The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Postmodern College, Postmodern Love

Posted on | October 24, 2014 | 12 Comments

Otterbein University is a small, private liberal arts college in Westerville, Ohio, near Columbus. Like most such schools in America, it began with an explicitly Christian purpose:

The university was founded in 1847 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ. . . . The university is named for United Brethren founder the Rev. Philip William Otterbein.

Also, like most other small, private liberal arts colleges, Otterbein is fairly expensive. Annual tuition is $31,624 at Otterbein, more than three times what in-state students pay at Ohio State (annual tuition $10,037). So, what is the value-added for the Otterbein students?

Why are parents willing to pay such a premium to send their children there? Is it the tranquil beauty of the 114-acre campus? Is it the promise of “an inclusive community dedicated to educating the whole person in the context of humane values”? Or, perhaps, do parents feel that Otterbein’s small size, suburban location and Christian history makes it a safe environment where young people will be protected from the stresses and peer pressure of a big urban school like Ohio State, which has more than 40,000 students on its campus near downtown Columbus? Whatever the reasons, girls (and their parents) are much more likely to prefer the small liberal arts college: 62% of Otterbein’s 2,479 students are female and 38% male.

One might speculate that there is a symbiotic relationship between the type of curriculum offered at Otterbein and the disproportionately female students it attracts. But why merely speculate, when Otterbein is so eager to tell us all about it?

The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Otterbein is committed to a critical and feminist understanding of gender and power across cultural contexts, social locations, and disciplinary boundaries.
Our program underlines two important and interrelated learning goals:
– A deepened understanding of the history, contributions, conditions, and issues affecting women in local, national, and transnational context
– A broad exploration of the multiple systems and social meanings that construct our understandings of gender and sexuality
We are proud of the fact that we think comparatively and collaboratively about feminist politics, gender categories, and sexual identity and practice.
The program also encourages feminist and anti-oppressive pedagogies in the classroom; supports critical research and faculty development in women’s and gender studies; sponsors co-curricular programming that addresses women’s and gender issues; provides outreach opportunities for the campus community; and offers itself as an ally and advocate for women and GLBTQ students, staff, and faculty at the University.

One wonders what the United Brethren — a sect born of the 18th century “Great Awakening” — and the Rev. Otterbein might think about this “gender and sexuality” and GLBTQ advocacy. The faculty of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Otterbein is led by the director Tammy Birk, an associate professor of English whose specialities include “Critical Feminist Theories”:

I like any project that is experimental in form or content. I like projects that are hybrid or interdisciplinary. I like projects that sit at the intersection of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I like any project that creates or critiques graphic narrative. I like projects that foreground critical theory or cultural studies.

As previously explained in the “Sex Trouble” series, Women’s Studies is interdisciplinary, sharing faculty with other departments. At Otterbein, the program’s faculty includes female professors who are listed as chairs of the departments of Psychology (Michelle Acker), English (Suzanne Ashworth) and Sociology (Heidi Ballard). Thus, Women’s Studies serves as a sort of campus center for an activist agenda whereby this kind of “feminist understanding of gender and power,” etc., is diffused across multiple programs. And the number of students who take Women’s Studies classes is much larger than the number who make Women’s Studies their major or minor, as Daphne Patai explained in Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women’s Studies:

At my own university, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, several hundred students a year enroll in Women’s Studies courses . . .  in large part because certain low-level Women’s Studies courses fulfill the university’s general education requirement in the area of “diversity.” The number of majors, however, is small . . . 30 to 35 . . .

 So, on the one hand, the interdisciplinary aspect of Women’s Studies makes such programs a means of supporting a feminist agenda across multiple areas of the curriculum and, on the other hand, many students take Women’s Studies courses as electives to fulfill requirements for their degrees in other fields. What sort of agenda is involved in these classes?  Again, from Professing Feminism, here is a quote from “Laura,” a bisexual woman who in the 1990s got a minor in Women’s Studies at an unnamed state university:

The classroom gets divided. . . . There’s always a small group of women who speak out. They always have something to say, they always have a comments on something, and you pretty much get the general feel of all their politics within the first week. . . . It comes down to your sexuality and your political views. It’s like, it seems a lot of times if you’re heterosexual, strictly heterosexual, or conservative, you don’t have the right to say much in Women’s Studies. You’re classified with men.
Sexuality comes up all the time in Women’s Studies class. It’s amazing — it just becomes an issue. People are declaring themselves, what their sexual orientation is, right away. I mean, within a week, you know what everybody in your class is. . . .
A lot of people got triggered by “men men men men men.” I remember somebody just going off and saying, “Can’t you blame anything but men?” . . . In one class this girl said, “All you do is blame men. I happen to like men.” . . . She was attacked. There were mainly three people who jumped in, and they just completely cut her to pieces.

