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April 06, 2015


A thoroughly depressing read.

On the other hand, it did lead to a number of interesting book recommendations (not of the Turgidson kind) on some of the links, so not all is gloom.

"even though he had done nothing in his life aside from entertain their idle afternoons."

If so, Pratchett has at least entertained many more idle afternoons than Wright. Not a small accomplishment. But in fact, he has also provided much food for thought and (with Ian Stewart) some entertaining introductions to science.

Not to mention Good Omens which I have re-read more than any other work of fantasy.

Super User: "I often enjoy things that aren't even trying for excellence, but that's not what awards are *for*. Part of what bemuses me about the Puppies is that having high standards, believing in excellence, thinking that there are objective standards of value that don't have anything to do with popularity — these are all things I associate with traditional conservatism. And yet the Puppies seem to be doubling down on a pugnacious rejection of high literary standards — and, in their work, even such bourgeois affectations as grammar."

'Traditional conservatism' has been dead for quite some time. What is left is nihilistic reactionaryism. IMHO, it's long past time for people to accept that, and to deal with the right as it is.

I'm bemused by the idea that the popularity of a work of fiction is unrelated to some sort of excellence, even if it's not the sort of excellence literary critics admire.

Face it, Dr S., you are just a bully from the other side. I would never of thought I would take Brett's side, but had a good point over at CT before he was mangled.

By the way, over at Crooked Timber, they were discussing this matter, and I got banned as a troll for not recognizing Vox Day, on the basis of a thread over here last year I took part in where he was brought up.

Thing is, I really didn't recognize the name. I'm thinking of seeing my doctor about this, maybe I'm getting early Alzheimer's or something.

Wow, I finally had a chance to look at the thread they referenced. Now I'm less worried that I didn't remember Vox Day, I only entered the converstation at the end, and said something positive about Randall Garrett's pastiches. Now, Randall Garrett, that's a name I'd recognize.

And I find that CT didn't just ban me, they went back and replaced some of my comments that made points they didn't like with random passages from one of the Gor books.

What assholes.

"...they went back and replaced some of my comments that made points they didn't like with random passages from one of the Gor books.

What assholes."

WHAT? That totally earns them "major asshole" status, Brett. Completely unacceptable.

Now, if they'd used Heinlein quotes...nah, still unacceptable, even if less vile.

Well, Doctor Science, part of the problem is that the Sad Puppies really do think that this stuff is good. I can't find it at the moment, but the nominal leader*, Brad Torgersen, unleashed a diatribe complaining that modern science fiction was using "false advertising" to get him to buy books with Girl Cooties in them. (I exaggerate only very slightly.)

* based on how the slate worked out, I think Vox Day is the tail waging this puppy.

As I understand it, Day has his own puppy, the rabid one.

I don't think that they disagree with the Secret Rulers of Fandom about what's a good read is a "problem", as such.

As for "girl Cooties, I have to say the most amazing writing accomplishment I know of, was McMaster/Bujold starting out writing space operas, and transitioning so subtly into romance novels that I was three novels into that genre before I'd realized what she'd done. That's some darned sneaky cooties!

And, I'd really rather have my comments be replaced with lines from Campbell's The Black Star Passes. Given my druthers.

I'm bemused by the idea that the popularity of a work of fiction is unrelated to some sort of excellence, even if it's not the sort of excellence literary critics admire.

Oh come on. Fifty Shades of Gray is *cataclysmically* popular, enough to change the publishing industry, but it's not excellent in any meaningful way -- nor does it strive for excellence.

This is beside the fact that the Puppy slates don't actually reflect what is truly popular but excluded from awards: dystopian YA and paranormal romance.

There's a good (though never-ending) discussion to be had about different types of "excellence" in fiction, but the Puppies aren't trying to have it.

'Traditional conservatism' has been dead for quite some time. What is left is nihilistic reactionaryism.

Actually, while the label "conservative" has been appropriated by those you refer to, real traditional conservatism is still alive and well. It gets labeled "liberal" by the reactionaries, of course -- not least because it is willing to consider that occasionally liberals have correctly identified a real problem (even if their solution may be lacking). But it's still here.

holy crap, those are some nasty folks.

i don't really read sci fic, i have no dog in any of these fights.

i'm just amazed that there are still people around who will make statements like that in public.


i liked this, though:

they can make things up without getting hammered by critics holding triple Ph.D.s in molecular engineering, astrophysics and Chaucer.

wasn't that guy a character in buckaroo banzai?

TV, movies, reality. what's the difference?

Dr. S, consider it just a case of Gresham's law coming to this part of SF writing.

One year of "success" may not do it. But if it continues, "Hugo Award-winning Author" may become valueless in advertising.

