TNH's Particles
* How to tell if you're reading a gothic novel.
* Pens and Proofreading.
* Robert Herrick his Prayer to Ben Jonson.
* My old subway station gets an amazing facelift.
* Redharpy's best-laid plans.
* Tucson Gem and Mineral World.
* Things I won't work with.
* Dave Zinn & Sluggo.
* Movie execs are really sh*tting the bed.
* The epic inefficiency of secret police.
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PNH's Sidelights
* Cory Doctorow: Skynet Ascendant
* Chris Squire (1948-2015)
* Possibly the best speech by an American president in our lifetimes.
* White terrorism is as old as America.
* "Ain't No Sunshine", covered by the utterly awesome Vienna Teng
* "We'll draw you a diagram, guys!"
* Wired covers Doug Faunt's new tall ship.
* Unicode and the English-language apostrophe: a moral emergency
* "Getting old is weird."
* Hermann Zapf, 1918-2015
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Abi's Parhelia
* Why The Elonis Decision is a Victory in the Fight Against Online Harassment
* Land Art That Deflects Noise From Amsterdam's Airport
* How to share your unpopular opinion without being an asshole
* A review of Kahlil Gibran's Collected Works
* 5 Mètres 80
* Nielsen Hayden Facts
* Searching for the wine from the last supper
* The curious case of the disappearing Polish S
* Snoppen och snippan (YouTube video, probably NSFW)
* Ship your enemies glitter
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Jim's Diffraction
* Angelus ad virginem 14th century Irish carol
* Christmas on the Theremin
* Kinect eye patch for Xbox One will protect what's left of your privacy
* Real-Time Wind Map
* IS-907: Active Shooter: What You Can Do
* Smithsonian museum artifacts can now be 3D printed at home
* PunditFact
* A Display You Can Reach Through And Touch
* The Craigslist killers: the full story
* Proposed Museum of Science Fiction
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Avram's Phosphenes
You Know Nothing, Charlie Brown
“It’s actually the Puppies who are the Marxists.”
Wes Anderson’s The Shining
Thor gets a cellphone
Definitely-Not-Filthy Sailing Terminology
Paul Ford on The Dress
The End of Libertarians (via)
I won’t fear Muslims
Higgledy piggledy / Benedict Cumberbatch…
Six hit country songs separated at birth
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Commonplaces
“We are prophets of a future not our own.” (Oscar Romero)

“Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” (Jo Walton)

“You really think that safety can be plucked from the arms of an evil deed?” (Darla, “Inside Out”)

“Forgiveness requires giving up on the possibility of a better past.” (unknown)

“The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.” (Arthur D. Hlavaty)

“You don't owe the internet your time. The internet does not know this, and will never learn.” (Quinn Norton)

“Great writing is the world's cheapest special effect.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” (Gertrude Stein)

“Very few people are stupid. It’s just that the world really is that difficult and you can’t continually be careful.” (Quinn Norton)

“Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.” (Michael Palin)

“Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“The fact that ‘there are only a handful of bad cops’ cuts no ice with me. If ‘only a handful of McDonald’s are spitting in your food,’ you’re not going to McDonald’s.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Young men and women, educated very carefully to be apolitical, to be technicians who thought they disliked politics, making them putty in the hands of their rulers, like always.” (Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars)

“The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday)

“When liberty is mentioned, we must observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests.” (Hegel)

“History is the trade secret of science fiction.” (Ken MacLeod)

“But isn’t all of human history simultaneously a disaster novel and a celebrity gossip column?” (Anonymous LJ commenter)

“I see now that keen interest can illuminate anything, and that anything, moreover, has something worth illuminating in it, and that without that interest gates carved by Benvenuto Cellini from two diamonds would merely look chilly.” (Lord Dunsany)

“I grieve for the spirit of Work, killed by her evil child, Workflow.” (Paul Ford)

“The opposite of ‘serious’ isn't ‘funny.’ The opposite of both ‘serious’ and ‘funny’ is ‘squalid.’” (R. A. Lafferty)

