Blog Rerun: Time Enough At Last

This is a blog post I wrote on my DW/LJ blog, a little more than a year ago:

“Time Enough At Last”, starring Burgess Meredith as a book-loving bank teller who misses the apocalypse, is one of the most famous episodes of the Twilight Zone. It’s one of the ones—along with the one about the thing on the plane—that even people who’ve never seen an entire episode are likely to know about, and it didn’t even star William Shatner or get re-made for the movie.

But it’s one that some people find puzzling in a way that leaves them either vaguely uncomfortable or with a sense that the story is ultimately lacking in the sort of philosophical underpinnings that make the Twilight Zone more than just a schlock anthology.

Submitted for your approval: Meredith’s Thurber-esque character of Henry Bemis is exactly the sort of put-upon protagonist that in another episode might find himself vindicated or rewarded by the twist of fate. The idea that his “bad habit” of hiding away during his lunch hour to read both saved his life and freed him from all obligation to a society that had no use for a dreamer is sufficient premise for an episode of TZ all in and of itself.

The twist where he breaks his glasses (oh, by the way: spoiler warning) and can no longer read his beloved books is the sort of fate that would normally be reserved for someone who actually conspired to bring about the end of the world just to get away from everyone.

It’s the kind of cosmic punishment we expect to be doled out by the Twilight Zone, but that raises the question: what’s Henry Bemis being punished for?

Stuck for a moral, a lot of reviewers pick up on Bemis’s own words on the subject: “That’s not fair,” he tells us. “That’s not fair at all.”

Life is not fair. The universe is not fair. But that’s a little bit pat, and I think it also misses the mark. I think to get the actual message, we have to set aside the bit about the unfairness of life as a given and focus on the rest of his words as the central theme about how life is unfair in this case.

“That’s not fair,” he says. “That’s not fair at all. There was time now… there was all the time I needed. That’s not fair.”

It’s not “not fair” that he broke his glasses. It’s not fair that he broke his glasses now, now that there was time. This is not a trivial distinction. The sentiment is referred to in the title of the episode, after all.

And that’s the lesson: time makes a mockery of us all.

We know that nothing in this life can last forever—least of all this life—but we put things off for later. When? Later… y’know, when there will be more time for it. But the future by definition never holds more time for us, only less.

How much less?

We don’t know.

We never know.

And the thing of it is, even if we learn the lesson and take it to heart, we can’t avoid time’s trap. There are times when you have to make the gamble that the future will hold time enough, because even though you don’t know if it will or not, you know that the present doesn’t. No matter how many days you seize there will be plans that have to be put off and dreams that have to be deferred and processes that take time, no matter how slow and painful they may be.

All we really can do is weigh the time that we have, not knowing how much we have but knowing that it can’t be infinite, and make the best decisions we can about how to spend it.

When I wrote this, I was thinking about all the things in my life that I had put off or put on hold over what was basically the preceding decade, but especially the five years leading up to my move. That kind of thing is a hard habit to break. I’m posting this again because I felt the need to re-read it today, as a sort of motivational booster shot.

I was surprised to see that I wrote it in April of last year. In my head, I’d written this post in response to Dorian’s death in September, since was the time when I most acutely felt how much time had passed me by while I was basically marking time. But here I was, making that same observation almost half a year before.

Like I said: it’s a hard habit to break.


A Problem of Scale

Eric Flint, author of the time displacement/alternate history 1632 series, has written a really interesting essay in support of his original comments on the Hugos and the Puppy mess. In his attempts to clarify a point that was apparently misunderstood in the original post, he has a lot to say about the actual size of the genre fiction audience.

I feel like this is an important point that is often overlooked, not just in this brouhaha but in general. We aren’t really wired to grasp the size and shape of things as large as an industry, or a global community, or the internet, or even smaller communities within the internet.

This inability to grasp a gigantic scale is why people outside the industry like to ask authors they’ve never heard of but just been introduced to questions like, “What have you written that I’d have heard about?”