Tha’s how it was in a Women’s Studies program at a state university in the 1990s. Does anyone think the anti-male/anti-heterosexual climate in such programs has changed since then, except to become even more anti-male and anti-heterosexual? Meanwhile . . .

At Otterbein University, the formerly Christian private college in Ohio where tuition is over $30,000 a year and a 62% female student body lives in “”an inclusive community . . . of humane values,” they have sororities on campus, one of which is Kappa Phi Omega. In 2005, the president of Kappa Phi Omega was Alanna Fenton, who also played on the Otterbein Cardinals softball team. And guess what?

We fell in love in college at Otterbein — yea a shocker to us too! Felicity was in Nursing School and Alanna studying Organizational Communications. While Alanna was the president of our sorority Kappa Phi Omega and Felicity was a lowly little pledge the love story began!
Since 5/5/05, we have never been able to get rid of each other . . .

In an inclusive community with humane values, of course, the sorority president will become lesbian lovers with a freshman pledge! This is why Felicity’s parents paid $31,624 to send their daughter to that 144-acre campus, so she could study nursing, acquire humane values and have lesbian sex with her softball-playing sorority president. That’s how “the love story began,” and in 2012 . . .

Esquinas (right) wore a strand of pearls given to her by her mother
on her 18th birthday. Fenton wore a diamond necklace of her grandmother’s
given to her by her mother the night before the wedding.

Now, let me point out that I have no idea if either of these students of humane values were ever enrolled in a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies class while at Otterbein. For all I know, Alanna and Felicity were both lifelong lesbians before they ever set foot on the 114-acre campus of that inclusive community. It is entirely possible that these young lesbians chose Otterbein specifically because of the 62% female student body, which offers abundant opportunities for such “love stories” as theirs. Maybe Otterbein has that kind of reputation, sort of Ohio’s equivalent of Bryn Mawr. Maybe Kappa Phi Omega is known around campus as The Lesbian Sorority, so that if a freshman dyke at Otterbein is looking for a place where she will be welcomed into the sapphic sisterhood, Kappa house is it.

Maybe, but probably not. The story Alanna and Felicity tell would lead us to believe that neither of them had any previous inkling of a same-sex orientation until — “shocker”! — they “fell in love” on May 5, 2005. Does that seem plausible? I don’t know. After months of reading feminist books about how sexuality is “socially constructed,” I’m wondering if maybe there’s not some social construction going on at Otterbein and other such inclusive communities, where the one thing definitely not included among the humane values is the kind of Christianity in which the United Brethren fervently believed.

Postmodernism looks suspiciously like paganism, from a biblical perspective, and if Jesus Christ were to show up tommorow on the Otterbein campus, he’d be shunned and denounced as a hatemonger.

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . . And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind . . .”

Given over to a reprobate mind, people do all kinds of foolish things, like spend $31,624 a year to send their daughters to Otterbein.


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What Self-Hatred Looks Like

Posted on | October 24, 2014 | 63 Comments

@LisaKudrow expresses #feminism by obverse reaction:

Lisa Kudrow: ‘Gay Men Are
Superior Beings In My Mind’

. . . Although she notes that “the people I work with are gay,” Kudrow says her love of the gay community extends beyond the confines of Hollywood, too.
“I don’t know who I’m going to offend by leaving them out, but I need to say that I think gay men are superior beings in my mind,” she said. “The two sides of the brain communicate better than a straight man’s, and I think that has to be really important. They’re not women — they’re still men — and women also have thicker corpus callosums, so I think it’s the combination of those qualities that makes them like a superhuman to me.”

Think hard about this. Feminism’s anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideology tells women that a normal life is an inferior life.

