I’m still waiting for someone — anyone — to present an argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t boil down to, “My religion doesn’t approve” or “I think it’s icky.” Using the former as an excuse for discrimination is about as unAmerican as you can get, and the latter is just asinine.
While politicians and bigots continue to argue that “those people” don’t need “special rights or protections” under the law, here’s some of what’s been going on recently…
In Texas, a judge enforced a clause in Carolyn Compton’s divorce papers which states that, “someone who has a ‘dating or intimate relationship’ with the person or is not related ‘by blood or marriage’ is not allowed after 9 p.m. when the children are present.” Since Carolyn’s partner of three years is a woman and Texas has laws against same-sex marriage, the judge has essentially made it illegal for them to live together.
In New York, Elliot Morales shot Marc Carson, a gay man, in the face at point blank range, killing him. Elliot had followed Carson and his companion, and was heard yelling anti-gay slurs and asking, “You want to die tonight?”
In Chatham, Canada, an openly gay 13-year-old boy was attacked by four older teenagers, who called him “faggot” and “queer,” told him he was going to hell, and beat him. One of the boys pulled a knife and threatened to kill him.
Rep. Mark Pocan became the first member of Congress to obtain a congressional ID card identifying his same-sex partner as his spouse. However, his husband is still legally excluded from receiving health, pension, and other benefits.
In Washington state, lawmakers have proposed a bill that would provide an exception to anti-discrimination law and allow businesses to refuse service based on sexual orientation.
David and Jason married in New York in 2012, but Jason is a UK citizen. As a result, Jason is unable to stay in the country. In order to see his husband, Jason has to get a Tourist Visa, which allows them to be together for 90 days. Jason is now being warned that he’s used too many Tourist Visas, and has been advised to stay out of the U.S. for at least six months.
In New York, two gay men were pursued by a group that shouted anti-gay slurs and then beat them. Both victims were hospitalized. One required eye surgery.
So go ahead. Explain to me why we’re still denying people equal rights and protection under the law. Explain to me why any of this is okay. Explain how you sleep at night, knowing that these things are the direct result of our refusal to recognize “those people” as equal. Or even to recognize them as people.
Come next week, my life should calm down considerably, but this week--more busyness! The thing pressing my time most--I have to read ALL of A Dance with Dragons by the time I get off the plane on Thursday. I'm moderating the Game of Thrones panel on Sunday afternoon, and with the great man himself attending ConQuest, I dare NOT be unprepared. I highly doubt he's the sort who's going to show up for a panel on his own work, but his fans are RABID! And I have to hold my own, start to finish. Thankfully, the moderator does the LEAST amount of talking--more of a referee to the melee. We'll see--being that it's the end of the day Sunday, it might not even be well attended.
My other panels are Wondrous Strange (fairy tales--again, moderating) and The Truth About Rejection Letters (and again--moderating! That's what I get for saying I'll do it if no one else wants to.) I'm pretty stoked about my schedule, actually. It conflicts only barely, I have one panel a day, all in the afternoon. Hadley Rille Books is launching Mark's new book (that I edited!) and we're doing a TolkienQuest event at a local bookstore on Thursday evening. If you're interested in seeing my (Mark and Karin's) schedule, go to Heroines of Fantasy this week--it's all there.
I am so excited to see so many of my HRB friends. There are others outside of HRB that I'll get to see as well. Gonna be fun!
If you were to log into StarCityGames about two years back, you’d have logged in with your username. And once you’d chosen your username, you could never ever change it. If you had, in a fit of pique, chosen “SirPoopyhead” as your user name, that was what you’d have to use forever.
The reason you couldn’t change it was because of a silly choice that had been made back in the year 2000, when we’d first purchased our shopping cart software. The people who had designed that shopping cart decided to use the login name as the unique way of determining who you were – and when we’d created our own customized shopping cart, we hadn’t changed that. So for all intents and purposes, that arbitrary string of characters – “SirPoopyhead” – was the single factor that made you you.
Problem is, that’s actually terrible design.
See, on the back end of an application, we have literally hundreds of places where we store the answer to the question, “What customer did this?” What customer placed this order? What customer tried to log in at 4:56:15 am? What customer ordered a Premium subscription? What customer has $14.15 in store credit? And the answer to each of those questions, each answer stored in a separate location, was “SirPoopyhead.”
