2020/03/27

The Phones that Didn't Ring

The United States has now surpassed China as the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. As of this writing, total US cases stand at 85,498 while the Chinese total is 81,340.

Or is it?

Made Up Numbers

Contra the famous quote about lies, damned lies, and statistics, you could probably find some egghead with reams of calculations making an airtight case that the implausible plateau above is accurate. Maybe the Chinese really did find an answer to Corona-chan that everybody else missed.

That's possible, but the smart money is on the Chinese Communist Party lying through their teeth.

Lo and behold, evidence for a massive cover-up of Chinese coronavirus deaths has surfaced from the depths of the web.
Potentially 7,254,000 dead in China according to Chinese telecom account cancellations
Due to the nature of Chinese telecoms, your national ID is bound to your mobile number account, which is in turn bound to your Alipay account, the one-stop mobile app that manages all monetary transactions, including banking. When phone number accounts are not paid for 2 months, they are automatically cancelled. Since we can't trust the CCP coronavirus death numbers, we have to look at other datapoints. China Unicom (mobile telecom) lost 862,000 subscribers in January. They lost 7,254,000 subscribers in February.
How does one telecom company lose 7 million subscribers in one month? Sure, some folks might not be able to pay their bill, but without your phone you're screwed in China. People would take out loans to keep it running. Unfortunately, most of these folks are probably dead. What will March's numbers look like?
Submitted for your consideration:

Chinese Net Customer Loss

China Telecom

Monthly Chinese Telecom

This dramatic drop-off in Chinese telecom customers is unprecedented, and we've got years of records to prove it.
Obviously, the CCP is lying about the number of deaths.
Let's be generous and ascribe half of the seven million cancellations to accounts falling into arrears due to sudden unemployment and/or medical bills. That still leaves millions of vanished Chinese mobile subscriptions in need of explanation.

Keep in mind that in China, your mobile account is your wallet. The American equivalent would be Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, and every ISP reporting two million combined account cancellations in as many months.

What happened to those seven million Chinese telecom customers?

We'll probably never know.


The best anime you've never seen.

2020/03/26

Combat Frame Data: XCD-105

XCD-105 Eschaton XE

XCD-105 Eschaton XE

Technical Data

Model number: XCD-105
Code name: Eschaton
Nickname: Eschaton XE
Classification: stealth attack combat frame
Manufacturer: Zeklov-Astraea modification of a BEC design
Operator: Coalition Transportation Ministry, HALO
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 18 meters
Weight: 102 metric tons
Armor type: “1D” carbyne laminar armor
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 2963 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 38,900 kg, 4x 21,700 kg, 2x 36,300 kg, 3x 2,250 kg; top speed 3888 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 28, 180° turn time 0.59 seconds; legs: top ground speed 200 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted in head; Vercingetorix laser targeting system
Fixed armaments: none
Optional hand armaments: x2 heat sword, stored on backpack, hand-carried in use; three-section heat staff, can lock to form heat bo, stored on backpack, hand-carried in use; x2 plasma autopistol, power rated at 0.83 MW, stored on skirt racks, hand-carried in use
Special equipment: Dynamic optical camouflage, A.I. operating system



General Notes

When the Ministry of Transportation's Public Safety Division impounded the XCD-104-2 Eschaton Kai, Transportation Secretary Sullia Zend sought to realize the full potential implied by its ad hoc upgrades. She charged the team responsible for creating her own Heavy Armor Z with modifying the critically damaged XSeed.

Heavy Team applied their patented, "More is more," approach to Eschaton's upgrades. They not only restored the missing upper left arm but added a third set, bringing the XSeed up to six arms total.

Analyzing the combat data from Lt. Theodore Red's last battle convinced them that Faust Hayden was on the right track with his missile pod addition. A.I.-assisted models indicated rapid close strike capability as Eschaton's optimal combat role. Heavy Team armed their enhanced XSeed accordingly.

A pair of plasma autopistols gave Eschaton sufficient firepower to quickly engage with or disengage from targets. It retained one carbyne heat staff, and a pair of curved heat swords perfected its already fearsome melee combat abilities. Its dynamic optical cloak was fine-tuned for greater resiliency and to minimize motion blur. Heavy Team further bolstered the XSeed's defenses with an additional 30 carbyne layers. The team designated their handiwork the XCD-105 Eschaton XE, a phonetic rendering of the Greek word for "six".

Coordinating all six arms taxed the Eschaton's original A.I. in early trials. Astraea programmers developed the novel solution of enabling the OS to partition itself into six sub-nodes, creating a pseudo-distributed intelligence. This arrangement effectively gave each of the XSeed's arms its own "brain"--analogous to the ganglia found in insects. As a result, all six arms could respond rapidly to threats or the pilot's commands while still working smoothly in concert.

Sullia approved the Eschaton XE and assigned it to her special anti-HALO task force. The upgraded XSeed would soon meet its first real test at the Battle of Astraea.

See the Eschaton XE in action! Buy Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming now!
Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming - Brian Niemeier