“Ki is, of course, mystical bullshit. That’s why it works so well, both as a teaching idiom and a tool of practice in martial arts. It’s as nonexistent as charm, leadership, or acting. Humans are all about bullshit.” (Andrew Plotkin)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” (Charles Kingsley)

“Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying.” (The Joker)

“Hope has two daughters, anger and courage. They are both lovely.” (attributed to St. Augustine)

“Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“This movie has way too much plot getting in the way of the story.” (Joe Bob Briggs)

“If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Always side with the truth. It’s much bigger than you are.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” (Tony Kushner)

“I don’t want politicians who are ‘above politics,’ any more then I want a plumber who’s ‘above toilets.’” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.” (Otto von Bismarck)

“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Anne Lamott)

“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical science-fiction cowboy detective novel.” (Alan Moore)

“See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” (John XXIII)

“You will never love art well, until you love what she mirrors better.” (John Ruskin)

“They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.” (Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” (Jay Gould)

“I’m a leftist. I don't argue with anyone unless they agree with me.” (Steven Brust)

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” (Mark Twain)

“Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.” (Stephen Jay Gould)

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Gustav Mahler)

“But this kind of deference, this attentive listening to every remark of his, required the words he uttered to be worthy of the attention they excited—a wearing state of affairs for a man accustomed to ordinary human conversation, with its perpetual interruption, contradiction, and plain disregard. Here everything he said was right; and presently his spirits began to sink under the burden.” (Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander)

“Hatred is a banquet until you recognize you are the main course.” (Herbert Benson)

“For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.” (Neal Stephenson)

“‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” (James Morrow)

“And after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

“The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.” (Lloyd George)

“The United States behaves like a salesman with a fantastic product who tries to force people to buy it at gunpoint.” (Emma of Late Night Thoughts)

“I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending—if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.” (Charles Stross)

“The real test of any claim about freedom, I’ve decided, is how far you’re willing to go in letting people be wrong about it.” (Bruce Baugh)

“As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has.” (Terry Eagleton)

“Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.” (Max Weber)

“No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair.” (John Scalzi)

“I don’t understand death, but I got hot dish down pretty good.” (Marissa Lingen)

“Skepticism is the worst form of gullibility.” (John “adamsj” Adams)

“We have a backstage view of ourselves and a third-row view of everybody else.” (Garrison Keillor)

“The Reign of Sin is more universal, the influence of unconscious error is less, than historians tell us.” (Lord Acton)

“All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them.” (H. L. Mencken)

“Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day, man.” (Janis Joplin)

“Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.” (W. B. Yeats)

“It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval [...] If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: ‘Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.’” (Dorothy L. Sayers)

“Grown ups are what’s left when skool is finished.” (Nigel Molesworth)

“If you don't like the ‘blame game,’ it’s usually because you’re to blame.” (Jon Stewart)

“Slang is for a war of signals.” (Unknown semiotician/palindromist)

“Science fiction is an argument with the world. When it becomes (solely) an argument within science fiction, it breathes recycled air.” (Ken MacLeod)

“All worthy work is open to interpretation the author didn’t intend. Art isn’t your pet—it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back.” (Joss Whedon)

“I really don’t know what you do about the ‘taxes is theft’ crowd, except possibly enter a gambling pool regarding just how long after their no-tax utopia comes true that their generally white, generally entitled, generally soft and pudgy asses are turned into thin strips of Objectivist Jerky by the sort of pitiless sociopath who is actually prepped and ready to live in the world that logically follows these people’s fondest desires.” (John Scalzi)

“So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is ‘at war’ with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth, and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.” (Connor Kilpatrick)

“True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.” (Abdal-Hakim Murad)

“There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.” (Joss Whedon)

“There's always romance at the top of a system.” (Will Shetterly)

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.” (John “Second US President” Adams)

“There is a document that records God’s endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion, known as the Bible.” (Terry Eagleton)

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop, And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” (Mario Savio)

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“To live is to war against the trolls.” (Henrik Ibsen)

“There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.” (G. K. Chesterton)

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

“It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” (Bill Hicks)

