Still reading: The Last Superstition-A refutation of the new atheism

Still going with this book by conservative philosopher Edward Feser. It has continued in much the same way as the introduction. Mix in the middle chapters is an OK treatment of Plato’s theory of forms, an outline of Aristotle’s metaphysics and a moderate chunk of Thomas Aquinas. Still lots of carping about Richard Dawkins et al, which would actually be funnier if it was more snarky. Unfortunately Feser seems to be hitting ‘petulant’ more often than really good digs.

Often this attempt at digs detracts from his argument and even makes himself look either foolish or prone to weak reasoning. For example he brings up the repeated counter arguments by atheist writers to William Paley’s watchmaker argument for the existence of god (or at least of a creator/designer):

Why atheists are so fixated on Paley I cannot say, unless it is precisely because he is such an easy target: If he didn’t exist, atheists would have had to invent him or find some other straw man to beat.

While only a few sentences before Feser has correctly noted that Paley is popular with Intelligent Design theorists and creationists. Yet this apparently professional philosopher is at lost to understand why a notable biologist and theorist of evolution whose primary conflict with theists is not the tiny section of Christianity trying to revive Thomist scholasticism but with the heavily funded evangelical campaign to impose creationism in classroom. For the creationist (and off shoot Intelligent Design movement) Paley’s argument is not a straw man but a recurring theme.

However all of that is just an annoying diversion from the guts of his argument and it doesn’t bode well. In short the upshot will be that God (and unless things taken a surprising diversion) and everything else Feser happens to believe is a necessary truth like Pythagoras’ Theorem or 2+2 equaling 4 (Feser’s two main examples). He has mentioned Frege and Russell, so Feser can’t be wholly ignorant of the foundational crises in mathematics from the 19th century onward but it really doesn’t look like his notion of a neccesary truth will be any more sophisticated than that he found some of Aquinas’s arguments quite convincing. Formal deduction takes a bit more work than that and Aquinas didn’t have the tools and Feser doesn’t look like he has the background and it will all be question-begging hooey anyway.

Dave and Me have a Chat

Over at Mad Genius:

August 24, 2015 at 3:02 pm

About the quotes for if glyer or minions show up. Even full quotes can deliberately mislead.//

That is true but linking to the actual posts so people can read what was read in full is important. Much better than what you just saw Bard Torgersen do with people’s words on his own blog.

Cames, I hope you haven’t been drinking Chardonnay again. That’s why I stopped bothering to dissect your attempt at deconstruction last time. Firstly, you’re wrong – putting the link is a clever deception, which usually succeeds in implying that yes, you are being sweetness, honesty and light. Few bother to check, a fact I can confirm on the basis of click-throughs. Secondly as such behavior is common in puppy-kicker circles, before you start digging in TorgersOn’s eye — let’s see the evidence for where you’ve dug in the eyes of your friends. Come now. Show us.

I can’t say I have ever directly encountered somebody directly replacing somebody’s comment with something utterly different other than on Brad’s blog. I am certain you wouldn’t do it or GRRM or Scalzi or Sarah Hoyt and I know John C Wright wouldn’t do it. The only case I’ve encountered is Brad Torgersen doing it. If it has happened elsewhere on a pro- or anti-puppy blog then I am happy to say that it is wrong but I can’t condemn what I haven’t seen. I’m disappointed Brad took the low road – I can see why he is upset but putting his words in my mouth is unethical on multiple levels.

You are wrong. Mr. Scalzi has done so in the past: that’s the main reason I stopped reading his blog some years back. Not to people being rude, as I understand Mr. Torgersen has done, but to people who plainly and firmly disagreed with him.

In which case John Scalzi was wrong to do so. Delete or ban. If Brad doesn’t want my comment on his blog that is his perogative. Putting his words in my mouth is not what someone with honor would do.

