Reading Vox Day so you don’t have to part…I’ve lost count

I had wondered if extreme nationalist Vox Day had given up writing political pamphlets but yet another popped up the other day. It was sort of out of the blue, so either he’s been promoting things less or I’ve been paying less attention and probably the latter.

Entitled Corporate Cancer: How to Work Miracles and Save Millions by Curing Your Company it is primarily a rehash of his tow earlier “SJW” books. It’s the same thesis (vaguely defined social justice warriors are somehow out to get you) structured in a similar way but using mainly examples from businesses rather than church groups or publishing.

It purports to demonstrate that social justice will cost a company lots of money but you won’t be surprised to discover that the criteria for ‘social justice’ is very flexible as is the harm done to the companies. He leads with the latest Star Wars films (which he hasn’t watched and which he only has a second hand grasp of) and the fact that they didn’t make as huge a profit for the hugely profitable Disney company as Disney wanted. It is just a rehash of the tired grievance from past years and poor example for his thesis. The claim is that Disney s ‘converged’ a fatal stage of commitment to social justice that destroys a company (or perhaps turns it into a company dependent on government grants or something – the goalposts shift). Day manages to be wrong about both things: Disney is a cynical money grabbing corporation whose commitment to any kind of progressive values is superficial and also it manifestly isn’t going bankrupt any time soon.

Later “examples” are similarly dis-attached. Google is given as an example but again it manifestly isn’t collapsing financial. Apple’s lack of direction post Steve Jobs is also given but here Day neither shows in what way Apple has become more social-justicey recently nor how that connects to Day’s gripe about dongles.

The villain of Day’s previous polemic was nice ladies who help out at church groups. In this one he focuses on HR departments, which are also a recurring bête-noir for Day. Note that as far as I’m aware Day’s multiple career choices have not included a job in a moderate sized corporation with a HR department but he projects a deep grudge against a stereotypical HR team. That HR-phobia becomes easier to understand when you recall that Day’s target audience is disaffected men who feel they have low social status. The thrust is to persuade some confused, somewhat lost person that their troubles at work are due to a vast “SJW” enemy that bizarrely appears in the form of modern corporate capitalism. So if the reader is feeling picked on because of lateness or poor work performance or poor relations with colleagues or bad personal hygiene etc they can rationalise the involvement of HR as political persecution.

Cults, crank self-help groups and crypto-fascist organisations (in so far as those three things are different) have always preyed on the disaffected and the lost. The disdain Day frequently shows to “gammas” is part of that strategy: fuelling insecurity by citing issues that people can see within themselves and then violently reject. Self-hatred is both a powerful drug and a sinister recruitment sergeant.

When looking at the chapter headings I was close to deciding not to bother reviewing the book. The main motive was for completeness having trudged through the previous related volumes. Not to bother probably would have been the right decision: there is nothing new here and I would imagine even Day’s fans would find this book repetitive.

However, what tipped the balance was a something that I was curious about and the chapter headings implied that Day had some revelations to make about a story I’d been following. I’ll spoil the surprise and reveal in advance that he doesn’t but let me explain the background.

About a year ago Day had a crowd-funding campaign suspended in an unusual manner. I covered it here and and File 770 covered it here http://file770.com/after-bleeding-cool-interviews-vox-day-indiegogo-axes-latest-alt-hero-comic-campaign/ and Day cites the File 770 article as background (i.e. he accepts it as being factually correct). As a whole bunch of things were going on at the same time (a NPR podcast, a Bleeding Cool interview, a crowdfunding campaign finalising), Day claims these were all connected. However, we have little background on the circumstances of Indiegogo suspending Day’s crowdfunding campaign other than from Day himself. Day is far from being the most blatantly dishonest person in Puppydom but he is not a reliable narrator either.

We do know that Day threatened Indiegogo with legal action but I’ve seen many examples before of Day doing so but without any public conclusion – which could, of course mean anything. Day had suggested on his blog the matter had come to some sort of end but of what kind was unclear.

