Infinite Regression.

…or maybe just Regression. Either way, this is getting weird. The Port Huron Times-Herald is not just running stories about my case; it has begun running stories on my blog postings about my case. I can hardly wait to see whether they run a piece on this blog posting on their coverage of my last blog posting. The recursion alone would almost qualify as a Christmas present in its own right, even if the comments on the T-H stories didn’t.

And what great comments they are!  Alleydog evidently believes that I’m into human sacrifice (click on “oldest comments first”). wolfsschanze1 believes that I made human-sacrifice-related comments in court jarhead47 claims that I advocated the public stoning of one of my best friends, citing this as evidence of deep-seated anger issues. zano1 and our old friend JMGrinder (having found perhaps the one spot on the internet that hasn’t put him on their troll watch) discuss the odds that I was high on meth, since that’s the only way I could have possibly been immune to pepper spray at point-blank range, much less been able to toss border guards hither and yon like ten-pins. (The alternative — that the police report making these claims might suffer from certain credibility issues — is evidently too far-fetched for serious consideration.) And of course, there are those vast hordes utterly convinced that when pulled over for inspection, I rose from my vehicle thundering “Do you know who I am, you miserable peons? I’m an obscure midlist science fiction writer!!!” Because of course, identifying oneself with nerds and trekkies has always got the guys with guns and badges to roll out the red carpet in the past.

I can’t really blame the Times-Herald for any of this. Whatever statements I’ve made, their stories have made the context pretty explicit. It’s not their fault that so many of their readers aren’t any better at logic than they are at spelling.

Still. I wonder if the Port Huron water supply has ever been tested for lead.

Today’s Minor Miscellanea:

  • I’m seeing a proliferation of stories out there describing me as the writer of Crysis and Homeworld 2. I would ask the assembled to squash any such claims on sight: I have done work for both Relic and Crytek, but I wrote neither H2 nor C1 (I’m not writing Crysis 2 either, just to be clear). Which has not stopped at least a couple of folks from suggesting on reddit that just maybe, the border guards beat me up because they hated the Crysis script so much.
  • Fun fact of the day: apparently there are only about 600 jpegs commonly traded among the world’s pedophiles, who are evidently too dumb as a group to bother renaming them.  So disk scans for child porn are frequently no more than directory searches for a list of standard filenames.
  • Evidently the above information was lost on at least  one member of the Blue Water Bridge/Port Huron Border Patrol — that stalwart band of guardians keeping America safe from the transgressions of, well, me — in a story that oddly seems to have generated far, far fewer reader comments than my own.
  • Finally, to those who’ve asked: No, I did not testify on the 22nd. Yes, it went well — so well, in fact, that I actually wondered if the whole thing might end then and there, despite having been told that it never does. It didn’t, of course; but I learned that, thanks to so many of you, I do in fact have a good lawyer. And the prosecution chose not to show any surveillance footage of the alleged offence. Draw your own conclusions.

Have a great Christmas, everyone.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 24th, 2009 at 2:02 pm and is filed under Crytek/Crysis, Squidgate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

70 Responses to “Infinite Regression.”

  1. thejoker

    Get the anti-terrorist squad! Watts is gonna poison the water supply!

  2. adicat

    Happy Christmas, Peter, we were thinking of you on the 22nd. i am glad to hear that it went well.


  3. Vito

    Merry Christmas. It appears the local bookstore (in a small country Slovenia) decided (finally) to stock Blindisght, grabbed two, one as a gift 🙂

    Hope the case goes well.

  4. thejoker

    For some reason I had to disable Adblock to see the comments to that article.

    Hard to believe how misguided (to put it nicely) some people can be.
    Remarkable how many people have started to think random harassment by the authorities is normal, you know, because of 9/11 and all that.
    If some of those comments are anything to go by I’m starting to understand a bit better how it’s possible for normal democracies to turn into fascist police states.

  5. Chris in NY

    I say give it time on the thread. Kiddie porn has a way of getting people’s hackles up. In fact some newsfolk have made quite a living off of going after pedophiles.

  6. Lars

    Sad lot of comments over at the Times-Herald site.

    Merry Christmas, Peter. Hope that this all works out for the best.

  7. Terry

    Merry Christmas, Peter. I’d say “Happy New Year” too, but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

  8. Charlotte

    Merry Christmas! I’m glad to hear that the court appearance went well.

  9. Alehkhs

    “Do you know who I am, you miserable peons? I’m an obscure midlist science fiction writer!!!”

    The Teuthian Army now has a war-cry…

    Happy Solstice-week to you too, speaking of which: when are we gonna get the Rifters Trilogy as a nice audio-book present?

  10. sigh

    Any bets as to what percentage of those PHTH commenters are alts? Some are easy to spot if you know what to look for.

  11. Izabella

    Given how eager the Times-Herald seems to be to milk their 15 minutes of internet fame for all it’s worth, I wonder if they normally have an office party each time someone links to them.

    Anyway, glad to hear that it went well, and if everyone who has downloaded Blindsight in the wake of this story likes it as much as I did, you’ll be a lot less obscure by the time it’s over.

    Merry Christmas.

  12. Cat Sparks

    Thinking of you, Peter and hoping this whole sorry business wraps up soon.

  13. mtm

    Merry Christmas! I’m glad that things seem to be going well for you.

  14. SeB

    Merry Christmas to you and you loved ones. I hope this one day of joy and global peace will help you forget and forgive the recent bad moments you went through.