“I don’t think we have a language, will ever have a language, that can describe transcendence in any useful way and I am aware that that transcendence may be nothing more than the illusory aspiration of a decaying piece of meat on a random rock. The thing is to be humble enough to be content with that while acting to other people as generously as if better things were true, and making art as if it might survive and do good in the world. Because what else are we going to do with the few short years of our life?” (Roz Kaveney)

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)

“Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.” (Iain Banks)

“If it doesn’t connect with people around you who aren’t like you, it isn’t politics.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

July 01, 2015
On sale yesterday: Jo Walton’s The Philosopher Kings, Book Two of Thessaly
Posted by Patrick at 08:37 AM * 18 comments

the-philosopher-kings.jpg On sale yesterday in hardcover and ebook in North America, on August 6 in ebook in the UK and associated markets, and sometime later in the UK as a trade paperback.

Excerpt here.

Author’s remarks about it on her own website:

The Philosopher Kings is the sequel to The Just City. Read that first! […]

It is my twelfth published novel. I wrote it betwen 20th June and 28th November 2013, in 28 writing days, and then revised it in early 2014. It’s set twenty years after the end of The Just City.

The Philosopher Kings is about…love and excellence. And responsibility. And art. And it’s about Apollo and his daughter Arete and Ficino and some other people going on a boat trip that leads them to end up somewhere you’d never have expected. The Just City uses the myth of Apollo and Daphne. The Philosopher Kings uses the myth of Apollo and Marsyas.

First line is “Not many people know that Pico della Mirandola stole the head of the Winged Victory of Samothrace.”

Read The Just City first, did I say that already? It seems to work for people reading it without, but it’s full of spoilers for the first book.

Some reviews

“[T]he gathered characters, their philosophical and practical discussions, and their character-driven decisions, along with Walton’s plain, declarative, and crystal-clear style, and the straightforward and probing dialogue (in both the Socratic and the fiction-writing senses), familiarize the high concept and make it seem plausible. […] Another of the reading pleasures here, and in all of Walton’s writing, is the intimate scale. Much as I love the more-is-more rush of [Neal] Stephenson’s work, Walton’s economical method is just as effective. The characters are just as complex, and perhaps more distinctive because they are not lost in the overwhelming detail about their environment. The environment in the Atlantean novels is detailed enough for us to supply the rest, and if we don’t know exactly how the robots work or how the ships are constructed, we still get the idea. This economy, along with the harmony among characters, events, and ideas, keeps her novels of ideas from seeming wooden or boring. Walton knows what to leave out as well as what to include. “
Joan Gordon, Los Angeles Review of Books

“[T]he science it deals with is moral science: it’s a science fiction of philosophy, as much argument as adventure, and its nature is such as to invite the reader to participate. That’s half the fun. More than half, over and above Walton’s agreeable prose and solidly believable characters—even Apollo is believable, and I have high standards for fictional gods, though that might be hubris. What does it mean to strive for excellence, as a person, and as a person among other people? What does it mean to be a hero, or a philosopher? What’s just? […] The Philosopher Kings is a very entertaining novel. It’s even more entertaining as an argument.”
Liz Bourke, Tor.com

“Audacious … The end result is a satisfying conclusion, with room for more if desired.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“One of my favorite parts of this book is the characters running into the rest of the world and having it be something of a shock, after all these years, that there are people who are not in any way attempting to recreate Plato’s Republic. It has come to seem utterly, indisputably normal to them. And…I think we can all come up with aspects of our unique lives that feel totally normal until we compare them with the outside world and remember. It’s done really well, the shock of the new coming from an unexpected direction and yet feeling entirely in-character.”
Marissa Lingen, Novel Gazing Redux

“The ending is a knock-out, tongue-in-cheek deus ex machina twist explicitly stating that no matter how much The Philosopher Kings departed from The Just City, the third and final book, Necessity, will move exponentially farther away — both literally and figuratively. If there’s one thing Walton is brilliant at — and there are roughly 1 million of those — it’s not letting you know quite what kind of story you’re in, and leading you to relish the discovery.”
Amal El-Mohtar, NPR.org

The Philosopher Kings, sequel to The Just City, will be followed by Book Three of Thessaly, Necessity, slated for summer 2016. Follow Jo Walton’s blog for updates.

