Pixel Scroll 3/9/16 Pet Symmetry

(1) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Rudy Rucker has one of the best personal tributes to the late David G. Hartwell that I’ve read.

In 2005, Dave got me invited to give the keynote talk at ICFA, the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, held in a brutally cold motel Florida. One of the organizers quipped, “We don’t come here for the sun, we come here for the air-conditioning.”

Dave told me that a member of the committee had said, “We can’t invite Rucker, he’s a difficult drunk,” and Dave told him, “Not any more.” By then I’d been sober for nearly ten years. I said to Dave, “I wonder if my drinking years had a bad effect on my career.” Dave said, “I don’t think so. Even now, I still talk to people who are very disappointed when they see you at a con and you aren’t swinging from the chandeliers.”

(2) JEMISIN DISCUSSES ROWLING’S NEW WORLD MAGIC. N.K. Jemisin’s verdict on Rowling’s magical North America is: “It could’ve been great.”

…I’m still careful, even with “dead” faiths, because I don’t know how playing with these things might hurt real people. Nations have been built upon and torn down by the concepts I’m playing with. The least I can do is research the hell out of a thing before I put a toe in that ancient water.

It’s even more crucial for religions that are alive, and whose adherents still suffer for misconceptions and misappropriations. But these are easier to research, and it’s often much easier to figure out when you’re about to put a foot right into a morass of discrimination and objectification. All the evidence is there, sometimes still wet with blood. You just need to read. You just need to ask people. You just need to think….

Anyway. This is just to say that there’s a number of ways Rowling could’ve made her Magical North America work without causing real harm to a lot of real people. That would be for her to have treated American peoples — all of us — with the same respect that she did European. Pretty sure she would never have dreamt of reducing all of Europe’s cultures to “European wizarding tradition”; instead she created Durmstrang and Beauxbatons and so on to capture the unique flavor of each of those cultures. It would’ve taken some work for her to research Navajo stories and pick (or request) some elements from that tradition that weren’t stereotypical or sacred — and then for her to do it again with the Paiutes and again with the Iroquois and so on. But that is work she should’ve done — for the sake of her readers who live those traditions, if not for her own edification as a writer. And how much more delightful could Magic in North America have been if she’d put an ancient, still-thriving Macchu Picchu magic school alongside a brash, newer New York school? How much richer could her history have been if she’d mentioned the ruins of a “lost” school at Cahokia, full of dangerous magical artifacts and the signs of mysterious, hasty abandonment? Or a New Orleanian school founded by Marie Laveau, that practiced real vodoun and was open/known to the locals as a temple — and in the old days as a safe place to plan slave rebellions, a la Congo Square? Or what if she’d mentioned that ancient Death Eater-ish wizards deliberately destroyed the magical school of Hawai’i — but native Hawai’ians are rebuilding it now as Liliuokalani Institute, better than before and open to all? …

(3) BAR’S NEW NAME. SF Site News, in its story “Geek Bar Rebrands”, reports that Geek Bar Chicago has changed its name to SFCO.

The rebranding will also bring in an influx of video consoles, late night programming, and new hours, Sunday and Wednesday from 5pm to 10pm, Thursday and Friday from 5pm to Midnight, and Saturday from 3 pm to 2 am. The bar will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. In addition to their game selection, SFCO will continue to offer a rotating menu of geek-themed signature cocktails and a pop culture reference-filled menu items. The news of the rebranding was followed by former CEO David Zoltan announcing that he had resigned from Geek Bar in January.

(4) JULIETTE WADE’S FANCAST. Juliette Wade’s TalkToYoUniverse is a great place to find regular coverage of “linguistics and anthropology, science fiction and fantasy, point of view, [and] grammar geekiness.” Wade is often joined by a guest writer, as in the latest installment, “Andrea Stewart – a Dive into Worldbuilding”.

Something that makes Wade’s project exceptional is that every episode is accompanied by a post fully detailing what was discussed. Here are the first few paragraphs about her visit with Stewart –

We were joined for this hangout by author Andrea Stewart, who told us a bit about her worldbuilding and her work. Her work has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, IGMS, and Galaxy’s Edge.

We started by talking about a piece she had in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Set in a psudo-Chinese culture, it featured an opium den with magical smoke, in a place where the land surrounding the city was dying and this had become the people’s escape. Very cool story! Andrea explained that her mom is a Chinese immigrant, so half her family is Chinese. One of the key differences, she says, is in conversational interaction style.

I asked her about her series, the Changeling Wars. She told me that it had begun as a writing exercise, where every person in a group picks a word, and then each member has to write a piece that uses all the words chosen by the group. She describes this series as being part of a move from dark fantasy to a bit lighter fantasy. The first book begins when a woman walks in on her cheating husband, and her emotion is so powerful in that moment that it awakens magic in her. It turns out she’s a changeling, and not just adopted, as she believed.

Andrea has very warm words for writing exercises, which she says can spark ideas you might not otherwise come up with.

There are 101 Worldbuilding hangouts in the index, 25 featuring special guests, including Aliette de Bodard, N.K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, Myke Cole, Usman T. Malik, Cat Rambo, Sofia Samatar and Isabel Yap.

(5) IN FOR A DIME. Sonia Orin Lyris tells how she “Will Build Worlds for Spare Change” at The Fictorians.

The next week my inbox was filled with indignant treasures, among them this: “No, no, no! This is NOT a D&D game. Coins have names! Coins have histories!”

I instantly knew how right she was. Knew it like the contents of my own pocket.

Pennies. Nickels. Dimes. Not “coppers.” Not “large silvers.”

I dove back into my research and emerged soaked in currency-related facts, from minting to metals, from Greece to China. The facts went on and on, as did the likeness of people and horses and birds and insects, of ships and buildings, of angels and flowers, of myths and monarchs.

So many coins, each symbolizing their culture’s prosperity and priorities. Its very self-image.