It’s why those of us who hang out on websites like Twitter, Tumblr, or Reddit that act as a sort of mega-community have a tendency to imagine that the feeds we watch reflect the website as a whole, which is what leads to the assumption that anything we see all the time must be well-known in an objective sense, and any opinion that is shared by a majority of those around us must be widespread.

It’s also why, absent a little reflection, so many people conclude that any opinion with which they disagree that has any kind of penetration at all must be unfairly propped up somehow. Because it doesn’t reflect the composition of the community as a whole (as extrapolated by the view of our own virtual living rooms) but it keeps cropping up all the same.

I think that at a baseline, Sad Puppy founder Larry Correia started out working on the assumption that it should be impossible for an author to enjoy his level of success without being, objectively speaking, A Successful Author. And if someone is objectively A Successful Author, this should be recognized in objective fashion. Awards, plaudits, praise. If he’s not getting them, and/or he sees people who are not doing the things he’s doing (and thus, not legitimately Successful Authors) getting them, then he can conclude that something is wrong.

If you read the blogs of his self-professed allies like Brad Torgersen and Sarah Hoyt, you’ll come away with a very definite sense that they see themselves as playing to the real mass audience. Torgersen in particular has talked about his idea that the SF/F audience is shrinking because the mass audience is over here (where he is) and yet people are writing stuff over there (where he’s not).

Flint’s blog post, although it’s not specifically addressing those claims, serves as… well, I was going to say a great counter, but the thing is, Torgersen’s claim isn’t one that actually needs to be countered. It needs to be dismissed. It’s not just wrong in its conclusion, but mistaken in its premise.

I said in my previous post about the Puppies that I hope they wake up one day and realize that they’re writing to a niche. I don’t say this as a criticism, as I’m also a niche writer. I think it’s one of the smartest things you can do in this world.


An indie author I follow recently tweeted the realization that her furry space opera stories outsell the rest by three to one. If you’re viewing the marketplace as winner-take-all and you’re seeing supply and demand in the simplistic, one dimensional terms that many people view it and above all if you’re not contemplating how vast the SF/F marketplace is, you have to conclude one of two things from this: either she is lying or cheating somehow and her stories aren’t really that popular, or there’s three times as much demand for furry fiction as for conventional space opera.

If you reject the second one as not true, then you’re left with the first.

Neither possibility is actually true, of course. The real truth is that the marketplace is bigger and more complicated than either of those conclusions allow for. But if you’re dead set on thinking of it in small, one-dimensional terms, then the only possible conclusion is that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.  This kind of small-time thinking is at the root of both the Puppies’ and the Gators’ discontent.

What’s really happening, of course, is that the furry stories are serving an under-served niche. In the mass market, every space opera story is competing with every space opera story… although the market is so big that in truth, every space opera story is competing for the right to compete with every space opera story, and we could really add a bunch for iterations of “competing for the right to compete” to that.

But if you tell a story that few people are telling, if you put something in your stories that’s hard to find elsewhere, if you address your story to a smaller audience, but one that has a hard time finding what they’re looking for elsewhere… why, you can clean up.

People who squabble over a piece of “the pie” in general terms aren’t likely to get anywhere, and if they do, it’ll be in part by accident. The mass market audience has room for a few big winners and a lot of runner-ups who don’t really go anywhere. But if you realize that “the pie” is actually a bunch of different pies, it’s just a matter of finding a pie you like that has gone overlooked in the general rush for the more obvious choices.

Hoyt, Torgersen, Correia, Michael Z. Williamson, all of those ilk… they aren’t writing for the mass audience. They’re writing towards particular audiences, seeking particular things. And they are doing—by all indications—pretty okay with it. Good for them.

The problem is, they don’t have any real idea how much pie there is in the world out there. They don’t understand that it’s possible (and inevitable) for authors to do the same thing they’ve done but in a different direction (writing from and towards a queer perspective, writing from and towards a feminist perspective, et cetera) because they don’t think of what they’ve done as anything other than “writing quality books that people will want to read”.

They don’t realize that it’s some people who see their books as quality and want to read them. They have no concept of how big and diverse a group people really is, or what an uphill battle it would be to compete for the attention of people generally.

