Pixel Scroll 8/12/17 Of Shoes, And Scrolls, And Sealing Wax, And Pixelated Kings

(1) PAST WORLDCON CHAIRS PHOTO. In the video, they all state their names and the cons they chaired. The photo session starts to shape up at about the 35-minute mark.

Here’s the final result:

(2) HUGO RULINGS OF 2017. Here’s a unique document – a report of all the rulings and decisions made by the 2017 Hugo administrators. I don’t think that’s ever been done before. In fact, past Hugo administrators have been very reluctant to share how the sausage was made.

Questions were raised directly with us both by email and social media enquiries, both from members of the Worldcon 75 team and from other interested parties. We do not disclose the source of individual queries below, nor do we comment on questions that were not brought directly to our attention.

(3) HAUTALA GETS A BOOST. The late author received a helping hand to start his career: “Stephen King’s letter introducing Rick Hautala”.

Thanks to Gerald Winters of Gerald Winters and Son Rare Books in Bangor, ME, here’s an amazing find: a letter that Stephen King wrote to publisher Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan recommending a new in-progress book by a new writer named Rick Hautala! The book, The Dark Brother, was retitled Moondeath when it was finally published by Zebra Books in 1980.

I’m writing in hopes that you will read a manuscript in progress. It is a novel called THE DARK BROTHER by a young man named Rick Hautala. Rick works in the South Portland Walden bookstore, and a few months ago he asked me if I’d look at this script.

Gerald wrote, “After Putnam Publishers acquired CM&G, this letter was kept on their files until it was eventually acquired by the previous owner.

“Now it is back in Bangor where it will stay for anyone wishing to view.”

There’s a readable image of the letter at the site.

Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment, “Rick died of a massive heart attack four years back while out on a walk with his wife. Like all too many genre writers, he made very little money. And yes I knew him, a really nice person.”

(4) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 12, 1943 — Arthur Lubin’s Phantom of the Opera premiered. Universal originally planned this film as a comedy for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
  • August 12, 1977 — Space shuttle Enterprise completed its first free-flight test.

(5) YESTERDAY IN HISTORY

  • August 11, 1962 Haruo Nakajima takes on the Eighth Wonder in King Kong vs. Godzilla.
  • August 11, 1963 Haruo Nakajima plays the title role in Matango, opening this day in Japan.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

(7) LOOK, UP IN THE SKY. Pilots have their name stenciled on their planes – still, people are surprised that “Batman’s Plane in ‘Justice League’ Totally Gives Away His Secret Identity”.

On Thursday, Entertainment Weekly released concept art of Batman’s plane, the Flying Fox. And, fans were quick to note a surprising detail: Thanks to a Wayne Enterprises decal, Batman’s real name, “Wayne,” is written on the side. Gotta have brand awareness, I guess.

The Justice League Comic-Con sneak peak made it seem like a big deal when Cyborg dropped into Batman’s plane, hacked it, and said, “Relax, Alfred, I’ll take it from here.” While pretty much the entire Justice League will know Batman’s identity at this point in the film — Wonder Woman and the soon-to-return Superman learned it in Batman v Superman, and we already knew that Bruce Wayne would reveal that he was Batman to Barry Allen/The Flash when he was recruiting him — it was still a big moment, and a showcase of Cyborg’s impressive skillset. Within seconds, he was able to hack into a plane that was “password-protected” by the Batman, and determine his identity. Apparently, though, he could just as easily have read it off the side of the plane.

(8) QUANTUM OF SOLACE. From the BBC: “Chinese satellite sends ‘hack-proof’ message”.

China has successfully sent “hack-proof” messages from a satellite to Earth for the first time.

The Micius satellite beamed messages to two mountain-top receiving stations 645 km (400 miles) and 1,200 km away.

The message was protected by exploiting quantum physics, which says any attempt to eavesdrop on it would make detectable changes.

Using satellites avoids some limitations that ground-based systems introduce into quantum communication.

(9) EVERYTHING BUT THE OINK. Genetically modified pigs “take step toward being organ donors”.

The most genetically modified animals in existence have been created to help end a shortage of organs for transplant, say US researchers.

The scientists successfully rid 37 pigs of viruses hiding in their DNA, overcoming one of the big barriers to transplanting pig organs to people.

The team at eGenesis admits preventing pig organs from being rejected by the human body remains a huge challenge

But experts said it was a promising and exciting first step.

The study, published in the journal Science, started with skin cells from a pig.

(10) AWARD REPAIRMAN. Camestros Felapton says “Fixing the Dragon Awards isn’t my problem”, but he really can’t resist trying.

As things have turned out, the Dragons are claiming to be the big populist award, are mainly get nominations that are a rightwing-indy award, are an epitome of cliques and have found themselves to be even more political by trying to avoid being political.

How did they get into this mess? Partly by ignoring the disconnect between why the puppies disliked the Hugos and what the puppies said was structurally wrong about the Hugos. Specifically:

  • The Hugos are membership based.
  • There is a cost involved.
  • There is only one novel category.
  • There is no video game category.
  • There are voting systems and rules

So the Dragons did the opposite:

  • Any one can vote.
  • There is no cost.
  • There are multiple subgenre categories.
  • There is a specific video game category.
  • The voting is a simple tally.