To be conventionally feminine — to pursue a normal woman’s life of men, marriage and motherhood — according to feminist theory is to cooperate in one’s own oppression by the male-dominated society. By contrast, feminism teaches, the woman who pursues “sexual equality” (i.e., androgyny, where men and women are viewed as identical and interchangeable units) is “empowered” by preferring professional careerism over the inferior normal life of the woman who views her family role as more rewarding than whatever wage-earning work she may do (her job, rather than a career) to augment her family’s income.

This weird set of feminist premises — the power-oriented fixation on male “supremacy” and women’s alleged “oppression” by patriarchy, particularly identifying traditional family life as the source of inequality — can be used in syllogisms leading to any number of possible conclusions, one of which Lisa Kudrow has expressed quite clearly: If normal sexuality and the (patriarchal) culture produced by a (male-dominated) society are inherently oppressive, then gay men are “superhuman” creatures who are preferable to normal males.

However, what Lisa Kudrow is also saying (perhaps without realizing it) is that what makes heterosexual men the lowest form of human life on the planet is specifically the fact that they find women sexually attractive. Women are never to be desired by men as sexual partners — for male desire reduces women to an inferior role as mere “sex objects” — and females must always only be viewed as androgynous career-achievers whose sexuality has no socially normal or biologically natural purpose.

Such is the logic of feminism’s categorical imperatives, where sexual equality (androgyny) is the ideal, and where anything short of this utopian ideal is condemned as social injustice. The problem is that Lisa Kurdrow (unlike Andrea Dworkin, Marilyn Frye, Dee Graham and other outspoken radical feminists) neither clearly states her premises nor pursues her argument to its logical conclusion.

Instead, as for most women who have absorbed feminist ideas by a process of osmosis rather than through rigorous study, Lisa Kudrow’s worldview is expressed in incoherent and inadequately articulated statements which, while appearing quite odd from a common-sense perspective, are difficult to refute. An argument may be refuted, but a mere prejudice resists logical rebuttal, and expressions of vulgar feminism like Lisa Kudrow’s pseudo-scientific praise of “superhuman” gay men are nothing more than prejudice.

Readers of the “Sex Trouble” series understand that my arguments are not a matter of ignorance or male chauvinism. Rather, I am exploring the inherent radicalism of feminist gender theory, developed over the course of many decades and institutionalized within the curricula of Women’s Studies programs at colleges and universities. Most people who call themselves “feminists” are vastly more ignorant of feminism’s intellectual history and core philosophy than I am and, when they are exposed to the truth of what feminism actually is, the self-declared “feminist” will typically react in three ways:

