Pixel Scroll 12/31 At the Scroll of Midnight

(1) THE PERFECT MATCH. Fathom Events is bringing Starship Troopers back to theaters – but only so the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 can give the movie everything it deserves.

The stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000® are bringing The Best of RiffTrax Live back to select cinemas nationwide. On Thursday, January 14, join Mike, Kevin, and Bill for a re-broadcast of their hilarious take on Starship Troopers.

Originally riffed in August 2013, this fan favorite features the guys hurling their wisecracking humor at what has become the king of modern campy sci-fi epics.

(2) THREE BODY. President Barack Obama spent his holiday vacation in Hawaii reading these four books reports Newsweek.

His reading list includes: The Whites by Richard Price, Purity by Jonathan Franzen, The Wright Brothers by David Mccullough, and The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

(3) DEMENTO AND CRAZY-EX. Joe Blevins at Splitsider fills you in on everything from Dr. Demento to YouTube in “2015: The Year Comedy Music Broke”.

And then there are the vloggers and other YouTube stars, the ones who make their livelihoods from the site. It’s an under-reported phenomenon, but original comedic music has played a huge role in the success of many of them. Popular channels like Epic Rap Battles of History, Axis of Awesome, and Schmoyoho, all of which regularly rack up millions of views per video, are essentially delivery systems for new comedy music, even if few would think to lump them in with the acts getting airtime on The Dr. Demento Show. They’re all playing the same basic sport, though, just in different arenas. The comedy duo Smosh, long one of YouTube’s most-subscribed channels, mostly concern themselves with sketches, but they do enough songs to warrant inclusion here. Even vlogger Jenna Marbles occasionally does a musical number (usually about her doted-upon dogs) as part of her weekly video series. If there is a way to make money doing funny music in 2015, it is to partner with YouTube, nurture a subscriber base, and never really define yourself as a comedy or worse yet “novelty” music artist. Meanwhile, none of these people are getting much validation from traditional media, including pop radio. Whether that constitutes a problem is debatable.

(4) CHAOTIC NEUTRAL. Brandon Kempner has declared Chaos Horizon ineligible for the 2016 Hugos.

After careful thought, I’m declaring that Chaos Horizon (and myself) will not accept a Hugo nomination in 2016. Because Chaos Horizon reports so extensively on the numbers related to the Hugo process, I feel it would be a conflict of interest to be part of that process in any way.

Since I do reporting and analytical work here at Chaos Horizon, it’s important from me to maintain some journalistic distance from the awards. I couldn’t do that if I were nominated. This is consistent with my past practice; I haven’t voted in the Hugos since I began Chaos Horizon. Simply put, the scorekeeper can’t play the game.

(5) TANGENTIAL HISTORY. The Tangent Online 2015 Recommended Reading List” says it contains 417 works: 355 short stories, 46 novelettes, and 16 novellas.

Its long, error-filled endorsement of Sad Puppies 4 begins with this generous rewriting of history —

Sad Puppies was the name given to a small group of fans four years ago who had become disgruntled after seeing many of the same names on the final Hugo ballot, year after year. It was spearheaded that first year by SF author Larry Correia, who decided to put forth a list of authors and works he believed were being overlooked. He recused himself from being recommended or being nominated.

The Sad Puppies name was given these campaigns by their creator, Larry Correia, who started them to stir support for his own Hugo prospects. He was successful enough to be nominated three times; it was only the third he declined. Nor did he recuse himself from Sad Puppies 3, but supported the SP3 slate with his novel on it, only at the end suprising his fans by taking himself off the ballot.

(6) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET WEARY. The respected Lois Tilton begins “2015 Reviews in Review” at Locus Online with a sigh:

Lovers of SFF can only deplore the late year’s outbreak of divisiveness and animosity, with the hostile parties displaying a willingness to destroy the genre in order to deny it to the other. Calls for unity go unheard while the partisans make plans to continue the hostilities in the upcoming year. The only bright spot is that ordinary readers appear to have largely ignored the entire thing.

(6) FLICK ANALYSIS. Ethan Mills shares his picks “2015 Movies: The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre” at Examined Worlds.

I’ve been trying to decide between Fury Road and The Force Awakens as my favorite movie of the year.  Both movies have ultra-competent female protagonists, although Fury Road could certainly have done better on the racial diversity front.  While Fury Road gives us pulse-quickening action and a fully realized post-apocalyptic world, Star Wars gives us all the fun of a real Star Wars movie.

Click to see who wins.

