A Man of Sound Opinion

One of the greatest science fiction grandmasters of his generation shares his very sound opinion of some popular works of genre fiction, including two of his fellow grandmasters.

I was crushed on the Wheel of Time like a hindoo sacrifice being crushed by the great god Juggernaut.

Why could I not finish? This one is also hard to explain. The characters theoretically should have been a lovable as the picked-upon orphan-boy in HARRY POTTER, or the smart-but-shy Hermione. I mean, come on, a farm boy with a dread destiny, his honest blacksmith friend, and their friend who is good with dice. Not to mention Aes Sedai and way-cool ninja swordfighting moves and magical gateways and Dark Lords galore. But it never clicked with me: I was slogging halfway through the fifth or sixth book (yes, I stayed with it that long) when I realized that I wanted the main character to die because he was out of his mind, I wanted the gambler fellow to die because he was turning all dark and crooked, and I did not care of the blacksmith fellow lived or died, because he was spinning his wheels not doing much of anything. Somewhere along the way, I had lost all sympathy for all the heroes and all their goals–if they had goals. I mean, I had clambered up a mountain of thousands of gray pages, and I was still waiting for that “Council of Elrond” moment when Some Wise Mage tells Frodo-lite what the quest is. No one seemed to be doing anything and no one had a plan. And I wanted all of them to die.

Now, in all fairness, this last might not have been a fault of the author. I am a cruel and sadistic man, like many readers, and I only read when I am a foul mood, either right before a gladiatorial game or an afternoon of kitten-stomping. So maybe it is just me.

But Rand-al’Thor really did get on my nerves after a while. He seemed a character simply too small for the role. If Ranma Soatome has been the Dragon of that world, the Dark Lord Bumbershoot (or whatever his name was) would have at least been booted in the head before five books ground wearily by. If Paul Mu’ad-Dib had been the dragon, by then would have at least disrupted the spice production. SOMETHING would have happened.

I, too, hated THE WHEEL OF TIME. Hated, hated, hated it, and finally gave up partway through book seven. To this day, I still harbor a perfectly rational and well-merited hatred for Rand al-Thor, who is arguably the very worst protagonist in all of fantasy fiction, and the question is only arguable because I have not read, and will not read, anything by SuperMegaGamma Patrick Rothfuss, although based on the descriptions and reviews of others, it is possible that, as difficult as it is to imagine, the protagonist of Rothfuss’s work is even worse than Robert Jordan’s loathsome lead character.

I will say that while Wright’s distaste for China Mieville’s PERDIDO STREET STATION is perfectly understandable and justifiable, I do not share it, and I consider Mieville to be one of Wright’s very few peers in the field. Very different, very much darker, and very much not on the side of the angels much less Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but a first-rate fantasy author nevertheless.

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The Comprehensive Failure of Milton Friedman

The author of Princes of the Yen, which presciently predicted the 2008 financial crisis, the current one, and the global currency goal as far back as 2005, was methodically demolishing all of the key narratives supporting Clown World’s economic structures eight years ago:

The first four pillars of the central banking narrative have collapsed: Banks create money out of nothing and thus reshape the economy in their image. Markets are rationed and the key factor is the quantity of bank credit. Bank credit creation for GDP transactions boosts GDP growth, no matter what interest rates do (they will follow GDP growth). Developing countries do not need to borrow from abroad, and in fact should not borrow from abroad, as this puts them unnecessarily at mercy of the foreign creditors.

As these pillars revolve around banks and money and credit, some economists may agree, but argue that economics has long focused on the real economy and purposely chose to ignore all the financial factors. In this real economy, they will argue, the most important principle is to allow market forces to act without being hampered by governments – then we will see economic growth and stability. Should this fifth pillar of the central banking narrative at least be true?

Judging by the publications of the central banks, as well as the IMF or the World Bank, one would expect so: When these Washington-based institutions send their teams of staff and hired consultants to developing countries, their job can usually be completed very quickly. Without much ado, a new country report complete with major policy conclusions is drafted. The secret of such efficient work: even before these foreign experts had travelled (first class) to the respective countries, the conclusions of their study had already been pre-determined, because they are always the same, no matter which country is concerned: The goal of the axiomatic-deductive neoclassical belief system is to find ex post justifications for the argument that government intervention is bad, and markets need to be unfettered by any form of intervention. This predetermined conclusion is then presented, in the form of ‘research reports’ or ‘studies’, to the leadership of many nations across the world, only vaguely connected to local facts and institutions.