Wright, Torgersen and Beale's writings are not even that popular! They're far less popular than most of the works these guys detest. The implication that they're sticking up for the tastes of the masses against academic PC obscurantism that nobody really likes is just another falsehood, and I think it's important for critics to note that.

Out of curiosity, I went over to Amazon to see what SF/fantasy books are actually selling the biggest these days. The vast majority of them are either fantastic romances of some sort, or Crichtonesque thrillers (and they break out YA into a separate category, which is currently dominated by dystopian social SF of a sort that unquestionably would have been part of the core genre back in the Sixties or Seventies).

The biggest-selling book not in any of those categories is probably Andy Weir's The Martian, a hard-science-fiction Robinsonade that I've heard great things about; I think that it was not eligible this year because its date of first publication was actually in 2012.

...Note also: NK Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy has a major paranormal-romance thread running through it (putting it on the edge of the subgenre that sells the biggest), and Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice, which got these guys so upset by winning Best Novel last year, is in fact an exciting widescreen space opera with a revenge plot and starship battles, AIs and an alien super-gun in it. You can't fault these works for ignoring what people like, or even what people claim they like.

My tastes are probably not normal, but when I read "Lockstep" by Karl Schroeder, my reaction was "nominate for Hugo. NOW!"

Not sure why it's not in there, the timing?

I am probably going to vote for at least some of the slates (Jim Butcher is an author whose books I have enjoyed in the past, for instance) but I do think that I will be going to vote for No Award highly in Best Novella, as it just seems rude to me to put three works by the same author on a slate for the same award.

I've only read OF Lockstep, (At Centauri Dreams) but the premise seemed rather dubious. It seemed to me the comparative advantages of not going along with the system were far too high for it to be stable.

Alas, with cataract surgery and a family, my former habit of 2-3 new SF novels a week has been reduced to 2-3 new SF novels a year.

Wow, and now at CT they're congratulating each other on how inventive and original their forms of censorship are. I suppose I should be thankful that on the internet, they disenvowel you instead of disemboweling.

Seriously, I wish I was still capable of reading all the Hugo nominees, the way I used to. I feel like an old soldier sucking on his gums, and listening to the cannon fire in the distance. I'd like to be able to read enough of these works to have an opinion on their literary merits, not just the political aspects of the fight.

FWIW, Brett's text over at CT was replaced, in two places, by "The Eye of Argon". Rather different connotations than Gor.

I might have picked up on that, if I really remembered the gor books all that well, or had ever read The Eye of Argon. Looked like Gor to me.

What connotations does the Eye of Argon have?

I am flattered to see that you read my comments and found my reasoning convincing. Thank you for linking.

I have not yet read the nominated works, which I plan to at least try to do even for Puppy nominees. But my sense is that they nominated some (high quality) works by "liberal" or minority authors, to give their conservative works and authors some human shields to hide behind. If it does turn out that their non-conservative nominees are consistently better in quality than their conservative nominees, I for one will find that rather telling.

No Award as a protest vote over anything on a slate will, however, remain my personal choice for this year's Hugo Awards.

Brett, if you have never encountered The Eye of Argon, you have a real treat ahead of you! In the field of "so bad it's great," it is right up there. Lacks only a starting line of "It was a dark and stormy night...."

And no, almost nobody gets more than a half dozen pages in. A taste is nice, but not a feast.

"But my sense is that they nominated some (high quality) works by "liberal" or minority authors, to give their conservative works and authors some human shields to hide behind. "

See, this is how it works. Actual evidence of non-racism and diversity are irrelevant, they're just there for cover. I guess it started with the decision, years ago, that having a black friend wasn't proof you weren't a racist, but instead mentioning it was proof you were.

I'm in an inter-racial marriage with a bi-racial son, live in a mixed race neighborhood, and routinely get attacked as a racist, just because I'm not willing to toss aside ages old liberties in the name of fighting discrimination, and think the appropriate goal is that the law treat everybody the same, rather discriminate to produce quota driven outcomes.

Brett, In the Crooked Timber thread you were booted out of, there was this comment that pointed to the wikipedia page about it.

I actually found what has been built up around the Eye of Argon a bit painful, taking a slush pile submission from a 16 year kid and making it something that everyone laughs at (according to wikipedia, it is a convention party game where:

The challenge of death, at SF conventions, is to read The Eye of Argon aloud, straight-faced, without choking and falling over. The grandmaster challenge is to read it with a squeaky voice after inhaling helium. What fun we fans have." Strict rules also include not laughing and reading all mistakes exactly as written. Making it through three-quarters of a page is considered an extraordinary accomplishment.

I have to admit, I've got more than enough incidents in my life where laughing at someone's serious effort seemed oh so cool, and there are any number of things that I ridicule with people I know, but making something a convention party game seems to cross a faintly visible line.