  15. americanincanada

    Peter, thanks for the amusing update. Situation normal all fucked up, but your distopian followers are with you. The PHTH comments are interesting. There’s some kind of culture clash going on here. Which means that we must define who WE are and who THEY are. Which is of course impossible and a little bit ridiculous. Still, consider the thought experiment where one gets hassled at the border and then meets the assholes responsible at a christmas party a few days later. What happens then? What is the proper etiquette? How does the situation evolve as the amount of alcohol consumed approaches the 2AM asymptote?

  16. George Berger

    Glad to hear the provisional good news, Peter. Keep up the good spirits and great use of our language’s expressive resources. In fact, that paper can go to hell.. There is at least one hole in its article that one can drive a truck through. I’m not sure of the hole’s source, but if it was not due to that rag’s tweaking proper news input to it, then its reporters should have pointed out the gap. It concerns the lack of any explanation of why you were stopped AFTER having paid and were on your way to the Border.

  17. Tim

    I’m glad to hear that things are so far going well. This, of course, an absurd case. But still, we can’t have you behind bars, can we? 🙂

  18. DP

    @americanincanada – There’s a log-line for a holiday movie somewhere in your comment.

    @PW – So, what’s the title for someone who provides creative copy for a strategy game?

  19. SpeakerToManagers

    Oh you’ll hear about the kiddie porn, have no doubt. Hell, the FBI here in the states kept their organization together and prevented DHS from stealing all their funding by screaming “PEDOPHILES” really loudly and pointing at the internet. It’s the perfect “hard on crime” (pun wickedly intended) issue, because anyone who raises freedom of speech questions or doubts the claimed numbers of internet perverts is clearly one him- or herself. And in your case it makes the perfect Wookie accusation (“And it’s clear that Dr. Watts is a danger to this country’s way of life and – Look! a big, hairy pedophile!”).

  20. keanani

    Mele Kalikimaka Peter, from the isolated archipelago that President Obama and family have come to for their 10-day holiday stay!

    Peter stated: “And of course, there are those vast hordes utterly convinced that when pulled over for inspection, I rose from my vehicle thundering ” ‘Do you know who I am, you miserable peons? I’m an obscure midlist science fiction writer!!!’ ”

    I don’t believe it is “vast hordes” at all, Peter, and of those few who do believe that you thundered, well, that is the normal course of things, being human and all, …don’t want a world filled with hordes who think and believe the same thing like a unified mass of robotic sheeple…and perhaps a diminutive sprinkle find it hard to believe that you would be targeted, therefore you must have looked at the border guards cross-eyed…possessing reason and rationality is becoming rarer amongst the humanfolk…one must not let the dimwits, numnuts, okole lolo unite and impose their absurdity upon the rest of us who wish fervently to live in a safe and sane world…


    …but most importantly, why would anyone believe that a human who loves kitty and pussycats, who has a touch a sadness and world-weariness about him, who has an uber-intellect, is a voracious well-read reader, and excellent wordsmith brainiac Scifi nerd would warrant a border-crossing flim-flam shakedown at the U.S.-Canada Border? Hmm…perhaps your height intimidated one or two of the fellas? Sort of a vertical-envy?

    Peter stated: “Because of course, identifying oneself with nerds and trekkies has always got the guys with guns and badges to roll out the red carpet in the past.”

    Hmm…I identify myself “as a nerd”, but not trekkie, although I do very much like Star Trek, but still, I think us nerds are not targeted…besides it is nice that people openly admit to the Zen of Nerdism as a way of life and proudly wear this aura for all to see without flinching in some sort of crumble of embarrassment, afraid to admit that we like science, science fiction and fantasy, play video games, watch epic scifi and fantasy movies…I am glad that actress Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, V) enthusiastically admitted that, yes, “I am a nerd!”.

    I believe that my own home State is quite filled with nerds, since we not only have those who love scifi and fantasy, but Japanese animation has been a part of most Hawaii-born and/or raised children’s lives, so we are so used to the cosplay and dress-up…Kikaida, Ultraman, Speedracer, Princess Knight and Godzilla…

  21. Chris in NY

    I love the holidays, myself. New faces in the neighborhood, not all smiling (who can blame them with the economy where it is?) or accepting a “Happy Holidays” greeting, even the second time around, but there nonetheless.

  22. keanani

    Chris in NY declared: “I love the holidays, myself.”

    Me too! It is indeed a “most wonderful time of the year”, for although it is the end of the year, it heralds the beginning of a new one, that is fresh with hope and renewal.

    I was reminded of this, and the effect one can have upon others by “smiling” and “being positive” despite what is going on in my life, my moods and feelings and my ever-questioning journey on this planet…when the owner of a downtown Honolulu Cafe, of which I have popped into newly but more frequently, who had one day stated to me…”We love you!”…and “you are so sweet and positive, like a ray of sunshine”. And I told him that whether I am happy or not, no matter what is going on in my life, be it bad, good, ugly or questionable, I try to be positive and good-hearted towards others because “no sense being all negative, poo poo and pissy”, for “life is way to short to live like that”. Besides “things could be a lot worse” and “there are so many people on the face of this planet who are in way worse situations than I.”

    Of course as you know, being negative has a great impact upon your health, your heart, mind and soul…so smiling at, and with, other human beings make life much easier and happier to bear. 🙂

  23. Chris in NY

    It’s always good to be reminded there’s good in the world, sometimes it can be found in the most surprising places. I agree, negativity bad, positivity good, no matter the subject or person.