2020/03/25

The Other Black Panther

Black Panther

A reader of yesterday's cryptid post responded with a comment that blew my sighting out of the water:
I've heard and seen one of the anomalous big cats during one of my excursions to visit family in Missouri, but I don't think it was any sort of phantom.
They do have mountain lions out there. Another case of the officials have said, until recently, that they were all hunted to extinction out there 100+ years ago but hunters have known they're still about the entire time. Recently the various rangers have acknowledged a "small population moving back in".
It started with hearing it yelling at night for about 45 minutes to an hour, just off the front porch of the cabin. Stayed out of the porch lights so I didn't see it then. My uncle came by the next day to mow the lawn and field. I told him about hearing a mountain lion just outside the house, and he had his smug "I'm going to screw with Ral" smirk when he asked me to describe it. I think he thought I was spooked by a bobcat or raccoons fighting. I know what both of those sound like. I told him it was like a normal mountain lion scream (sounds like a woman being murdered. Normal cougar scream is spooky on its own), but half an octave higher and warbled at the end of the call. He got serious quick,said "That's the black one. It's more aggressive and bigger than a normal cougar" gave me one of his 30-06 deer rifles from his truck, and had me sit overwatch while he mowed the lawn only. He told us to avoid going out at night, and to be armed when we did go out.
I actually saw it a couple nights later. I'd gone to town to visit other family and hit the grocery for my cousin and grandma and was getting back around 10pm-ish. There's one part in that gavel road that comes around a hairpin turn and immediately funnels into a one-lane bridge across a small creek. There's a ridge on the right with a house on top. The trees on the left open up into a cattle field just as you complete the turn. There's a half-collapsed barn from the late 1800's that makes a big dark spot in the night on the other side of the creek, inside the cattle enclosure.
I went whipping around that turn at about 40mph (should do it at 10-15, but, well, teenager at the time). Cat was in the road, facing into the field, but my brain initially registered it as the barn. I ended up screeching to a halt a couple inches from it. It jumped around on me, blinked in the headlights, and then smacked the crap out of my bumper and ran off up the ridge via the creek bed. Fortunately just scratched the chrome trim parts and some paint that could be fixed (this was an old GMC Jimmy)
From it's markings it was definitely a mountain lion, but black. Like how jaguars have really dark grey with black markings; but mountain lion countershading in dark greys and super dark 'eyeliner' and eartips. It was about 10% bigger than a normal mountain lion and was mega-ripped. Like you can normally tell they're powerful, but they have somewhat loose skin. This was buff enough it looked like it was ripped on steroids and wearing spandex.
Looking over after it'd run off, I saw it'd been pulling a dead cow across the enclosure fence. When I went back the next day to tell the farmer, we went to inspect the cow. Young bull (like old teenager equivalent), nose damage and throat ripped out, neck broken...big cats like to hold the mouth/nose shut and rip out the windpipe to suffocate large prey, as opposed to canids, which like to rip out the leg tendons then go for the throat once the animal is down. Still hanging half-over the fence, which was sagging and needed to be fixed by that point.
It got me looking into the topic, and they seem to show up every 10-20 years and be seen in geographic clusters for about 2-5 years then disappear. Just speculation, but I think it's a genetic condition causing the black fur, and it also induces a hormone condition that makes it muscular and mean. Then either from being too aggressive where it gets itself injured to death, or the condition causing complications like heart failure, it dies fairly young.
I'm no wildlife expert, but the reader's theory comes across as logically sound. If nothing else, it makes for good reading.

Speaking of which, all you old school print book lovers will be glad to know that the Corona-chan anthology is now available in paperback!

Corona-chan: Spreading the Love

2020/03/24

Phantom Animals

Phantom Kanaroo

Cataloging reports of unknown animals--cryptids to folks in the business--is one of my guilty pleasures. Who doesn't love a goose bump-raising tale of giant footprints in a creek bed or anomalous shrieks in the night?

Sometimes, though, the juxtaposition of familiar critters in impossible places can be just as unnerving.
It’s hard to believe that Australian kangaroos could be hopping around all over the United States. But what’s even harder to imagine is that these out-of-place marsupials appear to posses supernatural abilities as they rummage through the backyards of bewildered people in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Indiana, to name a few.
Phantom kangaroos have been spotted in a variety of urban and rural settings and are said to be particularly hostile. They are described to be 3.5 - 5.5 feet tall with glowing eyes and ghostly characteristics. They have been blamed for slaughtering numerous dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and other small animals in areas with high kangaroo activity.
According to W. Haden Blackman’s Field Guide to North American Monsters, the first reported phantom kangaroo sighting was on June 12, 1899 in Richmond, Wisconsin.
Interestingly, the phantom kangaroo activity appears to occur in waves. Several witnesses in South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, including a Reverend W. J. Hancock, spotted the creature in January of 1934. The sightings coincided with mysterious killings of a dog and several chickens. The Kangaroo was allegedly seen fleeing the scene carrying sheep.
From 1957 to 1967, phantom kangaroos haunted Coon Rapids, Minnesota and were spotted by numerous startled witnesses who dubbed it "Big Bunny".
Hundreds of people witnessed a phantom kangaroo in Chicago, Illinois, on October 18, 1974. It kept people away with viscous displays and vanished over a fence before police could capture it.
It's not just phantom kangaroos plaguing the US. Reports of bigger, badder beasts have become a staple of cryptozoology lore.
The story in question takes place during the early 1980s, while Dakota’s father Ken was driving a late-night trucking route between Western North Carolina and Kentucky. On the evening in question, the Senior Waddell had brought his rig along quiet stretch of highway between the towns of Corbin and Lexington in the great Blue Grass State, when he saw what he described as a “black panther” dart across the road in front of him in the truck’s headlights. “I don’t know what he was doing there,” Mr. Waddell recalled of the event, “but I saw him as clear as day.” He slowed down as the animal moved across the road, and although he was able to discern clearly that the animal’s fur was black or dark brown, he was unable to make out any further details.
“Black panthers do have a spot pattern,” Dakota told me recently, as we spoke about his father’s encounter by phone. “Given the details of the situation, he wasn’t able to see clearly enough to discern those kinds of details, but he was certain it was some sort of large, black cat.” His father’s peculiar late-night encounter remains of great interest, and eventually spurred Waddell into collecting information about the potential for mountain lions and other large cats to exist throughout the Southeast.
Perhaps phantom kangaroos are phantom panthers' natural prey, because both cryptids' ranges seem to overlap in Illinois. My state is no stranger to sightings of anomalous big cats of multiple colors--not just black. There was even a phantom mountain lion flap in my home town around the turn of the 21st century. The state fish and wildlife department insists that mountain lions haven't roamed the Land of Lincoln for over a hundred years. Tell that to the people who saw one prowling the local cemetery and slinking through their backyards.

But the strangest phantom animal sighting I know of in Illinois hits even closer to home, because I'm the one who made the sighting.

On one occasion a couple years back, I was driving home in the wee hours, when this trotted into the road about 30 feet in front of me:

Thylacine

Yep, that's a thylacine. The last "Tasmanian Tiger" as it's also known officially died in the 1930s. Somehow, that didn't stop one from crossing a Central Illinois road in front of me two years ago.

Hopefully this post has put you in the mood for a savage tale of neolithic teens hunting megafauna, because best selling author Adam Lane Smith's latest offering fits the bill. Buy it now!

Ghostblade - Adam Lane Smith

2020/03/23

Trump's Kobayashi Maru

Trump Cure

It's been ten days since President Donald Trump's coronavirus address in the Rose Garden. After stumbling out of the gate, he seemed to be rising to the occasion, with talk of more robust travel restrictions, medical guidelines, and direct aid to the American people.

But yesterday, Trump posted a tweet that many interpret as as signaling a loss of resolve on the President's part. Market-worshiping bowtieCons were ecstatic at the prospect of direct human sacrifice to Mammon. Their elation is understandable. Normally, only Moloch worshipers get that kind of action.

Trump's reticence is also easy to understand. Much like James T. Kirk, Trump is a guy who never believed in the no-win scenario. His style has always been to dive into the maelstrom and grab the best deal that bubbles to the surface--all the while keeping his options open in case a better deal emerges. He knows that chaos can be good for business.

