Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

So even I with my tendency towards extreme hermiting have noticed the rampaging schadenfreude permeating some circles as this year’s WorldCon organizers demonstrate that their primary qualifications lean more to parroting the approved point of view than to actually, you know, organizing anything. Honestly, it’s not surprising.

The best that can be said for the people who are currently scrambling to cover their anatomy is that it is possible they are merely the deluded and ineffectual well-meaning sorts that fall for revolutionary manifestos only to fall to those same manifestos once they cease to be useful to the Glorious Revolution. Or whatever it’s calling itself this time around.

The actual revolutionaries tend to be either true believers, who are deluded and dangerous; or power-chasers who are using the revolutionary thing to further their own aims. Invariably, the latter win, usually after a great deal of bodies and blood.

At least in publishing the blood is mostly metaphorical.

What it comes down to is that for most people fitting in with what is perceived to be the norm matters more than pretty much anything else. Even we Odd types tend to try to fit in with those around us, not least because it saves hassle. It’s where the phrase “go along to get along” comes from.

There’s also a rather large proportion of humanity who are quite content with someone else telling them what they should be thinking and believing – and nobody goes to the effort of figuring everything out for themselves. We can’t: we’d be paralyzed by the sheer amount of choices we have to make every day.

So we appoint ourselves oracles of a sort, trusted authorities whose advice we follow and whose words we trust. As often as not, we’ll wind up letting their authority in some areas leak into others where they aren’t qualified to speak. Which makes us vulnerable to a plausible demagogue and has a lot to do with why people follow someone who is obviously bad news.

People who never question their personal oracles and never stop to look closely at whether their beliefs stand up to reality (and a hint for the confused who drive by here occasionally but have issues following my writing style: if your beliefs are not supported by the evidence of your senses, your beliefs are at fault unless you have a provable sensory input disorder) are nothing but useful tools for the power hungry.

Worse, the power hungry usually can’t actually run anything. They mistake the trappings of rank for the ability to do things that earn rank. Like a strangler fig, their parasitical nature strangles the thing they’ve claimed, until the only life is the twitching caused by the parasites feasting on its rotting corpse.

And that, fellow Mad Geniuses, is why we can’t have nice things.


  1. I’ve watched one and two/thirds professional organizations die because of the race to be more correct/Woke (before woke was “a thing”). I say two/thirds because I suspect it will stagger on, in a Woke form and name only, once the last of the older generation die or give up the fight. It’s not pretty, and its sad, because one of the two groups really did a lot of good work in the field and once upon a time really did have a big tent for all kinds of people. Those days have passed.

    1. Why do I have this niggling suspicion that the 2/3rds one is the Boy Scouts of America?

      1. From a position “on the ground”, the BSA is doing just fine. The bit with the LDS is more about conflicting goals, and even the LDS scouters that I know are very much in favor of the move. (“Now I can put my son in a ‘regular’ troop without feeling guilty about it,” is how one I know put it.)

    2. The process of becoming “woke” is almost guaranteed to kill or maim an organisation. It always seems to end up taking over, to the exclusion of all other concerns (including the group’s reason for existing in the first place). I don’t know why it’s that way, but it is.

      You see the same thing with churches that put inclusiveness or social justice at the forefront – it’s not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with those things, but they are not the primary purpose of a church, and people soon figure out that there’s no need to bother getting up early on a Sunday morning if that’s all it’s about.

  2. I haven’t previously heard of most of the people howling the loudest about this year’s Worldcon. Given some of the stupidity I’m seeing from some of then, I figure that’s probably a good thing.

    1. I hadn’t heard of any of the braying crowd, other than a couple of Names who did social-justice-withdrawals and maybe one or two of the conrunners. Otherwise — I was like, even if it was close and cheap, why would I bother attending this? What’s the draw?? Sorry, someone who got a short story promoted by some online rag is not automatically interesting enough to endure the boring parts of a panel; and should I suffer from fits of masochism, I can hear about The SJW Causes all day long online.

      1. Scalzi got the Woke level of respect as a cis-gendered white male. He was only scheduled for one panel and a kaffeeklatch. So he bowed out of any official duties. 😉

  3. I suspect that this, in part, is what happens when you try to become the biggest fish in a shrinking pond, while ignoring the growing lake near by.

