2020/08/12

The Dragon Sleeps

Scalzi Wins!

... and Scalzi grows stronger!

Check out the 2020 Dragon Award ballot, and you'll see what I mean.

2020 Dragon Award Ballot

From the author of The Handmaid's Tale to lesbian vampire stories to a writer so deranged even Disney fired him, this year's Dragon ballot reads like the canon of Death Cult humiliation scripture.

The crowning touch being the inclusion of John Scalzi, who once famously declined a Dragon Award nomination before throwing his hat back in the ring, only to lose.

Frankly, I think this could be his year.

Before you accuse me of indulging in gallows humor, I assure you I'm serious. The nominations list gives us all the variables to work the equation.

First, when dealing with Death Cultists, one always does well to pin them down to their own past statements.

Remember when the Narrative among the CHORF set was that the Dragons were "a fake award" of no consequence? Some of them even lobbied Dragon Con to be taken off the ballot.

a fake award

Of course, the Death Cult witches lie constantly in the manner of their father below. Thus their previous attempt to take over the Dragons in 2017.

That attempt failed, and the Dragons continued to be a direct democratic process as intended. Each subsequent years' winners were pretty much what you'd expect from a readers' choice award with a broad voter base. Baen and the bigger indies came to dominate, with cameos from the more mainstream Pop Cult fare like Corey Doctorow and The Expanse.

I and the other cultural commentators who predicted this course of events based our forecasts on the key difference between the Dragons and the other literary awards. Anyone can vote in the former, while the latter lock voting rights behind a paywall or professional organization membership.

Put simply, the Death Cult can monopolize the Hugos because World Con's voter base is quite small, relatively speaking. The number of CHORFs isn't growing. In fact, they're rapidly graying. It stands to reason that an award with an open, large, and growing voter base would be immune to manipulation by an insular Cult.

And for three years, that reasoning held true. But as is its wont, 2020 threw the con scene a curve ball: Corona-chan.

The central feature of convention culture is convening. Due to the pandemic, congoers can't meet in person, which defeats the whole purpose of the event.

We're seeing the same dynamic at work in the world of sports. Conservative pundits blame the sports leagues' wokeness for the precipitous decline in ratings, but as I've often argued, that's largely reversing cause and effect. NFL viewership had been recovering after the Colin Kaepernick affair. People seemed willing to swallow a bit of Cultic dogma with their bread and circuses.

Talk to former sports fans, and they'll tell you it's the empty stands that finally made them turn off the tube. Sports are group activities, just like conventions. Take away the live social dimension, and former enthusiasts lose the drive to participate--even virtually, as we're seeing with TV sports.

But the Death Cult never sleeps. I've pointed this out again and again, but it looks like folks need another reminder. The Cult's motives have nothing to do with supporting the con scene, entertaining people, or even making money. They're religious fanatics driven by eschatological frenzy to bring everything under the shadow of their heretical anti-faith.

There's your explanation for what happened with the Dragons. The virus shut down the con, normal people tuned out, and the small but relentless Cult faction took advantage of the drastically reduced voter base to pack the ballot.

Which means Scalzi may get the Dragon he did--then didn't--then did--want after all.

And will only have taken a once-in-a-century crisis to make it happen. But as they say, never let one go to waste.

And never give money to people who hate you.

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You - Brian Niemeier

2020/08/11

Virtues of the Awakened Saxon

Wrath of the Awakened Saxon

Kipling's famous--some might say infamous--poem "The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon" has gained a great deal of traction in dissident circles.

I maintain that a major reason why this poem has resonated with the current generations of young men on the right is that it highlights the masculine virtues they were never taught.

What follows is a breakdown of the poem, annotated with the particular masculine virtues exemplified by each verse.
It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.
Patience: the virtue that empowers us to endure suffering as dictated by reason until the source of the suffering can be reasonably overcome.
They were not easily moved,
They were icy -- willing to wait
Temperance: the virtue which grants us mastery of our passions in order to regulate them according to right reason.
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.
Justice: the virtue which enables us to ensure that each receives his due according to his desserts as discerned by the light of reason.
Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.
Humility: the virtue which leads us to true self-knowledge and helps us to act accordingly, without vanity or pride.
It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.
Wisdom: This virtue draws the will to embrace truth apprehended by the intellect and act on it.
It was not suddenly bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.
Fortitude: the virtue which empowers us to stand firm in the face of physical, moral, and spiritual opposition.

