Love in the Time of Collars 5/21

aka “Nobody puts Puppy in a corner.”

Today’s roundup features Rebecca Ann Smith, Nick Mamatas, Vox Day,  Kate Paulk, John C. Wright, Ridley Kemp, Martin Wisse, Damien G. Walter, Lis Carey, Brian Niemeier, Joe Sherry, Tom Kratman, Joe Sherry, Lisa J. Goldstein, Katya Czaja, and Kevin Standlee.  (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kary English and Hampus Eckerman.)

Rebecca Ann Smith

“Who Owns Popular Culture?” – May 21

Something very weird happened in the run up to this year’s prestigious Hugo awards, voted for by science fiction fans.  In the culmination of a long campaign against what they see as the takeover of the awards by liberals, progressives and feminists, a right-leaning group calling themselves the Sad Puppies, led by author Brad Torgersen, successfully lobbied for an approved slate of books to receive nominations.

Although the Sad Puppies actions are legal within the rules of the Hugos, they have also been controversial.  Some people feel it’s not playing fair, and others are concerned by their motives.

 

Nick Mamatas in a comment on File 770 – May 21

Way back when the ballot was announced, I said that fandom shouldn’t bother trying to change the rules. (Hugo rules change too frequently as it is.) http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1920331.html

There are three options as far I can tell:

The Hugos being a product a fandom, much of the discussion around “fixing” the issue boils down either angry blog posts about white people (ie, admissions of pathetic whining defeat) or statistical wonkery (ie foolishness). These are all wrongheaded—slating is essentially a political issue, and political issues need political responses. There are three possible ones:

  1. Suck It Up. Probably a pretty good idea. This bed was made some years ago when blogging culture sparked a shift from significant social sanction when people tried to get votes by asking publicly for consideration to “obligatory” posts promoting their own work, and later, the work of their friends. Loud Blogs win; Loud Blogs Plus Online Workshop-Clubhouses win more; and Loud Blogs plus political discipline win even more. Why should only the Loud Bloggers people have decided that they personally like and are “friends”* with win? Eventually, it’ll all even out, especially as what is most likely to happen is that the SPs get nominated and then lose decisively year after year.
  2. Castigate all campaigning, not just the campaigning you don’t like Pandora’s Box isn’t necessarily open forever. However, you can’t close half a lid. It would take significant effort to change widespread attitudes, but it is not as though those attitudes have not changed before. If campaigning was always met with eye-rolling or even outright disgust, it would stop being so effective. Some people would betray and try to promote, but if the audience was inured to such appeals, it just wouldn’t work and hopefuls would eventually stop.
  3. Counter-slates We’ll almost certainly see attempts at counter-slates. I’m against the idea, but the current cry to vote “No Award” in all SP-dominated categories is itself a counter-slate after a fashion. Someone will come up with Happy Kittens and stump for non-binary PoCs or stories with lots of scene breaks or or or…well, that’s the problem. One counter-slate would likely thwart the SPs, more than one would not. And we’re sure to see more than one. Disciplined slate voting works best when only one side does it and the other side isn’t even a side. Two slates split demographically. Three or more, uh… At any rate, it all comes around to political discipline again. If some party were to launch a counter-slate next year, would others who found that slate imperfect let it by without critique and another alternative slate. (There are actually two Puppy slates, but they are largely similar.) There can be slates that are so attractive that many more people sign up to vote for the Hugos, but I strongly suspect that people overestimate the amount of outside “pull” these slates have; general Hugo chatter across blogs and Twitter in general is driving increased education about supporting Worldcon memberships, and then there are all the free books voters might receive, which is also a new thing. One counter-slate would be effective, though of course the cure could be worse than the disease, and more than one would likely not.

So aggrieved Hugo Award followers, which shall it be?

Two is still the best bet.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Three options” – May 21

[Commenting on Nick Mamatas’ analysis above.]

This is at least dealing with observable reality, unlike those who fantasize that tinkering with the rules is going to slow down any group that contains at least one individual with a brain, or worse, those who think that MOAR DISQUALIFY is magically going to accomplish anything. So, let’s consider their options from our perspective.

1. Suck it up

This is what they should have done. It would have taken a fair amount of the wind out of our sails. However, most of the potential benefits are now lost since they’ve already motivated our side through their histrionics and media-planted stories.