That's why Corona-chan has him at a disadvantage. She offers no good outcomes. Trump's choices right now are:

  1. Enforce the several-week lock down urged by medical experts, and tank the economy.
  2. Loosen containment guidelines, get a Spanish Flu style multi-wave plague, and tank the economy.
New York Corona Curve
Which way, Western man?

Squaring that circle is tricky, but not impossible if your moral compass is calibrated right. You take option 1, save as many lives as possible, and brace for the consequences.

Bonus: If you want to know who is a) innumerate and b) ruled by greed, take note of who's embracing option 2.

It's not just Corona-chan who's backing Trump into a corner. The swamp critters in Congress have him outmatched, too. The fact that they're willing to expose themselves as business agents for megacorps in the process is enlightening. 

Trump is always looking to make a deal. That approach avails nothing in the face of opposition that's willing to crush the common man while throwing a trillion dollars a day into the raging inferno of the markets.

Then there's Nancy Pelosi. The old witch's spite-fueled ravaging of America is a great argument against women in government. She's done her damnedest to block every Trump agenda item since day one. Now she's doing what she does best--bogging the system down in empty politicking. Pelosi doesn't care about minority banks, unions, or turbines. She does care about denying Trump a win, and she'll gladly burn the country down just to burn him.

But the final black pill being a white pill, Corona-chan has done the American people a great service. We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our system is utterly ossified with corruption, wholly incapable of making decisions in a crisis, and not representative of ordinary people at all.

The US government is a machine designed to squeeze as much cash from the middle class as possible while applying pressure gradually enough that they don't feel the pinch. Corona-chan has spun the crank on the vise, and now normal people are noticing the pain.


Voting will have no effect on the outcome of this crisis, so you may as well sit back and enjoy it. Luckily, a number of top-shelf pulp authors--including yours truly--are here to bring you a figurative escape from Clown World.

Corona-chan Number One!

Our girl is currently #1 in free sci-fi anthologies! She's #3 in fantasy, but you can help get her to the top spot in both genres! Download your free copy now!

2020/03/20

Congressional Lemmings

Graham Crenshaw Lemmings

The coronavirus pandemic has turned into something of a Voight-Kampff test. Instead of androids, it detects Suicide Cultists, which are really the next best thing.

We can debate the government's wisdom in locking down travel and commerce. In fact, Mister Metokur debated comedian Dick Masterson on Ethan Ralph's #Killstream last night. You can watch the milestone episode here, including the 156:53 mark, when someone you may know consults the Prophet Jim about which sector of the entertainment industry will survive Corona-chan.


Judging by the amateur analysis that flooded the Web in the stream's wake, the debate made a handy litmus test, as well. Jim walked away with it. He wasted no time in soaring over Dick's hedonist position to seize and hold the moral level. That's game, set, match.

It doesn't take a professional ethicist to discern that taking rational steps so hundreds of thousands of people don't die of plague is a legitimate use of government power. Anyone swayed by Dick's invocation of his rights to go boozing, smoke drugs, bang hookers, and murder his grandma is not a serious person. In light of the current crisis, we'd probably better lock down the pro-Dick side for their safety and ours.

But that's just the Suicide Cult yeomanry. Meanwhile, their high priests in Washington are busy fumbling the ball Trump passed them. Instead of scoring a layup, fiscal Conservatives in Congress have painstakingly drawn up a play to throw the ball into the stands.

Let's untangle the thought process that led these Congressional lemmings to screw this up. First, the government orders travel and commerce restrictions that grind the economy to a halt. Small and medium-sized business like mom & pop stores, movie theaters, and restaurants take the hardest hit. As a result, poor and middle-class people have less cash in their wallets.

Trump correctly responded with a call for direct cash payments of $1000 to each American. He considered some kind of tax credit but rejected the idea. That's because this proposal isn't a form of welfare. The point is to give everyone some discretionary income so they start spending again and keep the economy going.

Leave it to the bow ties in the GOP to botch the execution of this simple concept. To be fair, it was Nancy Pelosi who first demanded means testing--to her base's dismay. But Suicide Cultists like Graham and Crenshaw dutifully took instruction from their supposed enemy.

Instead of just cutting every American a check for $1000, the market worshipers have turned Trumpbux into a nebbishy tax credit.

How it breaks down now is that people who reported taxable income between $75k and $23k on their 2018 tax returns get $1200 plus $500 per child. Between $75k and $99k, the credit scales down. People who earned $100k or more in 2018 get nothing.

That alone goes to show that our rulers have no concept of what life outside the Beltway is like. It's not 1988. $100,000 doesn't go as far as it used to. Suddenly, the GOP has joined Occupy in denouncing the 1%.

But wait, the stupidity gets even worse. Because the current GOP plan is a tax credit, not a direct payment, the poorest Americans also get shafted, since they pay less in taxes. Before you scoff, keep in mind that about 40% of American citizens have no taxable income. Who in their right mind shoulders 40% of the country out of a stimulus package?

Admittedly, that's a bit of an overstatement, since those with less than $23k in taxable 2018 income get a $600 credit--half of what people who outearn them fourfold get. But the pants-on-head retardation doesn't stop there.

Say you run a small business that made less than $23k in profits in 2018. You made to little to pay income tax, but you had no escape from paying the 15.3% self-employment tax.

This means that small businessmen who are most vulnerable to the recession will only get $600 instead of $1000 to offset their potential $3500 tax bill.

Here's the kicker: The self-employment tax goes straight to pay for Social Security and Medicare. That means small business owners under 50 will never see a dime of their money back. The IRS is robbing them to fund the retirements of the wealthiest generation in human history.

And supposedly small government Republicans are using the state to crush them while throwing a pittance at their feet. Lindsey Graham is doing his best Sonny Corleone impression.

So far, we could chalk up the GOP's failure to address a national emergency to stupidity. But now Republican Senators Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler have taken the stage to show what they really think of us.
Two US Republican Senators are facing calls to resign over allegations they used insider knowledge to sell shares before prices fell due to coronavirus fears.
Richard Burr reportedly dumped up to $1.7m (£1.45m) of stocks last month.
Kelly Loeffler is reported to have sold holdings worth up to $3m in a series of transactions beginning the same day as a Senate briefing on the virus.
Both Senators have denied any impropriety.
Under US law, it is illegal for members of Congress to trade based on non-public information gathered during their official duties.
Mr Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has also come under fire after US outlet NPR obtained a recording of him warning a group of wealthy constituents last month about the dire economic impact of the coronavirus, at a time when the Trump administration was publicly downplaying the threat. He also told the group to curtail their travel.
In response, Mr Burr has accused NPR of “misrepresenting” his speech.

