Pixel Scroll 1/29/17 Have Space Suit, Would Travel, But Ain’t Got No Visa

(1) SLOWER THAN EMPIRES AND HALF VAST. It all seems to obvious now. CheatSheet explains: “’Star Wars’: Why Delaying ‘Episode VIII: The Last Jedi’ Was the Right Call”.

From there, the plan was to release Episode VIII  (now officially titled The Last Jedi) a quick five months later, with each subsequent sequel and spinoff releasing in May of their respective years. Recent events though have put that schedule in jeopardy, culminating in a massive seven-month delayOur first hint at this possibility came courtesy of Meet the Movie Press, with host Jeff Sneider reporting on rewrites for Rian Johnson’s script that pushed the beginning of production out to February (initial plans had production scheduled to begin in September 2015). Already under the gun with the minuscule five-month gap between Rogue One and Episode VIII, the call was made official by Lucasfilm: The sequel to The Force Awakens will now release December 17, 2017.

…More than anything, the May release of Episode VIII would have been a nightmare from the marketing side. The Force Awakens released its first teaser almost exactly a year before its premiere. To follow a similar plan, Episode VIII would need a teaser by May of this year, all while Rogue One tries to get itself heard above the din of the main trilogy ahead of its own December release. The end result would have drowned out Rogue One and kept everyone’s eyes fixed on May 2017. With a year of spacing now between the two films, Lucasfilm no longer runs the risk of making people feel inundated by a revived franchise that’s already permeating every facet of our pop culture.

(2) KICKSTARTER SUCCESSS. Matt Godwin’s crowdfunded Latin@ Rising gets favorable notice from a San Antonio news outlet — “Anthology gathers best Latino sci-fi stories” in MySA.com.

Matt Goodwin compares “Latin@ Rising,” the new anthology of science fiction from San Antonio’s Wings Press, to an eclectic literary mix tape or playlist “in which there is an ebb and flow as you move through the loud and the brash, the quiet and the thoughtful.”

The latter might be Carmen Maria Machado’s “Difficult at Parties,” a first-person, present-tense story told as if through a camera lens about a woman struggling to return to some semblance of normal life after a sexual assault. As tension builds, she discovers she has developed a disturbing new psychic power.

On the other hand, Giannina Braschi’s “Death of a Businessman” is the cacophonous opening to a novel titled “The United States of Banana,” which is the author’s response to 9/11: “I saw the wife of the businessman enter the shop of Stanley, the cobbler, with a pink ticket in her hand. The wife had come to claim the shoes of the businessman. After all, they had found the feet, and she wanted to bury the feet with the shoes.”

(3) BOYCOTT WHEN CONVENIENT. Charles Stross says he’s canceling GoH appearance at Fencon XIV and won’t be making any other US appearances after that — “Policy change: future US visits”. However, he’s not cancelling a business trip to New York or attendance at Boskone because that would cost him money.

…Consequently I’m revising my plans for future visits to the United States.

I’ll be in New York and Boston for business meetings and Boskone in mid-February (I unwisely booked non-refundable flights and hotel nights before the election), but I am cancelling all subsequent visits for now. In particular, this means that I will no longer be appearing as guest of honor at Fencon XIV in Texas in September.

…As for why I’m cancelling this appearance … I have two fears.

Firstly, at this point it is clear that things are going to get worse. The Muslim ban is only the start; in view of the Administration’s actions on Holocaust Memorial Day and the anti-semitism of his base, I think it highly likely that Jews and Lefists will be in his sights as well. (As a foreign national of Jewish extraction and a member of a left wing political party, that’s me in that corner.)

Secondly, I don’t want to do anything that might be appear to be an endorsement of any actions the Trump administration might take between now and September. While it’s possible that there won’t be any more bad things between now and then (in which case I will apologize again to the Fencon committee), I find that hard to believe; equally possibly, there might well be a fresh outrage of even larger dimensions right before my trip, in which case my presence would be seen by onlookers as tacit acceptance or even collaboration.

As for my worst case nightmare scenario? Given the reshuffle on the National Security Council and the prominence of white supremacists and neo-nazis in this Administration I can’t help wondering if the ground isn’t being laid for a Reichstag Fire by way of something like Operation Northwoods. In which case, for me to continue to plan to travel to the United States in eight months time would be as unwise as it would have been to plan in February 1933 to travel to Germany in September of that year: it might be survivable, but it would nevertheless be hazardous….

(4) DICKINSON OBIT. Andrew Porter reports —

Originally from Leeds, England, fan Mike Dickinson, 69, died from cancer on January 20th. He had been in poor health for a year since being hit by a car, and then was diagnosed with lung cancer.

