Category: Stuff

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.]


Review: Annihilation (movie 2018 – Netflix)

I am a big fan of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. I like the mounting sense of personal disintegration as the primary source of both horror and release. The announcement of a film version of the first book Annihilation was intriguing. It certainly was a book that would gain from a visual expression of the wild and mysterious Area X nut it wasn’t at all clear if the intentionally obtuse and unresolvable plot would work as a drama.

The film (which had a very limited cinema release in the US and then a Netflix release internationally) is a different creature than the book. Events have been changed, plot elements removed, characters adjusted and the structure of the story altered. All of which seems to have been a good idea. The film carries the same sense of paranoia and wonder as the book and the same theme of people trying to cope when confronted with the incomprehensible. However, it has been remade into its own thing – a story with its own structure and characters that shares DNA with the book but which follows its own course.

The essence of the plot is the same. A section of coastline in the southern United States has become transformed by an unknown phenomenon. A government agency has been charged with keeping this event under wraps and given the task of investigating it. The most recent attempt to explore ‘Area X’ is a team of women with military and scientific equipment. Once in Area X they experience strange events some of which may be psychological as they attempt to find a key landmark – a lighthouse which may be the centre from which all the weirdness is spreading.

Where the book drops straight into Area X with the individuals in the team known only by their profession, the film frames the story with elements taken from the later books – a flash forward in which the central character (played by Natalie Portman) is interrogated and a flashback to her motives for joining the expedition and her previous life with her soldier husband (Oscar Issac being handsomely weird).

The film doesn’t offer any more clear answers than the books did but there’s a more conventional story arc. The connections with similar territory-as-character stories such as Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, Andrei Tarkovsky’s film of Solaris and Tarkovosky’s later film Stalker are clearer than the book, as well as tapping into the ‘Lost Patrol’ style story of a military expedition being picked off one by one.

Visually it is wonderful. The boundary aka ‘shimmer’ is a  swirling liquid refraction of light and that same theme of refracted light carries through the film. The plant life (both real and imagined) is shot lovingly making Area X look like it should -beautifully fecund but with a menacing sense of growth and strangeness. The animal life similarly shifts from wonderful to horrific but with a strong visual connection between the elements.

I don’t know if people who found the novel frustratingly obscure will like the movie any better but they might. There are fewer mind games and there is less piecing together what has happened and more of a sense of what Area X might be. The film doesn’t seem to be set up for a sequel – which is a shame in so far as Authority was a really interesting way to do a sequel without being anything like the first book except in that same sense of a mounting loss of identity.

Weird, scary, horrific and beautiful.

Some Links Relevant To the Thing

The first courtesy of Jim Henley:

Gun Culture And Wellness Culture Come From The Same Place
Fear. Suspicion of established authority. A feeling of intense disempowerment. People turn to guns for the comforts that others get from oils and energy crystals.

The second I saw in a tweet by N.K.Jemisin

Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns?
Research suggests it’s largely because they’re anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market and beset by racial fears

An older piece – one man’s story about how he became involved in “Men’s Rights” and how he got out.

I Was a Men’s Rights Activist
One man’s journey from misogyny to feminism
I discovered the men’s rights movement when I was 22, working at a bookstore in downtown Kelowna, British Columbia. I was trying to earn some money before starting my second year at university.

I was in the self-help section “facing” our most popular books — arranging them so their covers, and not their spines, faced outward — when I noticed the title Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture.

How the alt-right arepreying on depressed men online.

The Alt-right is recruiting depressed people
Alt-right figures are targeting vulnerable communities with videos and, unfortunately, it seems to be working.

A video on YouTube entitled “Advice For People With Depression” has over half a million views. The title is generic enough, and to the unsuspecting viewer, lecturer Jordan Peterson could even look legitimate or knowledgable — a quick Google search will reveal that he even spoke at Harvard once. But as the video wears on, Peterson argues that men are depressed and frustrated because they don’t have a higher calling like women (who, according to Peterson, are biologically required to have and take care of infants). This leaves weak men seeking “impulsive, low-class pleasure,” he argues. Upon first glance he certainly doesn’t seem like a darling of the alt-right, but he is.

I think this was already posted in the comments but I can’t find by whom – sorry, for not crediting them!

Infowars and Goop!

Goop and Infowars Have Way More in Common Than You Thought

On Thursday, Quartz posted an article revealing how the luxury lifestyle website Goop and the right-wing conspiracy hub Infowars essentially sell the same wellness products. This is remarkable — and hilarious — given that the two media platforms could not be targeting a more disparate audience: The former is essentially a sentient Instagram feed run by Gwyneth Paltrow that tells mostly affluent, mostly liberal readers how to live and what to buy. The latter is headed by always-shirtless conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, whose far-right fans believe Sandy Hook was a hoax and that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are literal demons. Nevertheless, Goop’s spiritual wellness products and Infowars’ virile supplements are just about the same thing. But dig a little deeper, and beneath the SoCal beauty of Goop and the underground paranoia of Infowars you may find that the two share more in common than just the “alternative” medicine they sell.

