Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stupid vendettas just keep getting stupider all the time

Beale's Syndrome (n.): a psychological condition that causes already long-standing, petty vendettas to become increasingly moronic over time and repeated incidents.

So, this guy was at it again with his vendetta against SF author John Scalzi, and -

Wait a minute.

Putting out an over-obvious parody of a soon-to-be-released Scalzi novel on Amazon in a weak effort to tweak his nose (or whatever Castalia House was trying to accomplish) is one thing, but resorting to some of the crap mentioned below is precisely the reason why VD has gotten his entirely deserved reputation as an thoroughly unsavory, egomaniacal pain in the ass who's always glad to go the extra unwanted step in proving it. A few examples from File 770, below:

Rev. Bob:

Well, THIS is a revolting development…
I was browsing on Amazon half an hour ago and noticed that The Corroding Empire showed up in the mentions for the book I was looking at – so I clicked and took a look. I opened the preview and felt my red pen twitching at the very first line of the narrative, which is never a good sign. I not only did not proceed to purchase the book, but left a one-star review explaining why:
The confused tenses in the very first sentence of the narrative (visible in the preview) tell me there’s no need to read more. It’s obvious to me that the editor/publisher spent more time and effort in ripping off the cover than he did getting the text right.
A few minutes later, I was given a compelling reason to edit the review. I suspect it will be of interest to others…
EDIT: How fascinating. Mere minutes after leaving the above review, I received a phone call from someone identifying himself as a Castalia House representative. That individual then proceeded to threaten to publicize my private information and stated that he was recording the telephone call – neither of which I had consented to.
Buyer, beware! Stay FAR away from this company!
Specifically, the caller read off a street address (which I did not confirm to be mine or not) and had obviously obtained my phone number, claiming Amazon had provided the data because I was a Castalia House customer. (Not true in any sense. Amazon doesn’t give ebook buyers any such information, and I hadn’t made the purchase.) That’s not the way to win friends and influence people, Teddy.No kidding.

A little bit later, he explains further about the fallout from the really fun dealings he had with this minion of VD's:

I notified Amazon very soon after receiving the call. Considering that the caller claimed to be with Castalia House (distributed on Amazon) and represented himself as having received my contact information from Amazon (a blatant falsehood) as a result of a purchase (which I did not make), it seemed to me that Amazon would want to be made aware of the incident.

If I’d known at the time that Beale had given the caller his approval, I would have included that nugget as well. As it stands, I added a comment under my review with that info, as well as replying to Amazon Customer Service’s “how’d we do?” email with the update and a link to the page.
The Amazon agent I spoke with sounded properly appalled by the incident, and I made it plain to her that I did not hold her or Amazon responsible for an instant. (I’ve worked in customer service; I know how important it is to distinguish between frustration at the situation and anger at the person helping you.) I know Amazon doesn’t pass along such customer-specific detail to ebook sellers even when a purchase takes place, but the fact that someone CLAIMED they had goes to… is it defamation when it involves a business rather than a person? Definitely not good, potentially actionable, and since Amazon’s got all the power in the relationship with VD/CH, as well as an army of lawyers around the globe, they may as well be the ones to look into it further.

So let me get this straight, now: this was over a "parody" that - as far as I can tell - was a poorly written, transparent attempt to blunt sales of Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire prior to its release. Or something. And now VD is having people harassing reviewers on the phone over this crap.


This is something an alleged fucking adult does? His ego is just that thin? And, furthermore, he's conned other alleged adults (his Dread Ilk come off as being just as terminally cartoony fanboy as their name suggests) into doing it for him?

Oh, but there are other examples as well. From rochrist:

I made the mistake of making a snarking comment in one of the fake reviews. The fellow immediately tracked me down in RL. He assures me though that it will be Vox himself I hear from. He is just a dutiful minion.

A dutiful sucker is more like it, since these little third-party threats always make it easy for the ringleader to claim innocence while his minion takes the fall.

Look, everybody knows that SF fandom has been historical rife with feuds. Tons of them, in fact. But this is an entirely new weapons-grade load of bullshit that misses one very important point: fiction, still being an art form above all else regardless of the genre it might fall into, is always going to result in criticism. Fair criticism, petty or inaccurate criticism, but criticism all the same. It's entirely inevitable. And if your reaction to such criticism about a work that wasn't intended as serious in the first place is to get a group of your dopey little "friends" (again, the word "sucker" comes to mind as being more accurate, as does "sycophant") to harass online critics is indicative of the fact that you have a very, very serious problem in dealing with the adult world.

Then again, VD has always assumed that he's a genius and that his supposed enemies are all far, far lesser men than he.

And you remember the old joke about what happens when you assume, right...?

