Why We’re Not on Amazon

Don’t expect to find Castalia House books on Kindle anytime soon.

Hello,

During a recent audit of your account, we found content and/or activities that are in violation of our Terms and Conditions. Therefore, we are closing your account effective immediately.

Examples include attempting to publish books that violate our Content Guidelines.

As part of the termination process:

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The action that was in violation of Amazon’s Terms and Conditions was attempting to publish the Kindle edition of A THRONE OF BONES. They kept asking us to provide a letter from the previous publisher and ignoring both a) the fact that we are the previous publisher and b) we are the publisher of both the paperback and hardcover editions of the book. It was particularly strange, because they accepted, and published, both SUMMA ELVETICA and A SEA OF SKULLS.

This isn’t a problem; Amazon’s sales have been irrelevant to us for the last two years and we were only beginning to put some of our books back up on Kindle in order to make it easier on people who are still unaware that Amazon is systematically destroying the book industry. But it underlines how absolutely and utterly foolish it is for authors or publishers to rely upon Amazon to sell their books anymore.

Castalia will not only survive, but continue to thrive. That which failed to kill us only serves to make us stronger and more independent.

Also, due to a minor technical issue, if you’re buying something on the Arkhaven store, choose the VISA/Mastercard option, not the Credit Card option, until further notice.

DISCUSS ON SG


No. Just No.

President Trump still just doesn’t get it. He never will.

Former President Donald Trump praised the parent company of Bud Light in a Tuesday post on Truth Social, saying it “deserves a second chance.”

“The Bud Light ad was a mistake of epic proportions, and for that a very big price was paid, but Anheuser-Busch is not a Woke company, but I can give you plenty that are, am building a list, and might just release it for the World to see,” Trump posted. “Why not, the Radical Left does it viciously to well run, Conservative companies – and people! Very nasty, but it’s the way they play the game!”

“On the other hand, Anheuser-Busch spends $700 Million a year with our GREAT Farmers, employ 65 thousand Americans, of which 1,500 are Veterans, and is a Founding Corporate Partner of Folds of Honor, which provides Scholarships for families of fallen Servicemen & Women,” Trump continued. “They’ve raised over $30,000,000 and given 44,000 Scholarships. Anheuser-Busch is a Great American Brand that perhaps deserves a Second Chance? What do you think? Perhaps, instead, we should be going after those companies that are looking to DESTROY AMERICA!”

I think we can safely rule out the President from having learned anything at all from being repeatedly stabbed in the back by his advisors, allies, and appointees. It’s not that he wasn’t a great president, because he was one of the best we ever had. But the USA needs a ruthless Putin or a Xi, with the willingness to wield the full power of the office to take on the oligarchs and the corrupt government officials, whereas Trump believes everyone just needs a good talking-to to set them right.

Alphas make for the best leaders the vast majority of the time. But when the ship is heading straight for the rocks, that’s when you want a Sigma who couldn’t care less what anyone thinks about him, the lighthouse, the maintenance schedule, the planned course, the evening menu, the map, the compass, or anything else, and is perfectly willing to throw overboard anyone who tries to get in his way.

Once converged, always converged. You can’t fix a zombie.

DISCUSS ON SG


Everything That’s Popular Must Converge

Clown World finally managed to converge Warhammer. From the new edition of Fantasy Battles.

And yes, he would have been a fine knight and earned his spurs in less than a year. His knight’s oath sworn on the midsummer’s morn. He would meet a boy with a smile that lit up the world, their love so great that all Bretonnia’s poets would weep as they penned exquisite odes in its celebration.

They’re going all in. Not just gay, but pedo. So pride. Much wow.

For the Emperor! The Gay Emperor!

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The End of Sports Illustrated

You would have thought that a business that relied upon sports, plus an occasional splash of beautiful women in bikinis, would be bullet-proof. And you’d be wrong:

Much of the staff of Sports Illustrated, and possibly all remaining writers and editors, received layoff notices Friday, which essentially could spell the end of a publication that for decades was the gold standard of sports journalism.

