Friday, 29 April 2016

Rectal-Cranial Inversion Syndrome never sounded so good

I've often thought that Tuomas Huolopainen- the mastermind behind NIGHTWISH, a.k.a. "THE best symphonic metal band there is"- has his head shoved up his own arse far too often for his own good. All you have to do is listen to tracks like "The Poet and the Pendulum", "Meadows of Heaven", "Song of Myself", or "The Greatest Show on Earth" to realise that he has NO ONE around to tell him, "enough already!".

Thankfully, he is also an incredible musician and composer. And he has never shown it more than on what has to be the single best symphonic metal track ever recorded:

Oh, but if you thought that version was amazing, wait until you hear it sung by one Floor Jansen:

Yeah. She really is that awesome. I've seen her perform live with both REVAMP and NIGHTWISH, and... well, what can one say, other than "WOW".

I'm not overly fond of girl-fronted metal bands. There are only a handful that I bother listening to, and most of them have very uneven output- AMARANTHE, BATTLE BEAST, and WITHIN TEMPTATION spring to mind immediately, as do a host of other lesser lights. But I make a big exception for pretty much anything that Floor Jansen does. She has one of the most versatile voices that I've ever heard- male or female, in any genre.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bad Puppies! Sit! Stay! Heel!

... Sod off.

And shove that newspaper you were about to whack us with up where the Sun don't shine while you're at it:
For the second year in a row, nominations for the prestigious Hugo Awards for science fiction & fantasy have been swept by the Sad Puppies & Rabid Puppies, two groups of authors and fans who oppose left-wing domination of the community. 
The Sad Puppies were formed in 2013 by bestselling author Larry Correia, amidst growing domination of the Hugo Awards by left-wing cliques — who, in 2012, successfully agitated for the cancellation of an appearance by British comedian Jonathan Ross at the awards due to fears that the entertainer might make a “fat-shaming” joke. 
Correia, along with a number of other conservative and libertarian-leaning authors, contended that a large chunk of Hugo voters voted on the basis of authors’ personal political beliefs rather than the quality of their writing. The Sad Puppies aimed to change that, by nominating authors on the basis of perceived quality rather than perceived politics. The Puppies have a particular opposition to “message fiction” — works that are primarily intended to convey a political message rather than tell a good story.
Unsurprisingly, the SF-SJWs are going into full-on rabbit mode, headsploding left and right in their desperate attempts to downplay the crushing nature of our victory:
The Puppies will no doubt be happy to take credit for the appearance of these works and others on the finalist list. But, as with “Guardians of the Galaxy” last year, their endorsement probably doesn’t count for much in the grand scheme of things. “Seveneves,” one of the most talked-about science fiction books of 2015, was already a heavy favorite for an appearance on the finalist list for best novel. 
Likewise, Gaiman’s long-awaited return to the beloved Sandman universe means his finalist listing in best graphic novel was the closest thing to a shoo-in that the Hugos have. If “The Martian” hadn’t been a finalist in its category (best dramatic presentation, long form), people would have been stunned. 
In these cases as in several others, the Puppies are running in front of an existing parade and claiming to lead it. Few who know the field or the Hugos would give the slates credit for highlighting works and authors already well-appreciated in the genre, many of which have appeared this year as finalists for other awards or on bestseller lists.  
As our Supreme Dark Overlord pointed out, it so happens that the Sad Puppies were not responsible for Mr. Gaiman's nomination- we frothing-at-the-mouth Rabid Puppies were.

It gives me great pleasure to state for the record that I was a part of this campaign. It goes without saying, of course, that neither I nor any of my fellow Vile Faceless Minions were in any way acting under compulsion or orders from Vox Day, the Supreme Dark Overlord of the Evil Legion of Evil, and that whatever we nominated was totally of our own accord and free wills. It just so happens to be a cosmic coincidence that everything we nominated was exactly the same as what our Overlord did.

For, as he likes to say, repeatedly, is he not kind?

If you look at the list of Hugo-nominated works over at the Breitbart article, and you then look at just how much of the slate for this year's awards is Rabid-nominated, you'll see immediately just how big an impact we had.

Thanks to us, a living legend of science fiction, Dr. Jerry Pournelle himself, is up for an award- and he might just win one this year, too.

Thanks to us, great talent like Cheah Kai Wai and Charles Shao will get their works showcased, as will the efforts of small independent publishing houses like Castalia House to make SF/F literature truly great again.

Thanks to us, literary classics like Space Raptor Butt Invasion will finally get the-

OK, even I couldn't keep a straight face at that last one. But you get the idea.

Indeed, in my opinion the only way that this slate could have been any better is if a certain retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel by the name of Tom Kratman were to have one of his works nominated, preferably in the Best Novel category. The Torlocks and other associated SF-SJWs absolutely loathe and fear Vox Day- but I get the distinct impression that they're actually terrified, and I mean pants-shittingly scared, of LTC Kratman.

This may have something to do with his penchant for crucifying the nastier baddies in his books. Or it may be that his tolerance for their bullshit is even lower than ours. But either way, LTC Kratman, sir, consider this a formal request: give us Book 7 of the Carrera series already, so that we can turn the 2017 awards into an outdoor barbeque party.

And surely that book must include plenty of impaling, cannibalistic UN loonies, brutally accurate and realistic depictions of the Laws of War taken to their logical conclusions, and highly enthusiastic excruciators performing their tasks- just some humble suggestions from a true fan of your work, you understand, sir.