    ~Wishing I was in Honolulu too to share in the sunshine and Hope,

  24. redindiangirl

    Your post made me laugh out loud in my post-turkey torpor! Glad to hear that it is going better than expected, Perhaps that beer will happen sooner than later.

    Enjoy some holiday cheer.

  25. Chris in NY

    Extremely off-topic:

    It’s been a long time since I endorsed, spoke of, or even much tried prayer, but…

    My friend and business attorney’s former girlfriend (still a dear friend to us both) and father were in a fire recently and are both in critical condition at last report I received. It is times like these that try men’s (and women’s) souls.

    A special thank you to keanani… your post comes miraculously at just the right time for me.

  26. keanani

    Chris in NY revealed: “It’s been a long time since I endorsed, spoke of, or even much tried prayer, but…”

    I believe prayer is simply a way for us humans to project our hopes, good wishes and positive energy toward someone or something…it can be grounded in the religious sphere, the secular realm, or simply some inherent part of human nature to believe in all that is good and beautiful in this world…

    Chris in NY said: “My friend and business attorney’s former girlfriend (still a dear friend to us both) and father were in a fire recently and are both in critical condition at last report I received. It is times like these that try men’s (and women’s) souls.”

    I am sorry for your dear friend and her father’s tragedy. I will send my prayers and good wishes also. Have faith and hope that your friend and her father will be alright.

    Life is a journey that we make ourselves, but we have other souls who accompany and help us along the way.

    One never knows when that day will arrive, the one that we all must have when life is no longer ours to live, but the end…I thought that day had come when I was thirteen, I almost drowned, but some strangers’ hand grabbed mine and saved me from a watery grave…I don’t fear that life conclusion, so I live with positivity and strive to help others along their journey…and I try my best not to be apathetic, sleepwalking my way along the road, suddenly realizing that so much time has past and I have so easily dwelled in the mire of negativity…anger, fear, sadness, giving up hope, not having faith or courage…I am now reminded of Frodo in the Two Towers, when he was crossing the Dead Marshes and was fascinated with the spectral fire-lit faces of an ancient battle, and he momentarily fell into the depths…and then loathsome Gollum saves him…for the ring of course…I was read LOTR the summer of my 13th year and almost drowning.

    Chris in NY said: “A special thank you to keanani… your post comes miraculously at just the right time for me.” ☺

    Me ke aloha pumehana, mahalo nui loa. ☺

  27. Chris in NY


    Rescuers pull 2 from B’klyn blaze


    Last Updated: 9:46 AM, December 24, 2009

    Posted: 3:09 AM, December 24, 2009
    Firefighters rescued a Brooklyn woman and her father yesterday morning after the two were knocked unconscious as a blaze ripped through their Park Slope apartment. An overloaded power strip sparked the fire in the top floor of the four-story building on Third Street near Fifth Avenue about 2:30 a.m., officials said. Firefighters Rob Mitchell and John Fisher, along with Capt. Dennis Murphy of Ladder Co. 105, rushed into the building. They found Michael Conway, 58, passed out in a hallway. His daughter, Kate, 29, was found unconscious nearby. Both were carried to safety.

    Michael was in stable condition at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn. Kate was taken to New York Hospital-Cornell Burn Center, where she was listed in serious but stable condition with burns to her legs.

    “It’s the best reward you can get,” said Capt. Murphy, a 26-year FDNY veteran. “It’s a good feeling, especially during this time of the year.”

    New York’s Bravest on the job, even during the holidays. I guess there are angels — of a sort — even in Brooklyn.

  28. Ian in Sydney

    Hi Peter, I’m sorry for the horror of the border crossing, and glad you’ve got a top lawyer and your defense is going as well as can be expected. I was thinking of you on the 22nd. I got unreasonably hassled by the US border folk every time I went across from Toronto but was lucky not to get the random violence and ass-covering charges.

    Congratulations on the infinite regress! All hail the interface between new and old media.

    The article on the child porn BPO guard has a big ad for Catholic academy kindergarten children. Child porn is about to become an election issue in Oz as both parties excuse for trying to censor the internet with an endless sink of funds. The fact that all the child porn websites operators have already been arrested (as low hanging fruit) has escaped their attention.

    In better news, I’ve found BlindSight in Oz in paperback for the first time, and grabbed a copy to join my hard-cover edition. The first friend I mentioned it to had just read a downloaded copy of BlindSight. I expect to be giving some as gifts during the year.

    Keep posting and keep writing, and I hope you have a better 2010.

  29. SM

    “I’m an obscure midlist science fiction writer!!!”

    Hmmm, I suspect the poster gave you an upgrade there. Prior to this incident, I had never heard of you or Rifters. I think they meant to say “obscure D-list science fiction writer”.

    Well, if you beat the rap (which I doubt), maybe I’ll see you at World Con in 2011.

  30. Peter Watts

    Man, that just goes to show how far out of the loop I am. I had no idea your opinion even mattered, much less that your personal awareness of something was so critical to its success.

    Just to be on the safe side, though, you might want to reach out to Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, the Hugo Committee, the New York Times (and their assorted buddies) — not to mention the dozen or so overseas publishers who’ve translated my stuff — and tell them you’ve never heard of me. I’m sure they’ll find that information every bit as relevant as I did.

  31. liz

    “Prior to this incident, I had never heard of you or Rifters.”

    Translation: “I don’t know anything about you or the event with the BP, but I’m going to go out of my way to be a trolling asshole anyway because my existence is even shittier than an ‘obscure D-list SF writer'”

    Game, set, match.

