to a comics "event" that 1997 could muster.
On the business front, 1997 was the year that Diamond cinched its monopoly over comic book distribution. The resulting mini command economy has forced more and more comic book shops out of business with each passing year.

The formerly dominant Batman film franchise slumped to an inglorious end with the atrocious Batman and Robin. Despite occasional rumblings of James Cameron's involvement with a nebulous Spider-Man project, the industry would have to wait five more years for the next film franchise that would reignite public interest in superhero movies. And leave comic publishers forever beholden to Hollywood.

Speaking of which...

Movies
Special Jabba

1997 began with a film event that would portend an even more ominous trend than the aforementioned Batman and Robin. The Star Wars Trilogy Special Editions were released starting in January and continuing monthly through March. Thus began the cynical strip-mining of a 70s space opera that until recently was the only remaining cultural touchstone that bound the atomized American populace.

Everybody likes to point out how the warning signs of what awaited us in the prequels were all there in the Special Editions. But now another, more distant, red flag pops into focus: the fact that George Lucas doesn't particularly care about the iconic saga whose artistic success he personally had little to do with. If he was willing to shoehorn in Special Jabba the Hutt and a CG Muppet dance number, we should've known he'd eventually sell out to the highest bidder.

In short, the bastardization of Star Wars that plagues us to this day began in 1997.

Video Games
FFVII box art

On the exact same day that moviegoers first saw Greedo shooting first, a video game that drew more than once from the Star Wars well was also released. That game, Final Fantasy VII, would go on to become the most overrated JRPG of all time.

I realize that FFVII has a whole generation of staunch adherents who take deep umbrage at the merest suggestion that the RPG which, for many of them, was their first (condolences), ain't the best thing since indoor plumbing. To them, I have one question:

Have you played FFVII lately?

Not the mobile version, not the remake, and not the international PC version. The original North American Play Station release.

If so, did you make it all the way to the end?

Me, either.

FFVI - Kefka final
FFVI; Still gorgeous and eminently replayable to this day.

FFVII
FFVII has suffered the fate of all early polygon-based games.
Final Fantasy VII spawned the unfortunate trend of JRPG-as-Hollywood-blockbuster that gave us interminable cinema scenes that gobbled up disc space while the games themselves stagnated. The bursting of that bubble killed JRPGs for a generation. Gee...that sounds familiar.

Also familiar: FFVII is about to become fodder for a series of remakes.

Conclusion
There can be no doubt. Western pop culture froze as solid as a gas station burrito on the summit of K2 at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1997. The corpsesickle has since blasted into the ground like a Siberian comet strike. It's up to artists like the up-and-coming generation of creators I proudly stand among to build something new in the ruins.

...a way out of the filth and nihilism that seems to plague so much of modern fiction.

2018/01/22

Making Peace

Making Peace - Adam Lane Smith

My friend Adam Smith just released his first novel. Making Peace is a swashbuckling science fantasy romp with a dash of whodunit for extra seasoning. The richness and weirdness of Adam's world building rivals mine, and I don't say that lightly.

Here's the blurb:
Explosions, swordfights, psychology, and humor combine in this unique sci-fi/fantasy blend! It's sword and sorcery on a dystopian colony planet.  
Interstellar romance author Belkan Candor has had a string of bestsellers, and his latest hit, My Mech, My Love, is flying off store shelves. When he takes a job as an embedded journalist with a peacekeeping organization, he expects a plush assignment with a big payout. What he gets is an exposé into human trauma and psychological pain, and a twisted conspiracy on an entire planet looking to stay off the grid.
Swords are swinging and magic is flinging, and Belkan is right in the center of it. Assassins, serial killers, prostitutes, and obsessed romance novel fans collide in a web of intrigue and violence which threatens to tear his world apart.
Will he survive, or will this novel be the death of him?
Making Peace is just 99 cents for a limited time, so you guys have no excuse not to snatch it up. In this current wasteland of banal fantasy, you'll be glad you chose something original.