And in fairness to them, nobody really does.

But some of us have at least recognized that we don’t know this.


BREAKING: Members of Honey Badger Brigade turned away from airport

Self-identified men’s rights advocates and #gamergate supporters Allison Tiernan, Karen Straughan, and Hannah Wallen were briefly detained at the airport and then prevented from boarding a plane bound for the United States after Tiernan reportedly made comments to a security agent about “[each of them] having carefully crafted a persona” in order to “infiltrate” the United States.

The three were already subject to scrutiny due to having initially presented the wrong identification at the checkpoint, which they represented as having been necessary due to “people of a certain persuasion” having it in for them. They maintained that they had done nothing wrong, as they had planned to switch out identification once they deemed it “safe” to do so.

“I can’t believe this!” Straughan said to reporters later in the day. “It was a joke! Since when do security people take jokes seriously? No reasonable person could possibly have seen this coming!”

“Obviously they’re trying to keep out our message that contrary to what we assume feminism claims, women can be more than victims or damsels in distress,” Tiernan said in a subsequent video post. “I can’t believe they would treat us like that just because we’re women! Everybody contact the TSA and ask them why they hate women! How could they treat us like that? WE’RE NOT VICTIMS! WE’RE NOT DAMSELS! SOMEBODY SAVE US!”

At press time, sources report that it is still a terrible idea to make jokes about security issues.


Yesterday I started a new project.

I think it could probably be described as a “novelette”, as its final length is likely to be between 10,000 and 25,000 words. Though classifying stories by length is always a little bit weird to me, as a story can be that length and still have a short story’s structure.

This book is something I would broadly classify as epistolary. The story is told in a series of vignettes, all related in the form of a woman rating her romantic and sexual encounters. I’m aiming for a decent blend of biting humor and actual functional erotica. There will be a finite number of pieces that go into it, as the working title of the book is 50 Grades of Shay.

Because this is a finitely bounded project, I’m going to post periodic updates on this blog listing how far along I am in the initial phase, which is compiling the 50 entries. When I’m finished with that, I’ll still have editing to do, including arranging them into the best order, finding threads between them to strengthen, expanding what needs expanding and trimming what needs trimming.

Yesterday, the initial burst of inspiration brought me eight entries. Today I added three more, for a total of 11. So, update #1: 11 Grades of Shay out of 50.

So, Let’s Talk About The Hugos: A Puppy Primer

So, one of the things that’s motivated me to start a proper blog is that I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter, tackling some subjects that are much bigger than 140 characters. Because of this, some of what I’m saying here is going to be a rehash of stuff I’ve already said. But for people who don’t follow me on Twitter, or haven’t otherwise followed what’s going on enough to make sense of things, this post should stand as a primer on what we might (laughingly) call #puppygate.

If you want to know more about it, I recommend checking the tag on George R.R. Martin’s blog, where he has written about it with his customary brevity and the restrained, almost laconic turn of phrase he is so often known for (as the pot said to the kettle). There has been some interesting and insightful analysis of specific Puppy claims elseweb, but he tends to link to most of it.

The Basic Terms: Hugos, Worldcon, and Sad Puppies

The Hugos are an award regarded as one of the top two prizes in the field of science fiction and fantasy. Which of the big two is more prestigious depends on who you ask, and the general consensus (if such a creature is not itself a matter of speculation) has flip-flopped a few times. They are, nonetheless, credibly A Big Deal.

The Hugos are awarded by the members of the World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon. Worldcon is a bit like the Olympics in that it is an international thing and people bid to host it. This is why you see references to “LonCon” and “Sasquan” and other conventions in this: these are the local cons that host Worldcon.

Being a convention, membership in Worldcon (and thus, participation in the Hugo voting process) is open to anyone who pays the price of admission. Like many long-running cons, Worldcon offers a lower priced supporting membership, mostly intended to allow people who know they can’t afford the room and travel and other expenses of going this year to still keep their stake in things. Supporting members have full voting rights.

