The Wall is Down

Every time I hear there is no political color bar in publishing, I think of Reiner Kunze.

It must have been 1985, and the fall of the Berlin wall was still four years in the future, when my University asked me if I wanted to go to the German embassy for a reading by Reiner Kunze.

At the time I had never heard of Kunze and I was a little leery.  After all, this was the same university who not only gave star treatment to the German professor from the DDR but didn’t keep him on a short leash in terms of political recruitment (which was mostly what he did.)

I no longer remember why I decided to go, except that I had the time and why not.  I’m glad I went, as I ended up liking his work very much.

Turned out he was a dissident from the DDR who had just made it to the West (I think, though I no longer remember precisely, for a visit.)

In his lead up to the reading he defended himself from accusations of madness.  Apparently the government of his country had been putting about rumors that he was insane.

Of course, the DDR had reason to assume this.  In their ideology to reject communism and want a free market was madness.  All their books of mental health talked ad nauseum about how the distortions caused by greed and a capitalist society causing everything from Seasonal Affective Disorder to schizophrenia.  Since Reiner Kunze was, ipso facto, rejecting their benevolent rule, he was obviously crazy, right?  And you wouldn’t want to read a madman, would you?

It works the same in publishing.  Over the decades, it grew into an hyper-insular milieu, composed of people who not only went to the same colleges and all believed the same things, but of people who had a distorted vision of those they’d never met.  Or thought they’d never met.  I’m reminded of an ex-editor of mine telling me that libertarians wanted to ban the internal combustion engine.

Their view of anyone who didn’t believe exactly as they learned to believe in college was that these people believed differently not because another economic approach might work better; or they’d seen the results of some program; or even were philosophically opposed to state over individual, but because of some personality defect, like being racist, sexist, or having internalized oppression.  It wasn’t that they disliked us — of course not — but would you want to work with a member of the KKK?  Of course you wouldn’t.  And these people were the equivalent of a member of the KKK.

The problem with such things — as with Kunze’s alleged mental illness — is that it’s a self-licking ice-cream cone.  It can’t be disproved.  Say Kunze protested vehemently that he wasn’t crazy.  “You sound angry.”

The same applied to us, of course.  If we protested that we were being discriminated against; not getting the same treatment as not-as-good-writers, etc, well… there were two points of attack: first, how do you know your writing is better?  It’s subjective and we say your writing is shit.  Second, “you sound angry.”  And since anger is evidence of subconscious conflict, of course, it must be because of all your subconscious prejudices.

-rolls eyes.

So, what do you do about it?

Nothing.  There is absolutely no reason for you to do anything about it.  None.  You don’t have to.  You don’t even have to have anything to do with traditional publishing anymore.  Not only do I know people making a good living from writing indie, I know more people making a good living from writing indie than from writing for a traditional house.

And interestingly, one of the justifications for the polarization of the field, the one that drove me insane because it was a dozen misconceptions crammed into one, is no longer being trotted out.

This was the assurance that conservatives — being more conventional — were less creative, so of course, all the arts had more liberals.

This ignored the fact that the words used had bloody nothing to do with the facts, and that liberals had been in power certainly in the arts for my entire life.  Being a liberal was — what is it someone bragged of having? — life on the easiest setting.  You simply repeated what “everyone knows.”  It was dissenting from that that brought about creativity (among other things to hide it, if you were in an artistic profession.)

However, since there were no (open) conservatives or libertarians in the arts (self licking ice-cream cone) it must be that they were less creative.

The fact that this no longer gets trotted out and instead we get the other excuses — hard to work with, angry, crazy — means that even in the insular world of publishing/the arts, the impact of indie is being felt.  They can’t tell us  we’re not creative when people of all political stripes are creative and thriving in indie.

If traditional publishing had even the survival instincts of a lemming, they would be trying to appeal to audiences across the political spectrum now.

Of course, they would also not be canibalizing their ebook sales to prop up hard covers, so forget I said anything.

I remember that day in 1989 when the wall came down, and we watched in disbelief as the wall so many had died trying to climb came down, under the power of individual’s hands.  (Sure some had tools, but it’s amazing how much of it was dismantled with bare hands.)

