Various and Sundry 2/5/16

Thoughts on a few things, thoughtfully contained in a single post:

* First, look, a kitten picture!

So dramatic. As noted elsewhere, I suspect that at this point my obit will be headlined, “John Scalzi, Cat Photographer and Occasional Author, Dead of Dander” or something of the sort. But, eh. I’m having fun. And the kittens don’t seem to mind.

* Some folks have asked me if I have any thoughts on the most recent Democratic debate, and the answer is no, not really, for reasons that I mentioned earlier: Basically, Sanders and Clinton represent two flavors of “perfectly acceptable” to me, both in terms of their general positions and relative to whomever the Republicans eventually cough up on their side, so, really, the debates are at this point generally superfluous for one such as myself.

It’s not to say that the debates shouldn’t happen — I think it’s useful for both the candidates and others to see them go head to head on each other, and I suppose there’s a vanishingly small chance that either one of them might do something genuinely foolish or appalling, and then everyone will fall in line with the other candidate after that. But unless and until Clinton or Sanders start gargling puppy blood on stage, whatever.

* On the Republican side of things, it was amusing to watch Trump freak out about not winning Iowa, sad to see Jeb Bush beg people to clap, schadenfreudelicious to see Cruz get apparently absolutely no political or social bump from his win, and interesting to watch the entire chattering class decide that Rubio’s third place finish means he’s going to be the eventual GOP nominee.

Does it? Possibly, although don’t expect either Cruz or Trump to play along, the latter of whom is wounded but is still far ahead in New Hampshire, and the former of whom would happily push a schoolyard of children in front of a bus, one at a time, if that meant he was assured of the presidency. Neither will go down without a fight. Trump I think is already planning his ragequit and independent run should New Hampshire and the next round of primaries not go his way. Also, at this point in Republican history, it’s maybe not the best thing to be seen as a malleable empty suit for the billionaires, which is the thing that recommends Rubio at this point over his main competitors, despite on of them being funded by billionaires, and the other actually being one.

But, honestly, I think Kasich is the best of the GOP field, so what do I know.

* The Internet Outrage of the Week™ was about pathetic MRA/PUA troll Roosh V planning public meetups with his equally pathetic troll pals, only to cancel the meetups when the world announced its general intention to show up and mock the shit out of them. A writer at the Washington Post suggests that everyone got played and now this Roosh character has tons of attention, which is what he was really after. But, you know, when the major story coming out of this little escapade is that the fellow who is the grand alpha mastermind of a men’s movement, who frequently takes selfies of himself with nice cars and mad stacks of cash to signal his manly manliness to the boys he wishes to impress, lives, apparently on sufferance, in his mom’s basement, it does take the air of the fellow a bit, not to mention his “movement.” He’s got attention, but what the attention is saying is “you’re sad and ridiculous.”

The whole “Roosh lives in his mom’s basement” factoid inspired a bit of hand-wringing, in the form of “is it okay to mock someone for living in their mom’s basement when times are tough and sometimes you need the help of your family?” Well, one, in general? Totally fine to live in your parent’s basement as an adult if that’s the hand life is dealing you at the moment. Two, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to note that and also indulge in the rich, creamy irony of a dude trying to posit himself as a testosterone-spiked lord of all he surveys, surveying only as far as his mom’s washer/dryer unit in front of a foundation wall. Or to it another way, with regard to this Roosh character, I was immediately reminded of this meme:

(This isn’t to suggest the ethos this character promotes is to be laughably dismissed, since that shit is noxious and dangerous to women. He is sad and ridiculous; his ethos needs to be stomped on, hard.)

* This Roosh V nonsense washed up on my particular shore because more than a year ago the dude wrote a piece suggesting that maybe rape should be allowed on private property, and then apparently a couple of days ago appended a “THIS IS SATIRE DUH” notation on it when the media started referring to him as pro-rape, and he realized that his publicity master plan doesn’t do him any good when he’s referred to as “Pro-rape jackass Roosh V,” or some variation thereof, in headlines. As justification for his “satire” some of his useful idiots unearthed this piece of mine from 2012, which is indeed satire and on the subject of rape, and whined about why it was that I got to get away with my piece, and not this Roosh fellow.

Well, since the question has been asked:

1. It helps to note for those who might not be clear that the piece is satire, that it is satire, which I did, in the very first comment to the piece, before anyone had actually read it, rather than to, oh, wait a year to append the notation on the piece, long after it had found an audience, and after the media has latched on to it as representative of your views.

