Category: Politics

What a pile of w_nk

I’m sure plenty of others are piling onto this piece of onanism in The Federalist:

Men were made for violence. It’s part of why they were created. To protect the weak. To fight for themselves and for nations. To compete and to win.

Actually – I apologise. Comparing it to mastrubation simply reinforces negative views of a healthy activity that’s good for your prostate*.

It is male myths time and yet another rightwing commentator asserting that men are just naturally a particular way and hence shouldn’t try to be something different…even though if men WERE just pre-determined to be that way, then they couldn’t change anyhow…so the whole basic premise of the argument doesn’t make any sense…but we all knew that anyway because it is just entry number three thousand in rightwing-media-trying-to-enforce-stupid-masuclinity-norms.

Others can talk about the rest of the piece but I just wanted to discuss this nonsense paragraph:

“Do you know why men like football? Why they watch boxing? Why Romans watched the gladiators slaughter each other? Because part of men was made for violence and their instincts draw them to it. We cannot suppress human nature. We cannot half-embrace who and what we are—how God made us, and how we are built.”

Oh! Yes! I think I do KNOW why men watch football! At least I know it must be the same reason that men (or rather SOME men and also some women but more men than women) watch competitive sports. Now that does include American Football and boxing which do both feature really big guys slamming into each other but…also includes these sports:

  • Baseball
  • Cricket
  • Actual football – aka soccer
  • Basketball
  • Golf
  • Tennis

Of those the biggest sport in the world is soccer. It is an athletic, competitve game but unlike the two cherry-picked examples it doesn’t role play violence specifically. Also soccer players, while physically fit are not physically extreme examples of maleness. Cricket may be incomprehensibly popular to non fans** but it is a game that involves a lot of standing around. I’ll just point at frickin’ golf for awhile and say ‘look, golf‘.

On the flipside, the writer of this daft piece won’t have any experience with the sheer scale of women’s competitive sport. Non-Australians won’t be aware of just how enormously huge netball is as a participatory sport in Australia – it’s huge and not a new phenomenon either.

So, ‘why do men like watching competitive sport’ because LOTS of humans of both genders like competitive sport because it is exciting. That probably does have connections with how humans percieve the risk of violent conflict and inter-group rivalries but 1. not all men find it fun and 2. lots of women do find it fun.

The women who find competitive sport fun aren’t being forced into it, they are giving up multiple weekends and spending money on special clothing and equipment not because they are being brain washed by campus feminists. They are doing it because they find it FUN. They find it fun, presumably, for many of the same reasons that men who participate in competitive sport (including as spectators) find it to be fun.

The men who DON’T find competitive sport fun aren’t ’emasculated’ nor are they weak willed. They just don’t enjoy it. I do feel the need to snarky and dismissive about sports because I find that expectation of man=interest in sport annoying because it is so prevelant. However, it is easy to see that it is just a shallow stereotype because it is almost indistinguishable from an ethnic stereotype (a harmless but annoying one) that says ‘English person’=’knowledge & interested in discussing English Premier League football’.

No, I’m not pre-determined to like sport because I’m a ‘man’ anymore than being born in England has made me racially determined to have an opinion on the off-side rule or have a good assessment of the chances of Wigan Athletic*** winning the FA Cup.


*[when you are older: maybe]

**[I dislike cricket for strong personal reasons]

***[Are they even a Premier League side? Not only do I not know I can’t even be bothered to check Wikipedia to find out.]


The CLFA and other groups

The Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance has pinged twice on my radar over the past few days. The first was in connection to the loss of reviews on Amazon by some rightwing authors (see here) and the second was the release of their nominees for their “Book of the Year Award 2018“. The ten nominees are mainly the usual set of names (e.g. JCW, Lamplighter, JDA, Paolinelli) and in a departure from previous years a non-fiction book, Moria Greyland’s The Last Closet.

I’m mindful that the announcement of the CLFA’s nominees was very close but just before the Hugo nomination date but I don’t think their list was intended to be a stealth slate and I doubt it could function that way. Still, both events made me realise that the CLFA has been a grouping I haven’t discussed much when looking at the righthand side of science fiction writing.

