Book Review: SJWs Always Double Down

“SJWs Always Double Down” by Vox DayIn SJWs Always Lie Vox Day introduced a wide audience to the contemporary phenomenon of Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), collectivists and radical conformists burning with the fierce ardour of ignorance who, flowing out of the academic jackal bins where they are manufactured, are infiltrating the culture: science fiction and fantasy, comic books, video games; and industry: technology companies, open source software development, and more established and conventional firms whose managements have often already largely bought into the social justice agenda.

The present volume updates the status of the Cold Civil War a couple of years on, recounts some key battles, surveys changes in the landscape, and provides concrete and practical advice to those who wish to avoid SJW penetration of their organisations or excise an infiltration already under way.

Two major things have changed since 2015. The first, and most obvious, is the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in November, 2016. It is impossible to overstate the significance of this. Up until the evening of Election Day, the social justice warriors were absolutely confident they had won on every front and that all that remained was to patrol the battlefield and bayonet the wounded. They were ascendant across the culture, in virtually total control of academia and the media, and with the coronation of Hillary Clinton, positioned to tilt the Supreme Court to discover the remainder of their agenda emanating from penumbras in the living Constitution. And then—disaster! The deplorables who inhabit the heartland of the country, those knuckle-walking, Bible-thumping, gun-waving bitter clingers who produce just about every tangible thing still made in the United States up and elected somebody who said he’d put them—not the coastal élites, ivory tower professors and think tankers, “refugees” and the racket that imports them, “undocumented migrants” and the businesses that exploit their cheap labour, and all the rest of the parasitic ball and chain a once-great and productive nation has been dragging behind it for decades—first.

The shock of this event seems to have jolted a large fraction of the social justice warriors loose from their (already tenuous) moorings to reality. “What could have happened?”, they shrieked, “It must have been the Russians!” Overnight, there was the “resistance”, the rampage of masked violent street mobs, while at the same time SJW leaders in the public eye increasingly dropped the masks behind which they’d concealed their actual agenda. Now we have candidates for national office from the Democrat party, such as bug-eyed SJW Alexandria Occasional-Cortex openly calling themselves socialists, while others chant “no borders” and advocate abolishing the federal immigration and customs enforcement agency. What’s the response to deranged leftists trying to gun down Republican legislators at a baseball practice and assaulting a U.S. Senator while mowing the lawn of his home? The Democrat candidate who lost to Trump in 2016 says, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.”, and the attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer of the administration which preceded Trump in office said, “When they go low, we kick them. That’s what this new Democratic party is about.”

In parallel with this, the SJW convergence of the major technology and communication companies which increasingly dominate the flow of news and information and the public discourse: Google (and its YouTube), Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and the rest, previously covert, has now become explicit. They no longer feign neutrality to content, or position themselves as common carriers. Now, they overtly put their thumb on the scale of public discourse, pushing down conservative and nationalist voices in search rankings, de-monetising or banning videos that oppose the slaver agenda, “shadow banning” dissenting voices or terminating their accounts entirely. Payment platforms and crowd-funding sites enforce an ideological agenda and cut off access to those they consider insufficiently on board with the collectivist, globalist party line. The high tech industry, purporting to cherish “diversity”, has become openly hostile to anybody who dares dissent: firing them and blacklisting them from employment at other similarly converged firms.

It would seem a dark time for champions of liberty, believers in reward for individual merit rather than grievance group membership, and other forms of sanity which are now considered unthinkable among the unthinking. This book provides a breath of fresh air, a sense of hope, and practical information to navigate a landscape populated by all too many non-playable characters who imbibe, repeat, and enforce the Narrative without questioning or investigating how it is created, disseminated in a co-ordinated manner across all media, and adjusted (including Stalinist party-line overnight turns on a dime) to advance the slaver agenda.

Vox Day walks through the eight stages of SJW convergence of an organisation from infiltration through evading the blame for the inevitable failure of the organisation once fully converged, illustrating the process with real-world examples and quotes from SJWs and companies infested with them. But the progression of the disease is not irreversible, and even if it is not arrested, there is still hope for the industry and society as a whole (not to minimise the injury and suffering inflicted on innocent and productive individuals in the affected organisations).

An organisation, whether a company, government agency, or open source software project, only comes onto the radar of the SJWs once it grows to a certain size and achieves a degree of success carrying out the mission for which it was created. It is at this point that SJWs will seek to penetrate the organisation, often through the human resources department, and then reinforce their ranks by hiring more of their kind. SJWs flock to positions in which there is no objective measure of their performance, but instead evaluations performed, as their ranks grow, more and more by one another. They are not only uninterested in the organisation’s mission (developing a product, providing a service, etc.), but unqualified and incapable of carrying it out. In the words of Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, they are not “those who are devoted to the goals of the organization” (founders, productive mission-oriented members), but “those dedicated to the organization itself”. “The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.”

Now, Dr Pournelle was describing a natural process of evolution in all bureaucratic organisations. SJW infection simply accelerates the process and intensifies the damage, because SJWs are not just focused on the organisation as opposed to its mission, but have their own independent agenda and may not care about damage to the institution as long as they can advance the Narrative.

But this is a good thing. It means that, in a competitive market, SJW afflicted organisations will be at a disadvantage compared to those which have resisted the corruption or thrown it off. It makes inflexible, slow-moving players with a heavy load of SJW parasites vulnerable to insurgent competitors, often with their founders still in charge, mission-focused and customer-oriented, who hire, promote, and reward contributors solely based on merit and not “diversity”, “inclusion”, or any of the other SJW shibboleths mouthed by the management of converged organisations. (I remember, when asked about my hiring policy in the 1980s, saying “I don’t care if they hang upside down from trees and drink blood. If they’re great programmers, I’ll hire them.”)

A detailed history of GamerGate provides a worked example of how apparent SJW hegemony within a community can be attacked by “weaponised autism” (as Milo Yiannopoulos said, “it’s really not wise to take on a collection of individuals whose idea of entertainment is to spend hundreds of hours at a highly repetitive task, especially when their core philosophy is founded on the principle that if you are running into enemies and taking fire, you must be going the right way”). Further examples show how these techniques have been applied within the world of science fiction and fantasy fandom, comic books, and software development. The key take-away is that any SJW converged organisation or community is vulnerable to concerted attack because SJWs are a parasite that ultimately kills its host. Create an alternative and relentlessly attack the converged competition, and victory is possible. And remember, “Victory is not positive PR. Victory is when your opponent quits.”

This is a valuable guide, building upon SJWs Always Lie (which you should read first), and is essential for managers, project leaders, and people responsible for volunteer organisations who want to keep them focused on the goals for which they were founded and protected from co-optation by destructive parasites. You will learn how seemingly innocent initiatives such as adoption of an ambiguously-worded Code of Conduct or a Community Committee can be the wedge by which an organisation can be subverted and its most productive members forced out or induced to walk away in disgust. Learning the lessons presented here can make the difference between success and, some dismal day, gazing across the cubicles at a sea of pinkhairs and soybeards and asking yourself, “Where did we go wrong?”

The very fact that SJW behaviour is so predictable makes them vulnerable. Because they always double down, they can be manipulated into marginalising themselves, and it’s often child’s play to set traps into which they’ll walk. Much of their success to date has been due to the absence of the kind of hard-edged opposition, willing to employ their own tactics against them, that you’ll see in action here and learn to use yourself. This is not a game for the “defeat with dignity” crowd who were, and are, appalled by Donald Trump’s plain speaking, or those who fail to realise that proclaiming “I won’t stoop to their level” inevitably ends up with “Bend over”. The battles, and the war can be won, but to do so, you have to fight. Here is a guide to closing with the enemy and destroying them before they ruin everything we hold sacred.

Day, Vox [Theodore Beale]. SJWs Always Double Down. Kouvola, Finland: Castalia House, 2017. ISBN 978-952-7065-19-8.

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Fred Cole the Defeatist

I don’t know this person very well but what I have seen, he is no friend of conservatives. He is not someone that wants things to go best for certain branches of the coalition. He open scoffs at people and gets away with it. (Hollywood values, right?) He works for dissension and dissension he gets. He has put out so many trollish posts that only someone with extreme myopia and reading comprehension issues would not be able to see it. (That must be why they shut down those who do.)