In order to reach such conclusions, neoclassical and central bank economists worked backwards: What kind of model comes to such conclusions? Answer: A model that operates in a dream-like idealized world. What are the features that define such a world? A long list of assumptions needs to hold, creating a bizarre theoretical Neverland: perfect information, complete markets in equilibrium, perfect competition, zero transaction costs, no time constraints, perfectly flexible prices that adjust all the time, everyone is very selfish and does not care about others, and people are not influenced by others. Why do all these assumptions matter? Because neoclassical economists have proven that they all need to jointly hold true, for market equilibrium and efficient markets to exist, and for government intervention to be ineffective.

The next step in the sequence of using such models is the most important one: present in reverse order, by pretending that no pre-determined conclusions existed. Start by listing the assumptions – for sake of argument. Then present the model. Then pursue it to its conclusions, which happen to be… let’s see… Oh, amazing: this model happens to conclude government intervention is bad and only free and deregulated markets will work! Well, in that case, ladies and gentlemen, we shall need to recommend deregulation, liberalization and privatization!

That such economic charlatanry passes for ‘economics’ in leading journals, textbooks and university lecture rooms is a sad indictment not only of the economics establishment, but of academia and society at large.

But what about economies in our world, on the planet we live – as opposed to the bizarre planet described by the economic charlatans? Since none of these assumptions hold, we know that we can neither expect equilibrium nor will deregulation, liberalization and privatization trigger improved economic growth.

If our theoretical assessment of the theoretical claims is correct, we should also be able to muster empirical support for it. And it exists in abundance. In order to test these neo-classical policy recommendations of deregulation and market supremacy, we can compare the market-oriented and shareholder value-focused US and UK economies with those economies known to have always placed an emphasis on government intervention, non-market forms of resource allocation combined with social welfare systems, namely Germany, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. Of course we should not be influenced by the business cycle, and thus need to consider a longer time period, such as half a century. Considering therefore the half-century from 1950 to 2000, we would expect the best performance in those economies that are more market-oriented, and the worst performance in economies that have chosen to practice intervention, ‘guidance’ and the use of production cartels. What is the empirical result?

The neoclassical thesis has been rejected by the empirical evidence. In the 1950s, the designers of the Japanese economic system intentionally increased the number of cartels, in order to improve economic performance (Werner, 2003a). As we can see, as the number of cartels almost doubled to over 1000 by the late 1960s, while economic growth accelerated to double-digit figures. When, under US pressure, the number of cartels was reduced in the 1970s, growth dropped. The drop in cartels is accompanied by weaker and weaker economic growth. The deregulation drive culminated in the entire abolition of cartels by the end of the 1990s – and economic growth equally reached zero. A similar picture has been painted by the performance of many developing countries, including Argentina and African nations, which followed the economic advice of the Washington-based institutions. We conclude that the fifth of the central bank claims – that deregulation, liberalization and privatization enhances economic growth – has also been revealed to be fraudulent.

Do we Need Central Banks? RICHARD WERNER 15 January 2017

What’s intriguing about both his book as well as his paper is that it explains why both China and Russia are economically routing the bank-controlled economies of the West as well as why Japan is behaving so erratically and in such an uncharacteristic manner of late.

The great deception of liberals, libertarians, conservatives, and independence-minded Americans in general is the idea that corporate management is good and government management is bad. But the so-called Invisible Hand not only doesn’t exist, it perpetuates a gargantuan lie that directly serves the interests of the globalists, who delight in transnationalist unaccountability.

I haven’t read the book yet. But I will, especially since he is obviously far ahead of the game on the realities of how money is actually created in a modern credit economy. Ian Fletcher and I have proven Ricardo was completely wrong. Steve Keen has proven Smith was generally incorrect. So, it should come as no surprise that someone of our intellectual generation would eventually prove that Friedman was wrong as well.

At this point, it’s hardly arguable that none of us are actually free to choose very much of anything at all.

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The History of the Byzantine Empire

If you’re a Castalia History subscriber, you just might want to visit the Castalia Library substack today, as there is an announcement there concerning the fifth book in the Castalia History series, the April-May-June subscription book.

Also for Castalia History subscribers: there are about 20 Annual subscribers who still need to renew their subscriptions manually since we are not permitted to do so automatically in this particular situation. If your subscription has not been renewed, or if you need to make a catchup payment, you will receive an email shortly informing you of the need to do so.