Cat, you said

But my sense is that they nominated some (high quality) works by "liberal" or minority authors, to give their conservative works and authors some human shields to hide behind.

I was disturbed to see Guardians of the Galaxy listed on the SP slate, so I hope that is an explanation for that.

I guess it started with the decision, years ago, that having a black friend wasn't proof you weren't a racist, but instead mentioning it was proof you were.

It wasn't that having a black friend was proof that you were a racist. Not at all. It was claiming (and feeling the need to claim) to have a black friend which was observed to be characteristic of racists.

Think about the people in public life that you know, who you think are racists. How often do you notice them making that claim? Certainly not all do so. But I suspect you will find rather many of them do.

"It was claiming (and feeling the need to claim) to have a black friend which was observed to be characteristic of racists."

I would say that producing evidence of innocence is observed to be characteristic of people accused of something. Turning that around, assuming that being accused means guilt, and therefore this perfectly understandable activity among the accused is correlated with guilt, and so evidence of it, is perverse in the extreme. But typical of the drive to make such accusations unfalsifiable.

"but making something a convention party game seems to cross a faintly visible line."

During my convention years, (Made it to a NASFIC and Worldcon, but mostly it was local conventions like Windycon or Conclave.) I missed things like that, mostly hanging out with my fellow techies.

Helping Drexler out with distributing preorder copies of Engines of Creation at Cactuscon in 87? Sure. Mocking some kid's attempt at writing? No.

But my sense is that they nominated some (high quality) works by "liberal" or minority authors, to give their conservative works and authors some human shields to hide behind

Isn't it annoying when someone claims to mind-read the motivation of someone else, Brett?

taking a slush pile submission from a 16 year kid and making it something that everyone laughs at

Wow, that's pretty low.

If desire for a person from another race were proof, then Michael Fassbinder's character in 12 Years a Slave (Edwin Epps) wasn't racist because he kept chasing after Lupita Nyong'o character Patsey (both a historical persons)

Wow, that's pretty low.

No, I think it (the use of ridicule to enforce norms) is pretty standard. And pretty darn effective. I wish it weren't, but not sure what could step in to replace it.

Also, when it was first circulating (I first encountered it when Quinn Yarbro was passing it around in the Bay Area in the early 70s) nobody knew that it was a 16 year old's attempt at writing. All we knew was that it was something which had been published (albeit in a tiny fan publication). And that it was hysterically badly written.

No, I think it (the use of ridicule to enforce norms) is pretty standard.

Standard or not, I still think its pretty callous to mock people like that.

From the wiki page:

In an interview with Theis on 8 March 1984 on Hour 25, a talk show on KPFK, the presenters of which would periodically stage a reading of The Eye of Argon, Theis stated that he was hurt that his story was being mocked and said he would never write anything again.

I can only imagine how they'd have reacted to my early attempts at writing stories. Nothing but big expository lumps... Even knowing before I started what an expository lump was!

The only thing I could ever write worth a darn was haiku, though I did make some attempts at Norse style alliterative verse after reading the Elder Eda. But prose? Hopeless at it.

Yeah, that Wikipedia entry has Samuel Delaney thinking that it was a group of writing students and teachers consciously trying to write bad prose and even thinking that he contributed a paragraph. It's easy to obscure the origins of things like that, and I'm sure that any number of people weren't doing it to mock a 16 year old. But when you find that out, (or at least when I did), you kind of think 'ewww'.

The only thing I could ever write worth a darn was haiku

my first haiku, which i wrote when I was 9 (1979):

Toilet, dark and wet
Oh, I see you are dirty
I will clean you now

A favorite haiku by John Cooper Clarke

To convey one's mood
In seventeen syllables
Is very diffic

Years ago, in the early days of blogging, there was an obscure blog where the comments were almost entirely in haiku.

It make me think there might be something worthwhile on this internet-thing.

some topics such as
could be difficult

I appreciate this take:


Brett, have you seen what Vox Day said about N K Jemisin? I don't think it's about "having black friends"; he's into the mud a whole lot deeper than that.

I have, essentially, had no exposure to Vox Day, and now that I've had a trivial amount of it, I'm determined to keep it that way.

But I'm not going to condemn Larry on account of Day.

Brett, I'd stick with the early onset Alzheimer's excuse, that "I have not had linguistic relations with Vox Day" is just going to get you into trouble. And the 'essentially', well, for someone so concerned with word meaning, would it have been any better if he has said "I, essentianly, did not have sexual relations with that woman ..." I don't think so.