    It is also why I like what Dragon Con has done. Dragon Con has taken note of the expansion of sf & f sub-genre and decided that each deserved their own category. Rather than have a good MilSF go up against a thought provoking AltHist for all the marbles, they each compete against others of the same kind.

  4. The problem is that we’ve miseducated a generation who now don’t know how anything works. They think “the will of the people” is automatically freedom. They think electricity is a power source. They think you can drive economic growth by destroying everything that drives an economy. They think you get tolerance and diversity by silencing anyone they disagree with.

    Is it any wonder we’re in the mess we are?

    1. They think energy efficiency is a power source. *spit*

      They know nothing of the tyrannies of the ancient Greek democracies.

      The guy I know who seems to have no freaking clue about how the French Kings at various times used tax farmers to collect funds is, I’ll admit, quite old. He is of the cohort that is partly why the moderns are so very ignorant.

  5. It’s looking more and more like MidAmericon II will be the last Worldcon I ever attend. And that’s sad, because I used to love going to a Worldcon. But all this Drama isn’t good for sales, and if we can’t show a profit, we can’t justify going because we’re sentimental about the fun we used to have.

    1. I’m going to this WorldCon, and it may be the last I ever attend. As a side note, someone pointed at me at the one in Spokane as an example of “see, there are still young folk!” I had to inform said person that I was a couple of years from 40 at that point, so “young” was a heck of a stretch.

  6. “The best that can be said for the people who are currently scrambling to cover their anatomy is that it is possible they are merely the deluded and ineffectual well-meaning sorts that fall for revolutionary manifestos only to fall to those same manifestos once they cease to be useful to the Glorious Revolution.”

    I might go along with that, ordinarily. Assumption of innocence, benefit of the doubt, all that great stuff.

    But the riotous cheering for Noah Ward and the boo-hissing for the nominees in 2015 is still fairly fresh in my mind. And there was that skit at the beginning, not to mention the odiously self-congratulatory panel before the ceremony. Three years on, it made quite an impression.

    So, I’m going to have to object to the use of “well-meaning” in this context. Use of positive modifier not justified by available evidence.

    But I’m down with “deluded and ineffectual.” Dead on. ~:D

    The best that can be said is that the deluded, ineffectual dickheads who voted exclusion for wrong think, over POLITICS [spit!] are getting a heaping helping of what they damn well voted for. Give the people what they want, good and hard.

    And by the way, the cherry on top of the steaming schadenfreude mountain is that these WorldCon pinheads are getting rolled by Bogi Takács, the same gender-grifter that hustled Locus. Over a -typo-. Something which, as Shadowdancer shrewdly noted, was probably auto-correct at work.

    This concludes my ill-tempered rant for today. I’m a little testy this week, my Canadian government is busy pretending that a terrorist attack isn’t a terrorist attack, and that everybody in this country is a soulless racist.

    1. After watching Bogi’s tantrums on Twitter, I concluded this was a person who shouldn’t be wandering about loose.

      1. Full-on con-man, that one. Have you read his prose? Hullender was too kind when he reviewed it. Unreadable and repellent, simultaneously.

        1. No, I haven’t. I might just see how bad it is at some point, provided I’m bored enough. Just looking at the slate, which I hadn’t even bother to look at before this dumpster fire erupted, there’s not much there I would have any interest in reading.

      2. I didn’t need to see a tantrum, just a single sample of his getting upset over ‘misgendering.’ Bruh, if your freaking pronoun is a single letter, expect the average person’s spellcheck to consider it a typo, and if you have autocorrect on, which most people tend to, you’re in trouble.

        That, and it was a sign that this person is not capable of behaving like a rational adult and one should stay away, and yes, that person should not be wandering around loose.

        1. I notice this person also self-identifies as autistic. If that’s a real diagnosis, it would explain a difficulty in interpreting other people’s motivations and reacting appropriately (also maybe taking things over-literally, e.g. “misgendering is violence”; it’s been suggested that quite a lot of young people presenting to gender clinics are actually on the spectrum, and latching onto the wrong thing to explain their social difficulties).

