Wednesday, August 24, 2016

One Final Thought on the 2016 Hugos

Nnedi Okorafor, PhD ‏@NnediI wish the media would discuss the stories we wrote more than the grumblings of&responses to a certain group of ppl I won't name.#HugoAwards
I've often pondered the relative staying strength of the Puppies vs. the Puppy Kickers. Both groups are, after all, sworn to eternal war.

But then, the Eternal War is the Culture War. Blood Oaths about the Hugos in particular vary from person to person. While it is hard to imagine either group willingly giving ground on the greater Culture War, particular battlefields wax and wane.

Regardless of who you think is currently 'winning the Hugos,' comments like the above make me wonder about battle exhaustion. Ms. Okorafor is a Hugo winner, not a Hugo loser, and yet she is unsatisfied.

In 4th Generation Warfare theory, an extended conflict favors the insurgents. I wonder whose bottom line is spanked hardest by the controversy?

Apparently, it is not enough to win Hugos, one must also win the media war. Apparently, getting the most press is how you win the media war.

If the Kickers want to win under these conditions, they need the media to clamp down on the story as much as possible. When authors start treating awards as secondary to press coverage, the value of the awards decreases.

Now obviously we do not want to read too much into a single tweet. But comments like this are something to watch out for, on both sides. In a war without bullets, each group's perception of victory is one of the most important victory conditions. Look for the exhaustion tell.

Bonus points to anyone who can find some exhaustion tells from Puppies.

On the One Hand (004)


“The professor was a small man with a long beard. His office was pleasantly cluttered with books and papers, just the way a professor’s office should look. For a moment, my heart soared – and then I noticed the very modest pile of waste in his hand.

“I threw myself to the ground and wailed in agony. The sickness had returned to infect even the source! The professor gently asked me to explain myself, and I recounted my story as faithfully as I have recounted it to you.

“The professor heard my story with a noble bearing, wise eyes, and a hand holding up his own waste. Of all the things I had seen, this disturbed me most – each half of the picture worked on its own, but put together made a mockery of both.

“The professor let out a weary sigh and slumped back into his chair. ‘I can understand your concern. I certainly never intended for men to start actually relieving themselves into their hands. And I too am worried by the excesses some have been driven to. This morning, I had students begging me to give them some of my waste! All of these merchants of filth, all of these ridiculous inventions for supporting more waste than a person can naturally carry, this should have no place in these hallowed corridors.’

“So I asked him, if he knew how ridiculous this all was, how could he support it by carrying his own waste?

“He said, ‘Because it is having such a good effect! Men are starting to lift their minds above the superstitious belief in prayers to magical, invisible gods! It is a rallying cry for the dignity of man – each fistful of waste is a hand raised in defiance against the old order.’

“’But sir,’ I said, ‘We are talking about waste! Waste!’

Bill clambered up onto a table a howled with fury. “No! No more! I will mince words no longer! This. Is. SHIT! Filthy, stupid shit. Disease-spreading, foul-smelling shit. How will farmers work with only one hand? How will soldiers fight with one hand full of shit and their minds occupied keeping it balanced?

“The merchants are so busy buying and selling useless shit, they have stopped selling things which benefit their fellow man! The priests are so busy fighting over meaningless shit they have no time to minister to the poor. Why, young men and women are so worried about losing their grip on their worthless shit, they won’t even risk making love!

“We’re so busy worrying about other people’s shit – comparing their shit to our shit, gossiping about their fake shit, stacking shit upon shit until we can’t even carry it. We judge a man by how much shit he has instead of by his wisdom or his courage or his deeds. I’m not saying that the old ways were better, but at least we didn’t have to put up with all of this open, unapologetic shit.

“I don’t care if God is a lie or if prayer is wasted effort. I don’t care how much stock everyone else puts into this shit system. I don’t care if I’ll be judged a fool or if you think I’m missing the point. Shitting into your own hand is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard of!"

Bill’s arms were stretched out, veins bulging and fingers curled into hooks. He sucked in air, chest heaving, and slowly sunk to his knees. He cradled his head in his hands, weeping gently.