I try to stick to excuses which are true. I looked up early symptoms of Alzheimer's, it seems unlikely that's the issue. If I'd participated in that earlier thread beyond dropping a comment about Randall Garret late in the game, I might wonder about brain tumors. But that was the extent of my participation.

Really, I've read practically nothing Day has written, and in light of that tiny bit, aim to keep it that way.

The remark about "black friends" was a principled objection to the tendency to use expression of exonerating evidence as confirming guilt, something I've had to deal with myself.

...I got banned as a troll for not recognizing Vox Day...
That's not actually true. You expressed support for the puppies, Belle Waring demanded that you comment on Vox Day's sexism and racism, you ignored her, so she and her friends censored you.

I don't think you're a troll. But one doesn't have to know anything about Vox Day to repudiate his alleged opinions.

Technically, I didn't ignore her. Here's my comment shortly before I got banned:

"Shouldn’t I have to know something about this dude, before having an opinion about whether I agree with him? Or am I supposed to form my opinion based on his being hated by the ‘right’ (IOW, left.) people?

I’ll google him this evening.

The response to this was banning me.

"But one doesn't have to know anything about Vox Day to repudiate his alleged opinions."

But one does have to know something about Vox Day to know if his alleged opinions are his actual opinions. I've got too much experience over at CT to take what they tell me about somebody they obviously hate, without doing some checking.

CT has gotten awful lately, that was quite a schoolyard exercise. Denounce (insert evil one) immediately, or we will flush you!


(Though you were kind of working hard at poking their orthodoxies for the last few months, Brett. It is obvious you can be a bit gentler when you want to).

Yeah, when people insist that you can't bring up little matters like the Gulag or Pol Pot's piles of skulls when discussing communism, expect me to get out the sharp stick, and start poking. Treating communism with kid gloves, rather than as fascism with more staying power, pisses me off.

There were some interesting conversations there, but they have some orthodoxies there they won't allow to be challenged, and they're bloody STUPID orthodoxies.

The only thing I could ever write worth a darn was haiku, though I did make some attempts at Norse style alliterative verse after reading the Elder Eda. But prose? Hopeless at it.

About the same here

þađ er Cþul(h)u
þursa drottnari
Skrímsli stjörnur
Skelfing hann er manna
Dauður en dreymandi
Sinn dagur mun koma
Rikir brjálædi
En birta er ekki

And that is quite a mediocre example.
I write a lot of verses but I am not under the illusion of producing high art. As long as I stay on the ironic side, it's tolerable but once I try something serious...

I was a shy teenager with a crush. I was writing bad love haiku. :O

Not that I let the English instructor see those...

Oh yes, love poems

Without title

Her hair is darker than a moonless night
And intertwined with ribbons of pale blue
Her eyes like forest pools when sun shines through
The branches of the trees on May Day bright

A flickering green surrounded by pale white
Of almond shape that daily will anew
Rekindle in me love that's pure and true
And fill my wary soul with pure delight

Oh how can such a beauty that seems less
Of low and earthly birth but of divine
Put up with me and to me love confess?

But yes you said you'll share your life with mine
That higher powers will our union bless
You own my heart, I'll be forever thine

To my beloved Deep One girl

It's lovely how the air goes through your gills
That slurping sound each time you start to croak
Just like a toad that uncouth hands do choke
What wondrous sense of sickness it instills

Oh how your fishy smell my nostrils fills
Emitted from the slime, your skin's pale cloak
Does nausea like pyridine evoke
Like fest'ring boils and other putrid ills

Oh Deepie, do embrace me here and now
And let us join my dry and your webbed hand
It's time to take the third and final vow

Oh how I wish to see, alas, I can't
The Deep One cities, for they lie below
At least our child shall see the promised land

Both have the same degree of seriousness, i.e. none. Just an excercise in form.

Think my favorite poem in that genre is actually "She walks in Beauty"

SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,—
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

One of my favorites, Lord Byron.

Ehh, sorry Brett, I am with the pile of skulls on that one ;).

Poetry, now, that is something I have rarely grasped. Once in a great while. I get it. Serious mental block, or something.

I had an algorithm for generating haiku, that's why I could do a decent enough job at it to impress my English teacher. The mechanics of poetry are no problem to manage, it's the esthetics that baffle me, even though I appreciate them.

I'm in the odd position of thinking Brett is a a bigot who says utterly disgusting things and I could go into that and probably will again in numerous future threads here, and yet I didn't like how he was banned in the CT thread. And I really dislike the whole disemvowelling thing. Always have. It smacks of bullying or of someone with power over another person's words acting like a jerk. Just delete the post if you ban someone and he comes back to explain himself. Don't replace his words with work from a 16 year old (and yes, making fun of a 16 year old is also cruel) or by stripping out the vowels.