I now understood that not only did coins have names and histories, but they were keys to wealth and power, to trade and politics. Coins affected everyone, from rulers to merchants to the poorest of the poor. Coins mattered, and mattered quite a bit.

Coins had names and histories. They had faces. Coins traveled.

That’s when it hit me: Coins are stories.

(6) EVEN MORE WORLDBUILDING ADVICE. Coining words is the focus of “This Kind of World Building :: An Interview with Sofia Samatar” at Weird Sister.

Kati Heng: One thing that always amazes me is when a writer is able to make up not just a story, but also an entire language behind it. Like all creative writing, there must be rules you set for its creation. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Olondrian, and especially how the names of characters were created?

Sofia Samatar: Making up the languages was one of my favorite parts of creating the world of Olondria. The biggest influence on the Olondrian language is Arabic, which I had studied before writing A Stranger in Olondria, and was speaking daily while writing the book in South Sudan. I was inspired by Arabic plurals, for example, to devise a complicated system of plural patterns for Olondrian. Olondrian pronouns resemble Arabic pronouns as well. And, like Arabic, Olondrian has no P sound (any word with a P in it has been imported from another language).

The creation of the language was closely tied to the development of names. I don’t have anything close to a complete Olondrian vocabulary, but I do know what the names mean. “Vain” means forest, for example, so there are a bunch of “vains” on my map — Kelevain, Fanlevain, and so on. “Kele” means hunting. “Fanle” means apple.

To invent the names, I chose small chunks of sound that seemed pretty to me and played with combining them. Few activities can be more self-indulgent. It was wonderful

(7) VALLEY FORGE SHARES CoC DRAFT. The Valley Forge in 2017 NASFiC bid’s “Progress Update 2” links to its draft Code of Conduct and other policies. (They also unveiled their mascot, Proxie the Celestial Raccoon.)

Next, we have had a number of queries about what our code of conduct will look like if and when we win the bid. Like I mentioned in the last progress update, we’ve been working on a draft of the CoC for a while now, and it has been a whole heck of a lot of work for the entire team. After many, many hours of sweat and toil by all of us, we’re happy to be able to share version 1.0 of the Valley Forge 2017 Code of Conduct (html version) with you.

Now obviously, calling it “version 1.0” implies that we expect updates, and we do. The convention is a long way (and a successful vote) away and there are some details that we just can’t get in place until we have more structure, like phone numbers and room locations and websites. A lot can change in a year and a half, so what you see here may not be exactly the same thing you see if and when you show up at our door – but substantively, we are happy with what we have and are proud to put our names behind it. If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear it.

We’re also elbow-deep in the guts of an internal procedures manual for how to deal with a variety of scenarios, including what to do if we receive a report of a code of conduct violation. That’s not quite ready for prime time yet, and may not be ready until we have a more formal concom structure in place of our current bidcom (in other words, until and unless we win the bid). If we can whip something into releasable shape before then, we will publish that as well.

(8) THE KESSEL RUNS. It is alleged the full title of Kitbashed’s “Complete History of the Millennium Falcon” is “The Complete Conceptual History of The Millennium Falcon or How I Started Worrying and Lost My Mind Completely Over a Fictional Spaceship Someone Please Do Something Send Help Why Are You Still Reading Someone Do Something.”

The Pork Burger

The ILM model shop built the new Pirate Ship model, and quickly found a way to distinguish it from the old one in conversation, namely by adopting Grant McCune’s nickname for it: The Pork Burger.

And if you want my theory, that’s where the myth of the design being based off of a burger Lucas was eating got started.

(9) FURRY CUSTOMS. The Independent learned from Twitter that “Syrian refugees in Canada got housed in same hotel as VancouFur furry convention and the children loved it”.

The fifth annual VancouFur convention, in which people dress up as fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics, was held at the same hotel where a number of Syrian refugees are currently being housed.

A message was given to all attendees at the convention that the hotel had been chosen as one of the temporary housing locations for the Syrian refugees in Canada, and that “a major concern that VancouFur has is ensuring that each and every one of the refugees (and attendees) feels welcome and safe and the fact that this is likely to be a major shock to them”.

“Keep in mind that they likely will not want to interact with you and consent is important to everyone,” the message added.

But luckily for everyone involved, the refugees – especially the children – loved it.



  • Born March 9, 1911 — Clara Rockmore.

Rockmore was a master of the theremin, the world’s first electronic music instrument and first instrument that could be played without being touched.

On what would have been her 105th birthday, Rockmore has been commemorated with a Google Doodle. The interactive game teaches you to play the theremin by hovering your mouse over the notes to play a melody.


(11) PROPHET IN HIS OWN LAND. Even George R.R. Martin won’t be allowed a hometown premiere of Game of Thrones Season 6.

And yes, it’s true. After last year’s unfortunate leak, HBO is not sending out any press screeners this year, to try and cut down on the piracy.

They have also eliminated all the regional premieres, including (sob) the one we had scheduled at my own Jean Cocteau Cinema. This year the only premiere will be the big one in LA at Grauman’s Chinese.

The Jean Cocteau will, however, go ahead with our season 5 marathon. Admission is free, so watch our website and newsletter for show times.

(12) LESSER OF TWO WEEVILS. Joe Hill brings his skills as a professional horror writer to bear on the Presidential race in his latest “Perspective”.

I asked my three sons and a cousin what would be scarier: 8 years of a Trump presidency, or two kaiju attacks, one on Washington D.C. and one on L.A., separated by 8 years. Assume standard kaiju size (20 stories, 80,000 tons), atomic breath, acid blood, probably the ability to produce subsonic blasts with one whap of the tail. Immune to conventional nuclear weapons. Highly aggressive.

By a vote of 3 – 1, they agreed two kaiju attacks would be much worse for the nation than if Trump were to become President of the United States. So if you feel depressed by Trump’s toxic mix of misogyny, xenophobia, and bullying, look to this for a cheer-up. It could be worse. You could be jellied beneath the trampling scaly feet of a salamander the size of a skyscraper.