Suddenly, his head snapped up and he looked the stunned men around him in the eyes. “Then the professor said, ‘My good man, there is no reason to throw the baby out with the waste water. Certainly, there have been abuses, but my colleagues and I are writing papers which will limit the holding of waste to tasteful limits. We shall do away with arm supports and the buying of others’ waste – from a man according to his ability, in the hand according to his strength!’”

Bill clambered down from the table and returned to the bar. A mug was pressed on him, but he waved it away. “I left the professor’s office after that, though I could hear that he was still talking. I’m not sure if he knows that I left; for all I know, he is still talking. But I was finished listening. I walked out of that college, out of the city, and did not stop until I arrived here.”

“So gentlemen, tell me what you think. Which is better? Which is worse? Which is more filling to the hand and to the soul? The vice of prayer or the vice of shitting into your hand?”

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reduxing Vox Day: Post Hugos Commentary

1). A Little Too Quiet

If 2015 was the year of the Grand Stand and Noble Gesture, 2016 was the year of the ominous silence. Perhaps my eyes and brain deceive me, but the Hugos seemed to get less press this year. And I'm including both blogs and mainstream media, from both the Puppies and the Puppy Kickers. There has been little rending of garments, and even less rejoicing.

Space Raptor Butt Invasion was perhaps the only story with legs, but even that conversation petered out. Why?

My guess is that after seeing the fallout of 2015 (while adamantly denying the fallout of 2015), the Tor cabal is trying to play things down and push EPH/similar reforms. Seriously, when was the last time anyone described Vox Day as a "minor racist"? Isn't he usually a double-secret probation ultra mecha-racist who MUST BE DEFEATED? For the first time in years, we had a Hugos that wasn't The Most Important Hugos Evar! Shocking.

Take this as evidence that the Puppy Kickers are capable of learning. Specifically, they've learned that life isn't a bad message fic and it will take more than virtue signaling to win.

The only question is, will EPH be enough? People smarter than me and better at math have said both "yes" and "no." In my experience, it is easier to game an "unbreakable" system than to make a system truly unbreakable. At any rate, my predictions are on the record.

2). Invasion, Repelled

Space Raptor Butt Invasion failed to take home the prize, and Chuck Tingle has already published a story about being pounded in the butt by the loss. You gotta love this guy.

Nonetheless, this marks my first failed prediction. Back in this post, I wrote:
-Space Raptor Butt Invasion will win a Hugo. Both sides will claim it as a victory. Framing SRBI's nomination as about love winning over hate was a master stroke by Dr. Tingle.
Clearly, I was incorrect. And while I'm ready to tuck in and eat my words, it's interesting to look at where my logic broke down.

My logic was the following:
-Puppies will vote for it because they think it is hilarious, embarrasses the Hugos, and Chuck is one of them.
-Puppy Kickers will vote for it because they think it is hilarious, embarrasses the Puppies, and Chuck is one of them.
-If the two largest blocks vote for it, it can't lose.
But lo and behold, one of these two voting blocks failed to vote for SRBI and instead propelled Cat Pictures to victory and Noah Ward to second place. One of these two blocks was either lying to itself or lying through its teeth.

My prediction failed, and it failed because one of these two groups said one thing and then did another. So which group is the group of dirty liars? The Puppies? The Kickers? I'm sure the ballot numbers will tell.

Either way, learn from my mistake. Take that group's tendency to lie into account in the future.

3). Thoughts on Brand Value

This is related to #1, but I get the feeling that no one is going to be bragging much about their 2016 Hugo wins - certainly not as much as they would have in the pre-Puppy era. While this year wasn't as publicly disastrous as 2015, there's still a sort of exhaustion about the proceedings. An implied asterisk above each winner.

Remember, 4th Generation Warfare is about legitimacy. And when winning a Hugo is no longer something to brag about, it will lose the only legitimacy an award has.

This will be a great way to gauge the health of the Hugos. Keep an eye out for cool reserve on the part of winners and (more importantly) apathy on the part of losers. Winners will always enjoy being honored, so the tell here is the amount of gushing. The less gushing, the less they care.