With David Pringle, he co-chaired Yorcon, the 1979 Eastercon, in Leeds, and was toastmaster of Yorcon II in 1981..

Among fanzines he published were the one-off fanzine Adsum in 1978; with Alan Dorey the one-off Sirius; three issues of Bar Trek with Lee Montgomerie; in 1979, the 95-97th issue of Vector for the British SF Association; and, in 1984, Spaghetti Junction.

David Pringle writes, “He was a mainstay of the Leeds SF group which met every Friday evening from some time in 1974 onwards, initially in a pub called The Victoria and later in one called the West Riding. That petered out in the 1980s — after I’d left Leeds in 1982, and after Mike and his partner Jackie went abroad for a couple of years, teaching English as a foreign language in Italy.”

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 29, 1845 — Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven,” beginning “Once upon a midnight dreary,” is published on this day in the New York Evening Mirror.
  • January 29, 1924 — Carl Taylor’s ice cream cone-rolling machine patented.
  • January 29, 1964 Stanley Kubrck’s timeless Dr. Strangelove opens simultaneously in the UK and USA. It was James Earl Jones’ first movie role.

(6) QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” ~ George Orwell

(7) ALL THE ROAD RAGE. My daughter liked playing on Wii, but I drove off the road so many times in one of those Mario Bros. games I would never be the kind of customer for this platform that this collector is — “Guy completes entire Wii library, and it’s massive”

Your stack of old Wii games pales in comparison to this guy’s collection. Nintendo Age forum user Aaron Norton, who goes by Nintendo Twizer, has posted pictures of his entire Wii library collection, and it’s ridiculous.

According to Norton, the Wii had 1,262 game releases in North America. His collection doesn’t include variants, like different cover arts, collector’s editions, or Nintendo Selects, which were discounted re-releases of popular games. It also doesn’t include demo discs or games that were released in two-packs later on, like the Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy bundle.

(8) JUST DROPPING IN. What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? NASA’s video “A Colorful ‘Landing’ on Pluto” simulates the ride down.

This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip down onto the surface of Pluto — starting with a distant view of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon — and leading up to an eventual ride in for a “landing” on the shoreline of Pluto’s informally named Sputnik Planitia.

To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual color simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.

After a 9.5-year voyage covering more than three billion miles, New Horizons flew through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015, coming within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto. Carrying powerful telescopic cameras that could spot features smaller than a football field, New Horizons sent back hundreds of images of Pluto and its moons that show how dynamic and fascinating their surfaces are.

 

(9) RHYME AND REASON. The Science Fiction Poetry Association has started a blog, SPECPO, with a flurry of interesting posts. SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra introduced it on Facebook:

Some of you may have noticed we had a soft-launch of the new blog for the Science Fiction Poetry Association, SPECPO. This will be where we hope to share and archive more member news, interviews, reviews, readings, announcements, and shareable items with one another in a more timely and entertaining way.

To keep it clear: From an organization standpoint, SPECPO does NOT replace Star*Line as the official newsletter of the SFPA for more formal matters that require members atte…ntion, such as voting or other issues outlined in our bylaws and constitution. But SPECPO can serve as a space to post reminders and clarifying commentary and frequently unofficial viewpoints, particularly from guest posters (which will be clearly marked as such when appropriate).

The hope is that this will facilitate conversations on speculative poetry for those who aren’t actively on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, and to provide diverse content that’s reasonably easy to search back for, given the often overwhelming flurry of items that can come up on our list-serv and other forums. This is a work in progress, but I hope you enjoy what we’re putting together and that many of you will volunteer to be guest contributors! 🙂

Keep inspired and keep creating!

(10) DEFINE SPECULATIVE. Just like defining science fiction gives rise to controversies, so does the effort to define speculative poetry. SFPA’s Shannon Connor Winward asked people what is and isn’t “speculative” in a poll on her website. Now the results are in.

In November 2016, the SFPA officers published an informal online survey entitled “What Is Speculative Poetry”. The main purpose of this survey was to determine whether there is an overall consensus among the membership regarding what genres or sub-genres of poetry belong under the heading “speculative”, assuming no other genre elements are present. The results are posted below.

Survey Results

As indicated in the graph and table below, the results of the “What Is Speculative Poetry” survey represent a wide spectrum of opinion regarding what counts as “speculative”.  On the upper end of consensus, we find categories that are understood across the literary landscape as falling within the speculative umbrella, including Science Fiction, Space science & exploration, Fantasy, Magic, Supernatural Horror, Myth and Folklore, Fairy Tales, Alternative History, SF&F pop culture, Superheroes, Surrealism, Slipstream, Fabulism, and Weird and “What If”.

