Saturday, 4 February 2017

Review: Forbiden Thoughts

It's been almost a month since I first read the anthology of short stories titled Forbidden Thought. I've been meaning to write a review of it as soon as I finished reading it, but I found it difficult at first, not really knowing how to tackle the whole topic. In many ways, I am grateful for that. Had I written about it immediately, all I could say about the book is that the quality of the stories varies, some are entertaining, some not so much. But when I think of it now, that would be a gross understatement, and rather unfair conclusion on my part. Thus I am grateful for the delay after which I am finally writing this review.

The stories range in length, theme, and scope. There is some poetry, and some essays, but most of them are short stories, and really good at that. Some are very small-scale, dealing with the life of one character, while others span the universe, space and time, and even across space and time. The common theme through all of them is to simply take an established idea of our time, and run it to its logical conclusion in order to see what happens then. And it is that kind of courage I missed for some time from the contemporary Science Fiction. As Kant put it, Sapere aude! To dare to think, to dare step forward and proclaim the emperor has no clothes. And that simple mission this anthology accomplished without a fault.

I enjoyed most of the stories, some like Nick Cole's opener Safe Space Suit are great satires, while others like At the Edge of Detachment by A.M. Freeman were sincerly thought provoking. Some were downright mischievous like Vox Day's Amazon Gambit, while others like David Hallquist's The Social Construct were grave both in tone and touch. I found myself deeply moved by the story of Jane Lebak titled The World Ablaze, while the Test of the Prophet by L. Jagi Lamplighter was just mindblowing. And there are many more like Brian Niemeier's Elegy for the Locust that tackles the topic of appeasment in a brilliant manner, or Joshua M. Young's The Secret History of the World Gone By that examines a fallen civilization that doesn't even realise it's doom. My single gripe with the anthology is that Larry Correia did not write about politically correct monster hunting. I guess we can't have it all. Some other time then...

What surprised me the most was the nuance of the stories in the anthology. I came to call it a difference between loud and silent stories. The first are with you from the get-go. You read them, you grasp the idea behind them, and you move on thinking about it ever so often. But it is the quiet ones that over a month I still kept pondering on, thinking about them and ruminating until I reached a satisfying conclusion. The stories in question, truly do reflect the title of the anthology. The way how John C. Wright takes the reader on a philosophical journey across space and time in By His Cockle Hat and Staff, or how there is a silent promise of hope in Hymns of the Mothers by Brad R. Torgersen. I don't know how to convey this. It isn't that those stories that are obvious from the get-go are better or worse from those who are more subtle. It's the combination of the two, that makes the whole entity harmonious as a result. It is a nuance that makes you appreciate the beauty of these stories.

That alone is well worth the price of purchase.

You can find the Forbidden Thoughts on Amazon.

Time to Put an End to Riots

With some people you can reason, some you can persuade, but for some not even a stick is good enough. These days rioting seems to be in fashion. Wherever you turn your eye there seems to be a protest in place, as long as you don’t see the picture and realise it is in fact rioting, not protesting taking place. One thing to make clear from the start, protests are inherently peaceful and thus not violent. Riots are the opposite of it, they are inherently violent and thus not peaceful at all. As soon as a group of people starts destroying private or public property, harassing or attacking other people, they lose any right to call themselves protesters and should be treated accordingly. That is, like criminals who do not belong on the street but in jail. I would advocate that the institutions in power stop treating them as children by just letting them wantonly destroy everything in their sight and beat whoever they seem fit, and instead enforce the Law. Even with the iron rod if need be. They deserve it. This only continues because the authorities decide the mob is not worth the hassle. But that is in its entirety deluded approach. What they need to do is prosecute the violent rioters, those that attack innocent people, those that destroy other’s property, those that organise these riots, and in the end even those and especially those who finance them. Only when they will be severely punished and their lives and prospects for the future sufficiently ruined will that serve as a good deterrence for the rest of these mobs who were entertaining such ideas. Those perpetuating these crimes need to experience the pain, the anguish, the anxiety, and the fear they inflict on any innocent outsider or even bystander by their horrific behaviour. They deserve every broken jaw, every drop of tear gas, and every day of their sentence serving in prison. They broke the social contract, and thus deserve the worst the state can inflict on them. It is after all, them themselves who inflict this upon themselves. But as it stands right now, it will take some time before anyone decides to take a decisive action. What is more likely, is that with the sudden reemergence of Antifa in every riot featured in the media, that their counterparts will start seeking them out knowing they have nothing to fear. The media who is currently in their delusional state cheering Antifa on, ignoring the consequences of their actions will have a different opinion of those that take Antifa up on their offer for violence. But that will not be enough. In the end, for this to stop in its tracks, the pressure will have to come from the top. That means the government will probably have to intervene and threaten to cut funding to the cities and college campuses where the riots are not dealt with away in a swift and decisive manner (I didn’t even finish writing this article when President Trump already took to twitter with that in mind). When it comes to college campuses, the donors present an additional pressure point. While in general it might stand that any kind of publicity is good publicity, that is far from true for colleges. After the protests on the University of Missouri the enrolment rate plunged by 20%, costing them approximately $32 million, thus forcing the University to entertain some budget cuts. Not to mention, the donors and past Alumni were not happy with the negative publicity of their Alma Mater being dragged through mud. And those were just protests. Now entertain the idea, what the University of Washington, or UC Berkeley are in for next year, after the riots that took place there, and made it into national news. The faculty of both universities came out openly against free speech. UW has to deal with a shooting in self-defence, all while no guns are allowed on the campus, thus casting doubts at the efficiency of the campus security. Berkeley on other hand has a PR-disaster on their hands that will tarnish their name for quite some time. What used to be the home of free speech is home no more. Smashing ATMs, bank windows, assaulting people, setting fires, pepper-spraying innocents, and looting a Starbucks being just some of the long list of crimes the rioters got away with unpunished. Can we just for a moment stop and think how unhinged these rioters are when they scream: “F*ck Starbucks! F*cking Zionists!” while claiming they are anti-fascist, “protesting” against the speech of a homosexual of jewish descent? But fret not, we know very well, that the media can’t help themselves but making news out of every tweet President Trump makes. And if the rioters end up not answering for their crimes, then the UC Berkeley will for enabling them, by hitting them where it hurts the most, their wallet. And for the American colleges, that long since stopped caring about education in favour of indoctrination all while filling their pockets, there is no punishment more appropriate.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Sticks And Stones May Break Your Bones, But Words Won’t And Never Did