While the CLFA has a website ( ) it functions primarily as a closed Facebook group. Not exclusively SFF, the previous nominees for their awards have been mainly either SFF books or non-SFF by SFF authors (e.g. Sad Pup/Mad Genius/Castalia House author Peter Grant’s Western novel won in 2017).

So, in some ways, the CLFA just looks like the same groups of people we keep encountering. However, in other ways, it has operated differently. Here’s a chart of how the group has grown over time:


Unlike some of the other similar charts I made looking at growth trends, this looks like steady, sustainable growth. Now, it’s a closed group so I’ve no either whether it is particularly active or a ghost town but it does keep attracting members and doesn’t seem to be losing them. Possibly this is because of (rather than in spite of) it’s low profile overall. While many of its members are famed for outrage marketing, the group itself has tended not to assert itself as a thing. Consequently, its membership includes people across the many factions in right-leaning SFF.

While I was on the topic of closed Facebook groups, I thought I would see how the loudly announced “Science Fiction and Fantasy Creators Guild” was getting on. Their main website doesn’t seem to have been updated since mid-February ( ) but they’ve gained an interim President – Doug Irvin, who occasionally guest posts at Sarah Hoyt’s blog. Their main action has been another closed Facebook group ( ) At 160+ members it has a long way to go before it reaches the same scale as the CLFA (1750+ members).

Of the members of SFFCG, about 65% are also members of the CLFA (reversing that, only about 6% of the CLFA are also members of the SFFCG).

The growth seems to have reached a plateau for the time being. Most of the growth was in late January after the fumbled announcement of the group.


Anyway…that’s it. No punchline just some numbers 🙂

Trouble in Pulp Paradise

This post will only make sense to the more dedicated Puppyologists as it delves into factional conflicts within the nether regions of far-right science fiction.

As a reminder here is a chart I made a while ago to help people keep track:


The lefthand (not politically) of the chart is where we are looking today.

On March 3 Jeffo Johnson (on the chart above via his ‘Appendix N’ project looking at the literature that inspired Dungeons and Dragons) wrote a post about the cultural power of conservatives: Jeffro’s argument was essentially an appeal to Tolkien to demonstrate the cultural influence of conservatives. I don’t need to spell out the problems with that as an argument and in itself, it isn’t very interesting. However, there was pushback in the comments from some random person called “Groffin”. I won’t quote it because parts of it are anti-Semitic but basically, it was pointing out that the people Jeffro was pointing at were very much dead and gone and that people weren’t reading them for any kind of conservative message anyway. Apparently, this same commentator made similar points at Vox Day’s blog also and was then banned.

Jeffro then replied to this “Groffin” in another post

This still isn’t interesting. However, the comments are, including signs of some general reader pushback against poor quality works:

“I mean, I’ve read a lot of Castalia/PulpRev/Superversive stuff and paid for quite a few things and it sure looks like you’re not allowed to say meh about meh fiction because muh pulprev or whatever. Getting snarky about mediocre fiction is just replicating what mediocre SJWs do with less of their media platform and reach. Lying about numbers and traffic, same. I can see what sells because I keep up with this as I’m extremely supportive of conservative media alternatives (I use my checkbook power, as already noted). A lot of these writers aren’t very good. Some are decent, and some have real potential. I found a couple of really promising, decently selling authors via Castalia’s blog roundups of sci-fi and fantasy. But I also got burned multiple times by the promotion of crummy stuff as AH MAYYYYY ZINNNNNGGGGGG.”

At another factional spin-off blog “” there was a defence of the original “Groffin” comment and they even slapped a “gate” suffix to it – which is a thing.

Now, this piece is more interesting (not good but interesting. As well as being critical of Jeffro’s piece, it is also some of the most overt criticism I’ve seen from rightwing sources of the Sad Puppy campaigns:

“GroffinGate: Saying You Are Winning Is Not The Same Thing As Winning

I blame it on the Puppies.