The alt-right and male virility

What Is It with the Alt-Right and Male Virility?

The alt-right is a loosely defined coalition of various far-right conservatives, hate groups, social regressives and conspiracy theorists. It’s a nebulous collection of what Hillary Clinton rightfully called a basket of deplorables, and, boy, they sure are making headlines lately with openly Nazi protests that feel more like a chan raid that got way out of hand than anything else.

There is one weird thing that does seem to unite a lot of these groups across their various denominations, though: male enhancement pills. There is an obsession with chemically restored virility.

But by the way these supplements and useless but mainly harmless

We Sent Alex Jones’ Infowars Supplements To A Lab. Here’s What’s In Them.
“You could grab a bottle for around $10 and skip the 2X+ price markup from Infowars,” one lab review reads.


Revisiting Voxopedia

I haven’t written about the alt-right’s vanity version of Wikipedia for awhile, indeed it’s been over a year. Observant readers will have noticed that it has not replaced or eclipsed Wikipedia in that time. Vox Day’s own promotional blog for Voxopedia ( ) did have a post in January 2017 but has been quiet ever since.

The encyclopedia itself still has active editors but no more than when I last looked

Despite the “dynamic forking” Voxopedia pages tend to be out of date. For example, take Barnaby Joyce (please!) until recently the deputy prime minister of Australia.

The Voxopedia article is just a snapshot of the Wikipedia page from 2016. Consequently it misses the citizenship crisis that overwhelmed Australia politics, the surprise revelation that Joyce was technically also a New Zealand citizen, the high court case that forced him to resign, the subsequent by-election which saw him returned to office, the news that he had left his wife to live with a former staffer who was having his baby, a major expenses scandal around a donor paying for his flat, a serious allegation of sexual harassment, and his resignation from cabinet and as leader of the National Party. Yes, on a global scale it is minor stuff but an encyclopedia is for looking up the stuff you didn’t already know.

Actor Robert Guillaume is alive and well on Voxopedia despite dying in October 2017 in Wikipedia: as is (for all you Swap Shop fans out there) Keith Chegwin who on Wikipedia died in December 2017. More famous people are more likely to have their deaths recorded but it is hit and miss.

The majority of pages remain as out-of-date Wikipedia pages from 2016 and the basic issue with Voxopedia remains the same: not enough editors and the editors it does have are mainly working on fringe projects. These are supplemented by one-off vanity pages (e.g. )

Of those fringe projects one editor* stands out as a self-declared ‘truther’, pushing various kinds of conspiracy theories and maintaining Voxopedia’s obsession with ‘Pizzagate’ style conspiracy theories about paedophiles. It is areas like this where the overall bufoonishness of Voxopedia takes a sinister turn. For example, this case  is treated as if the allegations were legitimate and ignores the psychological abuse that the people who made the allegations subjected children to.

In better news, Voxopedia finally decided in February this year that Stephen Hawking didn’t die in the 1980s (and replaced by an actor)  And, as of this post being written, Voxopedia even has him still being alive. The wheels of Voxopedia grind slowly but they also grind erratically.

The site is also extraordinarily slow and clunky at times. Just doing this post resulted in multiple “504 Gateway Time-out The server didn’t respond in time” errors. It’s frustrating to try and follow even a couple of links deep as pages can take an age to load or simply not load at all. I’ve looked at this page before but I can’t comment on its current state of wacky political-paranoia because I had to give up trying to get it to load.

The question is how long it will continue to stumble on in this way. Arguably, if what it does is divert money and resources from worse alt-right projects then it’s continued existence is a net good.

*[I’m not going to name Voxopedia editors – it unnecessarily puts the focus on individuals]

[Thanks to Doris Sutherland and Space Oddity for some aspects of this post]


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).

The Russia Thing Gets More WTF

In the UK we have an attempted murder of a former Russian agent via some sort of nerve poison weapon

That action has placed Russia and the UK into a diplomatic crisis. Assuming the Russian government was responsible for the attack, it was extraordinarily blatant. At the same time, it was blatant enough to still be deniable and yet also so extreme as for make it seem almost implausible that a government would do that.

On Monday the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the attack clearly came from Russia

Today Rex Tillerson has been sacked by Donald Trump

Now Tillerson was not great – he was after all appointed by Trump – and his departure has been expected for awhile but this timing looks particularly bad. Added to this Trump has not implemented the sanctions on Russia that Congress has told him to.

So seriously what the flip is going on? It’s hard not to be paranoid in such circumstances.

Is the whole poisoning thing not what it seems and is actually a giant distraction cooked by Theresa May to draw attention from how messed up Brexit is? That seems unlikely but there are layers of cynical incompetence at play here.

Is Putin just literally trolling the UK now with attempted murder? The attack seems to be way over the top and yet didn’t actually kill the targets. The use of this nerve agent has led to a massive clean-up operation, making the attempted hit look more like a terrorist attack. Is it a ‘false flag’ or some group other than the Russian government or is it Putin demonstrating that he can get away with murder because the US won’t react?

All we can do is watch at the moment.