The problem is that if we changed that string of characters to, say, “SirGalahad,” then we’d have to manually change that string in every one of the hundreds of tables that referenced it. If we forgot to update just one table (or something went wrong in the middle of all these updates), then somewhere lurking in our database there would be a bunch of records that referenced the now-no-longer existing “SirPoopyhead,” which means that we’d have lost data. This could be very troubling if we were asking the question, “What customer had paid us money?” when we needed to give you a refund.
And with every new feature we added, this problem got worse. We added gift certificates, so here’s yet another place we need to store “SirPoopyhead.” We added wishlists, each of which was duly recorded under “SirPoopyhead.” Hundreds, thousands, of locations each keyed to this arbitrary string of letters.
Worse, turns out logins are a terrible idea. Customers forget their logins all the time, having made them up to check out. If their login was associated with an old email address, they might not even be able to get access to their old login without manual intervention. We literally had, in some cases, customers who’d created twelve separate accounts because they kept forgetting what their login was supposed to be.
No, what we needed was a nice clean email login like Facebook. Everybody remembers their emails. But people change their email addresses a lot – and as noted, having to constantly change “SirPoopyhead@hotmail.com” to something else had a nonzero risk of something going wrong.
What you need, as it turns out, is a unique ID to reference each customer that never changes! You! SirPoopyhead! You’re now customer #123456, and every question we’ll ever ask about you now returns the answer, “Customer #123456.” Then you can change your email, you can change your login, you can change anything you want – all we’ll be doing is looking up the information for Customer #123456.
Come this point in our shopping cart’s development, we had literally thousands of places in the code that used the login name instead of the customer ID to answer questions. And it wasn’t as simple as a “search-and-replace”; some of these were complex queries that we’d completely have to rewrite from scratch. And then, because we’re responsible website owners, we’d want to test all of these changes thoroughly to make sure nothing got broken.
Yet if we wanted to do this, we’d have to do it soon. Because we were hiring more and more programmers, and adding new features daily, each of which referenced “SirPoopyhead.” The longer we put this change off, the more places we’d have to change the code.
That’s what’s called technological debt. Thanks to a bad decision made literally twelve years ago, we had a ton of code that caused us to have to jump through a lot of hoops for what seemed like it should be a simple thing. And every month that went by without changing this sprawling, underlying code was another month’s worth of updates that would also, eventually, have to be changed.
What followed next was a tedious and gruellng five-week project where I looked through each of the hundreds of thousands of lines of code that touched literally every page on StarCityGames.com, changing instances of “login name” to “customer ID.” You cannot understand how magnificently boring this was. There are fun things a programmer can do, usually learning new techniques or doing something flashy – this was basically me, being a smart search-and-replace, doing something a computer wasn’t quite equipped to do.
When it was done, we ran some conversion scripts, and then rolled it out. Zingo! To you, the customer, the only change was that there was now a notification saying, “Please log in using your email.” But to the back end, there was literally a whole new day.
That’s why it’s sometimes hard to change software. How difficult could it be to change your user name? Well, as it turns out, thanks to factors that are hard to explain to your average customer, it can be incredibly hard – an unpleasant task requiring weeks to fix, one that adds almost no new features whatsoever, one that can introduce bugs into stable sections of code that haven’t had problems in years…. yet one that ultimately needs to get done in order to make way for bigger changes later on.
I'm at Rio Hondo, the writing workshop/retreat in Taos Ski Valley, NM. Critiquing etc starts today, but I suppose yesterday was day one. That involved a lot of travel, a quick visit in Santa Fe with Lisa Costello, who just happened to be there, and a yummy dinner here at the retreat. This morning I woke up to snow.
Altitude isn't treating me badly, but I do have a mild headache. And my classic high altitude sleeping problems are making themselves known. Basically, while I don't have any problem staying oxygenated while conscious, asleep my breathing is reduced and I wake up every hour or so feeling very short of breath. I have to consciously take very deep breaths to restore myself. That process makes it hard to go back to sleep...