While Worldcon is pretty firmly in the big deal category, the percentage of members who vote to nominate works for the Hugo or vote on the final ballot has historically been pretty low, which is part of how a relatively small group of people coming in from the outside were able to effect a pretty substantial swing in the nomination process this year. These people are the Sad Puppies.

(Well, that’s a simplification, as there are actually two very closely related groups, one piggybacking off the other, but for the purpose of this post, we’ll keep it simple.)

The Sad Puppies are a group ran this year by writer Brad Torgersen but first founded by writer Larry Correia, who came to the conclusion that the Hugos were unfairly stacked against him and others because of their perceived politics. The evidence of this primarily consists of the fact that sometimes a book is nominated, praised, or awarded that they don’t understand the appeal of, from which they intuit the existence of a shadowy cabal that props up unworthy books and keeps deserving ones down.

In short, the Puppies exist because a handful of people decided that the wrong people were winning recognition for the wrong reasons. This is important, insofar as they demand that people ignore their actual origin and focus on what they’ve been doing, which, they say, is to bring fresh voices to the table. You could say that’s what they’re doing, but if we ignore that they’re bringing in these fresh voices specifically in the hopes of crowding out the voices they disapprove of, then we’re missing an important point.

My Stake In This

…is basically nothing. I of course grew up seeing “Hugo award-winning” labels slapped on various things, and recognized that it was an achievement. I of course am excited when an author whose work I know or whom I consider a friend receives this or any other honor.

I didn’t grow up dreaming of winning a Hugo, though. At the point where I began my career by self-publishing stories on the internet, it was not clear that this counted as publication for purposes of Hugo eligibility, and there was little reason at the time to think it ever would be so counted. Times have changed, of course, and the award has changed with it, but the point is the same: if ever I dreamed of silver rockets, they were vehicles, not trophies.

Let me put it simply: I don’t care that much about the Hugos.

I wouldn’t like to guess how much I’d feel like I belonged at Worldcon, but I’m not terribly interested in spending the time or money necessary to settle the question. I have nothing against Worldcon. I have nothing for Worldcon.

As a self-published author who is more than a bit abrasive herself and incidentally terrible at networking, I don’t really stand to gain much professionally by poking at the Puppies. If anyone’s handing out or redeeming “PC Cred Points” (PCCP?), I somehow missed out on getting my swipe card for it.

I certainly don’t care about winning the approval of any of the people that the Puppies tend to identify as the all-powerful kingmakers and puppetmasters of the ruling clique. Part of the ideology that undergirds the Puppies’ approach to things is the idea that everybody a certain distance to the left of them is an “Social Justice Warrior” who is marching in lockstep with every other “SJW”, following the same agenda and answering to the same leaders. You couldn’t call me a fan of the Nielsen Haydens on any level and while I acknowledge they have some influence, I find the idea that they could command a unified army of “SJWs” laughable. I’ve admired some of John Scalzi’s blog posts, but I couldn’t say I’m that invested in him. I’m not a member of the SFWA or Worldcon, et cetera.

From the beginning, I’ve made my own path when it comes to writing and publishing, and I’m in no hurry to change that now. There’s no job offer waiting for me, no book deal, no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

I’m just one person, speaking her conscience.

So, Why Do I Care?

Simply put, when I see people making claims based on the most tenuous of intuitions and calling it hard evidence, that bothers me. When I see people trying to police what other people are allowed to write, read, and like while pretending that this is being done to them, that bothers me. I am disturbed at the idea that someone can take such exception to the fact that other people like other things for other reasons that they would reject that in favor of a conspiracy theory and then take drastic action to overturn the supposed cabal.

Basically, I don’t want to read and write in a world when a man who equates the existence of books he doesn’t approve of to false advertising is able to set himself up as some sort of tastemaker-in-chief because he throws a big enough tantrum whenever a book or author he disdains gets too popular for him to make sense of.

The original Sad Puppies initiative predates Gamergate by a couple years, but they’re both powered by the same sense of aggrieved entitlement cloaking itself in phony virtue. Some people, rather than acknowledging that an entire medium/genre will not always reflect their own personal tastes, decide that the relative success of anything they don’t like is a kind of cheat, and by golly, they’re going to do something about it!