June 26, 2015
It is so ordered
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:54 PM * 114 comments

Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

In 27 days, Martin and I will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. He’s been married longer than he was alive and unmarried; I reach that balance of my days in December of next year. We formed one another as adults and as people within the context of marriage.

And the legal advantages of marriage have formed our lives as well. Being married to a British citizen meant that I could live in Europe and obtain my own UK passport. The entirety of society is set up to make it easy for us, from inheritance rights to taxation, from law courts to social conventions.

And all these things were a great big door slammed in the faces of our friends and family, if the paths of their lives and the ways of their hearts led them to try to form this tremendous bond with someone of the same gender as themselves.

I have watched these restrictions ebb away over time. I remember when the UK passed civil partnerships, and I wanted to dance in the streets. I delighted in moving to a country where gay marriage is unremarkable. I rejoiced with my home state when it got rid of Proposition 8. I grinned when I tried to explain the laws against same-sex marriage to my kids and was met with fascinated horror.

But now I’m just crying with happiness, borrowed from all of my loved ones who have wanted this for so long, fought for it, marched in the streets for it. I thought I was elated when Obamacare was not overthrown (another cause I care deeply about). I was wrong.

This is elated.

June 24, 2015
“You’re asking me to agree that my great-grandparent and great-great-grandparents were monsters.”
Posted by Patrick at 05:42 AM * 146 comments

From the New York Times, 24 June 2015:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It has been quite a few years since the lost cause has appeared quite as lost as it did Tuesday. As the afternoon drew on and their retreat turned into a rout, the lingering upholders of the Confederacy watched as license plates, statues and prominently placed Confederate battle flags slipped from their reach. […]

“You’re asking me to agree that my great-grandparent and great-great-grandparents were monsters,” said Greg Stewart, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the executive director of Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis.

From the Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger, 5 Nov 1908:

TAPS SOUNDED FOR ANOTHER VETERAN OF THE SOUTHERN CAUSE.

James S. Hayden Dies at His Home at West Louisville—Born in Nelson County.

James S. Hayden, one of the best known and most highly respected citizens of Daviess county, died suddenly of heart trouble Wednesday afternoon at his home in the West Louisville neighborhood. His death was entirely unexpected, as he was apparently in good health.

Mr. Hayden, for many years, was a resident of Daviess county and a valuable citizen. He was [born] in Nelson county, Ky., August 23, 1836, and was a son of Joseph Hayden, deceased, a native of Washington county. He came to this county in 1852. He enlisted in Company K, Fourth Kentucky Infantry, Confederate army. He was in many battles and never lost a day’s service while in the army. He was married to Miss Mary D. Hayden, on January 28, 1868, his first wife, and eight children were born to them. He is survived by his second wife and five children, four sons and one daughter. Mr. Hayden was a member of the Catholic church and was a Christian gentleman.

The funeral will take place at 2 o’clock this afternoon from St. Alphonsus chuch, and the interment will take place at the church cemetery.

I don’t think my great-great-grandfather was a monster. I think he was probably no more monstrous than most people, though the cause he fought for turned out to be a bad one. Who knows what our own descendants will judge us for? We should all hope that they remember, as we should, that history is a bitch.

From the New York Times, 24 June 2015:

In Austin, Tex., a tall bearded man went into the tattoo parlor where Kelly Barr works with a request: the removal a 10-year-old tattoo of the Confederate flag.

He told Mr. Barr that he had decided to get the flag removed when he saw the pained look on a middle-age black woman at his gym on Monday.

“‘If South Carolina can take theirs down,’” Mr. Barr recalled him saying, “‘I can take mine down.’” I told him, ‘Right on.’”

In 1862, Henry Isaac Newton, of Owensboro, Kentucky, father of two, joined in the Union Army of the Cumberland, 12th Kentucky Cavalry. He was captured in Sweetwater, Tennessee during Burnside’s abortive campaign to push south, and spent nearly a year in a Confederate prison. After his return, he and his wife had eight more children.

On 31 Jan 1899, the second-to-last of those, Sarah Frances “Fannie” Newton, married Clarence Eugene Hayden, the second son of Confederate veteran James S. Hayden. Fannie lived to 1970. I met her more than once.