Meanwhile, reader reactions to The Ophian Rising continue to set new high water marks. The latest review in particular blew me away.
Now, the entire series is full of violence, death, evil gods, fates worse than death, betrayal and damnation. Yet, Mr. Niemeier manages to balance all that out with hope, redemption, courage, sacrifice, and good triumphing over evil. With this final novel, Mr. Niemeier has created a work of art and beauty that I believe will stand the test of time. I will be passing along to anyone who wants a way out of the filth and nihilism that seems to plague so much of modern fiction. This, I believe,  is Mr. Niemeier's greatest achievement with the Soul Cycle series.
-Sebastien LaQroix
The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

If the legacy media gatekeepers were really the curators of culture they claim to be, the best seller lists and movie marquees would be populated with entirely different names than those which dominate them now.

But that's alright. It's abundantly clear that a new generation of countercultural creators has arisen to restore truth and beauty to their rightful places at the pinnacle of the arts. We don't need New York or Hollywood. In fact, we're more than happy to watch the rotting strongholds of the old media crumble and burn.

You can play an integral part in healing Western culture from its nigh mortal wounds.

Don't give money to people who hate you.

Support creators who celebrate your culture and work hard for your entertainment.

2018/01/19

Graveyard Duck

Graveyard Duck Logo

I'd like to introduce you guys to Graveyard Duck, a new retro game podcast hosted by my good friend Wes and his buddy Scott. Every two weeks they play and review a different old school video game, and believe me when I say that these guys know their stuff!

Join Wes and Scott as they discuss the classic stealth espionage game Metal Gear for NES and MSX.

2018/01/18

The Fake News Awards

President Donald Trump has announced the winners of his highly anticipated 2017 Fake News Awards.

Here are the fakest news stories of 2017:

1. The New York Times’ Paul Krugman claimed on the day of President Trump’s historic, landslide victory that the economy would never recover.

Krugman

2. ABC News' Brian Ross CHOKES and sends markets in a downward spiral with false report.
Brian Ross

3. CNN FALSELY reported that candidate Donald Trump and his son Donald J. Trump, Jr. had access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks.

4. TIME FALSELY reported that President Trump removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.

5. Washington Post FALSELY reported the President’s massive sold-out rally in Pensacola, Florida was empty. Dishonest reporter showed picture of empty arena HOURS before crowd started pouring in.
Weigel

6. CNN FALSELY edited a video to make it appear President Trump defiantly overfed fish during a visit with the Japanese prime minister. Japanese prime minister actually led the way with the feeding.

7. CNN FALSELY reported about Anthony Scaramucci’s meeting with a Russian, but retracted it due to a “significant breakdown in process.”

8. Newsweek FALSELY reported that Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda did not shake President Trump’s hand.
Polish handshake

9. CNN FALSELY reported that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute President Trump’s claim that he was told he is not under investigation.

10. The New York Times FALSELY claimed on the front page that the Trump administration had hidden a climate report.

11. And last, but not least: "RUSSIA COLLUSION!" Russian collusion is perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated on the American people. THERE IS NO COLLUSION!
Collusion Hoax


And the fake news media's response?
Terrifying

Pay close attention to the legacy media's response to being called out on their deliberate and constant journalistic malpractice. Do they even try to back up their biased reporting with facts? No. Instead they whine that the President's just use of his platform to defend himself from their unremitting lies is "terrifying".

Of course the bullies are going to complain when the guy they picked a fight with punches back.

The corrupt news media is rightly terrified. Their credibility is tanking and continues to decline with each hysterically mendacious narrative they spin.

Mass media trust

Sad.

2018/01/17

Nerd Culture Is Dead

Ready Player One Movie

Over at the Emperor Ponders blog, the Frisky Pagan charts the decline of Western culture using the highest-grossing films of each decade as a benchmark.
Since there’s a lot to rant about this, I will focus on a single hypothesis: since the late 90s, there has been a divorce between quality and popularity. I’m sure you could go further back in time, but at that point is where it becomes evident. Before the mid-90s, you could go see the top box-office success of the year, and there was a high chance that you would see a competent or even a great movie. Even if the movie was boring or not your style, at least the movie would be a proper movie.
The following are the highest-grossing films per year according to Box Office Mojo. Underlined movies are those that filmsite ranks as the best of all time.