If we could somehow contrive to get Larry Correia's signature gun-porn Monster Hunter International series on the slate alongside LTC Kratman's work, that would actually be just about the perfect day. Sadly, the International Lord of Hate decided to take the moral high road and refused to accept any Hugo Award nominations, from 2015 into perpetuity, to prove a point. He proved it, all right, but I do feel the slightest twinge of regret that we won't be seeing any of his wonderfully over-the-top works causing triggering episodes among the Torlings.

Turning to the awards themselves, I have to say that I am not entirely on board with the idea of "making science fiction great again". It's already great, it's just that the awards go to all the really rubbish books that nobody reads, the ones with "fashionable" social justice messages and nonsense. (Ann Leckie's "Imperial Radch" series, starting with Ancillary Sword, is a good example of this sort of thing, what with its "body-swapping genderless AIs in space".) Personally, I would rather just nuke the entire thing from orbit and be done with it.

But that's me. I have no real idea what Voxemort the Malevolent has in mind, but I sure as hell am looking forward to it.

As for the final list of nominees for this year's awards, there are certain Sad Puppy-nominated works on that list that perplex me to no end. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens, for instance, is in my opinion one of the worst movies that I have ever seen. I hated it. And Mad Max: Fury Road was about as boneheaded a Sad Puppy nomination as I can think of- why the hell would they vote for such an execrably stupid insult to the legacy of the Mad Max franchise?!?

It's probably fair to say that the Sad Puppies weren't entirely responsible for those two abysmally bad works being on the final list- we won't know until Chaos Horizon breaks down the voting patterns, as he has done in the past. There was undoubtedly a fair amount of push from the non-Puppies voters to get those works, as well as the works by Ann Leckie and N. K. Jemisin, on the final ballot.

But this now leaves the MidAmeriCon attendees with some very interesting dilemmas on their hands.

They are now faced with the choice of hitting multiple categories with "No Award"- probably more than the five hit last year- or accepting "Safe Space as Rape Room" and Space Raptor Butt Invasion and Jim Butcher and Vox Day as the best examples of modern sci-fi out there today. I would love to be a fly on the wall at that particular meeting.

For today, though, it is time to celebrate. For, as Conan the Barbarian would say, this is very much a taste of what is best in life:
Conan! What is best in life?!
To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!

If Beethoven had been a metalhead...

Which he absolutely would have been:

EXMORTUS were the opening act for the truly almighty AMON AMARTH last Friday night. Now normally, I could not care less who opens for bands like IRON MAIDEN, AMON AMARTH, or HELLOWEEN; I applaud them politely while mentally telling them to get the hell OFF the stage so that the real fun can begin. But these guys are something else entirely- young, hungry, fast, aggressive, and extremely talented.

And they were very happy to be there. The crowd picked up on it and gave them an appropriately raucous welcome. They weren't just good for an opening act- they were good, full stop.

This is the sort of thing that Yngwie Malmsteen wishes he could do these days:

The vocals, I admit, take some getting used to- but then, if you enjoy epic Viking death metal (which, of course, I do), then this is nothing new or problematic.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Vegans for Earth Day

And by vegans, I mean turning vegans into BURGERS, of course.

It's Earth Day, which for evil conservative bastards like me is an excuse to fire shotguns, burn petrol, drink beer, hunt deer, and crank the Viking death metal up WAAAAAAAAAAAY too loud. (That sort of day is also what every other day of the week looks like for us.)

In other words, it's a great day to live like a free man, and enrage every last unwashed hippie douchebag environmentalist who ever bought a f***ing Prius.

(For the record- I think hybrids are pointless wastes of time and money. A few years ago I was in Cleveland looking to rent a car, and when they asked me what kind, I said, "anything but a hybrid". They cracked up. Folks tend to be more sensible about such things out in the midwest.)

And to celebrate Earth Day properly, let us turn things over to our good friends from Top Gear to show us how the gifts of Mother Earth should be used:

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


As any of us rednecks can tell you, when it comes to blowing shit up, there is NO SUCH THING as "too much". After all, overkill is underrated.

So here are a couple of examples of heavily underrated overkill, all in the name of the right to keep and arm bears- er, wait, that's wrong, isn't it...

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Opportunities, not passions

Of late, I have been fielding a bunch of requests from current and former students of my Master's programme to share with them whatever pearls of wisdom I have picked up over my career. Most of this is of course opportunistic; the professional cynic in me knows full well that these people are looking at me as a potential contact who can do things for them, and nothing more.

That is all well and good. I used to be in their shoes. I felt the same things they did. And it does not bother me in the slightest.

I have to say, though, that this sort of thing makes me feel very old. I recently gave a guest lecture for the current generation of students in that programme and I swear it was like looking over a theatre of toddlers in diapers. I was half expecting their mums to show up carrying strollers and baby bottles afterwards.

And yet, here they are, asking me for advice about what to do when looking for a career, as if a grumpy old man like me would have the first clue about the subject.

Thing is, though, that I remember full well what it was like trying to figure out what I was going to do after my Master's programme ended. After that began the "real world", and at the time I had no idea whether I was even ready to face it.

Like most people of my age at the time, I had no idea how little I really knew.

With the benefit of more than a few years' worth of 20-20 hindsight, here is what I would have told my younger self, and what I try to tell the kids that come to me for advice now about jobs and such- those that bother to STFU and listen without interrupting, that is.

Here's the hard reality of being in your early twenties that very few people ever tell you: you know precisely DICK about ANYTHING of ANY importance. And the sooner you accept this cruel but inviolate fact, the happier you will be, and the easier your life will be.