We’re not monsters because we say or do the wrong thing. We’re monsters when, later, we refuse to learn.

June 19, 2015
E Pluribus Hugo: Community Q&A
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:45 PM * 229 comments

After over 3000 messages and nearly two and half months of discussions, we have put together a simple Hugo Award nomination system that meets our primary goal:


No group — whoever that group may be — should be able to absolutely prevent nominees from having the chance to be considered for the Hugo Award.


This works both ways. Not only should a slate not be able to force all other nominees off the final ballot, but just because a nominee appears on a slate, it should not be disqualified from appearing on the final ballot. No “shadowy cabal” should be able to prevent a nominee from being considered, either. All nominees deserve a fair chance. E Pluribus Hugo accomplishes this goal.

The system was developed by fans with a wide range of interests in science fiction and fantasy, including those who prefer the genres supported by the Sad Puppies 3 slate. We hope that it will truly meet the needs of all varieties of SFF fans.

The purpose of this proposal is explicitly not to change the rules so as to prevent the “new voices” of 2015 from being heard. There is no shadowy cabal here. All discussions, including our missteps and paths not taken, have been conducted in a completely open forum. You can find all of those discussions in the following threads:

On voting systems: a guest post from Bruce Schneier
Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: Another Guest Post By Bruce Schneier
Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: A Post Not By Bruce Schneier
E Pluribus Hugo: Out of Many, A Hugo

This thread is for questions and answers (and hopefully voices of support!) from the community about the system. We hope that the FAQ attached to the proposal will answer many of your questions, but we want to be available for any other questions that may arise. We sincerely hope that you will give this proposal a thoughtful and fair hearing. In this effort we are not Social Justice Warriors, we are not Puppies, and we don’t hate anyone. We are simply fans who want to save the Hugo from sinking into irrelevance as a result of the flaw in the nomination system that has been pointed out this year.

The official proposal can be found here once it has been posted by the Sasquan business meeting chair. We look forward to hearing from you.

E Pluribus Hugo: Post-Proposal Planning and To-Dos
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:41 PM * 50 comments

Now that the proposal has been submitted, we can turn our attention to the other matters that we need to complete. In particular, we need to look at the following items:

  • Prepare a “6th place” amendment for handling declined nominations, in the event it is needed
  • Discuss swag/ribbons/T-shirts for handing out at Sasquan
  • Strategize ideas for the actual proposal presentation at the business meeting itself
  • Plan a meet-up for those who will be attending Sasquan
  • Discuss places/parties at Sasquan where we can campaign for the proposal
There may be other issues that need to be discussed as well — this is the place for them!

I’ve listed these iems roughly in order of importance, but as long as we are using [TAGS], I think we can multi-task without too many problems.

Let’s get to it!

Kilo

June 16, 2015
Open thread 206
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:15 PM * 454 comments

It’s been almost a fortnight since my front brake cable snapped as I cycled behind Centraal Station in the busiest part of the morning. My back brake, which has a history, wasn’t really at its best either. This made for a briefly exciting time. (Because I’m pretty damn good with the bike, no one else was excited. But I found it plenty entertaining.)

Martin pointed out that Emily the Bike has done pretty well. I work about 10km from the office, and I cycle every non-icy day. If she’s done 100km a week for most of the last five years, that’s a pretty low cost per kilometer for a €150 bike, even with another €150-odd of repairs. But there’s no denying the amount of friction she adds to my journeys these days, nor the quantity of other squeaks and rattles she’s picked up over time.

And that’s a problem, because I’m planning a bit of an adventure in the late summer or early fall. I’ve decided to cycle around the IJsselmeer over four days, stopping in hotels as I go. And unlike the warriors of Clan Spandex, who rush by me on the roads like quarrels from crossbows, I shall be doing it on a normal Dutch stadsfiets, comfortably upright and ordinarily dressed.

But not, alas, on Emily.

So allow me to present Grace.

She’s a Dracat, assembled in Zaandam about five years ago on an aluminum frame. I bought her from my local bike shop for €250. She’s got front shocks and 8 gears rather than 3, but she shares Emily’s step-through frame and upright posture.