However, in a recent twist, Day’s publishing company had started a new crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in the last few weeks. Did that mean everything was resolved between Day and the crowdfunding platform? Maybe or not quite. The new campaign (which I believe has just ended or is about to end) was to reprint 1910 ‘junior classics’ in what appears to be an attempt by Day to capture the money of far-right Baby Boomer grandparents.

There were some oddities about the campaign though. It was clear that Indiegogo were aware it was one of Day’s companies running the campaign but rather than “Castalia” or “Arkhaven”, the group listed was “Redacted Press” based in “San Francisco, United States”. A second oddity was that the campaign was only accessible via a direct link. A search for the campaign on Indiegogo’s platform for either ‘Junior Classics’ or ‘Redacted Press’ do not lead to the campaign. The only way to get to it was via a link provided by Day. Why? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Day has two chapters on the issue in the book and curiosity got the better of me. The first of the two (Chapter 8) gave the background and the story that I already knew up to the start of an arbitration process. The next chapter, entitled Chapter 9: Indiegogo Case Study: The Arbitration Process and Outcome offered the missing section. However the contents of the chapter read:

“[REDACTED UNTIL OCTOBER 11, 2021] The parties to the arbitrations have come to a resolution on the matter. The arbitrations have been terminated. We will not be making any further statement about it. Please do not ask questions or probe for details about the resolution of the matter.”

Well, I guess the joke is on me and I must concede that I got played.

In the end even the new bit in the book was nothing new.

So how are people reacting to impeachment?

Last week I looked primarily at how the least pro-Trump of the pro-Trump trio of groups were reacting to some Democrat electoral victories (short version: badly) but I didn’t talk much about the other two groups. There are weird and interesting things going on there as well. I’m not going to be posting many links for reasons that will become obvious.

Reluctant Converts

The group I call reluctant converts are conservatives/libertarians who were initially distrustful of Trump and apprehensive about him during the GOP Presidential nomination process but who pledged support for him by the time of the election or since. In terms of the milieu of right wing authors discussed here that would be people like Sarah Hoyt or John C Wright.

Their main political issue currently is the name of the whistle-blower who raised concerns about Trump’s Ukraine phone call. The case for anonymity for the whistle-blower is simple, they went through the right channels, we all should want some protection for public servants holding elected officials accountable and there is genuine reason to think they might come to some harm. In terms of the veracity of the complaint, the whistle-blower’s claims have since all been verified. There does not seem to be any key points of fact that rely on the integrity of the whistle-blower as a witness. To use an analogy with more conventional crime, they are the person who rang the cops rather than a key witness.

However, naming the whistle-blower has become a big thing among right-wing media. Fox News has been dancing around it. Former Superman actor and now right-wing personality Dean Cain, apparently named the wrong person. Supposed libertarian Rand Paul has been naming them and among the group I call the Reluctant Converts it has become a point of honour to circulate a name on social media.

Facebook and Twitter, mindful for once of the danger of internet mobs (which if you recall the Reluctant Converts are very much against if said mob is three or four people and left-wing) have adopt a no-tolerance policy to spreading names of potential whistle-blowers. With a mighty cry of “you’re not the boss of me” some of the Reluctant Converts have taken to posting multiple times one of the names. As a consequence they have ended up with Facebooks bans. Sarah Hoyt in particular has been busy disrupting her own social media presence to circulate a name, which essentially means nothing, as if it was a major revelation. Spoiler: the whistle-blower was somebody you have never heard of.

It’s both odd and predictable. The ad-hominem argument is central to the mode of debate as is a concept of contamination. If the whistle-blower can be shown to be a Democrat then, the argument goes, Trump is innocent even though the facts revealed by the whistle-blower have been confirmed by the White House.

The Ironic Cheerleaders

This is were things are a lot more strange. The Alt-Right is currently in one of its phases of shifting grifters. The good news is that there is currently lots of metaphorical back stabbing and infighting and the bad news is that whoever comes out on top will still be a racist arse spreading hate.