Monday, March 20, 2017


It's not exactly startling - at least, not now - that the FBI is investigating Donald Trump's potential deep ties to Russia, but it's hardly the bombshell that some people might make it out to be considering how he was running around cheerleading for Russian hackers even before he got elected. However, here's the statement by FBI director James Comey in his testimony on March 20th that will probably ruin Trump's day the most:

Comey said there is “no information” that supports Trump’s claims that his predecessor ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election campaign.

“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ he said. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,’’ and agents found nothing to support those claims.
Under questioning from the top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), Comey said no president could order such surveillance. He added that the Justice Department had asked him to also tell the committee that that agency has no such information, either.


Now reading

Distraction by Bruce Sterling.

(Or re-reading it, as the case may be - I ended up losing my original paperback a few years ago on a train [joining a parade of gloves, winter caps, umbrellas and who the hell knows what else] and hope not to repeat that feat all over again before I finish it this time...)

Monday, February 6, 2017

4.444 the grand total of sexual abuse incidents lodged against the Roman Catholic Church in Australia between 1980 and 2015. If only a quarter of those allegations are true, that's sickening beyond belief.

But I'm sure Bill Donohue will have his usual red-faced, angry excuses all lined up - if he even bothers to bring any of this up, that is.

Alternative Fact-o-Rama

You might think that a certain high-profile underling of President Cheeto couldn't be upstaged in her reference to a massacre that never happened, but it looks like she somehow managed to do just that since it's apparently not the first time she's done that sort of thing.

Then again, this is her boss at work just today. Given the atmosphere at the White House since January 20th, why should anyone be particularly surprised?  

Now reading

Clans of the Alphane Moon by Philip K. Dick.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy now? (or, the Age of the Orange Quisling)

This isn't going to be a post detailing the idiocy and ethical bankruptcy of our incoming President. That's all been detailed (and will continue to be detailed) on sites such as this. Instead, this is about how he got to where he is, and why it terrifies the hell out of me.

Donald J. Trump, you see, is the beneficiary of Russian hackers. Hackers who were almost certainly hired by this guy, who has taken great care to turn his own country into a massive human rights shithole after years of manipulating domestic politics, instituting repressive measures against opposition political movements and NGOs alike and an occasional convenient invasion of nearby countries such as Ukraine or Georgia. Trump's ties to that guy are more than a little, shall we say, blatant despite his protestations to the contrary. And then there's this little tidbit:

The FBI and five other intelligence and law enforcement agencies are working together on an investigation into whether Russia’s government secretly helped President-elect Donald Trump win the election, according to a new report.

The collaborative probe is partially focused on whether any covert money from the Kremlin financed hacking operations to benefit Trump’s campaign, 
McClatchy reported Wednesday.
Two people familiar with the matter told McClatchy the intelligence agencies involved include the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA) and representatives for the director of national intelligence. Two law enforcement agencies — the Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — are also participating.

According to McClatchy, the interagency working group is informal and began scrutinizing possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race last spring. A key mission of the six-agency team, it said, is examining who financed the email hacks of major Democratic Party sources last year.
Admittedly, all of this may lead to nothing - but I doubt it. Why? Mainly due to the fact that when pressed by reporters during what can safely be termed the Press Conference of Doom Trump's response  later Tweet was just a bit, well, unbalanced:

President-elect Donald Trump vehemently denied that Russia has compromising material on him or that he has any personal connection to the country, tweeting on Wednesday morning that "Russia has never tried to use leverage over me" and asking his followers "are we living in Nazi Germany?"

The reaction of CIA director John Brennan, although calm in comparison, wasn't exactly supportive:

“What I do find outrageous is equating an intelligence community with Nazi Germany,” Brennan said on "Fox News Sunday." “I do take great umbrage at that, and there is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.”
Brennan also defended the intelligence chiefs' decision to share the information with Trump.
“Bringing to the attention of the president-elect as well as the current president that this information was out there was a responsibility, in the mind of the intelligence directors, of the intelligence community," Brennan said.

The CIA director also responded to claims by the Trump campaign that the intelligence community is attempting to undermine and delegitimize Trump.
“Making sure that the president-elect himself was aware of it, I think that was the extent of what it was that the intelligence chiefs wanted to do," he said.
Brennan also vowed support for the new Trump administration.

Brennan has my sympathies. If I were in his shoes, I'd be heading for the exit about a minute after Trump becomes President. Not that he'd be alone in that, of course.

Problem is, how do you get out from under the fact that Trump seems completely oblivious to any concerns about this issue? Or the fact that most of the nominees for his cabinet look like a Russian-style oligarchy just waiting to happen? Or that most of them aren't exactly prime examples of doing anything other than previously wanting to dismantle the department he's being put in charge of (Rick Perry) or defending school kids from Grizzly attacks everywhere but not much in the way of promulgating public education (Dominionist Christian and Amway heir Betsy DeVos)?

Thing is, you don't. Congress has to.

Lotsa luck with that. We'll all need it.