I am writing this thinking of the danger of those who thought of following Fred Cole’s advice. He would have had Hillary president with a 6-3 balance on the Supreme Court. Just think of that, Mr Libertarian getting all that liberalism because he couldn’t see what a lot of others saw. I am not saying he is blind. It is the walls that move to constantly hit him.

I remember he wrote a post asking the Clueless, “What are you going to do when Trump loses?” Well, he didn’t lose. And the Fred Cole still writes as if he should be listened to.

Ratburger is a great place. A place where a public person like Fred Cole can be dealt with without the thread being shut down. Free expression is not had at $5 a month. It is priceless.


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TOTD 2018-10-8: The Next Step

In life it is easy to see a problem. Complainers are a dime a dozen. (Fill in your coin of choice if that offends you.) Few people take the next step and work toward positive change. Sadly I see people stuck for forty years in a wilderness murmuring and never take the next steps. These people walk into rooms and bring their own dimmer switches.

I appreciate that many on this site are “Next Step” types. They are people who are able to complain but also able to make a difference. Someone just put up a post about victims. Becoming a victim is terrible but to remain a victim is even worse.  Strangely victims take comfort in their problems. “See how good I am because someone is bad to me.” It is another way of not taking responsibility. “It’s not my fault.”

I like to think of America as the land of the “Next Step”.  People of Europe decided to stop being victims and took a boat ride for a chance at something better. These people unleashed creativity that was pent up. One of the greatest moments was when they saw that gift from France that lit a harbor.


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Saturday Night Science: Life After Google

“Life after Google” by George GilderIn his 1990 book Life after Television, George Gilder predicted that the personal computer, then mostly boxes that sat on desktops and worked in isolation from one another, would become more personal, mobile, and be used more to communicate than to compute. In the 1994 revised edition of the book, he wrote. “The most common personal computer of the next decade will be a digital cellular phone with an IP address … connecting to thousands of databases of all kinds.” In contemporary speeches he expanded on the idea, saying, “it will be as portable as your watch and as personal as your wallet; it will recognize speech and navigate streets; it will collect your mail, your news, and your paycheck.” In 2000, he published Telecosm, where he forecast that the building out of a fibre optic communication infrastructure and the development of successive generations of spread spectrum digital mobile communication technologies would effectively cause the cost of communication bandwidth (the quantity of data which can be transmitted in a given time) to asymptotically approach zero, just as the ability to pack more and more transistors on microprocessor and memory chips was doing for computing.

Clearly, when George Gilder forecasts the future of computing, communication, and the industries and social phenomena that spring from them, it’s wise to pay attention. He’s not infallible: in 1990 he predicted that “in the world of networked computers, no one would have to see an advertisement he didn’t want to see”. Oh, well. The very difference between that happy vision and the advertisement-cluttered world we inhabit today, rife with bots, malware, scams, and serial large-scale security breaches which compromise the personal data of millions of people and expose them to identity theft and other forms of fraud is the subject of this book: how we got here, and how technology is opening a path to move on to a better place.

The Internet was born with decentralisation as a central concept. Its U.S. government-funded precursor, ARPANET, was intended to research and demonstrate the technology of packet switching, in which dedicated communication lines from point to point (as in the telephone network) were replaced by switching packets, which can represent all kinds of data—text, voice, video, mail, cat pictures—from source to destination over shared high-speed data links. If the network had multiple paths from source to destination, failure of one data link would simply cause the network to reroute traffic onto a working path, and communication protocols would cause any packets lost in the failure to be automatically re-sent, preventing loss of data. The network might degrade and deliver data more slowly if links or switching hubs went down, but everything would still get through.

This was very attractive to military planners in the Cold War, who worried about a nuclear attack decapitating their command and control network by striking one or a few locations through which their communications funnelled. A distributed network, of which ARPANET was the prototype, would be immune to this kind of top-down attack because there was no top: it was made up of peers, spread all over the landscape, all able to switch data among themselves through a mesh of interconnecting links.

As the ARPANET grew into the Internet and expanded from a small community of military, government, university, and large company users into a mass audience in the 1990s, this fundamental architecture was preserved, but in practice the network bifurcated into a two tier structure. The top tier consisted of the original ARPANET-like users, plus “Internet Service Providers” (ISPs), who had top-tier (“backbone”) connectivity, and then resold Internet access to their customers, who mostly initially connected via dial-up modems. Over time, these customers obtained higher bandwidth via cable television connections, satellite dishes, digital subscriber lines (DSL) over the wired telephone network, and, more recently, mobile devices such as cellular telephones and tablets.

The architecture of the Internet remained the same, but this evolution resulted in a weakening of its peer-to-peer structure. The approaching exhaustion of 32 bit Internet addresses (IPv4) and the slow deployment of its successor (IPv6) meant most small-scale Internet users did not have a permanent address where others could contact them. In an attempt to shield users from the flawed security model and implementation of the software they ran, their Internet connections were increasingly placed behind firewalls and subjected to Network Address Translation (NAT), which made it impossible to establish peer to peer connections without a third party intermediary (which, of course, subverts the design goal of decentralisation). While on the ARPANET and the original Internet every site was a peer of every other (subject only to the speed of their network connections and computer power available to handle network traffic), the network population now became increasingly divided into producers or publishers (who made information available), and consumers (who used the network to access the publishers’ sites but did not publish themselves).

While in the mid-1990s it was easy (or as easy as anything was in that era) to set up your own Web server and publish anything you wished, now most small-scale users were forced to employ hosting services operated by the publishers to make their content available. Services such as AOL, Myspace, Blogger, Facebook, and YouTube were widely used by individuals and companies to host their content, while those wishing their own apparently independent Web presence moved to hosting providers who supplied, for a fee, the servers, storage, and Internet access used by the site.

All of this led to a centralisation of data on the Web, which was accelerated by the emergence of the high speed fibre optic links and massive computing power upon which Gilder had based his 1990 and 2000 forecasts. Both of these came with great economies of scale: it cost a company like Google or Amazon much less per unit of computing power or network bandwidth to build a large, industrial-scale data centre located where electrical power and cooling were inexpensive and linked to the Internet backbone by multiple fibre optic channels, than it cost an individual Internet user or small company with their own server on premises and a modest speed link to an ISP. Thus it became practical for these Goliaths of the Internet to suck up everybody’s data and resell their computing power and access at attractive prices.

As a example of the magnitude of the economies of scale we’re talking about, when I migrated the hosting of my Fourmilab.ch site from my own on-site servers and Internet connection to an Amazon Web Services data centre, my monthly bill for hosting the site dropped by a factor of fifty—not fifty percent, one fiftieth the cost, and you can bet Amazon’s making money on the deal.

This tremendous centralisation is the antithesis of the concept of ARPANET. Instead of a worldwide grid of redundant data links and data distributed everywhere, we have a modest number of huge data centres linked by fibre optic cables carrying traffic for millions of individuals and enterprises. A couple of submarines full of Trident D5s would probably suffice to reset the world, computer network-wise, to 1970.

As this concentration was occurring, the same companies who were building the data centres were offering more and more services to users of the Internet: search engines; hosting of blogs, images, audio, and video; E-mail services; social networks of all kinds; storage and collaborative working tools; high-resolution maps and imagery of the world; archives of data and research material; and a host of others. How was all of this to be paid for? Those giant data centres, after all, represent a capital investment of tens of billions of dollars, and their electricity bills are comparable to those of an aluminium smelter. Due to the architecture of the Internet or, more precisely, missing pieces of the puzzle, a fateful choice was made in the early days of the build-out of these services which now pervade our lives, and we’re all paying the price for it. So far, it has allowed the few companies in this data oligopoly to join the ranks of the largest, most profitable, and most highly valued enterprises in human history, but they may be built on a flawed business model and foundation vulnerable to disruption by software and hardware technologies presently emerging.