Suddenly this big blockage that had been in people’s way was gone.  And suddenly the opinions of the functionaries of the DDR about your mental health no longer mattered.

The wall has fallen.  Sure, publishing can still offer contracts, and those are often advantageous.  But they no longer have the power to keep you unpublished.  They no longer have the power to push you to success either.  Some years ago, when they said the push model was done, they weren’t joking.

Sure, they’ll survive, like the communist parties in Europe survive.  Okay, maybe not that well, since all it took for the communist parties to survive was a fresh line of bullsh*t, while traditional publishing needs to radically reinvent themselves economically, and in efficiency and distribution, too.

Some of them will make it.  But I suspect paper books will become a prestige thing.  In the next ten years or so, they’ll be like those leather bound editions offered in the back of magazines.

Meanwhile, the rest of us?  Believe it or not, we don’t actually care what your political color is.  Unless you cram it down my throat (say, by naming the character’s cat after a mass murderer) I don’t care.  All I care about is: is the story readable?  If it is, you’ll have my money.

And a lot of people are finding this out and making money.  Sure, they might make a point or a convert too (after all we write what we believe and what we are.)  I don’t care, as long as I’m not being pounded on the head with it.

The (artificial) wall dividing publishing is down.  There is no longer anyone deciding what the public can see.  (They were never any good at figuring out what the public wanted.)

Sure, you had dreams of fame in the traditional way.  But unless you’re one of those they’ll lionize — and even then, they don’t have much to give anymore — don’t bother.

Write. Publish. Repeat.

Tell me a story.  Make it good, and I’ll pay you.

102 thoughts on “The Wall is Down

  1. The one thing that staggered me about traditional publishing was discovering how much it took them to take a book to market, $200,000 shiny dollars. From KKR blog. How on Earth do you make a profit where your costs are so high. That, is a failure of such magnitude it beggars belief. The second failure is the inability to keep an authors work in print. If you haven’t got stock how can you sell anything?

    Still, traditional publishing make money on books where they’re shipping pallets out to meet customer demand. But not every book can be that book.

    1. Given our somewhat byzantine tax laws concerning inventory I can understand a reluctance on the part of a publisher for keeping a large warehouse filled with slow selling books.
      But with print on demand and e-books that no longer must be a consideration.
      Which is why from a purely business standpoint I cannot fathom their reluctance to embrace those technological advances.
      Books can remain in print for as long as the owner wishes them to at, for all practical purposes, zero cost.

        1. We shouldn’t have to only imagine much longer. That is, if copyright ever gets straightened out (ha) or rights reversion clauses get adopted properly (much more likely.)

  2. I remember hearing after the Wall came down from people who wondered why educated people in the US weren’t celebrating the Wall coming down.

    Yes, plenty did celebrate but too many people had been taught that Communist countries were “no worse that the US” and “were actually better than the US”.

    So why would people who believed that celebrate the end of Communist controlled countries? 😦

    1. I went on a 3 week choir tour of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Finland in the summer of 1990 with the professional children’s choir i was a member of back when I was young and could sing well.

      The people in Poland and Czechoslovakia were VERY enthusiastic with meeting westerners in that first year out from behind The Wall. When we would close a concerts with the choral version of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn To Freedom the entire crowd would usually stand and try to sing along (The words in English and in translation were in the program books) often joining hands held high in celebration.

      When every heart joins every heart and together yearns for liberty
      That’s when we’ll be free
      When every hand joins every hand and together molds our destiny
      That’s when we’ll be free
      Any hour any day, the time soon will come when men will live in dignity
      That’s when we’ll be free, we will be
      When every man joins in our song and together singing harmony
      That’s when we’ll be free

      In Finland we got nice applause but not that huge emotional reaction we got from the people that had just done that ‘hand joining every hand to mold their destiny and be free’ Even for a group of tweens and early teens it was a powerful realization of what the recent events MEANT to those folks.

  3. Ironically for the creators’ typical communist sympathies, the principle use of “modern art” is for laundering money. Great way to move any amount of dark money via completely legal means, plus you can demonstrate its legality by paying galleries to display your prize for all the world to admire. And when not making gallery budgets happy, it can be cheaply warehoused, and if it gets damaged or lost, you get a nice insurance payout.