The issue is that none of those approaches really get the Dragons to what they want. Just because anybody CAN vote doesn’t mean anybody WILL vote. No cost and no membership requirement makes stacking the vote trivial. The multiple categories are confusing for fans to know where to nominate things and encourage category shopping for vote campaigns.

(11) MESSAGE FICTION. People prefer their own ideas, and so have to be constantly reminded about Ray Bradbury’s real message in Fahrenheit 451. Open Road takes a turn: “Ray Bradbury Reveals the True Meaning of Fahrenheit 451: It’s Not About Censorship, But People ‘Being Turned Into Morons by TV’”.

Even those of us who’ve never read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 know it as a searing indictment of government censorship. Or at least we think we know it, and besides, what else could the story of a dystopian future where America has outlawed books whose main character burns the few remaining, secreted-away volumes to earn his living be about? It turns out that Bradbury himself had other ideas about the meaning of his best-known novel, and in the last years of his life he tried publicly to correct the prevailing interpretation — and to his mind, the incorrect one.

Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship,” wrote the Los Angeles Weekly‘s Amy E. Boyle Johnson in 2007. “Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.” Rather, he meant his 1953 novel as “a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.” It’s about, as he puts it above, people “being turned into morons by TV.”

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Martin Morse Wooster, in recommending “Helium Beer Test–Short Version With English Subtitles,” says it’s “a video on YouTube in which two German guys end up drinking ‘helium beer.’ It’s really funny and in my view fannish  but it is a spoof.” Apparently it was originally posted on April 1 a couple years ago.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]

98 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 8/12/17 Of Shoes, And Scrolls, And Sealing Wax, And Pixelated Kings

  1. @Nancy Sauer:

    I don’t object to games designed to explore heavy issues. Humans learn through play, after all. But there’s nothing in that program description, nothing at all, that would tell me that this was going to be a thoughtful exploration of the issues surrounding dementia, and not a multi-fandom play-for-laughs.

    I see nothing in the description that says it will be played for laughs; do you? (This is a more pointed version of my question that @JJ didn’t respond to.) A stronger counter is that the person professing outrage is like the southern DA who claimed that “comics” are all for kids; “game” does not necessarily mean frivolity.
    @lurkertype:

    Canceling it was the right thing to do mid-con, when nobody’s got time to explain things and it was more important to find enough space for programs.

    I can accept the first part of this — I know from the inside how hard flying decisions are with a full staff, and Helsinki may have been short for the task they ended up having — but not the second; canceling an item is not going to increase the space available for other items, because function-space walls do not float on cue.

    @Kendall: why the shudder? If Jordin Kare had survived, the first thing friend was planning to ask him was ~”Pig, plastic, or metal?”. Pig valves have been used for some time; why does using a larger piece of pig provoke? Growing human-tissue organs from scratch isn’t quite the daydream it was when Niven wrote A Gift from Earth, but what I read suggest that it’s a long way off for moving organs and not close for static ones; this might be a bridge.

    @P J Evans: I’m curious what your connection was to 1971; AFAIK the work was done by people I know directly.
    It may amuse both you and @David Bratman to know that the punch cards that year used as ballots survived well into this millennium; they wound up in the NESFA clubhouse, like many other artifacts that had previously been moldering in separate basements rather than the joint semi-basement, and were broomed during a there’s-gotta-be-something-we-can-throw-out session. (Approximation; the person who organized it might describe it differently.)

  2. @Kendall

    I’m curious what guidance you’d want to see (or they would). Just relating to not including things that aren’t part of eligible body of work, or something else besides? (IMHO it doesn’t belong in the Constitution, but a resolution could work.)

    In addition to rcade’s list of questions to be answered, a preface explaining the purpose of the Packet and discussion of its history might be useful as standard background information to send to publishers when requesting submissions for the Packet. A list of preferred formats might also be helpful.

  3. Chip, the 1972 program was the one from 1971 with the nominees changed. I have a (fading, dot matrix on greenbar) printout. There are a couple of places where things got missed that should have been changed. (Frisbie had a collection of stuff of which I now have custody. He still has the final ballots from 1984, seeing as it’s his card reader.)

  4. Rev. Bob:

    Again a cultural clash. As familiar with the finnish tradition of tragicomedies, I would have expected it to be filled with black humour and sadness.

  5. Chip Hitchcock: This is a more pointed version of my question that @JJ didn’t respond to.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but given that I had hundreds of comment notifications go through my e-mail inbox in the last few days, I’m not surprised if I missed something.

    However, I would say that several other people in this thread have offered explanations similar to what I would have said, as far as the description not being well-written enough to avoid the misunderstandings which occurred.

    I would imagine that most Filers have enough personal experience and knowledge of human interactions to know that “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?” is not the right way to respond when people get upset about something.