The basic business model of what we might call the “consumer Internet” (as opposed to businesses who pay to host their Web presence, on-line stores, etc.) has, with few exceptions, evolved to be what the author calls the “Google model” (although it predates Google): give the product away and make money by afflicting its users with advertisements (which are increasingly targeted to them through information collected from the user’s behaviour on the network through intrusive tracking mechanisms). The fundamental flaws of this are apparent to anybody who uses the Internet: the constant clutter of advertisements, with pop-ups, pop-overs, auto-play video and audio, flashing banners, incessant requests to allow tracking “cookies” or irritating notifications, and the consequent arms race between ad blockers and means to circumvent them, with browser developers (at least those not employed by those paid by the advertisers, directly or indirectly) caught in the middle. There are even absurd Web sites which charge a subscription fee for “membership” and then bombard these paying customers with advertisements that insult their intelligence. But there is a fundamental problem with “free”—it destroys the most important channel of communication between the vendor of a product or service and the customer: the price the customer is willing to pay. Deprived of this information, the vendor is in the same position as a factory manager in a centrally planned economy who has no idea how many of each item to make because his orders are handed down by a planning bureau equally clueless about what is needed in the absence of a price signal. In the end, you have freight cars of typewriter ribbons lined up on sidings while customers wait in line for hours in the hope of buying a new pair of shoes. Further, when the user is not the customer (the one who pays), and especially when a “free” service verges on monopoly status like Google search, Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter, there is little incentive for providers to improve the user experience or be responsive to user requests and needs. Users are subjected to the endless torment of buggy “beta” releases, capricious change for the sake of change, and compromises in the user experience on behalf of the real customers—the advertisers. Once again, this mirrors the experience of centrally-planned economies where the market feedback from price is absent: to appreciate this, you need only compare consumer products from the 1970s and 1980s manufactured in the Soviet Union with those from Japan.

The fundamental flaw in Karl Marx’s economics was his belief that the industrial revolution of his time would produce such abundance of goods that the problem would shift from “production amid scarcity” to “redistribution of abundance”. In the author’s view, the neo-Marxists of Silicon Valley see the exponentially growing technologies of computing and communication providing such abundance that they can give away its fruits in return for collecting and monetising information collected about their users (note, not “customers”: customers are those who pay for the information so collected). Once you grasp this, it’s easier to understand the politics of the barons of Silicon Valley.

The centralisation of data and information flow in these vast data silos creates another threat to which a distributed system is immune: censorship or manipulation of information flow, whether by a coercive government or ideologically-motivated management of the companies who provide these “free” services. We may never know who first said “The Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it” (the quote has been attributed to numerous people, including two personal friends, so I’m not going there), but it’s profound: the original decentralised structure of the ARPANET/Internet is as robust against censorship as it is in the face of nuclear war. If one or more nodes on the network start to censor information or refuse to forward it on communication links it controls, the network routing protocols simply assume that node is down and send data around it through other nodes and paths which do not censor it. On a network with a multitude of nodes and paths among them, owned by a large and diverse population of operators, it is extraordinarily difficult to shut down the flow of information from a given source or viewpoint; there will almost always be an alternative route that gets it there. (Cryptographic protocols and secure and verified identities can similarly avoid the alteration of information in transit or forging information and attributing it to a different originator; I’ll discuss that later.) As with physical damage, top-down censorship does not work because there’s no top.

But with the current centralised Internet, the owners and operators of these data silos have enormous power to put their thumbs on the scale, tilting opinion in their favour and blocking speech they oppose. Google can push down the page rank of information sources of which they disapprove, so few users will find them. YouTube can “demonetise” videos because they dislike their content, cutting off their creators’ revenue stream overnight with no means of appeal, or they can outright ban creators from the platform and remove their existing content. Twitter routinely “shadow-bans” those with whom they disagree, causing their tweets to disappear into the void, and outright banishes those more vocal. Internet payment processors and crowd funding sites enforce explicit ideological litmus tests on their users, and revoke long-standing commercial relationships over legal speech. One might restate the original observation about the Internet as “The centralised Internet treats censorship as an opportunity and says, ‘Isn’t it great!’ ” Today there’s a top, and those on top control the speech of everything that flows through their data silos.

This pernicious centralisation and “free” funding by advertisement (which is fundamentally plundering users’ most precious possessions: their time and attention) were in large part the consequence of the Internet’s lacking three fundamental architectural layers: security, trust, and transactions. Let’s explore them.

Security. Essential to any useful communication system, security simply means that communications between parties on the network cannot be intercepted by third parties, modified en route, or otherwise manipulated (for example, by changing the order in which messages are received). The communication protocols of the Internet, based on the OSI model, had no explicit security layer. It was expected to be implemented outside the model, across the layers of protocol. On today’s Internet, security has been bolted-on, largely through the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols (which, due to history, have a number of other commonly used names, and are most often encountered in the “https:” URLs by which users access Web sites). But because it’s bolted on, not designed in from the bottom-up, and because it “just grew” rather than having been designed in, TLS has been the locus of numerous security flaws which put software that employs it at risk. Further, TLS is a tool which must be used by application designers with extreme care in order to deliver security to their users. Even if TLS were completely flawless, it is very easy to misuse it in an application and compromise users’ security.

Trust. As indispensable as security is knowing to whom you’re talking. For example, when you connect to your bank’s Web site, how do you know you’re actually talking to their server and not some criminal whose computer has spoofed your computer’s domain name system server to intercept your communications and who, the moment you enter your password, will be off and running to empty your bank accounts and make your life a living Hell? Once again, trust has been bolted on to the existing Internet through a rickety system of “certificates” issued mostly by large companies for outrageous fees. And, as with anything centralised, it’s vulnerable: in 2016, one of the top-line certificate vendors was compromised, requiring myriad Web sites (including this one) to re-issue their security certificates.

Transactions. Business is all about transactions; if you aren’t doing transactions, you aren’t in business or, as Gilder puts it, “In business, the ability to conduct transactions is not optional. It is the way all economic learning and growth occur. If your product is ‘free,’ it is not a product, and you are not in business, even if you can extort money from so-called advertisers to fund it.” The present-day Internet has no transaction layer, even bolted on. Instead, we have more silos and bags hanging off the side of the Internet called PayPal, credit card processing companies, and the like, which try to put a Band-Aid over the suppurating wound which is the absence of a way to send money over the Internet in a secure, trusted, quick, efficient, and low-overhead manner. The need for this was perceived long before ARPANET. In Project Xanadu, founded by Ted Nelson in 1960, rule 9 of the “original 17 rules” was, “Every document can contain a royalty mechanism at any desired degree of granularity to ensure payment on any portion accessed, including virtual copies (‘transclusions’) of all or part of the document.” While defined in terms of documents and quoting, this implied the existence of a micropayment system which would allow compensating authors and publishers for copies and quotations of their work with a granularity as small as one character, and could easily be extended to cover payments for products and services. A micropayment system must be able to handle very small payments without crushing overhead, extremely quickly, and transparently (without the Japanese tea ceremony that buying something on-line involves today). As originally envisioned by Ted Nelson, as you read documents, their authors and publishers would be automatically paid for their content, including payments to the originators of material from others embedded within them. As long as the total price for the document was less than what I termed the user’s “threshold of paying”, this would be completely transparent (a user would set the threshold in the browser: if zero, they’d have to approve all payments). There would be no need for advertisements to support publication on a public hypertext network (although publishers would, of course, be free to adopt that model if they wished). If implemented in a decentralised way, like the ARPANET, there would be no central strangle point where censorship could be applied by cutting off the ability to receive payments.

So, is it possible to remake the Internet, building in security, trust, and transactions as the foundation, and replace what the author calls the “Google system of the world” with one in which the data silos are seen as obsolete, control of users’ personal data and work returns to their hands, privacy is respected and the panopticon snooping of today is seen as a dark time we’ve put behind us, and the pervasive and growing censorship by plutocrat ideologues and slaver governments becomes impotent and obsolete? George Gilder responds “yes”, and in this book identifies technologies already existing and being deployed which can bring about this transformation.

At the heart of many of these technologies is the concept of a blockchain, an open, distributed ledger which records transactions or any other form of information in a permanent, public, and verifiable manner. Originally conceived as the transaction ledger for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, it provided the first means of solving the double-spending problem (how do you keep people from spending a unit of electronic currency twice) without the need for a central server or trusted authority, and hence without a potential choke-point or vulnerability to attack or failure. Since the launch of Bitcoin in 2009, blockchain technology has become a major area of research, with banks and other large financial institutions, companies such as IBM, and major university research groups exploring applications with the goals of drastically reducing transaction costs, improving security, and hardening systems against single-point failure risks.