2. Castigate all campaigning

Won’t happen. Far too many people on their side are guilty of it, and far too many people are already invested in the idea that what is very, very bad for us is just fine for the Tor set and everyone who bought memberships for their children and extended families.

3. Counter-slates

This is the only real option for them now. It’s also the one that is most frightening for them, because it puts an end to their gentleman’s agreement to stick to logrolling and whisper campaigns as long as no one gets too greedy, and forces them to come out and compete in the open. They hate open competition on principle and the idea that they might come out for a fair fight next year and lose will strike them as so terrifying as to be beyond imagining. Furthermore, because they really, really care about winning awards, it’s going to be much harder for them to put together a slate, much less find the numbers to support it in the disciplined manner required now that a bloc of 40 votes is no longer sufficient to put something on the shortlist.

 

Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club

“Of Puppies and Principles” – May 21

Anyway, this little piece of anecdata leads to some thoughts about what could be considered the Sad Puppy Manifesto (although it isn’t, since the Sad Puppy organizers were – and are – more interested in doing stuff and getting results from said doings than in writing manifestos….

5. More voters and more votes mean more representative results. In 2008, fewer than 500 nomination ballots were cast for the Hugo awards. There were categories where the nominated works had fewer than 20 votes. In that environment, it doesn’t take much for someone with an agenda and a loyal following to push out anything they don’t like. In 2015, more than 2000 nomination ballots were cast. That makes it harder for things like the Sad Puppies campaigns, or our not at all hypothetical person with an agenda to push out everything else – but it doesn’t make it impossible. More people voting means that absent corruption on the part of the officials (which doesn’t appear to be a factor based on the information that’s publicly available), the results will tend to reflect the desires of the broader public (because the voters are a sample – and by the very nature of statistics, larger samples tend to be more representative of the overall population than smaller samples – and yes, I know it’s not that bloody simple. I’m trying to keep this short and failing miserably).

….So, if you’re a member, read the stories, then decide which way you’re going to vote.

And while you’re at it, review the WorldCon 2017 Site Selection bids and pay your $40 to vote for the one you prefer: you’ll get automatic supporting membership for WorldCon 2017 before the price goes up.

 

John C. Wright

“The Customer is Always Right” – May 21

….On the 770 blog, that wretched hive of scum and villainy, I unwisely left a gentle remark where I noted that a hiccuping hapless lackwit quoted this passage of fulsome praise to support the contention of my alleged dislike of womankind, rather than taking it as evidence to the clear contrary.

Emma, a zealous Inquisitor of the Thought Police, helps explicate the enigma.

http://file770.com/?p=22617&cpage=11#comment-265630 ….

It is difficult for me to untie the Gordian knot of this intestinal bafflegab (madonna/whore ideology?) since I do not have my Morlock-to-Reality dictionary at hand.

 

John C. Wright

“The Uncorrectors are Never Right” – May 21

I was taught, and experience confirms, that the alleged correction of “the hoi polloi” is the very soul and exemplar of pedantic error and half-learned buffoonery.

No learned man ever offers that correction, and no one ever offers it innocently, but only in vulgar pretense of erudition they do not possess. (A man with a modicum of real education would look in the OED, and see this phase is correct in English.)

 

Ridley Kemp on Stay With Me, Go Places

“History Will Forget The Sad Puppies” – May 21

If you want my take on the Hugos, I’ll give you this:

In ye olden dayes, the players selected for baseball’s all-star game were elected by public ballots. In 1957, the ballots were being printed in newspapers instead of passed out to the fans at games (as I remember from the 1970’s) or online (as it’s done now). The Cincinnati Enquirer decided to help the fans out a little by printing pre-filled ballots with nothing be Cincinnati ballplayers selected. As a result, the starting lineup for the 1957 National League team consisted of Stan Musial, a St. Louis Cardinal, and 7 cincinnati Reds.

People rightly saw this as a subversion of the process. Ford Frick, the commissioner of baseball, immediately replaced two Reds outfielders, Wally Post and Gus Bell, with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays because, c’mon, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. The remaining Reds were allowed to start the game and then almost immediatley replaced once the game started, and the game looked like an All-Star game once more.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Puppies wee on your shoulders and tell you it’s rain” – May 21

Nobody with any familiarity of Worldcon fandom’s history and culture believes that it’s dishonest to vote No Award over any nomination that got there through blatant slate voting, or that fans have a duty to be “fair” to nominations which stole their place on the ballot.