  6. Andrew: a preface explaining the purpose of the Packet and discussion of its history might be useful as standard background information to send to publishers when requesting submissions for the Packet. A list of preferred formats might also be helpful.

    Is there any reason to believe that that this isn’t what was done?

  7. JJ on August 13, 2017 at 9:57 pm said:

    blog post by person who completely missed the point

    Thank you for the link; to be honest this seems to me a fair description of what went down. I will add that several people I know have a problem with how one person’s outrage snowballed into something like a slap in the face of the Nordic hosts of the convention.
    If program items have to take due consideration of everybody’s sensitivity, then perhaps the power of unleashing a twitstorm should also be yielded with thought and consideration.

  8. Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: this seems to me a fair description of what went down

    I wasn’t there; I can only speak to what I saw on Twitter and Facebook.

    What I saw was people who have have had hard personal experience with Alzheimer’s expressing concern about the program item description, which did not seem to indicate that the subject was going to be handled in a sensitive manner.

    This person has done what I have seen most Finns doing on social media — complaining that it is all about prejudice against LARP.

    Which is, as I said, completely missing the point.

  9. I do not think it misses the point. People would most likely not have reacted the same if hearing about a tragicomical movie about alzheimers.

  10. Hampus Eckerman: People would most likely not have reacted the same if hearing about a tragicomical movie about alzheimers.

    I think if there had been a movie about Alzheimer’s on the film program, and the description gave people reason to be concerned that the subject would not be treated respectfully, there would have been absolutely the same reaction.

  11. @JJ:

    Is there any reason to believe that that this isn’t what was done?

    No – judging by the high quality of the recent packets, I’m sure that this was done by the recent people in charge of producing the packet, and I’d like their successful techniques to be documented so that future Worldcons can succeed as well (if there’s a place that this information is already recorded, then there’s no need to duplicate it, though).

  12. @Chip Hitchcock
    I see nothing in the description that says it will be played for laughs; do you? (This is a more pointed version of my question that @JJ didn’t respond to.) A stronger counter is that the person professing outrage is like the southern DA who claimed that “comics” are all for kids; “game” does not necessarily mean frivolity.

    I had already established that games could be used to explore serious issues, so you can leave your southern DA example outside because it isn’t needed here.

    As for the rest, it is the responsibility of the writer to see that the program blurb establishes that the game is going to be a serious look at Alzheimer’s–if only to forestall the types who think that making fun of old people is funny.

  13. A. Is there anybody here who HASN’T had personal painful experience of dementia? Because it’s not as if it’s rare.
    B. There are plenty of really royally pissed off fans on the larping side as well

  14. Should we cancel items where a blurb author has failed? Nope. This is more a question of how items should be handled by the con when sudden criticism appears. And here it wasn’t handled as well as it could have been.

    Not a criticism per se, I know how you often want to act quickly when problems arise. More a question of if routines could have solved this at an earlier stage or better at the late stage.

  15. Regarding the Voter’s Packet – this is part of what the administrators sent:

    As a Finalist for the 2017 Best Fanzine Hugo Award, you are invited to participate in the Hugo Voter Packet.

    Distributed by each year’s Worldcon, this is a compilation of electronic documents which contains many of the finalists (or representative samples of their work), to assist Hugo voters in making an informed decision when voting their ballot.

    This sample should consist of one or more works from your Fanzine from 2016 which relate to speculative fiction or SFF fandom. All works should be from the calendar year 2016.

    We are working to release the initial packet in late April, and our deadline is fast approaching. If you would like to include your finalist work in this initial release, we encourage you to send it to us, in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats if possible,

    They also included in FAQ addressing the purpose of the packet, who gets access to it, do you need to include a full work, other questions – and then if you have a question not covered here, please contact us at XXX e-mail address.

    Having never been a finalist before, I can’t say how this compares to previous years, but the Hugo administrative team did a fantastic job this year in a number of ways (those extra reports were also above and beyond)

  16. What I saw was people who have have had hard personal experience with Alzheimer’s expressing concern about the program item description, which did not seem to indicate that the subject was going to be handled in a sensitive manner.

    That wasn’t the only criticism, though. The person who shared the program description on Twitter and expressed offense also said this: “Disability is not a game.”

    The blog post you describe as “missing the point” was addressing the idea that a “game” is not an acceptable medium to explore a topic like Alzheimer’s. I think there are some good points in that post, which states this:

    Such position completely ignores the work that has been done for decades in Nordic LARP and in digital indie “art games” (and also within the academic traditions of game studies) to expand the range of games and play for cultural expression, and to remove expectation or stigma of automatic trivialism from the interactive forms of art and culture.

    In the comments to that post, there’s a link to a screenshot where Worldcon 75 stated in a Facebook post that the subject of Alzheimer’s is not suitable for roleplaying.

    The LARP description was poorly worded, but I think Worldcon 75 handled the cancellation badly as well. Declaring a subject unfit for roleplaying, when Finland has a tradition of serious-minded LARP play, is a disservice to one of the aspects of local fandom the con program organizers were trying to celebrate.