  32. Jetse


    Here’s me keeping my fingers crosses that no more prosecution will follow, and only when I see that announced will I let go of my breath (metaphorically, of course).

    Best of luck–and great support–for how things will develop.

    What a nightmare! Still, hope you have a great new year’s eve, and a Happy New Year!

  33. Chris in NY

    Sorry for again going all off-topic, but it seems unfair to post without update.

    Met with a family member. They seem to be doing well having made it past day 3 and nearly into day 5 (the critical period). It will probably be a couple of weeks before they can receive regular visitors, but at this point things look good.

    BTW, Kate was an active campaigner for Rev. Billy bid for NYC Mayor. I understand he’s a funny guy, and even has a blog on his website where he discusses what happened in Copenhagen.

    In other news, I had a dream that I had hooked a very large fish (one might even say a leviathan), and try as I might I couldn’t bring it to land. I happened to turn around and saw there were lots of others pulling as well, out of my sight. Then I woke up. And boy, my arms are tired. 😉

    Be well, everyone.

  34. keanani

    Chris in NY said: “Sorry for again going all off-topic, but it seems unfair to post without update.”

    “…but at this point things look good.”

    That is really good, Chris. Thanks for sharing. Don’t be sorry, although I am sorry too Peter, for going off-topic also.

    Chris in NY revealed: “In other news, I had a dream that I had hooked a very large fish (one might even say a leviathan), and try as I might I couldn’t bring it to land. I happened to turn around and saw there were lots of others pulling as well, out of my sight. Then I woke up. And boy, my arms are tired.”

    Hmm, were you “acting out” your dream in your sleep? 🙂 I recently had a watery dream too! After watching bits of the tv version “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”, the movie “Precious” and reading “Watermind”, I had a dream that I was walking along a high sea cliff edge and an assortment of people, English, African, Mixed (ancestry) and European, who were all dressed in clothes of the 1600s, with masted ships anchored all along the coast very far down below, and I was walking in a bikini with swim fins strapped to my back and all of a sudden I do a run-fling-launch aerial dive off of the cliffs away from the ships…but I did not wake up wet with seaweed in my hair…darn, I woke up right before the point of impact into the ocean.

  35. Peter Watts

    Chris: Critical, to stable, to able-to-see-visitors. None as good as “healthy”, but man, that’s definitely the right trajectory.

    I don’t believe in prayer, but momentum is definitely on your friends’ side. That’s good to hear.

    Everyone in general, but you in particular: have a good New Year’s.

  36. Rob in Regina

    Hey Peter,

    Best of luck with this trouble, glad to read that the appearance on the 222nd was encouraging. I’ve read your work and seen you a couple of times at T.O. SF events, really enjoyed hearing about water bears at one of them. I hope that they toss this absurd charge out, but no matter what happens, please keep writing, I and many others would be sorry to not have you around in a world where every second SF paperback is about an emo 20 something female with mixed vampire/werewolf/ghoul/alien ancestry,tats, tight leather pants and accessory automatic weapons with magic/nanotech powers who’s trying to save a mysterious underground magic reality type city as well as her messed up yet lovable sex partner from the dangerous, but ultimately ineffectual forces of eviltronica…

  37. Bard

    It’s struck me that there are three types of North American – the scared and cowardly, the scared and determined to face it, and those too stupid to be scared.

    We’re in a very dangerous time, where it is all too easy to be cowed by the abuse of law by those scared and cowardly.

    Broad Laws are sold to us with the promise that they’re only broad to allow their fair use – then they are used by the dimwitted to justify their abuse. It takes forcing this abuse into the light to get anything done – eventually 😉

  38. bordered

    Hey Peter,
    Is there a way by which I can contact you directly?

    I’ve been following your story in regards to the border incident from various sources and frankly, it brings back frightening memories of a similar incident involving myself at the same crossing.

    If for no other purpose or if it’s not a good idea due to legal constraints, I offer my full support and well-wishings for what they’re worth. But i’d be happy to share.

    -Sarnia Stranger

  39. SSJPabs

    Well just remember for the future: staying in your car, hands visible and groveling to the officer is how you are expected to act in America.

    Good luck.

  40. Kathryn Cramer

    Glad to hear things went well.

  41. Chris in NY

    A friend says that Kate is responsive and both she and her dad are responding well to treatment.

    Thanks to all, and to keanani a very Happy Christmas!

  42. Hank Roberts

    I’m envisioning a T-shirt that says:

    “Do you know who I am, you miserable peons?
    I’m an obscure midlist science fiction reader!!!”

  43. dave

    “Do you know who I am, you miserable peons?
    I’m an obscure midlist science fiction reader!!!”

    Heh. That should SO be the fundraising t-shirt, assuming this case is kept alive long enough to need such efforts. But I suspect it will be quietly dropped as soon as Very Important Persons catch wind of it and fear it embarrassing.

  44. Quietdown

    I have yet to read one of your novels, but your short stories are extremely rad. Good luck bringing the situation to a speedy conclusion and happy holidays!

  45. keanani

    Hank Roberts said, and dave agreed: I’m envisioning a T-shirt that says: “Do you know who I am, you miserable peons? I’m an obscure midlist science fiction reader!!!”

    ..but also include a picture of that cute kitty on Peter’s author page…for all of us readers who are, indeed, peons…

  46. Chris in NY

    Hey, don’t put yourself down like that. Remember? “You’re beautiful!” 🙂

  47. keanani

    Hey, Chris 🙂 Here’s that downtown Honolulu Cafe I was mentioning where it is sunny and happy…be sure to check out the “Meet the Grazie Girls”!