Kipling was prescient when he foresaw that these virtues will be necessary to see us through the chilled years ahead. Let us pray for their increase.

And let us not fund people who hate us.

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You - Brian Niemeier

2020/08/10

The Proper Response

Trump Executive Orders

Now that Congress has proven utterly incapable of performing its most basic duties in the face of a protracted national crisis, President Trump has stepped in to deliver the proper response.
President Trump Saturday signed four executive actions to provide Americans financial relief from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
America is currently suffering from record unemployment and the worst recession in our history. This suffering is the direct result of government-imposed restrictions. Taking drastic measures to protect its citizens' lives in drastic circumstances is a valid function of government. But at the same time, the government must take responsibility for the secondary evils its acts cause and work to mitigate them.

That legislators of both houses and parties cannot bestir themselves to relieve the severe burdens they themselves imposed on ordinary Americans shows their seething contempt for us.

When the people cannot have relief due to the legislative process breaking down, it is incumbent upon the executive to make up for Congress' failure.

Here are the relief measures President Trump has ordered:
$400 weekly federal unemployment aid
Trump's executive action calls for $400-per-week in supplemental unemployment aid. Unemployed people were getting $600-a-week extra until the federal program expired at the end of July.
Trump's action would require states to pay for 25 percent of the $400 weekly benefit, while the federal government would pick up 75 percent.
Trump would divert up to $44 billion from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund to cover the unemployment program.
The extra unemployment help would last until Dec. 6 or until the Disaster Relief Fund balance drops to $25 billion, "whichever occurs first," according to the White House memo.
This supplemental aid is on top of existing state unemployment benefits. State payments vary widely, from $235 a week maximum in Mississippi to $1,234 in Massachusetts.
 This is where the Mammon Mob will clutch their pearls and shriek about "Moral hazard" and "Paying people not to work." The fatal flaw in those knee-jerk gripes is that they assume it's still 1988 and our rulers don't openly hate us.

If the government insists on economic strictures that put 40 million Americans out of work while at the same time continuing to import foreign workers, then the government has a moral imperative to make the workers they've wronged whole.
Assistance to Renters and Homeowners
Congress passed the CARES Act in March that issued a 120-day temporary eviction moratorium on renters in federal housing assistance programs or those who live in a property with a federally backed mortgage. That eviction moratorium expired in July.
Trump's executive action would encourage federal efforts to help renters and homeowners avoid eviction or foreclosure for failing to make their monthly payments. He directs his administration to identify available funds to "provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners who, as a result of the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, are struggling to meet their monthly rental or mortgage obligations."
Payroll Tax holiday
Trump defers the payroll tax from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, for employees making $100,000 or less a year. The tax, deducted from workers' paychecks, funds Social Security and Medicare. Employees would need to repay the federal government once the tax holiday ends without further action.
Millennials and Zoomers are never going to get a dime of Social Security or Medicare. Subjecting them to the payroll tax is forcing their participation in a pyramid scheme wherein their money is confiscated and transferred to members of older, far wealthier generations.

Trump's order is a step in the right direction. Next he should absolve taxpayers of having to repay the government after the tax holiday and suspend payroll taxes indefinitely.
Extension of Student Loan Relief
The executive action suspends federal student loan payments and sets interest rates to 0 percent through Dec. 31, 2020. The current student loan relief programs were to expire on Sept. 30.
The federal student loan program is a con game that has duped multiple generations of youth into lifelong debt slavery. It also gives official sanction to the mortal sin of usury.

If oppose the federal funding of Planned Parenthood but insist that student debtors must cooperate with government-enforced usury, your morality is gravely inconsistent.

Forgiving all federal student loans is a moral imperative. Again, Trump is headed in the right direction. If he does enact student loan forgiveness, he will win the election with a groundswell of Millennial support.

Even if Trump's orders don't survive the inevitable Democrat legal challenge, the President's clear populist sympathies are encouraging.