2. It also helps when your “satire” does not closely correlate to virtual reams of text you’ve produced as a “pick up artist” guru, suggesting in no uncertain terms that you think “no” means something other than “no” and encouraging others to model that sort of thinking, which would suggest to people that the “satirical” piece is actually representative of your views. Jonathan Swift did not espouse the efficacy of cannibalism generally; likewise I do not promote the ethos of “no means keep going” when it comes to sex.

3. With the two points noted above, announcing suddenly that something that has become inconvenient to you is now satire, duh, is a poor argument for it being so, especially if it’s been pulling freight to one’s audience as something else for the better part of a year. If you think it works this way, this is evidence that you may subscribe to the idea that life is like a card game, and that if, for example, you can lay down the “satire” card, it will totally negate the “accusation of pro-rape” card your opponent has played and give you a +3 Aggrieved Self-Righteousness bonus against further attacks. When you’re a grown-up, you learn that’s not how life actually works. This may be why this particular master of PUA (which tries to gamify human interactions) lives in a parental basement.

Now, despite the early notation of my piece being satire and complete textual lack of me as a person supporting the ethos in the satirical piece, some MRA/PUA types like to assert that the piece is evidence I have confessed to being a rapist. So the irony of the same sort of people simultaneously suggesting that it’s evidence that this Roosh character piece should be treated as satire, is, well. Substantial. Make up your mind, children.

* To end on a better note, Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff have a new EP of Bowie covers, and it’s pretty good. I’m particularly fond of their “Ashes to Ashes” cover. Here you go. Enjoy (and buy if you like it; a portion of it will go to cancer research).


45 Comments on “Various and Sundry 2/5/16”

  1. To indulge in the life-as-game metaphor (which can often be useful, as OGH has shown in the past), the PUA in question could be seen as having chosen to min-max himself for a specific type of encounter, only to find out that his game-breaker build was nerfed before the game was released, the dump stats he thought he’d never need are suddenly critical to success, and he doesn’t get to re-spec.

    As they say in one game I play, it sounds like he needs to harden the fbeep up.

    To say nothing of learning about why his chosen style of play is illegal in just about every time zone on the fbeeping planet, not to mention morally repugnant.

  2. A few things:

    “Schadenfreudelicious,” is the most wonderful portmanteau I think I’ve ever seen; well played, sir!

    It turns out RooshV lives just a handful of miles from me; I feel vaguely unclean due to simple proximity! But on the other hand, the fact that he lives in the basement of a small, vaguely seedy townhouse just outside a large retirement village upcounty does rather dramatically diminish his mystique. And suggests that perhaps he isn’t — as I feared — getting rich via hate-drenched misogyny. So that’s good.

    The bat is adorable.

  3. I’m loving Amanda Palmer and Anna Calvi’s version of Black Star. I think that it proves that, as a piece of songwriting, it stands comfortably with Bowie’s earlier work

  4. 745 comments beneath the “rape” piece (excellent work, btw!). Man, that must have been a thread-management exercise from Hell! Being a liberal Hoosier (yes, we exist in small pockets across the state) watching Mourdock go down to Donnelly is right up there with the David Tyree helmet catch that helped Eli and the Giants defeat the Patriots in the ’08 Super Bowl.

  5. Wow, did I just use a sports metaphor in describing my emotional satisfaction at seeing an evil politician lose an election?

  6. I read that the Boston meetup of Roosh’s unique brand of idiots was slated to take place in Boston, near the statue of Paul Revere in the North End. The urge to rent a horse and gallop around them yelling “The douchebags are coming! The douchebags are coming!” was pretty high.

  7. How do you even know who this guy Roosch is? Does it come up at cons? I am thinking it might be because you have a teenager at home and hear about this stuff from her. I don’t even know what MRA/PUA is. It seems like guys like Roosch pop up on the intenet, get 15 minutes of fame and vanish left and right. I am 41… the years go by faster and faster… I can’t keep up with the 20 something stuff on the internet. Anyone else my age and older the same way? I have a hunch its people with kids at home who just hear about it from their kids or is it at cons?

  8. The bat reminds me of the days I was assisting in research in caves on bats…they were cute until I realized I was supposed to pull the parasites off them (parasitic flies with the grip of 10,000 proof velcro).

    I still love bats

  9. @Guess: FWIW, I’m 50 years old, have no kids, and have never attended a con … though I’d like to. But I was well aware of Daryush “RooshV” Valizadeh and his loathsome band of troglodytes. No idea where I first heard of him — if I had to guess, I’d probably say social media was most likely the source. I’ve got friends who closely monitor the misogyny present in some of the more vitriolic men’s rights groups, and it’s likely one of their posts was my first introduction.