Genres that fell more towards the middle of the spectrum—that is, those receiving support by 40-65%  of responders, included Science (physics, chemistry, biology, etc), Domestic Fabulism, Dinosaurs, “Interstitial” works, biographies of speculative poets, and poems in which traditional SF&F tropes as literary device (analogy, simile).

On the lower end of the spectrum—those genres that are most controversial, according to responders—we find Bizzaro, SF&F tropes as metaphor (bit of inconsistency there), biographies of scientists and (non-speculative) poets, Mundane Horror, Nature, Religion, Gender, Real history, Cowboy & Western, and Romance.

… Based on the results, the answer to that question is clear as mud–yes, there is consensus, and no, there really isn’t.  Are we surprised? Not really!

Nevertheless, it is the consensus of the SFPA executive committee that this survey was, at least, an interesting experiment.  We feel that you, our members and colleagues, will also find it interesting, and that, in regards to eligibility for our awards and publications, this survey can also be a useful tool to future SFPA editors and award Chairs, who are tasked with answering the practical question, “What is speculative poetry?

(11) HOUSE DIVIDED. Shannon Connor Winward has also released the results of a poll about a more specific question – “SFPA ‘Rhysling Maximum Length’ Survey Report” . Despite the narrower question, there was even sharper division.

One such discussion pertained to the Rhysling award “Long Poem” category – specifically, what, if anything, should be done with especially long poems that are nominated for the award.  Several members voiced concerns that poems above a certain length might strain the budget for the Rhysling anthology by adding in extra pages and printing costs.  Others expressed the idea that particularly long poems might be better considered as a distinct genre, rather than competing against poems of a more easily-consumed length.

In response to these concerns, the SFPA officers published an online survey entitled “Rhysling Maximum Length”, in November 2016.

Question #1: Should there be an upper line limit to long length Rhysling nominated poems?

While not every participant responded to all six questions; this fundamental question received exactly 100 responses, revealing a pure 50/50 split in member opinion:

No – 50 (50%)

Yes – 50 (50%)

Question #2: If yes, what should the upper limit be?

Assuming the membership voted in favor of an upper line limit for poems in the “Long Poem” Rhysling category, it would be necessary to define said limit.

The first option, “9 pages / 5K words / 500 lines” was designed to dovetail upper length limit for Rhysling “Long Poems” with the minimum length requirements for the SFPA’s Elgin Award for book-length works.  Out of 51 responses, this option received a majority vote.

9 pages / 5K words / 500 lines – 30 (59%)

Other – 21 (41%)

(12) TRADING PRICES. If you already ordered this Gauntlet Press at the original $150 price you saved $50. Maybe more

When we priced the lettered edition of John Russo’s Night of the Living Dead we were told that George Romero would not be signing the lettered edition (even though we had a preface he wrote). Now Romero has agreed to sign that edition. His signing makes this an event book, therefore we are increasing the price of the lettered edition to $200. The only reason we would increase the price of a book is if we had someone sign our lettered edition we hadn’t expected; someone truly collectible. The good news is that anyone who has already purchased the lettered edition for $150 won’t have to pay a penny more. We don’t believe we should make those who pre-ordered a book pay more if we increase its price. Those who pre-ordered get the same lettered edition, signed by Russo and Romero, as anyone who orders now. And, a word to the wise…we are trying to get other major names to sign the book so the price might increase again. Order now and you get the book for $200 regardless whomever else we get to sign.

(13) MARTIAN CHRONICLER. In 2009, Ray Bradbury made his last visit to JPL to celebrate the success of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andew Porter, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

160 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/29/17 Have Space Suit, Would Travel, But Ain’t Got No Visa

  1. Xtifr:

    “Or don’t. I really don’t care. I enjoy this site, but I have a whole lot more respect for Mr. Stross than for you, Mike, if this is how you’re going to overreact to something like this.”

    Why make this personal. 🙁

  2. Xtifr: Of course, if you really think this is all just his evil money-grubbing ways, well, sheesh, why not ask him, instead of taking one perhaps ill-judged comment and throwing the worst possible interpretation on it! I mean, I know it’s fun to pass judgment, but sometimes it’s good to get the facts as well.

    It’s not a comment, it’s a lengthy post, and Stross made his position and his self-exceptions quite clear. Are his readers not allowed to rely on his own words? Minimizing what I have to say by suggesting I ought to get “the facts” begs the question of what information you think is lacking in his post, which is designed to be a careful explanation of his personal policy.