The current landscape can be summed up with three oddly-similar looking boyish fascists (links are to Rational Wiki). Off on the alt-lite/intellectual dark web side is the irritating Ben Shapiro who is nominally anti-Trump but mainly promotes similar ideas. More overtly supporting Trump is Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA. Currently seeking leadership of the 8-Channers and other odious internet denizens is Nick Fuentes of America First (which is as fascist as it sounds). Fuentes is actively disrupting Turning Point USA events presumably as a way of gaining status and also to give his followers something edgy to do (see https://www.diggitmagazine.com/column/charlie-kirk-culture-war-groyper-trolls ) In short Kirk hates Fuentes and Fuentes hates Kirk and everybody hates Ben Shapiro. It would be funny but Fuentes main objective is to push more overt anti-Semitism.

Confused yet? OK, remember Richard Spencer, the crypto-Nazi involved in the murderous Unite the Right Rally? Milo Yianopoulus (another name fading into obscurity) released audio of Spencer having a very emotional and very-Hitleresque rant in the wake of the disaster of the Unite the Right Rally. The release of the audio by Yianopoulus was clearly intended to discredit Spencer, presumably on the grounds of being too obviously a nazi. Why would he do that? The answer is that Spencer has been critical of Fuentes – I assume because everybody involved are an ugly mass of egos and bigotry. There’s a point where close examination just finds more gross toxic sludge.

Quite where Vox Day sits in that mess of backbiting shitholes I don’t know but I believe that Day’s friend, the flat-earth former actor Owen Benjamin is also feuding with Fuentes.

Relatively not grounded in reality

It would be hard to describe the ‘Sceptical Advocates’ reaction I discussed in an earlier post as either measured or rational (it ended with calls for mass executions of political opponents) but at least it was a comprehensible (if appalling) position. Heading into the other groups, things become even less grounded and bizarre.

Things are only going to get even stranger.

Vox Day objects to a two-year old post

Well this is very odd. Infamous nationalist Vox Day has a new post [http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/10/mailvox-spotting-quality.html ] dedicated to little old me but oddly it is about this post from two years ago: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/spotting-fakery/

“One of the more inept File 770ers – which is saying something – is Camestros Fappletron. His Gamma backside is still burning from the spanking he received here in 2016 after he tried to pose as a Master of Rhetoric and only succeeded in demonstrating that he simply did not understand Aristotle’s distinction between rhetoric and dialectic.
So, it’s more than a little amusing to note that he’s been trying to retroactively rectify the situation for years, as Samuel Collingwood Smith noted.
Earlier today, a leftist left a negative comment on a review I did in 2016 of Vox Day’s “A Throne of Bones”. They ended by linking to a hatepost claiming the positive Amazon reviews were deceptive based on an analysis by a site called Fakepost.com from 2017. Because, of course, the accuracy of a self-appointed analysis site using an unpublished algorithm is beyond question..
I had no idea what he was talking about, because of course I pay absolutely no attention to Camestros or his incessant anklebiting. But apparently, back in 2017, File 770’s Master of Rhetoric decided to prove that many of the 332 reviews of A Throne of Bones, which average 4.5 stars, are fake.”

Sadly Vox’s reading comprehension is still less than stellar or maybe his grasp of logic — oh what the heck, probably both. Vox’s tome was what I was using to examine at Fakespot not vice-versa. My conclusion wasn’t that his reviews were fake but that Fakespot would struggle to spot the difference between fake and sycophantic. Here’s me:

Ouch…but to some extent, we already know that the comment section of Vox’s blog is full of willing volunteers ready to do sycophanting stuff and/or trolling/griefing at Vox’s request. Arguably those are genuine reviews, just that they are hard to distinguish between click-farm fakery. Think of it as a kind of Turing Test, which his right-wing minions repeatedly fail by acting like…well, minions.

Meanwhile back to Vox. He also complains that:

“Sadly for the ever-inept Fappletron, he didn’t bother checking Fakepost to confirm that its initial analysis still held true, as Mr. Smith informs us.”

I’m not sure what he means here. Does he think I should be regularly updating that post from 2017 with the current fake-ness rating of his reviews? That would be just weird. As for checking AT THE TIME whether the ratings changed? Yup, did that and made a point of it:

[A note of caution: the site doesn’t re-analyse automatically so the analysis you get may be out of date. The initial ratings for those two books were different but changed when I clicked the option to re-analyse]

So returning to the point. Don’t know about whoever left a comment on a blog I hadn’t heard of but no, I was not saying Vox Day’s review comments were fake just that at the time Fakespot would have a hard time spotting the difference between his minions’ reviews and fake ones.