It's just that simple.

A 22-year-old kid who has been told all her life that she is special and wonderful and bound for success in this world- as virtually every Millennial these days is- will suffer a very harsh reality check very quickly. Lord knows, I did, when I was in my early twenties. Reality doesn't care about what you've been told growing up. It only cares what you can actually do.

And the fact is that, when you're just starting out, you can't do much of anything. You're a barely functional adult in any real sense. The fact is that a new employee is a massive net cost in terms of resources for the first 6-12 months of his or her working life. It takes roughly that long to train a fresh-faced but clueless kid into a reasonably competent person who won't sink the team and the company by making a carelessly stupid mistake in a spreadsheet that goes out to a client, for instance.

It is no doubt quite harsh to hear this, for youngsters full of hope and optimism and youthful exuberance. But then, the real world is far better at beating those qualities out of people than I could ever be.

But once the youngster accepts the world for what it is, and begins to learn from it instead of resisting it, the scales fall away and suddenly, the hidden paths of opportunity reveal themselves.

Which brings me to my other piece of advice for such folks: do what Mike Rowe says, and chase opportunities, not passions.

Passions are fleeting. Following your "passion" is all too often a great way to end up directionless and adrift, unable to chart any kind of course because doing what you're "passionate" about doesn't actually provide any kind of moral or spiritual compass. I've seen this happen firsthand to members of my own family, and the results are rarely pretty.

On the other hand, if you find an opportunity that just so happens to play to your strengths- and you are wise and mature enough to know what your strengths, and more importantly, what your weaknesses, are- then you ought to grab it with both hands, and never let go.

I didn't follow my passions much, even when I was young. When I was coming to the end of my undergraduate degree, I knew that I wanted to continue studying mathematics for at least one more year. I wanted to specialise a bit and pick up some marketable skills in the process. I applied to a number of different MA and MSc programmes, in the US and the UK.

It just so happened that I was given the opportunity to go to Oxford to study for an MS in Mathematics and the Foundations of Computer Science- a highly prestigious degree, to be sure.

But then, other opportunities came knocking. I had applied, on fairly short notice, to three schools in the US which offered Master's degrees in mathematical finance of various types. I got into two. I chose the better of the two in terms of reputation.

I never looked back. And ten years later, here I am, living in a country that I love, doing a job that I genuinely enjoy. I get paid to solve complex technical problems for a living. I get to work with people I really respect. I get to challenge myself just about every day on the job.

I didn't get there easily. There were plenty of bumps in the road- including two layoffs, at least two years of being passed over for promotions that I thoroughly deserved, and nearly four years without any real raise in pay.

There are many more bumps ahead. I am about as far away from anyone's definition of a "people person" as one can possibly imagine, even though I actually get along with most people quite well (just as long as they LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE when I need to do real work). And that is going to come back to bite me sooner rather than later.

But the lesson that life has taught me, through repeated and sometimes brutal application of the harsh rod of reality, is that it is opportunity that rules over passion, not the other way around.

Find your opportunities. Grasp them firmly with both hands. Never let them go. And make the most of your time on this Earth, so that when you meet the Supreme Judge of the Universe and are called to account for the ways in which you have used the gifts that He has given you, there will be neither shame nor sorrow in the recounting.

Monday, 18 April 2016

I had a different stake in mind...

I was attending church services at the temple of the Iron God on Sunday, as usual, when I saw an ad from the Lizard Queen herself pop up on one of the TVs during a CNN commercial break. It had something or other about how there is "too much at stake", followed by some other blather which I didn't bother to watch, and then it showed that the ad was paid for by the Clinton campaign.

I have to admit that I crossed myself the moment I realised it was a Clinton campaign ad. And then I simply burst out laughing (no doubt to the utter bemusement of that very pretty girl doing what she considered to be "leg presses" with two wheels on each side of the machine, but with barely four inches of movement in each rep), because the image that entered my mind was of a very different type of stake.

The kind that you would use for dealing with, say, this:

Now, for the record- and just in case any halfwit SJW gets the wrong idea- I do not advocate physical violence against any political candidate. My deeply held belief that Mrs. Clinton is a sociopathic liar, a criminal, a power-hungry, deeply untrustworthy, utterly unprincipled, and frankly catastrophically bad candidate for political office, does not in any way conflict with my even more deeply held belief that violence against political candidates in even the most nominal Western liberal democracy is wrong.

All of that being said (in one hell of an example of a run-on sentence), it is frightening, is it not, just how much HRC looks like a cast extra from Salem's Lot?

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Captain Save-A-Ho to the rescue!!!

A man so young that he apparently still needs to be told not to stick it in crazy, is clearly attempting to show that he has more money than brains by turning a ho into a housewife:
Lindsay Lohan is to be engaged to be married. 
The 29-year-old Mean Girls vet has accepted a proposal from 22-year-old Russian heir Egor Tarabasov, according to a Tuesday report from TMZ
The stunner has been flashing an emerald ring on her wedding finger since the news broke and celebrated with family, including mother Dina Lohan and father Michael at a Duran Duran concert. 
Entrepreneur Egor - whose father is a multi-millionaire businessman - asked for her hand in marriage 'over the weekend,' the site reported. [Question for the Philosoraptor: does it still count if you call yourself an entrepreneur when your dad is the one who did all the heavy lifting?]
While at the 2016 Asian Awards in London on Friday night, the Liz & Dick actress wore an engagement ring and diamond wedding band on her left wedding finger, before switching for a new design.
It is not often that I use three metaphors to insult someone in a single sentence, but in this case, it is warranted. This Tarabasov character is likely to find out, very much the hard way, that a fool and his money are easily parted.