    Worldcon 75 later issued a new statement that called their original one “neither a fair nor a full report of the facts.”

  17. @Chip Hitchcock: I shudder because the idea of a pig’s organ replacing mine creeps me out just a little bit. (In contrast, getting a transplant and finding out the organ came from a serial killer or whatever wouldn’t bother me. I vaguely recall a SFF story along these lines, so it crossed my mind as part of “what would/wouldn’t weird me out.”) BTW I didn’t get a chance to read the article yet – didn’t know pig valves were used. Interesting, thanks.

  18. @JJ: the comment you missed was a request to parse out what in the description photocopied to here (search for “Katy Keen”) was an issue. The word “tragicomedy” doesn’t appear here; if you can get an image of text that does, please provide for those of us who are following this via a pipe rather than in person. Re the blog post: No, they’re not missing the point; they raised the same issue I did (and that others have pointed out) — that people assumed LARPing could not be serious — with a some associated heat but not nearly as much as would have been raised had the cases been reversed. Can you not imagine the cries of “cultural imperialism” that would have been raised if a group of foreigners had started a tweetstorm about something that a US convention and all its US attendees considered at least harmless if not direly important?

    @Nancy Sauer: I see no reason for the description writers to try to tell every sensitive person that the topic won’t impinge on their particular sensitivity; that’s akin to the result of making something idiotproof. Note also that I said “the person professing outrage”, not “you”.

    @Anna Feruglio Dal Dan: I can’t claim direct experience with someone with diagnosed Alzheimers. OTOH, I’ve had to deal with spillover, and directly with a case where periodic depression produced some similar lack of carefulness.

    @Kendall: fair enough — everybody has something that just gets to them.

  19. @Chip Hitchcock: BTW of course, it’s a personal thing for me, not anyone else. And if I’m ever on a transplant list, my squick will probably get overridden by my desire for a transplant, right? 😉 Something like in Niven’s A Gift From Earth probably wouldn’t weird me out.

    @rcade: Thanks for that list! Most answers seems clear to me, or at least, answers I feel make the most sense (especially #1; there’s no guarantee any creators will contribute a single thing, and if we don’t require a Hugo ceremony, why require a Hugo packet, which requires on the kindness of creators & publishers). But guidance never hurts!

    I would hope the answers to be #1 Con’s discretion, #2 not obligated, #3 should omit (BTW you left out a third option – up to the con), #4 poorly worded (correct answer IMHO: con’s discretion but don’t alter their words), #5 up to the con (you left out two options: include in packet or up to the con), #6 yes (WSFS can’t force a con to include something that could put them at legal risk in their jurisdiction), and #7 no (these things take time; trying to mandate a date seems impractical).

    Just my take on it, but they seem like common sense things (or practical/impractical things). Probably some weird edge cases I’m glossing over, so take the above with a small grain of salt.

    @Andrew: The preface sounds like a good idea. Preferred formats from WSFS – well, tech changes, so IMHO the guidance there (if any) should be more general, not a list of current formats. Hmm, well, if it’s a document someone maintains and not something that’s voted on by the WSFS Biz Meeting, then more specifics are okay – I’d just hate to see something that specific (along with dates) in an actual WSFS resolution or amendment, but maybe that’s just me.

  20. Chip Hitchcock: The word “tragicomedy” doesn’t appear here; if you can get an image of text that does, please provide for those of us who are following this via a pipe rather than in person.

    Since I never used the word “tragicomedy”, I am unsure why you are demanding that I show where it was used.

  21. Chip Hitchcock: Can you not imagine the cries of “cultural imperialism” that would have been raised if a group of foreigners had started a tweetstorm about something that a US convention and all its US attendees considered at least harmless if not direly important?

    Certainly, I can imagine it — and if that had happened, I would be saying the same thing that I’m saying now: “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?” is not the right way to respond when people get upset about something.

  22. Kendall: well, if it’s a document someone maintains and not something that’s voted on by the WSFS Biz Meeting, then more specifics are okay – I’d just hate to see something that specific (along with dates) in an actual WSFS resolution or amendment, but maybe that’s just me.

    Oh, I can guarantee you that something that specific regarding the packet would never make it past the WSFS Business Meeting members into the Constitution.

    The absolute most that would be likely, I think, would be a one- or two-sentence bit along the lines of “Creation of a packet of as many of the finalist works as possible for dissemination to, and use by, the voters for the purpose of determining the ranking of their final ballot, is encouraged.” in the Resolutions of Continuing Effect.

  23. I would hope the answers to be #1 Con’s discretion …

    I don’t think providing a Hugo packet should be optional any more. It’s a vital part of the voting experience and helps encourage participation. Any Worldcon that chose not to do the packet would get hammered.

    I see little downside to formalizing the expectation that there will be a packet each year, with some language to state the guidelines for each year’s release and the aspects where the Hugo administrators can exercise discretion.

    There has been a packet every year since 2011, by my personal count, and it may go back further. No Worldcon is likely to end this streak. We all want more Hugo voters and the packet is a big part of furthering that goal.