Anyway, the good news for any regular at File 770, as I am officially now one of the most inept that makes most of your LESS inept according to Vox and you may style yourselves accordingly.

Meanwhile, the Earth keeps spinning…

Vox Day sort of denies he is a flat earther

I say “sort of” because he really doesn’t believe the Earth is more or less spherical. One of Day’s recruits to his video streaming thing has been the comedian Owen Benjamin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Benjamin. Benjamin had the beginnings of a Hollywood career including co-starring with Christina Ricci in an obscure film in 2009. However, his career got derailed by his increasingly extreme views. These days Benjamin pushes extreme anti-Semitic conspiracy theories which amount to a kind of unified theory in which her thinks everybody is trying to make you believe lies about the moon landing etcetera as part of a Satanic plot. It’s the usual nexus of anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia with epistemic paranoia. The central theory is that people are lying about everything to make you believe lies in general.

What’s interesting here is that Day appears to be following Benjamin down the same path. Not that Day also doesn’t push the same kind of fallen-world anti-Semitic nonsense but that he’s being more open about how out there some of his beliefs about the world are — including flat earthism.

The specific pretext is this 2012 interview with a NASA data visualisation person: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/about/people/RSimmon.html The interview explains how he helped create an image of one hemisphere of the Earth as seen from space by stitching together multiple higher resolution images of Earth. Aha! Say the flat Earthers, Manipulation! Lies! etc etc.

It’s something you see a lot from falt-earth to vaccine denial to global warming denial: a rejection of any data, images, graphs etc that relies on any kind of inference or data cleaning etc. The demand is for evidence that is an unfiltered capture of external reality — which is impossible. Heck, not only is it impossible but which we know is myth at least since the time of Plato. What you see out of your own eyes is stitched together and processed and inferred.

Day sums up his position:

“Notice that ALL of the hemisphere photography we think we’ve seen has turned out to be nonexistent. It’s becoming clear that from the evolution fairy tale to the Blue Marble fraud to the dinosaur fraud and the satellite myth, the world is very, very different than we have been told it is. What is the point? To deceive you into serving Satan rather than God.”

Interestingly he gets a lot more pushback in his comments than he normally does. I guess even Day’s followers aren’t keen to adopt a flat-earth although structurally it’s no different than the anti-vaxx and anti-evolution stuff Day peddles.

In the comments Day responds with a weak equivocation:

“VD October 24, 2019 12:20 PM Jesus… The earth is not flat. What part of “fraud is being committed concerning X” leads you to immediately conclude that this means “Therefore Y”? I don’t believe the Earth is flat. But I don’t believe the mainstream narrative concerning the nature of the Earth either, because it contains too many lies. Binary thinking is usually a serious mistake.”

The “mainstream narrative” here being that the world is more-or-less spherical.

Unfortunately Day really does need to engage in some binary thinking here. Just by visiting different places in the world we can quickly observe that whatever curvature the Earth has it’s pretty much the same everywhere. Sure big mountains are pointy and oceans are flat but in both places you can observe that whatever is going on it’s pretty much the same everywhere. That is seriously limiting to the range of possibilities for the curvature of the Earth. A flat or curved disc with an inaccessible underneath would have edges with a radically different curvature. Any shape that you could circumnavigate, if it wasn’t basically a sphere, would have some spots with extreme curvature that frankly everybody would have noticed i.e. the Earth really isn’t a cube.

A sphere isn’t just one option among many for the shape of a thing. It’s a particularly special shape. If you want a uniform (more or less) curvature and no edges, then let’s just say your options are limited. Or…maybe the devil is making me say that…

A typology of some online Trump supporters

A non-exhaustive typology of online Trump supporters

Back when Donald Trump was first nominated as the Republican Presidential candidate and then went on to win the Presidency, I realised I had an unusual group to examine. Having spent time following the travails of a right wing insurgent group within science fiction fandom, I had already researched a kind of ersatz focus group to see how the winds of political fortune might shift or remain steady over the following years. A set of individuals with marginally different ideologies, different levels of commitment to Donald Trump but also with a prolictivity to state their opinion of the day at great length (if not always with great clarity).