They really do think we're dumb cattle. That's the only explanation short of genuine suicidal urges that are driving our elites over the precipice.

It turns out that smugly declaring yourself to be perched comfortably at the end of history inclines one to forget the lessons of the past. Our rulers' monstrous dereliction of duty may well doom us. But they forget the fate of parasites who kill the host.

Ironically, Corona-chan herself may prove less deadly than the Suicide Cult. She also seems like a lot more fun in comparison. Even if you're on lockdown, you can safely help spread Corona-chan's love with your free copy of David Stewart's new SFF anthology, which includes entertaining tales by the likes of David himself, Jon Del Arroz, and yours truly.

Corona-chan: Spreading the Love

2020/03/19

Corona-chan and the Revolution

Corona-chan

Our visit from Corona-chan is proving to be much like sports--which may be some consolation to fans, since sports are cancelled. The pandemic isn't so much building character as revealing it.

First, Corona-chan revealed the ineptness and even malice of our global ruling elite. Chinese officials could have stopped the outbreak if they'd acted sooner instead of wasting three weeks jailing doctors and citizen journalists.

Closer to home, both Democrats and Republicans are sparing no effort to keep the other team from scoring political points from the crisis. Contempt for the working class is expected of GOPe types like Graham and Crenshaw, but it's eye-opening to see old demagogues like Pelosi suddenly urging frugality.

The ordinary people who are losing money, jobs, and businesses are noticing our rulers playing politics with their livelihoods. If there's one upside, it's seeing staunch Democrats lambaste Nancy for interfering with their gibs.

Even more encouraging is that 2016 Trump seems to have jettisoned the neocon doppelganger who replaced him in 2017. After briefly parroting "It's just the flu!" cope posts, he's gotten serious and is proposing the sorts of populist measures that got him elected.

The revelations aren't limited to our elites, either. Social media is still rife with folks in the denial stage. Skim a MAGApede's timeline, and you'll find retweets of establishment pundits wagging their fingers and warning that the death toll had better spike, or the folks who blew the whistle on the virus are in big trouble!

That's just irrational coping. It's tantamount to scolding someone who calls the fire department when your house catches fire and, as firemen are desperately battling the flames, warning him that your house had better burn down, or he's in for it!

Pursuant to this topic and others, I joined authors Jon Del Arroz, Yakov Merkin, and Rawle Nyanzi on David Stewart's stream last night. Watch as we talk Corona-chan, crowdfunding, and whatever else enters our hypoxic, White Claw-addled heads.



Also, David's putting a Corona-chan anthology together. My story ties in with my Combat Frame XSeed series. Book 1 is just 99 cents, so buy it now and get a head start on the collection!

2020/03/18

Combat Frame Data: XCD-101-2 Eliseus

XCD-101-2 Eliseus

XCD-101-2 Eliseus

Technical Data

Model number: XCD-101-2
Code name: XSeed Eliseus
Nickname: Eliseus
Classification: space use electronic warfare combat frame
Manufacturer: Lunar Underground modification of a Browning Engineering Corporation design
Operator: Lunar Underground, Wehrbund Bavaria, HALO
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 19 meters
Weight: dry weight 115 metric tons, full weight 130 metric tons
Armor type: “1D” carbyne laminar armor
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 2970 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 41,790 kg, 4x 20,910 kg, 2x 12,100 kg, 2x 10,500 kg; top speed 2820 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 33, 180° turn time 0.90 seconds; legs: top ground speed 185 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted in head; Vercingetorix laser targeting system can daisy-chain with remote modules
Fixed armaments: x2 orbital laser cannon, power rated at 6.5 MW, back-mounted, swings down onto shoulder in use; x2 remote launcher, holds 4 remote modules each, back-mounted; x2 large plasma sword, power rated at 1.1 MW, stored in charging rack on skirt armor; x2 60mm Vulcans, shoulder-mounted; burst system, broadcasts EMP from resonance chambers in pauldrons
Special Equipment: A.I. operating system


General Notes

The XCD-101 Ezekiel surpassed HALO's expectations for combat effectiveness, proving capable of obliterating whole enemy CF teams by itself. But the premiere One-series XSeed would meet its match in the YCF-00 Combat Frame Type Zero.

Agents of the secretive Lunar Underground salvaged Ezekiel. With the help of HALO pilot Simon Trent, they not only rebuilt the mighty XSeed but upgraded it to an even more formidable form.

Their approach was simple: Give the upgraded CF a double portion of Ezekiel's power. Armed with two high-output laser cannons, two racks of four reflector remotes each, two large plasma swords, and the addition of two shoulder-mounted 60mm Vulcan cannons, the refitted XSeed was Christened the XCD-101-2 Eliseus.

Eliseus immediately showcased its ability to dominate the battlefield against a force of AZC-104 Grand Dolphs. Whereas previously the Coalition's next-generation CFs had given the XSeeds a run for their money, Eliseus handily wiped out several of the Grand Dolphs at once.

Only the growing disillusionment of its pilot checked the XCD-101-2's destructive potential. Even still, Eliseus would go on to aid Wehrbund Bavaria's struggle against the SOC before rejoining HALO to combat an even larger threat.

See Eliseus in action! Read Combat Frame XSeed: CY 40 Second Coming now!

2020/03/17

Warlords

Champaign

If Corona-chan has taught us anything, it's that our ruling class is woefully incapable of handling a crisis. While the current pandemic probably won't crash the whole system, our elites show no signs of having learned from their failure.

To be an elite now is to be trapped in a no-win situation. You've been bred and indoctrinated for generations to have only one tool: open borders marketism. Not only is that tool useless at solving emergent crises, it actually causes or exacerbates them. That means you're caught in a death spiral of successive disasters that progressively worsen until your subjects get fed up and kick you out, or you botch a crisis so bad it takes everyone down.

In light of this situation, dissident political discussions inevitably turn to pondering what will bring down the teetering world order and what will replace it. Some form of balkanization brought on by state or regional secession is a favorite contender among American dissidents.

Signs are appearing that those predicting secession may be right that the United States are headed for a breakup. Where they might be wrong is that political dissolution may not happen state-by-state, but at the local level.

The Lefty mayors who turned their metropolitan Death Cult strongholds into havens for illegal aliens and reefer addicts showed that federal law could be flouted without consequences. Ditto the Virginia gun sanctuary counties.