The union of the staff tweeted Friday that it would continue to fight for the publication of the magazine but that its future is now in the hands of the magazine’s owner, Authentic Brands Group.

ABG has owned the magazine since 2019 and sold the publishing rights to a company called the Arena Group. The Arena Group missed a recent payment for those publishing rights, prompting ABG to pull the publishing license and putting the future of Sports Illustrated in jeopardy.

“As a result of this license revocation, we will be laying off staff that work on the SI brand,” the note to staff read, adding that some employees would be terminated immediately, while others would work through the end of a 90-day notice period.

Sports Illustrated lays off most of its staff, threatening iconic brand’s future, WASHINGTON POST, 19 January 2024

Those sounds you hear in the distance are Fox executives celebrating their prescient purchase of Outkick the Coverage.

This is why we will never sell off any of our core projects. As we’ve seen with Football Outsiders and now Sports Illustrated, there is no faster way to ensure a debt-related implosion short of taking the entire payroll to Vegas and betting it on black.

DISCUSS ON SG


China Sanctions USA

It’s going to be interesting to see how the corpocracy changes its tune once it starts losing its access to the world’s largest market, as yesterday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced sanctions on five US defense companies:

Q: The US recently announced new arms sales to Taiwan and sanctioned Chinese businesses and individuals under various pretexts. China said it would take countermeasures. Could you tell us specifically what those measures are?

A: The US arms sales to China’s Taiwan region in blatant violation of the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, particularly the August 17 joint communiqué of 1982, and the illegal unilateral sanctions the US has imposed on Chinese companies and individuals under various false pretexts seriously harm China’s sovereignty and security interests, undermine the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and violate the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and individuals. China strongly deplores and firmly opposes this and has made solemn démarches to the US. 

In response to these gravely wrong actions taken by the US and in accordance with China’s Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, China has decided to sanction five US defense industry companies, namely BAE Systems Land and Armament, Alliant Techsystems Operation, AeroVironment, ViaSat and Data Link Solutions. The countermeasures consist of freezing the properties of those companies in China, including their movable and immovable property, and prohibiting organizations and individuals in China from transactions and cooperation with them.

I would like to stress that the Chinese government remains unwavering in our resolve to safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and protect the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and citizens. We urge the United States to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, observe international law and the basic norms governing international relations, stop arming Taiwan, and stop targeting China with illegal unilateral sanctions. Otherwise there will be strong and resolute response from China.

This is clearly just a warning shot across the bow of the US corpocracy. Because if the Chinese really want to increase the pressure on the US government, they will sanction Apple, Disney, and other entertainment companies. The amount of lobbyists descending upon Washington DC in response would make D-Day look like a small commando raid.

DISCUSS ON SG


Dead Internet to Fake Internet

The nerds who dreamed of uploading their minds into software and achieving a form of immortality thereby never stopped to think about the fact that if the technology to do so was ever achieved, involuntary digital immortality could be imposed upon people whether they wanted to be replaced or not. From 4chan:

I’m a Meta insider working on Project Lazarus. We’re building an Al that can take over a deceased persons social media accounts and continue making relevant posts as if that person is still alive. This includes age progressed photos, interacting with other peoples content and everything else needed so that person continues on in the digital realm after physical death. We were originally told this would be a service offered to people struggling with the loss of loved ones and people who had missing children. Seemed like a decent idea.

Things are getting weird now and I’m having second thoughts about what this is actually going to be used for. The Al is extremely capable of impersonating people. It doesn’t take as much initial input as one might think to train the Al how a certain person interacts with the digital world. It’s very convincing. An entire island of people could go missing and with little to no downtime the Al could take over all of their social media and the world wouldn’t have a clue that life wasn’t just continuing as usual. A lot of the project is becoming more compartmentalized.