The problem with using the notable Sad and Rabid Puppies as political weather gauges is that there will be groups not represented within their numbers. For example, I don’t think there is any one who is a basic core Trump supporter — i.e. somebody who without hint of irony, just found Trump appealing from the get go. I assume such people exist based on polls and other studies but I don’t think they have a clear representation in the group I’m looking at.

At this stage, I just want to introduce a terminology rather than to cite examples. The key factors are antipathy to the left, antipathy to the Republican Party establishment, self-perception of being a libertarian and emotional commitment to Trump. I’ve ranked them from the most publicly supportive of Trump to the least.

One: Ironic Cheerleaders
This group are most likely to share Trump memes, refer to him as God-Emperor and ideologically are Alt-Right. They typically have extreme views on immigration and embrace misogyny and/or white nationalism. The support of Trump is loud but rarely with substance. They like it when Trump is vulgar and they like it when he upsets the conservative establishment. They really have very little interest in any policies other than hard line anti-immigration policies and withdrawal of US forces from extended conflicts in the Middle-East. They may actually be supportive of some left policies such as student loan forgiveness. They may be former libertarians but are no longer committed to libertarian policies and rhetoric or identify as libertarian. They are more inclined to tie their religion to their politics.

However, their support for Trump is based very much on Trump winning and doing wild shit. For them he is the Commander-in-Chief of internet trolling. Whatever their real emotional commitment to Trump may be, their public commitment has typically been framed with irony and an implication that they are joking. Ironically the irony is itself ironic and the nature of the discourse they have established with each other means they themselves are often unclear as to which ideas they are deeply committed to and which ones were just meant as a joke. If/when Trump falls out of power, the range of reaction from this group will be multifold, from a shrug of the shoulders that it had all been a giant prank to potentially violent denial. So far the only really upsetting thing Trump has done in their eyes is to suggest video-games may have a role in gun violence.

Two: Reluctant converts
This group were opposed to Trump during the Republican nomination process. They may have preferred Ted Cruz or Rand Paul as nominees. They are more likely to still identify as libertarian and would vehemently oppose a policy like student loan forgiveness. After Trump was nominated they shifted position to supporting him. Since then Trump has not revealed himself to be a secret Democrat mole and they feel a lot more comfortable in publicly supporting him. That commitment has become more sincere over time and it would take a lot to shake it. They have not been concerned by Trump’s tariff policy or trade war rhetoric. They actively applaud the tough line on immigration but still frame issues in terms of “legal v illegal”. They strongly believe that voter fraud is a major issue and that Democrats have much less support than opinion polls and elections suggest.

Their support for Trump would be very hard to shake. Major tax increases, student loan reform or gun control might shift their position. They are vehemently anti-left and anti-liberal. They feel besieged and that Trump is beleaguered by the same conspiratorial forces that are beleaguering them. If/when Trump falls out of power, they will be discombobulated. They will fall back to their original opinion of him (and they still preface their support with a token expression of his faults) but they will also maintain a strong stab-in-the-back mythology about Trump i.e. he was betrayed by the deep state etc. They aren’t QAnon cultists per-se (that’s more the first group) but they are fertile ground for believing conspiracy theories. If Trump was ousted they would be happy with Mike Pence.

Three: Sceptical advocates
Woe betide you if you ever suggest one of these is a Trump supporter! They will proudly state that they didn’t vote for him or if they did that it was only to save America from Hillary Clinton. This group is anti-anti-Trump rather than pro-Trump even though they are rarely if ever critical of him. Their main policy beliefs are gun rights and military funding. They are ambiguous about support for US military intervention overseas but supportive of an expanded military. They are anti-PC, anti-SJW. If they are religious it is not that central to their public beliefs. Despite nominally being not for Trump, they will make a show of attacking those attacking Trump and sometimes praise Trump for something but add the word “grudgingly” near the start.