  24. Certainly, I can imagine it — and if that had happened, I would be saying the same thing that I’m saying now: “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?” is not the right way to respond when people get upset about something.

    The main reason I did not speak up was because on the face of any outrage it is difficult to formulate a response that doesn’t come across as hostile. I did not, in point of fact, see why people were so horrified, and I have, indeed, lost a beloved family member to dementia.

    What did trouble me was one famous author regaling an appreciative audience with “I use the masculine gender for the generic third person, and if somebody has a problem with it they can call my agent – or my lawyer”, a program item that asked the question “why is anti-war fiction still being written”, and the repeated going back (from people who I know for a fact know better, which shows what a powerful narrative it is) to the idea that conflict is a) something that happens outside the motherland, b) that happens between soldiers, and c) that soldiers are such through choice. (All ideas that are natural if you are a US citizen, especially a civilian, but that go counter the European experience.)

    Thing is, I didn’t complain to the concom or tried to get Twitter to shut down the panels. I did what I went to the con in person to do: I talked about this to people there, as well as on social media. I wanted a discussion, not a crusade. And to the extent that I came across as owner in perpetuity of the moral high ground, I am sorry.

  25. JJ: Chip Hitchcock: Can you not imagine the cries of “cultural imperialism” that would have been raised if a group of foreigners had started a tweetstorm about something that a US convention and all its US attendees considered at least harmless if not direly important?
    Certainly, I can imagine it — and if that had happened, I would be saying the same thing that I’m saying now: “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?” is not the right way to respond when people get upset about something.

    Even without the internet, that’s how it looked at the 1984 Worldcon when the Britain in ’87 bidders showed up and expected the con to give them a free bid table because that’s how things were done back home. But Americans didn’t campaign that way — and the L.A.con II committee reacted that if they wanted a table, they should hire one in the dealers room like everyone else.

    At American cons up to that time campaigning was done at room parties or individual conversations. When the concept behind the complaint was explained to me, I remember my two reactions being (1) who wants to pay to go to a con and sit at a table and miss everything else, and (2) now that the bastards have introduced us to the concept, that’s what we’re all going to be forced into doing from now on (which proved to be the case).

    A version of the British complaint — that the con had reneged on the offer of a free table — became part of the outrage expressed at the Business Meeting which passed a motion to censure the committee.

    For the curious, the fuller and more complicated story of how the concom tried to resolve the table issue is detailed in Colin Fine’s item in the October 1984 Ansible. And you can see between the lines of his description that the committee was still awkwardly grappling with the previously unheard of concept of the convention bid table. (Because why the heck would anybody want to sit at a table all day? Ironically, Bruce Pelz came to love doing precisely that in later years.)

  26. The case of the canceled larp offers quite a fascinating perspective on some cultural differences and conflicts that might arise in an international fandom setting. Hopefully there’s something to learn in there for all parties involved.

    The way Worldcon75 handled it was quite unfortunate, but I guess these things are sometimes bound to happen when you have little time to react.

    For (unnecessary) context, the person whose blog post JJ linked to is the Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media in Tampere University and by far the most prominent academic games scholar in Finland.

    I don’t feel he was terribly far off the mark, but all things considered, I’m not sure that debating heatedly one single larp’s cancellation due to miscommunication is the best way to promote Nordic LARP culture.

  27. a program item that asked the question “why is anti-war fiction still being written”, and the repeated going back (from people who I know for a fact know better, which shows what a powerful narrative it is) to the idea that conflict is a) something that happens outside the motherland, b) that happens between soldiers, and c) that soldiers are such through choice. (All ideas that are natural if you are a US citizen, especially a civilian, but that go counter the European experience.)

    I originally wanted to go to that panel, but now I’m glad I didn’t bother.

  28. I originally wanted to go to that panel, but now I’m glad I didn’t bother.

    I see that I seem to give the impression that I did go – I went to a couple of panels on the military sf stream, but I kept getting angry so I decided going to that one would probably result in my blowing a gasket.

  29. the idea that conflict is a) something that happens outside the motherland, b) that happens between soldiers

    The military SF panels confirmed that this particular subgenre is still very much ruled by US experiences and tastes.

    To me, that’s a fascinating inversion and/or forgetting. On the occasions when I’ve contemplated a response to why the U.S. doesn’t make a big thing out of November 11, it ran along the lines of “We’d been observing a remembrance day for the previous half-century, because we’d had a war at home while Europe’s war dead were due to colonialism and thus safely invisible.” Like most smart answers this has gaping holes (I was reminded how holey on a visit to San Diego, whose economy was originally built on supplying hides for leather — substantially for European wars), but there was a time when the U.S. did not think of war as remote. Some of us still don’t: one of my great-uncles died in the Civil War — but that family line is temporally elongated.

    @JJ: okay, let’s take the next step: to what extent is a tourist expected to learn about local customs — or to make sure they understand what is being said — before complaining of offense? wrt my request to you for documentation: I read your remarks as saying that there was additional printed material that was more offensive than the only description we couldn’t-be-theres have seen (regardless of specific words); was that your intent, and if so what was this material? Or can you point to an issue with the material I linked back to?