The Pulp Revolution started out as a reaction against them, did you know that? What started as a movement to bring sanity and good writing back to an SFF establishment that had been increasingly obviously been co-opted by bigoted cultists degenerated into a movement that focused on appearances, gave high praise to mediocre works, and generated more clicks through defensive blog posts about how great they were than through anything they actually created.”

Here “Puppies” means the more core clique of rightwing authors that’s basically Mad Genius plus Larry Correia, rather than people who may have given support more generally.

Again in the comments, there are interesting comments from surprising sources (at least from a left perspective) about the 2015 Sad Puppy picks. This comment which appears to be from Cirsova magazine:

None of the short fiction picks back in 2015 were very good. Lou Antonelli’s was an interesting germ of an idea but the execution left something to be desired. Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer was pretty twee and struck me as the sort of thing they’d’ve complained about if “an SJW SF writer” had written it. Annie Bellett’s story had the best form, but still relied on the trope of “the faceless angry dangerous white men in times of trouble” for its human conflict. Totaled was twee and boring for a Brain-in-a-Jar story; Jeffro could not have been more right about how much it paled in comparison to C.L. Moore’s No Woman Born. Turncoat managed to make a battle in outer space so matter-of-fact dull I couldn’t finish it.”

I assume this isn’t the first time comments like this have been aired by people who weren’t overtly anti-Puppy but I haven’t seen many like this before.

Superversive ‘s Anthony M is more generally defensive about whether they are an insular community in general:

Anyway, it will be interesting to see if this generates further splinters and interesting to see if there is more reader pushback against the mediocrity of a lot of what is being published in rightwing science fiction. Outside of that world, I think ti has always been obvious that there was a huge gulf between the quality of the work and how great these groups were claiming the writing was but it was hard to disentangle that from the multitude of other issues (ideological, structural and ethical).

Reading Peterson 12 – The End of Peterson & the Last Lobster

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12,…


Jordan B Lobsterson

“What if it was the case that the world revealed whatever goodness it contains in precise proportion to your desire for the best? What if the more your conception of the best has been elevated, expanded and rendered sophisticated the more possibility and benefit you could perceive? This doesn’t mean that you can have what you want merely by wishing it, or that everything is interpretation, or that there is no reality. The world is still there, with its structures and limits. As you move along with it, it cooperates or objects. But you can dance with it, if your aim is to dance— and maybe you can even lead, if you have enough skill and enough grace. This is not theology. It’s not mysticism. It’s empirical knowledge. There is nothing magical here— or nothing more than the already-present magic of consciousness. We only see what we aim at. The rest of the world (and that’s most of it) is hidden. If we start aiming at something different— something like “I want my life to be better”— our minds will start presenting us with new information, derived from the previously hidden world, to aid us in that pursuit. Then we can put that information to use and move, and act, and observe, and improve. And, after doing so, after improving, we might pursue something different, or higher— something like, “I want whatever might be better than just my life being better.” And then we enter a more elevated and more complete reality.’ – Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (pp. 100-101). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Jordan B Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life does try to separate itself from its antecedents such as Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking by asserting that it is grounded in empirical knowledge. When Peterson suggest you re-visualise your life (or as alt-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich would say ‘change your mindset’) he does so by claiming our perception is shaped by our attitude – which is vague enough to be undisprovable. To change you have to want to change and to convince yourself and other therapist cliches. As is common in this genre, the advice is not terrible when boiled down to these nuggets.

Take a step back though and we can see that nasty side.


The Shape of Water – 2017

A common perception of society and human nature runs through social-Darwinism, post-war US pro-capitalism, Randian libertarianism and fascism. That perception does not mean that all these things are the same – libertarianism isn’t fascism – just that there’s a shared assumption about the world. This is that the strong lead and the weak follow. The view is both descriptive and normative. The assumption is that is the natural order of things, that we can’t avoid it – yet it is also assumed that a society might try to avoid this and do something different. Any attempt to do so is seen as a violation of the natural order which must be resisted.

The more tolerant libertarian may see this order as being simply the mechanics of the market in operation – they may see themselves as not approving of this state of affairs but simply acknowledging it as an empirical fact. If men get paid more than women, if poor people have worse health outcomes if some ethnic group is under-achieving educationally then the evidence that shows this shows that it must be inevitable. The fascist on the other hand greets the inequity with more enthusiasm.