1950: Cinderella
1951: Quo Vadis
1952: The Greatest Show on Earth 
1953: Peter Pan 
1954:  Rear Window
1955: Lady and the Tramp
1956: The Ten Commandments
1957:  The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958: South Pacific (1958)
1959:  Ben-Hur

1960: Swiss Family Robinson
1961: 101 Dalmatians
1962: How the West Was Won 
1963: Cleopatra
1964: Mary Poppins
1965: The Sound of Music
1966: The Bible: In the Beginning and Hawaii (virtual tie)
1967: The Jungle Book
1968: Funny Girl)
1969: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1970: Love Story
1971: Billy Jack
1972:  The Godfather
1973: The Exorcist
1974: Blazing Saddles
1975:  Jaws
1976: Rocky
1977:  Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
1978: Grease
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer

1980:  Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982:  E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
1983: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi 
1984: Ghostbusters
1985: Back to the Future
1986: Top Gun
1987: Three Men and a Baby
1988: Rain Man
1989: Batman

1990: Home Alone
1991: Beauty and the Beast 
1992: Aladdin
1993: Jurassic Park
1994: The Lion King
1995: Toy Story
1996: Independence Day
1997: Titanic
1998: Saving Private Ryan
1999: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

FP posits that the decline began in the 90s. I see signs of cultural degradation as early as the 70s with garbage like Love Story and Kramer vs. Kramer. The 70s dip makes sense considering that the national mood was in the gutter. But Star Wars ushered in a brief renaissance that carried us through the 1980s and into the early 90s. After that, I'm with FP. American cinema became a sterile, blasted hellscape.

We rejoin the Frisky Pagan in the early aughts:
At first, it seems… OK-ish if you are into nerd stuff:
2000: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
2002: Spider-Man
2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004: Shrek 2
2005: Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 
2007: Spider-Man 3
2008: The Dark Knight 
2009: Avatar
But then...
2010: Toy Story 3
2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
2012: Marvel’s The Avengers
2013: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
2014: American Sniper
2015: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
2016: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2017: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Besides a couple of standouts like Toy Story 3 and American Sniper, it's wall-to-wall "Read Another Book" crowd pandering.

Back to FP:
None of this can be considered a worthy cultural product and almost all are painfully recent. The most they can aspire to is to be mildly entertainment and then be forgotten in a year (like Avatar.) And I’m not sure about the entertainment bit.
There's much more in the OP. His Friskiness identifies likely causes for these trends, such as increasing reliance on the global markets and catering to women as the Next Big Thing. The latter represents a self-fulfilling prophecy wherein political and corporate interests pushed for the economic ascendancy of women and now tailor most pop culture products to them in order to suck that money back out of their wallets.

FP further makes some well-considered predictions about the near and medium-term pop culture landscape. The prognosis: not good--at least not until independent content creators can effectively circumvent the gatekeepers to reach mass audiences directly.

Thankfully, there is one corner of the entertainment industry where indie creators are successfully making an end run around the ossified old guard: independent publishing.

Take Galaxy's Edge by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole for example. FP foresaw attempts to rival Star Wars coming from overseas, but Galaxy's Edge is shaping up to be a homegrown answer to Disney's globalized, homogenized, and sterilized SocJus Wars.

Your humble host is also busy making whatever small contributions he can to the revival of Western culture. If you're looking for a somewhat darker space opera series with zero political preaching, check out my award-winning Soul Cycle, which is now complete at four books.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

2018/01/16

Twitter Shadowbans Confirmed

In light of Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe's investigation proving that Twitter does in fact wield shadowbans to censor users, I thought it worthwhile to repost the well-documented account of my own deep shadowban.


No Twitter

Having written before about Twitter's nasty penchant for censoring and outright banning users who deviate from the company's rigid left wing ideology, I fully expected the Twitter thought police to come for me. Milo Yiannopoulos warned as much.

I just didn't expect them this soon.

Daddy Warpig tweet 1

Late Friday afternoon: friends on Twitter started complaining that they couldn't see my tweets. Daddy Warpig placed the blame on a shadowban.

NB: if you're unfamiliar with the concept of a shadowban, it's an unofficial and highly passive-aggressive method that Twitter uses to censor people who disagree with them, but who haven't broken any rules. By keeping the shadowbanned user's followers from seeing his tweets or even notifications from him, Twitter can say it's a bug and maintain plausible deniability.

Shadow bans usually last for 24; sometimes 48 hours.

Daddy Warpig tweet 2

Mine was still in effect a day later.

