A Holiday Weekend With Comments 9/3

While your host is still working back up to full velocity, here’s a fresh post to ornament with you comments and continued discussions.

438 thoughts on “A Holiday Weekend With Comments 9/3

  1. Oh, hey, if you’re ready now, I’ll drive. Because capitalism isn’t always heartless.

  2. Finally, I mean, uh, thanks, @Cheryl S.! Woo-hoo, capitalism has heart!

    ::slips a fiver to Cheryl:: Hey! ::make that a tenner:: Ooh, front seat! 😀

  3. Cheryl S. on September 5, 2016 at 8:14 pm said:
    … But…yeah, I continue to think Paulk was very brave to stand up in what must have felt to her like a den of lions. I also thought the lack of hissing and booing is probably a contributor to her notion that it was a room full of mostly nice people deluded by a few evil overlords.

    Maybe she was brave, but it felt more like nervy, or even like a whole lot of gall.
    I mean, considering that we were all there at (it felt like) dawn on the morning after the night before to put out the fires that she helped start.
    My experience was the same as JJ’s: that she was essentially insisting that if we passed the dog-proofing measures people would start behaving like puppies.
    Insulting and illogical and frankly just nutty.
    It wasn’t really even an argument against; it was just a weird amalgam of projection and talking points.
    It was nowhere near charming.
    I was proud of the room for just letting her have her say, and then just carrying on with the work at hand, rather than following her down the rabbit hole.

  4. @Kurt Busiek

    You may be curious about what the logic was, but apparently only so you can take a shot at debunking it at great length.

    Remember, your comment claimed hypocrisy and dishonesty in Paulk’s Business Meeting comments, which I only semi-remembered from the bizarre experience of being there, so I asked: Hypocrisy and dishonesty in what regard specifically?

    I asked because I really was curious. You’d be right that I was doubtful, because I couldn’t remember anything Paulk said during said brief comments that seemed likely to qualify, and because impugning, without compelling cause, the motives of those you disagree with has a pretty disreputable history generally, especially on the Internet. But I really had no idea what you referring to within the referenced remarks. I still don’t. Which is fine: Life’s entirely imperfect.

    It was quite odd that pretty nearly the entire discourse that followed was about everything under the sun Paulk has said other than the referenced comments, but I rather expect that, too.

    You and several other people seem unsatisfied with showing that Ms. Paulk is grossly incorrect and moreover very conveniently so, and also want to insist on demonising her motives. I see that further allegation as superfluous at best — and as making my side, the WSFS side, look frankly petty by association. But you’re most certainly welcome to whatever your contrary view is.

    For my part, she’s welcome at further Business Meetings. Maybe she’ll make sense next time.

    @lauowolf:

    My experience was the same as JJ’s: that she was essentially insisting that if we passed the dog-proofing measures people would start behaving like puppies. Insulting and illogical and frankly just nutty.

    I entirely agree. But that, you will note, is not in any obvious way hypocrisy nor dishonesty. Thus my curiosity.

  5. No, really, no charge. And the front seat is still all yours. 😉

    @JJ – You know, you’re probably right. She expected that if people were disagreeing with, or feeling insulted by, what she was saying, that they would have reacted the way Puppies do — booing, hissing, shouting insults, instead of maintaining a respectful silence.

    Since nobody did any of that, she probably thought we were all just fine with what she was saying.”

    I don’t agree that Kate Paulk thought we were all just fine with it – the motion didn’t go her way after all, and the vote wasn’t all that close – but she did get respectful silence and a scattering of applause when she finished. In other words, the rest of the business meeting did not act like the SJWs of her imagination.

    @lauwolf – Maybe she was brave, but it felt more like nervy, or even like a whole lot of gall.

    I mean, considering that we were all there at (it felt like) dawn on the morning after the night before to put out the fires that she helped start.
    My experience was the same as JJ’s: that she was essentially insisting that if we passed the dog-proofing measures people would start behaving like puppies.
    Insulting and illogical and frankly just nutty.

    I tend to take people at their word and she describes herself as an extreme introvert. That had to make getting up to speak difficult. Thinking she was surrounded by people who disliked her wouldn’t have made that any easier. I don’t like the word nutty, but I agree with the general assessment overall. It wasn’t logical at all and really did better fit a speech in favor of.

    eta, now that I’ve fixed my tags, @Hampus, I’m worried about your liver.