When I bought her, she had a weak back rack (25kg weight limit) and no front cargo provision at all. In what must comprise a nearly Levitical transgression, I bought steel components to amend these lacks, and she is now fully fitted out.

I tried her out a week and a bit ago on an all-day ride, and even after 8 hours and 114 km (70 miles) in the saddle, I love her with a painless love.

June 14, 2015
The gone, growing in number
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:09 PM * 40 comments

In the current Open Thread, Tom Whitmore announced:

I’m very sad to report that Bruce Durocher, sometime member of this parish, died this morning from (basically) colon cancer. His liver had not responded to recent therapy. Karen and I had visited him on Thursday: he was in good spirits then, and we had an animated discussion about films and other topics. The final turnaround was very sudden.

His wife, Margaret Organ-Kean, wrote on the Book of Face:

My husband, Bruce, died today at 7:00 am from metastatic colon cancer.

I appreciate every one’s sympathies and offers of support greatly. People will hear from me individually, but right now I have been up since 3:00 am yesterday and I am going to sleep.

My family is with me and I am being taken care of.

There will be a funeral in two or three weeks, when I’ve had the chance to make plans.

In the meantime, nothing could make me happier than if you are of an age to have an endoscopy and have not had one, please get your butt into your doctor’s office.

Bruce’s more recent (view all by) history is visible here; his older one is here (he had an email address change). It’s a long record of solid, smart, worthwhile interaction that improved the conversation around him. Even knowing him only through this medium, I’m feeling the loss.

Condolences to Margaret, to Tom and Karen, and to the entire community he gathered around himself in his life. If anyone has memories of him they’d like to share, I’d be interested to read them.

June 09, 2015
USA Sweet USA
Posted by Teresa at 05:18 PM * 297 comments

A while back, an Italian cooking blog, Il dolci di Caia, ran a contest for fellow Italian food bloggers: come up with recipes for dolce della tradizione americana — that is, “desserts in the American tradition.” Scroll down the page there for a list of links to the results.

It’s interesting to see them wrestle with the American food thing: cake pops, Naples biscuit S’mores, torta di fango del Mississippi, Whoopies Pie al lemon curd, and a momentarily puzzling panettone americano that turned out to be lemon chiffon cake.

Notable absences: pineapple upside-down cake, dump cake*, icebox cake, Key Lime pie, pecan pie, prune whip, Nilla Wafer pudding. Understandable absences: Grape-Nuts Pudding, Jello Poke Cake, Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie.

Biggest divergence from the results an American food blog would have gotten if it ran the same contest: only one of the entries is red-white-&-blue, and none of them are ironic. I have to assume that Italian cooks have less trouble than we would believing in an identifiable tradizione americana.

May 26, 2015
E Pluribus Hugo: Out of Many, A Hugo
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:11 PM * 826 comments

In this thread we will hammer out the formal language of the proposal, any FAQs we wish to include, and strategize for the presentation at the business meeting itself. At this point, we’ll consider the system itself locked in, so we are really only looking at the language.

Click here for proposed language

May 20, 2015
Reading for Rockets
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:18 PM * 541 comments

Sasquan tells me that the Hugo packet can be downloaded (pin lookup here.) So if you haven’t gone looking for it before, here’s what you need to make your judgments.

A couple of useful links:

Unsurprisingly, my own personal view is that everyone should vote according to their own personal views rather than, say, mine. I’m sure we all know not to take anyone’s views in this discussion as any kind of marching orders, but I thought I’d say it for the charity- or clarity-impaired.

Note that this thread will probably abound with spoilers. I’m not going to try to slice things up into different subthreads with layered spoiler policies. If you’re spoiler-averse, you might want to wait till you’ve read everything before jumping in.


* Obviously, there may be even more different approaches than Scalzi lists. Feel free to mention yours!

May 19, 2015
Mad Max: SPOILER Road
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:42 PM * 113 comments

This is the thread where the comments do their own stunts instead of relying on ROT-13. They’re badass and full of spoilers. You’ve been warned.