Why do I make that claim? Well, there are a few things that come to mind when I hear Lindsay Lohan's name.

The first, of course, is the word "porcupine".

Note: Ms. Lohan is even LESS cute than this
The reason why should be obvious. As Urban Dictionary points out, a "porcupine girl" is a woman who, if she had as many pricks sticking out of her as she has had stuck in her, would look like said beastie. (Try thinking of that while going to sleep tonight.)

Does that apply in Ms. Lohan's case? Well... here's the evidenceyou be the judge.

The second is a terrific joke that Jeff Foxworthy- in my opinion the greatest stand-up comedian of both his generation and mine- made about the similarities between rental cars and... ladies of the night:

That joke gets me every time. And I've rarely come across a woman to whom it applies more readily than Ms. Lohan.

But the third thing that comes to mind in connection with Ms. Lohan's name is, frankly, how sad her life is.

Ms. Lohan is 29 years old. Few girls in their late twenties of my acquaintance look as used-up, washed-out, and just plain fallen as she does.

I remember watching what was then a 12-year-old Lindsay Lohan in a rather cute comedy called The Parent Trap, also starring the late and legitimately excellent actress Natasha Richardson. Ms. Lohan was quite adorably silly in that film, coming across with just the right mix of childish mischievousness and innocence.

One look at her now tells you just how far she has fallen. And that is truly sad to watch.

Ms. Lohan's choices were, and are, her own to make. Her mistakes are hers to own. Who she sleeps with, how many different kinds of drugs she takes (and in what quantities), what she spends her money on, is her business. But she certainly should not get a free pass for her self-destructive actions. And no man in his right mind, with any degree of sense, should attempt to wife up such a fallen woman.

Based on past experience, there are only a few ways in which this particular pairing is likely to end- assuming, of course, that the nuptials actually proceed as planned, which I find unlikely to say the least.

First, Ms. Lohan will probably end up assiduously cheating on her younger spouse with any reasonably good-looking man willing to give her the time of day. As any regular reader of Manosphere blogs and magazines can attest, this will inevitably result in her looking ever more used-up, and will certainly not do her self-esteem any good.

She could probably get away with that for a few more years. These days, Botox, plastic surgery, makeup, and other such... enhancements can do wonders. But just as no amount of paint and spackle applied to a house is going to hide the decayed floorboards, the grimy windows, the funny smell coming from the basement, and the dusty attic, those upgrades aren't going to do her much good after about 35.

The end result of what is likely to be the worst decision of a young man's life? An expensive divorce in which Ms. Lohan gets rich, as do the lawyers on both sides of the case.

Here's the thing, though: Mr. Tarabasov has his entire life ahead of him to make his money. (Or he could just get his dad to bail him out- much more likely, in my opinion.) A man's future potential depends almost entirely on his work ethic, his ability to identify good opportunities, and the experience that he has accumulated through years of getting kicked in the teeth, repeatedly, at the beginning of his career.

If he's smart and plays his cards right- for which, admittedly, there is scant evidence at the moment- then after his first failed marriage, he will likely go on to a life of wealth and ease, surrounded by beautiful women of his choosing. Again, that's IF he makes the right choices, and he certainly isn't making the right one right now.

Second, the engagement will fall apart long before the marriage ever takes place. If so, Mr. Tarabasov is likely out five figures, or however much a skating rink shaped like a diamond costs these days. (The discussion over the stupidity of buying diamond engagement rings is for another day, but it's worth having.) If he's worth a few million dollars or more, that's actually a damned good bargain- better to cut one's losses and run than to face massive lawyer's bills and the likelihood of seeing half, or more, of one's earnings and wealth removed at gunpoint on the orders of a court.

Third, this marriage actually works and these two live happily ever aft-



My apologies for that. I had to go find something to clean the coffee off my keyboard. I just couldn't write that with a straight face.

For us ordinary mortals, the lessons of this little foray into the pointless, vapid, and frankly stupid world of celebrity gossip are clear.

No matter how tempted you might be, no matter how great she might be in the sack, no matter how firm and bouncy her breast implants might be, NEVER TRY TO TURN A HO INTO A HOUSEWIFE. You will regret it for the rest of your life as the biggest mistake you ever made.

And never even think about wifing up a woman whose sexual past has been revealed in very public fashion, repeatedly, to the point where her N-count is in the high double if not triple digits. Otherwise you're going to find yourself confronted in very stark, living colour with the consequences of getting together with a woman who has had 500 Miles of Mr. Right going through her, 6-8 inches at a time.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Quarter-squat denial syndrome

If you have it, get treated for it right away:

If you're lucky, your local treatment centre (also known as a "gym") will have a therapy counsellor (also known as "that cranky powerlifter in the squat rack over there in the dimly lit back corner") available for on-the-spot treatment.

Just don't bother him while he's in the middle of a set. Otherwise, the law is (or should be) on his side if he ends up impaling you on a 45lb chromed-steel barbell. You asked for it, after all.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The INTJ thought process

Following his recent debate with Dr. Miller on the subject of free trade, Vox Day wrote up a post in which he made a very interesting note about how his thought process works:
It's as if the more clearly I am able to think through these complicated issues, the harder I find verbally articulating the path through them. At this point, I have to expect that if I ever come to correctly grok the fullness of all the myriad pros and cons of free trade, my verbal explanations will be reduced to seemingly nonsensical word bursts.
move... you know... war... people... um, mask of credit! 
Like Vox, I am an INTJ- an off-the-charts one, by most tests:

The difficulties that he encounters in attempting to articulate the leaps of intuition and logic that he makes are encountered on a daily basis by highly intelligent Rationals everywhere, and it is worth taking a moment to explain exactly how this works for us.

