bookbanner
CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, April 01, 2016

RETRO WATN: VIVE LA DIFFERENCE

A few years ago, I lost some online "friends" because they didn't care what I had to say about women and pay. Why? Well here's how it went...
"In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."
-George Orwell

Recently on Facebook I found myself being hated by several women who previously were at least friendly online.  They are wives and gamers who I knew online and we got along well.  I try to always treat women with respect, especially online where they tend to be treated as at best second class players or meat to be devoured by horny gamer boys.
However, when the topic of unequal pay came up, I made the mistake of pointing out to two pregnant women that because women can get pregnant they are less valuable to an employer than men who cannot.  I'm sure a combination of hormones, frustration, stress, and general vulnerability played into their response but now they hate me.
To me the statement I made is non controversial, it is quite straight forward and if unfair or at least frustrating, not unreasonable.  The problem is that people don't quite seem to realize what businesses exist for.  They are not there to make you feel good, be fair to you, or be nice.  They are in existence to make money.  A business is how the business owner makes his living, just like your job.  You don't go to work to be fair to your boss and be nice to the company, you go there to get paid.  You can be nice and fair in the process, but that's not the purpose or the goal.
Think about this objectively and it will make sense to you.  Say you have a company, and you have two prospective workers.
  • Worker A might, and is likely to, take on a condition wherein they will miss 6-12 months of work or more, and by law the employer must not only retain them as an employee, but pay them for the time they are gone (in many states).
  • Worker B cannot suffer from this condition.
Now, assuming you are prohibited by law from simply never hiring Worker A, what will your response be?  Worker A is not only going to represent a reduction in productivity, but probably will require you to hire a replacement while they're gone dealing with this condition.
Bottom line: Worker A is going to miss a bunch of work, and thus have less experience and seniority than Worker B.  And, in fact, it is absolute fact that working mothers tend to miss a lot of work even when they come back rushing to deal with emergencies and events involving their child.  Working fathers do sometimes too, now, which leads employers to tend to avoid hiring people with young kids for certain jobs.
That means for the business, you're worth less pay than someone not in that position.  You're giving the company less, costing them more, and hence are worth less in terms of pay.
From a business' perspective, the conclusion is quite obvious.  But women seem to have a problem with the deal because it is tilted against them.  All of us want things going our way and are frustrated and unhappy when things go against us, that's just normal for humans on this earth.  So I do sympathize with women being less than pleased with the reality.
Yet there seems to be another layer lately, one that has been tacked on by feminism which argues that women should have the upper hand and best deal in everything, and in the name of equality get the good parts of all things and none of the bad.  For example, women don't want to be equal to men in lifespan or likelihood of heart disease.
So when I brought this up, the embittered women declared that I thought women as a gender were "worth less as human beings" because of their body parts.  This would come as a shock to the women in my family, not to mention the many I've dealt with and known in my life.
Yet the entire concept that less pay means less overall worth as a human is just ridiculous and even idiotic.  Is a teacher worth less as a human being than a celebrity because they get paid less?  Is a starting worker at a business worth less as a human being than a 10 year vet at the job?  Is a rookie baseball player getting minimum salary worth less than a superstar with a 5 year multi-million dollar contract?
Obviously pay has absolutely nothing to do with value as a human it simply reflects the economic value to a business that the worker represents.  That girl working the fry machine at McDonald's is not as valuable to the business as the manager, she gets paid less.  The pay also represents the business' perspective on that worker's commitment to the job.  Fry girl is likely to just not show up one day because she got sick of working there.  The manager will give 2 weeks notice.
What's amazing to me is that anyone, anywhere, would be so shocked and outraged with such an obvious business principle that they would not simply disagree or debate this topic, but would instantly and totally reverse their perspective on me and go from amiable esteem to contemptuous hatred.
It just is shocking to me that someone's worldview could be so totally damaged and their comprehension of economics and business so twisted by a leftist concept of life that they would react so violently and irrationally to such a plain fact of life.
But, I suppose, I shouldn't really be surprised.  I guess in the modern world I should be amazed it doesn't happen more often.  Because for being so progressive and modern, leftists are some of the most bitter, frustrated, angry, and unhappy folks on the planet.  And they seem to want to share it with everyone.
*UPDATE also see my piece on compensation, inspired by a comment below.