He was infamous for it – But no use you telling _us_ he was wrong. Tell him. Good luck! But it was a common little game, Cames. Making Light, Hines etc. all thought it hilarious. Same with the ‘disemvoweling’. I had never heard of anyone on our side doing so. I have gone in and deleted part of a message – some fairly disgusting abuse directed at one of the ladies posting here, with a moderator warning in place that the poster would be banned if he ever stepped a micron over the line. I have also deleted content, left the post in place, with a moderator message that the poster had ignored the previous behavior warning about abuse and was now banned – Kevin Standlee IIRC. I left that there as a message to his fellow travelers that I try to be patient and tolerant but there are limits. That’s me, to date. I’m not Brad and I suggest you ask him why.

//I had never heard of anyone on our side doing so. //

Well now you have and you can see how Brad has behaved on his own website.

//But no use you telling _us_ he was wrong. Tell him.//

If you like. Give me a specific incident and if it was Scalzi doing what Brad Torgersen has done (effectively) then I’ll happily tell John Scalzi he was wrong.
How about you?

Camestros, that was before we started taking screenshots and archiving them, which is now common practice because the precise form of sealioning you’re engaging in. You’re not -unlike many of your fellow puppy-kickers — dim-witted – you know precisely what you’re doing, and so do I, and I have no need to put up with it. Do not imply I lie (or Holly lies) and require me to ‘prove’ to you, ever again. If you want to accuse anyone here of lying the burden of providing proof, specific instances lies on you. If I came to your website I would accept the same (and tried to do so). That will, however not be happening again. So: Don’t mention it in any shape, form or allusion, without first providing a screenshot of your telling John Scalzi that he should not engage in it. Don’t slither or try any Gallo squirms either. This is your one and final warning. Don’t do it again. Got me? Take up the issue with Brad on his website in person if you wish to. I will not have ‘you and him fight’. I’m not repeating that either. Final warning.

As you are capable of rational thought I’d like to ask you a question that is actually pertinent. Just what do you see happening with the 2016 nominations and votes, as a direct result of 2015 and with the figures we now have?

[My Reply Here] Sorry Dave but I didn’t imply you were lying, what I asked you for is to give me an example that I could actually discuss with John Scalzi. You aren’t dim witted – what are you asking me to do? Tell John Scalzi off about some vague accusation? Say “John don’t do that thing you did that time that I didn’t see to that person I don’t know and whose name I can’t remember on a date we don’t know?”

“This is your one and final warning. Don’t do it again. Got me?” No, I don’t get you Dave. You say I should tell Scalzi off but you won’t tell me about what exactly. Have you thought this through?  You want me and him to fight – but won’t say what about! (And what exactly are you threatening me with?)

What will happen in 2016. We both know the question is what will Vox Day do? The Sad Puppy plans are secondary to what ever Vox Day does. I assume he will try to run some kind of disruption campaign but what kind we won’t know until next year. What the non-puppies will do is read, review, share and nominate willy-nilly. If you guys do the same then we are on the same side in principle if not when it comes to specific choices.

The True History of the Great Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015 CE

[Most recent version is here: ]

As with the earlier versions… caveats apply.

This is literally a narrative as it is a story shown over time with a plot and complications but it is also a subjective mapping of headspace. It looks more serious than my map but the same caveats apply – it is how I perceive the kerfuffle and while it is made out of truthful bricks (I believe) the structure itself is a fabricated thing. Same warnings about false balance apply and also the timeline has the issue of stirring up old arguments.

Suggestions and corrections are welcome within the limit of not wanting to re-kerfuff old kerfuffles and certainly not wanting to re-open old wounds.

Major sources: Mike Glyer’s puppy round ups (, Jim C Hines’s article , The Hugo Awards blog, and the blogs of Larry Correia, Vox Day, Brad Torgersen and John C Wright.

Continue reading “The True History of the Great Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015 CE”

Review: Half A War

Joe Abercrombie is best known for his First Law series. If you have read those three books you will be familiar with his dark and cynical takes on standard fantasy tropes. His characters are duplicitous and as the stories progressed there was a kind of ethical regression to the mean as nasty people turned out to be nicer than they appeared (but still far from nice) and more heroic characters turned out to be far nastier and conniving. Powerful books – but not books that fill you for of love for humanity.

Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy (Half a King, Half a World, Half a War) has some of that cynicism but more tempered and more balanced. Pitched as ‘young adult’ this is still within the grimdark sub-branch of fantasy but not unremittingly so. Few characters are irredeemably bad and there are genuine heroes and at least some kinds of happy endings.

In each book Abercrombie has shifted focus on different characters. In this way he build up a world with complex people with strong back stories. At the heart is the journey of Yarvi (the ‘Half a King’ of the first book) from unlikely heir to the throne to a minister to the crown. The mastermind plotter, conspirator and manipulator behind royal intrigue is a stock figure but Yarvi is given a rich inner life and a plausible emotional journey.

The setting is a Viking like northern world of feuding thralldoms. Scattered around are the remnants of a past eleven civilization which obliterated itself in an event known as the breaking of god. The peoples are typically followers of a traditional polytheistic religion but the High King – to which the various sub-kingdoms owe allegiance – is attempting to impose a new monotheism upon them. The inherent tension in this world is played out over the three books and in the latest that tension has escalated into all out war.

In terms of modern ethnic diversity the books are limited in characters. However, the world does give a good sense that in any broad society there is a variety of ethnicity and culture. In terms of women characters the books provide multiple distinctly different characters, several of whom are key point-of-view characters who are mutli-dimensional and  who are not just passive participants despite the highly masculine culture of the setting.

Half a War drifts deeper into Abercrombie’s trademark grimdark territory and the final chapters begin to take on the same feeling of despair about humanity. Yet, he still pulls off a somewhat happy ending.

A good read all round. Well recommended both for young adults and old adults.

We didn’t make you do that Brad…

Brad Torgersen is keeping things classy and totally not having a major meltdown and/or engaging in a massive sore loser hissy fit by editing comments on his blog.

For anybody visiting, no I didn’t say “YOU MADE US DO THIS”.
Losing badly and then lying about it. Oh so classy 🙂

Hugo Awards – what’s next?

The EPH proposal has passed at Sasquan and the 4/6 rule has passed. However neither gets to be implemented until the 2017 cycle.

Note that the 4/6 rule can still be gamed by two overlapping slates (particularly relevant as this year was a two-slate attack on the nominations: Rabids and Sads). The difference was the Rabids were slightly more voters and had better discipline. With 4/6 you wouldn’t need two distinct slates either – a pair of overlapping slates would do it. Again its vulnerable to exactly the kind of attack that occurred this year.

Looking at the nomination figures this year I suppose we would get an outcome not dissimilar to the outcome this year. The Top 4 Puppy Noms (combined Rabid and Sad) being Butcher, Correia, Kloos, Anderson, and then two non-puppy noms getting in, Leckie and Addison. Assuming the same people withdrew, then the eventual ballot would be pretty much the same except it would have an extra Sad Puppy pick: Gannon’s Trial by Fire.

The other categories look better as they suggest that at least one non-puppy pick would get on with 4/6 but that assumes the Puppies wouldn’t have reduced the overlap between slates a bit more. Also the category would still be noncompetitive with just one or maybe two non-slate works at best.

EPH is still vulnerable to slates – the only way a voting system can’t be is to make it undemocratic. However, to get multiple works through is trickier. A slate needs more votes and less lock-step voting. Put another way, EPH is less punitive to how the Sad Puppies nominated than it is to the Rabid Puppies. A pure lock-step slate runs the risk of being completely wiped out at a single stage. To ‘game’ the system the Rabids either need lots more nominators [OK they have at max 500 based on the final votes – which is a lot] and very little consensus on the best works from non-Puppies.

I suspect the likely strategy from the Puppies for next year will be a dual riding-coat-tails (i.e. pick stuff likely to do well regardless and declare it theirs – as in their claims of victory for Guardians and 3BP) and/or spoiler nominations (nominating works and people that non-puppies like so that the nominees feel pressured to withdraw or so that in the final vote a good work gets No Award as part of the anti-slate backlash)