So the stakes here are, we either label this nonsense as what it is and find a way to work around the tantrum-throwers, or we just sort of give up and give in. If we give in, then for the remainder of our days we all must tiptoe very carefully and very quietly around the known pet peeves of Messrs. Correia, Torgersen, Day, et al. We can write books from diverse perspectives only as long as we coddle them sufficiently, as long as we pander to their delicate sensibilities, and as long as we realize that only a certain amount of these things will be tolerated, as needed to provide them with a shield against charges of bigoted homogeneity.

…well, that actually makes the stakes sound a lot more dire than they really are.

Because “not giving in” isn’t actually that hard? As much as the Puppies and their good friends the Gators like to cast this as a war, using war imagery and honest-to-goodness wartime propaganda… it’s really not? There’s no win condition. There’s no lose condition. People being forcibly removed from the field is the rare exception rather than the order of the day.

This is not a great struggle. This is one small subset of a larger group of people, clamoring for attention and making things difficult for everyone else.

When I finish writing this post, I’m going to start writing material for a novella I meant to publish myself, then write a chapter of my serial story that I will also self-publish. The Puppies aren’t going to seize control of the means of production and distribution, so nothing they can do is going to affect this. As I write this, numerous authors they would identify as “SJWs” are working on their own projects, for publication through numerous channels.

The Puppies were able to turn the Hugo nomations in their favor because of the relatively low participation rate in the voting and because of the utter lack of any kind of organized slate or bloc voting or clique or cabal. When everybody else is voting based on their own taste and judgment, it’s easy for the guys who decided to band together to turn the tables on everyone.

But what they cannot do is turn back the tide of history, and what they cannot do is turn the world upside down. People have predicted the end of the Hugos. Others have predicted a renaissance of sorts for the venerable award, as it’s getting more attention (and participation!) than ever. Still others have predicted that they’ll continue on a slow downward spiral, as each year’s award becomes a mess of competing alliances and bloc voting, so the whole thing looms larger and larger as part of the landscape while being less exciting or relevant or joyous or meaningful.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the Hugos. I hope it’s something good, in the way that I hope for good things for people generally. But they’re not my award. It’s not my con. A lot of pixels have been filled trying to suss out whether an award given by one organization and meant to represent the best of all science fiction and fantasy “belongs to Worldcon” or “belongs to everyone”, but this is a glass half-full, glass half-empty sort of thing. And by that I don’t really mean “it all depends on how you look at it” so much as “both answers are obviously correct, why are we wasting time talking about this?” I don’t care.

I have vague good wishes for the Hugos and everyone involved, including the Puppies whom I hope are able to accept one day that their tastes are not universal, that the commercial success they enjoy is a function of their ability to appeal to under-served niches by writing about things that they themselves are passionate about and not a reflection of some sort of universal appeal that is being stymied by the shadowy hand of the Social Justice Clique, and that I’m not trying to put them in their place by pointing out that their tastes aren’t universal and their appeal isn’t either because this is true of us all. This is how it works! This is especially how it works in the age of the internet and the long tail. If they can figure out that this is how it works, they’ll be happier and honestly more successful, because they’ll have a better idea of why what they’re doing works as well as it does.

And we’ll be happier, too, because once they figure that out, they won’t flip the table every time they notice people gathering to praise a book they don’t see the appeal of.

STATUS: Friday, April 24th

The Daily Report

Today’s top story is: I have a new blog.

After a long period of depression and creative doldrums, I am feeling revitalized, and I’ve been taking stock about what works in my life and what doesn’t. A lot of what doesn’t is stuff I’ve held onto because it’s been there forever, not because it was useful or necessary.

Livejournal was kind of a foundational element in the fields of both blogging and social media, and so at the outset, it was the blogging site with the best social media presence/integration. That’s why I started Tales of MU there, and why I did most of my blogging there for so many years. But it hasn’t been true for a long time. And the person I was when I started on Livejournal… well, I wouldn’t disown her. But maybe I have outgrown her.