Monday, March 28, 2016

THE NEW COMMISSARS

"Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

As some of you already know, I'm an avid gamer - the real kind, with paper and dice and figures, role playing - and write gaming supplements as well as fiction.  I've noticed a shift in attitudes very recently in gaming, though and its indicative of culture as well as my hobby.
In the exceptional Champions supplement Strike Force, Aaron Allston included various types of gamers that a GM should be aware of and work with in their campaign.  One of those types is the "rules rapist" who abuses every system and violates every intent of the game's rules to get an advantage.
Well, welcome to 2016, where using this term caused someone to be banned on popular gaming forum RPG.net.  Someone posted this:
Frankly, exploiting and abusing rules loopholes is a d*ck move and a player issue. To use the Strike Force category, those folks are Rules Rapists. Mind you, that doesn't absolve a system's designers from working as hard as they can to close loopholes, but when you have the nearly infinite complexity that (for example) HERO has, loopholes are essentially inevitable and HERO is pretty up front about the fact that it's everyone's responsibility to play nicely with each other.
and got a ban notice saying this:
Don't compare people who play differently from you to rapists. That's a group attack, and in very poor taste. I'm suspending you for three days. Plese [sic] don't post in this thread when you return. 
Now, its obvious to any objective, sane reader that this person was not A) calling people rapists or B) claiming that anyone wanted to violently force sexual activity on an unwilling person.  Yet there we have it: instant ban for saying an unword.
Yet some are defending the ban, saying things like "If you don't get what's so awful about that phrase even after people here have tried to explain it to you, then there's nothing more I can say that'll likely convince you."
It seems to me, this is yet another example of the loss of freedom in our society, based on a worldview that tries to be all-inclusive and controlling.  It seems to me that its one thing to, on a case-by-case basis and out of compassion and politeness, to adjust your language around people if they are offended or hurt by what you are saying.  That's a personal reaction and choice.  It is another thing entirely to punish people for saying what might upset or offend other people.
This is just a gaming forum, but its happening around us all the time.  The most recent example is a professor at Marquette University who noted that refusing to even allow any debate or dissent on a topic is not exactly good for learning or freedom (the topic is homosexual behavior).  He was suspended without pay and is being told he must admit his guilt and apologize for the blog post, or be fired.
Or take the Student Senator at USC who is being punished for "violating Principles of Community" by daring to invite homosexual conservative Milo Yiannapolis to the campus to give a talk.
There's a big difference between reasonable expectation of politeness, disapproval of rudeness, and simply enforcing one's personal code of behavior one everyone else.  The truth is, just because you don't like something is not grounds for stopping other people from doing it.
This is something the left has long rightly condemned Christians for doing in culture (by outlawing homosexual activity, for example, or banning work on Sundays) but now engages in regularly and without the slightest hint of shame.
Again, this is the result of a competing religious worldview taking over and crushing all dissent or criticism of its tenets.  The new blasphemy is being enforced, under the guise of being kind or caring.  Just as someone would condemn saying the Lord's name in vain out of concern for their eternal soul, some words and phrases may not be uttered any longer out of concern for peoples' feelings.
Today, people don't say "hey, could you not do that" they run to a parent, a school authority, a moderator, a commissar, and demand that the person doing it be punished for doing so - or, worse, set up devices by which they won't have to run to someone else (witness what's happening with Twitter lately).
RELATED
That reference to the ban came up in a discussion of the health of Hero Games and how well it is doing as a company.  There are some people who are upset, even angry, that the company isn't spending enough time and money to advertise and make its self more popular.
I and some others have tried to point out that a hobby like gaming doesn't spread through advertising and corporate marketing, but through enthusiastic, passionate advocates.  People who love to play chess get converts and spread the joy through their love, not through Milton Bradley doing a multi-million dollar ad campaign during the Superbowl.  And gaming companies aren't a corporation with an office and lots of employees, they are usually one or two guys hiring lots of freelancers out of their home.
But the divide here is more significant than it seems.  Because its a split between those who demand that someone else give them what they want, and those who ask "what can I do to get what I want?"  One expects the company to solve their concerns, the other is trying to find ways to find solutions on their own.
And that's a pretty stark divide in our culture that goes far beyond gaming.  Those who want and take vs those who build and make. Now, obviously this can be overstated, but I thought that was pretty noteworthy when I considered it last night.
THE FUTURE OF CREATIVITY
Gaming as it now exists is pretty free and open.  Game companies create rules and design products that let a group do whatever they want, without restrictions or concern - how you use their product is none of their business.  People create characters with whatever personality, motivations, and behavior they want, and run about in an imaginary world with other players creating situations and interacting.
This kind of attitude toward gaming - demanding other people give me stuff without me having to do anything for it and protect me from anything that makes me uncomfortable - is incredibly corrosive to the creativity and freedom of the game. 
I can easily foresee a time in which people require all involved to sign waivers and statements of declaration about what will and will not be permitted.  You cannot have these situations, these words, these types of characters. Sign this and then se can begin.
And its not just in role playing games.  Books, art, movies, any creative endeavor, anything creative period will suffer from this crushing totalitarianism in the guise of being nice.  If you're not free to express yourself, you cannot truly be creative.  And in the end, all you get is the kind of propagandistic art that tyrannies of the past have puked up: stirring in one sense, but without a soul or creative spark.
I'll finish with what C.S. Lewis said about oppression:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Friday, March 18, 2016

WHY DONALD TRUMP?

