Sad Puppies and Paranoid Barflies


Category:  Other

Via:  bob-nelson  •  6 years ago  •  4 comments

Sad Puppies and Paranoid Barflies

A week ago... I posted an article about the Sad Puppy movement, created by a group of science fiction authors to take control of the Hugo Awards.

The article got no reaction for a couple days, until a just-then-arrived NewsTalkers newbie, Jon Ogden, posted this:

Strange. You are the first person I have encountered who claims to be a fan and cannot name the first SF he/she read. For me that was 53 years ago, yet the name and the author are still with me. You are also the first person I know of who claims that he was banned from Baen's Bar for arguing with John Ringo who famously argues with anyone who is knowledgeable and does not cite facts as opinions. I, too, am a Vietnam Vet - but I am one who knows that Bien Tre was a town, not a village, that the rank of the speaker was major, not lieutenant, and that while Peter Arnett refused to single one out, he did say that it was one of the four majors he interviewed on 7 Feb, 1968. 

It appears that you believe that because Brad Torgerson encouraged people who had not voted for a Hugo before to fill out the proper forms, and exercise their right to be heard in the popularity contest that has always been the Hugo process, the award has been sullied. Back in the early sixties, there were many white power people who - accustomed to keeping the vote away from men and women of color, were outraged by the students who traveled to back roads of Dixie encouraging blacks to fill out the proper forms and exercise their right to be heard in the popularity contest that is a democratic election. You are right that the Washington establishment is now responding with the same kind of outrage to the peons who actually think they have the right to have a say in their government. 

As for Ringo having anything to do with Sad Puppies, the only interaction I am aware of is when he wrote that he did not want to be nominated. If you have any proof other than your unsupported opinion that he had anything to do with Sad Puppies I would love to hear it - or perhaps you would like to retract your libel?

My reactions were

  • "You are the first person I have encountered who claims to be a fan and cannot name the first SF he/she read." Seriously??
  • The destroyed-village quote is from a major rather than a lieutenant. Umm... yes? How does that matter??
  • "It appears that you believe that..." ... followed by a stream of stuff having little or nothing to do with my article...
  • The Sad Puppies are compared to the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Seriously??
  • "As for Ringo having anything to do with Sad Puppies..." I never said anything of the sort. In fact, I said nothing at all about Mr Ringo. I know nothing about him. I commented on his books .

So... I Replied to Mr Ogden, in detail, to try to get a reaction to what I had actually   written , instead of his extraneous screed. 

Mr Ogden has not been seen or heard of on NewsTalkers since then.....



Then the article got a Reply from another NewsTalkers newbie, James S Cochrane:

Well, Bob, while you claim to have been banned for arguing with John Ringo, your account (presuming you're the same bob.nelson@randomconsulting is not locked, although I have records of two different occasions when you received moderator warnings for trolling, NEITHER of which involved John Ringo, one in January 2007 and another in January 2008.  The first was from my now-ex-wife, I wasn't a moderator at the time and just told you you were behaving in a way likely to be warned for trolling, my ex gave the official warning, then I warned you in 2008 when I was an official moderator. 

 So, while a number of people over the years have tried to claim the "banner" of having been banned from Baen's Bar, you, like them, actually haven't been.

So... I Replied to Mr Cochrane, to set these things straight: 

  • "... you claim to have been banned for arguing with John Ringo..." Umm... no. Not at all. My words were "I was banned for not agreeing with Mr Ringo's vision of the universe." Mr Ringo's vision of the universe -- where "real" men are half Rambo and half John Galt, and all others are pitiful wimps (OK, I'm exaggerating a teeny-tiny bit...) -- is the ambient vision of the universe on Baen's Bar. I disagreed with that vision, not with the man, with whom I probably never exchanged a single word.
  • Mr Cochrane's records -- he later recognized that some have been lost -- may not show that I was "banned"... but I was certainly locked out. 

Mr Cochrane has not been seen or heard of on NewsTalkers since then.....


Now the fun starts!!

The next day the article got a Reply from another newbie on the forum, Michael Z Williamson. MadMike, as he styles himself on Baen's Bar , is an interesting character. His books take Mr Ringo's Rambo/Galt formula to even greater heights. His online pictures always have guns and paramilitary clothes. His Reply:

First: Goddam, what a ridiculous number of hoops to jump through to register. You would certainly be experts on paranoia.