Never forget how much the Death Cult that runs most of the government and the whole entertainment industry hates you. Don't give them money.

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You

2020/08/07

The Generational Wealth Gap

A common criticism levied at the Baby Boomers by members of younger generations is that Boomers as a group have hoarded disproportionate wealth while leaving their posterity only crumbs.

Now Business Insider has provided data showing that not only are younger generations' suspicions of having been robbed correct, the generational larceny is even worse than they'd imagined.
In 1989, baby boomers (defined in a recent Federal Reserve report as Americans born between 1946 and 1964) were roughly the same age millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are today. But boomers held 21% of America's total net worth in 1989 — seven times millennials' paltry 3% share in 2019, wrote Alex Tabarrok in the blog Marginal Revolution.
The chart below shows what percentage of total US wealth each generation has held since 1990, according to Fed data that extends through 2019 Q2. Over time, the Silent Generation has seen a decline from 80% to 25% of total US wealth, presumably because they've begun to pass away and exhaust their retirement accounts and pensions.
As baby boomers age, their percentage of total US wealth has increased from 20% to nearly 60%.
Generational Wealth

Point of clarification: While pretty much everyone younger than the Boomers is getting screwed, perceptive readers will note that the BI article erroneously combines Generation Y and the Millennials.

When you correct for the 1989 Gen Y/Millennial cutoff and compare standard markers of prosperity like home ownership, one cohort ends up holding the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

If you guessed it's Gen Y, you win. Go ahead and keep the lollipop.

Home Owneship by Age

Rivaling that stark revelation is the picture that emerges when Generation Jones (yellow line) is considered separately from the true Boomers. They arguably got screwed as badly as Gen Y despite being only a decade younger than their Boomer siblings.
Gen X and millennials haven't even reached these wealth levels. Thus far, Gen X only comprises about 16% of US wealth. And perhaps most strikingly, the line for millennials is almost completely flat: They've barely seen any increase in net worth, coming in at less than 5% of total US wealth in 2019.
It's worth noting that these generations are younger, so comprising a smaller percentage of US wealth is expected. However, the chart below, which highlights the percentage of US wealth held by age, shows that the young are still financially behind: Their wealth levels are below where they should be.
Wealth by Age

What we're seeing is the result of Boomers inheriting the greatest prosperity in history, heedlessly and artificially expanding their largesse via a series of credit bubbles, and refusing to pass on more than a pittance to their heirs.

Boomers aren't just being miserly with their wealth, either. They're clinging just as greedily to power, even though the effects are proving disastrous for the West's future.
The same trend unfolded in Alabama. Although we greatly respect and honor Jeff Sessions, it is undeniable that his political capital took a massive hit after he failed to protect the president in the Russiagate episode. Due to his personal vendetta against Sessions, Trump endorsed Sessions’ opponent Tommy Tuberville.
If Tuberville wins, he will be another useless member of the GOP establishment, rather than an America First conservative. If Sessions had cultivated and supported a fresh and untainted successor to take his place, then that successor might have won in the 2017 special election, and we would have another America First conservative in the Senate right now. Instead, Roy Moore, another past-his-prime political narcissist, lost to the Democrat, Doug Jones.
Perennially returning old dogs and damaged candidates to the fray is not the way forward for a vibrant and successful political movement. America First leaders must selflessly identify and cultivate talented and charismatic successors. Instead, the movement is functioning as a set of interlocking personality cults. When figures like Arpaio, Kobach, Sessions, and Donald Trump exit the stage, there is no one to carry the torch forward in their stead.
Unfortunately, this trend transcends politics. Just think about the endless parade of Baby Boomer business executives clinging to authority long after their faculties have started to fade. Or, think of college professors coasting on tenure into their eighties, rather than retiring so the glut of young PhDs can get jobs (37 percent of college faculty are over 55). Consider the steadily growing wealth chasm between older Americans and young adults hoping to start families. Even during the current coronavirus pandemic, we have imposed a devastating lockdown that has destroyed the wealth, economy, and mental health of the young in order to add a few months to the lives of the oldest and sickest in America.
Older generations are hoarding wealth, power, and opportunity. America’s social cohesion is totally frayed. Instead of giving a leg up to the next generation, the older generations prolong their stay at the top as long as they can. And right now, the America First right is as guilty as anyone.
Clearly people need a reminder, so pay attention. The main purpose of working to accumulate fiscal and social capital is not to die with the most toys. It is to provide a sound foundation and base of support for your progeny to continue building up the family legacy and continue the process with their children. That is how civilizations are built and maintained.