(7) READY-TO-WEAR TBR PILE. And if you have a week free, Fantasy Faction will tell you about the Top 50 fantasy novels of 2015.

It’s getting harder and harder to be a well-read and up-to-date reviewer in Fantasy these days. It’s also getting incredibly difficult to order the best of the year lists. I know that complaining that too many good books are being released probably isn’t an argument I will get much support for, but wow oh wow were there too many damned good books published in 2015, right? RIGHT!?

It’s not just the quality of the books, but the diversity of the Fantasy genre worth applauding too. Take Empire AscendantThe Grace of Kings, The Vagrant and Uprooted – these aren’t books being based on proven and familiar formulas


  • Born December 31, 1945 – Connie Willis


(9) MURDER BY DEATH. “The Medieval Revenant: Restless, Dead, and Out for Revenge” by Matt Staggs at Suvudu. Interesting paragraph – perhaps the literati around here can tell whether it’s accurate.

Unlike us, medieval men and women didn’t make much of a distinction between various kinds of the living dead. There were revenants who fed on blood, and vampires who fed on anything but blood. Sometimes the restless dead took physical form, and other times they were immaterial spirits, like ghosts. (The zombies stayed down in Haiti, and those poor souls didn’t eat anyone.) Because of these reasons, classifying a story as one about a revenant rather than a ghost, vampire, or other restless dead thing can be difficult. That said, we can draw upon these tales for some ideas of what revenants did and why they rose from the dead in the first place.

(10) MISSING YOU. Journey Planet #27 takes as its theme “Fan History – To Absent Friends.” Download it here.


We look at the impact of those who have come before us, and what they meant to the evolution of Fandom, and of fans. Wonderful stories of legends like Bruce Pelz, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Jerry Jacks, Mikey Jelenski, Fred Duarte, Gary Louie, Robert Sacks, Poul Andersen, Mick O’Connor, Dave Stewart, James White, Ted Johnstone, Joe Mayhew, LeeH, Jay Haldeman, George Flynn, and many many more, help us understand the legacies that led us to where fandom is today.

It was lovely to learn more about so many people that we had heard of but sadly never met, and to learn about people new to us that, unfortunately, we will never have an opportunity to meet. Our experience as fans is enriched by knowledge, and we hope that you will all have a similar experience reading the issue. Produced by guest editors Helen Montgomery & Warren Buff, plus editors Chris Garcia & James Bacon.

(11) BOOKLESS. Is making these announcements a new trend? Greg Van Eekhout is another author explaining why he won’t have a new book out in 2016.

First of all, I won’t have a new novel out. That’s mostly because I didn’t complete one in time to have a novel out in 2016. From the time a novel is sold, a publisher usually needs at least nine months and often more than a year to get it ready for release. And by “ready” I mean not just editing and printing, but also positioning it with a marketing campaign and finding an advantageous slot for it in the release schedule. So, for me to have a book out in 2016, I would have had to finish writing it sometime in late 2014 or early 2015, so an editor could edit it, so I could revise it, so an art director and book designer and cover artist could make it pretty, and so on. Unfortunately, taking care of two elderly parents was more than a full-time job that didn’t leave much physical or emotional energy for new writing.

(12) EXPANSE RETURNING. Lizard Brain shares Syfy’s press release announcing that The Expanse has been renewed for a second season.

Currently airing on Syfy Tuesdays at 10PM ET/PT, THE EXPANSE has garnered strong multiplatform viewership since its December 14 debut, with 4.5 million viewers sampling the first episode on Syfy.com, On Demand and digital outlets prior to the series’ linear premiere, and an average of 1.6 million P2+ linear viewers (L3) in its first three episodes.

(13) MISTER LISTER. Black Gate’s John ONeill amusingly comments

Fortunately, the tireless John DeNardo works much harder than me. He doesn’t go to Christmas parties, or watch movies. Ever. Or sleep, apparently. No, he read every single one of those Best SF & Fantasy of the Year lists. The ones that matter anyway…

— before guiding us to John DeNardo’s compilation of “The Best of the Best of 2015’s Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books” at Kirkus Reviews. There, De Nardo explains:

o  I used 8 different sources to arrive at the aggregate, all of them specifically geared toward science-fiction and fantasy books: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Los Angeles Times, NPR, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and course Kirkus Reviews.

o  I only included books that garnered three or more mentions. That yielded a list of seven books, which seems like a good size. That said, I also include below a list of “Honorable Mentions” that appeared on two lists.

(14) SNOPES CLEARS HARLAN. Snopes says a famous Harlan Ellison story never happened/

Claim:   Writer Harlan Ellison was rebuffed after making a crude remark to a tall blonde woman at a party.