Admit it. You feel better all ready.

(13) THIS JUST IN. “New Survey Finds 92% Of Evangelicals Would Have Supported Genghis Khan” reports Babylon Bee.  

Genghis Khan, the genocidal warlord who conquered most of Central and Northeast Asia during the first part of the thirteenth century, enjoys widespread support from twenty-first century evangelicals, a new CNN poll revealed Tuesday.

“The level of support for the Supreme Khan of the Mongols is off the charts,” explained Malcom Johnstone, the pollster who conducted the survey for CNN. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Clearly, there is a strong correlation between being pro-God and pro-Genghis.”

Still, many Christians question the accuracy of the new findings.

Like Buddy Buchanan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’ve been in a Bible church my whole life, and I’ve never met anyone who likes this Genghis fellow,” Buchanan revealed to sources. “I just don’t get it. I can’t think of a single person who supports him. I remember there was a cool-looking Khan in one of those Star Trek movies, but I don’t think that’s the same guy.”

(14) SHARKNADO FOUR. “Syfy and The Asylum announce Sharknado 4 casting”Sci-Fi Storm has the story.

Syfy and The Asylum announced today that Ian Ziering will slay again in Sharknado 4 (working title), reprising his role as shark-fighting hero Fin Shepard, while Tara Reid is set to return as April Wexler to reveal the outcome of the fan-voted #AprilLives or #AprilDies social campaign. The fourth addition to the hit global franchise also sees the return of David Hasselhoff as Gil Shepard and Ryan Newman as Claudia Shepard.

(15) FOREVER FANS. Future War Stories presents the case for picking Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War as the best military sf work.

In 1974, Joe Haldeman, armed with his bachelors in Physics and Astronomy along with his experiences in the Vietnam War, would craft a military science fiction tale of UNEF soldier William Mendella. This book, The Forever War, would go on to win every major award and prize, rocketing Joe Haldeman into the realm of sci-fi literature. Since its original publication, The Forever War would be re-edited, translated into every major language, and be adapted into various forms, including an major studio film has been in the works since 2008 and the effort seems to be active. The book’s legacy is being hailed has the best military science fiction book of all time and it has been a source of inspiration for decades. In this installment of the continuing Masterworks series, we will explore and explain why Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War is the best literary military science fiction work. A word of caution: this blog article contains spoilers on key moments of the book. Read at your own risk!

(16) STROSS INTERVIEW. Charles Stross, in an interview at SFF World, thinks magic might be a better metaphor for one of sf’s typical tropes.

And what of newer authors? Are there any personal favourites?

In the past year, I’ve read and been incredibly impressed by Seth Dickinson’s “The Traitor” (US: “The Traitor Baru Cormorant”); grim, harrowing, and deeply interesting for his use of secondary world fantasy as a tool for interrogating kyriarchy. I’ve also been impressed by Alyx Dellamonica’s “Child of a Hidden Sea” (and sequel “A Daughter of No Nation”), V. E. Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic”, and Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted”—secondary world/portal fantasies for the most part. SF … I find myself having a knee-jerk reaction against most of what comes to me as highly-recommended or highly popular SF these days; I think this is partly because—for me, these days—magic works better as a metaphor for depicting alienating technology than actual ham-fisted attempts at describing the thing in itself. (And also because so much of the exotic tech in SF is basically warmed-over magic wands.)

(17) VINESPLAINING. In this GEICO commercial, Tarzan and Jane get into an argument about asking for directions. (I may have linked this before, but I can’t find it…)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, Will R., and Michael J. Walsh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

291 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/9/16 Pet Symmetry

  1. KR on March 29, 2016 at 6:14 pm said:

    People keep saying our policy is a pro-gun stance, but it’s really not. It simply recognizes that regardless of our CoC, there WILL be guns there.

    Surely this is a bit like saying there’s no point having a policy against sexual harassment, because, well, serial harassers are just going to go ahead and do it anyway?

  2. Surely this is a bit like saying there’s no point having a policy against sexual harassment, because, well, serial harassers are just going to go ahead and do it anyway?

    and if you try stopping them, the police will arrive and shoot everyone

  3. @NickPheas

    You and me both.

    I’m kinda torn. On one hand, I think someone should introduce the VF bidders to the Law of Holes.

    On the other, I absolutely think they should continue as every time they say something, it’s (IMO) becoming ever clearer that this is a not ready for primetime bid

  4. As a minor point, and in no way to be taken as support for the VF wtf weapon policy, I do recall statements of feeling increased danger to other con goers from police being called when it was a puppy doing the calling.

    If VF believes the local police are likely to be a danger to con goers, then perhaps their city isn’t ready to host a con. If they believe escalating a situation to the police is dangerous for the other attendees, are they increasing con security presence and training? Policies for intervening before a situation escalates? Procedures to get a harasser or abuser somewhere more isolated to lessen the danger in case police are required? Or is it only calling the police on CCW attendees that makes the situation dangerous? I’m not sure why, if VF knows they can be trusted to carry a gun responsibly.

    I don’t have stats on how usual/often it is for police to be called for a con of this size. If it’s greater than 1, they’ll need to deal with the police anyway.

  5. On the other, I absolutely think they should continue as every time they say something, it’s (IMO) becoming ever clearer that this is a not ready for primetime bid.

    Unless San Juan’s bid is really screwed up, the Valley Forge people have convinced me to vote for San Juan even though a Valley Forge NASFiC would be much more convenient for me in terms of location.

  6. ETA: I do feel there’s a difference between police being called to escort Person A from the premises vs being informed that Person B could be a threat. But I’m not of a group that typically faces police discrimination, and I don’t want to discount the voices of those who do. (ETA 2: I don’t mean to imply that anyone is. I’m just gonna go do some work now….

    Zosia Lives!)

  7. If the VF bid committee really think the police are more dangerous to public safety than a random angry drunk who is waving his gun around because he’s been told to take it back to his room or car…I suppose that makes sense if they’ve been spending time listening to our fellow Americans who consider “but he felt threatened” to be legal and moral justification for a police officer to shoot anyone, anytime, including fleeing shoplifters and children playing with toy guns.