    I’m fully prepared to be disagreed with — but whether or not you respect me for it, I am not going to yield to logical fallacies or misrepresentations of what I said.

  3. Hampus Eckerman: It is a matter of who you hold responsible. If you react against the Trump administration, you blame people who voter Trump. If you react against american policies, you blame all Americans as a whole. Yes, yes, semantics. But it gives different perspectives.

    I can see that. And even for those interested in more nuance, let’s say if someone in another country thinks Guantanamo Bay should be closed, its continued existence by now would simply be American policy, not the product of a particular party. Or those offended by the export of American mass culture would find no real difference in their situation whichever party is in power.

  4. Xtifr:

    “Or don’t. I really don’t care. I enjoy this site, but I have a whole lot more respect for Mr. Stross than for you, Mike, if this is how you’re going to overreact to something like this.”

    I dunno, Xtifr. Mike’s comments on this thread haven’t changed my opinion of him at all.

  5. (1) SLOWER THAN EMPIRES AND HALF VAST. To nitpick on the “more than anything” bit, the fact that they did a year between teaser & movie for the first movie in a long time hardly means need to do likewise for this movie. But 4-5 months between films, yeah, maybe that would’ve been a bit short.

    BTW I enjoyed “Rogue One” a lot! I was expecting to be a little iffy on it, but I give it the proverbial thumbs up.

    (2) KICKSTARTER SUCCESSS. Godwin (your text) or Goodwin (their text)? You decide(d)! I’ll appertain myself a tall cool glass of water before sleepytime. 😉

  6. The only part I roll my eyes at is the part where some mythical person may believe Stross supports current American policies, or Trump specifically, because he goes to a U.S. SFF con. Hahahahaha. Look, I made hotel reservations for Finland and we’re looking at a stopover in Iceland (since it’s so easy, plus it looks like there’re more interesting things in/near the city I’ll be flying through than in/near Helsinki, sorry, Finland). But I know next to nothing about their governments and policies, and anyone who would believe I support them merely because I’m going to a SFF con (and doing a little convenient, on-the-way tourism) would be a fool.

    Similarly, anyone who would believe Stross (or any other SFF luminary) supports the insanity and rot developing in the federal U.S. government right now, just because he goes to a SFF con, would similarly be a fool, IMHO.

    ETA: To be clearer, I’m skeptical such a fool exists, but I’m grumpy enough these days to call it like I see it. Sheesh, anyone that silly should read the man’s blog….

    Other than that – meh. My country’s gonna get scarier before it gets less so – tough to deny that! 🙁

    @airboy: Agreed with your call on someone’s nastiness upthread; disagreed with your unbelievably naive (I’m being charitable) response re. an anti-GLBT Ministry Directive, I mean, Executive Order. After seeing the previous one, you can really be that naive? It must be nice to fall into no categories Trump & his cronies have it in for (not hyperbole; reading the writing on the wall and judging them by their words and deeds). (shrug)

    #IWill*So*RegretCommentingOnThis

  7. I’m sorry to see that no one has picked up on (4) — Mike Dickinson’s death. He might be fairly unknown in the USA, but he was an important figure in British fandom (and particularly, as noted, the Leeds group) in the late 1970s and early 1980s — i.e. just yesterday — and a good man.

    In other news, hypocrisy remains hypocrisy, no matter how it’s dressed up.

  8. Authors aren’t show people, so maybe it’s unfair to compare the two, but there’s something to be said for “the show must go on.” If you sign up for a gig, you owe the attendees (more than the organizers or the sponsors) your best show at the gig. Attendees at the cons that Stross would have gone to, and the author events that Barclay has cancelled, are being hurt so that Stross and Barclay may (amongst other reasons) make a political statement. Both have many other avenues that they may make these statements, and have far bigger microphones than the average person who doesn’t like what Trump is doing.

    @TechGrrl1972 Just today there were some tweets that indicate an anti-LGBTQ EO is being drafted and will be signed soon.
    Maybe not.

  9. @ Stoic Cynic Choices and consequences being at least somewhat the topic: all the blessings of the universe on former acting US Attorney-General Sally Yates. May her successors meet their test of conscience as well as she chose to.

    Once Yates believed that she was in a position of having to do something that she thought was contrary to her conscience or illegal, she should have simply resigned. (See, for example, Ellliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus). The Constitution gives the President the Executive Authority, not to subordinates. So long as she holds the office, she has to execute and defend his orders. (It would have been entirely appropriate for her to do whatever she could have to convince him the EO was contrary to law, if she believed that it was, or otherwise bad policy).

    You can disagree with the EO on immigration (I do), but Trump was exactly right to fire her.