    I still feel that Peter’s cat on his author page is the way to go…that feline staredown can help mesmerize the peons…

  48. Hank Roberts

    > water supply … tested …


    “… In the early years, the ore arrived as a milled concentrate from Canada (Mallinckrodt 1994), consisting mostly of black oxide (U3O8) (Mallinckrodt 1994; Fleishman-Hilliard 1967); MED (1945) stated that the Eldorado mine site in Port Huron, Canada, was a source of black oxide to Mallinckrodt. These concentrates were produced at offsite uranium mills and were free of radium and its decay products (Mallinckrodt 1994).”

    I wonder where the Eldorado mine waste material went?

  49. Greyjoy

    Le sigh. The “lol all American law enforcement are fascist scum” comments every time this sort of thing happens bug me all the more because if you strip away all the hyperbole there are some very solid points underneath.

    Glad to hear your court appearance went well. I’ll be very pleased when you inevitably beat the (rather silly) rap, though buying you a celebratory beer is rendered improbable by virtue of me being on the wrong end of the offending country from Canada.

  50. John Henning

    “I’m seeing a proliferation of stories out there describing me as the writer of Crysis and Homeworld 2. I would ask the assembled to squash any such claims on sight: I have done work for both Relic and Crytek, but I wrote neither H2 nor C1 (I’m not writing Crysis 2 either, just to be clear). Which has not stopped at least a couple of folks from suggesting on reddit that just maybe, the border guards beat me up because they hated the Crysis script so much.”

    It’s a possibility, I’m sure.

    On a side note, and maybe you’ve posted on this, but exactly what is involved in “writing” for a videogame? Is it more concept work? Background?

  51. Hljóðlegur

    Apparently, it’s like a Quest – you journey through a forest of Twizzlers to the Snackfood Mecca, where you must eat a cookie as wide as a pumpkin with pink sugar icing and a giant bucket of M&Ms.

    If you live, you then throw your dirty underwear into the air, and the laundry fairies secret it away. Amidst all this, story arcs that characters may take at different decision points are generated. It’s kind of like flies spontaneously generating from raw meat – if you set up the initial conditions, the writing happens automatically.

    It’s all kinda mysterious to me, not being a writer.

  52. Oh Really

    Peter, I had never heard of you until I stumbled across this thing. I don’t even remember how I did. Surfing the Internet is kinda like that. Anyway, now that I’m here, I have a few impressions, and I doubt you’ll like ’em very much.

    1. The incident was dumb. Look, anyone who’s been to the border knows the drill. If they want to search your car you sit there until they’re done. Then you go on your way. This isn’t rocket science.

    2. In light of #1, you have a higher opinion of yourself that you ought to have, and so do a bunch of other people. You sound like one of those collegiate snobs with an attitude, never my favorite anyway.

    3. The whole thing wasn’t about a fascist police state. C’mon, it’s the border, and if they want to search your stuff it’s legal and has been forever. This was about an irate guy who thinks his effluent doesn’t smell meeting a cop with a low tolerance for bullshit. Cops always win those fights, Peter.

    4. I don’t know anything about the economics of the book business. My guess is maybe a buck a book for you? Two bucks? Maybe you’ll break even after you’ve paid the lawyer, but I tend to think the people who are on your side here already have all of your books that they’ll ever have.

    5. If you get barred from entering the U.S. from now on, will that kill your day job?

  53. americanincanada

    A guy gets out of his car to ask what’s going on. This earns him a beating and a night in jail. A fascist police state in America this ain’t, but how exactly does one get from here to there?

    Embedded in the above post is the complete blueprint:
    – a blind faith in authority (men in uniform always tell the truth, the citizens lie),
    – knee-jerk anti-intellectualism (a baton to the back of the head, that’ll put those fooking eggheads in their place, who the fook do those collegiate snobs think they are, anyway)
    – a disregard for fundamental american values and history. Kind of goes with point #2. Those founding father faggots were intellectual snobs with an attitude. Fook ’em. When it comes to cops vs the bill of rights, cops win.
    – books? fook em, who needs em, reading is for faggots and collegiate snobs. Aint no money in it. What the fook is the point?

    As for watts’ books: better burn em, just to be sure. All kind of funny snobby collegiate ideas in them. Random people read them and then start acting all strange. donate large sums of money for legal defence, write their representatives, express outrage. Better to ban them. Gotta keep those fooking intellectuals in their place, after all.

    Fook the trolls.

  54. Oh Really

    I wouldn’t burn anyone’s books. I’m just as much against that as you are, “americanincanada.” My comment about being a collegiate snob has nothing to do with his books; it’s an impression I formed from reading what he’s written here. I have an undergrad an a graduate degree, and anyone who’s spent time on a campus knows about the intellectual snobs. Who, by the way, are usually a cut or three below the top end of the scale.

    The smartest people on campus are usually, albeit not always, a whole lot humbler than Peter is coming across. I have enormous respect for knowledge and those who pursue it, but I also disdain anyone who lords it over anyone else.

    As for blind faith in authority, I certainly don’t have it. But I don’t generally lead with my chin, either. If you cross a border, they can search you. This is hardly a new concept. You don’t need to be a celebrated intellectual to know that. And from what I’ve read, Peter wasn’t arrested for getting out of his car but rather was arrested for refusing to get back inside.