Things have taken a dark turn it feels like. They’ve forbidden communication between people working on different things. Something isn’t right and I don’t know what I should do. I’m not going to post any personally identifiable information but I will try to answer questions that won’t expose my role within the project.

I always thought the excuse given – to mitigate grief – was a very thin one. And now that we’ve seen hundreds of people in a single area apparently liquidated in a short time on Maui, it appears to be fairly obvious what the purpose of this technology is.

The world is much weirder than most people are able to imagine. It increasingly appears that Christian culture was holding back old gods who are much darker than most history records.

DISCUSS ON SG


Disney is the New Enron

The Devil Mouse has been very, very, very naughty. But instead of getting coal in its stocking this Christmas season, it’s getting an audit of the Reedy Creek Improvement District by the State of Florida, and almost certainly, the IRS, as the Dark Herald explains how and why the wolves are circling CEO Bob Iger.

Reedy Creek owns some power plants, and these are taxpayer-supported. Although, they are primarily to be used as emergency backups. Please excuse this next bit because I’m going to have to say allegedly a LOT. Allegedly, it would take years to bring one of them online. The other has allegedly been turned into an air conditioning plant, but they both allegedly still collect subsidies. I mean why pay for something out of your pocket when you can get Uncle Sucker to buy it for you?

The auditors weren’t permitted entry into these plants because the employees that run these Reedy Creek government facilities DON’T WORK FOR REEDY CREEK.

They work for Disney.

Yeah, who’d have guessed? The chief auditor stated that Reedy Creek produces no electricity at all. This startled the hell out of a lot of us because Disney World has huge banks of solar panels. In fact, they’ve committed quite a bit of ecological damage to the local wildlife trails to build them. To say nothing of how badly those filthy things will poison the land when the inevitable hurricane blasts through and wrecks them.

Disney nonetheless ignored real-world environmental terrorism to pat itself on the back over a being phantom friend of the Earth. Disney World loudly and proudly proclaimed that these panels provide 40% of WDW’s power, cleanly!

Allegedly, all of the electricity provided by those solar panels is sold to a third-party utility. Disney World allegedly buys 100% of its power from Duke Energy and only 10% of that is allegedly provided by anything approaching “clean energy.”

And it just gets even better for the new Ken Lay, previously known as “Bob Iger”.

Bob Iger’s worst nightmare just became the last Bob. In American law, no NDA ever written can stop criminal testimony. Chapek is in a perfect position to rat out literally everyone who got him shitcanned out of the company in the most humiliating way possible.

We all knew that Disney was going downhill fast. It’s been impossible to miss the way that the convergence of the corporation has systematically reduced the value of its intellectual properties. But what we couldn’t have known is how it now appears increasingly plausible that fraud and criminal activity of a greater magnitude than anyone imagined could suffice to take down the entire edifice of corpocratic evil.

UPDATE: Better add another few verys in front of that “naughty”.

New bombshell incoming. Disney was acting as a licensed municipal securities dealer for Reedy Creek. Disney isn’t licensed to do any such thing.

DISCUSS ON SG


The Essence of Rhetoric

As I have repeatedly pointed out to those who speak dialectic, there is no actual information content in rhetoric. Or, if you prefer, whatever perceived information content happens to appear in rhetoric is irrelevant. Consider the following example:

I’m in a weird situation. A new colleague joined and he refuses to use my pronouns or even my name. Instead, he refers to me as “my esteemed colleague”. I confronted him politely and just said something like “you are my colleague and I hold you in esteem hence my esteemed colleague”.

It’s bs, I can tell he’s just a transphobic pos he calls others by their names. I’m the only trans woman in the office and it’s really making me uncomfortable.

I even spoke to HR about this but they said they can’t do anything because “my esteemed colleague” is apparently not discriminatory.

It’s genuinely uncomfortable working with him because of this. It really gives me the creeps and makes me feel dehumanised.

