There is a bit in the second season of the Good Place in which Chidi (a dead professor of moral philosophy) realises that the only way he can make progress teaching an eternal being about human ethics is if said being can gain some insight into the possibility of their own mortality.
Watching the SF right grapple with their own theories of aesthetics and popular media can be a bit like that. You get hints at the underlying vulnerabilities of thought that you don’t when you look at national politics. The political discussion is now so many layers deep in bad faith that no claim, principle or supposed viewpoint can be trusted to reflect underlying beliefs. So sometimes you can see the wheels in action and genuine trains of thought.
So here is Anthony M at Superversive struggling with an insight:
“My experience leads me to believe there are three types of media: Media where my opinion stays fairly firm, media that I like more on a rewatch/re-read, and media I like less on a rewatch/re-read. The first category makes up the majority of my media. The second category is relatively small; off the top of my head it includes one or two books, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, a couple of Miyazaki films, and the original Star Wars (retroactively titled “A New Hope”). All of these I thought were merely okay originally but liked more on a rewatch.
The last category was originally a small one, but over time I’ve noticed it grow larger and larger, to the point where I’ve started checking my first responses to things. It includes “The Force Awakens”. It includes all three Peter Jackson “Lord of the Rings” films. It includes the show “Gravity Falls”. It includes the show “Jessica Jones”. All of these are things I liked, even loved, at one point in time but as I’ve looked back at them have noticed more and more flaws, occasionally to the point that I can’t even re-watch them – particularly in the cases of “The Force Awakens” and “Jessica Jones”. And they’re only a few examples!” http://www.superversivesf.com/2017/12/15/the-wall-of-cards/
…but he goes on to conclude that it must be something wrong with the modern world.
I’ve noticed some similar things to Anthony M but also I’ve noticed:
- Things in my visual area don’t always focus as easily as they used to.
- Stairs take longer for me to run up.
- There must be something wacky going on with gravity because my whole body is more attracted to the ground than it used to be and also my skin is sagging…
What’s going on in the world!
It isn’t that it is irrational to think modern popular culture might be inferior in some way but rather that he doesn’t even consider the other possibility.
You age. The impact that new cultural objects have on you becomes less. The worrying, disturbing change in the world is many things, but that particularly hard to grasp, hard to pinpoint feel of impending something is our own mortality.
David Gerrold’s September guest editorial at Amazing Stories took a long time to hit the nerve of what remains of Sad Puppies. When it finally did prick the nervous system of the kerfuffle-formerly-known-as-SP it promoted two angry reactions.
The first from the sometimes insightful Dr. Mauser here: https://drmauser.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/the-science-fiction-is-settled/ Mauser’s essay is sort of sad as he tries to rewrite and re-prosecute the Sad Puppy case. Mauser strongly objected to this statement by Gerrold:
“Instead of discussing the content and the quality of the stories, some people made derogatory comments the race, gender, sexual orientation, and behaviors of other authors. These were comments that were rooted in bigotry. I should point out here that bigotry is not an expression of hatred as much as it is a demonstration of fear, insecurity, and cowardice. It’s natural to fear the unknown — real courage is embracing it.”
Gerrold here referring indirectly to the Sad Puppies, if not by name then by description.
Mauser responded with:
“God help me, but I’m gonna invoke Vox Day. “SJW’s Always Project.” And here’s the perfect illustration of DARVO and Gaslighting. Since the Puppies were always about the quality of the stories, and Gerrold’s side has always been about denigrating writers on the basis of their race (if white), Gender (if male), sexual orientation (if straight), etc. He’s managed to swap the sides in this statement, trying to claim the moral high ground, and in the process ceding that the other side had it. As an old white male himself, Gerrold had best tread carefully among his fellows, since he’s terribly short on intersectionality points.”
In comments that have since wandered off into the ether, I did raise a verbal eyebrow at the “Puppies were always about the quality of the stories” as I’m sure many other who had to trudge through many of the turgid stuff nominated in Sad Puppies 3 would also do. Dr Mauser did replay with an interesting defence of the Sad Puppies that they DID discuss the quality of stories (and hence that Gerrold was lying) but in private Facebook groups – he has since deleted that comment of his.
The rest of the piece is hard to sum up. A broad complaint about the left and a repeated conceptual error that the existence of women SF writers and black SF writers and gay SF writers in the past somehow demonstrates that those writers were never marginalized or forced to overcome obstacles that others did not.
Meanwhile J C Carlton has a more rambling yet more heartfelt piece here https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/what-the-sad-puppies-were-all-about/
I don’t think by the end you’ll know what Sad Puppies was all about except as an example of a cry of angst against a world that refuses to behave.