          Or it may just be another fashionable identity label…

          1. I’ve seen valid uses of it, and then also there’s the ‘fashionable’ ones. For a while it was very fashionable to claim some sort of mental illness; it gave that person excuses for bad behaviour, or make demands in order to ‘accommodate’ their illness, or insist that people around them accept their behaviour as it is. In a way, it’s another form of ‘stolen valor’.

            This is unacceptable, because it then leaves people who do have actual autism and mental issues being far less tolerated by society, as they are seen as people who will behave badly and get away with it without censure. Having worked with people who do have autism, this is hurting the ones who are really damaged through no fault of their own, as opposed to people who are jealous of the ‘extra attention’ such people get.

            A good example of the ‘jealousy’ of people with disabilities include people who ‘identify’ as amputees, or disabled and get the surgeries necessary to get limbs amputated. They exist.

            1. One of my pet peeves is ‘neurodiversity’. Maybe two or three decades back, a fairly high functioning autistic coined the word ‘neurotypical’ as part of a joke about how normal people don’t function all that well when you are evaluating for single person tasks that reward obsessive focus.

              Neurodiversity is thus pretty explicitly including autistic sprectrum issues in its claim that neurological issues, some of them pretty clearly harmful defects, are properly classified with the LGBT stuff.

              Consider two hypothesis for ‘bullied kid, slightly off, never really fit in’. One is, dysfunction of the brain that causes social impairment. The autistic hypothesis. (Okay, autism is potentially like cancer, a bunch of different illnesses called the same name.) With the autistic hypothesis, things like diet, specialized training, and so forth might potentially increase level of functioning. Certain models of homosexuality also predict subtly wrong (by normal standards) social behavior from an early age, and long term difficulty fitting in to society. The course of action for the homosexual hypothesis seems to be twofold. a) Sexual activity means that the subject is no longer causing themselves harm by repressing their true nature. b) Massive program of changes on a societal level. If people are killing themselves after doing a, it must be because b isn’t being done hard enough.

              I ask myself what might happen to a kid who knows there is something abnormal with them, knows they don’t fit in, and who has neither the paranoia I developed, nor the competent trustworthy advisers I had.

              Societies have never had infinite tolerance for disruptive elements. If you permit people to use up the budget horsing around, there will eventually be a shortfall were people who have had little choice are concerned.

              I identify as being correct about social issues. If I stopped being able to function whenever someone expressed disagreement with that, I would not be the competent adult I strive to be. The pride in dysfunction sorts seem to be going around assuming that they have all the rights of a mentally competent adult. It is not clear that this is a valid assumption. Perhaps we should, as a society, revisit our decisions about involuntary incarceration of the mentally ill, and make a number of people aware that rights may come with standards that they are expected to meet. I have solutions, and we would all be happier if you all figured out a good solution before we are down to mine.

              1. I can see the appeal of the “neurodiversity” idea, but I suspect it does more harm than good, especially to those at the lower-functioning end of the spectrum (ask a parent of a severely autistic child how they feel about it, e.g., not being allowed to say that they are devastated and struggling to cope). At best it glosses over real disabilities in favour of a few snowflakes feeling special; at worst it’s a particularly nasty, bullying, speech-policing ideology.

                I’ve also seen the concept applied to severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, which is worrying. At least the fad for being “a bit bipolar” seems to have mostly gone away; that was tiresome.

              2. The reality is, sadly, there ARE people who need to be involuntarily incarcerated – mostly because they 1) harm themselves 2) harm others; specifically because they are mentally ill and have no control over their actions. Regardless of whether they were born that way, or became that way (drugs can do that) is irrelevant.

        2. I had missed the previous instance of “misgendering”. I find I’m paying less and less attention to the BPH-centered portion of the field. I’m also paying less money to them. What I am paying attention (and $$$) to are indie writers, pulps, and the writers I grew up reading, most of whom have passed on.

          I’ve only seen a bit of what Bogi posted on Twitter, and none of it was rational. If you won’t feel safe if the wrong gender pronoun was used, you might as well just stay home and off the internet.