    Can’t find the durn thing again but while back I read an article that laid it out (and named names),, and suddenly “modern art” made sense.

    1. A quick search on “modern art money laundering” was finding a lot of hits, even if not necessarily the article you’re recalling. For example….

      Yes, NYT, but they’re not alone, and there are lots more articles, from other papers, from a few years before and after that piece.

  4. I used to practically live in bookstores. (Almost literally – worked for B Dalton back in the day, lol…) Now I’m trying to think when the last time I went into one was… Ah, at the airport, when I had to layover three hours.

    Didn’t buy anything.

    Amazon gets almost all my money any more. They have the selection, they have the prices, and most important – they have it IN STOCK. (Especially for the Kindle, lol…)

    BTW, anyone else notice that the magazine rack at your local supermarket’s getting a bit… thin as far as content goes? Magazines have taken a big hit from the internet…

    1. The puzzle magazines took a hit, but now they are roaring back.

      Cheap, and it’s easier to do certain kinds of puzzles in a magazine than in an app.

      (Which is weird, because logic puzzles should work well in an app.)

    2. Oh yes. Southern Living lost me when 1) it dumbed down and 2) replaced content with larger pictures, larger white margins, and 3) nothing but drug ads. That’s $60 I’m not spending on a once wonderful product.

      Then along came _Southern Lady_ and _Garden and Gun_ and several other publications to fill the niche.

      1. We lost Science News that way (sob). Jonathan’s convergent-model in action.

        I got out of when the large prettiest-coloured graph actually contradicted the text of the article , as opposed to merely adding nothing to the content.

    3. The magazines themselves have become thin. Yes, I understand advertising pays a lot of the overhead, but *some* content would be nice. Many magazines are just teasers with “see our web site”, where you’re presented with a dancing ad farm that will choke broadband to a standstill.

  5. Okay, Sara. Now I WANT to name the cat for a twentieth-century mass-murdering tyrant! “Chairman Meow” is overrated, though. How about “Pol Pawed” or “Ho Chi Manx”?

    1. Mao Zedong was this particular offense. Then they went on to explain the character’s little bookstore was a COMMUNIST bookstore, and the book got returned with prejudice.

      1. Oh, I am fully willing to write said cat as a twisted and sadistic sub-plot villain even if the main plot doesn’t need one.
        But I going out-of-one’s-way to make certain the sympathetic players are die-hard Reds might not sell to Red-state readers unless there’s a *bloody* good reason the story needs them to be wrong like that.

      2. Although I’m now thinking of an amusing scenario where a couple people meet, and one thinks the other is a red because of a pet cat named Marx, until they hear of a pair of pet birds named Laurel and Hardy.

      3. The thing is the naming of the cat doesn’t, to me, automatically return with prejudice (I don’t know the book in question). I’d question a Siamese named Chairman Mao/Meow much more on “been there, done that” than politics (which lines up with the “but leftists are so creative” BS).

        Actually, I can see a libertarian doing this for political reasons and justifying it with how cats are the ultimate authoritarians in the animal kingdom.

        *writes that on an index card to throw in the bag of tricks*

          1. As I said, I don’t know that book.

            And I can even make that character useful…I mean, mysteries need at least one victim 🙂

          2. I can even justify it according to his own philosophy…in owning a bookstore he clearly was part of the capitalist class or, at best, the bousigue and deserved to be killed by revolutionaries. Say, during some Antifi riots.

            And stop sticking books in my head.

    2. I was going to say, I would cheerfully name a cat Attilla the Hun if that cat had a habit of piling decapitated mouse heads in a pile. (There’s a cat in my neighborhood I’ve nicknamed Cat Hitler, given it’s odd resemblance to the Fuhrer) and so on.

      Housemate described a few of their cat Jack’s odd behaviours. This cat had made… friends… with a female pidgeon, who would bring her paramours to the yard. Jack would kill the male, and allow the female to leave. Rinse, repeat. The female would be allowed to be in the yard unmolested, but as soon as she brought a friend…

      This cat also used to arrange lots of little dead birds into near perfect circles in the yard. Or, as Aff’s father once discovered, under the car – made a spectacular mess when he backed out of the driveway. When a neighbor threw rocks at Jack once, Jack did the same thing to that neighbor’s car.