  1. Dismissal — The startling quote you have just cited is dismissed as “not real feminism.” This quote must be out of context, the soi-disant feminist will say, or you are citing some obscure “fringe” extremist who is not representative of “real feminism.” Never mind that the quote is from a best-selling author or a distinguished professor. Never mind that the radical you’ve quoted has served as an officer of a major feminist organization, an editor of an influential academic journal, or headed the Women’s Studies program at a public university. It doesn’t matter how many times the feminist you quoted has had her works included in anthologies or textbooks, or cited in the “research” of her fellow feminist intellectuals. No, the startling quotation must be dismissed as “not real feminism,” or otherwise it might undermine the overall prestige of feminism. And your typical ignorant feminist calls herself a “feminist” for the precise reason that she thinks it is prestigious to label herself in this way.
  2. Denial — Your attempt to show a cause-and-effect correlation between feminist theory and harmful real-life consequences requires the feminist to deny that there is any such correlation. Are female college students being sexually victimized because they are trying to live according to feminist ideas about “empowerment”? If you try to show this correlation by anecdotal evidence, statistical data or logical inference, the feminist will deny it all — anecdotes, statistics and logic — rather than permit your argument to contradict the preferred feminist narrative. Can it be shown than the decline of marriage is both a goal highly sought by feminists and harmful to women and girls? “Deny! Deny! Deny!” answers the feminist. Encountering the feminist in denial mode is like watching an episode of the true-crime documentary series The First 48. Homicide detectives have video surveillance of the convenience store where the clerk was killed in an armed robbery. They identified the make and model of the getaway car from the video. When surveillance images of the robbers are shown on local news TV broadcasts, a call comes in to the Crimestoppers hotline, naming one of the suspects, who happens to own a car of the same make and model as the one used in the robbery. Patrol officers pull over the car, arrest the driver and find in the trunk of the car a ski mask, of the same type as worn by one of the robbers. This suspect confesses his role and names his two criminal cohorts, including the gunman who fired the shot that killed the store clerk. The suspected gunman is arrested and a search of his apartment turns up (a) blood-spattered sneakers of the same brand as those worn by the gunman, and (b) a 9mm pistol like the one used in the fatal robbery. Now, there is a mountain of damning evidence against this suspect, to say nothing of his accomplice’s statement naming him as the gunman. Once the DNA lab gets the results on the slain clerk’s blood on those sneakers, and the ballistics lab matches the pistol to the bullet that killed the clerk, there will be an airtight case for capital murder against this perp. Nevertheless, the detectives want to give the gunman a chance to confess his crime. Every viewer of The First 48 has seen this scene play out over and over. Detectives bring the perp into the interrogation room and say, “Look, we know you did it. You want to tell us what you did?” But no, says the killer, he wasn’t there and he doesn’t know anything about a robbery and that ain’t his gun. Deny! Deny! Deny! Feminists can never admit responsibility for the harms caused by their bad ideas.
  3. Demonization — Anyone who directly criticizes feminism, per se, or who contradicts the preferred feminist narrative of some contemporary issue, is vilified, demonized and scapegoated as a Misogynistic Enemy of Women’s Progress. This is where the Alinsky Rules for Radicals tactics are employed to marginalize and discredit the critic with ad hominem slurs and unsubstantiated accusations of mala fides (“bad faith”). No actual evidence of your hateful motives is needed by feminists to justify these attacks, and what they offer as “evidence” is irrelevant to the validity of your criticism, but by their coordinated, ruthless and persistent campaign of character assassination, feminists will turn the targeted critic into a Demonized Scapegoat whom all feminists are obliged to denounce. During the Cold War, the pro-Soviet defenders of Marxism did this to a succession of their critics and opponents — Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover and Ronald Reagan, to name a few — and feminism’s totalitarian kinship to Communism is demonstrated by their predictable use of Soviet-style propaganda tactics to impugn their enemies.

Once you recognize feminism as a totalitarian ideology, everything else about it becomes transparent, including the incoherence of liberals who call themselves “feminists” without bothering to understand the philosophy they embrace by claiming that label.

Thus we return to Lisa Kudrow’s praise of the “superhuman” gay male brain and her Neurobiological Theory of Female Supremacy via the greater thickness of women’s corpus callosum. While an eminent scientist might be able to explain for us exactly what the hell Kudrow is talking about — assuming that the social significance of human brain differences is generally known to science — let me instead make this point: LARRY SUMMERS DESERVES AN APOLOGY.

Remember that Summers lost his job as president of Harvard University as a direct result of feminist outrage after Summers suggested — merely suggested — that “innate” differences between men and women might explain the relative paucity of women among the top rank of research scientists. Yet here we have a Hollywood celebrity claiming that these innate differences are a biological reality, so that (a) gay males are “superhuman,” and (b) the thicker corpus callosum of women’s brains is socially significant in some way that Lisa Kudrow failed to fully explain. Let’s be logical, eh?

  1. Men and women either are different or they are not.
  2. Male-female differences are either innate, or they are not.
  3. It either is acceptable to generalize on the basis of innate male-female differences, or it is unacceptable to do so.

From a standpoint of logic (as opposed to the standpoint of feminism), we may discuss male-female differences objectively without always being careful not to offend women, gays or any other protected class of persons who habitually claim victimhood.

However, as every feminist knows, logic is a tool of patriarchal oppression and objectivity is just a synonym for rape.

Lisa Kudrow is permitted by the rules of feminism to generalize about male-female differences as long as (a) her comments are pro-homosexual and (b) her comments are anti-male. Kudrow therefore praises gay men precisely because they are gay, which means that they are metaphysically female, from her perspective. The fact that Kudrow is herself married to a man and the mother of a teenage son does not prevent her from espousing a “scientific” theory which (a) derogates her husband for his heterosexuality, (b) also derogates her son, unless he is a “superhuman” homosexual, and (c) derogates herself — and all other females — as sexually inferior because no woman can be the object of superhuman gay male desire.

