Goodbye, Patreon

(Disclaimer: I’m posting this on Patreon and PPC.)

I’ve been on Patreon for a few years now. I’ve had my ups and downs in that time, but I knew from the start that it would never be a primary source of income. At best, it was a side hustle, as kids these days like to say. Writing is a passion for me, and I hope I’ll keep doing it until the day I die, so leaving the Patreon platform isn’t the end of my life as an author.

But it is a step that needs to be taken.

From the start, the platform has given me no assistance whatsoever on building a community. Seeing what other content creators deal with on a daily basis, reading the occasional Patreon newsletter, I get the sense that this is intentional. The site has always seemed geared towards boosting those who already have an audience, not helping new talent get noticed. As someone who doesn’t have that online presence, whose mental state and personal opinions mean he never will, I’m lost in the shuffle.

In a way, that’s probably a good thing, If I didn’t fly under the radar, I’d probably already be banned for holding “wrong” opinions, or else I’d be pressured to sacrifice my authorial integrity to placate the mob. That’s something I’ll never do. My novels, novellas, and short stories will always be the real thing. I would never dream of taking corporate sponsorship that requires me to add product placement, nor would I consent to see my stories bowdlerized because their content upsets someone. I’m better than that. We’re all better than that.

I know it’s well past time for me to leave Patreon. I’ve posted almost nothing but status updates for over a year now, thanks to the stress of my job, my ever-precarious relationship, the lockdown that has left me as close as I’ve ever been to suicidal, and the general collapse of civilization as we know it. Besides an aunt and a cousin, nobody subscribes to me, and I’m almost glad, because I’d hate to disappoint paying subscribers with my lack of output. That would only add to my own problems.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing, or that I want you to stop reading. No, consider it another step in the journey instead. I’ll find somewhere else to go, I’ll find some way to let my stories be told, and I want others to walk with me for as long as I can. Maybe that’s another eighteen months, as I calculated during the depths of my depression last year. Maybe it’s fifty more years. No one can say for certain, but I can truthfully declare that whatever happens next for me won’t happen on Patreon.

Call this an amicable separation. I hold no grudge, because there was never any serious connection between myself and the platform. It was nothing more than a bookshelf, in my mind, a place to put the things I had written. I was given nothing by Patreon, but I will take lessons away from this experience.

It’s been a ride. For anyone who’s reading on either side, I thank you for riding with me.

Now, these are the parts I couldn’t put on Patreon.

My reason for leaving is simply: I can’t, in good conscience, remain on a platform whose stated goal is to marginalize me for who I am. I’m a straight, white male, and they hate that. I’m not afraid to speak truth to power, and they hate that. I support the classical liberal values of the Enlightenment, and they hate that.

But I don’t hate them for it. I pity them, in fact. I know they will fail in the end, and they will be left wondering why, because the people who run Patreon, just like those running most other Big Tech sites and platforms, cannot comprehend the thought that they might be wrong. And that is worthy of pity, if you ask me.

On Patreon, I’m not allowed to state this fact: Biological sex is permanent and determined even before birth.

On Patreon, I’m not allowed to state this opinion: The Ukrainian state is a puppet of the US, EU, and NATO, and Russia is doing the world a favor in exposing them.

On Patreon, I’m not allowed to be myself. So why should I stay? They clearly don’t want me.

The alternatives aren’t much better. SubscribeStar has all the same problems as Patreon plus the lack of an audience. Substack is great for blog-type content, but awful for an author of long-form stories. Smashwords, last I checked, is a cesspit of progressivism. Wattpad is awful if you’re doing original content.

A couple of years ago, I started a project called Liblio. Its purpose was to become kind of a distributed Patreon competitor. Connecting to the fediverse using the ActivityPub standard, it would allow authors and other creators to reach an audience of their choosing, while giving them full creative control over their online presence in a way that hosted platforms just don’t want to offer.

Liblio never got off the ground; its development ended when my depression worsened. Now, though, I wonder if I should dust it off and see if I can finish it. Using the lessons I’ve learned from my time on Patreon, the four fediverse accounts I’ve gone through, and six months as a project manager, I wonder if I could finally build something worth the name.

I guess we’ll see.

Situation report

At the end of last year, I stated that I would spend 2022 on four Great Works. We’re about a quarter of the way through, so this is an update on where I stand in terms of both progress and the mental state that led me to make the original post.

The First Work

I’ve been on the job for almost a full year now, and I still wake up every morning wondering if this will be the day I get fired. So far, that hasn’t happened, and I’m amazed.

In the past three months, I’ve been toiling away at the “Alana” project, and it has finally begun to take shape. Instead of being a lone developer, I’m now the manager of a team that includes a second developer for the front-end, two designers, and a marketing team I have yet to meet. The site is getting built, and that’s largely because of me. However, if—and I stress “if” here—we make our launch date of April 26, it’ll be because everyone did their part.