Chicago machine boss Rahm Emanuel famously warned against letting a crisis go to waste. One of his fellow Cult hierarchs--Champaign, IL Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen--is taking advantage of Corona-chan to establish herself as an iron-handed French Aristocrat.
The mayor of Champaign, Illinois has declared a town emergency over the Wuhan coronavirus that includes a potential ban on the sale of firearms and ammunition. 
According to a local report from WAND 17, Champaign Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen has issued an executive order that would give her office "extraordinary powers." She has issued the order despite the town and surrounding area not having a single case of the disease. 
Now, Champaign is a college town that hosts the U of I, so you can bet that Feinen's Millennial coed constituents are cheering her on. Nevertheless, the city government took sufficient heat from the internet to issue an obfuscating denial.
This statement is in response to several false claims circulating online. To be clear, there is currently no firearm ban and no intent to seize property or close businesses.
Here's a handy tip for translating Death Cult cant into English. Whenever a pol says, "To be clear," that tells you he's about to spray squid ink.

From the text of the actual order:
(6) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of explosives or explosive agents, firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever;
(7) Order the control, restriction and regulation within the City by rationing, issuing quotas, fixing or freezing prices, allocating the use, sale or distribution of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods or services or the necessities of life;
(8) (a) Order City employees or agents, on behalf of the City, to take possession of any real or personal property of any person, or to acquire full title or such lesser interest as may be necessary to deal with a disaster or emergency, and to take possession of and for a limited time, occupy and use any real estate to accomplish alleviation of the disaster, or the effects thereof;
Remember, Champaign had no coronavirus cases when Feinen signed this EO. These aren't reasonable measures meant to protect the populace. They're part of a power grab by ivory tower elites who fear the hicks they rule over storming city hall.

In effect, these orders make Mayor Feinen a warlord. Replace her pantsuit with a chain mail dress, and she'd be right at home farming bullets and hoarding the Precious Juice.

Medievals reacted to past plagues by walling off their cities and self-segregating from the outside world. We may be seeing the start of a 21st century version of that. The future may not be Bosnia or the Confederacy, but the Italian city-states.

It's no longer crazy to posit that, within the next decade, metropolises like New York, Chicago, and LA might be de facto city-states under the rule of local warlords who strictly regulate ingress and egress. Enforcement of federal law there may range from selective, to spotty, to nonexistent.

Whatever the future holds, now is the perfect time to #DigTheMoat.

For a brutal glimpse at life under conjectural post-future warlords, buy my military thriller Combat Frame XSeed for just 99 cents!

2020/03/16

The Beale Cipher

Beale Cipher

The human drive to plumb the depths of mysteries has led to astonishing achievements. It has also driven untold souls to obsession, madness, and ruin.

According to frontier legend, hunter Thomas J. Beale struck out from Bedford County, Virginia at the head of a thirty-man expedition headed west. Legend has it that they journeyed all the way into Spanish territory. The party split at Santa Fe and turned north toward Colorado.

There, the story goes, they found rich veins of gold and silver, which they mined and loaded onto a train of wagons for the return trip to Virginia. Along the way he converted some of the precious metal into more portable jewels.

Beale's first move upon returning home was to bury his fortune in a secret location. He reportedly prepared three documents as a sort of will informing his heirs of the treasure's location. Then he set out again for the frontier and never returned.

Before he left on his final expedition, Beale entrusted his papers to the care of Lynchburg innkeeper Robert Morriss.

As instructed, Morriss waited ten years for Beale to return. When the hunter failed to appear, the innkeeper opened and read his papers.

This would be the story of how Robert Morriss became a multimillionaire, if not for the fact that Beale had encrypted all three documents in a numerical substitution code which is known to this day as a Beale cipher.

The simplest Beale codes work by numbering every word in a document which serves as the cipher's key. Each letter in the message to be encrypted is replaced with a number corresponding to the key text word whose first letter matches the one to be encoded.

Beale Cipher 2
Image by Lucy Quintanilla

In 1862, a frustrated Morriss passed his thus far indecipherable ciphers to a friend. That unknown acquaintance somehow identified the Declaration of Independence as the key to Beale cipher 2. In 1885 he granted publishing rights to James B. Ward, who prepared a booklet aptly titled The Beale Papers.

The deciphered message read:
I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford's, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number three, herewith:
The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited Nov. eighteen nineteen. The second was made Dec. eighteen twenty-one, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty-eight of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange to save transportation, and valued at thirteen thousand dollars.
The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others. Paper number one describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it.
Based on the inventory in cipher 2, Beale's treasure would be worth over $60 million in today's money.

Not surprisingly, the pamphlet instantly sparked an outbreak of gold fever that's had would-be treasure hunters flocking to Bedford County for 135 years.

None of them has found the treasure, though they've destroyed countless tracts of private property, careers, and families in the hunt. Yet people keep trying.

A major reason why a much higher incidence of obsession surrounds Beale's hidden stash than most other lost treasures is the layers of mystery covering the truth like Virginia soil strata. Not only have ciphers 1 and 3 never been cracked, the existence of the treasure--and Thomas Beale himself--has never been definitively proven.
Beale’s letters are suspicious, too. In 1982, the linguist Dr. Jean Pival compared Beale’s prose to the writing of the pamphlet’s anonymous author and found that both used reflexive pronouns incorrectly, copied the prosody of the King James Bible, and overused negative passive constructions such as never to be realized and never be told. “The striking similarities in the Ward and Beale documents argue that one author was responsible for both,” Pival wrote. Further scrutiny by the myth investigator Joe Nickell showed that Beale’s letters contained words such as stampeding and improvised, terms Beale never would have used—because they did not exist when he wrote the letters.
This evidence (and much more) has convinced most casual observers that the treasure story, the codes, and even the character of Thomas J. Beale are part of a canard designed to sell pamphlets. In other words, the reason nobody has found Beale’s treasure is because there is no treasure to find.
Then again, these and other objections have met with equally compelling rebuttals.
Many of these researchers believe the inconsistencies can be explained away. The archival research they’ve done to achieve this aim is, in some cases, hard to deny.
Take the criticism that silver and gold hadn't been discovered yet. The specifics, they point out, are blurry. Beale researchers have dredged up old reports showing rumors of precious ore swirling decades earlier, with small traces of gold possibly being discovered before Beale’s trip.
The lack of evidence that Beale went west? Carl Nelson Jr., an ex-C.I.A. agent, combed through old newspapers from St. Louis—what would have been Beale’s last checkpoint before the frontier—and discovered a postmaster’s notice in an October 1817 copy of The Missouri Gazette for an “S. T. Beall” and an 1820 notice for a “Thomas Beall” in The Franklin Intelligencer. As for Beale's ability to avoid arrest, researchers point to the Adams-Onis treaty of 1819, which redrew the border between the United States and what was called “New Spain.”
The rebuttal to the clunky cipher solution is impressive. Stephen Matyas researched this discrepancy and compiled one of the world's most complete collections of Declaration of Independence copies. From 1776 to 1825, the Declaration appeared in more than 350 publications, each of which made slight alterations to the text: Unalienable over inalienable, mean time over meantime, institute a new government over institute new government. A single extra word or space, Matyas argued, can corrupt a decipherment. Choose the wrong version and your solution will resemble alphabet soup.
As for the consistent language and the linguistic anachronisms in the pamphlet? That’s nothing, researchers say. Have you ever heard of an editor?
As a matter of fact, yes I have!
Other cryptologists of the era approached the ciphers with similar ambivalence. Herbert O. Yardley, whose 1931 tell-all book The American Black Chamber revealed the workings of America’s cryptography units, believed the Beale ciphers could be solved—but also admitted they looked “a bit fishey.”
That attitude would reign among professional cryptanalysts until January 1970, when Dr. Carl Hammer, Director of Computer Sciences at Sperry-Univac, made a startling revelation at the Third Annual Simulation Symposium in Tampa, Florida. He had analyzed the Beale ciphers with a UNIVAC 1108 computer and compared the codes to the musings of a random number generator. The results showed signs of an intelligent pattern.
“Beale Cyphers 1 and 3 are ‘for real,’” Hammer concluded. “They are not random doodles but do contain intelligence and messages of some sort. Further attempts at decoding are indeed warranted.”
Hammer's analysis showing intelligent patterns in the Beale codes would seem to be the final word on the matter.