“The fact was that the Sad Puppies were an attempt by some fans and writers to save Science fiction from itself. An attempt to understand why the decline was happening and correct issues that shoed up in the graying hairs of con attendees for the last twenty years.
The simple truth is that when a club stops seeing new faces, it’s not a good thing. I’ve seen what happens when nobody wants to attract new faces in just about everything I’ve been involved with over the years.”
Of course the Sad Pups remedy (head back to the past) was never going to be a way to bring in ‘new faces’ and the new faces that did appear (hi!) were left-leaning and voted the Sad Puppies below No Award.
Speaking of which:
“The left has been asserting douchebag privilege for as long as I can remember. As well as never hesitating to throw the crap at very opportunity. Years of attending science fiction cons has made that clear to me. I’ve never seen a conservative or religious person proudly strutting down the hall wearing what they believe all over themselves, yet leftists have never hesitated. As well as throwing crap on such people as Tim Bolgeo who certainly did nothing to deserve it. I remember all too clearly an Archon and a certain douchebag in Space Ghost costume who made a point of searching through the archives of Bolgeo’s newsletter for LibertyCon looking for racism and finding it in a piece on inner city schools. If Space Ghost believes that racism is the problem in inner city schools, then he must live on another planet.”
The reference to Tim Bolego relates to this incident in 2014, covered at File770 http://file770.com/?p=17147 I’m not getting into the rights and wrongs of that situation primarily because I’m not in possession of the facts but it is interesting in terms of a smaller kerfuffle whose outcome remains a point of anger for some. The comments are interesting in the File770 piece also – Puppy adjacent people such as Jason Cordova, Toni Weisskopf, and Jerry Pournelle all had points to make.
Underneath a lot of the broader movement associated with the Sad Puppies is this same angst and anger and list of grudges and perceived slights of an ‘us’ by a ‘them’. Despite many of the people who rallied against the Sad Puppies having no particular involvement (or even opinion) of Archon 38 or its dis-inviting a guest speaker, the actions taken against Bolego is seen in Carlton’s mind as being the actions of a whole group.
There is a similar theme in Dr Mauser’s piece that I’ve picked up before. In a comment that Dr Mauser would later delete he said:
“Bit of a goalpost shift there. Quality can be a matter of taste. But Gerrold accused the puppies of “Instead of discussing the content and the quality of the stories, some people made derogatory comments [about] the race, gender, sexual orientation, and behaviors of other authors. These were comments that were rooted in bigotry” Which is a flat out lie. Whereas the Kickers went to such vile lengths as calling Brad Torgerson’s 20+ year long mixed marriage a sham and a shield so that he could say bigoted things without repercussion.”
The point being “kickers” – as in a poorly defined group with no particular cohesion or common view beyond being critical of Sad Puppies. Yet the words or actions of anyone that can be included in the group are taking as statements of the whole – or even misrepresentations of what one person said taken as statements of the (poorly defined) whole.
There isn’t much to say beyond this. The anger remains among the Puppies, perhaps fueled by a turn inwards. The post-Puppy perspective becomes a mythology of them trying to save Science Fiction and bringing new people in, rather than a reaction to the new people entering both the field and fandom.
Still doing this for my sins.
I think I forgot to mention that Chapter 6 also involves a weird proxy argument with Mary Robinette Kowal. The pretext is to demonstrate some of the fallacies he mentions in action but he fails to describe them adequately. The general point is that there is ambiguity in what she said (some of which was from Twitter – not a great medium for ambiguity free communication) and therefore he was really right all along. Suffice to say the section works its way back to SFWA expelling Vox etc etc.
After the Aristotlean fallacies, Chapter 6 takes us to list of “SJW Tactics”. This bit is kind of fun because it is classic Vox projection. He divides them up into individual tactics and then organizational tactics. However, I’m going to do them in a different order – organizational first and then a game for everybody with “individual”.
These are the terrible things SJWs are supposed to do to organizations. Vox lists seven and he manages to set up a deeply insightful analysis of how an organization can be destroyed by political extremists. The only problem is that as an analysis it fit bests how the right have wrecked the Republican party. Again, I’ve changed the order to show the sequence of events better.
“The Code of Conduct: Modifying the organization’s rules and rendering them more nebulous in order to allow the prosecution or defense of any member, according to their perceived support for social justice.”