Applied to the Internet, blockchain technology can provide security and trust (through the permanent publication of public keys which identify actors on the network), and a transaction layer able to efficiently and quickly execute micropayments without the overhead, clutter, friction, and security risks of existing payment systems. By necessity, present-day blockchain implementations are add-ons to the existing Internet, but as the technology matures and is verified and tested, it can move into the foundations of a successor system, based on the same lower-level protocols (and hence compatible with the installed base), but eventually supplanting the patched-together architecture of the Domain Name System, certificate authorities, and payment processors, all of which represent vulnerabilities of the present-day Internet and points at which censorship and control can be imposed. Technologies to watch in these areas are:

As the bandwidth available to users on the edge of the network increases through the deployment of fibre to the home and enterprise and via 5G mobile technology, the data transfer economy of scale of the great data silos will begin to erode. Early in the Roaring Twenties, the aggregate computing power and communication bandwidth on the edge of the network will equal and eventually dwarf that of the legacy data smelters of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. There will no longer be any need for users to entrust their data to these overbearing anachronisms and consent to multi-dozen page “terms of service” or endure advertising just to see their own content or share it with others. You will be in possession of your own data, on your own server or on space for which you freely contract with others, with backup and other services contracted with any other provider on the network. If your server has extra capacity, you can turn it into money by joining the market for computing and storage capacity, just as you take advantage of these resources when required. All of this will be built on the new secure foundation, so you will retain complete control over who can see your data, no longer trusting weasel-worded promises made by amorphous entities with whom you have no real contract to guard your privacy and intellectual property rights. If you wish, you can be paid for your content, with remittances made automatically as people access it. More and more, you’ll make tiny payments for content which is no longer obstructed by advertising and chopped up to accommodate more clutter. And when outrage mobs of pink hairs and soybeards (each with their own pronoun) come howling to ban you from the Internet, they’ll find nobody to shriek at and the kill switch rusting away in a derelict data centre: your data will be in your own hands with access through myriad routes. Technologies moving in this direction include:

This book provides a breezy look at the present state of the Internet, how we got here (versus where we thought we were going in the 1990s), and how we might transcend the present-day mess into something better if not blocked by the heavy hand of government regulation (the risk of freezing the present-day architecture in place by unleashing agencies like the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which stifled innovation in broadcasting for six decades, to do the same to the Internet is discussed in detail). Although it’s way too early to see which of the many contending technologies will win out (and recall that the technically superior technology doesn’t always prevail), a survey of work in progress provides a sense for what they have in common and what the eventual result might look like.

There are many things to quibble about here. Gilder goes on at some length about how he believes artificial intelligence is all nonsense, that computers can never truly think or be conscious, and that creativity (new information in the Shannon sense) can only come from the human mind, with a lot of confused arguments from Gödel incompleteness, the Turing halting problem, and even the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. He really seems to believe in vitalism, that there is an élan vital which somehow infuses the biological substrate which no machine can embody. This strikes me as superstitious nonsense: a human brain is a structure composed of quarks and electrons arranged in a certain way which processes information, interacts with its environment, and is able to observe its own operation as well as external phenomena (which is all consciousness is about). Now, it may be that somehow quantum mechanics is involved in all of this, and that our existing computers, which are entirely deterministic and classical in their operation, cannot replicate this functionality, but if that’s so it simply means we’ll have to wait until quantum computing, which is already working in a rudimentary form in the laboratory, and is just a different way of arranging the quarks and electrons in a system, develops further.

He argues that while Bitcoin can be an efficient and secure means of processing transactions, it is unsuitable as a replacement for volatile fiat money because, unlike gold, the quantity of Bitcoin has an absolute limit, after which the supply will be capped. I don’t get it. It seems to me that this is a feature, not a bug. The supply of gold increases slowly as new gold is mined, and by pure coincidence the rate of increase in its supply has happened to approximate that of global economic growth. But still, the existing inventory of gold dwarfs new supply, so there isn’t much difference between a very slowly increasing supply and a static one. If you’re on a pure gold standard and economic growth is faster than the increase in the supply of gold, there will be gradual deflation because a given quantity of gold will buy more in the future. But so what? In a deflationary environment, interest rates will be low and it will be easy to fund new investment, since investors will receive money back which will be more valuable. With Bitcoin, once the entire supply is mined, supply will be static (actually, very slowly shrinking, as private keys are eventually lost, which is precisely like gold being consumed by industrial uses from which it is not reclaimed), but Bitcoin can be divided without limit (with minor and upward-compatible changes to the existing protocol). So, it really doesn’t matter if, in the greater solar system economy of the year 8537, a single Bitcoin is sufficient to buy Jupiter: transactions will simply be done in yocto-satoshis or whatever. In fact, Bitcoin is better in this regard than gold, which cannot be subdivided below the unit of one atom.

Gilder further argues, as he did in The Scandal of Money, that the proper dimensional unit for money is time, since that is the measure of what is required to create true wealth (as opposed to funny money created by governments or fantasy money “earned” in zero-sum speculation such as currency trading), and that existing cryptocurrencies do not meet this definition. I’ll take his word on the latter point; it’s his definition, after all, but his time theory of money is way too close to the Marxist labour theory of value to persuade me. That theory is trivially falsified by its prediction that more value is created in labour-intensive production of the same goods than by producing them in a more efficient manner. In fact, value, measured as profit, dramatically increases as the labour input to production is reduced. Over forty centuries of human history, the one thing in common among almost everything used for money (at least until our post-reality era) is scarcity: the supply is limited and it is difficult to increase it. The genius of Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology is that it solved the problem of how to make a digital good, which can be copied at zero cost, scarce, without requiring a central authority. That seems to meet the essential requirement to serve as money, regardless of how you define that term.

Gilder’s books have a good record for sketching the future of technology and identifying the trends which are contributing to it. He has been less successful picking winners and losers; I wouldn’t make investment decisions based on his evaluation of products and companies, but rather wait until the market sorts out those which will endure.

Gilder, George. Life after Google. Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2018. ISBN 978-1-62157-576-4.

Here is a talk by the author at the Blockstack Berlin 2018 conference which summarises the essentials of his thesis in just eleven minutes and ends with an exhortation to designers and builders of the new Internet to “tear down these walls” around the data centres which imprison our personal information.

This Uncommon Knowledge interview provides, in 48 minutes, a calmer and more in-depth exploration of why the Google world system must fail and what may replace it.

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What is it all about?

There has been a lot of talk about Justice Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. Why are they hated? Why the anger? They are no worse than many other people. Why are people so afraid of them? There seems to be only one main reason. That reason is people want to have the right to end pregnancies.

Let us take a step back. All the public outcry is about a strong person taking advantage of a weak person. How could a person like that sit on the highest court of the land? The logic is not bad. A judge of all people should be for justice which by definition defends the weak. Who in the world is weaker than a small child? Easy, a new born baby. Is anything weaker than a newborn baby? Yes, a fetus in a mother’s womb. All the hue and cry is for the right to extinguish the weak for the rights of the strong. Whatever you think about abortion, one has to agree that is some serious abuse that is not in the best interest of the unborn. One would be hard pressed to see how the fetus is treated fairly or an equal. One might even say “the mouth is covered” so it won’t scream.

I have written before that in my life that whenever there is something I can’t figure out. When it just makes no sense to me. How could this happen? The answer has been projection. That person is dealing with the thing they are complaining about. So the whole big uproar that we are seeing is not about protecting women from abuse but protecting the right of women and men to abuse. Doesn’t this make sense?

Whenever I write about abortion, I know it is something that has affected many people. What has happened cannot be undone. The hope is not to dwell on the past but to try to make the future better. People learn and grow.

UPDATE: I changed “women to abuse” to “women and men to abuse”. Men are in this process too.


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Mr Kavanaugh Goes To Washington

I sit here and feel stunned after what I saw today.

My Dad was not particularly religious and he almost never talked about his wartime life. He did once, when I was ten and he was recovering from a stroke, mention the time he asked God for help. His ship was sunk, he had fallen into burning fuel oil in the water and was trying to stay afloat halfway between Japan and Okinawa. He said he kept struggling and asked God for help, and was lifted from the water by a rescue boat crewman. The man who pulled him out was a friend from his hometown. He saw a friendly face at a spot in the ocean halfway around the globe in the middle of a battle. He left the idea that the happenstance was an answer to his cry for help unsaid.