  10. @Bill: Checking Linwood Barclay’s statement, his is different from Stross’s motivation:

    It is with deep regret that I have cancelled any trips to the US for book events, at least until the travel ban is lifted.

    Ie, what Barclay says isn’t tied to his own personal safety, or with the risk of his actions being viewed as tacit support for Trump’s policies, but is tied as solidarity to the people denied entry into the USA. Yes, he breaks off an implicit contract with some Americans, but that is the result of the USA breaking a contract to a weaker party, in some cases even an explicit contract (those who already held visas or green cards).

    Note also that these choices are not consequence-free for either Stross or Barclay. Both risk lower sales in the US, or poorer relation to US readers, and that is a risk I believe both of them are very much aware of; in the case of Stross I am certain he is extremely aware of this.

  11. Bill, I think that it was within Yate’s rights (and, indeed, her duty) to refuse to follow what she believed was an illegal order and to speak up publicly against it. Of course, it was also absolutely within Trump’s rights to fire her. Civil disobedience has consequences, after all.

    I do not think that public officials lose their First Amendment rights when they become public employees. Quietly resigning is an option, but it’s not a requirement. Speaking up loudly is also an option.

  12. @Bill

    I don’t in the least disagree with her being fired. It was blatant insubordination and really left Trump no choice. I’m sure she knew that too.

    By refusing to follow orders, instead of simply resigning, she likely drew more attention to her concerns, set an example for her subordinates of following their values, and minimized the administration’s ability to spin what happened. Her call in any case.

    The last thing we need right now is ‘good Germans’.

  13. Ok, first of all, it’s a lengthy article, but it’s not an article about Stross’s upcoming trip to the US. It’s an article about his new policy, and an apology to Fencon. The part about his last couple of trips to America is literally one sentence. And Mike has somehow mentally inserted the word “because” into a parenthetical attached to a sentence that wasn’t the topic of the article. Great job at leaping to the worst possible conclusion based on little or no evidence!

    As I said, Charlie has been discussing this for months. He’s already explained his reasoning several times. Those two trips are commitments, and he doesn’t want to break more than he has to. Plus, they’re in extremely blue cities within blue states. And it’s early enough in the regime that things may not have gotten too bad yet. It’s a risk, but one he’s willing to make. There were a number of factors that went into his decision. Assuming it’s all because of his money-grubbing Jewish/Scottish ways is, in addition to being an unfortunate stereotype, rather silly.

    But even if the worst case were true, and this were all about the money, so what? Isn’t it his money and his life? Isn’t he free to assign them whatever values he wants? People risk their lives for money all the time. And the higher the risk, the more money they’re likely to want. In this case, the amount of money he wants says more about how high he thinks the risk is. (High, but not insurmountably high.)

    But in any case, as I said before, the money was not the only factor. It may have been the final factor that tipped the decision, but it’s far from the only one.

  14. Bill:

    “Once Yates believed that she was in a position of having to do something that she thought was contrary to her conscience or illegal, she should have simply resigned. […] So long as she holds the office, she has to execute and defend his orders.”

    Ridiculous. No one at any job is bound to defend or execute illegal orders. And no one should be forced to resign when they refuse to break the laws.

    Trump would have been right if he had resigned because he didn’t care about if he broke the law. He is not right to fire people because they refuse to break the law.

    And lets be clear that all and every blame here is on Trump who refused to let his proposal be vetted the ordinary way, who refused to take advice from anyone apart from his neo-nazi advisor, who refused to get a legal opinion.

  15. Over on the former-Gawker The Slot group, they have an article about the confirmation hearings where Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III asks Sally Yates if she would say no to the President if he asked for something inappropriate.

    She responds with, “Senator, I believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president.”

  16. @Hampus — Yates’s stance would come off as more principled if she had believed that the order was against the law (but she did not say so; she only said she was not sure of its legality). As it is, she appeared to be failing to discharge her lawful duties because she didn’t like it. Nobody gets to write their own job description like that, surely not a political appointee.

    But regardless, if she only lacked confidence in its legality, or (hypothetically and alternatively) had done an exhaustive analysis that showed it clearly was unconstitutional, once she decided not to defend it in court, she had to go. The system (and by that, I mean the office of the President and the office of the (acting) AG, not Trump and Yates), cannot tolerate this sort of insubordination. The AG is not the check and balance on the President — Congress and the Courts are, and ultimately (four years later) the voters are.

    And again, I’m not trying to defend the Executive Order or the individual who issued it. This is about the system. And I’m not saying that she had to enforce it, that the law or something required her to stay in office and defend the EO in court. She wanted her cake and to eat it too; she wanted to appear to show an
    principled opposition to the EO, and to remain AG. One had to give, and obviously it was the latter.

