I just posted this over on Tumblr, but wanted to share it here as well.
I’ve criticized The Big Bang Theory for things like its ongoing obsession with fat jokes, its casual sexism (OMG, girls don’t read comics/play D&D/etc), the handling of Sheldon’s autistic/OCD issues, and an ongoing sense of laughing at geeks instead of with us.
But I want to give a shoutout to something the show did recently in “The Itchy Brain Simulation.” Leonard discovered a DVD he had forgotten to return for Sheldon, and started worrying about how Sheldon would react. Because we all know Sheldon can’t let anything go, and would be completely annoying and freak out about the unreturned DVD, right? And then we the viewers can all laugh at the neurotic genius and ask why his friends put up with him.
Only it didn’t play out that way. Sheldon countered by asking why Leonard didn’t consider how annoying and difficult these things were for him. As far as I know, this is the first time Sheldon’s ever stood up for himself in this way. He took it a step further, saying he’d remain calm about the DVD … if Leonard wore an itchy sweater he had gotten as a gift until the DVD was returned.
Animated gifs ahead. (I did say this was being copied from Tumblr…)
Being here in Omaha, being in the world at all, keeps stirring my thoughts of mortality. My dreams these days are almost always about incompleteness, failure and error. Comically so sometimes, some nights a tragedy in six REM cycles. I feel like I am digging my own grave, slowly.
I am so very glad to be here, and so very sad to be here. Which in truth is how I feel about almost everything these days. Fortunately for me, it's my nature to enjoy myself most of the time. Even when the grim dusk of my own death casts shadows across all my words and deeds.
We all die. Most of us spend most of our lives assiduously ignoring that most basic fact of human existence. I keep trying to convince myself that my own enforced awareness of my ending is a gift.
Who Put the O in Portland? — More on the ‘round maps’. I was also struck by this comment: [T]here's scientific evidence for the fact that GPS technology is making us less, rather than more spatially aware. When we rely, as is now so commonplace, on satellite-guided driving instructions tailored to our specific trip, we're preventing our brain from doing what it should do naturally: making 'mental maps' of our surroundings. That’s been exactly my experience of using GPS.
Apartheid's Useful Idiots — For many years, a large swath of this country failed Nelson Mandela, failed its own alleged morality, and failed the majority of people living in South Africa. Ah, we are again reminded of the much vaunted moral consistency of American conservatives.
A reminder of what Republicans thought of Mandela — It's a constant theme of conservatism to falsely take credit for the progressive causes of yesteryear while attempting to destroy contemporary ones. You have to give the GOP a break here. When their own record is a nearly unbroken string of failures and policy disasters, they can claim no credit at all except false credit.
"History? We don't know. We'll all be dead." — The conservative project in general really, truly doesn't give a damn about human suffering. They live in an abstract universe in which their dedication to their rigid ideology simply trumps all moral concerns about real human beings in the here and now. They just don't give a damn.
?otD: Where was that one night?
12/7/2013 Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain) Hours slept: 8.5 hours (very fitful) Body movement: n/a (traveling) Weight: n/a (traveling) Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0 Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)
DANGEROUS WOMEN is here. The anthology was released on December 3 in hardcover and ebook, and should be available from your favorite local bookstore or online retailer. This is a monster, as those who have already snagged a copy can testify, a massive crossgenre assembly of all original stories about women warriors, femmes fatale, and kickass adventurers, containing not only "The Princess and the Queen," my own 30,000 word account of the Dance of the Dragons, but all sorts of other terrific stuff as well.
Here's a story about the book from today's PASATIEMPO, the magazine of the Santa Fe NEW MEXICAN.
The full table of contents: INTRODUCTION, by Gardner Dozois SOME DESPERADO, by Joe Abercrombie MY HEART IS EITHER BROKEN, by Megan Abbott NORA’S SONG, by Cecelia Holland THE HANDS THAT ARE NOT THERE, by Melinda Snodgrass BOMBSHELLS, by Jim Butcher RAISA STEPANOVA, by Carrie Vaughn WRESTLING JESUS, by Joe R. Lansdale NEIGHBORS, by Megan Lindholm I KNOW HOW TO PICK ‘EM, by Lawrence Block SHADOWS FOR SILENCE IN THE FORESTS OF HELL, by Brandon Sanderson A QUEEN IN EXILE, by Sharon Kay Penman THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR, by Lev Grossman SECOND ARABESQUE, VERY SLOWLY, by Nancy Kress CITY LAZARUS, by Diana Rowland VIRGINS, by Diana Gabaldon HELL HATH NO FURY, by Sherilynn Kenyon PRONOUNCING DOOM, by S.M. Stirling NAME THE BEAST, by Sam Sykes CARETAKERS, by Pat Cadigan LIES MY MOTHER TOLD ME, by Caroline Spector THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN, by George R.R. Martin
And for those in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, or the rest of the Land of Enchantment...