Sometime good things happen despite the worst the world can throw at you.

Today I saw a good man rise up and stand down the forces of evil. Brent Kavanaugh gave an opening statement that was a spectacle I had never seen in my long and cynical observation of politics.

He stood up to the Media, the Snakes of The US Senate and said you will not break me, you will not make me run away, you will have to fight me to the end. His anger was visible, his horror at what had been wrought on his family was made manifest.

It was real, authentic and it convinced. It sold to men, to women, it sold across race and class.

He was the Genuine Article, the Real McCoy, the Honest Man.

I leave you with a clip from one of my favorite films, “Leap of Faith”, where a con man explains truth.

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Are libertarians Dupes? or Why do libertarians ignore the Binary Outcome?

Over at American Greatness, Edward Ring has an article titled Libertarians Are Marxist Dupes. In it, he shows some really scary facts:

In the 2016 election, the Libertarian Party candidate for President, Gary Johnson, attracted just over 4.5 million votes. The Leftist equivalent, Green candidate Jill Stein, received only 1.5 million votes demonstrating the superior understanding the Left has of political mechanics. Despite being a deeply flawed candidate, this Libertarian moved the national popular vote from a toss-up to a clear Clinton edge. In the Electoral College, Johnson’s influence was even greater.

At the state level in 2016, Gary Johnson very nearly handed crucial states to Clinton. In Pennsylvania, where Trump’s margin was a 1.3 percentage points, Johnson got 2.4 percent. In Wisconsin, where Trump won by 0.6 percentage points, Johnson got 3.7 percent. In Michigan, where Trump won by a razor thin 0.3 percentage points, Johnson got 3.6 percent.

So we see that Johnson, the Libertarian candidate had higher percentages than Trump’s win in these states. Attracting a few more votes could have turned things over the Clinton. Indeed, his margin in some states Trump lost was the factor.

Not only did Gary Johnson very nearly leave the “Blue Wall” intact for Democrats, he also took states out of play that might have been toss-ups. In Colorado, for example, Trump lost by 3.6 percentage points, but Gary Johnson got 4.7 percent. In Nevada, Trump lost by 2.7 percentage points and Johnson got 3.1 percent.

What about “purple states”? Florida went for Republican Trump in 2016 by a margin of 1.4 points, but Johnson got 2.2 percent. By 2020, assuming the biased media can continue to brainwash hundreds of thousands of recent Puerto Rican refugees into thinking Trump deliberately neglected their hurricane relief, Trump will need that 2.2 percent.

I am left aghast. Never Trumpers told me, in no uncertain terms that their votes did not matter, so they were going to vote for whomever they wanted. The Binary Outcome was denied. Still, we see here, by going after right of center voters, Libertarians may well have pushed the election over to Clinton. While I understand that libertarians don’t seem to see much, if any, difference between the Republicans and Democrats, any rational observer would be forced to conclude that the Republicans are more on the side of personal liberty and smaller government than the Democrats. Oh sure, not as much as libertarians want, but they are closer to the mark than the Democrats.

Now, in 2018, Ring points out:

The stakes in 2018 could hardly be higher, but Libertarian Party candidates don’t seem to care. In states where the races for U.S. Senate are too close to call, and in similar cliffhanger congressional races across the nation, Libertarian candidates are runningNone of them have the slightest chance of winning, but dozens of them are capable enough to attract two-percent or more. If more than a few of them do, Republicans will lose control of Congress.

Emphasis added.

What on Earth are libertarians thinking? What is helped by running races that they lose, know that they will lose, that may give the edge to the Democrats. Do libertarians actually believe that is no worse for the nation? Really?

First—and sorry to have to state the obvious—America is not a parliamentary system. Even if Libertarian Party candidates attracted five percent of the vote, that would not translate into 22 seats in the House of Representatives. These votes for Libertarian candidates will do only one thing: help Democrats win.

We need to quit indulging the preposterous talking point that Libertarian Party candidates siphon as many votes from away from Democrat candidates as they do from Republican candidates. No, they don’t. Libertarians, for all their incoherence, agree on one thing: smaller government. And Democrats, for all their incoherence, also agree on one thing: much bigger government. Get real.

Whatever may be the flaws of the Republican candidates and elected officials out there (and there are many), Libertarians need to grow up, and recognize a painful fact. The lesser of two evils is the lesser of two evils. The real world isn’t perfect. You take what you can get, because if you walk away, you’ll get something worse.

Libertarians, as a party, they have never been able to make the sale with the American people. Those voters they attract would have had a home with Republicans. There will be Democrats or Republicans in control. That is the brutal fact, and pitching a fit about it won’t change it. I am not saying that the Republicans have a right to anyone’s vote. I am saying that Libertarians seeking votes from the pool of voters on the right helps to elect Democrats. The math bears it out.


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How important is the right word?

There is the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” but how well does that sword have to be wielded. Two types of people are really choosy about their words, liars and truth tellers.

Liars pick words to hide things. Maybe there is Pareto in their words. 80% is based on some form of truth so they can slip 20% lies in. A liar has pleasing answers for all the questions since they can just make up something plausible. It is ironic how the lie is more credible than the truth. Part of this is a liar tells you what you want to hear. Who doesn’t want to believe that?

A truth teller struggles to find the right word. Like an artist or a scientist the right wavelength of the color matters. Reddish is too broad if it is more of a pale pink. The wrong word gives the wrong impression which could lead to falsehood.

The true teller often looks like a liar because truth happens it is not created. No one would believe Trump would be president. (Me included at one time.) That was a pipe dream. Hillary was the stuff that serious polls were made of. Reality has a way of not following the script and make no sense.

Back to the title, how important is the right word?

Do you use words to hide the truth or expose it? (Are you now are have you ever been in marketing?)


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Book Review: The Terminal List

“The Terminal List” by Jack CarrA first-time author seeking to break into the thriller game can hardly hope for a better leg up than having his book appear in the hands of a character in a novel by a thriller grandmaster. That’s how I came across this book: it was mentioned in Brad Thor’s Spymaster, where the character reading it, when asked if it’s any good, responds, “Considering the author is a former SEAL and can even string his sentences together, it’s amazing.” I agree: this is a promising debut for an author who’s been there, done that, and knows his stuff.

Lieutenant Commander James Reece, leader of a Navy SEAL team charged with an attack on a high-value, time-sensitive target in Afghanistan, didn’t like a single thing about the mission. Unlike most raids, which were based upon intelligence collected by assets on the ground in theatre, this was handed down from on high based on “national level intel” with barely any time to prepare or surveil the target. Reece’s instincts proved correct when his team walked into a carefully prepared ambush, which then kills the entire Ranger team sent in to extract them. Only Reece and one of his team members, Boozer, survive the ambush. He was the senior man on the ground, and the responsibility for the thirty-six SEALs, twenty-eight Rangers, and four helicopter crew lost is ultimately his.

From almost the moment he awakens in the hospital at Bagram Air Base, it’s apparent to Reece that an effort is underway to pin the sole responsibility for the fiasco on him. Investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) are already on the spot, and don’t want to hear a word about the dodgy way in which the mission was assigned. Boozer isn’t having any of it—his advice to Reece is “Stay strong, sir. You didn’t do anything wrong. Higher forced us on that mission. They dictated the tactics. They are the [expletive] that should be investigated. They dictated tactics from the safety of HQ. [Expletive] those guys.”

If that weren’t bad enough, the base doctor tells him that his persistent headaches may be due to a brain tumour found on a CT scan, and that two members of his team had been found, in autopsy, to have rare and malignant brain tumours, previously undiagnosed. Then, on return to his base in California, in short succession his team member Boozer dies in an apparent suicide which, to Reece’s educated eyes, looks highly suspicious, and his wife and daughter are killed in a gang home invasion which makes no sense whatsoever. The doctor who diagnosed the tumour in Reece and his team members is killed in a “green-on-blue” attack by an Afghan working on the base at Bagram.