Losers will always enjoy being able to brush off an award as "not important" - it soothes a bruised ego. Look for losers (particularly, politically neutral losers) shrugging off a loss instead of being 'crushed,' 'crestfallen,' etc.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

On the One Hand (003)


The inn exploded with indignation.

“Not Madame Vestrati!”

“On a stage, no less!”

“Is there no shame left in the world?”

“Gentlemen, it pains my heart to continue, but I must push on. With the illuminous support of Madame Vestrati, the waste-holding party grew in leaps and bounds. A man’s wisdom was now valued by the size of the pile he could carry. Clever merchants designed arm supports which, hidden under the clothing, could help a man support truly stupendous amounts of waste. Less clever but shrewder merchants bought up the City’s supply of sewage and sold it back to the people who made it.

“Criminals began breaking into the homes of the rich and stealing the contents of chamber pots, and the Judges rose up to condemn this intellectual theft. Soldiers were posted at the homes of scholars, poets, and musicians to protect their waste, which was considered of great value.

“For the Priests, this was naturally an opportunity to divide into two warring factions: The Clean Hands and the Wise Hands, as they called themselves. The Clean Hands maintained that this was a disgusting practice which encouraged godlessness, and that the Wise Hands should be imprisoned and their property turned over to the Clean Hands.

"The Wise Hands maintained that this was an ancient practice dating back to Isaiah, the first man to live by his own waste – and that the Clean Hands should be imprisoned and their property turned over to the Wise Hands. Much ink was spilled on the debate, but the Soldiers prevented any blood from being spilled.

“And I, poor soul, was forced to wait in lines that attracted more flies than men.”

The town minister spoke up. “So it is in these evil times, when men value their own shame more than the good gifts of-” The good patrons shouted him down, wanting to hear the rest of the story.

“Well, needless to say, I slept little and ate less for the rest of my time in the City. I stayed locked up in my room at the inn, which seemed to be the last place in the city where a man could breathe freely. Good people, you know that I am not a religious man-” A round of mumbling assent. “But surely a hand full of prayers has more value than a hand full of waste!”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” said the old man. “You may have no use for waste, but we farmers use it to fertilize our crops.”

“And it sounds like waste fetches a good price in the City – maybe we should gather ours up and take it to market.”

Bill shuddered. “Only if you are willing to carry some in your own hand. No one will do business with a Clean-Hand; they’d worry that you were tricked into selling cow waste!”

The crowd muttered about that one. Only a City person could mistake human waste for cow waste.

“As I was locked in my room, I ran the events of my trip over and over again through my mind. The young madman, the people at the inn, Madame Vestrati danced gaily through my mind, taunting me with their outstretched hands. Finally, as I was on the verge of giving into madness, I had a sudden realization: the young madman mentioned a teacher! He had not thought of this madness on his own, it was proposed to him as an experiment!”

“So, tying a handkerchief to my face, I ran to the City Library and poured over their books, searching for any mention of this experiment. With the help of an effluence-dripping librarian, I found it – a book written by a professor at the City College of Philosophy which mentioned this very experiment.”

“I poured over the pages hungrily, wanting to understand the source of this madness. This was the wicked teaching that had driven an entire city to the depths of depravity. Imagine my surprise, then, when I read that the entire thing was only supposed to be a thought experiment.”

“What’s a thought experiment?” asked Fred.

“It’s an experiment where you’re only supposed to think about doing instead of actually doing it. For example, what would happen if you stuck your hand in that fire?”

“Well, I suppose it would get burned.”

“Exactly! That’s a thought experiment. You were not supposed to actually relieve yourself into your hand, but rather just think about what would happen if you did.”

“Well, I suppose you would have a hand full of-”

“Exactly! So you would have more in the hand you relieved yourself into than the hand you prayed into, right?”

“Well, yes. But it would be-“

“Waste, yes.”