  17. Bill, you seem to be assuming that Yates wanted to say “no” and still stay in her job. I cannot imagine that Yates didn’t know that she would be fired immediately for saying “no”. This is Trump she’s working for; a man who made “you’re fired” into a catch-phrase.

    Given that she doubted that the order was legal, I think she was constrained by the law NOT to follow that order. This is, as you said, about the system. And the system says that it is illegal to follow an illegal order. (Whether she was correct or incorrect about the legality of the order is outside my expertise.)

  18. Hampus Eckerman: Ridiculous. No one at any job is bound to defend or execute illegal orders. And no one should be forced to resign when they refuse to break the laws.

    I agree. Make them fire you — although it’s almost certain they will.

  19. @Cassy you seem to be assuming that Yates wanted to say “no” and still stay in her job.

    I’m not just assuming it; that’s exactly what happened. She said “No” and remained in her job.

    If she thought it was illegal, she should have said in her statement “I think this is an illegal order” and why she thought so. She didn’t do this. She even allowed (in her last sentence) for the possibility that she would have been convinced it was legal.

    In the same exchange with Jeff Sessions, she said “If I’m going to be doing battle with anybody I want to make sure I have the law and the facts and the precedent behind me to be able to give a reasoned judgment.” That’s not what happened here.

    Why this is bad is that she not only used the moment to make a political statement counter to that of the administration she worked for, she instructed her subordinates to do likewise, based on an EO that she was undecided about.

    Again, I’m not saying she was wrong to oppose the order. She was wrong to oppose it while occupying the office of Attorney General.

  20. @Bill

    I contest that she worked for the administration. Her oath of office was to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States not the Trump administration. She did that in the way she saw best and took the lumps any intelligent person would expect.

  21. Cassy: you seem to be assuming that Yates wanted to say “no” and still stay in her job.

    Bill: I’m not just assuming it; that’s exactly what happened. She said “No” and remained in her job.

    Well, that’s a completely fallacious statement. You are conflating “what she wanted” and “what she expected” with “she did not immediately resign”. The fact that she did not immediately resign says nothing about “what she wanted” or “what she expected”.

     
    Bill: If she thought it was illegal, she should have said in her statement “I think this is an illegal order” and why she thought so. She didn’t do this. She even allowed (in her last sentence) for the possibility that she would have been convinced it was legal.

    She did exactly what she should have done: said that she was not going to enforce Trump’s order unless and until she became convinced of its legality.

    You are insisting that orders should be followed before a determination of their legality has been made. This is incorrect.

     
    Bill: Why this is bad is that she not only used the moment to make a political statement counter to that of the administration she worked for, she instructed her subordinates to do likewise, based on an EO that she was undecided about.

    Again, I’m not saying she was wrong to oppose the order. She was wrong to oppose it while occupying the office of Attorney General.

    Again, this is incorrect. All American employees of the U.S. government have the responsibility of adhering to the law. She doesn’t have to resign to do her job as a government employee. She said she would not enforce the order until/unless it was determined to be legal.

     
    I do so enjoy watching you telling other people how they are required to follow their consciences, whether it’s how they do charitable giving, or how they adhere to the law in fulfilling the requirements of their government job. 🙄

  22. The right wing just can’t wrap its collective mind around the idea of there being a higher obligation than doing what’s convenient for the right wing.

    As a lawyer, Sally Yates is an office of the court and has legal and ethical obligations that override her obligations to any particular client, employer, or boss. As a federal officials, she took an oath to uphold the Constitution–according to her best understanding of it, not someone else’s, and certainly not when that someone who has no legal background or experience, and whose idea of reasoned Constitutional argument is, “I’m the President so I automatically get what I want.” As A ting Attorney-General, she is specifically there not to be a rubber stamp for the President, but to give him her best legal judgment–and to uphold the law and the Constitution even if he disagrees.

    She could have resigned, but she certainly had no obligation to. Making him fire her is also within her reasonable choices.

    He had the right to fire her. He did so. The only person claiming Sally Yates objects to that outcome is Bill, whom I’m going to go out on a limb and say has zero inside information on this.

    I’ll also again remind Bill that “I was just following orders” is not a defense held in high regard, and not something any self-respecting attorney would contemplate using.