    The court case will be what it’ll be, and it looks like Peter and his buddies are determined to do a righteous dance about the fascists here. Have fun, I suppose, but you ought to know that there are some other pretty smart people who aren’t buying it. One other thing: I’m about as far away from a Republican war monger, etc., as you can get. I’m just not stupid enough to taunt the police in the course of their routine. Peter Watts, did you have rocks in your head, or what?

  55. Oh Really

    Let’s look at the issues from a different perspective, if that might be tolerated here.

    Since 1993, the U.S. has suffered a number of terror attacks within its borders, and has stopped others, some of which I’m sure we don’t know about. The ones we do know about are the two attacks on the World Trade Center, the one on the Pentagon, the one on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, the attempt on the airliner bound for Boston, the attempt on the Los Angeles year 2000 celebration, and last week’s attempt on the airliner headed to Detroit.

    We also have major problems with the smuggling of people and drugs, mostly on the Mexican border but by no means entirely on that side. Tunnels have been unearthed running under the Canadian border, and drug shipments in both directions, and to some degree the transport of undocumented people, is also an issue on the Canadian side.

    One approach would be to forget that the borders exist and simply allow all of this. Is that what people here want? If not, then it becomes a question of tactics. There are a bunch of thorny issues there, emanating from the demand for low-wage workers and for drugs, versus efforts to curtail these things within the United States. As it concerns terrorism — which is real — a significant part of the approach has to be border control, with “borders” defined as land, sea, and air access points.

    Peter Watts’s case concerns land access, so that’s what we should discuss here. It is legal, and has been forever, for a country to conduct searches of vehicles at its borders. We ought to do this effectively, efficiently, and humanely. Unless Peter thinks that he should be excused from whatever regime is in place, he has to be subject to it. After all, no one can know just by looking at someone whether he’s carrying drugs, people, or weapons. Hence the searches.

    Border police are the people who implement the controls at the land access points. They don’t have enough time to search everyone, so they rely on a combination of instinct — guesses, really — and pure random sampling. If you have a better method short of abandoning efforts to secure the land crossings, I’m all ears.

    Now, let’s dig deeper. When someone is stopped for a search, given that the search is legal, what should happen? I think the border patrol should be efficient, effective, and courteous — in that order. I think it’s possible to be all three of those things in the normal course. It has been my experience when crossing.

    If someone disputes a search, as Peter Watts apparently did, then there are procedures the police follow, up to and including the arrest of an uncooperative person. It seems as if this is what the police did.

    The question then becomes what constitutes a lack of cooperation. Peter says he had questions for the police, but hasn’t said what those questions were. It’s the border, and they (presumably) told him they were going to search his vehicle. What more did he need to know? Did he intend to engage these people in a discussion of the legality of the search?

    In any case, it seems that Peter refused to re-enter his car, and was placed under arrest. A scuffle ensued, and he was locked up, arraigned, and released. Now he’s being charged. I don’t see what the police did wrong here, but that will be up to the court to decide.

    The Canadian border used to be more relaxed. But we didn’t used to have a major drug transshipment problem along that border, nor did we have a terrorism issue, nor did we have a major people smuggling problem that has begun to extend north as well as south. So, the border has been tightened. It’s regrettable. No one likes it, but the tightening is a legitimate response to real problems.

    There are larger foreign policy issues with respect to terrorism. Bush’s response to the events of 9/11 was horrendous, but the terror threat predated the response, and the borders were in the process of gradually being tightened before the attacks. Obama’s administration is trying to soften the worst of what Bush did, but anyone who thinks we’re going to go back to the pre-1990s era on the border anytime soon is dreaming an impossible dream.

    The bottom line is that, if you cross U.S. borders, you can expect to be searched. It won’t happen every time, but it’ll happen a lot more often than it used to. The searches are legal, and to jump out of your vehicle and argue with the police is unwise, and maybe worse, depending on the circumstances.

    If you want to blame someone for heightened security on the border, blame the terrorists of the past decade and a half, and the smugglers of drugs and undocumented immigrants who have made these measures necessary. In the meantime, don’t sit there and think you can obstruct the police and not have anything happen.

  56. Peter Watts

    @Oh Really:

    1. There were pretty wonky elements to this particular search. It actually contradicted protocols that a spokesman for the Border Patrol described when responding to a reporter’s question about this very incident. In this light I don’t think was unreasonable to ask what was going on; and since the person who’d pulled me over had moved away from the car, it wasn’t unreasonable to leave the car in order to ask.

    2. Obviously, I’m not gonna agree with this. You don’t have to go back very far in this blog to find a posting in which I bet someone that I couldn’t even get six people to show up to a reading if I gave one. People who actually know me worry more about my low self-esteem than any sense of entitlement. I don’t expect special treatment and never have. In fact, I’ve frequently been told that I don’t know how to take a compliment at face value, because I’m always afraid that the other person is only being kind.

    So I’d deny absolutely being a snob. I probably am an elitist, and most of the folks who follow this ‘crawl probably are too; but then again, half the US rejects evolution. Nearly half can’t correctly answer the question “How long does it take the earth to complete an orbit of the sun?” even when that question is framed as multiple choice. Faced with that kind of baseline, it’s kind of hard not to feel a bit above average — but that said, I know the world is full of outliers. By default, I treat every new acquaintance as worthy of respect and courtesy, until I see actual evidence to the contrary.

    I suspect you’re right in that you and I probably wouldn’t enjoy hanging out together. But anyone who knows me at all (and such folks have posted way more personal testaments to my character than I ever would have expected, if you want to spend a few minutes Googling) knows how absoutely ridiculous it is to suggest that I thought I warranted any kind of “special treatment”, at the border or anyplace else. I don’t think that just I should be exempt from unwarranted assault; I think everyone should be.