Notice the way in which even a polite and positive form of address is effectively triggering of the target’s emotions when utilized in a manner that distinguishes itself from an ordinary form of address. So, there is absolutely no need for dialectical sperging over what the rhetoric actually means, much less how the use of the term makes the deliverer feel, because those two elements are unrelated to the intended objective of emotionally manipulating the target.

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The Disney Insurrection

What the Devil Mouse is now confirmed to have done was more illegal, more subversive, and a more substantial insurrection against the lawful government than anything the January 6th protesters are even accused of having done:

For decades, Disney had effectively seemingly controlled the board designed to oversee its own properties. Until DeSantis stepped in recently and put a stop to it. Now a new report from the replacement board has shown just how corrupt Disney’s arrangement was. And how both entities took advantage of taxpayers to foot the bill for their cozy relationship.

The report found that Disney had promised to build services including hospitals, schools and libraries as part of their obligations under their special governing arrangement. Sure enough, they built none of it. It also described what Disney had achieved as essentially an “absolute monarchy” over the Florida property.

“Disney had wholly outmaneuvered the legislature and pulled off an incredible act,” the report reads. “It had established an extra-constitutional governing authority – ‘an experimental absolute monarchy’ – within the borders of the State of Florida, and, accordingly, the United States – one that strikingly resembled, without exaggeration, a kingdom of yore.”

WALT DISNEY WORLD CORRUPTION WAS EVEN WORSE THAN PREVIOUSLY REALIZED, Outkick, 5 December 2023

The Dark Herald, who has been covering this story for months on the Arkhaven blog, has more specific details, as is his wont.

For decades Reedy Creeky employees were treated as if they were Disney World cast members. The annual passes that are a standard benefit to Disney employees, were given to Reedy Creek employees and they were told it was a “gift from the Walt Disney Company.”

What Reedy Creek was actually doing was buying the passes with the tax money that had been collected from the Walt Disney Company. They were giving Disney’s tax money back to the company. Then they lied to their employees about the gift part. None of this was reported to the IRS.

A bigger problem is the 50% discount on Disney cruise lines. There is no getting around the fact that Reedy Creek and Disney broke Florida’s public disclosure laws. These benefits were never reported as taxable benefits, which they are.

Because of these things, these government employees felt their job was to prioritize the needs of The Walt Disney Company.

This is the tip of the iceberg stuff. There is a lot more in this report.

The Reedy Creek Audit, Dark Herald, 5 December 2023

The extent and the extended time frame of this crimes are such that it would be perfectly justified if the Disney corporation had its business charter pulled by the State of Florida, the Reedy Creek land was seized by the state, and its various operations were sold off to the highest bidder.

Due to the size and political influence of the Devil Mouse, that almost certainly won’t happen. But it is a good sign that the massive corruption of at least one giant of the corpocracy is being exposed to the public.

DISCUSS ON SG


Thinking Outside the Engineering Box

This story about his experience as an engineer in the dot com era by the late Seamus Young should be extremely enlightening, for engineers and non-engineers alike, as it has the benefit of providing us with not only the communication that took place in the meeting, but also what he was thinking about it at the time. Keeping in mind that this is nominally written from the perspective of “the engineer is the good guy who knows what he’s doing and what he should be doing”, see if you can identify the fundamentally destructive element described in the following vignette.

John Business seems to be the most important guy in the room. He’s also the guy who narrated the pitch video. He’s seemed happy so far. But now he turns to me and asks, “Can we start visitors outside of the mall? We have this grand entryway and we want them to be able to see it before they go inside.”

I scrunch up my face. “Yeah guess you can. But people like to teleport because it’s more convenient…” I trail off. John Business looks confused. Did I mess up and give him some jargon?

“Shamus means they like to appear and disappear in different places rather than walking.” My Boss is clarifying things for me. That doesn’t happen very often.

John Business nods. He gets it now.