Lobbying organizations on the right like the NRA or “Americans for Tax Reform” have systematically created an extension of the GOP’s actual rules and accountabilities for their politicians. For example the ATR has been pressurizing Republican candidates (at state and federal level) to sign the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
(the exact wording varies between position)
These kinds of ideological tests backed up with threats against the candidates nomination act as a complex code of conduct for GOP representative. Note there is little here that pertains to the ethics of their behaviour but only their ideological purity
“The Pharisee Gambit: The SJWs inside the organization load an organization’s rules and operating procedures with conflicting requirements and procedural logjams. This makes it highly difficult or impossible to get anything done. They attribute the resulting inability to accomplish anything on those within the organization they want to discredit.”
OK, I don’t know enough about the Republican Party’s organizational rules to point out a in-party example but never mind that because this reads like a near perfect description on Congressional Republican behavior dating back to at least Newt Gingrich. The only upside to their habitual procedural log jamming, is that they now find themselves so out of practice that they are struggling to push their own agenda – despite controlling both houses and the Presidency.
“Unlocking the Door: Relaxing the organization’s standards enough to permit unqualified entryists to enter the organization.”
It’s not just Sarah Palin, it is a long history of temperamentally unsuitable candidates now occupying positions of power. At a higher level we’ve seen an unwillingness to adequately vet Trump’s appointees and the normalization of white supremacists and krypto-fascists within the Republican Party.
“The Conspiracy: If you put two SJWs in the same room, they will find each other and organize a secret mailing list designed to coordinate attacks on people and ultimately converge converge the institution by sundown.”
I guess arguably the conspiracies have been quite open and hence only a partial match here.
“Break the Norms: Constantly violate the social rules that dictate the avoidance of political and religious matters in order to stir up conflict inside the organization.”
Again the GOP and the Fox News approach of make EVERYTHING partisan and force everything into a narrative about somehow Christianity being persecuted.
“The Skin Carcass: Identify a respected institution. Kill it. Gut it. Wear its carcass as a skin suit, demanding respect.”
Voila, I give you the Grand Old Republican Party currently shuffling around with not a single shred left of the principles that it might have had in 1950.
“Blame History Game: Infiltrate, capture, and converge an organization, then blame all the resulting failures on the organization’s non-SJW positions prior to the changes you have made.”
Enough said really. The only remaining question is whether the same approach will continue with the United States.
For a happier note, observe how the last five also largely describes the Sad and Rabid tactics for Worldcon and the Hugos: entryism, breaking the norms, blame the past and the final objective turn the result into a mockery. Castalia still tries to use “Hugo Finalist” in this manner. Have no doubt that they would have attempted the first two if they had had more numbers, better organization and had faced less determined opposition.
OK here is where everyone can play!
Vox lists thirty odd terrible crimes of so called “SJWs”. Now I think I can safely say I recognize each of these from encounters from Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, Gamergaters, or the wider world of Scrappy Doos. I started listing the examples but they became too numerous and overlapping. I’ve numbered and abbreviated each one and replaced “SJW” with […] so you can imagine the appropriate context. All you have to do is think of a Sad or Rabid Puppy example of them doing exactly that (or Gamergater example but that’s even easier as this is like a laundry list of Gamergate’s behaviors). Some overlap, like that time the Mad Genius crew decided Spacefaring Kitten was really Brianna Wu, others some up the whole movement (e.g. ‘The Predicted Demise’).
Extra points if the example is Vox himself 🙂 Answers either in your own head or if you want to share put them in the comments 🙂
- The Tag Team: If you take down an […]s argument with dialectic and successfully explain why his position makes absolutely no sense under any circumstances, he’ll disappear, but another […] will promptly show up to attack your position from a different direction.
- The Brave Sir Robin: When overmatched, the […] will run away and declare victory.
- The Dog Pile: If triggered by a rhetorical response to his own attack, the […] will broadcast it as far and wide as he can in order to summon reinforcements. This tactic is also known as the Swarm, and is the desired result of the Point-and-Shriek.
- The Bait and Ban: The […] attempts to draw you into a discussion, often by asking seemingly innocent questions or pretending to be seeking information about something that he’s just heard about. His questions will increasingly turn prosecutorial, then devolve into outright attacks. [To force a ban of some kind or as a pretext of a ban]
- DARVO: This stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.
- Crying Wolf: When an […] is feeling overmatched, or is responded to rhetorically in kind, he will often make false claims of abuse, harassment, and stalking.
- The Move On: When the […] helpfully tries to get you to just admit you made a mistake so everyone can move on.