Still, Brett, I think you are wrong on the merits. Maybe there is a left-leaning mafia in the SF publishing industry. I don't follow things enough to say. But I could (as I said in the other thread) sympathize with people who might complain that their favorite SF novels don't win awards because of politics. It might be true. And besides, I like the novels of some people whose politics I despise and I wouldn't want any particular political view determining who wins awards.

But it seems clear that the people Dr Science has been writing about are pretty vile. Even if they had a legitimate complaint about the Hugo Awards (and I wouldn't know), their own views seem pretty nasty or that's my impression.

I'll second Yama and DJ's opinions of the CT banning. I've always mostly avoided that site, because while it has long offered thoughtful commentary on many subjects, the commentariat has long shown strong enough authoritarian leanings to give me no desire to read it, even if I am not fundamentally at odds with the editorial slant. It's a bit too echo-chambery for my taste, and this episode could hardly have underscored that better.

I generally like CT, but I don't like the rate at which they ban people, even people I'm generally not very sympathetic towards, like Brett.

"It's a bit too echo-chambery for my taste"

Perversely, that's one of the things that drew me; I like opening up echo chambers. Spotting those things a group doesn't even think about, because they agree on them, and challenging them about 'em.

At CT, they really don't like that. Don't like having it pointed out to them that what they consider just common sense is considered by most people to be proven lunacy. And react badly to being challenged on it. Authoritarian, and fond of communism. Go figure, who'd expect that combo? ;)

I first got into SF fandom in the 70's, attended a bunch of small conventions, several Worldcons and NASFICs, accumulated several thousand paperbacks. But I was mostly in the techie end of fandom, not the literary end. And in the late 90's I got married to a woman who turned out not to have been much of an SF fan after all, despite the Dragon Riders of Perth book that had been on her coffee table when I was dating her.

Dropped out of fandom rather than attend cons minus my wife, and a year later she divorced me, and attending them became impossible because I was eating roadkill poor. By the time my finances recovered enough to attend one of my favorite cons, (Windicon.) I found I couldn't reconnect.

Now, of course, I'm married again, my wife doesn't even pretend to be an SF fan, and what with cataract surgery and a 6 year old, I read maybe 5-6 novels a year, instead of a couple a week. So I really haven't been part of fandom for approaching a couple of decades.

But... I had been noticing trends, when I was, that wouldn't have to be extrapolated much to match what Larry Correia describes, so I tend to believe him.

I'm sure there are at least a couple people involved in Rabid Puppies, one of them in Sad Puppies, who could reasonably be described as "vile". It would shock me if none of the people who were being nominated outside these slates were vile. Writers being vile, not that terribly unusual.

Nombrilisme Vide--

I still read Modesitt's books, and I can tell you he's not actually a libertarian. It'd be more fair to say he's concerned with the problem that people will always look to get more out of a system than they put in, and that fairness requires that as many people as possible who benefit from a system need to have a stake in supporting it. The problem of abuse of power by the rich and powerful is something that has cropped up a lot in his books lately.

I read CT as much as OW and I was exceedingly disappointed with the Eye of Argon substitution. That's teenager-level reaction.

by chance, did you attend the 137th annual Latvian Loganberry Festival, way back when?

I have no doubt that there's a lot of "politics" in who gets Hugo awards, but I strongly suspect that it's more like "A is friends with B, C hates D, E is sleeping with F, and isn't it time that G had a turn?" Soap opera, in other words, not ideological politics. If the Secret Masters of Fandom care to come on and correct that, they're welcome.

And yes, artists can be horrible people and still create things of beauty. Perhaps that's the only reason that they are (somewhat) tolerated.

i like how the solution to a perceived bias is to, by cynical manipulation of the process, enforce an explicit bias.

I don't think they cared about your challenge on the communism thread, Brett. Some of the commenters got annoyed. Hell, I got bored. I didn't agree with you, but also didn't care that much on that issue, because it is semantics unless someone wants to bring back Leninism. There was one person there who did--he apparently has been banned in the past and was let back in.

Why you were banned sort of baffled me. You didn't react quickly enough to Belle's question or something like that.

No idea if the Hugos were politicized in the past. If there was a history of writers like LeGuin getting it and Niven not (and I like both of them in different ways), then that would show bias. Or if that sort of thing is happening now, but I wouldn't know, not being very caught up in who the current hot SF writers are. I learn what little I know here--I might read some of Dr. Science's recommendations.

Doggerel I can manage. Especially when it is intended for filk songs. But Anglo-Saxon alliterative? That was always a challenge. Right up there with sonnets.

That above is (modern) Icelandic btw.