  6. laouwolf: My experience was the same as JJ’s: that she was essentially insisting that if we passed the dog-proofing measures people would start behaving like puppies. Insulting and illogical and frankly just nutty.

    I didn’t think she was just saying we would start doing that. I got the impression she was also saying that we had already been doing that for years. Which is why I found her little speech so offensive and hypocritical.

  7. @Hampus

    Do a google search on “Hugo Awards” and “libraries” and you will see a quite clear indication of that plenty of libraries hold the Hugos in high esteem.

    I did just that: put “Hugo Awards” [in quotes] and “libraries [not in quotes] into the Google search field, and looked at the first 20 returned links (two pages). None of them indicated that plenty of libraries hold the Hugos in high esteem (none of them indicated that _any_ libraries hold Hugos in high esteem; they uniformly treated “Hugo winners” as something to list, just like books about the Civil War, or NY Times best sellers, or cookbooks for summer grilling).

    Mostly they were library sites with lists of Hugo winning or nominated works, with links to their catalog entries for those works. Some blogs with mentions of recent Hugo ceremonies, and lists of winners. A couple indicated that SF fans hold Hugo winners in high esteem.

    I have no doubt that some libraries hold Hugo winners in high esteem. But Google doesn’t show that, not without at least digging through a lot of chaff first.

  8. also want to insist on demonising her motives.

    I’m not sure how a charge of hypocrisy demonizes her motives, but then, I’m also not sure how years of exposure involves rushing to judgment when it’s not the judgment you would make. But I also don’t care a whole lot — you use words in a way that I clearly don’t, and I’ll just mentally note that when you’re trying to goad someone into an argument, you either consciously or unconsciously throw in what come off to me as pointless and disconnected insults.

    So be it.

    But you’re most certainly welcome to whatever your contrary view is.

    Thanks.

  9. @JJ:

    Rick, maybe it was because you couldn’t actually hear what she was saying, but I know you said you thought her presentation at the WSFS Business Meeting was “rather charming” or words to that effect.

    This was not long after adjournment for the day (on the day we passed 3SV).

    What I meant to say — the problem being that I was still trying to process what I’d semi-heard — is that I was ‘rather charmed’ by the civil and respectful tone and manner, which was so much better than what I expected when I heard her give her name that I was grateful that, and, er…, what was that strange thing she concluded with? You may recall the prior time we had a self-identified Puppy take the mic, in Spokane. It was a guy who first belligerently tried to ignore the agenda and quarrel with a prior speaker (and was ruled out of order), tried to tangle a bit with the front table (and they didn’t take the bait), and attempted to move to adjourn sine die just before EPH discussion (and utterly failed). And then stormed out at a break and didn’t come back. Point is, I was rather relieved to see nothing like that a second time.

    At the time I said I was ‘charmed’ (meaning, though I failed to clarify and was still sorting out my reaction) by her surprisingly constructive manner, I really couldn’t entirely recall the conclusion she’d reached — which in any event was so incoherent that it had no impact on the meeting. In context, it was a small waste of everyone’s time, but small compared to the wastes of time committed by some regulars.

    And maybe, if we’re lucky, she and/or some others will eventually notice that she got to benefit from the same rules as all other WSFS members in attendance, and got exactly the same chance to make her case (and IMO blew it). It could happen.

  10. @Bill, maybe try that again with Hugo Awards in quotes and then librarians, not in quotes. I did and my results were different than yours.

  11. Mostly they were library sites with lists of Hugo winning or nominated works, with links to their catalog entries for those works.

    I don’t think you are quite understanding how libraries work. That is holding a work in high esteem. Do the same search with “Prometheus Award” in place of “Hugo Award”, and you will find no entries from any libraries.

  12. @Kurt: ‘I’m not sure how a charge of hypocrisy demonizes her motives’

    Hypocrisy isn’t a moral charge? I believe that you think so, if you say it, but it seems odd. But I’ll note that you also said dishonesty.

    ‘ I’m also not sure how years of exposure involves rushing to judgment when it’s not the judgment you would make.’

    If you truly had years of exposure to her Kansas City Business Meeting comments (what was actually in question), then may I borrow your TARDIS?

    Anyway, perfectly glad to agree to disagree.

  13. Hypocrisy isn’t a moral charge? I believe that you think so, if you say it,

    And, not unexpectedly, I didn’t.