So, here we are.

You might notice there are some snazzy features I’ve enabled on this blog that aren’t yet present on the Tales of MU site, also powered by WordPress. Things like liking posts, commenting through Facebook, and better integrated social media sharing. I’m going to use this site as a test bed of sorts for these things, before deciding whether to enable them over there, rather than messing with my primary source of income.

The State of the Me

I had a lower back pain last night that kept me up until the wee hours, hence a slow start today. I slept well enough once I was comfortable enough to lay down. I’ve been sleeping fairly well in general lately.

Plans For Today

I’m going to be focusing on this blog throughout most of the day, including making some infrastructure improvements and customizations. I also have what you might call a backlog of thoughts to get out, and some general informational posts I know I will need to make. So, my focus is going to be pretty strongly over here until the late afternoon, when I’ll switch to fiction.

So, why a blog? And why now?

This is not the first blog I’ve had, or even the first one at this address. I tend to give up on blogging when it seems to take over my life to the point that it’s interfering with my passion and vocation, which is fiction writing.

The problem is, this doesn’t change the fact that I still have things to say. So I start making some commentary on social media. Then I expand on that. Then it becomes a conversation. Then I’m spending all my time on social media, and I cut back from that to almost nothing.

The problem is, this doesn’t change the fact that I still have things to say, either.

After considering the options, I decided that a blog where I can sound off as I want or need to was the best choice, from a time and resource management point of view. Yes, I am active on social blogging sites, but here I can shape my message as I see fit and manage the conversations that I find worth my time to have.

That the first real post made on this blog was about an odious man being odious should not be taken as a token of everything that is to come. It’s more or less a coincidence. I spent a lot of time yesterday tracking down a DNS problem and then a back-end server problem, or else this blog would have gone up early yesterday afternoon and the first post would have been something else.

But the timing worked out so that this morning was my first real chance to get this going, and it happened that I had a made a statement on Twitter the night before that deserved amplification and support. So it goes.

Those of you who follow me on Dreamwidth know that at various times I’ve treated my space there as a differing mix of professional status report and personal blog. For a long time, though, it hasn’t felt like the right place to put my thoughts out, and just lately it hasn’t felt like the right place in general. It feels like an apartment I sublet rather than a house where I live, if that makes sense.

I’m more comfortable working in WordPress, and I can host it myself. I’m not closing my Dreamwidth account or the associated Livejournal one, and I may still post to them, and will certainly use them when commenting on other blogs hosted on those sites.

But the long and the short of it is, I’m moving my blogging operations here.

This is home.

The Word of the Day: Why Vox Is A Textbook Racist

Last night, I said on Twitter that alleged author/editor Vox Day is a dictionary-definition racist.

Well, this is not actually what I said.

I suggested that if I were to say this based on the things he’d said, it would be labeled as a foul calumny.


But let’s let that go, because as it happens, I do think that Vox is a racist by any meaningful definition of the word. And while I don’t think any dictionary of the English language can be looked upon as an authoritative reference for anything but the most general of reference purposes (for those who find this idea radical or confusing, I’ll explain why this would so in a later post), it is important and notable that he fulfills the dictionary definition of racism because of what usually happens whenever people of conscience try to have a nuanced discussion about race in the public sphere.

What happens, of course, is that someone (usually many someones) pop up to say “BUT THE DICTIONARY SAYS RACISM IS…”

And once someone brings up this point, they cannot be dissuaded. The dictionary is the official repository of the English language, right? It is the alpha and the omega of the language, right? That’s the thinking, and it’s as much an article of faith as anything else. No logical argument in the world can prevail against an article of faith, particularly when the interests of the faithful are at stake.

But the existence of Vox Day really is a precious gift from God in this regard, because it gives us an example of someone whose beliefs—as he himself is perfectly willing to state, again and again—fulfill the dictionary definition of racism, and despite this fact, I have yet to see any of the people who would pop up to raise the dictionary objection willing to acknowledge him as a racist.

This leaves us with two broad possibilities.