      I asked if Jack had been named after Jack the Ripper. “No… but he should have been.”

      Jack died a warrior’s death, tearing out the throat of a pitbull that had broken into the yard. Jack, as the guard cat who took his duties seriously, rushed to defend the household. The pitbull bit into Jack’s stomach, and Jack twisted around, bit into the pitbull’s throat, and ripped it out, killing the dog. Released from the dog’s jaws, he went back to his basket on the front porch, and died there.

      When we heard the story a few years ago, we all raised a glass in that amusingly vicious cat’s memory.

        1. Indeed – there was a legendary cat, resident at a lovely plant nursery just outside the city limits here (now closed, alas, and converted to an event venue) who just appeared one day, and was adopted and indulged by the staff, until his demise from old age, a good few years later. They took care to put him indoors at night, though – coyotes, you know. He was black and white, they called him Sylvester, and he was … about the size of a bobcat or larger. No one knew who Sylvester’s sire was, but no one would have been surprised to see him dragging home half a cow to feed his brood.

      1. I had a kitty that was all white (on a Siamese frame) except for a calico tail and some calico on her head. She had a black “mustache” on one side of her face that looked a little like a Hitler mustache.

        We called her Pistachio at my ex-wife’s urging because she didn’t like that I called her Mustache. In the end it was generally shortened to Stash.

    3. We always named lizards after tyrants. Genghis Khan, Kubla Khan, Attila, and my sister had one named after a Japanese tyrant. I can accept naming animals along those themes, as long as you understand that Chairman Meow is either going to live up to his name or be charmingly misnamed.

      1. Snakes were puns or allusions, such as William Snakespeare, Cleopatra, and Indiana (“I hate people.”) (My brother also had a fish named Chipson.) Our current cats are Arthurian, but I think the overall theme is going to be literary because CATS. (It hasn’t come up yet, since we’ve been married for 17 years on one pair of cats.)

  6. Having met the acquaintance of a number of felines over the course of years it makes perfect sense to me to name one after a mass murderer.

    1. My instincts have just told me that I should name a particular catgirl character Pinochet. Though I am inclined to deny that killing foreign communists is murder.

      1. If a president is “Father of His Country”, would that make Pinochet the first helicopter parent?

    2. My thoughts exactly!
      And if the heretic readers balk at ascribing Original Sin to human characters, they’ll applaud your reprobation of cats. Even the ones you based on themselves.

    3. We jokingly referred to Redquarters’s first orange tabby as Chaircat Meow because he loved to get on the back of a Lazy-boy-type chair and to nap or watch the birds.

    4. I refer to my cats as furry little socialists. They firmly believe that what’s theirs is theirs, and what’s mine is theirs, and everything should be redistributed according to their current whim.

  7. Sarah said: “It wasn’t that they disliked us — of course not — but would you want to work with a member of the KKK? Of course you wouldn’t. And these people were the equivalent of a member of the KKK.”

    That is the thing. Anyone who questions the Liberal Line is, by definition, a racist/bigot/homophobe. If they weren’t, they would see that Liberals are correct.

    As we’ve seen when the Usual Suspects come on here to “discus” things, the major effort they spend is trying to trap someone into making a bigoted comment.The rest is basic vexation, spinning and twirling for the sake of being annoying.

    As I found over the two decades of Gun Control in Canada, you can’t have a conversation with a Liberal. They simply are not listening. At all. They’ve already decided you are evil, and every word they speak is them trying to punish you for being evil.

    Dave Freer had something to say about this in the post about Floppy Cameltron’s “real” identity. The Cameltron got banned from MGC because his postings were primarily vexatious. China Mike got banned for the same thing, his purpose was not to engage, but to punish and destroy.

    Now, the problem with that is our reaction. We, myself included, go on the attack very quickly. That impulse to return fire comes from a place where we don’t care what the consequences are. Fuck ’em! That’s normal. We’re trained to do that from birth, pretty much. Its survival.

    Plus, it is FUN to hit back. The most traffic I get on my blog is Sad Puppies stuff, and other blogs are the same. You can tell its the same for the Vilers, Cameltoe, SFWA and WorldCon. They never shut up about Puppies, even though its been over for a year now.