And since we’re talking about Castalia History, I strongly recommend the daily excerpt from STUDIES IN THE NAPOLEONIC WARS, as the chapters on the tales of the secret services feature stories worthy of an action-adventure movie. The recently completed chapter on Brother James, who travelled through the enemy empire searching for a missing Spanish army that found itself surrounded by allies turned enemies in the aftermath of Napoleon’s decision to replace the Bourbon King of Spain with his brother Joseph, really has to be read to be believed.

In April La Romana had begun to be perturbed at the way in which the stream of dispatches and private letters from Spain, which had hitherto arrived regularly, had suddenly dried up. An officer who got through from Madrid with details of the accession of Ferdinand VII brought a complaint that the Home Government had got no dispatch from the expeditionary force for many weeks. Napoleon had stopped the post at both ends. This caused much alarm and evil surmises. They were more than fulfilled when on June 24th there was delivered to the Marquis a dispatch from Bayonne, announcing that the Bourbons had abdicated, that Joseph Bonaparte had been proclaimed King of Spain, that he had been acknowledged by the whole realm, and that he was to transmit the news to his army, and order the regiments to swear allegiance to their new sovereign.

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Light a Fire and Remember

In which Nick Cole reminds us that he has always been a very good and Christian writer.

Sauron was a werewolf. At first. Then he became a deceiver, sank a kingdom he was so good at telling lies, and finally, almost. conquered much of Middle Earth, twice. He had legions of orcs, hordes of goblins, thundering trolls, mighty fortresses and dark citadels, spies, a leader of the council of wizards turned treacherous, a giant spider descended from the most feared creature of Middle Earth, a ruined land with natural barriers no army could invade guarded by a gate considered impenetrable, and oh yeah, he forged nine powerful rings that enslaved mighty leaders who served him. He had armies, hosts, and dark, dark alliances with many terrible creatures and foul spirits.

Few dared oppose him for long…

And then…

And then there was Gandalf. A wild old wizard who made friends with the unlikely, the forgotten, and the outcasts. And then, forged them into a deadly weapon of fire to fight back at the Dark Lord himself, and not only fight Sauron the invader, but strike right into his very lands, where he was most vulnerable, with his most valuable weapon, The Ring of course, and… never once use it in doing so.

Right now we are being made to feel that some kind of tyranny is inevitable and that we must, eventually, bend the knee to their grim and undeniable will. They have the power, the nukes, the F15s….

“Yield peasants, to my endless power. Gaze upon me and despair” you can almost hear Sauron cry.
They are so Sauron. You get that don’t you?

Gandalf would disagree. Gandalf… fought back. And so would Sam…

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

“It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

In a world ruled by petty aspiring Saurons, as they dim the lights and chuckle at all their dark plans coming together…

Light a fire. And remember Gandalf. And Sam.

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Minimal Gardening

Speaking of books, the notorious gardening extremist David the Good has released his latest gardening masterpiece just in time for the spring growing season.

Are you a normal person who wants to grow food? When you search online, it all seems too complicated! But if you give up, what if something happens to our supply lines? What if we have an economic downturn? What if you can’t feed your family? Wouldn’t you like to know how to grow food without feeling like you need a triple doctorate’s degree in chemistry, horticulture and soil science?

You might think you need expensive raised beds or complex aquaponics systems, purchased soil, piles of mulch and exotic tools and fertilizers – but you don’t. You’ve been sold a bill of goods.

In this book you’ll learn how to cut through the complexity and just grow food using simple and time-tested methods. You’ll discover how to find easy-to-grow varieties, and you’ll learn how to simply put food on your table without expensive and time-consuming methods.

If you have a little land, a little time, and the desire for a healthier life, you can put fresh produce on the table, grow an abundance of hearty roots and greens in your backyard, and stop feeling overwhelmed about gardening.

This book shows you how. Free your mind and embrace simplicity with Minimalist Gardening.

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Pride, Prejudice, and Peacocks

Castalia Library has posted information, complete with pictures, about the successful test stampings of both the Library and Libraria editions of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at the substack.

In producing the Castalia Library limited editions of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, we started the process by acquiring an original first edition of the famous Peacock edition illustrated by Hugh Thomson. We wanted to reproduce the original design, but we also wanted to ensure that the spine of the book looked good on the shelf next to the other Library books. This necessitated a modification of the spine layout. We also needed to clean up the lines of the feathers on the cover, since the fine lines on the cloth original would not translate well to the gold stamping featured on the leather covers.