    That isn’t a context where I would feel safer because I had a gun of my own, or knew other people were carrying guns. In a given situation, the police either are or aren’t involved. If they aren’t, it’s back to “do we want random people with guns, some of them possibly drunk and/or excited, at our parties or con panels?” and nothing is gained by removing the option of “put the gun back in your car, it’s ruining the atmosphere.”

    If the police are involved, I note that Mike van Helder has stated his opinion that having the police at a con where members are known to have guns would be dangerous. Would the con also say “don’t report that person for stealing, he might be armed and we don’t want the police here”? “Yes, you have an order of protection against the person who was stalking you, but if you try to enforce it we’re going to make you leave, rather than have the police help us enforce the law if he doesn’t leave on his own”?

  8. @Viverrine: “As a minor point, and in no way to be taken as support for the VF wtf weapon policy, I do recall statements of feeling increased danger to other con goers from police being called when it was a puppy doing the calling.”

    Speaking very generally, no con ever wants to come to the attention of law enforcement. That happening is a sign that something has gone wrong, and hopefully it’s something minor like a noise complaint. (Happened at the con I attended a couple of weeks ago.) Good cons strive to police themselves adequately, which is why they have security volunteers and check IDs before serving booze and make codes of conduct that leave a solid buffer zone between “against the rules” and “against the law.” Hell, I still remember the time the bomb squad got called because of a radiation symbol on a Thermos-type bottle, and that was two decades ago!

    Especially around here, cops tend to be pretty “straight” and con folks tend to be a bit wild. Some of the things that go on at cons don’t attract so much as a raised eyebrow from “us,” but they can look quite different to a policeman who’s just arrived on the scene. So, the prevailing wisdom is to keep Mundania as far from cons as possible.

    Further, the big Puppy-and-police problem was the one where CUL thought it was a good idea to tell the police that David Gerrold was practically a dangerous terrorist. That’s bad because it provokes hasty armed responses, something the VF weapons policy is also perilously close to encouraging. (Remember that buffer zone I mentioned? For VF, there is none when it comes to guns. If someone feels threatened, they can’t go to the con as a first step. They must go to the police instead. Call the cops and say you’re nervous about someone with a gun and… yeah, not a happy ending.)

    tl;dr – This isn’t a Puppy/non-Puppy thing, and there’s no contradiction between the responses to them. It’s an “anything resulting in an armed police response is bad” thing. Lou’s jackassery and VF’s insane policy have that in common: both are terrible ideas because they increase the chance of that happening. Few situations are made better by throwing an edgy SWAT team together with a bunch of weirdos.

  9. The policy is based on the idea that a ban on carrying at the convention will inevitably lead to a police response because responsible gun owners will

    1. Ignore a convention policy that bans guns
    2. Ignore convention staff that tell them they have a choice between losing the gun and having their membership revoked
    3. Ignore the hotel/centre staff who tell them that they have to leave the premises or the police will be called

    which doesn’t sound like responsible gun ownership to me.

  10. MVH, as quted by JJ:

    Let’s say we prohibited it. Person A is carrying concealed, and person B knows about it and complains. Now we’re obligated to at least ask person A to stow their weapon in a safe place. If person A doesn’t comply with our request, we have to ban them from the event and ask the hotel to bar them from the premises.

    I can agree that this is an undesirable situation, but I don’t see how the weapons policy prevents it. Quite the opposite: I think the current wording increases the chance of the sort of confrontation it’s supposedly meant to avoid, compared to a straight ban.

    Saying “you’re allowed to carry” invites in more guns. (It may be true that some CCW permit holders will carry regardless of a ban, but not all.) More guns, and a more permissive gun policy, also means more situations where people flash their guns to others – either accidentally or on purpose. And then the policy says it’s not allowed to “brandish, flash, or otherwise display your firearm,” – which means that if B knows about the gun and complains the con still have to take actions against A. Except now A can split hairs over whether or not he really flashed his firearm, so you increase the chance of a quarrel where A says “no, I don’t want to leave, I don’t agree that I’ve broken the CoC.”

    In addition to this, there are many other CoC violations that can lead to someone being asked to leave. With a permissive gun policy you have to account for “he might be armed” in all disputes between security and members.


    There are zero cases that I know of involving a legit CCW permit holder causing a potentially dangerous ruckus at a convention with their firearm,

    So premise 1: CCW permit holders are law-abiding, non-dangerous persons who never causes a ruckus and it’s totally safe to be around them when they’re carrying their guns.

    The thing you may not realize is that the majority of the people with CCWs that carry habitually are going to carry no matter what any code of conduct might say. […]
    If we prohibited concealed carry, an otherwise lawful activity, it would make almost zero practical difference in terms of the number of guns at our event, and it would create the potential for an undesirable confrontation as described in OP.

    So premise 2: CCW permit holders are habitual rule-breakers, and trying to make them follow rules just causes problems. If you make a rule against carrying guns, CCW permit holders are going to break that rule. Trying to enforce the rule can spark a dangerous confrontation.

    Sure, makes sense.

  11. @Rev. Bob – thanks for the explanation. Using the con policy as a potential buffer between the con and the police makes sense to me.

  12. @KR: People keep saying our policy is a pro-gun stance, but it’s really not. It simply recognizes that regardless of our CoC, there WILL be guns there.

    This is usually the place in the discussion where I point out the US has laws against murder, theft/stealing, and rape. Those things are going to happen but we don’t just throw our hands up and say oh well let’s do nothing because people are going to kill, steal, rape even if we make laws.

    How are people to take you seriously in upholding your CoC with statements like this? If I’m harassed at your con by someone why should I believe you will be on my side. Harassers gonna harass. No policy prevents this. It does give the harassed recourse and if things work right, depending on the level of harassment, the harasser is removed from the con so they can’t harass others.