  23. @Kendall

    The only part I roll my eyes at is the part where some mythical person may believe Stross supports current American policies, or Trump specifically, because he goes to a U.S. SFF con. Hahahahaha. Look, I made hotel reservations for Finland and we’re looking at a stopover in Iceland (since it’s so easy, plus it looks like there’re more interesting things in/near the city I’ll be flying through than in/near Helsinki, sorry, Finland). But I know next to nothing about their governments and policies, and anyone who would believe I support them merely because I’m going to a SFF con (and doing a little convenient, on-the-way tourism) would be a fool.

    Similarly, anyone who would believe Stross (or any other SFF luminary) supports the insanity and rot developing in the federal U.S. government right now, just because he goes to a SFF con, would similarly be a fool, IMHO.

    ETA: To be clearer, I’m skeptical such a fool exists, but I’m grumpy enough these days to call it like I see it. Sheesh, anyone that silly should read the man’s blog….

    There actually are people who view not just visiting the US (even if it’s only for an SF con), but also buying US products, watching Hollywood movies, eating at McDonald’s and even wearing jeans as approving of US policies. The most extreme among them didn’t even allow their kids to watch Disney cartoons. See this memoir by a German philosopher who grew up in a family like that..

    So yes, such people did exist in the European left in the 1960s/70s/80s. And yes, they’re idiots. I’ve had a few run-ins with these types myself and generally told them where they could stuff their idiocy with varying degress of politeness (one of them was a teacher of mine, so I had to be civil).

    Thankfully, such blanket Anti-American views have been on the decline for twenty years or so (with mild resurgences during the Bush era and the Snowden revelations), but they might well experience a stronger resurgence due to Trump.

    No I don’t see Charles Stross as the sort of person who would care about the views of people like that. But they definitely exist.

  24. Every member of the civil service, as well as every member of the military, takes an oath to defend the constitution of the United States “against all enemies, domestic and foreign.” They do not promise to obey orders, those of the president or of anyone else. If Yates thought the orders she was given were or might be unconstitutional, she did the right thing.

    ObSF: the Ankh-Morpork Guardsmen’s oath is to protect the subjects of his/her majesty [it’s an old oath]. Nowhere does the oath say anything about obedience; Captain Vimes speculates on whether the rulers have noticed this. (My personal opinion is that Vetinari has, because he notices everything, but his predecessors may not have.)

  25. In my opinion, AAG Yates may serve at the whim of the President but she actually works for the American people so I’m glad she chose not to resign. Why make it easier for those who would circumvent the law. She’s also there to protect us against violations of the law.
    Bill may like to count the angels on the head of a pin but the rest of us have to deal with the real world.

  26. @Bill: separately from the dissections of your claims about Yates directly, I dispute your claim that the Saturday Night Massacre is a parallel situation. The special prosecutor’s office was a very recent creation, for which there was not even any case law (let alone Constitutional framework); Yates’s arguments relied on decades of law and arguably on the Constitution itself. I also wonder whether E&R would have been willing to resign if they had such blatant evidence of presidential sociopathy (at least) as Yates did; Nixon was a despicable excuse for a human being, but it’s unclear whether he exposed himself to anyone but his intimates the way Trump exposes himself to everyone.

  27. I am a little disappointed in Mike’s reaction to Charlie’s post.

    Yes, one might reasonably think that Charlie is over-reacting to “bad things happening”. And in fact I do think it is a bit of an over-reaction. Did I stop coming to the USA after the Iraq invasion? No. (Though I did have colleagues who did.)

    But to criticise it for not being enough of an over-reaction to be credible? I really don’t follow that at all.

    I too have committments to the USA, and expect to visit in the near future. But like Charlie, I wonder whether visits planned further in the future, when one might reasonably, based on very recent events, think that the situation will become worse, are wise.

    Unlike Charlie, I am not a feted GoH at a convention so if I decide not to come, vastly fewer people will be disappointed. (Indeed, a number of them that I frequently argue with might be quite pleased!) So there is no reason for me to cancel in advance, but I quite understand Charlie’s position here

    And indeed, the snark about Charlie not wanting to pay the costs is unwarranted. He already stated that if things get worse quickly (amd he expects things to get worse, but hopefully not too quickly), he will simply cancel at the last minute and take the financial cost. OTOH, given a volatile situation, withdrawing from more future committments before they are set in stone both helps him (to avoid unnecessary costs) and the convention concerned (which has plenty of time to organise a different GoH).

    Were me an influential Guest, I would certainly be considered making a similar stand.

    (I’m not sure whether it’s better to be an influential person or an insignificant peon in such matters! Certainly some relatives and friends have questioned my intention to continue visits to the USA…)

    Perhaps it would have been more “politic” of Charles to merely cancel with the concom and make no public mention, but that would likewise have been a derelection of his civic duty. Being forthright with his objections to the new regime is inherently a good thing.