- The Custom Dictionary: This is the same as Aristotle’s Ambiguity, or the Humpty Dumpty Dictionary, in which the […] selects, or utilizes, whatever definition he finds most useful to his cause at the moment, regardless of what you actually meant.
- The Gatling Gun: The […] spams you with insults until they find one they believe triggers you or makes you look sufficiently bad to others. This doesn’t necessarily mean one that actually serves either purpose, which can be confusing.
- The Woodstock 1969: The […] claims you were at a place, did something, or had a conversation that could have never taken place. The more outlandish the claim, the more effective this tactic is, because it tends to confuse the target and it can be difficult to convincingly disprove a negative, especially when the accusation is coming from a stranger on the Internet.
- The Planted Seed: This is when the […] intentionally plants a false claim with the aim of getting enough of their allies in the media or high visibility sites to repeat it. [This one is mainly Vox complaining that people call him a white supremacist because of all the white supremacist shit he says.]
- The Worst Person in the World: The […] claims you are “worse than Hitler” due to your violation of the Narrative.
- The False Ally: One […] pretends to take your side while the other […] presents the […] case. The first […] then pretends to be convinced and demands to know how you could fail to be similarly convinced. He acts betrayed when you fail to go along with his sudden conversion.
- Attack the Family: […]s will always go after your wife and children. [or spouse of any gender presumably]
- The Promotion: […]s always attempt to elevate a leader of the opposition in order to freeze, isolate, and marginalize him, thereby weakening the opposition. .
- The Fight Promoter: There is nothing […]s like better than “let’s you and him fight”.
- The Challenging Assertion:This is when the […] makes a statement of opinion presented as fact, daring you to contradict it and thereby reveal yourself as a Narrative-denier and legitimate target for the […].
- It’s Just This One Brick: […]s always defend the next tactical step towards their long-term objective as being totally unrelated to all their past and future efforts.
- The False Fallacy: When confronted, they will often claim the opponent has made a logical fallacy, although when asked which specific fallacy was made, they are not only unable to identify it, but even point out where in the argument it happened. [Vox then gives an example in which he had an argument but the guy does actually point out one of Vox’s common fallacies – false equivalence]
- The Straw Man’s Advocate: The […] assumes a position for his opponent, then pontificates on how this assumed position is contrary to something that the opponent has said, creating a hitherto nonexistent dichotomy between the opponent’s two positions. Any failure to rectify the real position with the imaginary one is proof that the opponent is wrong and a hypocrite.
- The Straw Man’s Mask: This is when the […] incorrectly summarizes the opponent’s position in order to better attack it.
- The Failed Flounce: When feeling pressed, […]s frequently declare that they are too busy to continue the discussion or have to leave for one reason or another. More often than not, this does not prevent them from continuing the argument for another hour or two.
- The Forgetful Fade: Upon being confronted with an opponent who outmatches them, an […] will often vanish, only to return again later with precisely the same arguments, facts, and figures that were previously refuted.
- Attack the Source: […]s frequently request a source for even the most obviously true statement in order to attack it rather than argue the point directly or admit they are wrong.
- The Sock Puppet: This is when an […] creates multiple accounts in order to pretend to be different individuals and create the false impression that more people support his position than actually do.
- The Amused Spectator: […]s love to claim that everyone is laughing at their opponent… They like to pose as being amused, world-weary sophisticates, but they can never maintain the pose for long once people start mocking them and it often collapses in an entertaining, rage-filled meltdown.
- The Brushfire: If an […] feels he is losing the upper hand, he will not infrequently attempt to burn down the discussion with distractions, inanities, vulgarities and obscenities in order to avoid taking a kill shot, or at least to prevent third parties from noticing his defeat.
- The Crowd Inflation: […]s always, always, always exaggerate their numbers and posture as if their position is the standard, accepted, mainstream one, no matter how obviously untrue that is.
- The Predicted Demise: An […] will frequently affect sadness over the inevitable downfall of his opponent, who is fated for certain failure due to his crimethink and ineptitude. Example: “It’s a little sad, actually. You’re really overestimating how much people care.”
- The Worst Possible Assumption: An […] will consistently assign the worst possible meaning to every statement and preemptively take offense at it without making any attempt to determine whether any offense was intended or not.
- The Concerned Supporter: This shows up every election cycle, when obvious Democrats claim to have voted for every Republican candidate for President except the current one, because he has gone too far.