“Apparently, the young madman had misunderstood his professor and done in deed what he was only supposed to do in thought. Without delay, I ran to the College of Philosophy and inquired after the professor. Perhaps, working together, we could convince the city to confine their waste to their heads instead of their hands.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

On the One Hand (002)


“’Not while you’re carrying that!’ I said, ‘Are you mad?’”

“’What? What do you – Oh!’ He laughed again, and I felt my hand moving toward my knife.”

“’This!’ he continued, ‘Ah, yes, I see. Let me explain. When I was a young man, I had an unfortunate, disgusting habit. You see, I used to pray to God that he would give me my fill of all good things.’”

“WHAT?” The patrons roared with surprise.

Bill nodded and tilted his empty glass to Fred. “Once again, that is exactly what I said. But this madman completely mistook the reason for my disbelief. ‘Oh yes, I understand your surprise,‘ he said. ‘It was such a silly habit, not at all fitting for an intelligent young man. Fortunately, I had a teacher who challenged me to undertake a most enlightening experiment which cured me of this foul habit, and now I stand before you a better man.’”

“’What experiment could lead a person to carry around their own waste?’”

“’Why, nothing less than that most excellent of experiments, which clears the mind of all superstitious belief in God. One simply prays into one hand and relieves himself into the other. Naturally, the hand which is used to relieve oneself fills up much faster. So much for gods!’”

“’But,’ said I, ‘Why would any right thinking person continue to relieve themselves into their own hand?’”

The patrons murmured in agreement.

“’Ah,’ he said, ‘I see I have misjudged you. I had thought you a reasonable man, but clearly you are a superstitious soul who cannot rid himself of the prayer habit. It is truly a shame. I had thought we might continue our conversation, but I cannot risk associating myself with the unenlightened. Please do not try to detain me.’”

“And with that, he walked off, head held high and hand dripping effluence!”

The old oak walls creaked and fire popped.

“Well,” said Fred, “I can certainly see why you were so shaken. But you know-“

Bill threw back his head and howled with laughter.

“Oh! You see why I was shaken! But I do know, I know such terrible things!”

“There’s more?”

“What else?”

“It got worse?”

Bill stood up and began pacing in front of the fire, clutching his mug in one hand and gesturing wildly with the other.

“Once I was sure the madman had put enough distance between us that I would not have to walk in his odor, I continued to the City. After all, we have our madmen in the country as well.”

Nods, murmurs, the old man cried “Hear hear!”

“Naturally, once I reached the City, I made my way to a proper little Inn and told my strange story to the good folk there. Most of them laughed, but a few were moved by the madman’s actions!”


“Yes! Among the sea of snickering faces, there were one or two who listened solemnly. These serious souls started arguing in the madman’s favor. The Inn, was thrown into an uproar! On this side, the vast majority who swore no man could convince them to relieve themselves into their hands, on that side, a few stubborn radicals who swore that it seemed wiser to them than prayer. I excused myself to my room, already tired of the debate.”

“I awoke the next morning and would have been sure the whole thing was a bad dream, but for the fact that I woke up in a cot instead of my own bed. So I laughed to myself as I dressed, saying ‘Surely the good patrons of this inn are gentle souls. They stick up even for absent madmen!’”

“So I dressed and walked downstairs to take my breakfast.” Bill took a slow pull from his mug. The good patrons were torn between urging him to continue and fearing what horrors would follow.

“But fate did not intend me to eat breakfast that day. When I walked downstairs, near half of the patrons were holding waste in one hand as they ate with the other!”

“Their own waste?” asked the old man.

“I can only assume,” said Bill gravely. “I did not stick around to ask. My appetite spoiled, I hurried off into the City center to attend my business.

“Here were the great men of the City, going about their business. Merchants, Judges, Soldiers, Bishops all marching through the heart of the City in their shining uniforms. The pillars of our society, with their noble gaits and sober minds, were a soothing balm to my heart. I stood in the long lines and filed papers with a happy heart, grinning at the clerks and checking boxes with a flourish.

“Having finished the day’s business, I decided to treat myself some culture. There was an opera playing that night which I was quite keen to see – the writer, cast, and director were all luminaries of the field. So I paid my ten pence and took my seat.