"What is wrong with you people??"

I have some friends overseas and they are pretty aghast that Donald Trump is doing so well in American politics.  The idea that he might be the next president seems incredible, even horrible to them.  They can't really articulate why this seems so bad, other than a sort of presumed list of evils that the man must be guilty of.
This reaction is not just limited to the United States.  Some even in the Republican Party are horrified by the man's success and think him a monster.  Some are turned off by someone saying that the country needs to wall off immigration for a while until we get things sorted out.  Others are shocked by the idea that he wants to prevent people from immigrating to the United States based on religion (Islam).  But most just seem to have this visceral reaction of shock and negativity.
At their worst, some people in the US fear he might become some sort of authoritarian dictator, the next (whispering) Hitler.  This is probably tied to the realization that President Obama has essentially turned the presidency into an unquestioned absolute authority that ignores the constitution whenever it gets in his way, uses political agencies to target and destroy political foes, and is never, ever seriously questioned by congress.
So what is Donald Trump's appeal?  I'm asked this and I see people bring up this question online quite often.  Why would anyone vote for him or support this buffoon? they ask.
Well here's what I think and you can take it for what its worth.
WHO IS THIS GUY?
In Trump's case I don't think its so much people being fooled as it is people being finished with politics as usual. And by that I don't mean 'burn it down.' 
What I mean is that everyone knows politicians lie, from start to finish. None of them keep their promises, even the well-meaning ones can't. A political promise is practically synonymous with bovine feces. 
So Trump is just spouting trash, whatever comes to mind, regardless of consistency, and his supporters don't even care, because he's not about the specifics or the promises, he's about a brand: The Trump.
What is that brand?  America was great, and has been diminished, it can be great again.  We should protect our borders and control the flow of immigration, which is obviously out of control.  I'm tired of political correctness, social justice warriors, and everyone worrying about being offended.  You don't like that?  F**k you, next question. He doesn't have his list of things he's pushing. He's doing a more stream of consciousness association campaign: come in with me and be a part of this.
Its a bold, in-your-face declaration of rejection of what has happened to the nation over the last nearly 8 years, especially the last few, and of the constant attitude of offense and cringing, whining and screaming babies who demand people be punished for making them feel bad about themselves.  It is opposition to a new breed of people who not only "think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime," as robby Soave puts it.  Or, actually a crime as some would make it.
COMPARING STYLES
President Obama did the same thing, but in a manner that was pleasing to academics and folks both hoity and toity. Trump is more crass and street level. The end result is the same: he's not selling specifics, he's selling a feeling and associations, he's selling a brand of personality and approach that people are deciding doesn't sound so bad in office. 
Obama's droning baritone voice was filled with impressive-sounding lines that dazzled listeners and made them feel as if they were part of something intelligent and new, but actually were empty when analyzed for content and meaning.  His campaign was the first of this new kind, selling a brand rather than convincing voters.
Compare that to Hillary's more traditional "I'll feed you a line of outrageous BS and you pretend to believe it" politics. Her style is old fashioned and I question how effective it is in a modern race.
THE CREDULOUS?
This doesn't mean Trump voters are stupid or emotionally manipulated saps, not any more than Obama voters.  It just means that Trump's appeal isn't his impressive resumee or his sterling lifestyle or his fantastic hair.  It means his appeal is to represent a large portion of the country that is horrified and enraged with the direction of the nation, what's happened to their home, and the betrayal of both political parties.
Will that be a winning approach?  We'll see.  While its true he's up against one of the most spectacularly awful, corrupt, and physically unpleasant candidates in modern history - perhaps ever - he's also up against a determined and almost desperate legacy media, a massive money engine, and the Democratic Party political machine.  I expect Hillary Clinton to win.
Either way, I'm voting for Vermin Supreme.  Its not like my vote matters in Oregon anyway.
*UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has written a great article about the origins of Donald Trump; basically he says the people rejected what the GOP was doing several times (Tea Party, voting several elections) and finally have given up on the party entirely.  And its all at the foot of the elite, establishment Republican Party, its their fault.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

VERY LOW FLYING