 

Marion on Deeds & Words

“The Hugos, 2015: Chapter Four, What Were They Thinking?” – May 21

To my mind, nowhere is the problem of the bloc-voting and the slate concept better demonstrated than in the Novella Category. Here is the short-list….

If you love short SF, you read a lot of SF magazines, or you enjoy anthologies, that list may be baffling you. You might wonder why, since the Hugos are for the best work of the year, you have probably only read, or even heard of, one of those works. You might wonder why one press, which you’ve never heard of before, has four of the five works on the list.

Having read these works, here’s what I can say with confidence; if the splinter group (who call themselves Rapid Puppies) wanted to demonstrate with this list the kind of fine, solid story-telling that they think is getting overlooked due to the distraction of more “politically correct” fare, they’ve failed abjectly.

The best of the lot is “Flow” by Arlen Andrews Sr. This is the type of the story that the original slate group, the “Sad Puppies” frequently talk about and say they like.

 

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Amanda S. Green Fanwriter Samples” – May 21

The sample provided is sixteen pages, several different selections of Green’s fanwriting.…

There is no interest or willingness to engage with anyone with whom she disagrees, or even to extend the most basic of respect to fellow human beings. If she disagrees with you, she must also make clear that she disrespects you. A complete waste. This has no place on the Hugo ballot.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“A Single Samurai (in The Baen Big Book of Monsters), by Steven Diamond” – May 21

Let it be noted that Baen, always a leader in trusting the reader with ebooks, included the entire Baen Big Book of Monsters in the Hugo packet, not just the nominated material. Which makes it a shame that I can’t like this story better. It’s not terrible, but at no point does it really grab me.

 

Brian Niemeier on Superversive SF

“Transhuman and Subhuman Part V: John C. Wright’s Patented One Session Lesson in the Mechanics of Fiction” – May 20

Because so much of storytelling relies on nudging readers’ imaginations to paint the images the writer intends, using stereotypes is inevitable and indispensable.

“What the reader wants not to do is to be asked by the writer to use the stereotype in his head in a tired, trite, shopworn, or expected way, because then the reader notices, and is rightly put off, by the trick being pulled on him.”

Wright thus counsels authors to employ two contradictory stereotypes to describe each character. Bilbo Baggins is a retiring country squire and a supremely accomplished burglar. Kal-El is both mild-mannered reporter and Superman. The tension between these contradictions creates depth.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Fancast” – May 21

Tea and Jeopardy appears to be in a class by itself. It is very slickly produced and seems to take place in the midst of a proper tea party. Again, this was one of the shorter episodes included and the limited run time accentuates what is cool and quirky about it while never letting what works run for too long.  It is the most worthy of the nominees, I think. My vote:

1. Tea and Jeopardy

2. Galactic Suburbia

3. Adventures in SF Publishing

4. The Sci Phi Show

5. Dungeon Crawlers Radio

 

Lis Carey on Amazon

[Lis Carey gave Thomas Kratman’s “Big Boys Don’t Cry” a 2-star Amazon review and ended up in an exchange with Kratman who expressed his displeasure and included a fling at the Hugos.]

[Tom Kratman:] I want the Hugos utterly destroyed, No Awarded in perpetuity. I want “Aces and Eights.” I want the village destroyed and don’t care in the slightest about saving it. The best way to accomplish that is for the SJW types to succeed in getting general No Award votes this time around. So make it a one star and vote “no award.”

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 13: Novellas” – May 21

In “Flow,” by Arlan Andrews, Sr., we follow a crew riding an iceberg down a river to the Warm Lands.  The first half of the story is little more than a travelog, as the main character, Rist from the Tharn’s Lands, learns about the Warm Lands from his compatriot, Cruthar. It’s not terrible.  The two societies are different in interesting ways, and Rist makes a good naive traveler.  But it is, once again, not a story but an excerpt; we’ve already missed the beginning and there is no real ending.

 

Katya Czaja

“Hugo Awards: Fanzine” – May 21

Ranking To be honest, nothing really grabbed me in this category. I’m not a Whovian so Journey Planet bored me. Tangent seemed well written, but I would not seek out another copy. Elitist Book Reviews fell below No Award because I can think of a half dozen book blogs that have stronger, more interesting reviews. The Revenge of Hump Day fell below No Award because it was a compilation of stuff other people had sent the editor, and not a particularly interesting compilation at that.