My METAtropolis: Green Space novella will be critiqued Thursday, and I believe I am making momos for Wednesday dinner. I've already taken a number of photos, but bandwidth here is quite constrained, so the uploading process is wonky at best. Still, I will leave you with this morning's view:
So, the Nebs. I'm still processing a lot, specifically in the context of my cancer journey. I can't shake the feeling that I'm going on my farewell tour these days. Which is essentially true, barring some extremely unexpected developments. Even if I hang on past the current prognosis, I'll either be wrapped in the misery of treatment or I'll be wrapped in the misery of my terminal decline. I don't expect to travel again much if ever after this summer. That means that while it's reasonably possible I'll still be alive at the time of next year's Nebula Awards Weekend, it's highly improbable I could attend.
Everyone who knows me knows this, too.
I received an amazing amount of well wishing. Almost all of it was delivered tactfully. I got to have worthwhile conversations with most of the people present whom I know personally. I got to see a lot of a few people, and a little of a lot of people. I had hella fun, as did my family and friends. But all of those memories are overlain by sadness.
At least I lived long enough to go as one of the nominees. This is something I'm quite proud of. And it was very gratifying to be able to give Aliette de Bodard her well-earned short story Nebula.
But beyond that rather pointless melancholy, I can't yet tell you what it means. I can only tell you I was present, at this time my life.
QotD?: What's the highest altitude you've ever been at (not counting flight)?
5/20/2013 Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (con time) Hours slept: 7.25 hours (fitful) Body movement: n/a Weight: n/a Number of FEMA troops on my block covering up evidence about Benghazi: 0 Currently reading: Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
I have reached a 'never-before' stage on my books. The Golden City has come back from copy editing.
What does that mean? Well, my editor's job was to look for things that needed to be changed at the macro level. You know....this plot point doesn't make sense, why did character X do that?, and character Y is changing names.
But the copy editor is looking at a micro level. (Now, please note that the editor above does some micro level stuff, too, and every short fiction editor I've worked with does that was well, but the novel process seems to be more complicated.) My copy editor is checking punctuation, capitalization, word choice, etc...
On Friday I got the following: A manuscript with all the changes done via Track Changes. A Style Sheet.
Now the Style Sheet appears to have the following elements: 1) What style manuals they prefer. 2) A list of my idiosyncratic word and punctuation choices. (For example, they noted that I use 'dryly' rather than 'drily' and that I'm fond of serial commas.) 3) A list of Names, Places and Other Stuff That's Important.
I'm supposed to, at this point, make any corrections to the Style Sheet that are needed, and go through all the corrections in the novel and note whether I want to reject/change them. If I don't, I just leave them alone.
It's interesting to do this because my copy-editor was reading this at a sentence level. That engenders certain mistakes. For example, in my altenate history, Portugal has split into two countries. They didn't catch that, so every time I mention the country 'Northern Portugal' (like Northern Ireland), they correct that to northern Portugal.
In Portugal, it's not unusual for family members not to use the same surname. Where I've done that, I see that they 'corrected' my error on the style sheet so that the family members all have the same name. Ouch!
And there are some interesting word choices. For example, where I have I only need a few, they changed it to I need only a few. While this is gramatically correct, it's not natural in dialog. (I've actually run across 3 of the moving onlys so far.)
But this is a copy editor's job. They're looking for tiny things that break the rules. They're working on consistency. They're not there to consider the big picture.
So it will be an interesting step for me, learning how my copy editor wants things done. I can already tell that there are some things I will change in my next manuscript, in hopes of saving that poor person some headaches...
I’m preparing today’s installment of EATING AUTHORS more than a week in advance because I’ll be on my way back from California when it posts, returning first from a bit of vacation, which will have been followed by the 2013 edition of the Nebula Awards conference. That’s going to serve as a segue into today’s guest, Howard Andrew Jones, who I first met earlier this year at a different convention.
It happened the way it often does, a bunch of authors hanging about as part of a “meet the pros” event, gathered in an otherwise empty ballroom, drinks in hand, doing that combination of mingling and telling lies that you find at such events. Depending on the venue, you’re more apt to spend your time chatting with other authors than fans, and that was the case this time out, which led me to meeting Howard, so it all worked out.