    What I did say is still there to be read. Moral charges and motives aren’t the same thing, even if they start with the same two letters.

  14. Kurt, if saying someone displayed hypocrisy (and dishonesty) isn’t impugning that person’s motives, that’s news to me (whether you class that as a moral charge or not). But as you say, apparently we use similar words but mean different things, so our semantic maps are just from different cartographers. Have fun!

  15. @Aaron

    I don’t think you are quite understanding how libraries work. That is holding a work in high esteem. Do the same search with “Prometheus Award” in place of “Hugo Award”, and you will find no entries from any libraries.

    I would view it more as a statement that Hugo Awards are more well known than Prometheus Awards, not that the awardees are more esteemed.

  16. Kurt, if calling someone a hypocrite (and calling that person dishonest) isn’t impugning that person’s motives, that’s news to me

    Frankly, I can’t figure out how that would work. If someone was dishonest about their motives, or hypocritical about their motives, sure, but beyond that, I’m not sure why the two have to match up. I think Superman’s often dishonest, to pick a handy example, but his motives are pretty swell. Even his motives for the dishonesty, usually.

    But please don’t feel a need to explain. I’m good with how I use the words.

  17. Rick Moen:

    …by her surprisingly constructive manner, I really couldn’t entirely recall the conclusion she’d reached — which in any event was so incoherent that it had no impact on the meeting.”

    This does seem to be mutually exclusive.

  18. Hampus, I’d like to say yes, but no, Paulk’s manner was (a major part of) the disarmingly good bit. I didn’t really quite process the bizarre conclusion and ‘get’ all of what she’d said — what made it in aggregate a bit incoherent — until quite a bit later.

    FWIW, I looked up in Rachael Acks’s ever-useful liveblogging report from Sasquan’s Sunday Business Meeting who the slightly-misbehaved Puppyista was: one Thomas Monaghan. I’m pretty sure the initial thing that set him off was some generally rather mild but ill-advised remarks by (I think) Lisa Hayes right at the beginning of consideration of EPH. Whoever it was, the chair directed that speaker to (paraphrasing) please address the issue under consideration and not lambaste groups or individuals. Monaghan attempted to claim the first speaker’s remarks as reason why he was defending the honour of genus Canidae, or something like that, but was cut off appropriately and told, no, put on your parliamentary hat, bub. The lame attempt to adjourn sine die followed soon after that.

  19. “Hampus, I’d like to say yes, but no, Paulk’s manner was (a major part of) the disarmingly good bit. “

    I have absolutely no idea how someones manner can be constructive when it is used to be incoherent.

  20. Rick, he was also responsible for at least a couple of other major incidents at Sasquan, one of which involved monopolizing the conversation at P.C. Hodgell’s kaffeeklaatch — by going on and on and on about Baen and Toni Weisskopf and himself.

    The rest of us were pretty much sitting there with our jaws dropped at his incredible rudeness and self-absorption. Several of us kept trying to direct the conversation back to Hodgell and her books. It was uneffingbelievable.

  21. Hampus Eckerman: I have absolutely no idea how someones manner can be constructive when it is used to be incoherent

    … and insulting, to pretty much everyone in the room.

  22. I would view it more as a statement that Hugo Awards are more well known than Prometheus Awards, not that the awardees are more esteemed.

    You really are trying to weasel around admitting that libraries regard the Hugo with esteem. The contortions you are going through really make you look quite silly.

  23. I thought I had posted this before but apparently I fell asleep.

    Bill, sorry, yes, librarians do rely on awards in selecting books, and yes, the Hugos are a respected award for purposes of selecting science fiction and fantasy books. I am a librarian, as are others who have replied to you on this, and for some reason you have decided our information is worthless on this, but, sad to say, it’s librarians who are actually making these decisions. Awards matter, and in selecting sff, the Hugos matter more than the Prometheus awards or even the Nebulas, because they have a better correlation with books patrons want to read, as well as with books we’re not embarrassed to defend based on quality than if we just selected based on sales figures.

  24. This incredibly long self-indulgent comment didn’t go last night due to my modem and/or my line puking. Update since then: I’m a lot further in that Barnes book now. Second update since then: It’s also the world-building and world-unbuilding I love in those books of his.

    @James Moa: I do not get how people can not love The Wanderer.