A nineteenth-century conservative might see these inequities as God’s divine order:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.
– All Things Bright and Beautiful in Mrs Cecil Alexander’s Hymns for Little Children 1848

A related strand of thinking overlays character on top of this hierarchy. While god has ordered our estate, god has also granted us gifts. Work hard and you can progress is the offer.

Norman Vincent Peale secularised this strand of theological inspired ideology within a secular framework and within mainstream political thinking for post-war America. Taking his own theological stance (tempered by US Protestantism and Calvinism) he mixed in ideas from psychoanalysis, Freud and Jung along with the political attitudes common among the managerial classes of 1950s New York.



Jessica Jones, Season 2 – 2018


12 Rules for Life is simply this same cocktail. The extra ingredient Peterson adds is an anti-‘political correctness’ stance and fear of ‘cultural Marxism’. The essence is the same though:

  • The world is a competitive hierarchy and you can’t/shouldn’t change that
  • But you can change your position in the hierarchy

Only the individual can change and if society changes then this upsets the supposed natural order.



Dana Loesch advertising ‘Superbeets’ 2015


Peterson doesn’t get into guns and only talks about health in vague terms but similar principles can find there way into fitness and wellness culture and gun culture. The emphasis away from the collective or institutional action to change the environment we are in (health systems, crime) to personal action. In each case, how an individual can buy something to get some kind of personal advantage over everybody else.

Accept these concepts in one area and you are primed for them in other areas. The message might not be misogynistic or racist in its first form but the skewed logic leads in that direction. If inequity is just the way the world is then whole classes of people must be poorer because of who they are. If trying to change these inequities is against the natural order than anybody advocating for change is an agent of chaos. If male members of some hegemonic ethnic group or nation keep winning in the game of existence then that is because they are supposed to be winning (either by God’s will or by some natural order or psychic fate) – but if they STOP winning (or don’t win as much) then this must be a breach of the rules.

12 Rules for Life is a series of poorly structured arguments built around this hard to describe quasi-ideology. Each chapter offers a rule for a better life but the content of the chapter often roams off into other points. The advice may be helpful or at worst innocuous but it is the attendant view of the world that is poisonous. There is not a view based on ’empirical knowledge’, when Peterson resorts to objective evidence it is only weakly related to his argument. His prefered mode of argument are appeals to myths and archetypes but even here there is little indication that Peterson has stress-tested his ideas against contrary evidence.

By the end of the book, the cherries have been picked, the arches typed and the anecdotes have been rambled. If the book is evidence of Peterson’s academic ability then I am concerned, if it is evidence of his abilities as a therapist then I am concerned and if it is evidence for his inner-life then I am concerned.

This discussion of how he reacts to cats is revealing:

“When you meet a cat on a street, many things can happen. If I see a cat at a distance, for example, the evil part of me wants to startle it with a loud pfft! sound— front teeth over bottom lip. That will make a nervous cat puff up its fur and stand sideways so it looks larger. Maybe I shouldn’t laugh at cats, but it’s hard to resist. The fact that they can be startled is one of the best things about them (along with the fact that they are instantly disgruntled and embarrassed by their overreaction). But when I have myself under proper control, I’ll bend down, and call the cat over, so I can pet it.” – Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (p. 352). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

I don’t know about others but I don’t have to be under ‘proper control’ to want to pet a cat. I wish Peterson had put this insight in Chapter 1 – it would have changed the book for me. It would have become a character study – an insight into a man with his own demons, attempting to understand himself but prone to extrapolate his own demons onto the rest of humanity.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos is not a book I can recommend anybody read. there are better sources for advice and there are clearer essays on modern rightwing politics.