Second, minor spelling nazi:  Derring-do.

Now, on to the rest.  re GRRM:  So, you're telling me a rich white guy who writes about rich white guy things, with 9 nominations and 6 wins says the system works perfectly? How shocking. (Okay, not entirely white--one of the dragons is black, yes?)

Also, for a man who boasts a master's in journalism, he was unable to articulate what the argument was about: 

> GRRM said, “If the Sad Puppies wanted to start their own award… for Best > Conservative SF, or Best Space Opera, or Best Military SF, or Best > Old-Fashioned SF the Way It Used to Be… whatever it is they are actually > looking for [emphasis mine]… hey, I don’t think anyone would have any objections to that. > I certainly wouldn’t. More power to them.” - See more at:

So I'd say any comment he had to offer failed due to ignorance.

Larry's point was proven the moment he agitated for a nomination and he was accused of raping puppies, burning puppies alive, abusing his wife, etc, by "tolerant" "liberals."  (They keep using those words. I do not think they mean what they think they mean.)  It got so bad his wife got contacts from old high school friends worried about her safety.

And there will be no red asterisk.  The award winners will win based on votes, paid for (despite that being a quite elitist poll tax"> ) the same way all Hugo votes are paid for.  If you believe bringing more, new voters in to read the works is a bad thing, then perhaps the previous years' Hugos should all be starred.  And of course...let's assume something utterly out of left field, on no one's recommended list, written by the most liberal minority imaginable wins (As if the demographics of the author are relevant to the quality of the work)(in a field that's 85% female to start with, claims to the contrary notwithstanding), will that likewise get asterisked?  Because if it's only certain works, not the entire ballot that get marked, I guess we've found the prejudice.  I will congratulate any winner, as I always have. (And unlike a certain winner last year.)

But every blog post like this just proves who the whiners are.  And what would such asterisk say?  "These people won according to the letter of the rules, but we don't like it, so it's not legitimate." Way to prove the point yet again.

And for the record, when my Related Work, which reached  #1 in political humor on Amazon, was proposed for the Hugo and blogged, it sold another crapton of copies and shot back into the top ten for the third time.  So presumably, the people who paid for it actually did read it before nominating.

I'm sorry a few writers are such a threat to your happiness.

One final question for your consideration.  News of this "flap" has reached the WSJ, the Guardian, and several other major international papers.  Given that Joe Banker gives less than a nano@!$%# about the Hugo, as does anyone not in SF, and not even most of them ("> ), why did it suddenly become a thing in The News?

Well, if you look at the articles, including your own, you'll find that pretty much none of them actually quote Larry or Brad, only the "defending" side.

Which does suggest that a very few agitators of one alignment sent press releases.  And certainly neither Larry nor Brad did.

The information is all there.  It just requires looking at points of view and sources that might disagree with your own. But I'm sure that fair-minded people will do exactly that.

And I'll leave you with this, for any "liberal" author who feels up to it:

So... once again... I posted a detailed Reply: 

  • "Second, minor spelling nazi:  Derring-do." Gotcha!!
  • "So, you're telling me a rich white guy..." Over the next two days, I would meet this formulation, "... you're telling me..." or similar, again and again. Again and again, people would put words in my mouth, and then argue against that , rather than what I had actually written .
  • "... a man who boasts a master's in journalism..." This from an author of Mr Williamson's stature, on the subject of an author of Mr Martin's stature... Penis envy, maybe??
  • "GRRM said..." Who cares what GRRM  said? I certainly never quoted   Mr Martin. I linked to one of his blog-posts, in which he goes through the Hugo winners over the years. I linked to facts. Once again, a Sad Puppy is having a conversation with himself , rather than with me... Do you see a pattern here? I had not (yet) noticed it...
  • "So I'd say any comment he had to offer failed due to ignorance." Um... I didn't quote him... so...
  • "Larry's point was proven the moment he agitated for a nomination and he was accused of raping puppies, burning puppies alive, abusing his wife, etc, by 'tolerant' 'liberals.' Raping puppies???  OK, we know MadMike is exaggerating... but in the meantime, he does not cite a single real-world case, large or small. Were there any?
  • "I'm sorry a few writers are such a threat to your happiness." My happiness?? Seriously?? "Over the top" exaggeration is OK occasionally, but when it is constant, it is nonsense.
  • "News of this 'flap' has reached the WSJ..." Ummm... Did you expect the kidnapping of a prestigious, seventy-year-old award to go unnoticed?