“The fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists.” -- unknown Couple of weeks ago a video of a member of Antifa punching a supposed Neonazi exploded with wild cheers of joy. After all, what is more American than punching a Nazi, read the tweet that since grew into a meme. For one: Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Speech is sacred, and should remain Sacrosanct. Now I understand that some might disagree, and to make it clear, for me Freedom of Speech is everything short of Hate speech that I will equate with call to action. That last one is unacceptable and should be harried by law without any kind of restraint or remorse. Everything else should be a fair game no matter what comes out of someone’s mouth. Someone says Martians are superior to Eartherners? Tough, ask the gingers how it feels to be without a soul. When asked in an interview if it is ok to punch a Nazi, Slovenian marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek vehemently disagreed with the notion saying: “If a guy talks like that jerk [Richard Spencer], you should just ignore him.”, “Don’t even acknowledge him as a person.” Now some might disagree, vociferously or reluctantly. It does not really matter why, but they would like to argue, that the “Nazi” had it coming, he deserved it. The thing is, in civil society, in the West at least, I would like to believe that we have ways to solve our problems without resolving to more basic instincts. For one, simply because of the unwritten law of reciprocity. If you can punch anyone you disagree with, you are sooner or later getting punched yourself, and then you have only yourself to blame, because you already instituted that disagreement alone as good enough reason to throw a punch at someone. You don’t believe me? Just ask that member of Antifa who got shot in the stomach in the act of self-defence because he was harassing an attendee of Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech at the University of Washington. To be clear, the shooter later surrendered himself to police, and they let him go without pressing any charges. Something you will not see, from these “brave” individuals who dare take a punch at a “Nazi”. The same violence perpetrated against a Trump supporter can be seen on this video, where the “protesters” against the President’s Trump travel ban cheered and yelled “That’s right Nazi boy!” after knocking the man unconscious. That all this was accompanied by the chants of “peaceful protest” is a mere farce at this point. It has been long since chanting “Peaceful protest” actually meant peaceful protest. These days, it means, either you bow down in submission, or the same “peaceful protest” will happen to you, so take note. On the same airport one of the counter-protesters in support of the President’s Trump travel ban had enough of being called “Nazi-scum” and lashed out. The third case involves members of Antifa beating a woman on the street, brutally kicking her while she lied on the floor. All because the woman in question wore a ring with a Spanish flag on it, in Spain. Radical left responded by saying this was “poetic justice”. I ask you, is that acceptable? Is that applaudable? Is that not worth the condemnation, and persecution it deserves? This is the primary reason why words, no matter how hurtful to your sensibilities should never be countered with violence. It is not the same. And I would dare say, here is where the whole conundrum stems from. Treating physical violence on the same level as a disagreement of ideas or an insult thrown. No matter how much it aches your soul, that does not make it equal to kicking someone’s teeth in. That is why we have the phrase “a battle of wits”. If it comes to fists, so be it, but at least make sure that the fists were what lead to the fight. Once you equalise throwing a punch to throwing an insult, the line separating the two categories disappears. There is no difference between the two, and if there is no difference, there is no stopping you from hitting someone because you disagree with his ideas about the world. That is a dangerous path to thread, and certainly one that will eventually back-fire. To celebrate violence exacted upon someone you disagree with is disgusting. We should never condone it, and always condemn such an abhorrent behaviour. No matter who it comes from or who the target is. It is not acceptable. It is not debatable. In the end, Pastor Martin Niemöller said it the best: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Call of Duty: What's up with all the revisionism?

When I first heard the next instalment of now more than a decade old franchise would be going back to World War II, I was genuinely excit...