    @OGH: I’ve been around bidding too long; I’d forgotten there ever was a time when bidders didn’t have tables. (Possibly fading memory has confused bid tables with post-vote registration tables?) IIRC the change would have happened soon after 1984; 1992 (where I first did floorplans) was unusual not because it had tables but because the tables were associated with minigolf holes. ISTM that providing the tables was a Good Thing — the Fannish Inquisition requires voters to give up a time slot and to sit through propaganda before getting to hard questions (as well as silly questions) — and LAcon 2 certainly had room for them, but I can see the initial culture clash being more friction than needed in real time.

  30. 11. “a searing indictment of government censorship”

    If I remember correctly, the book’s text itself explicitly and literally says it wasn’t governmental led censorship that banned books, but a populist movement.

    Anyway, it’s a book. It can be “about” multiple things. Being turned into morons by TV doesn’t mean that censorship is suddenly not relevant to the text.

  31. @ Kendall

    I shudder because the idea of a pig’s organ replacing mine creeps me out just a little bit.

    Given medical “informed consent” requirements, it wouldn’t be done without you having the option of knowing about it. I say “option of knowing” because there’s sometimes a lot of information in the full disclosure statements for medical treatments. But let me offer a parallel example. The pharmaceutical that my employer produces (which treats a life-threatening condition by offering a bioengineered substitute of a complex molecule not produced by the patient’s body) is “grown” in hamster cells. The difference between growing a specific molecule in a non-human cell and using a non-human organ is one of degree rather than kind. To the best of my knowledge, no manufacturer that is producing a product similar to the one my company produces does it by any means other than via non-human cells at this point, because that’s the safest, most reliable, and cheapest way to do it. This sort of thing is not at all new or unusual these days.

  32. Chip Hitchcock: JJ: okay, let’s take the next step: to what extent is a tourist expected to learn about local customs — or to make sure they understand what is being said — before complaining of offense? wrt my request to you for documentation: I read your remarks as saying that there was additional printed material that was more offensive than the only description we couldn’t-be-theres have seen (regardless of specific words); was that your intent, and if so what was this material? Or can you point to an issue with the material I linked back to?

    Please read this carefully:

    “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?” is not the right way to respond when people get upset about something.

    I don’t care what sort of intent or meaning you’ve decided to ascribe to my words, and I’m not interested in playing your little game. You’ll have to see if you can find someone who is more gullible.

  33. @JJ

    “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?” is not the right way to respond when people get upset about something.

    What might be the right way to respond when people get upset, then? Because in my experience people can get upset about anything for quite often no rational reason at all.

    I find the LARP incident to be another example of the internet hate mobs attacking something they do not think should exist even though they actually know almost nothing about the object of their sudden rage and it has nothing to do with them. Much like the YA book attacks mentioned in earlier Scrolls.

    If someone had gone to the LARP and came away upset I think it would be reasonable to complain or if it seemed to be some kind of attack on someone. But this at worst looked like it would be in bad taste and if you thought you would dislike it you had an easy solution open to you, i.e. not playing the game.

  34. Re: transplants — a good friend of mine had his life saved a few years ago by a kidney transplant. He absolutely refused to allow his friends/family to test for compatibility; he only wanted a cadaver kidney. He has never explained why (at least, not to me), but he was adamant.

    He very nearly died before he got the transplant — dialysis machines only do so much, and there’s a constant risk of infection — but he’s now hale and healthy.

  35. This may not be correct, but it’s my understanding that kidney transplants can be extremely risky for the donors, not just in terms of the procedures. It’s not unusual for donors to find themselves with long-term and potentially debilitating health issues. I’d be reluctant to let my friends sign up for that as well.

  36. @JJ: I don’t play games; apparently you do. Read my questions carefully and without assuming you know what I’m really asking, and try answering them honestly instead acting like a broken record. Do you believe that taking offense is always privileged? Do you not believe it useful to say why something is offensive? (“You should know what’s wrong” is a game right out of Eric Berne or a sexist sitcom.) I have not made the assertion that offense at any of the text presented was unjustified because it looked OK to me (do you have independent confirmation that the concom reaction was as blunt as you quote?); I have asked repeatedly what the problem is.

  37. @ Magewolf

    I find the LARP incident to be another example of the internet hate mobs attacking something they do not think should exist even though they actually know almost nothing about the object of their sudden rage and it has nothing to do with them.

    This is a gross mischaracterization. What this is another example of is people trying to be proactively aware of situations that might “have nothing to do with them” but that might cause significant harm, distress, or exclusion to others who may not themselves have the resources or emotional energy to raise the issue, either in advance or in the moment.

    Questioning whether an unfortunately described game (or panel topic, or lecture, or costume) is being presented in a thoughtful way or is being used as an entertainment with no regard for the well being of those that it does “have to do with” is not an “internet hate mob”. It’s more in line with an “internet love mob”.