This whole thing has been less a test of my abilities as a programmer, which I’ve honed over the past 30 years, than a test of me as a person. I’m not a manager. I never wanted to be. I’d rather just write code, but I don’t have that option in this case. And the code I am writing, in this case, is fairly straightforward. Probably the most invention I’ve done is actually in server configuration, of all things.

The Second Work

For the second work, I have until April 7 to submit my petition to be on the ballot. I’ve already launched my campaign site, though it’s still very much a work in progress. I also need to do all the legal necessities of running a campaign, like finance reports, and logistical things like getting signs.

I’m running as an independent, because I believe that political parties are the bane of liberty. That said, an independent representative will likely have to show support for one of the two sides to gain any traction. For me, there’s only one realistic option. A few years ago, I’d say you were crazy if you claimed that I’d find common cause with the Republican Party on anything, but they’re marginally less insane than the Democrats these days, and the people who actually do want a better future have joined their ranks. Therefore, if elected, I see no other choice than to caucus with the right side of the aisle.

Of course, that assumes I have a chance at getting elected at all, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. There is no Democrat candidate for House District 27, and no other independents have announced their intent to run. It would be a two-way race, but the incumbent is very much a “traditional” Republican: big business, big corruption, and nothing for the masses. My district includes a lot of rural and suburban people who are crying out for a populist candidate to represent them in Nashville. All the pieces are there. I just have to find a way to put them together.

The Third Work

My spiritual journey continues in fits and starts. I started The Weekly Technetic in January, and I’ve managed to keep it going at one post per week since. Those posts aren’t as long as some of the ones here at PPC, but I think they’re very…on point. They let me explore my thoughts in a way I really haven’t in a long time, and that has helped.

I still have big plans for technetism in 2022. I want first to flesh out the remaining areas where I feel it’s weakest, then find like-minded people who would be willing to share in the wisdom I truly believe I’ve stumbled upon. I also plan to finish, edit, and publish The Prison of Ignorance, so that some of this wisdom might outlive me.

The Fourth Work

Last on the list is ICONIC, which didn’t even have a name in the original post. Basically, the idea is to design a method of visual communication that can be sent to, and understood by, a hypothetical extraterrestrial species.

I have a rough sketch of the contents of a primer. First (and the only part I’ve actually written down thus far) is a mathematical introduction, defining symbols for numerals and the basic arithmetic operations. This alone would provide multiple facts about humans: that we are sapient, that we understand mathematics, that we have a positional number system of base 10, and so on.

Next comes a more thorough dive into math. Following that are definitions of chemistry, physics, and biology. All of these are intended to be self-contained and self-sustaining: at any point, a statement must depend only on what has come before. Like many other SETI enthusiasts, I begin with the hard sciences because they are the most universal.

Once I’m done with those, however, it gets much more difficult. I want to draw on my 20+ years of conlang design experience to create a kind of visual lingua franca. By illustrating and defining the concepts most vital to human communication, I believe we can devise a means to “talk” to another advanced species about most topics. It would be very rudimentary conversation in most cases, but that’s a start that most experts in the field don’t even consider possible.

The situation

In three months, I’ve made progress on all four of the Great Works. I’m glad I have. I finally feel like I’m doing something again, instead of merely waiting on things to happen. I even have a few side projects on top of these, like On the Stellar Sea, the Noctis OS, and a series of programming tutorials I really want to write.

The darker side of my original post, on the other hand, continues to gnaw at me. I still believe my days are numbered, and that the number is much lower than anyone expects. With each passing week, the world grows closer and closer to an all-out collapse. Forces beyond my control have more power over my life than I do. All along, that has been the source of my depression, and it will continue to affect me as long as I live.

In a sense, the Great Works were meant to substitute for the true life goals I felt were no longer achievable three months ago. They’re a pale imitation, I’ll admit, but they were all I had left. They were intended as a swansong, a last chance to make my mark on a world that couldn’t care less. I would like to believe that’s no longer the case.

But you know me. I’m not a believer. I need proof.


(You know I had to write something about this.)

If you haven’t heard, there’s a war going on. Truth be told, there are a lot of them. Funny how nobody’s talking about Israel’s attacks in Syria, Saudi Arabia’s continued bombing of Yemen, the genocide of the Uyghurs in occupied East Turkestan, or the war still being waged against common sense in English-speaking counties. No, only one gets the media coverage.

Problem is, the media is backing the wrong side.

Zelensky is one of the most corrupt heads of state in the Western world. There’s a reason the Biden and Clinton families launder their money through Ukrainian businesses. They know they’re in good company, and that the local government will turn a blind eye. What do you expect from a comedian?