  1. The invocation of the dictionary was a ruse from the beginning, an example of shifting goalposts. It doesn’t matter what the definition of racism is, it will always be defined in a way so that no person the objector likes or identifies with can ever be called racist.
  2. The objections were earnest, but some combination of wanting Vox Day’s approval or fearing his wrath is preventing people from acknowledging that by his own standards he is a racist.

What is the dictionary definition of racism?

Well, the standard repository of knowledge for internet arguments is The primary definition given there says:

“A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.”

Simple enough, yes?

So now we just have to see if Vox Day evinces a doctrine or belief regarding inherent differences among the various human racial groups that determine cultural or individual achievement. Now, you might say “But you’re ignoring the rest of the definition!” No, I’m not. It says usually. This means if we find the first part, the second part will probably follow. But it’s not a requirement. The usually doesn’t have to be satisfied for the definition to apply.

As it happens, I believe we could extrapolate the usually from his words and actions across various blog posts, but as he and his defenders are quick to jump on any extrapolation made by others and label it slander, we’ll stick to his words only, I think.

And I’m going to answer this question first by referring to this blog post, an interview between a blogger identified as John D. Brown and Vox Day.

The first question Brown asks is:

  1. Do you believe Black Africans have, in general, less genetic potential for intelligence than White Europeans?

The answer Day gives is:

  1. Pure Homo sapiens sapiens lack Homo neanderthalus and Homo denisova genes which appear to have modestly increased the base genetic potential for intelligence. These genetic differences may explain the observed IQ gap between various human population groups as well as various differences in average brain weights and skull sizes.

Now, if you were just reading the answer in a vacuum, disconnected from the question, you might be excused for not seeing what’s happening here. The question was about “Black Africans” versus “White Europeans”, testing the common assertion that Day is a white supremacist. The answer he gives wraps this up in his favored scientific theories, but that’s what he’s talking about: Africans and Europeans. Black people and white people. He’s making the assertion that one race, broadly defined, has less potential for intelligence than other races, broadly defined.

Would anyone say this does not constitute a belief that some races have greater potential for achievement than others?

Now, Vox Day would object to it being characterized as a belief. It is settled science, in his mind (which betrays his lack of comprehension of the meaning of the word “science”), and thus incapable of being racist (which betrays his lack of comprehension of the history of science).

But I’ll point out that a belief is not by definition untrue, which means that even if this assertion of his is correct, it still would constitute a belief. So if your only objection to this is “It’s not racist if it’s true!”, we can parse this to mean: “It is racist, I just think racists are right to be racist.”

Barring that spurious ground, is there any way in which this cannot be construed to constitute “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement”?

Oh, wait! Day himself says elsewhere that intelligence is just one metric, and that of course if you were to pick another metric to judge, we might expect to find that other racial groupings are superior by that measurement. I, uh… I think we should refrain from asking him to spell out exactly what he thinks the Black race are superior at, but I also suspect that if he were to hold forth about the differing superiorities he has observed among the different racial groupings, it would become more and more apparent he was simply putting a scientific gloss on age-old stereotypes the longer he went on.

But that’s speculation, and not at all what I’m resting my case on.

The thing is, even if he does believe that each race is “superior in its own way”, as it were, he makes it painfully, crushingly clear at the drop of a what which “superiorities” he thinks matter most in terms of who should be the dominant over the others: intelligence and what he calls civilization. Let’s use his own words again:

Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males.  If one considers that it took my English and German ancestors more than one thousand years to become fully civilized after their first contact with advanced Greco-Roman civilization, it should be patently obvious that it is illogical to imagine, let alone insist, that Africans have somehow managed to do the same in less than half the time at a greater geographic distance.

That comes from this post, which has some other choice tidbits. N.K. Jemisin is, of course, a Black author with whom he had a disagreement. The really astonishing thing about this post is that he loves to quote it, this same paragraph in particular, to prove that he’s not racist, that he wasn’t being racist when he described her as being “half-savage”.