    3. See 2. I don’t know about the “fascists state” big picture, but down here on ground level I think this was just about a couple of thugs with badges who didn’t like being questioned by the uppity Canuck.

    4. It’s complicated. I’ve been paid as much as $500 for a copy of one of my books; I’ve also been paid as little as zero, because I give away all my fiction for free on my website, under a Creative Commons license. But I’m not relying on book sales to fund my defence.

    5. No.

    Also, when did I ever present myself as a “liberal and all the rest”? What does “all the rest” even mean?

    @americaincanada: Dude, I do moderate this blog. You haven’t seen anything from JMG8 lately, have you? But while I could nuke all the negativity that comes this way (and no, it would not be censorship, given the free availability of blogging apps to anyone with a phone line and a grudge), that would paint a pretty one-sided view of the world’s reactions. There are people out there who think I’m an asshole; I don’t agree, but I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist, and as long as they make their points cogently I’m inclined to let them pass. Who knows, we might even get into a dialog. Someone might even change their mind.

    Sure, there are some fucktards that are obviously not interested in anything but insults and trolling, and when their foaminess distracts from the rest of the conversation I’ll killfile them. But I’d rather give the benefit of the doubt. At the very least, it puts the lie to Oh Really’s snide and repeated claims that I don’t tolerate criticism. (Not that I expect OR to change his or her mind; even a cursory glance at some of these threads makes it obvious that the other side gets to speak here, and that was the case long before s/he weighed in.)

    Remember, I’m the guy who posts negative blurbs for his books alongside the positive ones on his own website. I’ve done that for years. This isn’t all that much different.

  57. Peter Watts

    John Henning asked

    On a side note, and maybe you’ve posted on this, but exactly what is involved in “writing” for a videogame? Is it more concept work? Background?

    Most of what I’ve done has been limited to developing plotlines and background detail. Once or twice I’ve started an actual script, but so far none of those efforts has actually made it into a finished game. Hopefully, at some point, that may change; but as of this writing, I mainly just dabble.

  58. Charles

    Hi Peter.

    Doesn’t your lawyer have access to the video? He should be able to use it as evidence against the guards.

  59. americanincanada

    To “Oh Really”.

    Thank you for the follow up posts. Good to know that we have some things in common, including an aversion to book banning/burning. Your little exegesis on border security policy was well thought out and must have taken some effort to pen. Nothing wrong also about keeping an open mind about the legal proceedings. None of us was there other than the BP and Peter Watts, so all of us are acting from certain assumptions.

    Now go back and reread your original post. Your points, in summary

    1) Watts predicament is the consequence of his stupidity
    2) Watts and his readership are snobs. I don’t like ’em
    3) Don’t stand up to cops or you will get what’s coming to you
    4) Watt’s probably doesn’t make all that much money. The prosecution is going to fuck him over based solely on the finances of the situation
    5) Watts can’t travel to the states any more, so he is fucked, career wise.

    What can I say: welcome to the blog!

    My perspective: the BP crew acted inappropriately and unprofessionally. A position in law-enforcement carries with it demands for sound judgment and accountability. The BP work with the public day in and day out. Are you trying to convince me that the situation at the border could not have been handled without recourse to pepper spray and a baton? Even when dealing with mentally ill or emotionally distraught individuals the standard law enforcement protocol does not countenance violence.

    Was Watts looking to launch some kind of legal challenge to the legality of cross-border searches? Somehow I doubt it. Is Watts here some kind of closet psycho? Doesn’t seem likely. Or maybe the BP handling of the situation was less than optimal. Which option are you going with here? Furthermore, by the very nature of their employment and training, the onus is on the BP to resolve the situation in a peaceable fashion.

    Unfortunately, as I have learned over the years, the american BP has a terrible reputation with the Canadian public. The border has a much higher presence in the life of the average Canadian than the average American. Many, many people in Canada have relatives in the states and routinely travel down south for reasons of business and tourism. It is rare to hear a kind word about the american BP, and the PH-Sarnia crossing, as I have learned, has a particularly nasty reputation.

    So you are right, ultimately this is not about fascism, but about poor law enforcements and ordinary citizens banding together to help out a fellow netizen. The fascism angle only comes into the pictures when your points 1,2,3,4 and 5 get dropped into the discussion. To condemn someone the way you are doing, and even more so, to RELISH the person’s predicament leads one to the issue of motivations. I am happy to learn that you have an appreciation for the balance between security and individual rights. Would you enjoy living in an authoritarian society where the uniform carries with it unnamed privileges?

    Nobody here is questioning the legality of border searches. What’s at question is the behavior of the PH BP, the nature of the relationship between the traveling public and the border authorities, and the surprisingly vehement, anti-intellectual, authoritarian loathing that Watt’s case seems to have inspired in some posters

  60. keanani

    Peter said: “People who actually know me worry more about my low self-esteem than any sense of entitlement.”

    It is not just people who actually know you, Peter, who can see this. Anyone who has spent time on this Forum and read through a mass of your posts, would get the sense that there is indeed self-esteem possessed that is not above the average bar. Numerous human beings have “low self-esteem”, and it can be a struggle to get past it.