Status:   False.

In Snopes’ example, Isaac Asimov spins out an entire anecdote, but the gist is —

…Harlan approached one of these giraffelike women, fixed her with his glittering eye, and said, “What would you say to a little fuck?” And she looked down at him and said, “I would say, ‘Hello, little fuck.'”

Snopes says this is nothing more than a riff off one of the jokes in Gershon Legman’s Rationale of the Dirty Joke first published by Grove Press in 1968.

I remember hearing the joke whispered between fans in the early 1970s. It must have been freshly purloined from Legman at the time.

(15) HALLOWEEN STAMPS. Naturally, horror news blog Dread Central is more interested in the 2016 Jack O’Lantern stamps that will be issued for Halloween. I skipped over those to avoid spoiling the symmetry of the space and Star Trek theme in yesterday’s post. But they are lovely!


(16) TREK ACTORS CASH IN. “Star Trek Actor Salaries Just Beamed Up With Big Raises” at Celebrity Net Worth says Paramount will pay big to hang onto the cast of its franchise films.

…In order for the latest Star Trek film series to “live long and prosper,” Paramount needed to keep Pine and Quinto on board as Spock and Kirk…

Pine only made $600 thousand for 2009’s Star Trek, which grossed over $385 million. For 2013’s Star Trek: Into Darkness, Captain Kirk made $1.5 million of the $467 million gross. Before a new deal was struck, he was scheduled to make $3 million for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. Thanks to a lucrative new deal, Pine will now make $6 million for the third Star Trek film, which is double what he was supposed to make, and will be 10 times what he made for the first film in the series!

The new deal features big raises and much better performance bonuses for the cast. Paramount only wanted to give the ship mates nominal raises, but ended up giving in for the better of the franchise. Thanks to last minute negotiations, the production house ended up adding somewhere between $10 and $15 million to the movie’s budget to pay the stars of the show. As part of the new deal, Pine and Quinto have been granted an option and will now be a part of the 4th film in the J.J. Abrams directed series.

(17) SKY TRASH. Almost 20,000 pieces of space debris are currently orbiting the Earth. This visualisation, created by Dr Stuart Grey, lecturer at University College London and part of the Space Geodesy and Navigation Laboratory, shows how the amount of space debris increased from 1957 to 2015, using data on the precise location of each piece of junk. (Via Chaos Manor.)

(18) KEEP THE FAITH. James H. Burns writes:

For the end of the year, or really the start of the new, and in the spirit of the season, one of the greatest minutes ever in the history of filmed science fiction…  Courtesy of J. Michael Straczynski, and the good folks at, and on, Babylon 5….


[Thanks to Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, Brian Z., and Sean Wallace for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

210 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/31 At the Scroll of Midnight

  1. I see the Monty Python fish-slapping dance sketch has its own Wikipedia entry. It identifies the fish as pilchards (small) and halibut (large), the site as the Teddington Lock, and the music as the “Merrymakers Dance.”

    An age of miracles and wonders.

  2. Late add to my previous comment:

    The thought has occurred to me that, if I’d only watched some of those wrestling shows on the SyFy Channel, I’d probably have had “smackdown” be the first word to come to mind.

    I’m… not sure how I feel about that thought.

  3. As a taker of psych meds myself, I liked the Lynch piece. Yes, he should’ve skipped that bit, and maybe put ‘delusional’ instead of ‘psychotic’ because everyone’s subject to delusions now and then, but I still see it as an eloquent defense of someone he cares about with a lot of devastatingly accurate (and occasionally hilarious) things to say about JCW’s malicious drivel. He did overshoot his mark sometimes, as one may in anger (though I don’t think the prison joke was one of them – as others said, it was a riff on JCW’s sodomy obsession, not the author’s wish that such a thing should happen to anyone). On the whole, I applauded.

  4. @Robinreid

    And now I reflect on my privilege of not seeing it to that level, that often. And crappy side of human nature. My condolences.

  5. From the ranks of medicated myself, I’m unbothered, but my lack of offense should not, of course, be taken as an indication that others can’t or shouldn’t feel differently. And of course I know Scott, at least in passing, so I am likely inclined to give him more of the benefit of the doubt.

  6. Shall I add my mental pocket change? I am crazy, and it is excruciating to hear myself being lumped in with evil people like JC Wright. Lynch should know better. He should be held accountable.

    As for “bitch”, I find it enlightening to mentally replace all uses of “bitch” with “woman”. It removes a level of obfuscation from the speaker’s intent.