The ambush, the targeted investigation, the tumours, Boozer, his family, and the doctor: can it all be a coincidence, or is there some connection he’s missing? Reece decides he needs another pair of eyes looking at all of this and gets in touch with Katie Buranek, an investigative reporter he met while in Afghanistan. Katie had previously published an investigation of the 2012 attack in Behghazi, Libya, which had brought the full power of intimidation by the federal government down on her head, and she was as versed in and careful about operational and communications security as Reece himself. (The advice in the novel about secure communications is, to my knowledge, absolutely correct.)

From the little that they know, Reece and Buranek, joined by allies Reece met in his eventful career and willing to take risks on his behalf, start to dig into the tangled web of connections between the individual events and trace them upward to those ultimately responsible, discovering deep corruption in the perfumed princes of the Pentagon, politicians (including a presidential contender and her crooked husband), defence contractors, and Reece’s own erstwhile chain of command.

Finally, it’s time to settle the score. With a tumour in his brain which he expects to kill him, Reece has nothing to lose and many innocent victims to avenge. He’s makin’ a list; he’s checkin’ it twice; he’s choosing the best way to to shoot them or slice. Reece must initially be subtle in his actions so as not to alert other targets to what’s happening, but then, after he’s declared a domestic terrorist, has to go after extremely hard and ruthless targets with every resource he can summon.

This is the most satisfying revenge fiction I’ve read since Vince Flynn’s first novel, Term Limits. The stories are very different, however. In Flynn’s novel, it’s a group of people making those who are bankrupting and destroying their country pay the price, but here it’s personal.

Due to the security clearances the author held while in the Navy, the manuscript was submitted to the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Prepublication and Security Review, which redacted several passages, mostly names and locations of facilities and military organisations. Amusingly, if you highlight some of the redactions, which appear in solid black in the Kindle edition, the highlighted passage appears with the word breaks preserved but all letters changed to “x”. Any amateur sleuths want to try to figure out what the redacted words are in the following text?

He’d spent his early career as an infantry officer in the Ranger Battalions before being selected for the Army’s Special xxxxxxx xxxx at Fort Bragg. He was currently in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command, xxxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx xxx xxx xxxx xxxx xx xxxx xx xxx xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxx xx xxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxx xx xxxx xxxxx xxx xxxxx.

A sequel, True Believer, is scheduled for publication in April, 2019.

Carr, Jack. The Terminal List. New York: Atria Books, 2018. ISBN 978-1-5011-8081-1.

Here is a Stratfor interview (audio only) with the author about his career and the book.


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LifeSiteNewsDotCom

LifeSiteNews is a small anti-abortion activist group, pro-life journalism outlet, and news aggregator. It was launched in 1997 as a spinoff of Campaign Life Coalition. Both are based in Toronto. Unless you are a traditionalist Catholic or a pro-life culture warrior, you probably never heard of them.

They have had a lot of excitement lately.   For a year they have been fighting for their life as an organization. They had become very dependent on their Facebook page as their primary way to communicate with their network of donors, most of whom are Catholic families making small-time contributions. Facebook has been waging war against them.

Facebook ghetto

In addition to filtering them out of searches and giving them the “shadow ban” treatment, Facebook has refused to run their ads:

One response that our team received as the reason for Facebook’s disapproval of our ads is equally concerning. The ad pertaining to this response simply showed an image of a pregnant mother holding a photo of her baby’s ultrasound…

I do see that the ad has a fetus and while it involves your ad text and topic, it may be viewed too strong for Facebook to allow to show.

Such viewpoint discrimination is a direct attack on our shared life and family values, and is greatly affecting our efforts to fundraise and spread our news.

Yes, a pregnant woman showing off the ultrasound picture of her baby is “too strong” for Facebook. That is a transparent excuse that says Facebook does not like advocacy for babies. Facebook is enforcing the Culture of Death.

They do this by decreeing that accurately reporting on the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood is “fake news.” Truth is irrelevant; what matters is the narrative.

Facebook recently admitted to combating “fake news” by developing a system that ranks users’ trustworthiness on a scale from 1 to 10. This is determined by users’ opinions rather than objective investigations!

This means that aggressively pro-choice and anti-family Facebook users can rank LifeSiteNews as “untrustworthy” with the simple click of a button – just because they dislike the facts that we publish.

Facebook has therefore made it ridiculously easy for our highly organized, well-financed (George Soros, etc) and hateful opponents to have LifeSiteNews wrongly categorized as “fake news” and our traffic suppressed according to Facebook’s “terms of agreement.” Truth does not matter according to this mob-mentality-serving process.  

Sex scandals

If you are wondering where it was that you recently saw their name, it was because they landed the biggest Catholic scoop of August. In the middle of the Catholic summer of distress over new sex scandals, Archbishop Viganò released a letter that said that Pope Francis and the rest of the Vatican were aware of Cardinal McCarrick’s habit of pressing young seminarians for sex, and also that he had covered for homosexual priests who preyed on teenage boys. Pope Francis had rehabilitated McCarrick in spite of this knowledge.

Archbishop Viganò gave his letter to two conservative Italian journalists that he trusts. He also sent it to LifeSiteNews. Evidently that was the only English-language outlet that he trusts.

Since then, other traditionalist Catholics have gone directly to LifeSiteNews with background and new developments on these scandals.

Search and you will not find

Facebook is not the only internet service that is hostile to pro-life advocates. Several news aggregators have the habit of demoting LifeSiteNews as well as other conservative outlets. So for the past weeks we have seen searches that turned up dozens of articles and editorials that cited LifeSiteNews, but unless you type “lifesitenews” in your search, you will not see their original reporting on the first four pages of results.

Allies

I am not a Catholic. As a Lutheran, the Church of Rome teaches that I am condemned to hell as a Schismatic. Nevertheless I have several Catholic friends, and I find that traditionalist Catholics are my most trustworthy allies in the culture wars. I need strong Catholics to help rescue western civilization from the assaults of Satan.

Please consider giving a little support to LifeSiteNews, either with a few bucks, or by sharing their plight with your Catholic and pro-life friends.


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What makes a revolution successful?

I think most of us would see the American Revolution as a success. Why was that?

There have been many revolutions but it seems many just make life harder on their people. The bad leaders are kicked out in order to get bad leaders of the idealistic type.

What destroys a revolution? What causes it to succeed?

Is it ….

  1. Economics?
  2. Ideology?
  3. Geography?
  4. Ethics?
  5. IQ?
  6. Incompetence?

I am so with David French on Police Shootings

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/09/police-shootings-david-french-changed-writing/

Moreover, there are legal doctrines that need to be reformed or abolished (such as qualified immunity, but that explanation requires a whole separate piece). And there should be a culture change in the way officers are taught to perceive risk, a culture change that thoughtful veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars could help initiate.

The police get too much leeway. Their job is not to come home at the end of the day, their job is to serve and protect. Their job is to die, if necessary, so that citizens don’t have to.


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Book Review: The Narrative

“The Narrative” by Deplora BouleWhen you regard the madness and serial hysterias possessing the United States: this week “bathroom equality”, the next tearing down statues, then Russians under every bed, segueing into the right of military-age unaccompanied male “refugees” to bring their cultural enrichment to communities across the land, to proper pronouns for otherkin, “ripping children” from the arms of their illegal immigrant parents, etc., etc., whacky etc., it all seems curiously co-ordinated: the legacy media, on-line outlets, and the mouths of politicians of the slaver persuasion all with the same “concerns” and identical words, turning on a dime from one to the next. It’s like there’s a narrative they’re being fed by somebody or -bodies unknown, which they parrot incessantly until being handed the next talking point to download into their birdbrains.

Could that really be what’s going on, or is it some kind of mass delusion which afflicts societies where an increasing fraction of the population, “educated” in government schools and Gramsci-converged higher education, knows nothing of history or the real world and believes things with the fierce passion of ignorance which are manifestly untrue? That’s the mystery explored in this savagely hilarious satirical novel.

Majedah Cantalupi-Abromavich-Flügel-Van Der Hoven-Taj Mahal (who prefers you use her full name, but who henceforth I shall refer to as “Majedah Etc.”) had become the very model of a modern media mouthpiece. After reporting on a Hate Crime at her exclusive women’s college while pursuing a journalism degree with practical studies in Social Change, she is recruited as a junior on-air reporter by WPDQ, the local affiliate of News 24/7, the preeminent news network for good-thinkers like herself. Considering herself ready for the challenge, if not over-qualified, she informs one of her co-workers on the first day on the job,

I have a journalism degree from the most prestigious woman’s [sic] college in the United States—in fact, in the whole world—and it is widely agreed upon that I have an uncommon natural talent for spotting news. … I am looking forward to teaming up with you to uncover the countless, previously unexposed Injustices in this town and get the truth out.