For the gifted, technically skilled introvert, our thought process is almost completely internal, as we spend truly enormous amounts of time locked up in our own heads. We are motivated by facts, data, and evidence- not by people or hearsay.

Because we spend so much time in our own headspace, we think laterally very easily; it is routine for us to start on a subject, go off on a mental wool-gathering trip for the next thirty minutes while web-surfing through YouTube videos of epic nutshots, and suddenly make an intuitive leap of logic and judgement that makes perfect sense- to us, anyway.

When we reach that end-point, we then subject it to an absolutely merciless series of tests to see if our theory matches the available evidence. If it does not, it is cast aside just as ruthlessly.

But if it does, and it is capable of withstanding the battering rams of fact and logic that we bring to bear against it, then we know that it must be the truth. A chain of logic, whether concluded in inductive or deductive fashion, is valid as long as the founding assumptions of that chain are valid, by definition.

And if that chain is found to be both valid and sound, then it is true.

There are limits to logic, however. Logic is not everything, which is why INTJs pair logical thought processes with our externally focused drive to test our ideas at all times against the facts of the real world. The main criterion by which almost any INTJ judges any idea is, "does it work?"

A chain of logical deduction could be beautifully elegant in its setup and derivation. But if the conclusion reached therein does not match with observable evidence, it is wrong and must be scrapped. End of story.

It's as simple as that, and we don't give a damn whose feelings we hurt in the process of ditching a stupid idea.

This is, of course, why INTJs are often deeply disliked by more emotional types. It's not that we don't feel emotions- we do, very strongly. Less mature Rationals who have poor control over their emotions can easily find themselves overwhelmed and unable to function because their logical, data-driven personalities are unable to mesh with their turbulent emotional states.

It's just that we don't allow emotions to rule over us. And we have absolutely zero tolerance for people who let themselves be ruled mostly by feeeeeeeelings instead of facts.

The result of this thought process is precisely what Vox outlined above. The more clearly we know and understand an issue, the more facts and evidence we gather in support of our ideas, the more certain we become that we have come across something which is TRUE. And the more certain we are that what we have is true, the more ruthless and uncompromising we become in defending it.

As INTJs, we are far more interested in getting to the truth than in being right. If what is true stands in direct opposition to what we believe, most of us will abandon what we believe to accept the correct paradigm. (Not always, obviously, but as a general rule, this is true.)

There are many benefits to having such a ruthlessly pragmatic approach to seeking the truth. The major unfortunate side effect of it, of course, is that the better we know something, and the more convinced we are of its rightness, the harder we find it to explain that same concept to others.

After all, to us, it is obvious. How can anyone not see what we see?! The facts match the theory! The logic is internally consistent!! The conclusion must surely make sense!!!

... And yet, whenever our conclusions challenge what others accept to be dogmatically true, those others fall apart while our conclusions stand inviolate. The fact is that most people are unable to handle the truth. So they stick to what they believe instead, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, no matter how carefully presented.

What Vox describes as his utter inability to translate that which he can plainly see to be correct and true to others is something I run into on a daily basis at work.

I work in a highly technical job involving a number of different disciplines and a large infrastructure chain of complicated risk and P&L systems. As technical risk/P&L experts go, I am quite simply the best at what I do. If that sounds like boasting, well, too bad- I make no apologies for who I am and how good I am at what I do. I got to that point by understanding my firm's systems, processes, infrastructure, and key personnel better than anyone else.

So when I examine a problem that someone else brings to me and diagnose the root cause, the solutions generally tend to be quite obvious to me. However, less experienced and skilled people often find it very difficult to keep up with me or figure out how I reached the conclusion that I did.

And it's all that I can do to stop myself from grabbing such folk and pointing frantically at my computer screen, yelling, "HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS?!?! IT'S RIGHT THERE!!!"

What is obvious to people like Vox, and me, and probably many of the people who read what I write, often requires leaps of imagination- actually, intuition- that less introverted types find nearly impossible to make. Instead of reasoning their way to the solution, they substitute human interaction for thought, and attempt to get answers by talking.

The natural consequence of this is that they inevitably end up pissing off an INTJ at the very moment when he is trying to do his damnedest to articulate what seems so blindingly obvious to him that he finds it bizarre that he has to even bother attempting to explain it to anyone else. And this is the biggest mistake that anyone can ever make with a highly introverted, highly gifted person.

As commenter Eduardo the Magnificent pointed out in response to an earlier post:
My big don't: I don't talk much, so when I do, it's important. Don't ignore, interrupt or belittle the speaker. Extroverts love to talk over each other, but there's nothing more disrespectful to an introvert. If the speaker pauses to collect his thoughts, don't take that as an invitation to cram 40,000 sentences of drivel and change the subject.
Every INTJ I have ever known is a relatively slow and laconic talker. My father and I are both INTJs, and both of us like to take the time to speak carefully, so that our words may be clearly understood. It is from my dad that I learned how to listen carefully and respectfully- because that is how he operates. I rarely interrupt people when they speak, as I would prefer to listen and be sure that I have heard and processed all of the information available before responding.