Reading Peterson 11 – Notes & Facts & Hypothesis

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12,…

There’s no shortage of notes in Jordan B Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life but that doesn’t mean every assertion related to facts is referenced. Also, when references are used they aren’t always tightly associated with the argument. Take this for example from chapter 2:

“This is perhaps because the primary hierarchical structure of human society is masculine, as it is among most animals, including the chimpanzees who are our closest genetic and, arguably, behavioural match. It is because men are and throughout history have been the builders of towns and cities, the engineers, stonemasons, bricklayers, and lumberjacks, the operators of heavy machinery.” – Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (p. 40). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

Now there is a lot wrong with that statement factually but the right reference here, if this was an academic essay, would be to a source discussing historical patterns of employment. Peterson instead links to some modern labour statistics here The tables do use the term ‘traditional occupations’ and ‘non-traditional’ based on proportions of women involves but this is ‘traditional’ in a very loose sense and includes “Meeting, convention, and event planners”. My point here isn’t that the table is wrong of even questioning gendered-roles in employment – just that a lot of references are weak in this fashion. It is vaguely related but not neatly tied to Peterson’s argument.

(This is quite long – so more after the fold)

Continue reading

Anti-Gun Control Arguments Haven’t Become Any Smarter or More Honest

Dishonesty remains at the core of anti-gun control arguments and I note that regardless of evidence, shifting policies, or gun control experiments in countries other than the US, these arguments have barely shifted in decades.

Here’s the failed Sad Puppies 5 leader Sarah Hoyt

Here’s a summary of the arguments deployed:

Self Defence: Hoyt starts with claiming a fundamental right to self-defence. That’s a good start, as at least that is common ground. She trips over it almost straight away.

“So while it’s illegal to attack you, the criminal will still do it, and if you don’t have the right to defend yourself (as is true in many places in Europe) then you’re devolving to the criminals having power of life and death over law abiding citizens. This is a recipe for the law to become dead letter and for everyone ignoring it.”

The argument is posed as if X occurs then Y will happen. If there is no right to self-defence, Hoyt claims then effectively the rule of law will happen. She also claims that in many places in Europe there is no right to self-defence. Where? Because that would be a simple test of her argument. Point out these countries that have no right to self-defence and we can all go see how everyone is now ignoring the law in general.

She doesn’t mention a single one. Nor is it clear which European nation has everyone ignoring the law.

Of course, she also wants to connect this to gun control. The UK has strict gun control, arguably the strictest gun control in Europe. And yet:

Armed population are a defence against tyranny: there is little evidence for this being true and substantial evidence that it is false. Authoritarian governments do not tend to first act against guns but rather tend to first act against ways for people to organise. Free trade unions are a common target, open communication is another. Tyrannical regimes may enact gun control but not more so then non-tyrannical regimes because…most countries enact some kind of gun control.

But more relevant is this claim runs counter to a later argument: criminals will get guns or other arms one way or another anyway.

Lawbreakers will still have guns: Hoyt says:

“Because it makes killing easier, criminals and psychopaths will have it. They will have guns, regardless of what the law says.”

Yet that hardly means it should be made easy for them. A determined burglar can break into your house but that doesn’t mean you should leave your front door open. Making life harder for criminals to commit crimes is how laws work. Few laws prevent all cases of a crime and this kind of fatalism applied across the board really would lead to the law becoming a dead letter with everyone ignoring it.

Of course, Hoyt has forgotten that she thinks actual determined people fighting a tyranny somehow WON’T people to break the law and get guns.

A gun is just a tool: True and tools make it easier for a person to do a thing. Printing presses are tools and the development of printing presses and their spread led to more books and more literacy. Computers are tools and have led to profound social change. Sure, without printing presses people still found ways to make books but precisely because it was harder there were fewer of them. Likewise, without spreadsheets people would still do accounting or statistics but the tools we have make it easier. A gun is a tool that makes killing people EASIER. Hoyt does recognise that guns make killing people easier and then ignores that point.

Note that this argument runs directly counter to the necessary for self-defence argument and the armed population argument. If a determined person will easily use ‘a shoe, my handbag, or the handle to my office door’ to serve the same purpose as a gun then what need does anybody have for a gun?

This argument is part of Schrodinger’s gun – when a gun is both a magical talisman that enables the rule of law and wards of tyranny and yet also a dumb lump of metal easily replaced with a well-aimed shoe.

You can be confident that a person who advances such arguments does so with NO sincerity. To advance these Schrodinger’s gun argument implies that the argument is offered in bad faith.