    Whether or not the LARP in question in this specific instance was benign and supportive or careless and mocking, the motivation behind those who questioned it was the same as that behind questioning programming that appears to have potential to be misogynistic, racist, ableist or other “ist”s that have for too long been considered an acceptable part of fannish culture because they “had nothing to do with” those who made the decisions and wouldn’t be harmed by them.

    There’s a good parallel here with the movement toward employing sensitivity readers when writing fiction outside one’s own personal experiences (which, of course, ideally would be all fiction). Acknowledging that no one person will see a scenario from all sides, and that bringing in multiple divergent viewpoint can help identify problematic aspects that can be fixed without throwing out the entire baby+bathwater, is a good idea for the future. I would encourage all Worldcons (and perhaps especially those run by US fans) to bring in a group of diverse international programming reviewers to provide feedback on which items may need better framing, or may be unintentionally harmful.

    It’s not at all uncommon for a programming item to be phrased or described in a way that mischaracterizes the original intent, or that seemed like a fun “inside joke” to the proposers but won’t seem that funny to segments of the convention membership. I know, for example, that the program wording that described the pronoun panel and this past worldcon raised the hackles of a number of people who are excited and energized around SFF worldbuilding that involves diverse takes on gender and its representation. Similarly, I myself have been on panels (not worldcon) in the past where someone came up with a clickbait-style title or description and the panelists retrieved it from disaster by saying, “Look, here is the underlying interesting topic, and we’re going to talk about that, not go down the rabbit hole of the problematic panel title.”

    Any time an event is put together by people from within a specific social circle (and even something as big as a worldcon tends to draw from within specific social networks, especially on a function-by-function basis) there is a hazard that they will think certain aspects will be obvious to any rational observer…because they’re all rational observers and it’s obvious to them, isn’t it?

  38. Chip Hitchcock: I don’t play games; apparently you do. Read my questions carefully and without assuming you know what I’m really asking, and try answering them honestly instead acting like a broken record.

    I read your questions carefully; I didn’t just “assume” I knew what you were really asking.

    The reason I am “acting like a broken record”, as you put it, is because you keep demanding that I answer your little Spanish Inquisition as if I was one of the people who complained about the LARP description. The only point that I have made here is that if a bunch of people get upset about a program item, then the appropriate response is to try to have a discussion with them about what they found upsetting instead of just insisting, out-of-hand, that their concerns are unfounded and illegitimate.

    You say, “I have asked repeatedly what the problem is.” Really? Apart from me, who have you asked? Have you contacted any of the people who expressed unhappiness with the program item? Or are you just demanding, for some wildly irrational reason, that I should serve as their proxy?

     
    Chip Hitchcock: “do you have independent confirmation that the concom reaction was as blunt as you quote?

    I’m not quoting the concom. I’m quoting a bunch of Finnish fans from Twitter and Facebook who say that they don’t see a problem with the program description and that therefore there is no legitimate reason to be upset and the people who are upset are just prejudiced against LARPs.

     
    Chip Hitchcock: “You should know what’s wrong” is a game right out of Eric Berne or a sexist sitcom.

    As I never said anything remotely resembling this, nor did I use the word “tragicomedy”, nor did I say anything resembling “there was additional printed material that was more offensive than the only description we couldn’t-be-theres have seen”, yes, I think that you are the one trying to play games.

    You will find that people who keep attempting to falsely put words in my mouth, as you have repeatedly done, have very little credibility with me, and I will not be playing your game.

  39. JJ on August 15, 2017 at 8:29 am said:
    Chip Hitchcock: JJ: okay, let’s take the next step: to what extent is a tourist expected to learn about local customs — or to make sure they understand what is being said — before complaining of offense? wrt my request to you for documentation: I read your remarks as saying that there was additional printed material that was more offensive than the only description we couldn’t-be-theres have seen (regardless of specific words); was that your intent, and if so what was this material? Or can you point to an issue with the material I linked back to?

    Please read this carefully:

    “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?” is not the right way to respond when people get upset about something.

    I don’t care what sort of intent or meaning you’ve decided to ascribe to my words, and I’m not interested in playing your little game. You’ll have to see if you can find someone who is more gullible.

    JJ, repeating what you have said when people have tried to respond to it doesn’t make you automatically right. What you said was I think an unfair way to characterize what has gone on, but people have tried to have a discussion about it with you. You just shut them down and call them names. To wit, just because somebody is offended doesn’t mean that their offense is real, completely righteous and actionable. It’s a very wise move to take it seriously, but the only possible course of action is NOT to immediately and without discussion remove the object of offense.

    Sometimes giving offense is part of a discourse that generates progress. The Pride marches I have been on have certainly, and knowingly, generated offense, outrage and revulsion in (many of ) the onlookers. That is part of the reason I supported them: because being tolerated when you accept to stay in the shadows and offend nobody with your existence is not acceptance. It could be argued that the larp in question was trying to do something very similar: bring the horrors and the awful humor of dementia out of the shadows so that it can be thought of and accepted for what it is, and not as a nameless horror whose reality needs to be whispered and feared.