1) Journey Planet

2) Tangent Online

3) No Award

4) Elitist Book Reviews

5) The Revenge of Hump Day

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

“Didn’t Just Fall Off the Turnip Truck” – May 20

From some of the suggestions and questions I’m getting, I think there are people who must think this is the first WSFS Business Meeting over which I’ve presided (even when those people have attended and participated in meetings over which I presided). I also think there are people who think that those of us organizing the Business Meeting haven’t heard anything at all about this Puppygate stuff, and feel the need to explain to me all about it. I suppose they’re all well-meaning, but it does get wearing after a while. Presumably this is what it feels like to be Mansplained to.

532 thoughts on “Love in the Time of Collars 5/21

  1. Brian Z: If you do, that’ll be the first time I’ve ever seen a play written in iambic odometer.

  2. Folks, add to the category of wisdom that advises against playing pool with a man named “Doc”: be very careful trying to beat Kurt, Mark, or Tom (B or G) on Marvel trivia. (For DC trivia, it’s Mark, Kurt, or Bob.)

    XS: It depends. Can I distract the puppy with something shiny?

  3. @XS: Unless this is one of those lateral thinking exercises (first you cross the river with the rocket, then take the puppy over and bring the rocket back . . .), you would probably insult the puppy.

  4. Glenn, would that be Evanier or Wade, or some other Mark?

    XS: Meeeeaaaaannnnnn.

  5. “Does Ha[a]gen-Daz come in Glenlivet flavour?”

    No, but I specialize in homemade ice cream with alcohol, so challenge accepted. Looks like the first google hit is a chocolate whiskey ice cream… interesting.

  6. Waid.

    My trivia skills have atrophied badly since I stopped keeping up with most of the in-universe happenings at both companies, but Waid and Brevoort are as sharp as ever.

  7. @BrianZ “If you folks don’t cut it out I’m going to post the entire minutes of the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting in the style of Act I of Iolanthe.”

    You… You… Monster!

    I don’t know if you play computer games at all, but have you seen Mass Effect 2? There is a semi-hidden bit deep in one of the dialog trees where you can get one of your minions to start singing G&S. He’s from a race that lives faster than humans, so of course, it is one of the patter songs.

  8. Waid, by far. Evanier’s great, but he’s not quite as likely to know that Paste-Pot Pete’s last name is Petruski right off the top of his head. (Shoot me.) However, Mark E. has wider history of the industry knowledge than Mark W.

  9. @ Nick Mamatas

    I’d drop it now regarding gerrymandering but you did ask me a question lo those many pages ago. I can’t see why you can’t simply use “changing the rules” and variants on same in place of “gerrymandering” and use additional words when necessary to indicate if you think the desire to change the rules is tainted, directly or indirectly, by self-interest. However much you may think that when you use words they mean precisely what you intend them to mean, no more, no less, we aren’t mind readers and therefore can’t easily tell, for example, that you had such a narrow meaning in mind for the word “outcome”. It seems perfectly reasonable English usage to me to describe a YA Hugo being awarded each year as an outcome of a rule change or to think that all proposed rule changes, by definition, must be intended to achieve a different outcome than would occur if the rules were left unchanged.

  10. “I don’t know if you play computer games at all, but have you seen Mass Effect 2? There is a semi-hidden bit deep in one of the dialog trees where you can get one of your minions to start singing G&S. He’s from a race that lives faster than humans, so of course, it is one of the patter songs.”

    Because there always needs to be a link:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFz_NbEIZrg

    Ahhh, Mordin ;;wipes a way a tear;;

  11. If Beale can’t identify with a particular tribe why doesn’t he just pick one? I would suggest that tribe in Washington headed by Dan Snyder. I’m sure those two would get on just fine.

  12. “‘…the 770 blog, that wretched hive of scum and villainy….’ — John C. Wright”

    Yes, attempting to cover an issue as objectively as one can, letting anyone have their say as long as they stay within the borders of common good manners in their writing, *is* scummy and villainous…

    …unlike full and deliberate bias, hypocrisy, name-calling, rabid (there’s that word again!), mad screaming about imaginary boojums, whining, rules-lawyering, projecting, conflating and equating normal adult sexuality with perversions and the physically impossible, and holding the weblog owner liable for the comments of others which you dislike is clear and heroic “…for Brutus is an Honorable man!”