Gun control is stupid: Hoyt starts struggling:

“The only people who believe that the way to prevent violence is to disarm the law abiding people and leave them at the mercy of psychopaths are children and idiots. “

Children, idiots and a wide range of people on the left and right in most nations of the world. In the English speaking world, in countries with many cultural connections with the US, major gun control measures have been enacted by CONSERVATIVES.

Stalin! The arguments come closer to gibbering at this point. I don’t know how Hoyt thinks the Bolshevik’s came to power but I’m quite certain she doesn’t believe that Lenin and Trotsky were just fine & lovely and Stalin betrayed the revolution. The Bolshevik Red Guard were armed paramilitaries who toppled the Provisional Government. Lenin took power using literally MILITIAS of armed citizens to depose a more democratic (if deeply flawed) government.

Private militias do not have a great track record when it comes to the rule-of-law versus tyrrany. There are many exceptions but a list of people who had their own armed militias BEFORE they took over the state includes these chaps:

  • Pol Pot
  • Mao
  • Lenin (and as a subordinate Stalin)
  • Hitler

On the plus side, there are examples of people’s militia’s fighting for freedom against tyrannical governments or against military dictators (or wannabe military dictators) but even these EXCEPTIONS tend to not be groups that Hoyt would like (e.g. the paramilitary wing of the ANC or the Sandinistas). In zero cases, do we have nations maintaining significant private paramilitary forces during periods of democratic stability with rule of law. Private guns are not a prophylactic defence of freedom.

Gibber, gibber, SOROS!: Seriously.

How Views of Trump Change on the Right

I drew a little schematic of an idea to try and show how some on the right have reacted to Trump.


I’ve naturally focused on my intentionally weird sample of Puppies/right-leaning SF writers. It is also not intended to be particularly accurate at this point – more of a rough sketch of how I see the views shifting. In particular, the starting point is arbitrary- I didn’t double check when the first comment made about Trump’s candidacy was.

The vertical scale runs from opposed to Trump to supportive of Trump through different degrees.

  • Opposed to Trump: the person is simply against Trump for multiple reasons.
  • Opponent is worse: the person is opposed to Trump but sees him as preferable to Hillary Clinton.
  • Anti-anti: The person avoids talking positively about Trump but talks negatively about those who are opposed to Trump.
  • Sceptical support: The person has doubts about Trump but is prepared to support them.
  • Supportive: The person overtly supports Trump

The people listed are based on how I see their publicly expressed views changing over time.

  • LC – Larry Correia. LC expressed strong dislike of Trump, particulalry at nomination time. I think my line is a bit off as he was still talking about both candidates as being equally bad even at the election. However, now when he talks about such issues his position is more anti-anti.
  • JCW-John C Wright. Wright had a more complex journey. I’m not sure how anti-Trump he was initially but Trump was not his favoured candidate. These days he actively promotes what he sees as Trump’s accomplishments.
  • SH – Sarah Hoyt. Initially opposed to Trump, her views became closer to sceptical support over time.
  • VD – Vox Day. Consistenlypro-Trump.

So has Trump won over the anti-Trumps and does that make his position more solid? I assume similar paths are followed by others at the further end of the political spectrum but it is important to consider why some of these people were anti-Trump.

A consistent theme among the early opposition to Trump, aside from his general obnoxiousness, were four important factors:

  • Concern that he was a stealth Democrat based on his past financial aid and general hobnobbing with East Coast Democrats.
  • Concern that he would follow ‘populist’ stimulus style policies – particulalry mass infrastructure spending.
  • Concern that he would mess up the nomination of a new Superme Court Justice.
  • Concern that he was the candidate Clinton could most easily beat (I actually think Ted Cruz was more easily beatable but that’s irrelevant here).

The last dot point was made moot by Trump actually winning. The nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court mean that Trump achieved a core goal for the right of the GOP in general. Finally the first two points have been reduced as concerns by Trump largely following the more standard GOP-right policy agenda.

Over time, Trump has become a more conventional extreme-right GOP politician in terms of policy and hence opposition to Trump in that arena has reduced.