As I already have one whateverhappenedtoo post up about those unhappy hounds of Hugo hostility, I’ll leave one more snippet: the domain name ownership of “sadpuppies4.org” has expired. The website that hosted the fourth iteration of distempered doggedness that used to look like this:
Now looks like this:
While it was kind of tempting to buy the domain name, I have, in a stunning expression of will power, NOT DONE so. ‘Tis said to be haunted and whosoever claims the domain becomes consumed with hubris and claims of embiggingment that fall sadly flat and leave one having petty arguments with Declan Finn.
The erstwhile leader of the Sad Puppy 3 debarkle is having a major Facebook moan about the Hugo’s being an ‘affirmative action’ award, again. This time he declares himself vindicated because oh-my-gosh lots and lots of women and “and/or minorities” won Hugos. Notably, when the converse happens (men winning a great big pile of stuff) this is not regarded as proof of an award being an ‘affirmative action’ award for men.
Anyway, just in case you were sitting around wondering whether Brad had either mellowed or gone on a basic reasoning course, the answer is no, he hasn’t. https://www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen?hc_ref=ARRQtpPx-6zh7Zf2MeTUhcD8MYIZEgIoNNgnuhR1H6QAaloBq2q1D7RSkmXAc0MHiz4&fref=nf&pnref=story
“About 30 months ago, I openly declared that Science Fiction literature’s so-called most prestigious award, had become a tool of affirmative action. It wasn’t about the stories anymore. It was about the identities.
The response of the cognoscenti was to call me—and anyone else who agreed with me—a host of terrible names. It was “oppressive” to acknowledge the truth. We were “hateful” for pointing out what was in plain sight.
Last I checked, they gave out no less than 16 Hugo awards to women and/or minorities. For the publishing year 2016. Only 2 out of a total of 18 Hugos, went exclusively to “oppressors.” “
File770 has a round-up of the Dragon Award antics from the Puppy and Scrappy quarters today: http://file770.com/?p=36848
The short version. Two authors have asked to withdraw:
- Alison Littlewood – who was an unwilling nominee on the Rabid Puppy slate and doesn’t want her book or her name associated with it.
- John Scalzi – who took one look at Brian Niemeier’s vote-against-SJWScalzi-by-voting-for-me tactic and gave a big ‘nope’ and walked away.
Alison Littlewood has published the response she received from Pat Henry – the president of Dragon Con. There are three things of note.
Firstly, they aren’t going to withdraw either author from the ballot – this isn’t a surprise because logistically they really have no easy way of doing so. They have already sent out Survey Monkey ballots (prior to publically stating the nominees) and so to withdraw authors they would have to restart the process. Given the assumption that the whole award is being run by a couple of people with little support (hence the odd behaviour around the website) they probably don’t have the time or resources to do so. Note Dragon Con itself has the money and resources to do so – they just aren’t going to spend it on the Dragon Awards.
The second thing of note is this bizarre statement of false equivalence: “We are aware of the rabid puppies and justice warriors efforts to effect the voting and we go through a number of steps to avoid ballot stuffing or other vote rigging behaviors. ” As others have pointed out not only is there no evidence of “justice warriors” trying to effect the vote with ‘ballot stuffing’ or ‘vote rigging’ there is ZERO evidence of any left-wing campaign to get any votes in the Dragon Awards. The SF-left, such that it is, has been dismissive of the awards. Meanwhile, the Rabid Puppy slate was there for all to see – just some basic commitment to facts would be nice.
The third thing has been less commented on: “The original purpose of the Dragon Awards was not so much as awards but as a quality reading list.” This original purpose has not been well stated before but there are aspects of the awards that point to it. For example, in the “Process” tab of the site, we have this: http://web.archive.org/web/20170809184831/http://awards.dragoncon.org/the-process/
“During the award nomination period, we will regularly send lists and information about your most popular choices.”
Of course, nothing remotely like this has happened. Also, the 2016 nominee list has been disappeared from the Dragon Award website entirely.
Update: The Verge has some good coverage and more Dragon Con response https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/9/16118054/john-scalzi-alison-littlewood-dragon-awards-controversy-sci-fi-horror
[Camestros] Welcome back, loyal viewers!
[Straw Puppy] (woof)
[Camestros] This is the exciting third episode of the Book Club Roundtable Review Club Non-Audio Podcast Club. A bit of a change in the roster this week. Susan can’t make it and Timothy’s long term collaborator and all-round trickster Straw Puppy is here to take her place. Welcome on board Straw Puppy.
[Straw Puppy] woof
[Timothy] Ha, ha, great joke there Pups.
[Camestros] Sooooo, we still seem to be stuck reading Run Star: Realms Rescue…
[Timothy] Correction, Dragon Award Nominated Star Realms: Rescue Run.