  7. @TheYoungPretender:

    After 23 years in Texas, I’ve sort of become accustomed to it (i.e. not getting all that upset because well I need to LIVE) (and YAY for retirement in five years time when we will move pets and all to western Washington the state). The depressing part is when it comes from my students (especially those who plan to teach; I often end up providing them the statistics on suicide for GRSM (gender, romantic, sexual minorities) adolescents).

    And there is the opportunity for brilliant satire and humor: here’s a video from “The Dildo Diaries” (at one point, owning too many dildos in Texas could get you arrested), featuring the inimitable and brilliant Molly Ivins and showing some footage as the Texas legislature tries to debate sodomy (and the men fail to deal with the idea that it’s actually possible for anal sex to happen in a heterosexual relationship, nay, even a MARRIED heterosexual relationship):

    Molly Ivins and the Dildo Diaries

  8. On this occasion, when faced with someone who struggles to speak publicly, I do not think it is a bad thing to cut them some slack. I also winced at the wording but it would be a far sadder thing to drive someone back into being unable to comment publicly than to just once leave it unchallenged. There are better times to fight that battle.

  9. I would like to thank everyone for the discussion on Scott Lynch’s post. I wasn’t trying to shame him and I hope it didn’t come across that way. I actually thought some of the bits that made me cringe were funny turns of phrase, and his indignation on behalf of a friend was something to behold. I was a little surprised at my reaction, because I normally love to read a righteous rant by a skilled wordsmith.

    Returning to the wording re: psychosis…I’ve struggled with this in real life too. When someone states something that is totally at odds with observed reality, how do you call them out on it? Maybe just in calling the statement delusional rather than the person making it?

    I can’t claim to have the answers. And I do sympathize a lot with Scott Lynch’s anxiety and fears over speaking publicly. Social anxiety makes my world a terrifying place filled with hostile people. I guess I just wanted to mention that his post made me feel a little squicky, and why I thought that was.

  10. @Dawn Incognito

    I thought your original post was quite fair. I’m more uncomfortable at the idea that he must be held to account – I think there should be room for deciding when summoning the social justice troops* isn’t just.

    *tongue in cheek

  11. Sad Puppies was the name given to a small group of fans four years ago who had become disgruntled after seeing many of the same names on the final Hugo ballot, year after year.

    Leaving aside the fact that this is a wholly inaccurate description of the genesis of the Puppies, does this description from Tangent strike anyone else as suggesting that the Pups regard the Hugos as something akin to a participation award?

  12. Meredith on January 2, 2016 at 10:59 am said:
    @Dawn Incognito

    I thought your original post was quite fair. I’m more uncomfortable at the idea that he must be held to account – I think there should be room for deciding when summoning the social justice troops* isn’t just.

    *tongue in cheek

    Agreed. Also, Scott Lynch suffers from mental illness humself, according to that very blog post. I am very glad that somebody defended Patrick as forcefully as this.

  13. The thing people seem to be discounting is Lynch’s frame of reference for “normal” in his remarks on pharmaceuticals. His normal is Captain Kurtz from Apocalypse Now. So unless you are without medication Jack Nicholson in the Overlook Hotel, Lynch is not talking about you.

  14. “Accountable” in this case would mean that people would stop making excuses and let the man learn from his mistakes and do better next time. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but optimism hasn’t gotten me arrested yet.

  15. I disagree that “you’re so crazy that Colonel Kurtz wants to elect you Mayor of Crazytown” is less insulting to the only moderately insane. I don’t even think that Lynch meant it as insulting in that way, but that was still the effect for me.

  16. @Meredith:

    I think there should be room for deciding when summoning the social justice troops* isn’t just.

    *tongue in cheek

    I know you are making a joke, but I think it’s worth noting that the few of us who agreed with Dawn did not exactly call for storming over to his blog and calling him out, did not engage in name calling or attacks of any sort (that I saw) on him, acknowledged his own mental illness issues as well as identifying our own, and did not assume we could speak for everyone with mental illness.

    I have no idea what you’re referring to by “the idea he must be held to account” — if there was a comment or statement about that that you see, I’d like to be able to read it myself — because otherwise it is sort of hovering as this vague accusation that I’m wondering is directed at me or not.

    I agree with Dawn that I am sure he did not *mean* it to be insulting (but as always, one does not have to intend to hurt others in order for hurt to occur).

    And I find those trying to explain that we should not express our response because there are fictional characters involved (huh?), or because of Lynch’s own problems to be verging on the sort of ‘policing’ that is being attributed to the “SJWs”.