They will be critical of Trump if he says something that sounds too anti-business or anti-gun. Their major fear when Trump was nominated was that he would help Hillary Clinton win. The same issue still exists: if it looks like Trump’s behaviour advantages the Democrats they will want him gone. They don’t really understand how Trump won in the first place and that currently makes them a little fearful of being too anti-Trump. If they didn’t vote for Trump they feel a bit embarrassed by that. Once Trump looks politically wounded, they’ll want him gone as quickly as possible. If Trump was ousted they also would be happy with Mike Pence.


Roughly speaking, there is an overlap in age and backgrounds but I believe that group one is on average younger than the others and group two is older.

How individuals will react if Trump is pushed out or impeached & prosecuted will vary. For some, both in the alt-right and more traditionally libertarian, they may be very loud about the situation but more quietly happy to be in opposition. Like some people on the left, it can be emotionally and cognitively simpler to be out of power, particularly as if you prefer the aesthetics of being the rebel-alliance rather than the empire. Others will be more deeply discombobulated and I don’t think it will be easy to guess who will be which.

If Trump blusters his way through impeachment, he will get support from all three groups at the next election but group three will cast their support as not-really-supporting-Trump-just-that-Democrats-are-worse. Functionally this anti-Democrat position rather than pro-Trump position won’t be substantially different in the details.

Science fiction is dead…Long live Science Fiction!

I’m still trawling the intertubes for reactions to the name change of the John W Campbell Award to the Astounding Award. To add to the list of whiners here is the opinion of the failed fantasy writer, failed science fiction editor and failed science fiction publisher Vox Day:

“It is debatable when science fiction officially died. Historians may date it to John Scalzi’s ill-fated Tor contract, to NK Jemisin’s unprecedented and unbelievably absurd three Best Novel awards in a row, or to the disappearing of one of the genre’s leading figures. But whatever the date of expiry, there can be no doubt that it has now expired.”

https://web.archive.org/web/20190828100121/http://voxday.blogspot.com/2019/08/science-fiction-is-dead.html

Because of course, history would date things to events around two people who hurt his feelings.

But yes, science fiction is dead. It’s dead like Sir Gawain’s green knight – forever having it’s head chopped and promptly picking it up and walking away.

Day confirms the Castalia retreat

I suggested a few days ago that it looked like the far-right publishing house Castalia had stopped publishing new science fiction. There was not an immediate reaction from Vox Day, the white nationalist behind the publisher. However on his blog [archive link] today he more-or-less confirms what was apparent:

“In light of the changes in the ebook market and our retreat from the Kindle Unlimited space, we’ve been making some strategic changes at Arkhaven and Castalia House. Now that we’ve successfully entered the video space, we’re concentrating our efforts on our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties, primarily because we don’t have the bandwidth to devote to everything.

This is why we’ve returned the publishing rights to their books to a number of our authors, although we continue to support them and their self-publishing efforts, and why we have methodically reduced the number of books that we are publishing. Our sales remain strong, which tends to indicate that our revised approach is a viable one.”

So what does Day mean be ‘our strongest fiction and non-fiction properties’. There are some clues.

  • We know John C Wright has at least partially been dropped or moved on.
  • We know that the core of this announcement was shifting what comic would be provided to people who had pledged to a crowd funding campaign. Day is shifting from a story by Rolf Nelson to an adaptation of one of his own books.
  • In a comment Day says: “And given some of the lessons we’ve learned, we are no longer going to push IP that we do not control into other media.” What IP does Day control? What he writes himself.

The problem with being a publishing house is you have to deal with two groups of people best avoided in business: writers and readers. Castalia’s business model also includes a third: Amazon. It sounds like Day has problems with all three. As part of the same comment I quoted above he says:

“Publishers are in a trap of sorts. If a book doesn’t sell well, the author thinks he should have self-published. If the book sells really well, the author thinks he should have self-published.”

Castalia was offering very little: minimal editing, very variable cover design and a brand name that was appealing only to a very narrow and ideologically defined base. Since 2014, the technological knowledge needed to self-publish on Amazon has become more broadly understood by authors in general. It’s still weird but there is plenty of free advice available and also mini-publishing outfits willing to provide the relevant services for better return than Castalia and without the associated stigma.