Tthis Monday, my co-editor Gardner Dozois and I will be at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe with seven of our writers. So come join me and Steve Stirling and Melinda Snodgrass and Diana Rowland and Gardner Dozois and Carrie Vaughn and Diana Gabaldon and Sam Sykes and Megan Lindholm/ Robin Hobb for an evening of DANGEROUS TALK ABOUT DANGEROUS WOMEN,
So come and hear us if you can, and get your books signed as well. We should have copies of many other titles by our attending writers on hand, along with a big stack of DANGEROUS WOMEN itself.
Basically, although it looks like a list, what they've done is go the tag route. That's the "science fiction and fantasy" tag, but if you click on ANHoD there, you'll find it's also tagged "love stories," "for history lovers," and "it's all geek to me." (You can also read Annalee Newitz' recommendation.) Anyway, this is pretty awesome -- like, "it has apparently had a measurable effect on sales" levels of awesome.
A Facebook meme... >>>>10 Books in no particular order that have stayed with you in some way. Books that still resonate, regardless of quality or author. Don't take more than few minutes and don't try to list the "right" or "great" works. No more than one book by any given author, and nothing too recent.<<<<<
I chose just SF works -- I could make a million lists -- and all of these I read repeatedly. The edict of no duplicates by author is tough. Clarke, Heinlein, Crichton, Verne -- all have bibliographies of Best Ten works. (grin) Still, I've done these before, so I'll play nice. Though I did move anthologies to a separate short list. (double-grin)
The ice belt passed south of OKC, which means that everyone from Dallas to North Arkansas got hit instead. Sorry folks, but I'm equally glad I didn't get hit this time.
The dogs love this weather. Al could play out in the snow all day. Penny prefers to spend her time inside by the fire. We ended up with somewhere between 4.5 and 6 inches of snow, which gave me a chance to wear the fancy new boots.
OK, they're not all that fancy; they're from Payless. But they keep my feet warm.
In honor of the snow, we set up our tree and used the 'white' ornaments. Yes, the tree is on top of the TV armoire. It's a 4 footer, and the star is too heavy and needs to be replaced.
Those ornaments all used to go on our big 8' tree (since we have the dogs, we got rid of that tree) so they're too large for this tree. We also haven't set up the second tree (the colorful one with homemade ornaments) since we got the dogs, and probably won't until the dogs are geriatric.
The blue ornaments are new this year. I was taking those to the Meet and Greet event I was supposed to attend in DFW Saturday, but since I've decided not to risk 8 hours of questionable roads, I went ahead and put them on the tree. We were supposed to bring some ornaments related to our books, so this was my best shot. Blue for the old blue-and-white flag of Portugal (it wasn't green and red until 1911 or so.) I suspect it looks more like Hanukah/Christmas hybrid tree...
Do the SFF Publishers market their work to non-white communities?
I mean, as a conrunner and especially as the diversity facilitator for Detcon1 I am currently investing time in the question of how we can get the word out in Detroit about our con. we are finding that the young people in the city know about and attend comic cons, but many of them don't even know science fiction conventions exist. What's the big difference? Well, obviously there aren't as many white fans walking around insisting you're not a fan if you haven't pubbed your ish and can't quote Heinlein extensively. But also? Comic cons ADVERTISE. They get billboards. TV Ads. Newspaper ads. Flyers and posters in comics shops. Stuff like that.
So we're looking at options to do some of those things. Making lists of local schools and stores where we could drop flyers.
The more I find out about independent bookstores and comics shops in Detroit, and the more I learn how many black people read SFF and listen to afro-futurist music, the more I wonder if SFF publishers are marketing to these people. Are they sending SFF authors into our cities where there are large non-white populations, to let them know there is stuff in this genre for them, and the genre welcomes them to the community?
I helped out at a couple big promotional events in Chicago, back when I was assisting Neil Gaiman. One was on the near north side, and one was in a southwestern white suburb. Neither were in the urban center nor anywhere near the large black population center of Chicago. I imagine the large chain bookstores may avoid those areas for the same reasons the white suburbanites do. But there are libraries and civic centers and other venues.
Beyond the white-washing of covers and whatnot, do publicity teams treat black and hispanic and other minority populations as potential readers? Or are they geographically ghettoized so they would have to travel outside their communities to meet most SFF authors?
(Noting that in many places, both small towns and large cities in the US, we are quite racially segregated.)
“The Veto” is one of those auto-debate topics in polyamory, like abortion or religion or Billy Mitchell, where merely mentioning it to the polyamorous causes a hive-like breakout of debate. Those who have veto power in their relationships feel that it’s the only sane method and view everyone without a veto as some sort of Darwinian poaching ground where slavering fuck-chickens knock you down and mount your partner, whereas those without a veto see the vetoers as Relationship Stalin, executing potential lovers with a single word.