“A liberal,” Robert Frost once remarked, “is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel,” and Lisa Kudrow’s argument takes this to its obvious extreme. Her own life is a heterosexual female life, but she must praise the negation of her existence, expressing enthusiastic admiration for gay men (who find females sexually repugnant) and condemning heterosexual males as defective (because, being heterosexual, they find females sexually desirable).

Self-hatred of this kind used to be found only in lunatic asylums. Now we see it in, e.g., Max Blumenthal and the “Jews for Hamas” variety of far-Left anti-Zionism. I do not necessarily expect every Jew to be an ultra-Zionist, but for a Jew to endorse Jew-killing genocidal terrorism (which is what Hamas is all about) takes a special kind of crazy. By the same token, to be heterosexual is obviously not the same as being a homophobic hater, but it takes a special kind of crazy for heterosexuals to impugn their own preference as unworthy, and this is what Lisa Kudrow has done.

Or perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe she didn’t actually intend to demean her husband as the inferior of gay superhumans. Perhaps it is ridiculous of me to subject a Hollywood celebrity’s statements to the categorical rigors of logical analysis. Alternatively, maybe I’m too stupid to grasp the sophisticated beliefs of my intellectual superior, Lisa Kudrow.

If only I had a thick corpus callosum or a superhuman gay brain, all this would make sense to me. But I don’t think so.

The truth is still true, whether you believe it or not.




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LIVE AT FIVE: 10.24.14

Posted on | October 24, 2014 | 1 Comment

– compiled by Wombat-socho

NYC Doctor Tests Positive For Ebola

Dr. Craig Spencer was working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, passed CDC screen at JFK

Fourth Ebola case in the US, first in New York
New Yorkers wonder why Dr. Spencer went bowling
Tracing Spencer’s contacts a challenge for NYC health authorities

Police: Ottawa Gunman Had Planned Going To Syria
No apparent link to fatal attack earlier in the week

Narendra Modi Says Happy Diwali From Siachen Glacier
Praises troops stationed in sensitive heights

Democrats Losing Ground In Colorado

Mark Uterus poses with supporters

Related: FLOTUS flubs it again

Shaheen, Brown Spar Over Ebola And ISIS In Debate

South Dakota Senate Contenders Clash In First TV Debate

Democratic Senators: Obama “Not Relevant”

Boston Globe Poll Shows Baker Soaring

KC Lingerie Shop Owners In A Twist After Homeland Security’s Panty Raid

After Wheelchair Ad Backlash, Polls Show Abortion Barbie Down Eight More Points

Asian Crude Heads For Fourth Weekly Drop As Saudi Policy Seen Unchanged: WTI $81.32, Brent $86.15
Amazon’s 3Q Loss Makes Holidays A Question Mark
US Stock Futures Tumble On Reports Of Ebola In NYC
Pandora Falls After Listener Growth Slows
Sears Denies Reports It’ll Be Closing Over 100 KMart & Sears Stores
American, Southwest Set Profit Records
Facebook Wants To Bring Back The Anonymous Chatroom
Surface Tablet Sales Near $1 Billion, Microsoft Revenues Jump 25%
Broadcasters Win Preliminary Injunction Against Aereo
Niche Networks Ello, Let Gain Dollars & Followers As Facebook Seems Stale
Apple Still Wants Sapphire Screens Despite Losing Its Main Supplier

Manning, Sanders Lead Broncos Past Chargers

Payton Manning: 3 TDs FTW

Banged-up Chargers fall 35-21

Miller Has 31 Saves As Canucks Beat Blues 4-1

Bruins Lose Game To Islanders, Zdeno Chara Too

Flames Blank Hurricanes 5-0

Season – And Maybe Career – Over For Lakers’ Nash

Fox Wins Wednesday As World Series Ratings Rebound

Wings Edge Pens 4-3 (OT)

Long Goes From Yankees To Mets As Hitting Coach

Neal’s Hat Trick Lifts Predators Over Blackhawks 3-2

Span, LaRoche Named Gold Glove Finalists

Minnie Driver Not Big On Parents Putting Kids In Show Biz

Show biz parents are “desperate and conflicted”

Speaking during tour for her new movie “Beyond The Lights”

Jenny McCarthy Talks Way Too Much About Donnie Walberg’s Johnson

Teresa Giudice Gets 15 Months At Danbury Prison

Christian Bale Didn’t Need To Audition For Jobs Movie

Ellen DeGeneres Interviews Taylor Swift

Archie Comic Drama Series “Riverdale” Coming To Fox

Love And Grohl’s $10K Stripper Bet Still On

Will “Fifty Shades Of Grey” Be A Flop?