  17. I have no idea what you’re referring to by “the idea he must be held to account” — if there was a comment or statement about that that you see, I’d like to be able to read it myself

    Fourth post down on this very page, from JB Weld.

    All the various comments on holding him accountable stem from that post and responses to it, and are not intended to say that you shouldn’t express your response. I don’t think anyone’s said anyone shouldn’t express their response.

  18. I take this opportunity to note that Amazon UK has a number of SF/F books at very reduced prices, including Cixin Liu’s

    The Dark Forest

    for 99p, which is a remarkable bargain. I seem to recall that it was Patrick Nielsen Hayden who went to bat for the publication of

    The Three-Body Problem

    and that, thanks to Marko Kloos’s honourable refusal of the spot offered by the ballot stuffing of the Puppies, TBP took the place of his novel and went on to win the Hugo.

    I shall, of course, be reading

    The Dark Forest

    before I decide where it stands in the 2015 crop, though I have to note that

    Ancillary Mercy

    is such a stunning conclusion to such a stunning trilogy that so far I haven’t found a novel to rival it.

  19. @robinareid I second everything you’ve said.

    ETA: cross-posted with Kurt Busiek – I now see the one post referring to “hold accountable”

  20. @Robinareid:

    The accountability discussion isn’t on you at all. The word came from JB Weid, here:

    Lynch should know better. He should be held accountable.

    ETA: NInja’d by Kurt Busiek.

  21. @Robin

    As Kurt Busiek says, the comment about holding Lynch accountable is here, two comments above one of your own and three above one of mine. I have mental illness, although I don’t take medication for it (for reasons that I don’t want to go into right now), and I agreed and still agree with, I think (without going back and rereading it), pretty much everything in Dawn Incognito’s original comment* on the matter, as well as many of the ones following. I wish, in my reply to Dawn just now, I had made it clearer that I did broadly agree with others as well as with her. I think not doing so may have had an undertone of “well you were okay but some of the people after you… *sucks teeth*” which I didn’t think or intend to give the impression of. I hope that speaking here about it is harmless and helpful venting, anyway; as far as I know Lynch doesn’t spend time here and won’t see it, but perhaps a friend might and will know how to gently raise the topic. I suspect Lynch may simply be unaware that some people with mental illness (including me) find it uncomfortable or upsetting to have mental illness equated to being a dick. What I did not want and still do not want is anyone to go to him (which I think is implied by holding accountable, but not implied just by discussing the subject here) and make it harder for him to speak again in future. I can’t see how that would be a win for protecting those with mental illness.

    So: No. Nothing to do with you or most of the other people in the thread. I apologise for not making it clearer who and what I was quoting before.

    *The process of working out which disableist words/phrases I am or aren’t comfortable with is ongoing. Unlike most prejudices, where for example not using racist words is really quite easy and doesn’t particularly hurt expression (possible exception: unfortunately spelled but not actually racist words like ‘niggardly’), disableist words and turns of phrase are really deeply embedded in the English language (and not just mental illness-related ones). Working out which ones I’m still okay with using, which ones I won’t use but don’t mind from others, which ones I’m okay with using and hearing from people with similar life experiences but not from anyone else (gimp, crip, etc), which ones are always dead wrong, etc, is complicated and subject to change. So that’s the caveat.

  22. @Stevie:

    I have to note that Ancillary Mercy is such a stunning conclusion to such a stunning trilogy that so far I haven’t found a novel to rival it.

    I am in agony at the mere thought of the looming fact that I will have to decide which to put first and which to put second on my Hugo novel nomination list: Jemisin’s Fifth Season or Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy.

  23. “Accountable” is such a jargon word in sports and corporate management that it seemed weird to have it suddenly show up as part of the discussion.

  24. A ninja is known by the company he ninjas


    I’m not in company with you.

    You’re all in company with me.


  25. @Kurt Busiek, Tasha Turner, and Lenora Rose: Thanks! *simultaneous relief and head-smacking for not seeing/remembering that*

    **admires speed and quality of responses, not to mention ninja-ing*

    @Meredith: Thank you so much!

    I cannot explain my not seeing/noting the comment so close to yours and mind other than I was fixated on what Dawn and I had said earlier, and wasn’t scrolling up as I should have.

    What I did not want and still do not want is anyone to go to him (which I think is implied by holding accountable, but not implied just by discussing the subject here) and make it harder for him to speak again in future.

    I agree.

    And I agree also on the complicated issues around ableist language — the fact that it’s so deeply entwined/entrenched in the language.