While’s he’s toiled behind the scenes as the managing editor over at Black Gate since 2004, in more recent years he’s been coming on strong as a novelist. 2011 saw the release of his debut novel, The Desert of Souls, which he followed up with sequel The Bones of the Old Ones last December. More is surely coming.
One of the reasons I love writing is because of the things it allows my subconscious to tell the rest of my brain. I’ve never yet written a story that didn’t include a couple of surprises, little turns of phrase which change the color of the universe in my eyes. I’ve always said that I hope my readers come away from my stories as a slightly different person than they were before. I know for a fact that I come away as a different person after writing them.
This week Dawn, and the Stars appeared on the Dark Expanse web site. This is one of those stories that I thought would be an open-and-shut case. The objective was to explore Chitter culture and physiology, set up a couple of story elements for later on, and end up with a short, sweet, intriguing-but-not-particularly-deep bit of space opera.
As usual, my own story surprised me.
(No, really. If you’re the type of person who likes to experience stories before discussing them, go read it now. It’s really short.)
Near the end of the story, a hive-bred alien is struggling with an assignment to join a starfaring expedition — something his genes were never intended to handle, and which fills him with dread. He doesn’t think he can do it. He feels genetically inadequate.
As he turns to go, one of the geneticists calls him back. “Jaktul,” she says. “Remember that a Chitter is more than his genetic pattern. Our genes determine the landscape of our existence, but not the path we take across it.”
That, right there, is the cogent description of the complex interaction between nature, nurture, and agency that I’ve been mulling over for years. And it just popped out. I had no idea the geneticist was going to say that until I’d already put the words on the page.
Like I said, this is why I love writing fiction. Because on the first draft, I get to experience the story right along with the reader.
And I learn something new every time.
cross-posted from nancyfulda.com
I just figured out what’s going to happen at the very end of Bloodshifted. I knew, to some degree, what would happen, but not how — and it just leapt out and bit me.
It’s huge and it’s scary, and I can’t believe I didn’t see until just now how the entire theme and tone of the book was building towards this one precise moment. I’m going to take the rest of the night off to think about the implications of it for future books, because lordy are there going to be some, but but but, it is going to be so cool.
The fact that I’m scared of it means it’s the right thing to do. Right? Right :D
If you absolutely have to talk about the herd of laser unicorns that so unexpectedly appear at the climax of the latest Star Trek movie, but do not dare do so in public because your friends will look at you sadly for spoiling the film for them, THIS IS THE PLACE to talk about the laser unicorns.
We’ve accumulated a ton of books through various conventions and have run out of shelf space. So here’s what a quick read of page 1 and page 119 helped cull.
For books with prologues, I use the first page of the first chapter as my page 1. If page 119 isn’t a full page, I use the closest full page.
You shouldn’t assume that a book is bad or good because of my answers. This was merely a “do I think I’d enjoy spending the time with this book?” test. I read almost exclusively in e-book these days anyway, so I’d probably get the samples of the e-books to see if I wanted to finish reading the book.
Yes to both
Gabaldon, Diana: Outlander, but print’s too small, so I’d read it in an e-book
Scholes, Ken: Lamentation
Lima, Maria: Matters of the Blood
Hanover, M.L.N: Unclean Spirits
Lindskold, Jane: The Buried Pyramid (good thing since my copy is signed)
Gross, Dave: Prince of Wolves. However, the title implies wolves, and I don’t like wolves, so I’m passing anyway.
Evans, Chris: A Darkness Forged in Fire
Marquardt, Michelle: Blue Silence
Cadnum, Michael: Can’t Catch Me
Higgins, Peter: Wolfhound Century
Knight, Francis: Fade to Black
Kadrey, Richard: Sandman Slim (Her voice is like honey and heroin.)
Devoti, Lori: Amazon Ink
Habel, Lia: Dearly, Departed (but: it’s a zombie novel, and I don’t like it enough to overcome my dislike of zombie novels)
Shea, Michael: The Extra
Lackey, Mercedes and Mallory, James: The Phoenix Endangered
Cooper, Brenda: Mayan December
McKinley, Robin: The Door in the Hedge
Williams, Sean: Cenotaxis
Kimberling, Nicole: Turnskin
Ogawa, Issui: The Lord of the Sands of Time
Yes to page 1 but not 119
Abraham, Daniel: A Betrayal in Winter
Goodman, Alison: Eon
Myklusch, Matt: The Accidental Hero (lots of leading, but why not larger type and less leading?)