This being a first-class mystery, however, there is no final word.
Then, in 1980, James Gillogly, a computer scientist at the think tank RAND and the president of the American Cryptogram Association, discovered an even stranger message in the first Beale cipher—just not the kind the B.C.A. was hoping for.
ABFDE FGHII JKLMM NOHPP
The alphabet never looked so depressing. If you decode Beale's first cipher with some versions of the Declaration of Independence, as James Gillogly tried in 1980, you'll get gobbledygook—with the exception of this pseudo-alphabetical string in the middle of the code. Gillogly published his discovery in a Cryptologia essay called “A Dissenting Opinion" and calculated the chance it could occur randomly was 1 in 10,000,000,000,000.
Gillogly offered two interpretations: that the message is buried under a second level of encryption; or that this measly string of text was the intelligent pattern Hammer's computer had detected. That is, the codes are almost certainly a hoax.
The controversy rages on. Beale believers have, of course, come up with counters to Gillogly. "Current cryptography algorithms aren't up to the job!" "There are two--or many more--layers of encryption!"

Do the Beale ciphers really hold cryptic clues to the secret location of a buried treasure? No one knows. Nor is anyone likely to know anytime soon.

For now, let's just enjoy the mystery.



And you can enjoy my thrilling mech espionage novel now for just 99 cents!

2020/03/13

Decision Time for Trump

Trump

A common form of hubris is the presumption that we can control everything. If we compile the best available data, put together an expert team, and devise the right plan, we can completely master our destiny.

Then a turn of fate comes out of left field and throws a wrench in our plans. The escalating coronavirus outbreak is a perfect reminder that there are forces bigger than us, and they scoff at our best-laid plans.

We can, perhaps, be forgiven for failing to anticipate a threat of this magnitude. It's been a long time since the world faced this kind of crisis. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 might be the closest historical analog.

Take a quick glance at our elites' bumbling response to the Wu Flu, and it's clear that a calamity of this scale never entered into their calculus. Warnings had been leaking out of China since at least January about how dire the situation was, but the West's rulers couldn't put their globalist experiment on hold for even a couple of weeks. Their pet ideology couldn't countenance reasonable measures like border closings, and now their subjects are paying the price.

Stateside, meanwhile, Donald Trump may have found the only way to lose his 2020 reelection bid against dementia patient Joe Biden. Trump won in 2016 as the quintessential outsider candidate. But instead of representing Main Street, his governing priorities have veered more and more toward Wall Street.

The influence of Trump's bankster advisers was evident in the series of now-embarrassing, "It's just the flu, bro!" tweets he issued in the last weeks.

common flu

And look, downplaying the crisis to stave off economic panic made sense. It was shortsighted and foolish, but you could see where market worshipers like Bill Mitchell were coming from. They'd convinced the President to stake his reelection on his robust economic numbers. If Corona-chan threatened those numbers, perhaps it was expedient that a few thousand die for the market's sake.

Now it's clear that the amateur Cassandras like Jim's good friend on Twitter were on to something. Pretending the problem didn't exist failed to avert economic disaster--and will probably worsen it in the long run.

What's especially frustrating is we know what 2016 Trump would have done. He'd have correctly used the outbreak as an indictment against globalism, closed the ports, and fast-tracked the wall.

Instead of taking the candidate Trump approach, President Trump heeded the bow tie-clad Iagos and bet everything on the stock market. Like many who trusted that fickle mistress before him, he's now back at square one. All $11.5 trillion the stock market gained since he took office has now evaporated.

With no wall to speak of, Obamacare still on the books, and Hillary Clinton still walking free, Trump doesn't have much to run on right now.

To his credit, the President seemed to wake up on Wednesday and start taking the corona virus seriously. He made the long-overdue announcement that the outbreak is a global pandemic and declared the sorts of travel bans we should have seen weeks ago. Still, better late than never.

Watch President Trump's full corona virus live stream here:


This speech was a step in the right direction. The economic damage has been done and is unlikely to be repaired by November. Hopefully those facts will encourage Trump to ditch his advisers' GOPe market worship and recommit to the nationalist and populist issues that got him elected.

Every crisis is an opportunity, as our Chinese friends are fond of reminding us. Corona-chan has certainly visited Trump with a crisis, but she also offers him an opportunity for huge political gains if he course corrects tackles globalism like his base wants.

It's decision time for Trump. Thankfully, he's showing signs of choosing rightly.


For a story even scarier than Corona-chan, get my metaphysical horror novel Nethereal now for 99 cents!

2020/03/12

Someone Was Watching

watching bedroom

His parents told him the strange noises coming from the wall vent were just the normal sounds of an old house settling. They said the sour smells were fumes from the nearby plant wafting through the drafty windows.

They didn't believe him when he told them of finding chairs and dishes moved in the kitchen at night. Instead they scolded him for sneaking midnight snacks after bedtime.

Who could blame them? After all, their son was only nine years old. And no one else in his family had experienced the eerie phenomena. It was almost as if the nocturnal goings-on were centered around him.

One late night, despite his parents' warnings, he crept downstairs--taking care to walk on the edges of the creaky steps so as not to wake the house--and snuck into the kitchen.