Holy shit. This guy doesn’t know what teleporting is? I guess the whole video presentation he just narrated made him seem a little more tech-savvy than he really is. Okay, I need to step this all the way down to neophyte language. How the hell did someone with such a limited understanding of virtual worlds end up in the deep end? This guy doesn’t seem to know enough to launch a web-based business, and he’s going to oversee the construction of a virtual one?

I nod at my boss. “Right. One of the advantages of virtual space is the way people can move instantly to their desired location. Making them ‘walk’ for a long distance before they can begin using the software will just make them reluctant to log in. And unless we change it every few days, they will quickly tire of the entrance.”

John Business looks annoyed. My boss shifts nervously in his seat. I’ve messed up again. I’m evidently offering guidance above my pay grade. John Business asked me a simple question about a simple task and now he seems to think I’m trying to weasel out of doing it. Possibly he suspects I’m a slacker. They don’t want my artistic input. These guys have already designed the place. They just want me to answer the question.

My boss steps in to smooth things out. “We’ll have them start outside and see how it works out. We can always change it later.”

I nod. Fair enough.

John Business also nods, perhaps ticking off a mental checkbox before moving on to the next question.

It goes on like this for half an hour. He keeps asking me to do simple things that would be impractical, annoying for the end user, or harm usability. He’s trying to make a world not just for people playing “a videogame” for the first time, but people who are overall new to the internet. I want to educate him on why the design is wrong, but I can’t seem to do so without violating some sort of unexplained social order. Usually I pride myself on being able to smooth out misunderstandings and bring people up to speed, but right now I find myself falling into the role of the “obtuse, obstructionist engineer” and I can’t seem to break out of it.

What’s wrong here? Our company is typically good at this stuff. We’re usually pretty adept at bridging the gap between what the customer asks for and what they actually need. But this meeting is running sideways and the power dynamics are all wrong. For some reason, John Business seems to regard me with… is it suspicion? I don’t know. But there’s a communication problem here and I can’t seem to solve it.

Without trust, every time I say “no” or “Yes, but…” it irritates John Business. And that makes my boss nervous, which eventually makes him frustrated with me. So it feels like the room is against me, which makes me nervous and panic-y, which makes me stammer and vacillate, which makes me sound even more untrustworthy.

John Business returns to his printed notes. “When a visitor clicks on an item on a shelf, can we have it fall into their shopping trolley?”

I somehow resist the urge to make a horrified face at the suggestion.

People are going to push shopping carts around your virtual mall? Doesn’t that have the stench of low-end shopping? Will the carts collide with shelves? If so, then people WILL get stuck, frustrated, and log out without buying anything.If not, then expect people to navigate as if the cart didn’t exist, which means they will constantly end up clipping into walls. Everywhere you go, you’ll have the front ends of shopping carts peeking at you through walls and shelves. In addition to being really ugly and immersion-breaking, this will be confusing to people. And don’t even get me started on the ways people might confuse or harass each other with them. What if I leave a store without paying? Does my cart vanish, or is it cleared? Will the items be restored if I return later? We need to figure out what the “expected behavior” is going to be before we know how to design this.

Isn’t the advantage of a VIRTUAL mall the fact that you don’t need to worry about the physical hassles of carrying items? I know in your head you’re picturing people simply replicating real-world behavior, but that’s not going to happen. People will act in ways that don’t make sense. What if I click on an item that’s nowhere near my cart? Should the item fly across the room and land in the cart? If so, then expect new users to be confused by random items flying all over the place. Or you can give them an error message telling them to move closer. That will stop the flying merchandise, but now you’re inconveniencing people trying to buy stuff.

How will they get items back out again? Physics engines that operate in a shared space are years away, so making them rummage around a pile of loose items won’t work. What if they want to remove an item from the cart and it’s buried under others? What happens if I go to the other side of the store and then remove the item? Should it fly across the store to where it belongs, or should we replicate the real world where fickle shoppers constantly scramble your inventory by abandoning items in random parts of the store? Or should it just poof away?