Can anyone explain to me how this paragraph is not articulating a belief that the potential for cultural achievement is tied to race? I mean, let’s ignore for the moment the breathtaking historical illiteracy of thinking there was no “civilization” to rival Greece and Rome in Africa, and the other attendant mistakes like reducing “civilization” to a one-dimensional bar graph. Ignore all that.

Is he not talking about racial groups having differing potentials for achievement?

If he is, then we must conclude that he is espousing racism, by the dictionary definition.

We can also consider this post, about immigration, which contains further evidence of how deeply his beliefs in a link between race and intelligence affect his worldview.

And then we have this post, where he misreads a scientific finding to claim that Africans are “less evolved” (which is not an actual thing, in evolutionary science) than Europeans. Again, he may very well believe himself to be factually correct, but are we imagining most racists are walking around thinking “I know that it’s incorrect, but I’m going to keep pretending that racial superiority exists anyway?”

The evidence is clear. Vox Day believes in an updated version of the original pseudoscientific construct of race created by white supremacists to justify slavery and colonialism, and by his own words, he believes that race is intimately tied up with intelligence and civilization, and thus achievement.

Oh, but wait! He also says:

I assert that an unborn female black child with a missing chromosome and an inclination to homosexuality is equal in human value and human dignity and unalienable, God-given rights to a straight white male in the prime of his life and a +4 SD IQ.

Well, he can assert that all he wants. But according to the dictionary, he’s still racist, even if he managed to live up to that. I think the posts I linked to above do a good job of dispelling that illusion. To be honest, he fails to live up to it in the course of that abomination of a sentence, simply by positioning Black, female, and queer as negatives.

That’s a side point, though, and not central to the argument here.

That is, we have a dictionary definition of racism, and we have Vox Day fulfilling that definition.

If we are to go by the dictionary definition, Vox Day is racist.

Do I expect Day to read this post and have a “Wait, I think I’m the baddie” moment and have his heart grow three sizes? Nope. I don’t expect him to feel bad and change his ways, which is what he seems to think is the only point of people discussing racism and other issues. I don’t even expect him to read it, say, “Okay, so I am a racist” before continuing with his awfulness.

To put it simply: I don’t expect Vox Day to be anything except be Vox Day. He is, by his own admission, a rabid dog. For all his glowing talk of civilization, he despises its fruits and has nothing but basest contempt for its roots (communalism, mutualism, a concern for public affairs and the common weal.) There is nothing in him of reason, and thus nothing to reason with. Regardless of what I do or don’t do, say or don’t say, he will continue to set fire to everything around him and then interpret it as an unfair attack when the flames burn him, all the while wondering what happened to those lovely bridges he was using to get around and the crops he was counting on to get him through the winter.

If you want a picture of Vox Day’s future, it’s a man, slamming his own face against the concrete repeatedly while shouting “MOLON LABE!” and labeling the concrete as a savage enemy of civilization.

Fight a man like that?



And above all, why?

No, the reason I have spilled almost 2,000 words and counting in this blog post is simply to demonstrate something, once and for all: if anyone who cites that “BUT THE DICTIONARY SAYS…” nonsense will not acknowledge that Vox Day is racist, we can dispense forever with the idea that they are arguing in good faith.

They were either disingenuous from the beginning, or are a moral coward, or are acting in self-interest to protect an ally.


Hello world!

Welcome to my blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

I follow a pretty simple policy when it comes to online discussions, and that is: if you can read this, you probably have the means of acquiring your own blog. Therefore, it is in no way incumbent on me to provide you with a platform here on mine. If you are here reading my blog, I think we can assume you are interested in what I have to say. This does not oblige me to listen to what you have to say. If that sounds arrogant, consider the sheer, mind-boggling number of people whose voices you aren’t seeking out at this very moment.

In other words: commenting here is not a right, but a privilege. Comments will be enabled or not on individual posts as I see fit. I intend to keep this blog as low maintenance as I can, so that I can have an outlet for my thoughts that doesn’t distract me too much from other things. This means I’ll tend to apply the most direct rather than the most judicious solution to moderation problems. Play nice and obey all posted instructions.

If you don’t like that, go write a blog about it.