    @PhilRM: I’ll eventually read it when it falls into my hands somehow. Did I do a decent job of explaining Greene from your point of view?

    @Lee:

    Everyone who saw that ceremony “had a side in the fight” unless you want to ask the convention-center employees who were tending the bar. Maybe you should do that.

    If I’d been there, I probably would have. I do that sort of thing. I’m relentlessly social and extroverted and always curious how things look to someone who gets a good look at a thing I’m involved with from the outside. It’s incredibly valuable, so I ask people just that kind of question.

    And that’s why I tried to stimulate an editor to send a journalist to cover the conflict. I cannot tell exactly what’s going on from my weirdly distanced position and my deep care for the field. People I thought I knew acted in ways that seemed unusual to me. I wanted a less subjective view.

    Now, about John Barnes. I’m not quite as irrational about him as I am about Heinlein or Leiber or the Merril anthologies, but it’s a near thing. I’ve often had the weird feeling that he’d been at my elbow for great swaths of my life, seen the things I’ve seen, and then written the books I’d’ve written had I the time and talent. A mutual friend told me that when I wore a goatee that we looked very much alike. I looked up a relatively current picture of him when she told me that, and it was true from the neck up. (I suspect he’s kept himself in better shape than I have.) So there’s all that.

    Now, what do I love so much about the incredibly ugly Kaleidoscope Century and the unbearably tragic Earth Made of Glass?

    First, the depth of characterization. Those characters grow and change in ways that make perfect sense to me. Giraut remains committed to his two callings even as his entire world is upended around him over and over, much as Quarles stays committed to his sickening work. Quarles and Giraut both have an appreciation for the virtues of those they oppose, especially Quarles, who can feel empathy for a man even as he prepares to kill him. Though Giraut is a better human, Quarles feels more regret than Giraut over the more evil things he does. They have the complexity and inconsistency of humans.

    Second, the use and understanding of history. You are correct, by my understanding, that those books were written during a hard time in Barnes’ life. What you overlook is what a hard time it was in the life of the world. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the chaos that accompanied it, the Velvet Revolution, the Balkan disaster, the rise of stateless terror, all that and more is in those books. Right now, in the United States’ election, we’re seeing the malignancy of a post-Soviet KGB remnant toying with our political system. Barnes got so much right or close to right about where the world was going.

    Third, Barnes writes better artists than anyone I’ve ever read. He catches the fervor of young artists perfectly. At heart, art is what the Thousand Cultures series is about. I just re-read the last, quietly devastating paragraph of Earth Made of Glass again. That story is a story about stories in so many different ways. It is so many stories in itself.

    And most of what I’ve just written is insufficient, because the damn book has caught me. I’ve got two early twentieth century novels of black America, a biography of Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, and Jimmy Carter’s novel looking up at me, all books I brought home yesterday and put at my side purposefully, but this book has caught me up. By page seventy-five, I’ve noticed an arithmetic error, a fact vitally retconned out of the series, a flat statement of half how this story ends, and relentless foreshadowing of the other half. It should be obvious to everyone here that the only thing I love more than hearing myself talk is reading my own words, but I’m about to stop writing them and get back to this book, which should tell you something about how much I love it after I say one more thing.

    I’ve read several reviews that make reference to Barnes’ personal difficulties during the time this book was written which make the idiotic, undoubtedly male claim that Margaret is a revenge character, always focusing on Giraut’s description of her looks. That is a pathetic claim to make. Giraut is obviously helplessly in love with Margaret and despairing over the state of their relationship. Unless he is dwelling on his own idiocies and failures to understand and to see what is obvious to everyone but himself in order to distract us from what I think is the actual story, which I have not touched on and which I suspect Barnes decided not to tell between this book and the next one. Barnes is as good with the unreliable narrator as anyone I’ve ever read. In Kaleidoscope Century, also a love story, the character is genuinely confused about events, his memory futzed up and in need of physical objects to keep his consciousness continuous. In Earth Made of Glass, whether Giraut is lying deliberately to distract us or remembering through a self-lacerating fog of pain and regret is unclear. Both those are typical artist behavior. He may even be giving us an account both accurate and honest. Stranger things have happened. And now I want to watch this tragedy happen again.

    I’ll be up late tonight. There’s so much more to say and I’d rather read this book again than say it.