May 15, 2015
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Posted by Avram Grumer at 06:52 PM * 5 comments

If you like science fiction and comics, you should be aware that C Spike Trotman — creator of the webcomic Templar, Arizona, and editor/publisher of a number of successful comics anthologies, has just today announced the Kickstarter campaign for her latest: New World: A Sci-Fi/Fantasy Anthology, with 25 stories about culture clashes. As of this writing, the campaign’s been live for about five hours, and is already halfway funded.

Contributors include Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist of Finder, long-running science fiction comic whose absence from Best Graphic Story Hugo ballots is baffling to me), Blue Delliquanti (writer/artist of O Human Star), Evan Dahm (writer/artist of Rice Boy), and holy crap she got something from Matt Howarth! And a couple of dozen other creators; there’s a list on the Kickstarter page. You can get a feel for the sorts of things that will (and won’t) be in the anthology by reading Spike’s pitch document for prospective creators.

If you hurry, you might be able to get in on the “Science Fiction Double Feature” reward level, which gets you both a copy of New World and one of The Sleep of Reason, her horror anthology from last year. It’s already too late for the “Early-Bird Special” reward which gets you the book with free shipping; those 50 reward slots went within the first ten minutes.

Open thread 205
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:56 AM * 1016 comments

So we were watching “The Princess Bride” last night.

It falls down in a few places: when Westley threatens to hit Buttercup “because where I come from there are penalties when a woman lies”, the depiction of an albino character, the degree to which disfigurement is treated as worse than death. (That last could be merely because Humperdink is so vain, but I’d be more comfortable if that were better spelled out.)

But what struck me more than anything else was the Machine, the Life-Sucker.

Last weekend, we went to the windmill park near our house. My parents are visiting, and my father is a letterpress printer in his spare time*. As it happens, there is a linseed-processing windmill near us that was used to power a printing press just after World War 2, and the local letterpress enthusiasts had recreated the whole assemblage for the 70th anniversary of the liberation. Naturally, we had to visit.

Dutch windmills are impressive† pieces of heavy equipment. We live near what is sometimes described as the first industrialized area of the world, where the wind was harnessed to supply the massive power needed to saw wood, make paper, grind linseed oil, and process chocolate on a grand scale. Visiting the mills now, one is still overwhelmed by the force they produce, despite the variability of the power source and the relative inefficiency of the wooden mechanisms.

The Life-Sucker is a water mill, but there’s a lot of the same feel to it. And it makes me think that we’ve missed out on a potential genre, in our desire to play with the shiny brass of Victorian technoliogy. Where are the stories about the creaking, grinding power of wind and water mills, the impersonal forces of nature incompletely harnessed by early technologists working in the flameless dark? Why is there no love for them?

I think I want to read some millpunk.


* It’s ironic, but my bookbinding does not come from his printing. Apart from a certain passion for craftsmanship, that is.
† Thanks to Joris Meijer for supplying the link when I mused on this a little on Twitter.

Dysfunctional Families: Boundaries
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:59 AM * 245 comments

A lot of the conversations we’ve been having in recent Dysfunctional Families threads have been around a closely-linked set of very important concepts: boundaries, consent, and bodily autonomy.

(More behind the cut)

May 12, 2015
Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: A Post Not By Bruce Schneier
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:36 AM

After a couple thousand posts, here’s the current proposal, summarized in this comment by Keith “Kilo” Watt.

(See details)

May 11, 2015
Hugo IV: A New Hope
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:03 AM * 701 comments

Moving the Hugo conversation here, if it wants to continue, because the previous Hugo thread has drifted and I’m minded to let it continue that drift uninterrupted.

May 08, 2015
The Three-SPOILER Problem
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:02 AM * 124 comments

You put on your V-suit and log in.

You stand on a desolate plain. Before you rises a great pyramid, standing like a tall mountain in the first glimmers of dawn. At its base there is a small door, standing open, and the light from the space beyond spills onto the sandy ground. The light dims as a stranger comes to stand in the doorway, then brightens as he passes through.

He approaches you, and says…what?

At least here in the game you don’t have to ROT-13 your spoilers.


ETA Extra credit points to Steve Wright @81 with “I am the very model of a modern Trisolarian”!