  10. @Guess: How I’ve seen it play out is that a guy on a message board posts about being in a bad way relationship-wise. Maybe he’s just had a nasty break-up, or just isn’t having much luck in the dating scene. But wait: here’s another guy with a link to a load of stuff that can make it all better! Every time I’ve seen it it’s ended with a resounding “WTF, I may be frustrated but that’s just crap” from the first guy and a banhammer for the second guy, but it must work sometimes. Like how cults prey on vulnerable people.

  11. Guess:

    The fellow runs in the same circles as some of my other detractors, so I knew about him whether I wanted to or not. I’ve muted him on Twitter so fortunately I don’t usually have to see his nonsense. But this recent silliness jumped over my “mute” barrier.

  12. But, honestly, I think Kasich is the best of the GOP field, so what do I know.

    I think Kasich is the best of the field. His ability to run a good enough campaign to blast through the media and win the election is in question. But his ability to be a very good President isn’t in question for me.

    Does it? Possibly, although don’t expect either Cruz or Trump to play along, the latter of whom is wounded but is still far ahead in New Hampshire, and the former of whom would happily push a schoolyard of children in front of a bus, one at a time, if that meant he was assured of the presidency.

    So it’s OK to dehumanize others then?


  13. The big story out of Iowa IMHO: Democratic Party participation in the caucuses was down 22 percent compared to 2008, while Republican turnout was up 52 percent. Looks the like the Republicans just might enjoy noticeably greater enthusiasm this cycle if Iowa is any harbinger. It’s also amazing how quickly Rubio has transformed from Tea Party favorite to Savior of the Republican Establishment. . .

  14. Roosh V? Man, I’m so behind. I haven’t even caught up on Rooshes I through IV yet!

    (No, I really have nothing of value to add besides general silliness today. Sorry.)

  15. @dann665 —Dude… talking about the moral devastation of a human being isn’t necessarily “dehumanizing” them, particularly when describing actions that can ONLY be undertaken by a human being. Non-human species on this earth utterly lack the capability to push a schoolyard of children under a bus, one at a time.

    If you think pointing out someone’s putative ability to do such a thing is “dehumanizing”, may I politely recommend you read some of the actual literature on the dehumanization process and its application to the incitement of genocide in recent human history?

  16. On the important topic: have you tried Seu Jorge’s Portuguese covers of Bowie, as featured in Life Aquatic? I think they are pretty good.

  17. Hey Scalzi: I want to share this bit far and wide:

    Some folks have asked me if I have any thoughts on the most recent Democratic debate, and the answer is no, not really, for reasons that I mentioned earlier: Basically, Sanders and Clinton represent two flavors of “perfectly acceptable” to me, both in terms of their general positions and relative to whomever the Republicans eventually cough up on their side, so, really, the debates are at this point generally superfluous for one such as myself.

    Mind if I do that, and what’s the proper attribution?

  18. The lovable kitten picture washed the bad taste of reading about RooshV, Cruz, and Trump out of my mind. Thank you, sir!

  19. I listened to the Amanda Palmer/Jherek Bischoff EP yesterday mostly out of mild curiosity, and to be able to talk with friends about how fast it’s possible to put a tribute album together these days. I was fairly indifferent to Bowie’s music during his lifetime while recognizing that he was a hell of a songwriter and performer–just not in styles that I resonated with very much. But MAN that EP is good!

  20. Even if that piece was satire (it wasn’t), when did claiming something was a joke become a get-out-of-jail card? True, righteous, punching-up satire has been getting people killed for thousands of years. Why do people think half-assed, hateful, douchey satire will get them a free pass?

  21. The thing about calling Roosh V pro-rape is that even if you accept the argument that How To Stop Rape (the blog post in question) is satire, there are still plenty of other statements from him to back you up. He has described several sexual encounters with women during which their judgment was impaired to the point where they could not have consented. Unless he’s admitted his wrongdoing and made some kind of effort to mend fences with the women he’s harmed, calling him and his followers pro-rape seems perfectly justified. They are promoting a set of behaviours that lead to discounting the desires and agency of women in favour of their own.

  22. Excellent kitten photo.

    “Schadenfreudelicious” is my new favorite word!

    I am bemused by the chattering class crowning Rubio as the 2016 GOP nominee because of Iowa. I gather the buzz is all about “exceeding expectations,” i.e. he wasn’t predicted to come so CLOSE to second place.. But he nonetheless came in 3rd, and even WITH the bump he got in Iowa, a post-Iowa poll shows him in 2nd place to Trump, down by 11 points in New Hampshire–which vote is only days away. And he currently seems likely to come in third in South Carolina, 2 weeks away. Since these are the earliest of 50 primaries and he’s gaining ground, he has a chance; but having a chance is nont synonymous with being “the winner.”