Unfortunately, this courtesy is rarely returned in kind. And as noted above, there is nothing more irritating to an INTJ than this. We absolutely HATE being interrupted. If we have taken the time to formulate a chain of reasoning and wish to subject it to more rigourous testing, then we expect to be able to express that reasoning in full.

If you don't want to hear it, just tell us up front. We'll simply shrug and get on with our day. We don't like having our time wasted.

On the rare occasions that we're being stupid, of course, then it is perfectly acceptable to interrupt and shoot us down. Better by far that a bad thought process be interrupted before it becomes downright idiotic, than to allow us to commit the cardinal sin of accepting as true that which is plainly false.

But if we're right, or if we're trying to explain something carefully so that you can understand it, interrupting us is a great way to disrespect what we have to say. At that point, we will usually do one of two things.

Either we will simply stop talking to you, because we know that you are clueless about what is truly important. Or we will make it clear that your presence is unwelcome, and do whatever it takes to remove ourselves from it.

In either situation, the likely loser will be you, not us.

Almost all of the above, by the way, probably indicates why Vox Day and others like him make perfect sense to me, and why I am almost never angered or offended by what Vox has to write. The simple fact is that he is right about most things. And he is right because he has taken great pains to observe the world around him for what it is, not what he wants it to be, and has then compared his thought processes to those observations with a level of rigour and scrutiny that is unusual even by INTJ standards.

And that is almost certainly why he won last night's debate. I didn't watch it, but I am quite familiar with the arguments that he would have made, and I am not the least bit surprised that even a U Chicago-trained economist had an immensely hard time dealing with the remorseless siege machine that is Vox's mind.

So, the next time you find yourself talking to a deeply introverted guy who really seems to know his shit, and you ask him how he could possibly think what he just said, and he gives you a look like you've just grown a second head, don't be too alarmed. He probably isn't the problem- you are.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Paging Prof. Darwin...

"Prof. Darwin? It's the office here. You might not want to make plans for this weekend. It would appear that a prime candidate for your award made his appearance in a Pakistani courtroom the other day...":
Three people were injured in an explosion in a Pakistan court after the judge asked a police officer to explain how a grenade works. [Let's all have a contest to see who can come up with the most epic facepalm possible.]
Instead of simply telling the court how the weapon functions, the constable produced a live grenade and pulled out the pin, resulting in a “loud explosion”. [YOU DON'T SAY?!?!?]
Pakistan Daily reports the constable and court clerk were among the injured in the blast, which took place in courtroom-III of Karachi’s Anti-Terrorism Court. The men were taken to a nearby hospital for first aid, but are expected to recover. 
The explosion prompted police and paramilitary forces to surround the court, fearing a terrorist attack, and the country’s security forces were put on high alert. 
The officer, from the Sindh Police Department’s Kalakot station, had been holding a grenade from a weapons stash allegedly belonging to the defendant. Usually such devices are deactivated before being taken into court, but an administrative error resulted in live weapons being used as evidence.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, we missed out on what could have been one of THE best Darwin Award candidates that anyone has ever seen.

Well, in this case, he would have been "seen" for all of about 10 seconds before that grenade blew him up and sent him off to collect his 72 raisins virgins, but you get the idea.

While we're on the subject of these wonderful awards, let's take a look at some other brilliantly stupid ways in which people have removed themselves from the gene pool- or come really damn close. Let us honour the legacy of the great man himself, Charles Darwin, and look at the ways in which the Devolution of the species has resulted in some truly classic comic moments.

1. How Do You Do Fractions Again?

Back in 2000 a teenager in Texas tried to play an even more dangerous version of Russian Roulette. Instead of putting one bullet in a revolver and pulling the trigger, giving him a one-in-six chance of dying, he put the bullet in a semi-automatic pistol (where the bullets are instantly moved into the gun’s chamber), rising those odds to exactly 100 per cent.

2. There's a Right Way to Do This...

... and then there's this way:

3. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms

You're doin' it WRONG...

4. Y'all Hold My Beer and Watch This...

18-year-old Chance Werner had recently graduated from high school and early on Sunday morning he was at Lake Allatoona celebrating with friends by playing the Shopping Cart Game. Lake Allatoona is a large reservoir created by damming the Etowah River in 1949. The shoreline is lined with vacation rentals and campgrounds, as well as two yacht clubs and a sailing club.

The Shopping Cart Game is evidently popular. News reports state that the cart is usually anchored to a pole or tree at the dock. The cart is poised on the dock, someone climbs in, and friends launch the shopping cart off the dock and into the water. Ha! The soggy rider climbs out of the water, the cart is reeled back in, and the game begins again. 

In the wee hours of between Saturday night and Sunday morning--the timing hints at an evening spent partying at the lake--Chance inexplicably decided to be the tree and tie the cart to his belt. Chance took a chance that did not stand a chance! He was dragged into the water and drowned. Several hours later his body was recovered from nine meters of water, still tied to the shopping cart. 

5. Buy One, Get Two Free!!!

It's comforting to think that just when you thought that the gene pool needed a lifeguard, many of us end up removing ourselves from it anyway, with only minimal help.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The care and feeding of deep introverts (udpated)

This is a slightly revised version of what I consider to be one of my best posts, written back in autumn 2013. I've tweaked it somewhat, as I've grown a little older and (hopefully) wiser- and definitely grouchier- in the intervening years.