    People LOVE hitting back. I’m all about the hitting back, myself.

    But the consequences are LARGE, much larger than our little SFF puddle here. Yesterday on the Drudge Report the headline was that the FBI has a secret group basically dedicated to dirty deeds against the elected president. There’s a secret group in the FBI? That’s Big. Doesn’t get much bigger than that. But -why- is that there? Money? Power? Possible, for the top guys. But for the middle guys, the majority, more likely is fear. They are afraid that the KKK is going to put everybody in cattle cars and ship ’em to Dachau. Stupid, but still true.

    Therefore, our -true- problem is that about 1/3rd of the population thinks the other 2/3rds are evil, violent assholes. You wear a Trump hat in a large American city, that’s the reception you will get. A red hat transforms anyone who wears it into a demon.

    I remember hearing that this was exactly the situation in Yugoslavia right before the Balkan War broke out in the 1990’s. We know how that turned out.

    The solution to that situation is not to return fire. Because now all you’re doing is confirming their worst fears and feeding their crazy. Now you have to CRUSH them, and that will be extremely ugly. We probably can crush them. We have numbers, creativity, and training. But I do not want to pay the bill for that.

    So if the solution is not returning fire, Mr. Smarty Phantom, then what is?


    Crazy, right? But here’s the thing. If we ignore them they’ll eat us. If we fight back we will have to eat them, and I don’t wanna. We have to make an opening in their Wall of Rejection, one individual at a time, and engage each person in a -true- conversation that is enjoyable, truthful and constructive. One at a time. That’s what stories do.

    Therefore, I have this suggestion to make: no more Outrage of the Week.

    Sad Puppies is done, it worked, we can let it go now. Counting coup and collecting grievances is what Lefties do. Lets leave that shit to them. Leave them to play with their rules for radicals, let them play fuckaround on the blogs, let them ban people for being Conservatives. They’re going to do it anyway, why let them bother us?

    Writing stories that uplift the human spirit, that’s what WE do. I suggest we do that, and leave the revenge behind. It requires us to be larger human beings, but I could stand to polish the rust off my halo some. I’m no better than I should be, that’s for sure.

    Plus, Ghod forbid, maybe we could get paid too. Outrage is fun, but it doesn’t buy the beer.

    1. his purpose was not to engage, but to punish and destroy.

      I have had people tell me that I “wanted an echo chamber” not from blocking (bar’s pretty high for that) or the like but because I dared actually argue with them on. my. own. wall.

      I mean, really. “You keep using that word…”

      1. Third try:
        Absolutely. We are faced with people who have decided we need to be punished and silenced. There’s a case in BC right now that illustrates the point perfectly:

        That’s where we are. So, solutions then. What to do.

        Historically, and what I usually do, we hoist the Jolly Roger, run out the guns and have at them.

        But the cost, that we haven’t considered. It’ll be expensive, because it will be BIG. If we do this the way they do it, group vs. group, we get the Balkans. Maybe literally the Balkans, a real war.

        As solutions go, “kill them all, let God sort them out” is a bad one. Even by winning, we lose.

        Therefore, one at a time. Pretty soon, only the truly demented are on their side.

    2. I had a rare conversation with my brother sometime back. He’d had some difficult times and I called to commiserate. He said, “you sound like you actually care….”. I went looking for my jaw. I’ve never doubted since then that he really sees me as some evil thing.

      Just to make a point… He allowed, no actually encouraged, me to visit him,driving through DC rush hour traffic, for three hours, and promising me dinner. When he wasn’t there I drove another hour and ten minutes to get home. When we finally connected on the phone he did not apologize.

      1. It sucks that your brother is a schmuck like that. There used to be the odd bit of drama in my family, I handled it by moving farther and farther away. Eventually absence made the heart grow fonder, and these days we get along. Mostly. >:D

      2. There are people like that, sadly; people who have to constantly ‘test’ other people, to ‘prove’ that their feelings and statements of caring ‘are real.’ They push and push and push, until they drive the other person away. Then the person who kept pushing and testing says to themselves “See? I knew I was right, they weren’t as true as they said they were, after all.”

  8. “It wasn’t that they disliked us — of course not — but would you want to work with a member of the KKK? Of course you wouldn’t. And these people were the equivalent of a member of the KKK.”