Keep in mind, this whole time I hadn't received any communication from Twitter. No prior warnings, no notice of a TOS violation, no explanation of what was happening or why. Nothing.

This wasn't a surprise, since it perfectly fits the kind of arbitrary censorious behavior that conservative and libertarian users have sadly come to expect from Twitter. I'm neither a conservative nor a libertarian, but Twitter just puts everyone to the right of Chairman Mao into the same badthink box.

The censorship continued through Sunday and into today. Lasting longer and with more extensive effects than ever before, this represents a new form of Deep Shadowban.

Rawle tweet 1

Brand visibility is a matter of life and death for a writer's career. Until quite recently, deplatforming an author could only hurt his career. That's clearly what Twitter was banking on, but for a social network they're pretty mired in analog thinking.

The shadowban's main effect has been to piss my followers off.

PoW tweet

I can't blame them for getting mad when conversations that look like this to me:

Convo 2

look like this to them:

Convo 3

But it's the unintended side effects that should really make Twitter rethink the wisdom of shadowbans, especially in this age of antifragility.

Convo 4

Greyed tweet

My number of followers before the shadowban: 970.

My number of followers now: 1,033 and counting.

And has this whole messy business helped me sell books?

You bet :)

I'm not upset with Twitter for censoring me. Like a small but growing number of independent authors, that only makes me richer and stronger.

I am upset that my readers are upset. I answer to them; never to Twitter. So I'd appreciate it if Twitter would kindly stop belaboring my bosses' social media experience.

Of course, I expect Twitter to double down. Again. They enjoy making people weaker than them miserable. Let's see how they like it when the tables are turned.


I just want to entertain people. A major media corporation wants to censor me. You know what to do.

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

UPDATE: Breitbart's Allum Bokhari has published an article condemning my shadowban.

If the purpose of a shadowban is to silence dissenters, Twitter should consider that a direct result of their censorship has been to catapult me from relative obscurity to international news in the span of 24 hours.

2018/01/12

Changing Perspectives

Point of No Return - #GamerGate

This incisive comment on my Fifth Columnists post by reader Constantin illustrating how #GamerGate gave many normies their first taste of the red pill merited its own guest post.

Here's Constantin:
This entire article summed up every change of perspectives I've experienced since 2014 until now. 
GamerGate opened my eyes that something bad is trying to infiltrate the video game industry, and from then onward my perspective broadened enough to realize that SJWism is a cancer that has infected the entire entertainment spectrum and really Western Civilization as a whole. It doesn't help that most of the debates that happen on the subjects described in this article are relegated to Social Media which is a place where people trade insults, not arguments, and since the left is king when it comes to snarkiness(having to compensate for their lack of arguments), most of the time they end up as winners and people assume their position is stronger even though they never made any arguments in the first place.
I'm really glad I started looking into the past for entertainment; it's not as if I've been pushed to a corner and am now scrambling for any bit of entertainment that doesn't contain SJW themes, no matter how badly is written; the Pulps had some genuinely fantastic stories from talented writers. Lovecraft, Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs(who I had initially wrote off as childish, proving that it was me who was being a child), Clark Ashton Smith(underrated as hell) etc.
Couple all that with old movies where men didn't act like pushovers and women acted like actual women, I'm going to be occupied for a long, long time. That's not even taking into account the writings that came before all these.
Honestly, I've got no reason to complain; the Left can keep modern entertainment for themselves, it's garbage anyway.
And I have no sympathy for people who hate Social Justice themes but continue to support companies that promote them. You reap what you sow. Case in point; the Last Jedi. All the signs that this was going to be a SJW shitfest were there, but people, even those who were aware of it, still watched it, because "it might be fun". It's like they can't get their entertainment from something else. I didn't watch it and I didn't lose anything. Star Wars was dead since Disney bought the rights. Time to look for other alternatives.
My reply:

Thanks to Constantin for sharing his insights. He's not alone. #GamerGate opened many people's eyes.

There's not much to add to his excellent comment, except to assure him that SJWs are in fact losing in the public arena.

Taking the debate to social media isn't a handicap. It's been an overwhelming advantage since we finally learned to use the SJWs' weapons against them.

I sympathize with his disappointment over the failure of dialectic. But the fact is that logical argument has never convinced more than 10% of people, anyway.