    Here’s a discussion and list of some useful terms from a blogger I follow: Autistic Hoya.

    Ableism/Language covers a broad range of ableist terminology and alternatives.

    Linguistic Ableism preceded the post above and discusses the implications of the harm caused by ableism in language, even in metaphors!, and points, again, that it is not about censoring or policing other people.

    I found them both very useful since I am still working on changing my own usages.

  26. @Meredith: “The process of working out which disableist words/phrases I am or aren’t comfortable with is ongoing.” And, for me at least, evolving; I presume I’m not the only one like this, where usages in other contexts and not-obviously(-to-me)-related stuff all shifts the weights things seem to have in my soul.

  27. @Robinareid:

    I am in agony at the mere thought of the looming fact that I will have to decide which to put first and which to put second on my Hugo novel nomination list: Jemisin’s Fifth Season or Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy.

    Not an issue at the nomination stage, where order doesn’t matter. If both get through the nomination stage and onto the ballot,though…

    (Fifth Season is on the physical TBR, as it’s one of the three books I got for Christmas.)

  28. @Robin

    Happy to clear it up. 🙂

    Thanks for the links, those are interesting. Where I part ways with them is that I don’t think a colloquial reference to disability, even a negative one, is automatically disableist. But I might change my mind on that at some point! (I would also have appreciated some acknowledgement from the writer that those posts are USA English language and culture, not just English language and culture full stop. Unless I missed one? We have our own terms and acceptable limits (and British ones aren’t always the same as other English speaking countries – English ones aren’t necessarily the same as Scottish or Welsh ones, either) and they don’t align with USA ones all the time. “Ableism” vs “disableism” for example, although due to the influence of the internet and USA cultural imperialism disableism is starting to die off, sigh.)

    @Bruce Baugh

    Oh, absolutely. My scales tip back and forth all the time as I process new information, or see something explained from a different angle, or witness/am subject to an interaction. I think my opinions will continue to be fluid for the foreseeable future.

    There’s quite a long list that I’m fine with using personally and have no problems with other disabled people using but object to very strongly when used by someone able-bodied. (The mini “I Was A Teenage Gimp” Filer club, for example, I smiled at when you named it but if somePuppy started yapping about how File770 was clearly corrupt because it was full of gimps I would be less than thrilled.)

  29. @Rose, you changed your kitty avatar and now I hardly knew it was you!

    I think it’s always much better if the usage is in-group vs. out-group. The in-group may even be able to redeem the term (cf. “queer”). I can say bad things about my sister, but you can’t.

    Nevertheless, Lynch’s piece is worthy of our regard, and the turns of phrase objected to are very funny. I giggled at the concept of Kurtz telling someone to tone it down. And it’s a wonderful defense of PNH, who literally did nothing wrong, and was in fact the one being harassed. On the whole, 9.9 out of 10, would read again and again, recommend to others, it has a good beat and you can dance to it.

    “Magical thinking pants always come with an elastic waistband.” was a gem.

    @redheadedfemme: Naq jbhyqa’g fbzrbar unir ng yrnfg abgvprq gur onpxjneqf-ntvat qhqr? Meh indeed.

  30. I think that part of our problems are of our making. As a strategy for getting people on board to support our efforts to diminish discrimination against those who are disabled, demanding that people must first learn another language which they must then agree to use, sucks big time.

    Oddly enough, people with a great deal of compassion, who genuinely want to help, would take one look at it and volunteer elsewhere; they can recognise the fact that people need help now, and that ritual purity tests are extremely time consuming, no matter how good it makes the people conducting them feel…

  31. @lurkertype

    The interesting thing about queer, from a cultural differences perspective, is that during a bit of hoohah in my Warcraft guild about a member using offensive terms to refer to gay people (wouldn’t normally asterisk swearing, but in this case: fa***t), which I objected to, it turned out that part of the issue was that while in the USA and UK queer has largely been reclaimed and fa***t is, while some people use it, mostly still rude, in some parts of Europe the terms are the other way around and fa***t is the reclaimed term. Queer was the one that a (Danish, living in Sweden) defender of (Russian) original-term-user would never have said. It took some time to untangle that one in part because we were talking past each other until that came to light.

    (Russian guy was, to be honest, just about every ist and ism and phobia you could possibly care to name – well, he was basically okay with atheists, satanists, and men from specific countries and ethnic groups – but nonetheless well-liked amongst some of the older straight white men, so getting past the “but he doesn’t meeeean it! They’re just jokes!” was the fun first hurdle of awfulness…)

  32. I have a weird perspective on the sort of usage of mental illness terms that Lynch engages in in his essay. On the one hand, I totally get the objection. On the other hand, I hear people say, “Lots of mentally ill people manage not to do what John C. Wright [or whomever] does. He is just an asshole.” And that’s where I have an odd reaction.