Here is my icelandic version of Ernst Jandl's famous poem Ottos Mops

Agnars hrafn

Agnars hrafn gargar
Agnar: tala, hrafn, tala
Agnars hrafn þagnar aflvana
Agnar: tað

Agnar plantar gras (alt: salat)
Agnar plantar salat (alt: bananar)
Agnar dansar
Agnar: hrafn, hrafn
Agnar kvartar

Agnars hrafn galar
Agnar: ansa, hrafn, ansa
Agnars hrafn ansar
Agnars hrafn galdrar
Agnar: Aarrrrgh (aarrrgh, aarrrgh)

I still read Modesitt's books, and I can tell you he's not actually a libertarian.

I will admit it probably is unfair and simplistic to dismiss him as simply libertarian, though there definitely are some elements of that running through his works. I've read nothing of his in near to a decade; perhaps it's time for me to give him another chance.

The CT folks got sharp elbows for sure. But they do make sure that any women posting have their back covered, something I think we've not done as well as we should here.

People are going to get out of threads what they get out so I'm sure we all have different ideas of what lesson is to be learned from watching Brett being shown the door over there. For my part, I feel messing with what people wrote is a step too far and that's where I draw a line. However, if you are asked to do something directly or given an opportunity to walk something back and you ignore it, you do so at your peril. Forewarned is forearmed.

"But they do make sure that any women posting have their back covered, something I think we've not done as well as we should here."

That might have part in my banning; At the same time, in another thread, there was a complaint about a panel at an event that had 50 plus panels. All four of the panelists were men, and the name of the panel used "Man" in a generic sense.

I had the nerve to point out that, out of fifty or so panels of four, you'd expect several mono-gender panels to come up purely by chance, and that "Man" IS a generic word in English.

Pointing that out was considered somewhat insensitive, as well as wildly irrelevant.


But one does have to know something about Vox Day to know if his alleged opinions are his actual opinions.

Brett, what you needed to do, and it was pretty obvious from Belle Waring's post, was answer her questions:

do you genuinely think that a majority of SF fandom agrees that a) most of modern Western society’s problems can be traced to the fatal error of extending the franchise to women and b) people of African descent are significantly mentally inferior to Caucasian people? Do you yourself agree with Vox Day on these points?

A reasonable answer would have been along the lines of:
"I disagree with both (a) and (b). But I know very little about Vox Day's opinions, and can't say whether that means I disagree with him."

There's an argument against CT imposing this sort of test, but let's be honest about what the shibboleth was that you wouldn't pronounce.

Let's be clear about this: At that moment, I didn't have time to go back through the entire comment thread, confirm exactly what she was hectoring me about, and provide a detailed response. So I promised I'd deal with it that evening when I had some time.

And that wasn't good enough.

By the way, speaking of things going boom, Obama's agreement with Iran sure didn't last long. Seems Iran didn't agree with Obama about what had been agreed to.

As in, all the parts that would actually have been necessary for the agreement to be worth anything...

Right, because sanctions can't be re-imposed once they're lifted. Nope, nope, nope.

Juan Cole's analysis of Khamenei's speech--


I didn't have time to go back through the entire comment thread

You didn't need to go back through anything, you needed to say "I disagree with (a) and (b)". You haven't yet told us why you wouldn't say that.

Presumably because he wanted to make a comment on all of it at once. At least, that's what I, a reasonably reasonable person, would assume. That, and/or a desire not to go down the road of forced recitations of denouncements to prove you're not evil. Which also strikes me as reasonably reasonable.

LJ - I'm curious to know what you mean when you say, "But they do make sure that any women posting have their back covered, something I think we've not done as well as we should here."

I've been lurking for years (I believe I found the place in 2004-ish), and I guess it's never occurred to me to think the blog's comments section was particularly antagonistic towards women, especially since you have at least one regular female author now and others like Hilzoy in the past. Are you willing to elaborate? Or anyone else for that matter?

For the record, I appreciate that no one here's told me to take a hike yet but maybe that's just because I haven't started goading the wildlife with sticks. :)

You seem like a decent person, Areala.

And now, because I cannot help myself, I have to follow that up with: "I hate to die"

I'm not sure what lj might be referring to, either, but being a tool of the patriarchy, I wouldn't know it if I saw it.

Awwww, thank you Slarti. Are you sure you're not just saying that because you share a state with me? :)

Oh, you're in Indiana too?

Would it be too personal to ask approximately where? I live near Bloomington.

Slarti: Areala has revealed that she works in a BOOKSTORE in Bloomington.

It would be too much to hope that the bookstore is Howard's (assuming it still exists...)

It's not too personal, but after dealing with a stalker when I was in college I hope you don't take offense if I don't give specifics. (Not claiming you're a stalker, but if I can read the blog for years while remaining invisible, so can other people). It's not Bloomington, though I've visited there in the past. The way they deal with drunk drivers (assuming it hasn't changed since the 90's) always gave me a good laugh.