  13. @NickPheas & @snowcrash: The cons I’ve been to generally have a no weapons policy and any weapons for costuming purposes should be peacebonded policy, etc. (perhaps special exceptions for things like cosplay/costuming competitions). Nothing special about guns because it falls under…wait for it…weapons!

    I’m not sure why larger cons like a Worldcon bid would find this difficult to grasp. It’s not a gun-specific thing; there’s danger from any weapon, like a crossbow or a sword. Do you have a crossbow policy? No, you have a weapon policy (again, with exceptions for costuming stuff).

  14. @Kendall,

    if you read the ValleyForge proposed policy with commentary you’ll find on the subject of peacebonding,

    [MVH] “Why not just peacebond?”, you may ask, and I would answer “because peacebonding is a joke”. It’s like a lock on a screen door — it keeps honest people honest, but doesn’t do anything to deter someone determined to be a jackass, and it only takes one jackass to ruin a thing for everyone.

    Of course this is then immediately followed by

    Notwithstanding the above, we will not prohibit anyone with a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit from carrying a firearm in accordance with all relevant laws and statutes, so long as you keep the weapon concealed. If you brandish, flash, or otherwise display your firearm, you will be in violation of this code of conduct. We may ask law enforcement to become involved.

    So on the one hand, peace-bonding – which relies on people to act reasonable with the dangerous implements they’ve brought – is “a joke”, but on the other hand, carrying a concealed gun – which also requires people to act reasonable with the dangerous implements they’ve brought – is OK.

    To me, this appears to be a rather intriguing contradiction.

  15. @Rev. Bob: Few situations are made better by throwing an edgy SWAT team together with a bunch of weirdos.

    True, that!

    Have been reading with interest and from the perspective of someone teaching in Texas where the Texas Lege has passed a law allowing concealed carry on university campuses starting August 1 this year.

    Still cannot conceal carry at the LEGISLATURE, mind you, the hypocrites.

    This has resulted in many protests, as you might expect, university faculty being the liberal commies that we all are. We have a special committee on instituting campus exemptions which are restricted by the law. It is allowable to permanently exempt the CHILDREN’S CENTER on campus from concealed carry because of minors–but any other exemption has to be justified and marked for a limited time. So, faculty cannot declare their offices exempt (at least one is doing it anyway).

    It’s worrisome because we cannot get our keycard system working, and the idea that we’re supposed to figure out which campus event might have minors at it (we have school camps all summer, and lots of tours from various service groups and school classes during the year, plus a lot of proms and some high school football games from the very small towns around us rent our facilities), enter it into the scheduling system (online, which regularly fucks up), and generate signage (which has to be planned for in advance and which of course costs $) to be posted warning of the exemption only during the time of the event, well, let’s just say after 23 years of experience here, I’m thinking we’ll screw up often and badly.

    The president came to my department’s meeting last month and explained the following to us (the VF comments reminded me of his):

    First, he wanted to emphasize that the percentage of population (fairly small as I recall though I don’t remember exact number) in the country with concealed carry permits are statistically speaking the most law-abiding of all people, blah blah blah blah.

    Second, he noted that anyone with common sense would realize that there probably wouldn’t be any more guns on campus under the new law than there already are.

    I sort of believe him on that second point because one of the first things my senior colleagues told me when I was hired (and actually in Texas, having signed the contract, and teaching) was to expect that one or more of my students in any class I was teaching was armed. However, that reality doesn’t make this any better.

    A few years later, a student in our Writing Center dropped her purse on the table, and the gun inside (which did not have the safety catch engaged) went off (pure luck shooting the wall and not injuring or killing one the students working there). Police were called, etc. I have told a few concerned colleagues that I think it’s a lot more likely to have an accidental shooting, but since I have had one instance of some sort of commercial gas being sprayed into my office on a Friday afternoon, resulting in a several asthma attack for one colleague and the building being evacuated, and was also called out when an attempt was made to slash my truck tires, again, another Friday afternoon, I would not deny that an intentional shooting could occur–it already as on some campuses after all.

    All in all, I am guiltily feeling some relief that I teach entirely online. I know some faculty (women) who have decided they will not meet alone with students in their offices as a result of this law, and I don’t blame them in the least. (I have regular face/face office hours, and occasional appointments, but haven’t decided what I will do yet.)

  16. @Christian Brunschen: “To me, this appears to be a rather intriguing contradiction.”


    Also in case it wasn’t clear, I wasn’t saying peacebonding was magical. I think you got that, but just in case you or anyone thought I was thinking that. 😉

  17. Mike VanHelden:

    “The thing you may not realize is that the majority of the people with CCWs that carry habitually are going to carry no matter what any code of conduct might say. “

    If you are in that kind of situation that people will not follow the convention rules and will bring weapons as to not to have to, then the best solution is to not hold a convention.

    You should not hold a convention when people will go armed to it and refuse to follow code of conducts. Then it is clearly an unsafe enviroment for everyone.

  18. KR:

    “It’s also naive on the part of commenters who think there aren’t tons of guns in fandom already. Lots of people who go to Worldcon every year are big gun owners. They just don’t wear ribbons about it. Meanwhile everyone is promoting gun culture and violence with their cosplay as if it makes it okay because it is ‘pretend.’ If you feel that strongly about gun violence, then don’t promote it with cosplay, just like you wouldn’t promote rape culture with ‘pretend’ violence against women. There is a reason Slave Leia is going out of style.”

    What the hell has this to do with people going armed to a convention and refusing to follow the code of conduct? I do not care if a person is a big gun owner, as long as the person actully is able to follow rules about not bringing guns to where they do not belong.


    I will absolutely vote against every convention where the people behind use that kind of reasoning.

  19. I can se how the reasoning went on this one:

    – How about people who refuse to follow the code of conduct, refuse to listen when we talk to them about rules and then refuse to leave. And who are armed!

    – Well, clearly, these are the people we want to accomodate. Lets change the rules so they can stay and we don’t have to deal with the problem. This will make people feel more safe.”