The Left attained cultural dominance through rhetoric. They weren't even that good at it. As Constantin pointed out, they've since degenerated to nothing but snark.

SJWs have no answer for a taste of their own medicine. There's a reason that #TheLeftCantMeme has become a modern truism.

And if you want proof of our superior effectiveness, look at how Twitter, Facebook, and Google have been censoring anyone to the right of Mao. They can't control the narrative now that legacy media is on the decline and new media is ascendant.


And they're rightly terrified.

P.S. If you're fed up with political propaganda in your entertainment, check out my thrilling Soul Cycle series for 100% politics-free escapism.

The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

2018/01/11

We're Winning

Winning

While my recent posts may have struck some of you as rather downbeat, bear in mind that the last two articles especially focused on the present state of dissident political action. I've said all along that there's no voting our way out of our current predicament.

If it wasn't clear before, the past year has proved beyond doubt that our ruling class lacks the political will to make policy changes that may have mitigated the coming collapse. Don't look so surprised. An ironclad consequence of "Politics is downstream from culture" is that politicians emerge from the prevailing cultural milieu and are beholden to it. You can't expect tigers to change their stripes--though our leaders are more like overfed, genetically disenfranchised house cats.

The fact that most of the country is viscerally opposed to our elites' shenanigans is itself a good sign. It means that the counterculture that usurped the old, stable order in the 60s has long since become the establishment. Now a new counterculture has arisen that finds the establishment's worldview anathema.

And that counterculture is kicking the establishment culture's wrinkly ass.

How, you ask? Let us count the ways.

NFL viewership is tanking


Empty Seats

Football game ratings are in steep decline, in large part due to a brazen injection of Leftist politics. The emptying stadiums and dwindling viewership are conspicuous signs that the entertainment-media complex has lost touch with its audience.

The NFL's plummeting popularity has major implications beyond the realm of professional sports. It's no secret that ESPN has grown increasingly SJW-converged, and their Monday Night Football license costs them about two billion dollars per year. They've also been losing 15,000 subscribers a day.

ESPN does report that its revenues are up despite its flagship show's ratings nosedive and its vanishing subscriber base. But as we all know, getting a growing share of a shrinking market is certain death.

Even bigger potential repercussions loom due to the fact that Disney--perhaps the single most converged entertainment corporation--owns ESPN. The failing sports network used to make the Mouse more money than its theme park and movie divisions. Now that the well is drying up, Disney is belatedly making a desperate push into streaming services, but their success in that fickle market is far from certain.

Star Wars is floundering


The Last Jedi 50 percent
Speaking of Disney, the simmering discontent with the company's handling of Star Wars has reached a boil with fan pariah The Last Jedi. Not only is Disney's second numbered Star Wars entry viewers' least favorite in the whole franchise, it suffered a colossal 77% drop off in its second weekend.

TLJ now stands as a brutal monument to Leftist overreach. Disney-owned Lucasfilm thought they could put out a movie designed to insult their own core audience and presumed that said audience would sit there and take the abuse. Their overconfidence is their weakness.

Traditional publishing is dead


Closed Barnes & Noble

The New York publishing industry that helped outright Marxists in the science fiction movement shove the pulps down the memory hole is already dead. Amazon struck the fatal blow, but the New York publishing establishment's corpse is still twitching thanks to shocks delivered via its fading paper distribution monopoly.

The sole remnant of that monopoly, Barnes and Noble, is rapidly folding. The last big bookstore chain has seen sales decline by eight percent year-on-year. In the unlikely event you've set foot inside a B&N in the last year, you probably saw that the location resembled a toy store cum coffee shop more than a bookseller's.

B&N's inevitable demise will hammer the last nail into tradpub's coffin.

Lefty epistemic closure bubble bonus round: B&N's CEO blames their financial woes on Trump.

Meanwhile, indie thrives

Galaxy's Edge: Legionnaire - Anspach and Cole

One of my cherished readers dubbed 2017 The Year Indie Went Mainstream. That's a fitting assessment, especially considering the runaway breakout hit that is Galaxy's Edge.

Not only did authors Jason Anspach and Nick Cole figure out how to play Amazon's algorithm like a fiddle, they've garnered serious attention, including perking the interest of major game and media companies. The details are hush-hush for now, but I expect earth-shaking developments before long.