  23. I think my favourite part of the whole thing was Roosh V swearing he would “take a boat from Timor or Indonesia” in order to enter Australia if his visa was denied… all I could think at the time was “enjoy your new life on Manus Island, mate. I hear the internet connectivity is shit, though.”

  24. @Guess: Most people may have heard about MRAs and PUAs in a burst of publicity associated with Elliot Rodger’s killing spree near the UC Santa Barbara campus in 2014. I’d heard about them mostly on feminist blogs, I think.

    MRAs are “Men’s Rights Activists”, an anti-feminist movement; PUAs are “Pick-Up Artists” peddling the modern equivalent of “How To Pick Up Girls” to desperate young men. Rodger was apparently a kid who had just realized that the PUAs’ advertised techniques didn’t work, and decided to take it out on women and the human species in general.

  25. A year or two ago I read a piece by a columnist/commentator who’s popular in the MRA/PUA movement in which he complained bitterly that women are so unreasonable that we won’t sleep with a man on the first date if, like this guy, he happens to stink a little of his own feces due to careless toilet habits and poor hygiene.

    I’m wondering if that writer was Roosh.I can’t remember now what the author’s name was, but it sure seems like it could be the same guy…

  26. So it was him! I had a feeling. The sort of person who favors legalizing rape seems much like the sort of person who thinks a woman is unreasonable for not declining to have sex with a man she barely knows who stinks of shit.

  27. @Guess. I’m older than you and have no kids, but I became aware of this particular web maggot at some point after the issues that came up over the past three years or so on SF and F that were discussed on writers’ forums (about misogyny, racism, and homophobia in fandom), and I learned about various people who espouse these views (some learning was done by following this and other SF and F author blogs). Then there was the shooting in Santa Barbara by a failed PUA, and this disgusting group of “people” was much discussed on social media and online forums for a while outside the context of SF and F.

  28. I am legitimately annoyed I didn’t anticipate Trump deciding that losing Iowa was evidence of a conspiracy, because it’s obvious in hindsight. Trump’s already spinning vast, dark and fanciful stories about America’s decline that miss all the actual causes in favour of blaming all the people that don’t count as human to him. The insane right wing has a much wider selection of Others than is typical. Of course he’s going to see something not going his way as the Other’s fault.

    Bernie and Hillary is much more interesting to me, because it’s confirmation of something I’ve suspected seeing the resurgence of the Green party in my own country, and the surprise election of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK. There’s a strong push, especially amongst the young, to topple neoliberalism, so all the old fogeys on the left who never accepted neoliberal remolding are finding a surprise audience impressed by their authenticity. Part of the fun of this is that Hillary was a big player the last time this happened, so there’s a nice irony in how Hillary’s political ascendance is being ruined by some young Hillary’s political apprenticeship. Part of the worry is that so far most of the left haven’t twigged how things are going. All Hillary’s ever known is that the electorate hates it when you throw the economy under the bus, and the young people who are pushing Sanders and Corbyn haven’t worked out yet that in a democracy, you first have to do the hard work of convincing the electorate you’re right. In the UK, Corbyn has to fight his own party on almost all of his agenda; in the US, it’s hard to imagine how any Democrat will manage to implement their agenda if the party’s only really interested in electing presidents and maybe senators, and not representatives, governors, or state governments.

    Of course there’s Sanders’ weird and apparently intentional blindspot on the concerns of minorities, but the specifics of Sanders’ and Clinton’s political positions isn’t as interesting to me.

  29. The next time somebody claims that you’ve admitted to being a rapist, I’d like to pile up all your fiction written in the first person, from “Agent to the Stars” on, and start mining that for equally silly claims of what you’ve admitted to.

  30. Mocking someone who is struggling to get by and resorts to living with family to survive, not cool.

    Mocking someone who defines themselves by how “manly” they are, how powerful they are, how they would rule the world were it not for female oppression: priceless.

  31. I gotta stand up for Jeb Bush here. I’m apparently the only person on Earth with this sense of humor but I thought the deadpan tone he took with “Please clap.” was absolutely side-splittingly hilarious, and not because it was sad. That’s not to say that he hasn’t had plenty of terribly cringey moments in this campaign and I don’t think he really wants to be President, but that moment actually made me like him as a person a bit more.

  32. Some of the responses to Roosh V from Glasgow, Scotland are hilarious & NSFW in equal measure. I shan’t link here, as the language would send this into the moderation pit FOR EVER, but do please go onto Twitter & search for “Glasgow, never change”.

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