  20. that whole policy starts off with

    We do not anticipate that anyone will intentionally violate these guidelines, but we are also prepared to handle whatever situation may arise. We promise to evaluate situations covered by this code to the best of our judgement and resources. Keep in mind that this evaluation is not a jurisprudential procedure. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” does not apply here.

    We expect participants to follow these rules at all convention venues and convention-related social activities.

    … but we won’t make a policy banning guns because people would just break it

  21. Hampus, I think it’s more that this is the culture from which some (or all) of the VF bidcom originate, and their CoC has been designed to accommodate their own personal culture and that of their friends, rather than the culture of SFF fandom in general.

    Which is fine, you know — a concom is entitled to design their con to attract whatever clientele they wish, and such a design includes decisions on Guests of Honor, the content of programming and panels, and the Code of Conduct policies.

    What I think is happening here is that people who are used to running small regional cons are finding that the more narrow regional culture in which they’re immersed — what they take for granted as being “con culture” — is not exactly the same as wider (especially international) fandom con culture. (I will point out that one of the VF bidcom members quite recently demonstrated that they see no reason to enforce harassment policies, either.)

    But if they wish to garner the support of the wider SFF fandom in general, catering to the preferences of a small subculture — to whose beliefs much of SFF fandom don’t subscribe — is probably not the way to gain that support.

    I suspect that, like the Puppies, the VF bidcom members are under the impression that the group of SFF fans who think like they do is much larger than it actually is.

    Which is fine. Come August, when the NASFIC site voting takes place, we’ll all find out whether they’re right.

    I expect to hear NO whining from the VF bidcom when people like me campaign for the San Juan bid and against the Valley Forge bid. As I pointed out, they’re the ones who chose to have this hill be the one their bid lived or died on.

  22. Have San Juan said anything in response? ISTR that Puerto Rico was said to be very gun friendly.

    FWIW, given that I won’t be going to either, Pablo Vasquez something or other was representing SJ at Mancunicon over the weekend and seemed a thoroughly decent bloke. Someone was dropping off VF visiting cards, as far as I could tell anonymously.

  23. NickPheas: Have San Juan said anything in response? ISTR that Puerto Rico was said to be very gun friendly.

    San Juan has already declared an eminently-sensible “no firearms whatsoever” policy:

    VI: Weapons:

    San Juan 2017 is committed to providing a safe space for all convention members. To that end, it is our policy that there will be no weapons inside common convention spaces. This includes knives, swords, firearms or other martial weaponry – whether actual or perceived as such, which may be used to inflict damage on another person or object. If a weapon is purchased in the dealer’s room, it is to be transported immediately to your hotel room and stored there for safe keeping.

    If a weapon is to be used for cosplay, it must be presented to Operations for review. This review may include peacebonding and/or a denial of carry/use inside convention spaces. Convention Operations is the sole and final arbiter of whether or not the item is acceptable. When in doubt, check it out.

    San Juan 2017 reserves the right to revoke the membership and/or paid fees, without refund or reimbursement, of anyone found to be in violation of this policy. The lone exception is on duty law enforcement personnel acting in an official capacity. Off duty law enforcement personnel are expected to follow our no-weapons policy, as is anyone with a concealed carry permit.

    They still need to work on fleshing out the details of their harassment policy, though. I hope they contact Jesi Pershing. Their bidcom members certainly have an impressive set of credentials — and looking at some of the names on that list, I feel pretty confident that their harassment policy will be up-to-snuff by August.

  24. JJ:

    I will not campaign against Valley Forge, because I will not go to NASFiC anyhow, WorldCon being too close. But I get angry about people making ridiculous excuses for why they can’t have a CoC that says “no guns”, instead of saying that they have created the CoC to accomodate friends from pro-gun communities.

  25. Me too, Hampus, me too.

    I’m pretty stunned that in this day and age, the people on that bidcom don’t have more common sense. 😐

  26. @JJ
    Thanks for providing the link to San Juan bid. Comparing the two bids is like night and day. One gives full details about the positive as well as negatives. San Juan is very clear on what kind of con they want to have and how they expect people to behave. Under accessibility they mention the things they’ve done, how members should interact with visibly disabled, and the things out of their control in the wider San Juan community from street cobbles, lack of cutouts, to scents.

    San Juan looks very professional, experienced, and everything on their website considers all convention goers. Valley Forge looks like a small a regional party convention flailing around trying to figure out how to be a big convention who’ve been out-of-touch with wider fandom and it’s conversations over the last 10 years on harassment, weapons policies, puppygate, less drunk partying, and what we expect from our concom.

  27. At this point I have to dig out from memory a fanzine line which has stuck with me for almost 40 years. It was the late 1970’s, the dawn of convention weapons policies. (Shed a tear for the elegant General Technics plexiglass ray-guns, once a common luxury item in Midwestern dealer’s rooms.) In response to some folks who were lamenting that they felt better when they had their daggers or swords on them, Buck Coulson wrote:

    I feel better with a snub-nose .38 in my pocket, but I manage to do without it in polite company.”

    (( quoted from memory… ))

  28. … so I went Googling, and in the year 8756 I found this memento of the past. I’d completely lost Tullio Proni’s name; he was the crafter of the rayguns which were so popular at midwestern conventions.


    I’m going to guess that the 1980 Disclave SWAT team incident is what led to the policies prohibiting anything which looked like a weapon

  29. Further on the VF Code of Conduct:

    A Code of Conduct provides general behavior guidelines but also rules for expected conduct. As we all are increasingly aware, however, for CoCs to be effective, the means for enforcing them together with potential repercussions must be taken into account. We carefully crafted our CoC with enforceability in mind, researching realistic options for every point and consulting a lawyer.

    First, we want to reiterate that anyone carrying openly, much less being threatening, is still absolutely reportable according to our CoC and can have their badge revoked and be barred from the convention and/or premises.