Full disclosure: I am a Stalinist. My wife has a veto, as do I. I personally don’t recommend the veto system for every poly relationship, as like most parliamentary procedures the veto becomes a disaster without the proper frameworks to support it.
Yet I wanted to talk about what the veto is not: an end to conversation.
For me and Gini, the veto power is of such a devastating potency, like nuclear weapons, we’re loath to use it. The only reason we’ve given each other such power is that we know neither of us would ever use it without having tried every other recourse: talking, begging, negotiating, smoke signals, operant conditioning, feng shui, late-night infomercials touting the merits of dating someone else.
The veto is our bond of trust: “I know that you would never use this power unless you felt you had no other way of being heard – and so when you use it, I know it is because you are hurting so badly that we need to stop right now.”
As such, in all our years of marriage, we have never vetoed anyone.**
But if Gini or I did veto a partner, shutting down that relationship, that would not be the final word.
Too many people view the veto as a trump card – you slam it to the table, yell “VETO! NO BACKSIES!” and then your partner can only give a Swiper-like “Aw, man!” and dutifully slink away. There is no further discussion, just a sullen obedience.
Whereas if I ever vetoed one of Gini’s partners, Gini would indeed stop dating (or perhaps even talking) to that person. That would be Gini, showing me her understanding of how badly this relationship is hurting me.
But then I would have to explain all the reasons how her behavior with this guy is causing me so much pain that I felt I had to thumb the big red “NO” button.
And then we have a big discussion of a) what’s acceptable and not acceptable in our relationship, and b) how she could alter her behaviors to both make me feel loved and date this guy.
Because I want Gini dating other guys. (And girls.) I want Gini dating other guys and girls who I’m not necessarily involved with. I want Gini to not be dating other people, if she’s in the mood to. I want Gini to be happy.
If I’ve just shut down her relationship, obviously neither of us are happy.
And I think that’s why the veto gets a bad rap: too many partners use the veto as a way of walling off the things that make them uncomfortable. “I don’t like that guy,” they say, yanking the big “Veto” ripcord and then walking away without a word of explanation.
Except that for me, Gini obviously gets pleasure out of her partners. Maybe she’s so caught up in them, she’s neglecting me in ways that make me feel horrible. Maybe he’s abusive to her in ways I do not wish to tolerate. Maybe he’s better at something than I am, which makes me feel small and scared.
The veto power is not the shutdown, for us. It’s the start of an emergency talking session, and that discussion is entitled, “How can she continue to date this person, and still make me happy?” And my goal is to keep her dating that person, if at all possible.
Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes two people have toxic habits when combined, or one person really is disrespectful in a way that doesn’t fit with your relationship. The veto risks discovering that yes, it’s them or me, and now you have to choose. Which is another reason we try not to push that big red Veto button: it could be them. Maybe I’m acting like a jealous ass. Maybe this discussion is going to reveal that I’m the one at fault. It’s unlikely that Gini’s going to leave me, her husband of well over a decade… but I have just opened up that possibility.
In the end, we love each other, which is why we’ve never vetoed. We’ve managed to negotiate through all the difficulties our other partners have caused, and keep them going.
The reason we’ve managed that is because our primary goal is to make the other person happy. That veto works because of mutual assured respect. And I think a veto given to the wrong person, one who wishes to control or suppress, would be an unmitigated disaster.
In the meantime, we’ve got this Veto button sitting between us. Haven’t needed it yet. But if it gets pressed, we know to listen.
* – If you have not seen this movie, which is the best documentary I have ever seen, then you are missing out on the majesty that is Billy Mitchell, my friends.
** – Full disclosure: There has been one veto from my girlfriend, and that after months of misunderstandings and discussion about the party in question. Which should also put a lie to the idea that vetos are a way of enforcing not-really-poly binary relationships: my girlfriend also has veto power.
Yesterday was quite fine, but I overslept badly last night, in more than one sense of that phrase. I was asleep, or at least nominally unconscious, for nine hours. My sleep was very fitful, and plagued with odd dreams, mostly about unsuccessful attempts at travel insofar as I can recall.
Once again I woke up later than I hoped, and have wound up feeling rushed this morning. I have a tentative 10 am appointment at my hold workplace, and a firm 10:45 am leading to a group lunch. I'm planning to spend the afternoon with garyomaha, then he and I will join some more friends for dinner.
How can I feel so busy when logically I am taking things easy? One of life's sweet mysteries. Meanwhile, efforts proceed apace on securing clinical trials, and various other life issues such as car repair, fixing my broken recliner, and dealing with the problems I've been yammering about of late. As for the personal generosity that has been shown to me this week, thank you so very much. You know who you are...