  40. This is a gross mischaracterization. What this is another example of is people trying to be proactively aware of situations that might “have nothing to do with them” but that might cause significant harm, distress, or exclusion to others who may not themselves have the resources or emotional energy to raise the issue, either in advance or in the moment.

    Questioning whether an unfortunately described game (or panel topic, or lecture, or costume) is being presented in a thoughtful way or is being used as an entertainment with no regard for the well being of those that it does “have to do with” is not an “internet hate mob”. It’s more in line with an “internet love mob”.

    I have seen this go down. I know the people involved. I have seen explicit calls to a SMOF to “do something” about the panel when the initial twitstorm wasn’t effective quickly enough, with the result that the program item was cancelled without consulting or informing the people involved in running it – who had, btw, been ASKED by the con to run it. At no point did the originators of the outrage ask themselves if maybe, perhaps, there was more to it that what it looked like to them.

    And I am sorry that, seeing it go down, I didn’t have the guts to say, wait a minute, I don’t get why this is so offensive? Maybe it’s not? That is on me. I had a channel to get out of the knee-jerk reaction and I didn’t use it, because I wasn’t brave enough and I lacked the spoons for it. I always told myself that I was the person that speaks up and in this case I didn’t want to upset my friends so I kept mum. I expected better from myself.

    I think the ConCom also should not have reacted with such a panicked response: but they were running a 7,000 people convention purely on volunteer work, and a convention that had gone from 3,500 to 7,000 under their horrified eyes in the last two months, so I am cutting them a lot of slack. And they erred on the side of caution, so that the solution would offend “their” people and not the guests, which I guess is a sound principle of hospitality.

    I think in fandom we do have a small problem with knee-jerk outrage. It’s not as big a problem as sexism or ableism or homophobia or racism; but it is a problem nonetheless, because one of the side effects is that creating a storm about the insensitive description of a panel that turned out to be about a thoughtful examination of disability cheapens and undermines all the times when outrage is warranted.

  41. @JJ: as long as you’re complaining about my putting words in your mouth, please find
    (a) where \I/ said “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?”, or where I defended anyone else saying this;
    (b) “You should know what’s wrong” is not a literal quote — but it is a fair summary of your attitude in this matter.

    The reason I continued to ask you personally about this issue is that you were the first person I saw here (i.e., someone I could ask and might get an answer from) reacting against this. I have never tried to make you a proxy; I have repeatedly asked you, specifically, what you saw was wrong with the item as shown — or with any other formal representation (as opposed to distorted re-quotes) of the item that you might have seen but I had not. Your continued false accusations of me would remove all credibility from your complaints even if you hadn’t come up with your latest nonsense about the unthinking attacks on the item constituting “questioning”.

  42. Anna Feruglio: You just shut them down and call them names.

    What a bizarre accusation. I haven’t shut anyone down, nor have I called anyone names.

    I simply refused to be drawn into a little game of Inquisition, saying that the way issues like this should be handled is by getting the involved parties together to have a discussion (preferably one that is as calm as possible).

  43. Chip Hitchcock: Please find where \I/ said “It didn’t bother me, so how could it have bothered anyone else?”, or where I defended anyone else saying this

    Since I never accused you of saying this or defending it, why should I be expected to point out where you did it?

     
    Chip Hitchcock: “You should know what’s wrong” is not a literal quote — but it is a fair summary of your attitude in this matter.

    No, it is not. That is something you have conjured out of whole cloth. A fair summary of my attitude in this matter is “issues like this should be handled is by getting the involved parties together to have a discussion (preferably one that is as calm as possible).”

    It seems to me that from the very beginning of this discussion, you decided what you thought my point and my “attitude” were, and you have continually tried to mold my words to your perception, instead of actually reading my words and trying to understand what I was saying.

  44. No, at the start of this discussion I asked you what was wrong; you repeatedly fobbed me off with absolutes. Any attitude comes right from your writing; you should perhaps read carefully what Anna wrote, since you’re responding to your imagination of my writing.

  45. Chip Hitchcock: No, at the start of this discussion I asked you what was wrong; you repeatedly fobbed me off with absolutes.

    No, I didn’t “fob you off with absolutes”. I repeatedly refused to play your little game of Spanish Inquisition, saying only that the appropriate response is to try to have a discussion with the people who got upset about what they found upsetting, instead of just insisting, out-of-hand, that their concerns are unfounded and illegitimate.

    And because you weren’t getting the response from me which you wanted, you kept pretending that I’d said things I hadn’t said (and later claimed that I’d thought things I hadn’t thought, as if you are a mind reader and have any insight into what I think 🙄 ).

    I’ve had enough of your bullshit. You have repeatedly been unable to provide quotes and hyperlinks to where I actually said any of the things you claimed I said. And every time I’ve pointed out that one of your claims is bullshit, you’ve switched to a different spurious claim.

    Provide those actual quotes and hyperlinks, or stop harassing me.

    Better yet, provide those actual quotes and hyperlinks, and stop harassing me.

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