    Second, our weapons policy was informed by a history of tense interactions with police in fandom. Cosplayers and LARPers consistently experience potentially dangerous encounters with law enforcement, to the point that presentations have been developed to help LARP leaders avoid uncomfortable run-ins. This reality has impacted a member of our bidcom personally. During a cosplay photoshoot in a public park, the police arrived in force thanks to a call from a confused citizen. I think that everyone can agree that a day when you don’t have to interact with the police in such a manner is better than a day when you do.

    It should go without saying that the intensity of police response changes depending on the race or ethnic background of those involved. Holding a toy weapon in the presence of police can lead to a deadly encounter for anyone, but especially people of color.

    These factors in mind, we want to minimize the need to involve law enforcement at the venue. Explicitly banning CCW leads to more potential scenarios where we may be forced to call the police, and allowing it leads to fewer.

    Third, it’s entirely legal for any person with the proper permits to carry a weapon at the Valley Forge Convention Center, whether they are attending the convention or not. Explicitly allowing CCW will not appreciably increase the number of guns around, since a significant percentage of people with carry permits carry despite policies barring CCW, which do not hold the weight of law in Pennsylvania. If we believed that explicitly banning CCW would actually reduce the number of firearms present in a significant way, we would have done so, but this simply isn’t a realistic position in our judgement. Given the checkered past that law enforcement has had with cosplayers, and with people of color, we would rather not have to call on them unless strictly necessary.

    We posted our CoC in the hopes of receiving constructive feedback, so thank you for your input on this matter and others. We will take this discussion into consideration as we move forward with our policies.

  30. So, more of the same disingenuous bullshit you’ve tried to pass off before. I’d have more respect for you all if you just said “we want the CCW people to come to our convention so we’re making a policy to accommodate their desires to tote their guns around our convention” and stopped trotting out this complete line of bullshit. I’d still think you were wrong, but I wouldn’t also think you were a collection of sleazy con-artists clumsily trying to pull one over on people.

    The fact that you don’t seem to understand the inherent contradiction between claiming that CCW people won’t be any trouble and the notion that you’d have to call the police if any were reported (rather than, for example, simply having con staff talk to them and tell them to put their weapon in their room or car), indicates that you are either too clueless to run a major convention, or are simply lying. Neither fills me with any confidence that your bid is worth supporting.

  31. KR, you’re still saying that CCW holders will not obey rules regarding carrying that they don’t agree with, and that having these people around and armed is totally not a problem because they’re polite, respectful, law-abiding people…

    No, sorry, that’s exactly what they’re not, if they won’t obey convention rules they don’t like, and will come and bring their guns anyway.

    You’re also pretty clearly signaling who you’ll believe if there’s a complaint about a weapons violation that’s not personally witnessed by a member of the committee, thus significantly increasing the risk that the first call in that case will be to the police. Great plan, that.

    But for God’s sake, stop telling us that gun-carrying fans are nicer, politer, and safer to be around, and that you can’t ask them not to bring their guns because they’d disregard that request, and then something nasty might happen…

  32. @KR,

    I’m rather disappointed in your response, which appears to be largely reiterating the position originally stated, but without actually attempting addressing any of the issues raised, or indeed answering any of the actual specific questions that have been asked.

    But to respond to one of your specific comments,

    Explicitly allowing CCW will not appreciably increase the number of guns around, since a significant percentage of people with carry permits carry despite policies barring CCW, which do not hold the weight of law in Pennsylvania.

    let me quote from the policy:

    We expect everybody to observe all the laws and regulations of this jurisdiction and venue while participating in this convention. That said, “I’m not doing anything illegal” is not a defense against any accusation of conduct contrary to this policy. Just because something is legal does not mean that we will tolerate it.

    (emphasis added)

    This would seem to apply just as well to a no-weapons policy as to any other policy – notwithstanding that such a policy might “not hold the weight of law in Pennsylvania”.

    Plus a more general observation: If you believe that Pennsylvania is a location where there is no way to get people in general to respect the event’s policies and thus keep the event safe for everyone, then perhaps Pennsylvania is not a location suitable to host the kind of event you’re trying to host? And this applies regardless the particular kind of policy that you think may be at issue – after all, if you expect a significant percentage of attendees to disregard the event’s stated policies in at least some regard, that really makes all of the event’s policies irrelevant and thus useless.

  33. @KR: “Explicitly banning CCW leads to more potential scenarios where we may be forced to call the police, and allowing it leads to fewer.”

    Bullshit. Citation fucking needed.

    If we believed that explicitly banning CCW would actually reduce the number of firearms present in a significant way, we would have done so, but this simply isn’t a realistic position in our judgement.

    Translation: “We believe that if we make a rule banning CCW, attendees with permits will ignore it and carry anyway.”

    If that’s true, why bother making any rules? Harassers gonna harass, so you might as well allow it. After all, someone might have to call the cops, and nobody wants that…

    More to the point, if your assessment is that a permit holder will ignore a convention’s “no CCW” policy, what makes you think he’ll comply with a “don’t show your gun” policy? Why do you believe he’ll meekly obey if he’s caught showing his gun to somebody and the concom tells him to leave the con for violating that rule?

    Finally, according to what I can see on Google, PA is an open-carry state. Why allow concealed-carry and ban open-carry? I don’t follow the logic on that at all. Both are equally legal, so why not treat both equally?

    The VF bid’s weapon policy is incoherent with respect to firearms, and your defenses of it are nonsense.

  34. First, we want to reiterate that anyone carrying openly, much less being threatening, is still absolutely reportable according to our CoC and can have their badge revoked and be barred from the convention and/or premises. […]
    Explicitly banning CCW leads to more potential scenarios where we may be forced to call the police, and allowing it leads to fewer.

    I think you would do well to think through that one more time.

    Someone who carries a concealed weapon and actually keeps it secret will not be a source of problems, regardless of what your policy says. On the other hand, a situation where someone who carries a concealed weapon and fails to keep it secret will be an issue for security regardless of whether the policy says “no guns” or “no flashing your guns”.