Kristen Stewart Taking Time Off From Movies

Melissa Rivers: “No Choice” But To Sue

ROK 3Q GNP Rebounds But Global Headwinds Raise Uncertainty
Boko Haram Seizes 25 Girls From Nigerian Town
Ground Offensive Against ISIS Months Away, US Says
EU Asks Britain For Another $2.73 Billion While France Gets $1.2 Billion Rebate
Former Jamaat-i-Islami Leader Dies In Bangladesh Prison
Mexican Governor Steps Down Amid Student Disappearances
Pope Francis To Investigate “Playboy Priests”
Chicom Party Plenum Promises Hong Kong Autonomy, Judicial Independence
New Japanese Trade Chief Hit With S&M Scandal After Just Three Days On Job
Human Rights Investigator Warns Of Norks’ Charm Offensive
Hong Kong Protesters To Vote On Government Proposals
Violence Rages In Jerusalem As Netanyahu Vows To Restore Order

Doug Powers: Number Of People Saying “Do Not Panic” About Ebola May Be About To Drop
Twitchy: Viewer Calls Child Protective Services On Ferguson Protest Live-Streamer
SooperMexican: The Carol Costello Hypocrisy Summed Up
American Power: Game Theory Explains #GamerGate
BLACKFIVE: Godspeed Corporal Nathan Cirillo
Conservatives4Palin: CNN’s Carol Costello Apologizes (To Politico) For Comments On Bristol Palin
Don Surber: Blame Game Begins
Jammie Wearing Fools: Canadian Jihadi Not A Recent Convert To Islam
Joe For America: Obama’s Senator Jeanne Shaheen Gets Laughed Off Stage
JustOneMinute: Wages Stagnate, The Rich Get Richer, And The Times Applauds!
Pamela Geller: Jihad Terror In NYC – Muslim Attacks NYPD Cops With Ax, Gets Shot Dead
Protein Wisdom: Hamas Claims Terrorist Murder Of American Baby In Israel Is “Natural”
Shot In The Dark: “It’d Be A Shame If Your Insurance Company Were To Break…Or Something”
The Gateway Pundit: Petraeus Says Administration Saw ISIS Coming
The Jawa Report: Sandcrawler PSA – Save The Trees
The Lonely Conservative: Obama Administration Lied To Congress About Crimes Of Illegals Released From Jail
This Ain’t Hell: Getting It Exactly Wrong
Weasel Zippers: Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) Fired Up For The Colorado “Erection”
Megan McArdle: Escaping The Rent-To-Own Couch

Bored this weekend? Need something to do between football games?
Submit links for the FMJRA (due noon Saturday) and Rule 5 Sunday (due midnight Saturday)!
Or read my book!

Visit Amazon’s Halloween Shop

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Brain Candy

Posted on | October 23, 2014 | 23 Comments

– by Wombat-socho

Many years ago, when I was still an APAhacker, one of my fellow Stipple-APA members introduced me to a term I’d never seen before: “brain candy”. He used it much like “eye candy”, only he was talking about SF novels which didn’t have any hifalutin’ messages, intersectionalism, or any of that other crap; they were just good workmanlike stories that entertained you and made you think your $3 was well spent on that particular paperback. Brain candy seems to have made a comeback thanks to e-book readers and easier self-publishing; instead of wasting eight bucks on some social justice warrior’s notion of a transgressive novel, you can plunk down three or four bucks and enjoy a good story. A good example of this is Vaughn Heppner’s The Lost Starship, which I borrowed through the Amazon Prime Lending Library. It starts with a duel to the death between our hero, Captain Maddox of Star Watch Intelligence, and a scion of the corporate oligarchy and rapidly changes course to a desperate quest with a misfit crew (including a bonafide Mad Scientist and an alcoholic ace pilot) for an six millenia old alien dreadnaught that may be just a legend – all the while being pursued by the New Men, posthumans with superior technology as well as mental and physical advantages over regular humans. As if his job wasn’t verging on impossible already, Maddox has an additional problem: was he deliberately planted as an orphan by the New Men to infiltrate and betray humanity? Lots of adventure, derring-do, and humanity outfoxing its nominal betters. Highly recommended.