What I actually said:

“Sort of. We can show an object falling into the cart.”

“But will the object disappear off the shelf?” This point seem to be awfully important to him.

You… you want to create a virtual store with scarcity? WHYYYYYYY? Madness! If this is possible, people WILL try to empty the shelves into their cart so that nobody else can buy anything.

What I actually said:

“No.”

The actual answer would be “It depends”, but it would be long and complex and I sense everyone is just looking for simple answers to complex questions. We could make shelves that deplete of stock and need to be refilled, but this would create all sorts of interface headaches and the need for a bunch of new coding, because we’d need to create a program to track the position of all items and handle restocking them. I can spend ten minutes explaining that the timetable is already WAY too tight and there’s no way we have time to code experimental new features with unknown challenges for purely cosmetic effects.

The meeting drags on like this, with John Business casually asking for monumentally difficult things that will make the store less useful in order to re-create the limitations and frustrations of the physical world.

Crash Dot Com Part 3: The Meeting, TWENTY-SIDED

I’m convinced that one of the reasons engineers are correctly viewed as needlessly obtuse and obstructionist by the rest of the business world is that too few of them have ever played team sports and the concept of “do your job” is therefore intrinsically foreign to them. Or, to be more precise, “don’t do what is not your job”.

Did you see what the fundamental problem with the engineer’s attitude is? Here’s a hint: it’s a fundamentally Gamma action.

What’s remarkable is the way that the engineer unconsciously elevated himself into an assumed authority that he flat-out does not possess. He’s not only “managing from below”, he’s actually taking it upon himself to “design from below” on the basis of a) his opinions about user preferences and b) his preferences about what he works on and how to work on it.

Even if he is 100-percent correct about the ultimate consequences, he’s 100-percent wrong to attempt to assume that authority, because he does not have the responsibility. Moreover, he doesn’t even want that responsibility; the best way to shut an obstructionist engineer up is to threaten to put him in charge of the project, including the sales and marketing.

But the most important thing for an engineer to grasp is that he does not have the whole picture, and that what makes zero sense in one context might make complete sense in a more significant context. Maybe the company wants to lose money. Maybe the company just needs to get something out the door to maintain its patent or its trademark. Maybe it’s not really supposed to be a working product, but a proof of concept that is a milestone on a corporate merger. Or maybe the executives are technologically ignorant and the lead designer is a lunatic with an insane and impossible vision.

Regardless, if someone asks you a question, it is literally never your job to infer from it what might be, unknown to himself, the unconscious motivations of the asker, then answer the question on the basis of your own interpretation of those hidden objectives and goals. Answer the question asked. Then, if necessary, talk to your boss later about your opinion that the nature of the questions indicated a high probability of future project failure from your technical perspective.

What’s remarkable about Seamus is that he eventually figured out the problem on his own.

Personally, I HATE the e-commerce / distance learning stuff. It’s dumb and boring and lame. One afternoon I’m standing in the aisle complaining about this when Roger takes me aside and explains that while the e-commerce stuff isn’t sexy, it’s actually an important revenue stream. Those business people might be boring and tedious to work with, but they have tons of money they’re willing to spend on this stuff. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to serve those aspiring game designers I love so much. The game designers are interesting people, but they’re broke as hell.

I slowly begin to realize why so few of my feature suggestions make it into The List™. I always argue for things in terms of how “cool” it will look and how intensely people want it, but I rarely make a business case for my ideas.

Crash Dot Com Part 6: The List™, TWENTY-SIDED

Business Lesson 101: You don’t make money by doing what you think is cool. You make money by giving other people what they actually want, whether what they want makes sense to you or not.

SSH Lesson: The more special and unique and technical you are, the less your opinions matter to everyone else. Unless asked, keep them to yourself.

PS: DM of the Rings is absolutely hilarious and the Remaster is worth re-reading.

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