    I work with people I know or suspect to be Democrats. I make some of the same allowances and judgements I do for communists, and would do for Nazis if I had ever actually met them. There’s a certain amount of tact necessary in the workplace, especially in some of ones I am seeking, and a tendency towards lynching and mass murder isn’t that relevant to their ability to do their own jobs. If they are behaving well enough to function in the workplace, they aren’t bringing their politics into work at the detriment of work.

  9. Of course, they would also not be canibalizing their ebook sales to prop up hard covers, so forget I said anything.

    An observation on ebook pricing. I’ve been doing “genre familiarization” in paranormal romance. To that end I’ve been getting the titles that made the finals list for the “Rita” awards in that category. Funny thing I noticed there. Where other categories of fiction are pricing ebooks at trade paperback prices at best, or above hardback prices at worst (who in Hel’s Misty Halls do they justify charging more for an ebook than for a hardback?) these books were all available at prices ranging from $2.99 to $7.99 with several at the $3.99 price point. One was even free on Kindle or Audible (Audible!) to Amazon Prime members.

    Leads me to wonder if maybe romance publishers have half a clue.

    1. I suspect that romance writers and publishers do, in fact, have a clue. I have heard the comparison made that romance books consumed rather like candy by their readers – and the candy-makers want the consumers of it to feel OK about buying their next box ‘o chocolates, and the one after that. Don’t make it so expensive that the consumers turn to another genre, or stop reading romance at all.

    2. My guess is that romance writers and publishers are less inclined to play the prestige games of other publishers. While I’m sure that there are romance novels for every letter of the LGBTWTFBBQ, the vast majority of them are about women who want men–and nothing is worse in Leftist circles than the idea that a woman might want or even need a man. So since they can’t ever get the prestige, they might as well go for that flithy consolation prize also known as money.

      This is not to say that I think these guys are immune to the Leftist virtue signalling or that they don’t have their own reasons that I want to throw their books against the wall (seriously, “romantic hero or serial killer?” should NOT be a game). But overall, I would guess they’re a lot more responsive to the market than the average.

      1. “the vast majority of them are about women who want men”
        Well, that’s why I read romance novels, I can’t speak for anyone else though.

      2. > consolation prize

        Mickey Spillane. Read the establishment’s opinions in his day, and he was Larry Correia, Vox Day, Donald Trump, and Charles Manson all rolled together.

        Spillane was *never* going to be invited to the Right Parties. But his “disgusting trash” sold well enough he could have bought most of his detractors out of his petty cash.

        See also: Amanda Hocking, E.L. James, and Bulwer-Lytton

  10. I remember buying a piece of concrete from a gift shop that was supposed to have been from the Berlin Wall. I kind of suspect now it was more likely to have come from New Jersey.

    1. Mine came from a guy who had been a GI in Germany at the time, and who heied himself to Berlin and snagged a few pieces. He had in-laws who had relatives in the East, and who had managed to get out just before the wall was built.

  11. “I’m reminded of an ex-editor of mine telling me that libertarians wanted to ban the internal combustion engine.”

    Ok, there has *got* to be a story behind this. What did he think libertarians *were*???

    1. Because we’re heartless capitalists who want to exploit the world’s resources and pollute everything, clearly.

    2. She. NO idea. I tried to point out libertarians wanted everything to be legal but she assured me they (us) wanted to ban all modern life. I don’t even. And the answer is probably malice AND stupidity in her case.

      1. Oh oh! *raises paw, waves frantically* I got it. She may have thought that “Amish/others —> don’t want too much government—>don’t use technology” so “libertarian—>don’t want too much government—>don’t use technology.” Because I actually encountered a version of that kind of thinking once. Once I found the logic chain, I could see how the person went from confused to waaaay out there in about four steps.

  12. “This was the assurance that conservatives — being more conventional — were less creative, so of course, all the arts had more liberals.” Yes, Fieldsy-Camestros tried this one on me. My answer: well, that about wraps it up for JRR Tolkein… (or CS Lewis, or Zenna Henderson or Madeleine l’Engle, or Jack Vance, Gene Wolfe, Tim Powers…) Oddly, possibly because of persecution winnowing those authors stories seem to retain popularity.