Also recommended is the second volume in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy, The Crimson Campaign. The direct sequel to Promise of Blood, it covers the disastrous invasion of Kez by Marshal Tamas, and the resulting counter-invasion by Kez which forces the Marshal’s estranged son, the celebrated hero and powder mage “Two-Shot” Taniel, into the front lines as seemingly the only man who can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat – if he can keep the generals in command from hanging him or locking him up in the stockade. Meanwhile, back in the capital city, retired inspector Adamat closes in on Lord Vetas, conspiracies and politics are everywhere, and the last mage of the old king’s cabal has some debts to pay. McClellan does an excellent job of keeping all the plot balls in the air while continuing to develop his characters, and I think he gives S.M. Stirling a good run for his money in his unstinting portrayal of the horrors of Napoleonic-style warfare, only made worse by conventional and powder magic. I found this in the library, which is good since I wasn’t about to pay $12.99 for the Kindle edition; used hardcovers are starting to come onto the market for $14, but paperback copies are still insanely expensive. Recommended, but you may want to wait for the prices to come down and/or Hachette to regain their sanity.

Unlike the Honorverse, which has gotten completely out of hand, I am still following Eric Flint’s 1632 series*, and the most recent installment I’ve read, 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, is a worthy addition to the series. Co-written by Flint and Charles Gannon, it has much in common with The Crimson Campaign in that there are a ton of plot balls and characters aloft, and the team of Flint and Gannon is excellent at keeping everything going without getting bogged down in infodumps or tedious exposition. Also, excellently described naval battles which made it easy for me to visualize the action in a way I haven’t experienced since Forester’s Hornblower novels. I liked it better than Iver Cooper’s 1636: Seas of Fortune, which immediately precedes 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies in the Caribbean; Cooper is not quite as deft as Flint and Gannon, and the book’s division between events in the Caribbean and the Japanese colonization of California (which kept reminding me of Stirling’s The Golden Princess), which I was reading at the time) didn’t help. Seas of Change was okay brain candy, but Commander Cantrell in the West Indies is a LOT better.

Not really SF, but worth reading anyway: The Mongoliad, by Neil Stephenson, Greg Bear and about a squad’s worth of other writers. Stephenson and his little band seem intent on doing for 13th-century Europe in the wake of the Mongol invasion what Stephenson did for Europe in the late 17th century around the time of the Siege of Vienna in his Baroque Cycle.** The Mongoliad is up to five novels and a spate of side-stories, but in the main it starts right after the Battle of Liegnitz, in which the Mongols crushed the Polish army and seemed ready to ride right through Europe until they reached the Atlantic. A small band of warriors decides that in order to win the war, the Mongols must be distracted: half their band will delay the Western Horde by participating in a Circus of Swords, while the other half goes to find the Kha Khan and kill him. Interesting alternate history, or perhaps more of a secret history, but I have the next two books in the series and intend to talk about them more fully next week.

*The first taste is free. :)
**The first taste isn’t free, but it’s extremely cheap.

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Canadian Terrorist: Crazy Muslim

Posted on | October 23, 2014 | 42 Comments

We learn that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the terrorist killed in his attack Thursday on the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa, was both mentally ill and a convert to Islam:

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the slain 32-year-old suspected killer of a Canadian Forces soldier near Parliament Hill, was a labourer and small-time criminal — a man who had had a religious awakening and seemed to have become mentally unstable.
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999. . . .
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau grew up in Eastern Canada, including Ottawa and Montreal, and had spent time in Libya before moving to Western Canada to become a miner and labourer, according to friend Dave Bathurst.
Mr. Bathurst said he met Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau in a Burnaby, B.C., mosque about three years ago. He said his friend did not at first appear to have extremist views or inclinations toward violence — but at times exhibited a disturbing side.
“We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don’t know how he worded it: He said the devil is after him,” Mr. Bathurst said in an interview. He said his friend frequently talked about the presence of Shaytan in the world — an Arabic term for devils and demons. “I think he must have been mentally ill.”
Mr. Bathurst last saw Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau praying in a Vancouver-area mosque six weeks ago. He spoke of wanting to go to the Middle East soon. . . .
At the Burnaby mosque, Mr. Bathurst said his friend’s “erratic” behaviour — he did not elaborate — caused frictions with the elders at the house of worship, who asked him to stop attending prayers. At that time, Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was living in a barely furnished single-room apartment.
Mr. Bathurst said he recalls his friend being arrested at the mosque a few years ago after bizarrely calling police to tell them about a crime he had committed many years before.