  13. “In any case, I have never heard of a group of women descended on a lesbian couple and beating them to death with axhandles and tire-irons, but that is the instinctive reaction of men towards fags.”

    — quotation attributed to John C. Wright

    No, that is not. That is the instinctive reaction of brutes and felons.

    I would not ever wish Mr. Wright to represent me in any legal matter, civil or criminal, because if this is a correct attribution, he does not have the basic understanding of how people are expected to behave in a civilized society under the rule of law.

    I hope it is not a correct attribution.

  14. Andrew P at 5:03:
    “OK, honest question here: If the SP crowd can take advantage of the low participation rate of voters to dominate a nomination process, what makes you think they won’t be able to do the same to a proposed rule change?”

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand your question. Do you ask why I’m not afraid that the puppies will dominate the business meeting like they dominated the nomination? Well, put simply, the business meeting works by different rules than the Hugo nomination. Different set of voters (supporting members can’t vote) and a different way to determine the outcome of a vote. A minority can’t dominate the same way.

    Or do you mean to ask why I think the new voting system devised at Making Light makes slates less effective? If so, I suggest you go to ML and read the proposal. The description there is better than anything I can come up with. (And if you’re already familiar with the proposal and think slates can dominate the nomination just as easily with new rules as with current rules, please explain how that works.)

    And if your question was about something completely different, I apologize.

    “You’re right. In this day and age of Facebook, blogger, Livejournal, Twitter, blogs, Snapchat, Youtube, and other social media platforms, it is going to be next to impossible to raise any awareness, and as a result, increase participation, in the process.”

    It’s easy to “raise awareness”. But that’s not the same as significantly raising voter participation. (A little, yes. But not to the 5 digit numbers you’re talking about.) This is particularly true since we don’t want to “raise awareness” by plugging competing slates.

    First, nominating requires a Worldcon membership. Being “aware” of the Hugo process is not the same as being willing to shell out 40$. Second, nominating honestly requires that one has read works that are eligible. It also requires that one remembers this when the nomination deadline approaches. Personally, I haven’t read a single novel so far that was published in 2015, and that I consider Hugo-worthy. I may have read short stories worth nominating, but to be honest I can’t remember any. This may change until the nomination deadline closes – but right now, the only way I could participate in next years nomination would be to follow someone’s suggestions – a.k.a. vote according to a slate.

    So yes, slates can theoretically be combated by increasing voter participation. But right now, I don’t see any realistic proposal to actually get that done.

  15. “(which Pope Francis owes him a good ear-boxing for)”

    “I’m not exactly Catholic but even I’ve gotten the vibe that JcW is ‘doin it wrong’. (and Pope Francis would probably forgive him immediately after too)”

    There is a conservative strain within the Roman Catholic Church who are sometimes described as “too stiff-necked to bow their heads” to papal authority after a comparatively liberal pope is elected. While the most radical have formed schismatic churches with their own lines of apostolic succession, most don’t want to go that far and quietly or not so quietly continue to oppose the pontiff in matters of faith and morals. In difficult cases the pope can order them to Silence, and in more extreme cases can excommunicate them if they refuse to keep Silence — although this last step tends to be reserved for women who become ordained as priests, the men who ordain them, and the occasional dissident about abortion, in either direction (yes, some priests have been defrocked or excommunicated for giving aid and comfort to those who bomb clinics or shoot practitioners as well as some advocating for the right of choice).

    I infer that Mr. Wright is part of that stiff-necked conservative strain who think that the boss is the heretic rather than the other way around, although a direct personal order from his archbishop or bishop to get with the program might have him cool his jets somewhat.

  16. Oneiros on May 23, 2015 at 4:19 am said:
    ?????????????

    Well, that’s all well and good for you, but I can’t manage it on my tablet.

    (Actually I’m shocked I can still read and comprehend that. I’m long out of practice.)

  17. @Peace: I’m a little out of practice myself… I’m just hoping I can remember enough kanji and vocab to get around and order good food when I get to Japan. I’d love to get to a point where I can actually read Japanese novels and only use a kanji dictionary for difficult/obscure kanji, but that’s a very long way off.

    As to the verb: Just using desu as “is” to say my Japanese is very bad 🙂 it’s entirely possible I used ga where I should’ve used ha… those particles are still a confusing mess in my head. Along with many other things I probably got slightly wrong in that sentence.