 And of course... Mr Williamson has not been seen or heard of on NewsTalkers since then.....


So I went over to Baen's Bar , in the hopes of clarifying all these... ambiguities. I cannot give you extracts of the exchanges there, because I was banned after only two days, and no longer have access. Mr Cochrane (remember him? the guy who denied that I had been banned?) did the banning. You don't need to read his entire email, here, unless you're interested in the tone, which is IMHO remarkable . I'll excerpt the significant bits after the full text:

Had to send this twice because you had an older account still active on the Bar as well, with an invalid email address...

Congratulations!  Upon being informed that you had not, in fact, been banned in 2007 and 2008, you came back and started posting in such a manner that one of the authors who has, to my recollection, NEVER previously reported a poster for violating the rules has done so.

Some brief notes...I long ago gave up trying to persuade delusional paranoids of anything whatever."   I saw this and considered it "hitting", but didn't act immediately because the Bar Moderators generally don't act in author conferences unless specifically asked to do so (Ringo's Tavern being an exception because he's not actually logging in these days to notice, so I've specifically been asked to keep it under control).

"I've taken a (very quick) stroll through Toni Weisskopf's forum. She's anything but triumphant. She goes through the motions, but no more. She's looking at a reputation: "Oh, yeah... Baen. That's the outfit that destroyed the Hugos." Maybe not the best way to draw new talent. "  This was interpreted by the conference owner as a slur on the owner of the site.  As was noted later, Baen attracts authors, even those who are not right-wing conservatives, because Baen has a reputation for treating their authors fairly.  If you had looked beyond your preconceived notions, you might have found that Eric Flint isn't the only "not conservative" author Baen publishes - Sharon Lee and Steve Miller had lost their publisher and were picked up and promoted by Baen based on recommendations from Barflies that they were good writers.  Toni's kind of agnostic that way - if an author is going to make her money and not be a pain in the rear end to deal with, she'll quite happily work with them.  She['ll even chastise people in her own conference for making negative remarks about liberals because, whatever her personal political beliefs, her professional interest is in good stories that will sell well, and she won't see her authors or customers insulted on her forums.

Speaking of which, "The Sad Puppies movement is interesting, IMNAAHO, because it is a microcosm of the wingnut right." IS an insult towards both her authors and customers.  Larry is rapidly moving to be one of Baen's top authors, his books sell really well.  Probably won't hurt that John Ringo liked them enough to essentially write several books of fanfic, which Larry happily decided to accept checks for (and is doing his job as universe owner to edit to make sure John didn't mangle anything in his universe, but otherwise it's like free money for him, and will likely widen his fan base by attracting those fans of Ringo's work who hadn't already discovered the Monster Hunter series to his own work).

As for John Ringo, yes, that's his real name, I've seen his birth certificate, have met his mother (now deceased), brothers, sister (lesbian, btw, which is why you won't find any gay bashing in John's books, he's gone clubbing with her at gay bars in Atlanta), ex-wife, I was at the wedding to his current wife, know both of his daughters, and my daughter refers to him as "Uncle John".  But he found it amusing when I mentioned your thinking it was a pseudonym, at which point his wife mentioned that one person refused to accept seeing his birth certificate as proof, until they also saw their marriage license...

Of course, speaking about genres, John Ringo alone writes in multiples...  Military science fiction, hard core science fiction (although he has Dr. Travis Taylor, of Rocket City Rednecks work on parts of it), fantasy, contemporary military fiction, and now zombie apocalypse (although grounded in biowarfare) stories. 

Of course, you seem to engage in some serous group-think, if you think that one person who posts at Baen's Bar expresses opinions on behalf of Baen Publishing (and *I* don't - I'm a volunteer, I don't get paid to moderate the Bar, except a box of chocolates at Christmas and occasionally an invitation to group dinner events, but even the dinner invitations are mainly for other reasons not really related to the Bar).