Her ambition had already aimed her sights higher than a small- to mid-market affiliate: “Someday I’ll work at News 24/7. I’ll be Lead Reporter with my own Desk. Maybe I’ll even anchor my own prime time show someday!” But that required the big break—covering a story that gets picked up by the network in New York and broadcast world-wide with her face on the screen and name on the Chyron below (perhaps scrolling, given its length). Unfortunately, the metro Wycksburg beat tended more toward stories such as the grand opening of a podiatry clinic than those which merit the “BREAKING NEWS” banner and urgent sound clip on the network.

The closest she could come to the Social Justice beat was covering the demonstrations of the People’s Organization for Perpetual Outrage, known to her boss as “those twelve kooks that run around town protesting everything”. One day, en route to cover another especially unpromising story, Majedah and her cameraman stumble onto a shocking case of police brutality: a white officer ordering a woman of colour to get down, then pushing her to the sidewalk and jumping on top with his gun drawn. So compelling are the images, she uploads the clip with her commentary directly to the network’s breaking news site for affiliates. Within minutes it was on the network and screens around the world with the coveted banner.

News 24/7 sends a camera crew and live satellite uplink to Wycksburg to cover a follow-up protest by the Global Outrage Organization, and Majedah gets hours of precious live feed directly to the network. That very evening comes a job offer to join the network reporting pool in New York. Mission accomplished!—the road to the Big Apple and big time seems to have opened.

But all may not be as it seems. That evening, the detested Eagle Eye News, the jingoist network that climbed to the top of the ratings by pandering to inbred gap-toothed redneck bitter clingers and other quaint deplorables who inhabit flyover country and frequent Web sites named after rodentia and arthropoda, headlined a very different take on the events of the day, with an exclusive interview with the woman of colour from Majedah’s reportage. Majedah is devastated—she can see it all slipping away.

The next morning, hung-over, depressed, having a nightmare of what her future might hold, she is awakened by the dreaded call from New York. But to her astonishment, the offer still stands. The network producer reminds her that nobody who matters watches Eagle Eye, and that her reportage of police brutality and oppression of the marginalised remains compelling. He reminds her, “you know that the so-called truth can be quite subjective.”

The Associate Reporter Pool at News 24/7 might be better likened to an aquarium stocked with the many colourful and exotic species of millennials. There is Mara, who identifies as a female centaur, Scout, a transgender woman, Mysty, Candy, Ångström, and Mohammed Al Kaboom ( James Walker Lang in Mill Valley), each with their own pronouns (Ångström prefers adjutant37, and blue).

Every morning the pool drains as its inhabitants, diverse in identification and pronomenclature but of one mind (if that term can be stretched to apply to them) in their opinions, gather in the conference room for the daily briefing by the Democratic National Committee, with newsrooms, social media outlets, technology CEOs, bloggers, and the rest of the progressive echo chamber tuned in to receive the day’s narrative and talking points. On most days the top priority was the continuing effort to discredit, obstruct, and eventually defeat the detested Republican President Nelson, who only viewers of Eagle Eye took seriously.

Out of the blue, a wild card is dealt into the presidential race. Patty Clark, a black businesswoman from Wycksburg who has turned her Jamaica Patty’s restaurant into a booming nationwide franchise empire, launches a primary challenge to the incumbent president. Suddenly, the narrative shifts: by promoting Clark, the opposition can be split and Nelson weakened. Clark and Ms Etc have a history that goes back to the latter’s breakthrough story, and she is granted priority access to the candidate including an exclusive long-form interview immediately after her announcement that ran in five segments over a week. Suddenly Patty Clark’s face was everywhere, and with it, “Majedah Etc., reporting”.

What follows is a romp which would have seemed like the purest fantasy prior to the U.S. presidential campaign of 2016. As the campaign progresses and the madness builds upon itself, it’s as if Majedah’s tether to reality (or what remains of it in the United States) is stretching ever tighter. Is there a limit, and if so, what happens when it is reached?

The story is wickedly funny, filled with turns of phrase such as, “Ångström now wishes to go by the pronouns nut, 24, and gander” and “Maher’s Syndrome meant a lifetime of special needs: intense unlikeability, intractable bitterness, close-set beady eyes beneath an oversized forehead, and at best, laboring at menial work such as janitorial duties or hosting obscure talk shows on cable TV.”

The conclusion is as delicious as it is hopeful.

The Kindle edition is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Boule, Deplora [pseud.]. The Narrative. Seattle: CreateSpace, 2018. ISBN 978-1-71716-065-2.

Special thanks to Ratburger member Civil Westman (@ateransere), whose review of this book here on 2018-07-05 brought it to my attention.

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Sports Wednesday: 18-9-12 FEI World Equestrian Games

 

Today marks the beginning of competition in the Fédération Equestre International World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.  WEG, as horse people call it, occurs every four years in the middle of the summer Olympic cycle.  WEG began in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990 and the most recent was held in 2014 in Normandy, France.  The 2014 games were the largest to date and the 2018 games will surpass that event.

One might not think of western North Carolina as being horse country.  Tryon put in a bid to host the games after Bromont in Quebec pulled out over funding issues.  Tryon organizers headed by entrepreneur Mark Bellissimo, publisher of trade publication The Chronicle of the Horse, have spent upwards of $250 million expanding the venue, and entire area is hoping to benefit from the influx of spectators at a time that traditionally sees a bit of a lull in tourism dollars.  There have been some bumps in the road…housing for grooms on-site was underestimated and incomplete (a groom for Team Australia described the situation as “shambolic”), but it certainly is better than when the games were held in Italy in 1998  where restrooms at the Pratoni del Vivaro eventing and driving venues were holes in the floor.  The games themselves are all located at Tryon, a great improvement over the last cycle in France where some venues were separated by hundreds of miles.

Horse arrivals at Greeneville Spartanburg airport
Photo FEI/Tori Repole

The horses began arriving last week.  In what has been described as the largest commercial airlift of horses in the history of equestrian sport, 550 horses flew from Liège and Dubai, as well as eleven South American Countries.  An additional 270 horses arrived overland by trailer, including the Australian Reining team which trains in California.  The horses and their human counterparts will compete in eight disciplines over two weeks.  If you are in the US, NBC Sports, NBCSN, and the NBC Olympic Channel will offer coverage of the events.  Alternatively, you can watch the entire games online for $27 on FEI-TV.

Horse shows run rain or shine–thunder and lightning are the only limiting factors.  Some events necessarily take place outdoors.  The weather forecast for the first few days is uncertain as Hurricane Florence heads toward the Carolina coast.  Tryon is far enough inland that available private stabling in the area is being offered to horses evacuating from coastal areas.  The safety of the participants, both human and equine, is paramount.  Some events are held in indoor arenas; outdoor arenas have what has been described by participants as having “state-of-the-art drainage.”  If necessary, times and/or dates for events (such as cross-country) will be changed.  Covered seating is available for some outdoor events, although a number of events are already sold out.  There will also be various equestrian demonstrations and exhibitions, activities for non-horsey people (off-roading in a Land Rover, anyone?), food, adult beverages and plenty of shopping.

 

Here are the disciplines you can enjoy:

Dressage

The competition begins today with Dressage.  Dressage is a judged sport where the horse demonstrates natural movements over a predetermined test course.  The rider must memorize the course and guide the horse through the movements.  The judges compare the team to an ideal standard and award scores for each required movement.  Dressage is a test of the training of the horse and the skill of the rider.  To the uninitiated, Dressage can be as exciting as watching paint dry.  One attempt to draw more interest to the sport is the innovation of Freestyle dressage, where horse and rider perform to music.  Here Charlotte Dujardin demonstrates just how beautiful a horse and rider can be.