    In other words: If we assume that all gun owners will ignore a ban, then there’s no difference at all between banning guns and allowing concealed carry. You get the same number of guns, you get the same number of situations where a gun owner flashes their gun, and you get the same number of situations where security have to step up to a gun owner and tell them they’re breaking policy.

    And I would argue that it’s unlikely that the details of the policy won’t influence people’s behavior. Most likely, a ban will make less people carry, it will make the people who carry anyway more careful to keep their gun hidden, and it will make them meek if they’re caught with their guns out in the open. On the other hand, a more fuzzy “no flashing”-rule will invite more people to bring their guns, it will make them less careful about keeping their guns concealed, and it gives them reason to think that it’s worth arguing “but I didn’t mean to flash my gun and I’ll promise to not do it again.” All of this gives you more chances of tense confrontations between con security and weapon owners, and a much higher risk of ending with a situation where you have to call the police.

    Unless, of course, the part about “anyone carrying openly […] can have their badge revoked and be barred from the convention” is plain bullshit. Yes, if you don’t intend to confront the people with guns, then you’re in little risk of confrontations with people with guns. But if that’s the case I think you should be honest about it.

  35. @Johan P: (all of it)

    Brilliantly stated. Excellent analysis.

    @VF reps:

    The question isn’t whether a diehard will carry in violation of policy or not, but whether a moderate will do so. In my experience, moderates with CCW permits will obey a do-not-carry policy, and some of them will carry if permitted to do so. But then, my experience is also that most diehards with permits will comply with a DNC policy.

    So, to illustrate with purely fictional numbers, suppose 50 people with CCW permits are interested in attending your convention. Of those, let’s say 10 are diehards and 40 are moderates – because round numbers are pretty and I think it’s safe to say that there are more moderates than diehards.

    Case 1 – CCW permitted. All 50 show up with guns. (Maybe fewer; traveling with a gun can be a hassle, and it’s likely some moderates won’t bother, but let’s assume that “40 moderates” represents “40 moderates who are interested in bringing their guns” rather than “40 moderates, some of whom will leave their guns at home no matter what.”) Result: 50 armed fans.

    Case 2 – CCW forbidden. The moderates leave their guns at home or in their rooms. Half of the diehards do likewise. The other half of the diehards break the rule and carry. Result: 5 armed fans, and they’re (ahem) gunshy about getting caught, so they’re more careful not to let their guns be seen.

    Let’s see, which situation contains more opportunities for things to go wrong in an oh-shit-call-the-cops manner? The one with five guns, or the one with fifty?

    As I said, those are yanked-outta-my-ass numbers, so feel free to play with the proportions. I defy you to show me a situation in which Case 2 results in more armed fans than Case 1.

  36. KR:

    “Explicitly allowing CCW will not appreciably increase the number of guns around, since a significant percentage of people with carry permits carry despite policies barring CCW, which do not hold the weight of law in Pennsylvania. If we believed that explicitly banning CCW would actually reduce the number of firearms present in a significant way, we would have done so, but this simply isn’t a realistic position in our judgement.”

    So according to you, CCW-carriers are untrustworthy people that in no way will care about Code of Conducts? Who will ignore rules of conventions when it suits them? And none of them will ever, ever, ever listen to staff on a convention? Police will always have to be called to deal with them?

    My question is then: What is your proposal to keep these away from the convention? They seem to dangerous to be allowed in.

    ” Given the checkered past that law enforcement has had with cosplayers, and with people of color, we would rather not have to call on them unless strictly necessary.”

    Because people of colour will feel more safe with armed civilians around them? You do not think that there exists a checkered past with people of colour and armed civilians?

  37. I defy you to show me a situation in which Case 2 results in more armed fans than Case 1.

    I think KR’s thesis is that it’s not the number of guns that’s a problem, it’s the mental health of the gun bunnies. A gun bunny who feels relaxed because he can defend himself is less risk than a gun bunny who thinks that the black helicopters are about sweep down from the hills because most people have left their weapons behind, but not him, oh no, Obama’s not going to take his weapons away.
    He might even be right, given those two choices. That everyone else would rather the gun bunny remained safe in his cabin in the woods while they enjoyed themselves isn’t on KR’s list of options.

  38. nickpheas: I think KR’s thesis is that it’s not the number of guns that’s a problem, it’s the mental health of the gun bunnies… That everyone else would rather the gun bunny remained safe in his cabin in the woods while they enjoyed themselves isn’t on KR’s list of options.

    And that’s really the crux of it, isn’t it?

    The Valley Forge bidcom wants those people to come to their con. They don’t see those people as being a problem — they see them as a desirable clientele.

    At one point (and I can’t find it now, I don’t remember if it’s in this thread or another) one of the VF bidcom made the argument “what about the people who’ve already bought their memberships before a ‘no firearms’ policy was announced?”

    They want the people who are so insecure that they refuse to go anywhere without their weapons — the people who are most likely to become volatile if challenged about violating a weapons policy — to come to the VF convention.

  39. @nick:

    I really should have covered the possibility of diehards for whom a DNC policy is a dealbreaker, just as I should’ve given the moderates who leave their guns at home for convenience a little more attention. My only defense there is that I was concerned with the presence of guns at the con, not the political inclinations of people who either won’t be there or won’t be packing. The latter I saw as a mainly theoretical point; it doesn’t matter how many guns I own or what my opinions are on CCW in general if I never travel with guns. The policy does not change that behavior, no matter what it says.

    Personally, I think the “nervous gun bunny” you describe is more likely to stay away from a con with a DNC policy than to attend and violate it, and I’m more than happy with that outcome. Lose out on a couple of memberships and have less danger, or get the money and have to call the cops because There’s Been An Incident? I’ll lose the money to avoid bloodshed every time.

  40. one of the VF bidcom made the argument “what about the people who’ve already bought their memberships before a ‘no firearms’ policy was announced?”

    offer them a refund

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