    As I may have mentioned, I was formally diagnosed with ADHD/PI when I was 49 years old. A friend of mine once asked, “What took you so long to get it dealt with?” I responded:

    “Think about that for a minute.”

    Anyway, some of you may wish to argue whether ADHD is a “real” mental illness, and I will happily entertain the notion that somebody out there cares to have that argument with you. I on the other hand will skim you faster than a Brian Z. comment in an EPH thread.

    I was going somewhere with this. Oh yes! What I felt upon being diagnosed is an enormous relief. I also benefited enormously from treatment – yay, stimulants! – and from advice in various books for how people with my particular cognitive makeup could organize ourselves at least somewhat successfully. By learning how to really use MS Outlook (the calendar, mail and task modules integrate beautifully if you use them that way) and repeating a mantra from a Kathleen Nadeau book (“Tie the bow!”) I went from a decent employee to a superb one.

    But before all that, and every bit as vital: there was a name for what was wrong with me! It meant so much to have a label to put on a space where for decades only inchoate shame had been. The very phenomenon of “medicalizing behavior” that the crypto-conservative me of the 90s abhorred made my life instantly more bearable.

    “I think you’re irresponsible, Jim.”

    Those were the words of a high-school newspaper editor once when I told her I’d failed to write a promised article by the deadline. There was so much pain in her voice, because I was making her life more difficult, and so much disappointment. And she wasn’t even wrong. But there was also something else going on that none of us knew at the time.

    And any time I screwed up a commitment in the three ensuing decades, and someone said, “Man, Henley is so ADD,” someone else could have said, “Lots of people have ADD and manage to [blank]. Henley’s just being a jerk.”

    Now, in a very real sense, the people who say, “I’m mentally ill and I don’t treat people as poorly as JCW” are right. In literal terns, my high-school editor was right too. And on balance it’s problematic for us non-professionals to remotely diagnose people. (Like I do with my long-dead alcoholic father. In retrospect that man was obviously ADD. But I digress.)

    But often when people say “it’s no excuse,” I hear, “I think you’re irresponsible, Jim.”

    Which, strictly accurate as it was, did me no good whatever. I’d have been better off somewhere along the way if someone had done the problematic thing and exclaimed, “God, Henley, you are so ADD! Why don’t you get yourself checked out?” I might have had another decade or two of really functional life. And I may have let fewer people down over the years too.

    It also feels like “don’t blame mental illness” sometimes carries a lack of mercy. On the one hand, it’s vital that, for instance, I not use ADHD as an excuse for letting people down; I really do have to take responsibility for my actions, cognitive makeup notwithstanding. On the other hand, undiagnosed ADHD really did lie behind many of my fuckups over the first five decades of my life. Is it really true that I’m the only one here whose neuro-psychological makeup was a factor in hurting other people in the years before I got a handle on it?

    I feel like sometimes, maybe not often enough but sometimes, “Person X is crazy” carries with it the possibility that Person X could be helped. Knowing that I was myself someone who could be helped means that “He’s just an asshole” and “I’m mentally ill and I don’t treat people that way” can sound callous to me, as othering in their way as stigmatizing problematic people as “lunatics.”

    On the other hand, I get the powerful need not to be stigmatized. The stigmatizing does real harm. And most amateur diagnosis is baseless, and a lot of it is dismissive rather than redemptive. It’s not about the hope that someone could be helped; it’s rhetorically consigning them to Bedlam and selling tickets to the spectacle. Not always, but too often. So on balance, I might come down on the other side of my own argument. It just seems like a much harder call to me than it does to some other people.

  33. I have something written up about a friend of mine and the times when someone is an asshole* but it really is because they have an undiagnosed, untreated mental illness, but I’m not sure it works well enough, isn’t too privacy-violating about friend, and with low enough risk of accidentally hurting anyone so I’m going to sit on it for now.

    I did want to say in the mean time that I think Jim has a point worth thinking about.

    *I am not saying Jim was an asshole. ADHD causing organisational problems is not the same as my friend, who was more in the “irrational paranoid ragemonster” area post-onset, pre-diagnosis and pre-treatment.

  34. @Jim Henley It is a discussion to have with someone in person whom you know. And at times I think it’s ok to blame the illness for some of our problems. But over the Internet diagnosis bothers me.