  18. @Oneiros

    You might do better to say something like:

    Watashi wa nihongo ga heta desu.

    You don’t normally say “My Japanese is (morally) bad”, which is roughly what warui implies.

  19. Ah, thank you SIW 🙂 You know, I totally know heta. It just completely escaped my brain to say unskilled rather than bad.

  20. @Oneiros

    I feel your pain on the wa/ga distinction. I don’t know if you know Jay Rubin’s book “Gone Fishing” in the Power Japanese series, but he’s pretty good at getting a sense of how some of the complexities of Japanese work. He also does a nice demolition of Shogun’s linguistic theories.

    My own introduction to the topic was fairly infelicitous, in that my teacher, a most disagreeable human being allegedly (and credibly!) descended from Oda Nobunaga, simply wrote wa and ga on the chalkboard, drew a line between them and said “See?”. Such was her full and only explanation of the differences between them.

  21. JJ wrote:

    The Five Stages of Hugo Grief

    1. Anger
    2. Acceptance
    3. Alcohol / Ice Cream
    4. Filking / Mocking
    5. WSFS Rules Changes

    This had me laughing hard enough I would have awakened my wife, Nila, had she not already been awake.

    Thank you!

  22. I’ll have to check out the Power Japanese series, I think! Wa/ga is only one of many things that I find confusing/aggravating/fascinating about Japanese. Eg the bad literal translation I made of my original comment. I still need to get to a point where I can say to myself: This is what I would translate it as, but what does it mean?

    I don’t think I ever received even that rudimentary explanation of wa/ga. One day we were learning sentences with wa, then the next lesson suddenly we were also using ga and there was no explanation as to when and why to use either or both of them in a sentence.

  23. @Oneiros

    One very rough and ready way of understanding wa versus ga is that wa marks the topic and so what follows is where the emphasis of the sentence falls, whereas ga marks the subject and so what precedes ga is what is emphasized. Often wa has a sense of contrast, which is largely lacking in ga, so when you say watashi wa you imply “As for me…” as opposed to other people. That said, there are all sorts of sub-rules and contexts that can take precedence, as, for example, in the use of ga with dekimasu and wa with dekimasen.

    Makino and Tsutsui have a three volume set of Dictionaries of Basic/Intermediate/Advanced Japanese Grammar(sponsored by the Japan Times IIRC) of books on Japanese grammar that are very good at going through detailed examples of various sentence patterns and usages and are quite portable. They aren’t cheap, but if you want to work on your Japanese long-term they are a very good investment.
    The Power Japanese series are handy, although of variable thoroughness in my experience. I would recommend three volumes from it with confidence:

    Read Real Japanese (Janet Ashby
    How To Sound Intelligent In Japanese (Charles de Wolf)
    Making Sense Of Japanese (Jay Rubin – previously published as Gone Fishing).

  24. Wa is the topic marker. It’s “You know that thing? I have some thoughts to share about it.” Thing wa, … (related sentences follow)

    Watashi wa… == “Never mind, let’s talk about ME.”

  25. Oneiros:

    Min svenska är värre.

    The a’s with umlauts look fine in the preview.

  26. Thanks 🙂 going to add the recommendations to my wishlist as soon as I’m back on my computer. Japanese is definitely a long-term investment for me; I’m far too enamoured of the culture and history to give up now. Also it’d be nice to have even a simple conversatiom with the people I’ll be training with in their native language, even if it’s extremely limited this time around.

    I’ll try to keep your definitions in mind, SIW & Petréa, for the future, and hope I don’t put my foot in my mouth too badly.

    This whole kerfuffle has been worth it for me purely on the grounds of these recommendations!

  27. @xs –

    “Glenn, if you were to pick up a puppy and something came up that required both of your hands, what would you probably do?”

    Give me the brain?

  28. @David K.M. Klaus –

    ‘ …There is a conservative strain within the Roman Catholic Church who are sometimes described as “too stiff-necked to bow their heads” to papal authority after a comparatively liberal pope is elected….’

    Also known as “More Catholic than the Pope.”

    And they are not limited to rearing their snouts after a “liberal” pope is elected.

    Full disclosure time: I was raised RC, but have latterly joined The Dark Side as a congregant in the U.S. Episcopal Church

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