    1. Dave, what was that thing you said about Floppy Cameltron commenting for the purpose of making the comments unreadable? There’s something in there that deserves to get drawn out. I’m seeing it from other Usual Suspects. They don’t discuss, they loudly demand page and paragraph, then move to another minute point and demand more.

      1. Sea-lioning is the popular term. Effectively wasting the time and energy of the opposing party. Pontificate at length, demand chapters of explaination and proofs (and never provide the same) Never concede a point. When something becomes absolutely untenable – don’t admit you were wrong. Just move on to the next, and repeat. Focus on irrelevant details, make your opponent out to be at least possibly wrong on one of those, and claim that invalidates the entire argument. Fieldsy and buddy his Mark’s modus operandi

        1. I comment from time to time at the Floppy Cameltoe, mostly just to rub his nose in some occurrence of the day that violates his Prime Directive. Failures of the global warming cult are a big favorite. Sea-lioning as you describe it is exactly what he does, every time.

          Case in point, the Contrarius-troll attempted this foolishness at Lela Buis’s blog.

          The effective method was to just keep telling her to push off. She’d pound out a wall of text, I’d say stop talking to me. She’d pound out another wall, I’d cut and paste my previous. Two hundred and twenty five comments later, she’s still flipping out and I’m still cutting and pasting. Very economical method of dealing with harassment.

          I’ve been calling it Calvin Ball. The rules of Calvin Ball are, Calvin wins. So when Calvin shows up, you don’t play. Then Calvin makes an ass of herself trying to make you play. Works awesome.

          The troubling thing of course is how many people are out there doing this shite. Takes all the fun out of commenting about nerdy things in a hurry.

        2. Yeah that’s exactly what he does, over and over.

          TBH, made me suspect at least a philosophy major… tho the phd makes more sense.

          1. Today he’s taking my comments from According to Hoyt out of context and using them for something to blame MGC over… hell if I know.

            Have to say, a PhD in Philosophy seems a much lower bar than I would have thought, if Floppy Cameltron has one.

            1. a degree in philosophy does not mean you subscribe to any particular one…

              but a lot seem to be discordians.

              1. I was thinking more that a Philosophy PhD should have more debating tools at his disposal than lying, taking comments out of context and sea-lioning.

                The modern Ivory Tower, not what it once was.

      2. Possible solutions include:

        Forced “read more” comments cuts (probably not technologically-supported)

        That could link to a public stocks page of the blog. Not sure if virtual rotten fruit is possible, either.

        Probably impractical, alas.

  13. “Therefore, our -true- problem is that about 1/3rd of the population thinks the other 2/3rds are evil, violent assholes. ”

    Between reading the Bean Bar, Redstate, and, it appears to me that we are now at the stage where half of the population thinks the other half is evil, and that think points in both directions. I had an opening for a novel, ‘a tale of the disunion’, in which the USA had peacefully partitioned itself into pieces Six or seven of them. it is becoming unpleasantly current.

    It is a sad state of affairs.

  14. “I’m reminded of an ex-editor of mine telling me that libertarians wanted to ban the internal combustion engine.” That makes about as much sense as claiming the Catholic Church wants to make abortion mandatory.

  15. The thing is, you are dead on here.

    If you’re up against anyone, be it a cultural battle, a personal one, or a courtroom, one of the main defaults of the side that knows they have a weak case or are losing, is to cast counter accusations. And they do it because it works. We can scream until we’re dead that publishing is rigged by liberals and they blackball all who don’t fall in line, but if you do, you’re just a conspiracy nut. Doesn’t matter that they have said minorities and women are discriminated against and that’s perfectly fine. Same argument, but it’s only okay when they do it because “everyone knows” those are the people discriminated against.

    It’s the same damn thing that you see in a breakup or in a courtroom. If you can make the other side look like the bad guy (like conservatives discriminate against women and minorities) then anything you do to them is excusable or defensive and thus you are not the bad guy.

  16. As long as we have more public libraries than McDonald’s outlets in the U.S. (as is the case now) paper books will have a viable, albeit much reduced market.

    Or in the words of one Children’s book selector I know: “Million dollar budget, no returns.”

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