2017 was also the year that converged SFF institutions like World Con and the Hugos were rendered utterly obsolete as the Dragon Awards came into their own.

Consider this: In one year, I went from being the only indie author to win a Dragon Award to one of multiple indie finalists. And once again, a self-published author took home a Dragon as best seller Richard Fox won top Mil-SF honors.

It gets even better! World Con darling N.K. Jemisin and former darling John Scalzi also snagged Dragon nominations. Jemisin declined the nom--perhaps the only context in which that statement can be true--backstabbing the fans who wanted to honor her. It was probably a smart move on her part though, because losing a people's choice award with four times the Hugos' participation rate would drastically undermine her back-to-back Hugo wins. Still, the fact that she thought it prudent to withdraw from the contest speaks volumes about her chances had she competed.

Meanwhile, Scalzi threw his hat in and out of the ring until finally opting to stay in the race. His decision proved Jemisin's withdrawal wise, as he--and I--lost to James S.A. Corey. Already having a Dragon, I didn't mind since the total shutout of World Con favorites and the Hugos' resulting slide into final irrelevance proved ample compensation.

As was the release of my final Soul Cycle book, The Ophian Rising. OR was my biggest launch yet and is my most favorably reviewed book to date. Esteemed critics are even saying that the Soul Cycle's conclusion gave Galaxy's Edge stiff competition for best novel of the year. Though I'll never be done honing my craft, those are good signs I'm on the right track.

On a final high note, I have direct personal knowledge of several up-and-coming indie authors who are committed to giving readers solid entertainment for years to come. In my night job as an editor, I helped a few of them self-publish books to critical and commercial success.

There's no question that troubled times lie straight ahead. But a glimmer of light is cresting the horizon. The Leftist-hijacked legacy culture is in steep decline, as was inevitable from the moment when feckless Conservatives ceded the institutions without a fight. A dynamic, energized counterculture is on the rise, and it will supplant the cultural Marxists who destroyed its original inheritance.

UPDATE:
The Last Jedi 49%


2018/01/10

Devil's Advocate

Devil

Reader Xavier chimes in to play devil's advocate regarding yesterday's post.
Brian.
Outstanding post. Let me play devil's advocate. I think the Benedict/St Anthony of the desert option is one of the choices in a multifaceted strategy. We also need the Franciscan one of engaging the world the Dominican at the universities and the new movements like Opus dei for work and neighbourhoods. Retreat from the world is ok but it should be for a very small minority.
As for women, the 2 biggest problems is tha the state has usurped the role if the husband provided. How are guys supposed to provide and protect when the state is the buggest alpha male? The biggest obstacle to returning sanity is to radically reduce the state's intrusion in our lives.
Second problem:deep down women don't like to work. They're shocked to discover that work is a man's world where it's physically and mentally demanding and sometimes kills. Women have a different kind of resiliency best seen as volunteers at schools, hospitals and neighbourhood organizations and of course at home.
The biggest challenge i see for my kids generation is to recover subsidiarity. The state isn't civil society
xavier
I answer:
Some of Dreher's proposals, like urging Christians to pull their kids out of public schools, are spot-on. It's the cowardice that comes from mixing Liberalism with his Christianity that's his fatal flaw.

Franciscan engagement is closer to the mark, but most people--especially college kids--are far too ignorant and dialectically illiterate for the Dominican approach to be much use right now. What would really help would be for the bishops to start excommunicating the many fake Catholics who publicly and flagrantly scoff at Church doctrine. To have any meaning, Christianity has to make demands of its adherents.

Yes, the state has replaced husbands and fathers. That's because a) women voted for it and b) men let them. Women form such a large voting bloc that sufficiently reducing the size of government is effectively impossible unless more women marry earlier, have kids, and stay married. But as Xavier said, the state offers perverse incentives for delaying and avoiding marriage. Repealing women's suffrage would solve the problem instantly--as Ann Coulter said, if women couldn't vote, no Democrat would be elected ever again. But that would require women voting away their own voting rights. Once again, we're not voting our way out of this.

Thought experiment: Imagine what rush hour traffic would look like if 2/3 of the women in the work force quit to be full-time moms.


Yes, subsidiarity is the key. It's something you don't hear preached about from the pulpit these days.