Off to the cold soon. It is currently zero degrees F outside here.
United States, Israel opposed Mandela, supported Apartheid — The attempt to make Nelson Mandela respectable is an ongoing effort of Western government spokesmen and the Western media. He wasn’t respectable in the business circles of twentieth-century New York or Atlanta, or inside the Beltway of Washington, D.C. He wasn’t respectable for many of the allies of the United States in the Cold War, including Britain and Israel. And yet he prevailed anyway, and we were wrong.
10 Things Traditional Christians Got Terribly Wrong — Although progressive Christians have been at the forefront of social justice, conservative Christians are often on the wrong side of history. I’m pretty sure “often on the wrong side of history” is far too kind. Every one of these things was a cherished religious belief, a Biblical injunction which must be obeyed by all of society, not just the believers in question. Every one of these things was once the eternal and inviolate word of God. Every one of these things by happy coincidence sustained the prejudices of the Christians of the time. Every one of these things is now considered wrong. How do you suppose the current Christianist views on the prosperity gospel, evolution, climate change, homosexuality and abortion will hold up over time? (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)
Of Myths and Modesty — Feminist Mormon Housewives on whether or not to wear a bikini top. That intelligent adults of faith can be consumed by questions like this is one very good reason I am an atheist.
In addition, I’ve worked with other SFWAns to oppose the Google Books Settlement, write SFWA’s Orphan Works white papers, and worked on various other copyright and contract related matters. I was married to Ann Crispin, and, while there’s no way I could replace her, with Victoria’s kind encouragement, I’ve decided to officially join Writer Beware.
My interests are somewhat more policy-oriented than WB tends to be, but WB has a very broad agenda, and I don’t believe I’ll be changing it much, if at all. My perspective is that of a non-lawyer author who is surrounded by technological and legal changes that call into question many of the ideas about copyright and authors’ rights that seemed to be fixed and immutable just a decade or two ago.
This is a time of tremendous upheaval, but it is only the beginning of a transition to a place we can only dimly perceive. Some of the changes over the last years are very good for authors, but others are eroding the underlying principles of copyright, and, in my opinion, that does not bode well for the future. I remember attending the “Electronic Book ’99: The Next Chapter,” sponsored the National Institute of Standards and Technology in September 1999. (Interestingly, Harlan Ellison was the keynote speaker, and I don’t remember much of his speech except that it didn’t have much to do with the topic of the conference.) Back then, a majority of the players were most interested in selling their new DRM schemes to publishers, because publishers were extremely fearful of the prospect of books that anyone could copy and “share.” Many publishers still feel that way, but I don’t think anyone at that conference could have predicted what the Internet has become, how the ebook marketplace functions, and the enormous changes created by a single corporation, Amazon. I don’t believe we can accurately predict what these things will look like in another fourteen years. But I think that, as in any chaotic system, a push in the right direction at the right time can affect the outcome in profound ways.
Topics I want to cover in future blog posts include the recent verdict in the Google Books case, why orphan works legislation needs to be tailored to the needs of authors, what to do in case your (small or medium-sized) publisher violates your contract, and some stuff about writers’ organization such as SFWA.
I’d like to beef up Writer Beware’s sections that are directed at what is currently being called “hybrid authors” – authors who had some success in the world of traditional publishing, but whose books are now mostly out of print and who have not been able to figure out how to self-publish, or have self-published but gotten nowhere. Since I am an explorer in that realm myself, I hope to bring some specificity to the discussion.
And finally, I hope to act to some degree as one of WB’s faces, appearing at conventions and conferences to help spread the word about literary scammers of all stripes.
I do understand that there are scammers and trolls out there who actively oppose Writer Beware, and I suspect I’m due for my share of the libel and innuendo. While I in no way want to engage in useless public diatribes with these people, I do intend to do something about them.
So, Victoria and Rich, thanks for letting me come aboard, and I hope I can help fulfill the mission of Writer Beware. I look forward to hitting the ground running.
Among the many good things Mandela did, he advocated for the release of Timorese freedom-fighter Xanana Gusmão from prison:
Mandela not only called for the release of Xanana Gusmao, but also insisted on meeting with the latter – and got his way […] Soeharto at first refused Mandela’s request to meet Xanana with the question ‘Why do you want to meet him? He is only a common criminal.’ When Mandela responded by saying ‘that is exactly what they said about me for 25 years,’ Soeharto promptly and magnanimously responded by arranging for Xanana to be brought from prison to the State Guest House for an intimate dinner with Mandela.
--Jamsheed Marker, East Timor: A Memoir of the Negotiations for Independence, quoted in Aboeprijadi Santoso, “Mandela, Indonesia and the liberation of Timor Leste,” Jakarta Post, 22 July 2013