  25. @Lis Carey: I don’t much care for Orson Scott Card’s books, but that story “The Originist” is the sweetest love letter to librarians and librarianship I’ve ever read, and maybe the best Foundation story ever written, at least by someone not named Isaac, to boot.

    Have you read it? Were you thinking of it?

  26. I love “The Originist.” One of the few fictional depictions of librarians that really captures what we do, and why. <3

    Also, the best Asimov short story ever written. 😉

  27. @Lis: did you read my original post, where I summed up by saying “I have no doubt that some libraries hold Hugo winners in high esteem. But Google doesn’t show that, not without at least digging through a lot of chaff first.”

    I’m not saying that libraries don’t hold Hugos in esteem. I specifically said the opposite of that.

    I’m not saying that information from librarians is worthless. (Can you point to a statement I made that implies that I did so?)

    Hampus said something to the effect that “Google says. . .”; I looked at what Google did say, and they weren’t the same thing. That is all. I shouldn’t have responded at all, because it has turned into a much bigger deal than it should have. But people Appealing to Authority in the form of Google is something I respond to occasionally. I made a statement about Google. Not about Hugos. Not about libraries or librarians.

    Most librarians are wonderful people. I can’t count the number of times that in my main hobby (conjuring history), I’ve emailed a librarian out of the blue with a question, and gotten a timely and comprehensive answer. Librarians have dug through stacks for obscure books, have gone through microfilmed newspapers searching for unindexed articles, have photocopied manuscripts and documents for me. Once, I emailed a librarian with a question and to help me she scanned an entire book on my behalf. Most of them are helpful beyond words, and are cordial and easy to communicate with.

  28. @John A: Did I do a decent job of explaining Greene from your point of view?
    Yes, I’d call your assessment very fair.

  29. @Bill–

    One more try.

    A variety of different people, several of us librarians, have explained in a variety of ways that libraries do, in fact, hold the Hugos in high regard.

    You keep linguistically isolating them as something “some” libraries hold in high regard.

    No.

    While it’s quite true that medical libraries or law libraries typically don’t collect Hugo winners, that’s because they typically don’t have much demand for popular fiction. For libraries that do collect popular fiction, it is the norm, not the exception, to regard the Hugos as a useful guide in selection. Hugo-winning works and Hugo-winning authors are more likely to be selected, because the Hugo Awards are a reasonably reliable indicator of a good level of quality, and a good level of popularity.

    And also because, if a book is challenged, the Hugo Award is respected enough ghats you can point to it as part of a defense of the book.

    The Prometheus Award is not just not as well-known; it’s also less useful in establishing literary quality and value if you have to defend your decision to someone challenging the acquisition of a book.

  30. Kip W on September 4, 2016 at 8:08 am said:

    One of my favorite writers, H. Allen Smith, wrote a book titled, People Named Smith, which is just what it sounds like. He also dedicated it to everyone named Smith, noting that dedicatees will often buy a copy of a book, and that if even a fraction of them did, well, he’d be happy.

    That reminds me of Project Steve.

  31. The Hugos aren’t just a selection guide, though. I fully expect to have the novel winner already in the collection before the awards are announced. Preferably, the entire short-list is there when it is announced. If not, we look at what we don’t have and determine if we should purchase it for the collection. We don’t have a large budget, but usually we do buy those. The primary exception is if the book is part of a series we don’t have and getting it would necessitate buying a lot of other books, as well. If it’s book 2, it’s highly likely we’d get them. If it’s book 10, well, that’s a bit of a problem. But – and I will admit to getting a bit competitive with myself in this regard – I fully expect to have the books already in the collection despite the fact that our library isn’t large.

    Having said that, when we weed/deselect the collection, the fact that a novel won one or more major awards can win it a reprieve if the circulation stats are low. It’s a good time to see if there are better, less-dated covers available, an opportunity to place the item on display, etc.

    It is nice to be able to say a book is an award winner if it is challenged, but positive professional reviews are also excellent support in these cases, especially if such reviews are explicitly listed as a one (of many) selection criteria in the collection development policy.

  32. Lis – Oh, I knew you knew. 🙂 I figured I’d explain for those who don’t, though. As I’m sure you know, people in general really don’t understand what we do.

  33. After reading this thread today, I went to my library main branch to pick up some things on hold and there on the first floor was a small display of books that had won the Hugo. Also some bookmark-sized paper (for use as book-marks, of course) of winners.

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