Ah, okay, must have misread your previous comments. No worries. I haven't been back to B'gulch for years and years. Bet everything got changed around.

Oh, there's that poor reading comprehension, again. I wondered where it had gotten off to.

I frequent Half Price Books, because that's where the cheap stuff is, and that's where my daughter gets her Manga fix. 'Cept they seem to be mostly sold out of the stuff just now. Caveat Emptor seems to have some things that I want, but they are asking a bit more than I think is warranted.

Like Mark Tedeschi's book on taekwondo forms. But the store was asking new-book prices for it, and it was clearly not new.

I posted that I live in a college town previously, your brain probably just auto-corrected it to Bloomington. Stuff like that happens to me all the time. :)

Ok, then. Stalkers are not a happy thing to deal with.

There are a lot of drunk driver arrests (one of my favorite parts of the newspaper is the crime section), so my guess is leniency is lessened, of late.

Back when my older brother was an IU student, the campus still permitted (or refused to crack down on) open parties. I was party-hopping on Little 500 weekend on my first visit (I attended Purdue, where the partying was maybe an order of magnitude more restrained) and ran across my other older brother's band playing a party at some fraternity whose identity wasn't worthy of remembering. There was a pyramid of empty beer cans, only those cans were kegs.

Things have changed some, but probably not all that much.

Yeah, there are several college towns in Indiana. One could even think of Greencastle as a college town, if one strained a little.

Not fishing, me. Just chatting.

I am, not that anyone asked, from Elkhart, and recently moved from Orlando to Spencer.

Hi Areala,
We've had two other female front pagers, Lindsay Bayerstein and Fiddler. I wasn't a front pager for when Lindsay was here so I don't know what backstage discussion there was, but she got a ton of shit from some folks. For Fiddler, I was a front pager and so I know that she left because she was very unhappy with the way conversations would go when she posted. The argument of 'hey, that's the culture here, you've got to adapt' requires that women have to give as good as they get, That seems wrong to me, though my approach is to suggest that the conversation slow down and rather than trying to get in three or four quick posts, I'd prefer that people take a bit more time, perhaps add a link and that allows more space for people to participate. Though that can work the other way where someone posts a one page screed strewn with questions and then says 'hey, you didn't answer question X, you obviously can't face up to the white-hot light of my truthiness'.

Dr. Science has been the only female front pager we've had since, but she has noted that her handle tends to deflect a lot of that knee-jerk reaction. I also think it is easier to help out in comments, because one can say 'gee, slow down a bit', rather than 'stop picking on her', and I suspect that when/if women become front pagers, it is easier to exploit that those front pagers versus us commenters vibe, which then forces a stronger hand, which then has people moping because they've gotten called out.

This isn't to be dismissive about the commentariat culture here, I like it and I think it is something that is worthwhile. But having only one female poster is a bit like waving around a single data point and claiming the problem is solved.

And of course, there is Hilzoy, who I didn't mean to suggest wasn't a female poster and perhaps ObWi gets a lot of credit for her. Certainly, her ability to tease out important points without getting drawn into blogfights was important for creating the atmosphere we have now, but for us to take credit for that seems a bit much.

Hilzoy is an extraordinary human being. Most others pale in comparison. This should not be construed to mean that I agree with her every word, but she definitely inspired me to rethink long-cherished positions.

Now that you mention it, though, there was someone who viciously attacked Lindsay, but he was banned in rather short order. There may have been more than one, though.

One more missed female front pager, Katherine. Again, before my time as a front pager, but her posts had a white hot focus on torture, rendition and Arar, (garnering more trackbacks than any other posts and often more trackbacks than comments)

The rest is a response to what Slart said, but it is in no way directed at Slart. it is probably more directed at me, as I have access to my thoughts, so you can decide if the shoe fits for yourself or not.

I think (and I realize that some may violently disagree with this) that everyone is a little racist. In a world where race is a category, it is hard to imagine that there is someone who is completely oblivious to race, which is why Colbert had that laugh line of how he didn't see race, not even his own. In a similar manner, I think that every man is a bit sexist (again, I realize that may provoke violent disagreement).

So, taking myself as an example, when I read Wright's quote, I thought something like 'that's a BS way of explaining why guys get beat up but women don't'. It wasn't until Areala's comment that I realized that I had making this binary assumption, that I believed Wright was explaining a fact, because, well I don't know, just because. Maybe I thought that there is a certain cultural toleration of lesbian relations, but we freak out about gay men, so no one is going to beat up lesbians?