          1. Yeah. At this point, really it feels like he needed the sympathetic attention. I ran into a LOT of people like that back in the day; they’d be suffering from a laundry list of things, and often would work themselves into panic attacks over nothing (especially over the phone, if they had contact with someone) and needed constant hand-holding and reassurance that they weren’t pathetic or awful or unlovable, etc etc. Teenaged emotional vampires. When inevitably someone with a brain would suggest that they try change the situation they were in or whatever, they’d get angry, and paint the person as ‘cruel and selfish and unsympathetic, saying mean things’ to the rest of the emotion-feeds and cue condemnation mob.

            That’s why I find that a greater majority of these outrage mobs based off of nothing much feel a lot like entire swathes of people being manipulated by a greedy, needy, attention seeking teenager, except this time they have ‘social justice’ as their thing that needs to be mobbed over, and seeking the backing of the law as well.

              1. LOL Without the ‘I am attempting to be a strong leader’ facade. Bit more like the smug Hispanic ‘lesbian’ girl thing that is often with him (who was, IIRC, one of the bullies.)

                More like “There’s nothing really worth living in my life, if it wasn’t for this… waaaaah, I’m so empty, I’m nobody I’m nothing! And you’re so wonderful and brilliant, I can’t believe someone like you even talks to me!’ It was passive-aggressive bullying and emotional hostage taking. Really toxic.

                1. speaking of, i heard a commercial on the radio the other day reminding people that threats against a school would be investigated and prosecuted. commercial was from the FBI. I yelled at my radio a little.

                  1. HA HA HA HA

                    That’s like the advertisements we’re seeing all over the place right now for Facebook, that try to make them sound more secure and how they regard your data as important and privacy rest assured friend crap lol. Apparently FB plummeted here in Australia; most people don’t trust it, so I am told.

                    On that note:

                    I willingly use twitter with the mental note that I know it’ll likely go bad eventually. Still, when this happened to me, the first thing that came to mind was “You want to convince us that you’re not politically biased and that happens? Really?”

    2. I deliberately avoided the Hugos, and people still came crowing over it even after I said “I’m not interested in awards ceremonies.” (True. I’ll watch the Tonys, because they work really hard to be entertaining, but most of them are no fun if you’re not involved. And yes, I was an award carrier in 2011, and that was fun.) It was a real shame, because other people who felt like me (as seen around during the ceremony) were also not happy with the bitterness, and it retroactively tainted some genuinely good experiences earlier in the convention.

  7. The people running the Worldcon acted like a bunch of good-old-boys, while spouting the rhetoric of diversity. This year, the diversity people finally caught them doing one thing while saying something else and screeched. Now, with a scrambling last-minute reorganize on the run trying to be all things to all people, they are running a serious risk of offending everyone instead. “We have met the enemy and they are us.”

    1. I’m still laughing at Cacophonous Fornication. Knowing that he got nominated for a Hugo makes it even funnier. ~:D

      1. Wait, this is even better:

        “The Sad Puppies though never engaged with EPH. By the time it was implemented Sad Puppies had withered into nothing.” Cacophonous Fornication, Hugo nominee, 2018.


        1. Cacophagous Fissilingual is still at it? He’s like a dog with a bone.

              1. I always thought it was coprophagous, like “coprolite”.

                It does fit well though, I must say. Kudos! ~:D

  8. The fun part is that they were complaining about Hugo nominees should get panels because they help unknown authors.

    What a confession — the nominees are unknown to the attendees.

    1. It’s almost like they got nominated for something other than writing good books…

      1. Naawww…

        I do find the argument that the nominees must be familiar to everyone with a membership because they were nominated by the members to be questionable. A quick look at the ratio of nominating ballots to voting membership should show that only a relatively small fraction of the membership nominated. At least that was the case a few years ago when i last paid attention. If that is still the case, then the argument that certain nominees weren’t sufficiently familiar to the membership as a whole might (might!) to be included on panels have some merit from a statistical standpoint. I think it’s a weak argument, but still, it could be made.

        1. That’s the point. When a tiny fraction of the attendees vote, it shows up the award.

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