It's always an interesting experience being a deep introvert in a highly extroverted society. Even if you work in a relatively cloistered environment (like I do), you'll still experience the life-draining, soul-sucking presence of other people no matter what. At the end of every workday, it's quite normal for a deep introvert to simply "shut down" and become almost completely non-responsive or borderline aggressive and rude in response to what others usually think are simple and polite queries.

It is the natural lot of the deep introvert to be misunderstood, ignored, belittled, or regarded as "strange" or defective in some way. This is neither wrong nor surprising- and this post is not meant to function as some sort of "pity the poor introvert" diatribe, so as far as I'm concerned, the way that extroverts and the rest of society view deep introverts is simply what it is.

The point of this post is instead to formulate some simple and clear ideas to help deep introverts deal with our natures, and to help those around them to deal with us. In other words, instead of being descriptive, the intent of this post is to be prescriptive.

A word of caution to the reader before you proceed: if you ARE a deep introvert already- and especially if you are an INTJ, like me- then almost nothing I'm about to write is going to be news to you.

If, however, you're an extrovert who stumbled across this blog by accident (because you had nothing better to do and no one to talk to in order to distract you from the emptiness of your own head) , then what is to come might be of some use to you.

Actually, honesty demands that I admit that the reason I wrote all of this out is basically so that extroverts and other clueless characters will stop bothering me with trivial nonsense, and leave people like me the hell ALONE to get one with the more important things in life. Like, say, figuring out how to take over the world and run it properly.

How to Spot a Deep Introvert

This can be something of a challenge, actually. Most deep introverts have developed serious stealth skills through a lifetime of learning to fade into the background in order to avoid censure for being... well, different.

You would also be surprised to find that a great many deep introverts- self included- can easily be confused for extroverts if you meet them in a public setting where they are giving a presentation or a speech of some kind. Many of us have learned to adapt, to project a charismatic and powerful persona with a loud voice and flashes of wry humour; only once you get to know us will you realise just how carefully constructed that fa├žade is, and how immensely taxing it is upon us to maintain it.

There are, however, certain tell-tale signs.

Most deep introverts are male; there are a few female deep introverts out there but they are very rare. So basically you're looking for the guy sitting deep in the corner wearing headphones and concentrating very hard on reading a book on something esoteric, like quantum physics, the fundamentals of investing, applied mathematics, or world history.

Common feeding grounds include: large bookstores, the backs of dimly lit coffee shops, small bookstores, computer hardware stores, used bookstores, hunting and ammo stores, out-of-print and rare-edition bookstores, internet cafes, basement bookstores, musical venues showcasing obscure yet fanatically-followed underground acts, college bookstores, and quiet old-school English pubs drinking pints of real ale (i.e. with soil floating on the top).

I mentioned bookstores, right?

The most common place to find us, by far, is in our own homes. This means that if you don't know where we live- and we often go to considerable lengths to ensure that you don't- then you are S.O.L.

How to Work Alongside a Deep Introvert

Give him a difficult assignment that requires large amounts of time alone to think and formulate ideas. And then go away and let him figure it out.

Really, just GTFO, we'll figure out how to fix it.

You may find it very difficult to read a deep introvert. This is deliberate and intentional; we do feel emotions- often very very strongly- but we don't like displaying them in public. It is... unmanly to emote.

You may also find it very difficult to get an introvert to open up about his personal life. Again, this is completely intentional. We tend to compartmentalise our lives. Work, family, friends, and play all form distinct and discrete compartments in our lives, and with the exception of extremely close friends and family, it is extremely rare for us to let them get jumbled up. We do this for our peace of mind as well as for yours, since our minds and personalities can only handle a small amount of socialisation at a time.

How to Work For a Deep Introvert

Deep introverts make surprisingly good managers and bosses- mostly because we don't micromanage. We don't have the time or patience for it. We rarely play favourites either, and because we hate superficiality and pretense, we don't play politics, so you always know exactly where you stand with us.

The best of us tend to be brutally honest with our opinions about you, within the limits of what is allowed by corporate policy or legality, both to your face and behind your back, so you never need to worry about us saying one thing about you in front of you and another thing to others.

Understand that when we tear apart your idea and present it back to you in tatters, we are in fact giving you the highest possible compliment that we can. Ideas are of absolute importance to us. We spend time examining ideas only if they are worthy of our time and attention. The fact that we have taken the time to look over your idea and then ruthlessly dissect it based on our knowledge, experiences, and skills should be taken as a very positive thing.

Introverts often tend to be very good at delegating work as well. It's not that we're lazy, exactly- actually, we are selectively lazy- but there are certain tasks which we just know we're not cut out for. Most of these tasks involve socialising of some kind or another. We can do it, but the mental and physical drain that results is so severe that we require literally hours, if not days, of recovery time afterwards.

In some extreme instances, the drain is such that we enter a near-catatonic state that requires us to be almost completely isolated from external stimuli for a few hours before we can even think about being around other people.

How to Manage a Deep Introvert

The key is to recognise that his greatest talents shine forth when he's left alone. The idea that "teamwork" and "brainstorming" are always and everywhere Good Things is complete nonsense, as anyone who's ever worked in a corporate environment knows full well. "Brainstorming" is just another way of saying, "let's put a bunch of overpaid and overly talkative idiots in a room together to come up with the most harebrained consensus possible".

When you want off-the-wall thinking, creative problem-solving, and dogged perfectionism, that's when you bring in your deep introvert, sit him down with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones in his own corner office, and tell him to get to work. There is nothing that makes a technically gifted deep introvert happier than being given license to sit down and build, test, debug, and implement scripts for 10 hours without having to say a word to anyone.