    Makes me think of people who as children, were soul-crushed and endured their hopes and dreams being pummeled, only to find as adults that that child is still very much alive within…life is what we make it and the hand we are dealt coming into this world is not the one we have to play for the rest of our lives…

    But tempering a healthy sense of self-esteem with humility is a good combo to strive for. 🙂

    On the author page, at the very bottom, it states: “He’s especially eager to hear from anyone who has less of a life than he does.” This could be interpreted in a number of ways, but read in tandem with your blogs postings and musings; one can infer that you do not hold yourself in high self-esteem, or above others.

    Besides I do recall you saying referring to your self-esteem in one of your blogs in quite a self-depreciating manner…so no high maka maka attitude to be found in your human form. 🙂

    Americanincanada said: “To condemn someone the way you are doing, and even more so, to RELISH the person’s predicament leads one to the issue of motivations.”

    This is quite troublesome to me, and it seems that quite a few posters have done this in their “take on the situation”, without knowing Peter, and without being a clear eye-witness to the incident…and yet, an opinion is formulated of which it was Peter’s fault, and he could have and should have prevented it, besides, he even deserved it because of his intellect, education, way of communicating through the written word, and his personal blogging style…as we can see someone’s opinion is not another’s reality.

    (off-topic: I wonder where mrs. mole is?)

  61. Mrs. Mole


    I am in here lurking. I find all this beating of citizens by policemen very disturbing. I can’t imagine who deserves to be punched and kicked, and why grown men seem to unable to stop themselves from beating each other.

    You know, there are almost no situations where physically harming another makes thing better in a longer-term big-picture way.

  62. DTS

    AMERICANIN CANADA: Glad you pointed out the obvious — which I’ve been trying to point out to “moderates” (or whatever they like to call themselves in the midst of delusions) that EVEN IF Watts got out of his car and said a couple of choice words (I don’t assume he did) and EVEN if he didn’t get right back into his car right away, the force that was used OBVIOUSLY goes BEYOND what was required.

    Along with the thugs personally responsible, I also blame the Patriot Act (and all who condon it) as well as the unending, spiraling smell of fear that permeates America and my fellow citizens, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. That fear (and the ignornance which almost always accompanies it) allows for mistrust, intolerance, indifference, lack of empathy, etc., etc., etc. It was fucking sad — and scary, at times — to witness from the midst of the country (spent 18 of the last 20 years in the bible belt, Missouri); and it’s truly embarrassing and sad to witness it from afar once again, while living in OZ (I first saw the rise and evolution of Fear as the National Tenor during the Reagan years, while serving in the Army, in Europe).

    The worst thing is: those that believe (and act and write) this way (mostly white males, often 30-60 years of age) will probably continue to do so till the day they push up daisies. They wake up fearful; they go to bed fearful. Fear is what’s on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner with that sort of person in the USA.
    Personally, I’ve had a bellyful.

    Wearily Watching from Afar
    DTS (who still remains slightly, strangely, hopeful)

  63. keanani

    Happy New Year!

    “Do you know who I am, you miserable prions? I’m an obscure midlist science fiction clone!!!”

    “‘Lifeless’ prion proteins are ‘capable of evolution’”

    “This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active.”

    “The prion protein is not a clone, it is a quasi-species that can create different protein strains even in the same animal.”

    p.s. Not at all relevant to the thread, but inquiring minds want to know…what’s up with the smelly, rude, noisy, laze-about pinipeds ditching San Fran’s pier? What do they know and why aren’t they squawking? Hmm…seems they gave Pier 39 the flipper…

    Have the Sea Lions of Pier 39 Left Earth for Space?

    I bet they got wind of those octopi scramblers having their own space transport!

  64. Tom

    Hey Peter, I’ve never met you and have no informed opinion on whether your behaviour at the border met the definition of “assaulting and resisting arrest “. As to whether you are “small-minded, childish, and nasty” (per comments on a previous posting) – you’re big enough to give opposing opinions space on this site.

    I like your writing; you had the grace say “thank you” when I sent you (your cat) some money for making it possible for me to read your books as downloads. This is enough for me wish you a good life; and that extends to hoping that everything turns out OK in court.

    Happy New Year, “illegitimi non carborundum”.

  65. Ian "Sol Invictus" Cheong

    Glad you’re doing well, Peter. Just so you know, I’m the guy that made the link submissions on reddit that mentioned your associations with Crytek and Relic, and thanks to some rather erroneous information in Wikipedia, I (and I suppose many others) were under the impression that you had written some (unused) work for Homeworld 2 and were, at the moment, working on Crysis 2.

    It seems I was mistaken, but I’m sure most people will appreciate being corrected on the matter — especially if they’re redditors.

    I think some found the opportunity to make fun of Crysis’ writing after learning of your association with the game’s creators.

  66. Hank Roberts
  67. Ian

    probably been enough time now, if you pop in to the book store a donation-against-fascism should be waiting there for you 😉

  68. Dystopia now: the new normal for convicted novelist Peter Watts | Toronto Explosive Bolts: speculative fiction | Toronto NewsFIX

    […] has blogged throughout his experience in sharp-witted, irony-keen prose. He’s earned a long tail of haters, supporters and over 1,000 online donors, who helped fund Watts’ defence through his […]

  69. Jared

    Now consider this Peter.

    Your country will not allow criminals from The US to enter Canada. However as you see most people convicted of crimes in the US are railroaded like yourself in the kangaroo courts. Unfortunately as long as people see law and order they think the system is working.

  70. The stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we live. « Twenty Palaces

    […] they don’t get treated like a hero. Sycophants to power pour out of the woodwork to declare them liars, scammers, whatever. Scarily, […]