Parker, K.J.: The Hammer
Bennett, Robert Jackson: Mr. Shivers
Greenwood, Ed: Falconfar
Tryon, Thomas: The Other
Hill, Laurel Ann: Heroes Arise
No to page 1
Cunningham, Elaine: Winter Witch. Paragraph 1 was a non-starter for me
Abraham, Daniel: An Autumn War
Teppo, Mark: Lightbreaker
Sutter, James L: Death’s Heretic
Adrian, Lara: Kiss of Midnight
Downum, Amanda: The Drowning City
Weis & Hickman: Secret of the Dragon
Farland, David: Chaosbound
Williams, Tad: Shadowmarch
Pierce, Meredith Ann: Birth of the Firebringer
Langan, Sarah: Audrey’s Door (partly the annoying typography)
Destefano, Merrie: Feast
China, Cinda Williams: The Gray Wolf Throne
Duncan, Hal: Escape from Hell! (annoying layout doesn’t help)
Saunders, Charles: Imaro
Anderson, James G. and Sebanc, Mark: The Stoneholding
Keck, David: In the Eye of Heaven
Hodgell, P.C.: The God Stalker Chronicles
I believe the issue will go live towards the end of the month, so watch this space for the official announcement, along with a post on the story behind the story.
And for those who don't know (because I didn't), JUE only publishes stories that feature bugs, and since this story does so, rather prominently (which is part of the story behind the story), I hoped it would be a fit. And so it was.
The editors, Bernie Mojzes and A.C. Wise, have been dreams to work with. Very prompt about sending edits and asking for approval for suggested changes, while insisting that any suggestions are only suggestions, and the author always has last say. I have an unfortunate tendency to overstate and reiterate in my stories, and so I've been very thankful for their wise advice on cutting certain sentences.
This is my 2nd sale of 2013, so yay.
Now, it's almost 8 pm and after the weekend I've had, my bedtime. We had both grandboys this weekend, from Friday until this afternoon, and while I would easily lay down my life for either one of them, last night especially was a trial. Younger grandson was diagnosed with strep throat on Wed., and last night he woke up crying every 15 minutes until almost 2 am, when I thought to try some ibuprofen. He then slept until 6:30, but by then I was so over-wound that it took me until almost 3 am to get to sleep. And this was after the previous night when he woke up at midnight and went right back to sleep, but I couldn't get back to sleep until about 2 am. So this grandma is WORE OUT! I survive quite well on 5 hrs sleep, but 3 1/2 is really pushing it for me. I'm surprised I'm not more brain dead than I am. Un, no jokes about how that is my normal state of mind, thank you very much. ;=D
The breeder told me that Cinder was a golden retriever. I think she was wrong. I'm pretty sure he's an Interdimensional Retriever.
First of all, I can't snap a photo of him that isn't blurred. That *could* be because he's in constant motion, but there's more evidence to consider.
He prefers to sleep one hour, then eat and play for two hours before falling asleep again. This cycle continues day or night, so he's obviously unfamiliar with the Earth's diurnal cycle.
He has an uncanny ability to hide toys. This is a small house, in which I've raised three other dogs -- you would think that I know every hiding spot there is. But he's been able to make rawhide chews the size of his head and antler-chews the length of his entire body disappear and I can't find them.
And last, he's growing at a rate that is not normal for carbon-based creatures. I estimate he put on three pounds today -- I assume he drew the extra mass from another dimension, in much the same way as Bruce Banner does when he becomes the Hulk. But instead of being fueled by rage and anger, Cinder gains mass when exposed to food and play. I take heart that there must be an upper limit on his ability to grow that is set by the amount of kibble in the world.
I'll continue delivering updates on this creature as events warrant. If I disappear don't look for me; it's likely I will have been taken to another universe, either to be devoured or forced forever to play in the chew mines.