There, backlit by the spectral green microwave clock, sat the shadowy figure of a man. Silverware clacked on china as the lanky apparition dined on unseen victuals at the kitchen table.

The boy stifled a scream, hurried back to bed, and hid under the covers until dawn. When he summoned the courage to venture back downstairs for breakfast, his mother and father once again took him to task for breaking their ban on midnight snacking. There was no use denying it. Neither of them had left the bowl and spoon in the sink and drunk milk from the noticeably lighter carton.

After that, the activity became less dramatic but more pervasive. The boy saw no more midnight shadows, but the scuffing, thudding, and clanging in the walls grew more frequent. Even alone in his room, he felt like someone was watching him.

His parents insisted it was just his overactive imagination.

Until that summer, when such a rancid stench began to emanate from the air vents that his father called in a heating and cooling specialist to check the ducts.

The workman made a grisly discovery. From the extra-wide spaces between the old house's walls he pulled the shriveled corpse of a ragged scarecrow of a man. The police found even more disturbing artifacts inside the walls which indicated that the invader had been living in the house unnoticed since the previous winter.

Between the workmen and the police, every trace of the home invader's secret occupancy was removed.

Including several loose sheets of filthy paper covered with crude drawings found behind the vent in the boy's bedroom--through which the dead man had spent many a night watching its young occupant.


For a fictional tale of flesh-crawling horror, buy Nethereal now for 99 cents!

2020/03/11

A Hope that Burns

Ben Zwycky - A Hope that Burns

A recurring theme of this blog is the need for good Christian men to throw their hats in the ring and produce culture to counter the Death Cult's influence. Providentially, friend of the blog Ben Zwycky has released a professionally produced song for our listening enjoyment.

You can listen for free here:


If you liked "A Hope That Burns" please consider supporting the artist.

And of course, my work is always available for your reading pleasure.

2020/03/10

Combat Frame Data: XCD-104-2

XCD-104-2 Eschaton Kai

XCD-104-2 Eschaton Kai

Technical Data

Model number: XCD-104-2
Code name: Eschaton
Nickname: Eschaton Kai
Classification: stealth attack combat frame
Manufacturer: Browning Engineering Corporation design modified by Faust Hayden
Operator: HALO
First deployment: CY 40
Crew: 1 pilot in cockpit in chest
Height: 18 meters
Weight: 92 metric tons
Armor type: “1D” carbyne laminar armor
Powerplant: cold fusion reactor, max output 2950 KW
Propulsion: rocket thrusters: 4x 38,900 kg, 4x 21,700 kg, 2x 36,300 kg; top speed 3681 kph; maneuvering thrusters: 24, 180° turn time 0.60 seconds; legs: top ground speed 200 kph
Sensors: radar, thermal, optical array; main binocular cameras mounted in head; Vercingetorix laser targeting system
Fixed armaments: 3-tube missile pod, replaces upper left arm, can load high explosive, anti-armor, and other specialized ordnance
Optional hand armaments: x2 three-section heat staff, can lock to form x2 heat bo, stored crossed on backpack, hand-carried in use; plasma carbine, power rated at 1.3 MW, barrel detaches to form plasma sword rated at 0.45 MW, hand-carried in use
Special equipment: Dynamic optical camouflage, A.I. operating system



General Notes

HALO pilots Theodore Red and Faust Hayden escaped their first run-in with the SOC's new Grand Dolph combat frames by the skin of their teeth. After limping to Browning Corp's secret Vercingetorix testing facility in their damaged XSeeds, the duo raided Browning's stash of XSeed parts to effect emergency repairs.

Red's XCD-104 XSeed Eschaton had suffered damage that reduced its combat performance below the acceptable threshold. To get his comrade back in fighting form and increase their collective chance of survival, CF tech Faust indulged in a flight of creative improvisation.

After fixing the damage to Eschaton's drives, armor, and dynamic cloak, Faust took it upon himself to rectify the XSeed's lack of ranged attack capability. He replaced the XCD-104's missing upper left arm with a spare missile pod from his own XCD-103 Eisenpferd. The pod's three tubes could be loaded with an assortment of specialized warheads, dramatically increasing Eschaton's combat versatility. Faust and Red dubbed the upgraded CF the XCD-104-2 Eschaton Kai.

Despite these upgrades, Red still found himself at a disadvantage during the XSeeds' rematch with the Grand Dolphs over Bigelow City. Wehrbund Bavaria pilot Ivan Eckhart helped Red even the odds by loaning him one of the two plasma carbines carried by his XCD-102 Emancipator. The significant boost in effectiveness afforded by the addition of ranged weapons convinced Red to never again pilot a CF without them--a decision which would have major repercussions.

See the Eschaton Kai in action! Read Combat Frame XSeed: Coalition Year 40 now!

Combat Fame XSeed: Coalition Year 40

2020/03/09

People Are Starting to Notice

work

... that Generation Y and the Millennials are not the same demographic cohort, as Kent State found when they studied younger people in the work force.
Many discussions of the post-1980 population lump everyone together and call them all Millennials. Increasing numbers of research studies, however, are recognizing that even a five to seven year difference in age can create significantly different mindsets. Some of these differences are, of course, due to phase-of-life differences –  those in high school versus those who are married with children for example. However, because society, technology and education practices have changed so rapidly since 1980, mindsets of the younger generations have changed rapidly as well. For example, how old were you when you received your first cell phone? There is a difference in mindset about the constant use of technology if you were in college when you bought your first phone to keep in touch with friends, versus if your parents gave you your first phone at the age of ten to keep track of you and keep you safe.  
Change happens so quickly that researchers use varying beginning and ending dates to establish generational boundaries. These dates are often chosen because of the researcher’s focus: population growth, historical event, economic change, technological change, etc. Based on a number of factors many researchers are now describing the post-1980 generations in three groups: (The dates listed here are an average of several studies.)

  • Gen Y – born between 1980 and 1985
  • Millennials – born between 1986 and 1995
  • Gen Z – born after 1996 until?

Based on listening to the comments of participants while facilitating “Generations at Work” training programs for thousands of people over the past ten years, I agree with these delineations. For example, many participants in the Gen Y category have said that they may have started out exhibiting the traits that were attributed to early Millennials, but now that they have been in the workforce for a while, they believe the description of Gen X fits them more aptly. This makes sense, since many Gen Ys are supervised by Gen X. You see, it is not just historical influences that define our generational mindsets. We must consider the generation who raised, coached, taught or mentored us.
Easton ends Generation Y and starts the Millennials four years earlier than I do, and her first year for Gen Z is five years behind mine, but I'll take the official recognition that these are three different generations as vindication.