 

Para-Dressage

Para-Dressage tests the skill of riders who have various impairments, from vision loss to paraplegia to missing limbs.  The rules for para-dressage are adjusted depending on the level of disability to ensure a fair competition.  Kate Shoemaker will make her debut on the US team: she would train from midnight to 2 a.m. while in veterinary school.  Stinna Tange Kaastrup from Denmark was born without legs and competes in Grade II.

Don’t complain ever again.

Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup

 

Endurance

Endurance riding tests the stamina of horse and rider and originated in the US.  The timed race occurs today.  The USDA had to inspect and approve the course, which was completed only a couple of weeks ago as it has been a very wet summer.  The 100-mile (160km) course is a 30 to 50-foot wide, 14-feet high swath through forest and field–the height and width of the trail is to attempt to keep ticks from getting to the horses.  It has been reported that some international horses tested positive at quarentine for tick-borne equine prioplasmosis.  There are enough tick-borne diseases already in NC.  Rocks have been removed and footing has been installed.   The fairly flat course, however, tends to encourage unscrupulous riders to exhaust their horses.  A more technically demanding course over the naturally hilly terrain would have been preferred by some teams.

The race at Tryon might be the most scrutinized event of the games.  There are plenty of FEI rules governing endurance racing, which apparently challenges some competitors to see just how many they can break to win.  A respected independent group, Clean Endurance, published an A-to-Z Guide on how spectators can spot cheating and abuse.  The activity of all horses and participants in the entire games is tightly controlled.

Cooling an endurance horse with ice water. Photo National Geographic

Even this morning’s start was chaotic.  The course is a loop, and in the dark, foggy, North Carolina mountains 70 horses started at one point and 70 at another.  A veterinarian on-site reported that there was enough confusion to cause officials to stop the race after one loop, allow the horses to rest and restart the race as a 120km (~75 mile course).  This is unprecedented.

 

Eventing

Germany’s Michael Jung on fischerRocana. Photo Red Bay Group LLC/FEI

Eventing combines three disciplines over three days: a cross-country race with obstacles, or “questions,” for the horse and rider to jump, dressage, and show jumping.  The rules for the Eventing c0mpetition have changed this year for WEG, changing the dressage scoring, or co-efficient, and reducing the cross-country course’s difficulty.  The cross-country course has been designed by Captain Mark Phillips, who has designed outstanding courses for Burghley Horse Trials in England.  Eventing cross country is one of the most exciting things to watch, as horses gallop across fields, through ponds and over very creative jumps.  The champion eventer will have the highest combined score of dressage, cross country and show jumping.

 

Driving

Driving is not an Olympic sport, so WEG is the Olympics for the sport.  Given the expense of travel, only the very best competitors will be on display at Tryon.  This is not surrey-with-the-fringe-on-top territory, this is real horsepower–Ben Hur without spikes.  Driving is another discipline which encompasses three days of competition: dressage, marathon and cones.  Driving teams consist of three humans and four horses, along with a carraige.

Dressage begins the competition where a memorized series of maneuvers is executed to present to judges as effortless an appearance as possible.  Teams are judged on regularity of pace, ease of movement and discipline.  The next day’s Marathon isn’t 26 miles, but it is designed to test the horses’ fitness and stamina as well as the skill of the driver and team over the countryside, around trees, over bridges, through water with horses cantering tight corners and humans acting as ballast not unlike a four-man bobsled run.

After two previous days, the “Cones” competition is a test is of the horses’ obedience and trust, as well as stamina and athletic ability of the driver and

Dutch world championi Ijsbrand Chardon drives the cones. Photo FEI /Stefan Lafrentz

team.  The cones are literally that–orange safety cones with a little ball perched atop. Knock off a ball and receive a penalty point.  The team with the lowest overall score will be named World Champion.  The Dutch team is highly favored.

 

Reining

World Champion Jordan Larson riding HF Mobster. Photo Waltenberry, Inc.

Cowboy up, partner.  Reining team competition begins today.  While not an Olympic-level sport, reining has gone international with 20 national federations sending either their best teams or individual riders to compete.  Reining has been recognized as a competitive equestrian sport since 1949, and it has been part of the FEI since 2000.  No fancy warmbloods here, Reining relies on the American Quarter Horse and is designed to showcase the skills and abilities of a ranch horse within a show arena.  Once again, like dressage, Reining requires demonstrating skills and movements, but the focus here is on the sorts of things a horse would have to do out in the midst of handling cattle.  Spins, flying lead changes and sliding to a stop are judged with a starting score of 70.  Bonus points can be added for each skill or deducted for poor execution.  Top team qualifiers move up to the individual competition, with individual medal  competition on Saturday, September 15.

Reining riders may sport sparkle and bling; spectators support the competitors with plenty of cheering The Reining competition is projected to draw the largest crowds–the all-season pass to each day of events is sold out.

 

Vaulting

Vaulting is gymnastics on horseback and traces its origins to ancient Rome,

Germany’s Jannis Drewell. Photo FEI/Daniel Kaiser

where performers would execute acrobatics on cantering horses.  Today it is performed on a cantering horse on a longe line.  The horse must keep a steady, rhythmic canter and allow people to perform on its back.  It is theatrical, beautiful and athletic and would put any circus act to shame.  There are four divisions in vaulting: Squad (three performers on the horse at one time, with a squad of six), Individual, Pas de Deux , and a new Nations Team competition.   Except for the team competition, vaulters perform compulsory, technical  and one-minute freestyle routines; the top 15 competitors will perform the technical test which assess the quality of a pre-determined set of skills and repeat their freestyle.  Team competition is only freestyle.  The freestyle competition is sold out.

 

Jumping

McLain Ward and HH AZUR.  Photo Cara Grimshaw/FEI

Show jumping has an interesting origin with the Inclosure Acts in England, creating private property rights and putting fences on what had previously been land held in common.  Of course, if there is a fence, you have to jump it and a sport was born.  Good fences may make good neighbors, but in show jumping the obstacles are considered “questions” that the horse and rider must solve.  With fences ranging up to 1.65 meters in height, 2 meters or more wide and water obstacles that are 4 meters across, a good jumping team, both horse and rider, must be brave.  Riders will walk the course on foot, measuring distances in human strides, searching for shorter distances to shave off seconds.  The rider must assess distances between fences, take-off points in front of fences, and where to shave off fractions of a second without knocking any rails off.  The goal is a clear round in the shortest amount of time. Riders are assessed penalty points for knocking rails, having their horse step in a water jump on either take-off or landing, and exceeding the allowed time for the course.  All clear rounds within the alloted time proceed to a jump-off round.

Show jumping will compete over four days, with individual and team rankings on the line.  At the end of day two, only the top 60 riders will advance to individual medal competition and the top ten teams will advance as well.  Day three features the medal rounds in team competition.  The individual medals will close out WEG 2018 with a two-round competition. The first part returns the top 25 riders from previous days’ efforts; the second part showcases the top 12 medal contenders.

WEG 2018 is a special opportunity to see the best in the world all in one lovely place.  From time to time it is suggested that each individual sport go back to hosting its own championships.  It can be difficult to find a single venue that can accommodate so many horses, competitors and spectators.  Tryon, North Carolina has had less than two years to prepare for this event and is trying to become a world-class venue as well as an equestrian lifestyle destination.  The riders are all dedicated athletes, and the horses are stunning and love what they do.  Join the rest of the world, tune in over the next two weeks when you are able and watch some of the very best human and equine athletes.  But be careful around young children, you might just end up buying a pony.


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I am Guessing that Many Have Not Seen This…

A new study that was released is under attack because of the study’s findings. What was the topic of this study? Adolescent gender dysphoria. Why is it under attack? Because it found that many adolescents who were exposed to online chat groups that pushed transgender propaganda suddenly, without any previous inclination toward such thinking, declared themselves to have transgender tendencies.

The research was conducted by asking parents to fill out surveys that were made available through a few websites, and here is where the militant LGBTQLJKPIJ:K:JPIPOGHOHOIJ community pounced. These websites, you see, happen to be proponents of conversion therapy and therefore enemies of the Lavender Mafia. They have, so far, managed to force the school which sponsored this study to recant and they are not seeking that the study be made unavailable for anyone else to read and contemplate.

Well I encourage as many of you as possible to print this, save it to your desktop, and preserve this in any way you can so that when they convince Brown University to hold public burnings of this study and its author, we can still produce it.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202330


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