"The violins hummed and the curtains rose. Young men and women dressed in white lifted their voices in a celestial melody. And Madame Vestrati strode onto the stage in a shining gown – gracefully holding a pile of her own waste.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

On the One Hand (001)

'Shit into one hand and pray into the other; see which one fills up first.'

A lone traveler walked up the dusty road to The Tilted Radish. They say that all roads lead to Rome, but if you happen to be passing by The Radish, Rome will wait while you have a drink or two. And look, the lone traveler agrees! He walks with a rapid gait, cloaking billowing out behind him. Any traveler worth his salt knows that the next drink is miles and miles off, and the sun is already setting.

Inside, it is warm. The traveler, being of sound mind, takes off his cloak and hat. A cheer greets his face – they have been expecting him.

But there is no cheer on his face. His eyes are wide and ringed with dark circles, his mouth drawn, his cheeks pale. His friends press around him, lead him gently to the bar, and press a mug into his hands before assaulting him with questions.

The patrons of the Radish have their priorities straight!

Surrounded by good company and filling with good drink, the traveler begins to recover. Only now do his friends start asking questions:

“What happened, Bill?”

“Where have you been?”

“Would you like another drink?”

Good questions all – Bill has been gone for months now, more than enough time for the good country patrons to forget why he left in the first place.

“All your questions will be answered, friends. I’ll have that other drink, Fred, and all of you may wish to join me. This story may take a while to tell and you will need all your mental courage!” Bill took a fortifying pull to steady his trembling voice. “As you know, I have been in the City these past three months.”

The patrons nodded sagely. Bill often went to the City – sometimes for his family’s business, sometimes for their families’ business, and sometimes for entertainment. Bill was strange in that way. No wonder he looks so ill! Poor soul! Better him than us!

“On my way to the City, I met a fellow traveler. Since the road is long and winding, with very little to pass the time, we talked and walked together. Right away, I knew he was a very learned man, for I could hardly understand a word he said. The only part I can remember is our conversation about flowers – for what happened afterwards was the start of my most harrowing experience.”

“’What we call a flower,’ he said, ‘is not really a flower at all. It is nothing more than the aggregate of the base elements of a flower. The flower itself does not actually exist, only the base elements of the system. Only fools would think that the aggregate itself exists as a single thing!’”

“’But,’ I said, ‘Could we not call the aggregate of the base elements of a flower, a flower? After all, to call it an aggregate also implies it is a single thing.’”

“’A single thing? Bah! To call it an aggregate presupposes it is made of many parts!’”

“’But to call it a flower also means it is made of many parts – petals, stems, roots.’”

“’Bah!’ he repeated, ‘I should have expected as much from a country bumpkin. Be glad you have met me on the road. Had you spoken that folly in the City, they would have laughed you out of town!’”

“While I reflected on this man’s wisdom, he suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked.’”

“’Begging your pardon,’ he said, ‘But I need to stop to relieve myself.’”

The patrons muttered at the learned man’s forwardness.

“But I suppose,” said Fred the bartender, “Natural necessity affects City folk and country folk the same.”

Bill shuddered, but continued his story. “I, course assured him that I would wait a bit up the road so that we could continue our conversation once he finished. I walked a bit up the road to give him some privacy. And then…”

“And then?” asked the patrons.

“And then!” cried Bill, “And then he returned, holding his own waste in his right hand!”

There was a general ruckus of shouts of disbelief, disgust, and refills.

“Was it the First or the Second?” shouted a small old man.

“The Second!” cried Bill.

“Would it have been better or worse if it was the First?”

“What in God’s name was he thinking?”

“That’s what I asked!” said Bill

“What did he say?”

“There must have been some reason.”

“He said, ‘Why, I thought you wanted to continue our conversation. Was it not a grand diversion from this long and weary road? Or has my wisdom been too much for you?’ And then he laughed! He laughed! Hand full of his own shame!”

Chairs and stools creaked as the patrons moved in closer. It was the only sound. Every ear strained to hear what happened next.

One the One Hand Hub

A short story about a common phrase.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four