Due to the unusually high level of interest in this book, we are making it available for purchase ahead of its scheduled shipping in the second week of April to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. The usual discount codes apply for subscribers who wish to purchase an extra copy or two as gifts or for their collections.

It may be interesting to contemplate the fact that while Pepsi replaced its 32oz Gatorade bottle with a 28oz for the same price, Nabisco shrunk the family-size box of Wheat Thins by 12 percent, and Easton Press increased the price of a signed first edition by 72.7 percent, Castalia Library subscription books are still available for the same price at which they were first introduced in 2019. We’ve managed to do this by making improvements in the efficiency of our production process while steadily improving the quality. And although we will eventually charge for shipping, we haven’t found it necessary to do so yet.

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Ironic Inversion

Clown World has even succeeded in inverting the concept of book-banning, of all things. Free speech was always a lie and all of the Enlightenment “virtues” are actually vices. When Christendom rises again, it will enforce the old blasphemy laws, some of which are still on the books, because, as even Andrew Klavan will admit, Jesus Christ is king, regardless of what you might want to believe.

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RazörFist on Kindle

MENUVIA

A sparkling gem made rough stone, the seat of political power in the Kingdom of Vale. Revolt foments among the patrician class and open gang war looms on the horizon. As the Argentine Tower plots revolution, a lone thief with a past as dark as Menuvia itself picks the wrong lock and opens the wrong door. Shadows still cast in the dark of night, underneath the long moonlight…

An original illustrated fantasy series by RazörFist

Now that Amazon has restored Castalia’s Kindle account, the two books of his NIGHTVALE series, The Long Moonlight and Death Mask, are both available on Kindle. And we’ll have an announcement about our next publishing collaboration with the Shaded Poet of the Unauthorized coming soon.

While the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT series is also available on Kindle, the CASTALIA JUNIOR CLASSICS will not be. For some arcane reason known only to the Kindle Content Review committee, of the first three books in the series, only Myths & Legends passed muster on the second try. We did, however, receive the good news that The Nature of Ethics: Defining Ethics, Good & Evil, a book we don’t publish and did not submit to KDP, had been accepted for publication, so in light of these various and confusing factors, we decided to simply limit the availability of the Junior Classics on Amazon to the hardcover editions.

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A Significant Nexus

Some years ago, I predicted that Alpha Game would surpass Vox Popoli due to the fact that people are, on average, more interested in intersexual relations and the socio-sexual hierarchy than in the various esoterica that makes up the greater part of the posts here. That might have seemed unlikely, given the way in which VP grew to a daily pageview average of over 110,000 and the fact that I shut Alpha Game down entirely due to my lack of interest in people repeatedly asking what I refer to as The Incessant Inquiry.

The full poem will have to wait for the publication of my I novel to see the light, but it amounts to the simple, straightforward, and seemingly inescapable question: “what about me?” And it is tiresome in the extreme. What about you? Why are you asking me? I don’t care.

What’s interesting, perhaps only to me, is that the combination of the decline in VP’s pageviews that resulted from the move from voxday.blogspot.com to voxday.net with the spamalicious efficiency of Substack has unexpectedly resulted in Sigma Game traffic very nearly surpassing the Vox Popoli traffic yesterday, as Sigma Game hit 97.3 percent of the VP total. And given what I expect to be the popularity of today’s post on A Tale of the Two Heathers of the 1980s, I will not be even remotely surprised if Sigma Game ascends to the status I’d originally envisioned for Alpha Game before tomorrow.

Yeah, this one is going to do, as they say, numbers.

This is not a bad thing. You may note the aphorism that has been the philosophical foundation of this blog since its inception is relevant here.

Success comes most swiftly and completely not to the greatest or perhaps even to the ablest men, but to those whose gifts are most completely in harmony with the taste of their times.
– Dame Iris Margaret Origo, Marchesa Origo

And if this recent article by The New York Times is any guide, it appears my gifts may finally in harmony with the taste of our times.

Are you a “sigma”? Do you have “rizz”? The youngest generation is bamboozling its elders with terms all their own.

Sigma has something to do with wolves.

“Everyone in my grade, at least, says it in a way where they’re like the alpha of the pack,” Alta said. “If you’re trying to say you’re dominant and you’re the leader, you’ll call yourself ‘sigma.’”

Can You Understand Gen Alpha’s Slang?, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 November 2023

In any event, we’ll be scheduling the SSH and Hypergamouse crowdfund as soon as we get Midnight’s War Vol 1 and AH:Q out the door.

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