How to Date a Deep Introvert

It's not easy for you. You might be surprised to find out, though, that it's often even worse for him. Actually, this is the one place where female deep introverts genuinely do have it worse than male deep introverts. People generally expect women to be sunny and pleasant to be around, not taciturn and contemplative, but female deep introverts tend to have their noses buried in books quite a lot of the time (these days usually with headphones on), so opening them is quite difficult.

Since I am of course male, I write this section from the point of view of a deeply introverted man. Ladies, when it comes to male deep introverts, understand one thing: if he doesn't want to talk to you, there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. It's that simple. Male deep introverts can be very, very successful when it comes to dating- but it takes enormous effort over a much longer period of time than it does for extroverted A-types.

When it comes to dating and sex, though, there is one good thing going for deep introverts. We spend huge amounts of time in our own heads- and no, you can't join us in there, you wouldn't last a nanosecond. You think Alice's Wonderland was bizarre and crazy, wait until you spend ten minutes wandering around the utter chaos that is an INTJ's headspace, in which a thousand different voices and ideas all compete for attention at any given time.

Anyway, back on topic- because we spend so much time in our own heads, we have very highly developed imaginations. Let's just say that when it comes to intimacy, more imagination is a Good Thing- and we have plenty to spare.

Just understand that ultimately, your very presence drains us. If we insist on spending hours alone playing video games, reading comic books, lifting really heavy weights, cooking, or listening to music and writing Javascript programs, then simply leave us alone to recharge and be assured that when we come back, we'll be quite pleasant to be around.

A word of caution: DO NOT, under any circumstances other than extreme and life-threatening emergencies, disturb a deep introvert during his "me time". If you are stupid enough to do so, do not be surprised when he responds with unmitigated and violent hostility. You have been warned.

How to Raise a Deep Introvert

This one's a topic particularly near and dear to me. I was raised by two complete bookworms, so naturally I'm a bookworm myself. The simplest approach here is to leave your kid alone to let his imagination run free, but make sure that you use a firm, fair hand to ensure that he (or she) grows up right. It turns out that there is a fine line between an introvert and a psychopath.

And ensure that you have a lot of books around. Otherwise your kid is going to drive you insane asking you for yet another book about dinosaurs or dogs or ecology.

Treat your children fairly. NEVER show favour of one child over another, especially if one child is an extrovert and the other is a deep introvert. The introvert will simply withdraw if he sees this happening, and will generally either become cold and moody, or insecure and possibly even mentally unstable. I've seen both happen, and neither outcome is pretty.

Do not allow your introverted child's siblings to gang up on him, this will damage him beyond your capacity for understanding and may even forever destroy his ability to form meaningful relationships in his life.

Note that the one thing you should not do is try to force socialisation. Introverts form friendships at our own pace and any attempt to rush the process usually results in breaking the very rapport you're trying to create. Remember, introverts have been burned many, many times by a society that simply refuses to understand us, which means that we reserve our deepest trust and greatest affections only for those who have proven themselves worthy of those privileges.

Homeschooling is also strongly advised. Not only will you spare your kid the lousy standards of most public Western education, but your kid will likely learn a damn sight faster than he would via conventional schooling, and he'll probably form much stronger bonds with you to boot.

Gift Ideas for Introverts

  • Noise-cancelling headphones;
  • Books, books, and more books- you CANNOT go wrong with giving a deep introvert a book. Just please for God's sake ensure that it's not "mainstream" literature (you know, of the Fifty Shades mommy-porn variety) ;
  • Video games- by which I mean, really good games, preferably with a sci-fi/fantasy bent, like the HALO, Crysis, or The Witcher series;
  • Rare DVD boxed sets- LOTR extended edition boxed sets, certain great old-school cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series, stuff like that;
  • Musical instruments (for those of us who are musically inclined);
  • A Linux distribution on a DVD or USB stick- you've not seen a nerdy introvert truly geek out until you've given him a copy of Knoppix or Gentoo or Slackware and then asked him to optimise it;
  • Food- many of us have learned the hard way to be self-sufficient when it comes to food, and we are genuinely very grateful and appreciative when other people take the time and trouble to make good food for us;

Dos and Don'ts With Introverts

(Mostly Don'ts)

  1. Don't repeat yourself. It bores and annoys us beyond measure and causes us to space out very quickly. 
  2. Don't be vapid or content-free in your speech. We'll immediately assume that you have no idea what you're talking about and proceed to ignore you. 
  3. Don't try to act smarter than you are. We have very finely tuned BS detectors and have no patience for it. If you do this, do not be surprised when we make you look like ten degrees of idiot in public. 
  4. Don't be incompetent, at least not around us. Incompetence is something that irritates us beyond mortal comprehension. Being deep introverts, we generally won't say anything, we'll simply get on with doing our job and then do yours for good measure so that we can get the hell out the door faster. You'll look great in the short term, but we'll also put in place an exit strategy that means that when- not if, but when- we leave, you'll end up wearing your arse around your ears. Like a hat. 
  5. Don't try to talk to us if we have headphones on. Seriously, how difficult is this to figure out? WE"RE BLOCKING OUT THE REST OF THE WORLD FOR A REASON. Talk to us via office IM or email, you're actually more likely to get a coherent and thoughtful response that way. 
  6. Don't make small talk. We can't friggin' stand it. Nothing about the weather or your kid's football game is anything like as interesting as the non-stop dialogue going on in our heads. 
  7. I suppose I ought to include at least one do, so... how about this- do keep things short, sweet, and to the point. How's that?