Now, that’s not to say Vladimir Putin is a saint. Far from it. He’s corrupt in a different way, owing to his long history with the KGB and its post-Soviet successor. Putin is a strongman of the same style as Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and even Kim Jong Un. He rules with an iron fist, brooks no dissent, and is generally a poor example of a democratically elected leader.

As I write this, the Russian army is encircling Kiev. They’ve taken Kharkov, and already held Crimea after the 2014 revolution. But here’s where it gets interesting. You see, Putin has the perfect casus belli because of that event eight years ago. And, if he were the leader of any other country in the world, we would be backing him wholeheartedly.

Most of the countries of Eastern Europe are messes of cultural and linguistic tension. You might think that’s ancient history, but it really isn’t. The cultural barriers proved stronger than even the Iron Curtain. They broke up Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia a few decades ago, and the disputed independence of Kosovo a few years later. Most of the former Soviet states are arranged along ethnic lines, or as close as can be: Kazakhstan for the Kazakhs, Uzbekistan for the Uzbeks, and so on. Quite simply, it’s nationalism put into action. Yes, there are others in those countries who don’t fit in, but most regions have an overwhelming majority of their respective peoples.

Ukraine is…a little different. Yes, most people living there are Ukrainian, but a few parts have a very large contingent of Russian-speaking people. These Russian “enclaves” (for lack of a better term) include Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk. All three of those declared their independence during the revolution. Crimea, as we know, was effectively annexed by Russia, but the other two weren’t. For almost a decade, they have been the subject of repeated and sometimes intense bombing campaigns. Their people live under constant threat. And the “good guy” Ukrainians were the cause.

Even if you detest Russia, and you hate Putin with the fire of a thousand suns, you still can’t deny that the people of Donetsk and Luhansk have a reason to side with the invaders. They have been occupied territory for eight years. Their democratic referendums were ignored by the world at large, as is the case in any other Western democracy with a thriving and justified separatist movement—look at Catalonia, for one good example.

So I stand against Ukraine. I stand against Zelensky and NATO, because they have shown that they care nothing for the most basic right of all: the right of autonomy. I stand with those who are fighting for their freedom and their lives in the Donbass region, just as I support any other valid separatist movement.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me move to more important matters. As we are seeing in real time, the West is trying to fight a war using nothing but propaganda and cancel culture. Fortunately, that is failing for anyone who has taken a moment to think about the situation, yet not everyone has done that. So why don’t we?

While the Donetsk and Luhansk occupations were Putin’s stated reason for going to war, the real reason is one he has been complaining about for about 20 years: NATO expansion. The vast network of agreements that ended the Cold War also came with a number of unwritten rules. One of those was that the two sides, NATO and Russia, would have a buffer between them, a neutral ground mostly made up of former members of the USSR: Belarus, Ukraine, and so on. NATO wouldn’t infringe on the border to antagonize Russia, and Russia would refrain in the same manner. In the Ukraine case, this unwritten agreement was later written, as part of the fallout from 2014.

Zelensky’s attempts to join NATO and the EU are a direct violation of that agreement. The West’s arms deals to his country are eerily similar to the events that caused the Cuban Missile Crisis. If we wanted to look like a threat from the Russian perspective, we could hardly do a better job.

Putin is not evil, nor is he a Joker-like psychopath who acts without apparent reason. No, he has reasons, and our media’s failure to acknowledge them has done everyone a disservice. Instead of pretending Zelensky is the plucky hero of a B-list action movie out to fight the new Hitler, we should all take a more rational look at the situation.

The “stand with Ukraine” contingent abandoned rationality already. They see a world of black and white when the reality is infinite shades of gray. They imagine themselves the audience of a Marvel movie, or perhaps extras in it, and they cannot comprehend the idea that anyone would see things another way.

But I do. I see the lies being poured out by both sides. Mostly by the West, by my own government. Russia is not losing this war. They’re advancing every day. They have advantages in manpower, materiel, and morale. They’re fighting for what they perceive to be their countrymen, as well as the defense of their very way of life. Supporters of Ukraine, on the other hand, are fighting to prop up a corrupt regime and a decaying alliance.

Russia has time on their side. They’ll never be overrun in a counterattack. The sanctions and boycotts barely hurt them at all. In some ways, those may even be helping: Putin’s approval rating in independent polls is at an all-time high. And China is waiting in the wings, ready to use this opportunity to remake the geopolitical landscape.

Most of all, though, the West’s overreaction to a border skirmish has shown how powerless we truly are. Sanctions against a top producer of oil, natural gas, fertilizer, and many other economic necessities will hurt us more than them. Cutting Russian citizens off from the global economy reveals its true intent as a blunt instrument of control.

Don’t stand with Ukraine because you think they’re the heroes. Stand against them because their allies—in other words, all of us—are increasingly looking like the villains.