Combined with the warnings from 2007 and 2008, along with the request of the conference owner, now you CAN accurately state that you've been banned from Baen's Bar for trolling and hitting and generally failing the "Don't be a butthead" rule (as Jim Baen put it once, all other rules stem from that one).

That's a very long text containing exactly one complaint: that I wrote about "delusional paranoids". What Mr Cochrane neglects to mention -- if indeed he even noticed -- is that I used the term in reply to a Barfly who had already used it... 

Here's another bit that's fascinating:

Speaking of which, "The Sad Puppies movement is interesting, IMNAAHO, because it is a microcosm of the wingnut right" IS an insult towards both her authors and customers.

That's kinda amazing! In everything I have written, I have taken care to distinguish among the various, sometimes overlapping groups of people: Baen authors, Barflies, Sad Puppies, ... But here Mr Cochrane blithely conflates "Sad Puppies" with "Baen authors and customers". I'm not sure that all   Baen authors appreciate their being so easily assimilated into the borg... and as a customer for hundreds of Baen books, I know that I do not!

The few words in my article mentioning Baen Publisher Toni Weisskopf were a commiseration for the reputation that the Sad Puppies have laid on her and Baen Books: "the vandals who wrecked the Hugos". In my two days on Baen's Bar, I was repeatedly attacked for having insulted Ms Weisskopf. I (politely) explained several times that there was no insult. Apparently Mr Cochrane finally understood... but he could not leave it alone: "This was interpreted by the conference owner as a slur on the owner of the site." Moral courage from Galt/Rambo wannabe, John S Cochrane!


At some point, one of the Barflies mentioned a conversation that MadMike was holding on Facebook, and gave a  link .

Mr Williamson did not ask my permission to post this, nor even inform me. I sent him a "Friend Request" in order to participate in the Comment stream. MadMike laughed me off.  The Comment stream ceased just a couple hours after it was divulged, and the link is inaccessible now. Apparently, MadMike wants to keep his conversations away from the light of day...

Still, the Comment stream was... edifying:

Remember: This "conversation" was taking place behind my back . I was given no opportunity to participate.


So... What's the upshot of all this?

Sometime during my second day on Baen's Bar, I began getting criticism for "moving the goalposts". I found this odd, since I was in fact just repeating what I had said earlier. Then I had my Eureka!!   moment.

These folks had not misunderstood   me.

They had not heard   me at all.

What they heard was a voice in their heads: an "Anti-Sad Puppies" archetype telling them the things that "everyone knows that ASPs say".

Me? I was not saying those things, but the Barflies did not notice , because they were not listening to me

When I insisted loudly that I did not say that, they very honestly felt that I had moved the goalposts. The goalposts had started where those voices in their heads had stipulated, and here I was, daring to say differently! How dare I deviate from what they knew I must be saying!


Once we understand that Barflies and Sad Puppies are not listening to anything other than their own preconceptions, everything becomes limpidly clear. It becomes obvious that their outrage in not being recognized as the only true carriers of the "real SF" flame is genuine.

The thing is.... there's a name for "hears voices": paranoia .

There's a word for "mistakes internal voices for real ones": delusional .

And the thing about delusional paranoids is that... they can never see that they are either delusional or paranoid. 



jrDiscussion - desc
Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
link   seeder  Bob Nelson    6 years ago

This is a re-post of an article I wrote back in March 2015, after the announcement of the nominees for the Hugo Awards. (Both articles vanished into cyberspace when NT move to Jamroom.)

The Hugos were awarded in August. The last round of post mortems hit the Internet at the end of the year. I'll be back soon with a new article, on the vote results and the reactions of the major players.

Petey Coober
Freshman Silent
link   Petey Coober    6 years ago

there's a name for "hears voices": paranoia.

It is ?

Dean Moriarty
Professor Participates
link   Dean Moriarty    6 years ago

 The Sad Puppies are cool but I like the Rabid Puppies even better.  

Bob Nelson
Professor Expert
link   seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Dean Moriarty   6 years ago

Performance Art!!

    applause     applause


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