When your generational model increasingly requires additional ad hoc qualifiers like "younger Gen Xer" and "early Millennial" to make useful descriptions and predictions, you may have to consider that your model is flawed.

Generation Y is real. As author JD Cowan said, it's high time they reclaimed their identity.

Space pirates in hell!

2020/03/06

The Cracks Are Showing

Cracks in Wall

The globalists that have made a serious bid for world dominance since WWII constructed a seemingly impregnable hegemony. However, you don't have to look all that closely to see that the cracks are showing.

In California's 25th Congressional District, carnival barker Cenk Uygur not only failed to win Katie Hill's (probably sticky) former seat, he may have helped split the Democrat vote just enough for the GOP to win it back. This, despite Google backing the self-styled Young Turk to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That small glitch in the machine repeated itself on the macro scale, where not even hundreds of millions could buy New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg the Democrat presidential nomination.

Both of these failures on our ruling class' part are significant because they're signs of systemic failure. Everybody's heard that the tech giants have sworn a mighty oath to prevent another 2016. They're doubling down on rigging elections against Conservatives, but for all their considerable power, it's just not working.

Bloomberg's farcical run is a direct example of an actual oligarch stepping in to take an out-of-control situation in hand. He's supposed to be one of the guys calling the shots behind the scenes. The fact that he felt the need to personally intervene tells us there's a major snag in the elites' plan. His spectacular failure may augur that they're losing control entirely.

Speaking of out-of-control situations, the experts our rulers charged with fighting the corona virus pandemic are now admitting the battle is lost.

Every civilization throughout history has had a ruling class. The purpose of such elites is to keep order and ensure at least basic levels of security and prosperity for their people.

Any one of our global elites' failures cataloged above would be an ill omen regarding their tenuous hold on the mandate of heaven. Taken together, these disasters paint a portrait of a ruling class that no longer understands the systems of power they've inherited. Not only have they forgotten how to run the engines of civilization, they've forgotten what those institutions were built for in the first place.

All signs indicate that a period of transition is upon us. It's too early to predict what society will look like on the other side. But as with the transition between the fall of Rome and the rise of Medieval Europe, it will be those who hold fast to the Christian tradition that informed the West who keep the light of civilization burning.

For an action-packed romp through a speculative future transition era, read my mecha thriller Combat Frame XSeedi!


2020/03/05

Window to the Past

He-Man Commercial 1980s

The inventors of television probably thought they were pioneering a revolutionary new communications medium. What they couldn't have suspected was that they were creating the next best thing to a time machine.

Yesterday I stumbled across this compilation of TV commercials someone had taped on a Saturday morning that time forgot. But the internet never forgets. Thanks to television and its digital incarnation YouTube, we have this living snapshot of what life was like for younger Gen Xers and older Ys ca. 1984.

Drink in the nostalgia, but not too deeply ...


What's most striking after the initial wave of nostalgia subsides is how different--i.e. degraded--Current Year TV programming is compared to 30 odd years ago.

Yes, your dad could say the same about TV 60 years ago. That should be a wake-up call.

Here's what stood out to me:

  • No cuck-mercials. The trope of the befuddled manlet husband standing knee-deep in water while the kitchen sink geysers behind him and his omni-capable wife rolls her eyes had not yet darkened our screens.
  • Looks like America: The US was 70% white in 1984. That was the year Reagan won the kind of landslide the GOP will never see again. The commercials reflect those demographics. Most of the actors in them are white, with a black or Asian kid thrown in the mix. Absent are families composed of Anglo trans lesbian dad, disabled Maori mom with Indian kid and Laotian kid living in Wisconsin. The ads come off as mainly trying to sell products to their audience, not demoralize them.
  • Commercials aimed at boys depict action, conflict, and camaraderie. Commercials aimed at girls portray nurturing, consensus-building, and emotion-primary communication.
  • The seeds of destruction had already been planted, though. True to the 80s stereotype, these ads push unmoderated consumption and materialism. One Barbie commercial sells girls the lie that they can "have it all" with hassle-free corporate success, romance, and a family.
These commercials from long-lost America will likely serve as inkblot tests for those who view them. What do you see through this window to the past?

Giant robot action torn from classic 80s anime!

2020/03/04

Big Publisher 4 Sale

Schuster 4 Sale

Oldpub shouldn't get too cocky about newpub authors' recent sales dip, especially since the Big Five New York publishers are about to become the Big Four.
ViacomCBS is preparing to sell its venerable publishing unit, Simon & Schuster, as the company re-evaluates all its assets in a fast-changing business landscape.
ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish told investors Wednesday that the company is taking a hard look at all operations. Simon & Schuster has generated inquiries from prospective buyers in the past, Bakish said during a Q&A held as part of Morgan Stanley’s annual investor conference in San Francisco.
Simon & Schuster “is not a core asset. It is not video-based. It does not have significant connection for our broader business,” Bakish said. “We have had multiple unsolicited inbound calls about that asset, and so as the market stabilizes, we are going to engage in a process” to examine strategic alternatives. ViacomCBS said publishing revenue in 2019 came to $814 million, down 1.3% from $825 million in the prior year.
As has been pointed out on this blog before, oldpub and their cronies in the media have been on eBook death watch for about a decade, hoping for the death of indie. The cognitive bias that defines establishment types has kept them from noticing that their own sales have been slipping for years, while newpub sales just saw their first contraction in 2019.

Also note that the linked article only mentions that S&S's revenues were down 1.3 percent from 2019. That detail suggests two things: 1) The same book market contraction that's affecting indies is hitting oldpub even harder, because 2) oldpub runs on razor-thin margins, so if their revenues fell by 1.3 percent, you know their profits plunged even further.
In a memo to staffers Wednesday, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said that the publishing house  has “a history of strong and long lasting relationships with our authors, and we will continue to bring important voices to readers around the world, both with our current publishing and our rich backlist of perenially favorite titles.’
Translation from corporatist Cultese: "Simon & Schuster's thralldom to the Death Cult compels us to keep shitting out books by pink-haired studies majors and Hillary Clinton that no one wants. Meanwhile, we'll keep clinging to the back catalog of public domain titles that bring us ever-diminishing returns."

Minus the nice shoes and pearl necklaces, oldpub managers would be right at home on some jungle island sacrificing children and building runways for planes that will never land.

In other words, if you're a newpub author feeling the pinch from the eBook contraction, crawling back to oldpub won't save you. It might be stuffy in the fallout shelter, but it's way hotter outside.


Support authors who keep bringing you high-quality action! Buy my mech thriller Combat Frame XSeed now for just 99 cents!