Lindsay did have a particularly vile commentator, whose name, it was pointed out later, carried the connotation of rape, and I think we booted 2 or 3 others after the first had sensitized us to what was going on, but what I'm also thinking about is that there were several others who then took the opportunity to play rule-lawyer in his wake. I have no idea if they were consciously sexist, but it was notable that they seized that opportunity to discuss the validity of various comments and commenters which then had others debating the comment policy.

My feeling is that because there is a much easier structural possibility of harassing a woman, the fact that folks can take the opportunity to start discussing the rules can be viewed as a manifestation of sexism, not because those particular commenters are sexist, but because the structure permits them to question things, especially the contributions of a woman, at that point, which would never occur if it were a man.

To contrast, when another now banned commenter thought I was female and I said thanks, I do my best, he launched into cracks to try and start a fight. That time, we didn't have any kind of discussion about rules and it was relatively simple to ignore him and boot him. Those attacks didn't open any doors to people wanting to debate how to conduct our moderation or what should or should not be written. That attack gets brushed off in part cause I'm a guy and I get to cast the male privilege card. I don't think that a woman can brush off the similar crack, be it being fat, being ugly, being more sensitive as easily as I get to.

All that seems to suggest an asymmetry and I think (and again, folks may disagree) that this is what sexism is, an asymmetry in the way we treat people. Some might argue that they are speaking exactly the same way to women as they would to men so they are being the opposite of sexist. Yet time and time again, that sort of reasoning ends up making things male-centric, cf philosophy, STEM, or venture capital and orchestral brass positions

This suggests that the problems is not addressed simply getting more female front pagers and more female commenters, but by actually changing the underlying presumptions that we have. Or at least my underlying presumptions...

I wonder to what extent this drives our impression that gay men get physically assaulted more than lesbians. Assaults on gay men make the news. Assaults on lesbians seem to be subsumed into the overall category of rape, rather than getting reported separately.

Thanks for the further unpacking, lj.

It was, for what it's worth, part of my personal ignorance that our Beyerstein-stalker had a name that meant something fairly vile and, well, menacing. And got away with it for longer than he ought to have. Nine days.

I tend to err on the side of leniency, and I also tend to grant that women are perfectly capable of defending themselves, in general. Particularly in the theater of words, which this blog is by nature.

LJ - I think pornography, in a way, helps to feed the idea. Watching two girls together with no guy involved is a huge turn-on for a lot of straight men, whereas watching two men together with no women involved (generally speaking) is not. The psychology behind this is probably fascinating but way out of my league and I'm not about to armchair about straight men's minds since it's a field I have no personal experience with. :)

In any case, it doesn't seem much of a stretch to say that guy-on-guy porn doesn't do anything for straight men and might actively feed feelings already in place, while girl-on-girl porn is portrayed as a harmless fantasy that doesn't threaten anyone even though lesbians still suffer violence at the hands of those who balk at homosexuality.

But I am not a psychologist (IANAP?) so take that with however many grains of salt you prefer. :)

I just went back and read the entire set of threads that the guy lj was referring to posted on.

The main thing I was able to recall in that revisiting is that entire dustup occurred right around and after my wife's hysterectomy, so I can forgive myself some for my lack of attentiveness.

I've been sort of the site janitor for a lot more years than I want to tot up, you see. For good or ill.

I am not a psychologist, so I cannot say, whether it's true that there is a latent assumption among men that all women are actually bi, so lesbian sex is less abnormal than gay* sex and also harmless because it cannot produce offspring (while the woman can still be forced by a controlling male to produce even against her will). Throughout history the opinion on gay sex often made a distinction between the receiving (=subordinate) part and the giving (dominant). In many cultures the former was seen as dishonoring (man playing the role of a female) while the latter was OK (master on slave or victor on defeated foe). I have read the opinion that the Biblical anti-gay passages spring at least partially from the same source, i.e. that not the sex itself is the problem but the perversion of a (free) man acting like a woman.
The law traditionally only punishes male homosexuality. To even consider lesbians is a rather new development. I even remember reading about legal discussions to include lesbians in the law that ended with it not happening due to the 'naturally bi; her husband can still legally rape her' argument.

*male on male


I know it's meant to be a joke, but this is sort of what I was getting at with my above comment. I'm not personally offended by it because I know it's not meant to be taken seriously, but the fact someone turned it into a shirt means there's a good chance not everyone buying it is in on the gag. :)

the guy's handle was latin for oral rape. he seemed unable to stop commenting on lindsay's purty mouth.

i agree with lj, most people carry around some level of racism or sexism, if only in the form of blinders and unquestioned assumptions.

the issue with the guy that was harassing lindsay wasn't that he was sexist, it was that he was deliberately and consistently rude, to the point of being threatening.

so, he got booted.

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