That is observably not what is happening now. Nor has it happened for some time. Instead, three generations were left to raise themselves while their parents pursued consumerism. Those same parents then handed their children over to grifters and charlatans who left them financially and intellectually impoverished before throwing them out into the worst job market this country has ever seen.

And as the crowning insult, that perverse generation now sneers at and mocks their progeny for daring to seek relief from their misery.

Since Scripture reserves its harshest condemnations for those who defraud and abuse workers and children, the question to ask yourself right now if you're a Baby Boomer is, How will I avoid the unquenchable fires of Hell?

Before you ask, yes. God does judge generations as a whole.

Now, I have interacted with well-intentioned Boomers who are convinced by the data and rightly ask what they can do to right these wrongs.

Once again, Scripture gives an answer. Give to the poor--not just out of your excess; to the point that it pinches your wallet. Those closest to you take priority in the order of charity, starting with your immediate family and moving outward. Strangers from over the horizon should not take precedence over your children, who are more likely to be among the poor anyway.

This isn't rocket science. If you have a vacation home, but your son is living in a van, your moral obligation is obvious. Make sure your kids and grandkids have food, heat, shelter, and security.

Is the fruit of your loins a debt slave languishing under the yoke of the banks and the government's rod? Do what you need to do.

Sell the boat.

Sell the condo.

Cut the cord.

Don't give money to people who hate you.

Christ calls us to be co-redeemers with Him. First, redeem your sons!

Second, release your death grip on power. It's true that many in the younger generations are immature and irresponsible. A major reason why is that they've never been given any real responsibility. Start mentoring them today. Then, when they're ready for the training wheels to come off, step down and hand them the reins.

Seriously, how hard is it to see that failing to prepare the next generation for leadership is a civilizational dead man's switch? The rest of us have to live here after you're gone. Give us a fighting chance!

Finally, if all of that isn't enough to rouse Boomers' slumbering sense of charity, perhaps seeing the grim fate that awaits them if nothing changes will move them to act with enlightened self-interest.

2020/08/06

Art Lasts

Carpenter's Art

Hang out around science fiction authors long enough, and you get the sense that they're all crazy.

John Scalzi claims that Donald Trump and the weather conspired to give him writer's block. Patrick Rothfuss and George R. R. Martin have cited similarly temperamental reasons for not finishing their popular series.

The ancient Romans had a saying, Ars longa, vita brevis. Moderns take it to mean that life is short, but works of art last.

We post-Renaissance types get the, "Life is short," part right. But ancients and Medievals didn't restrict the meaning of ars to "fine art". For them, it could apply to any craft.

The equivalent Greek word is techne. That's a big clue that everybody before the Modern era would have put Michelangelo and Steve Jobs in the same general category. Both made stuff according to a standard.

That's really what writing is. A carpenter makes a birdhouse by putting wood, nails, and glue together in the right configuration. An author makes a book by doing the same thing with character, setting, and conflict.

The arbitrary split between fine arts like oil painting, sculpture, and literature and crafts like carpentry, plumbing, and coding is a Modern novelty. We take it for granted, but historically it's an anomaly based on largely unexamined assumptions.

Reading the previous two paragraphs may incite the knee-jerk response that broadly classifying authors alongside plumbers is materialist reductionism that sucks the soul out of writing.

Only if you think that plumbers don't have souls.

The appeal to mysticism as justification for placing fine art in its own airy realm high above the noise and odors of the trades betrays the same Modernist bias I'm calling out.

Ancients and Medievals understood that man is spirit and flesh at once, and thus all of his actions have a spiritual dimension. There is a role for both Martha and Mary. The shoemaker is no less holy than St. Anthony.

Cartesian philosophy, with its crude mind-body dualism, caused a rupture between the mystical and the mundane that's since plagued Western thought. The body perishes, but the soul is immortal, so the soul must take priority.