We can expect more information about the terrorist to be reported over the next few days, but I think we already have the basic picture. Next question: Is there a direct connection to ISIS or another international Islamic terrorist conspiracy?

Authorities haven’t disclosed any connection between the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, and ISIS. . . .
This summer, ISIS released a video featuring a Canadian reportedly named Andre Poulin making a pitch for recruits. The video showed the group’s intensified efforts to bait international recruits. It also highlights a message that a normal Westerner gave up a good life of comfort to join jihad — and so can others. Poulin’s speech is interspersed with beauty shots of Canada.
And last month, ISIS released a 42-minute recording in which it asked Canadians to kill civilians and military members.
“Rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict,” the recording said.

There are unconfirmed reports of evidence of a direct ISIS connection to Zehaf-Bibeau, but we will wait and see.

As I said Thursday, the “leaderless cell” model of underground terrorist organization can make it difficult to connect the dots and prove that Killer X is part of Group Z. Furthermore, in the Internet age, radicals can broadcast their messages and any “lone wolf” can respond to those messages and, unless the “lone wolf” terrorist makes a statement or leaves behind a bread-crumb trail of electronic evidence, you can’t really say that Radical Message A directly led to Terrorist Act B.

So we don’t know, and may never know, exactly how it was that Zehaf-Bibeau went from crazy Muslim to terrorist. Rather than focus on the details of that, however, let’s look at the general pattern in the context of history. What you find about killers like this is that the misfit or mental case has both real-life problems and an extremist ideology. Think about Lee Harvey Oswald who, like Zehaf-Bibeau, was the product of a broken home and, like Zehaf-Bibeau, adopted the ideology of a foreign enemy. Whereas the Canadian-born Zehaf-Bibeau became a Muslim in the 21st century, the American-born Oswald became a Marxist at a time when the Soviet Union was America’s greatest enemy.

What causes some people to adopt the ideology of hostile foreign powers? They are misfits and malcontents who are alienated from their own national society, hostile to the dominant culture. By identifying with an extremist ideology, this type of warped personality seeks a kind of empowerment that enables them to enact their fantasy of revenge on the society that rejects the misfit.

And you know what? That describes the typical feminist.

Think about that.


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LIVE AT FIVE: 10.23.14

Posted on | October 23, 2014 | 3 Comments

– compiled by Wombat-socho

CDC: All US Residents Returning From Ebola Zone To Be Tracked

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Megan McArdle: Bullet Trains Aren’t Magic

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ISIS Crisis in Ottawa Shooting? UPDATE: Gunman Is Canadian Muslim Convert

Posted on | October 22, 2014 | 50 Comments

Because I was offline working on another project today, I haven’t followed the developments in Ottawa, where a terrorist gunman and a soldier have reportedly been killed in an incident at the Canadian Parliament building. In a breaking news situation like this, I hesitate to speculate, but others are not hesitant, and there is a lot of chatter that this shooting in Canada is related to the Iraqi-Syrian Islamic terror group known as ISIS. We will wait and see.

Feel free to link in the comments to any new developments, and I may update later, when there are more certain facts to report.

UPDATE: Reuters is now reporting that the Ottawa shooter is a Canadian-born man named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who converted to Islam.

Allahpundit has more details at Hot Air.

UPDATE II: Definitely looks like terrorism:

Zehaf-Bibeau . . . was recently designated a “high-risk traveller” by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized – the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car.

Rouleau-Couture was also a convert to Islam. How much actual organization is behind these attacks, we don’t know. The so-called “leaderless cell” model can be difficult to detect. You see a dot here and a dot there, and it looks like a pattern, but you can’t always tell whether the evident pattern is actually a conspiracy.

UPDATE III: Various items from Twitter:



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LIVE AT FIVE: 10.22.14

Posted on | October 22, 2014 | 4 Comments

– compiled by Wombat-socho

US To Impose Movement Restrictions On Travelers From Ebola Zone

A Coast Guard health tech assists a Border Patrol officer in screening a passenger arriving from Sierra Leone

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