    I rarely see it being used helpfully – by someone who cares, trying to say it in a way it can be heard. For me this is the difference.

    If Lynch was trying to help JCW go see a psychiatrist or some other kind of therapist I’d not feel the same need to comment on the post. But using mental illness to make fun of someone IMHO doesn’t help the person being mocked & it continues to keep a negative view of people with mental illnesses in minds. Which might keep people who need help from getting it because of the stigma.

  35. Thank you for making the effort to create that lengthy and insightful post, Jim Henley. It’s not easy to open oneself up in that way, knowing that it makes it incredibly easy for someone to slip a knife in, if they decide to do so.

    There is a fine line between demanding “personal accountablity” and recognizing and understanding “mental illness-impaired capability”. It’s very easy for us, as observers, to come down way too far on either side of that line.

  36. @Meredith: Oh believe me, I could be a total asshole. ADHD presents in a lot of different ways, which is why ADHD/PI is a thing. (“PI” stands for “Primarily Inattentive.” When they got rid of “ADD” as such as a diagnosis, they were left with a problem of what to call pathologically dreamy people who were not hyper. For a time they tried, “ADHD without Hyperactivity,” but that sounded too stupid even to mental health professionals.) But a lot of the flavors of ADHD present a range of social symptoms. Like, arguments with loved ones? Hey, those are interesting! Really cutting remarks that a sensible person figures would better go unsaid? So entertaining! Actually taking in a whole sentence someone is trying to tell you about something important to them without spacing out in the middle? I’m sorry, were you saying something?

    We shall pass lightly over some of the implications for healthy sexual function. Suffice it to say, ADHD offers many special ways to be an asshole. 🙂

    @TYP and Bruce: Thank you for the kind words.

    ETA: The tense in the first sentence wrongly implies that I can no longer be a total asshole. The implication is erroneous.

  37. @Tasha Turner: I think, on balance, “It is a discussion to have with someone in person whom you know” has the right of it.

    @JJ: Thanks much.

  38. I couldn’t get this filk out of my noggin until I ground it out. With some apologies, I leave this in (what I thought would be) an outdated thread to die alone.

    TtTo “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart

    “Jagi May”

    Take off, Jagi, I really got nothing to say to you
    There’s Sasquan members that I really should be talking to
    I know you think you have news, but it’s clear that you’re confused
    Oh Jagi you shouldn’t have tried to implore
    You’re trying to bend my ear just to save that buffoon’s career
    He ran his mouth and now his name is dirt

    His purple prose when it’s in your face really shows his rage
    But that don’t worry me none in my eyes he’s paper thin
    I have to say it’s no joke the anger that his words provoked
    Oh, Jagi you shouldn’t have tried, I’m still sore
    Your husband is such a clown, you can’t save him from his doubling down
    So go back home, ’cause he’s a pain I can do without

    What he needed was a friend to make him understand
    But you turned into a bother oh brother you’re insisting I hear you out
    All you did was wreck the mood
    and make people think that I was rude
    Oh Jagi you shouldn’t have tried, he’s a bore
    So just keep away from me, his “forgiveness” is dishonesty
    It has no heart, I couldn’t buy it if I tried

    I suppose I will ignore his books and get back to work
    And try to ignore his blog as the ravings of a pompous jerk
    But pestering me like you have planned, is asking to get banned
    Oh Jagi you can’t make good on his disgrace
    He is a first-class fool, you can see
    But are you blind to his bigotry
    So go back home, oh, please just go away.

    Jagi I wish I’d never seen your face
    Let’s all just say this never took place

  39. Lots to think about there, Jim. Broadly in agreement from my own experience of depression. Well said. I will say that an important component of my own treatment was to learn to be forgiving of my own behaviour. I was so reluctant to let myself do it, because why should I be let off the hook for being awful? But not forgiving myself kept me stuck in a cycle that perpetuated that behaviour, learning to be forgiving of myself ameliorated that behaviour. There are still patterns of behaviour I’m stuck in that I hate, but I don’t beat myself up over them because that certainly never fixed them and it keeps things bearable while the gears of the Irish health care system slowly grind. So you have to cut through the gordian knot of ‘is it your mental illness or is it you’ for you own sake and the sake of the people around you.

    Casual language about people being ‘crazypants’ usually doesn’t bother me. Remote diagnosis often does, to the point where I find them irresponsible. And yet there’s a case to be made that someone who has experience with similar behaviour identifying types of online behaviour in a ‘presents as’ way can help others find ways of dealing with or coping with that behaviour when they encounter it online. It can certainly help demystify trolling and bullying, if nothing else.

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