That appraisal doesn't jibe with the example of a God who holds the human body in such high esteem that He became incarnate.

Imposing a false binary that relegates skilled craftsmen to grunt status while elevating "real artists" has created a class of neurotic posers who perpetually fret about muses and demons. Meanwhile, we have to wait five years to find out what happens in book three.

And because heresies always come in pairs, you get small-soulded bugmen preaching the opposite extreme: STEM and the trades are the only fields of "real value". Jobs in the arts are decadent sinecures for losers who can't make it in the grownup world.

The fault lies in the choice of interpretive key. Too many grope at the arts in the darkness of either/or. The only light that can reveal the whole beast is both/and.

All craftsmen are human beings with immortal souls. Poetry is a craft. Setting up a network in an office building can be a mystical experience.

If you're an aspiring author, ditch the angsty writers' workshop BS, and nail yourself to the wood of your desk.

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Combat Frame XSeed


2020/08/05

Manmade Institutions

Manmade Institutions

Wherein the trade journal Marketing Science brings us further proof of the Pop Cult.

H/t @Swordo9 on Tiwtter:

brand loyalty

brand reliance
name brand

brand identity

The marketers who've pushed the concept of brand evangelism weren't just using a figure of speech. Man's innate religious impulse isn't being snuffed out. It's being captured and perverted by international corporations.
Fitzsimons, who used to be a practicing Irish Catholic, notes that a major aspect of religion is the feeling of community and being able to communicate to the world that you belong to a certain group of people and value a certain set of beliefs, often by attending religious services.
Now, instead of religious worship, many consumers buy Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) products.
Forget the danger of monopoly power. The real reason why unrestrained capitalism is just as evil as socialism is that the former ends up producing golden calves that are worshiped by consoomers instead of products that are valued for their utility.

When atheists abandon faith in God, they don't believe in nothing. Increasingly, they invest their faith in manmade institutions.

It's more vital than ever not to give money to people who hate you. Learn how here.

Don't Give Money to People Who Hate You - Brian Niemeier

2020/08/04

It's Not the Economy, Stupid

Vermeer

It's about time someone noticed that Conservatives' exclusive fixation on economic arguments has lost them the culture war.

Daniel Bendele writes:
If the culture degrades even as the stock market climbs, there must be something else that we are missing?  If the rising tide is lifting all the boats, why is society so unhappy?  Why is it that society continues to call good evil and evil good?  Conservatives and Christians are losing the culture war because we fail to promote GOOD art.  It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s Truth transmitted through culture.
I wrote in my last piece about the desecration of statues and churches.  Last year, prominent “Conservative” columnist David French called Drag Queen Story Hours at public libraries, “One of the blessings of liberty.”  Leftists have argued that people should be able to use the restroom of whatever gender they identify as that day.  God and the Bible have been taken out of our schools, courthouses, and the public sphere.  But Republicans are happy because the stock market is up?
Oftentimes during this discussion, friends tell me, “Conservatives don’t make good art.”  There’s this idea that we’re losing the culture war because we are not good at creating or because we’ve failed to engage in that type of work.  I’m here to tell you that this is absolutely false.  Conservatives are NOT losing the culture war because we fail to make good art and/or fail to participate in that sphere.  Conservatives are losing the culture war because our leaders fail to promote the good art that does exist, and we are too lazy to find it for ourselves and promote it to our friends and family.
Two of the best-selling literary series of all time were written by strong, Conservative men of faith, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia.  You may be surprised to learn that Christians didn’t stop writing fantasy after Tolkien and Lewis.  Believe me, after years of being sick to death of only finding fantasy with morally ambiguous heroes, gratuitous and often violent sex scenes (looking at you George R.R. Martin), and grim portrayals of humanity, I was shocked to find a plethora of amazing literature written by Christians and Conservatives.  These works are for the most part not explicitly Christian, but like Tolkien’s work they promote important themes: heroism, sacrifice, integrity, and the battle of good versus evil.
The readily observable fact that Conservative leaders acknowledge the culture war yet refuse to engage the enemy on the cultural level is all the proof you need to conclude they're either terminally stupid or cynical grifters.

Support artists who want to entertain you. Don't give money to people who hate you.