    Finally, I note that OGH could have tried bearding the lion in his den. Though on second thought considering the other inhabitants of the den (?Shodan Wodan?!!!) I cannot blame him for not bothering with that! I myself could not be bothered to bring my dishwater-strength objections to such a table.

  28. My very first convention ever had a guest of honour who cancelled last minute (for good health reasons IIRC. A great many at thd door sales disappeared and the convention at least lost money it might otherwise have had (I don’t know if it lost money in the more abstract sense, I was 16).

    But 16 or not I was old enough to notice some scrambling to fill the void even as I had a blast and got hooked. Especially since my reason for going had been to see her and I could have cancelled with everyone else who did.

    So I can’t say I’m too critical of a writer who doesn’t strand a con last minute, even whilst expressing concerns based on an uncertain political climate.

    I am already planning my near future life around not crossing the border but if I had an already set obligation — if for example the flight I am taking Friday were to Seattle and not Abbotsford (literally right across the border) — I would also consider the climate in the US at this exact time has not yet reached the point where I am worried about my safety. As Jo Walton once said, being a middle aged white woman is kind of like having rights, though really not an adequate substitute.

  29. Alan Dershowitz has done a much better job of expressing what I think was wrong with Sally Yates’s actions than I have done so far.

    @JJ I do so enjoy watching you telling other people how they are required to follow their consciences, whether it’s how they do charitable giving

    I don’t recall telling anyone how to do their giving (not saying I didn’t do it, just that I don’t remember doing so, and that it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing I think I would say). Maybe you are thinking of someone else?

    @Vicki Every member of the civil service . . . takes an oath to defend the constitution of the United States

    I’ve been a civil servant (civilian engineer working for the Army) for 34 years, and we don’t take oaths. The closest I ever came was signing a statement saying that I would not disclose classified information, and statements asserting that my financial disclosures were true on pain of perjury. But not oaths.

  30. Bill: That seems unusual. My understanding is that for federal civil service employees, the oath is required by law in 5 U.S. Code § 3331, which reads as follows:

    5 U.S. Code § 3331 – Oath of office

    An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” This section does not affect other oaths required by law.
    (Pub. L. 89–554, Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 424.)

    I took the oath in 1979 when I was hired by the IRS.

  31. @Bill

    I don’t recall telling anyone how to do their giving (not saying I didn’t do it, just that I don’t remember doing so, and that it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing I think I would say). Maybe you are thinking of someone else?

    I think JJ was responding to airboy, not you.

  32. @Mike: You are correct. The oath was, and still is required by law. Either Bill signed the oath and doesn’t remember, or he’s a civilian contractor or something like that.

  33. @Hampus Eckerman: I would have put it more euphemistically: “Dershowitz writes result-oriented decisions.” (That’s the term a lawyer I know used for the SCOTUS decision that short-circuited vote counting in the 2000 POTUS election.) But bluntness-with-links has its uses.

  34. Bill: I don’t recall telling anyone how to do their giving (not saying I didn’t do it, just that I don’t remember doing so, and that it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing I think I would say).

    I’m sure you don’t. 🙄

  35. @Lis

    The right wing just can’t wrap its collective mind around the idea of there being a higher obligation than doing what’s convenient for the right wing.

    And from a non-left wing perspective, the same applies to the left wing. Every last power that Mr. Trump is currently using….or abusing depending on one’s perspective….was used by Mr. Obama with the enthusiastic approval of those on the left side of things.

    My preference is for the Constitution, the rule of law, and fo elected officials to negotiate to a moderate conclusion. But having been on the short end of the rhetorical executive action stick (under several different administrations) and not having received much support from the left wing when it was a left wing executive in power, I’m having a hard time mustering up a ton of sympathy right now.

    A couple relevant examples being the IRS bias* against conservative groups seeking to emulate the MoveOn and Organizing For American models as well as former Senator Harry Reid’s use of the nuclear option for appointment confirmations.

    Regards,
    Dann

    *no, the few left-leaning groups that got caught up in that mess don’t mitigate the larger bias against the much longer list of right-leaning victims.

  36. I unwise to say “we don’t take oaths.” A quick survey among co-workers reveals that some did take oaths, and some did not. I can’t figure out any distinction between the groups.

    I am a civilian employee of the Dept of the Army — my paycheck comes directly from the Treasury. I was not, however, elected or appointed to my job. I was hired by a Personnel Office. Which may be the difference.

    At any rate, I am a civil servant who did not take an oath to defend the constitution when I was hired (I would defend it, if it ever came up).

  37. Mike Glyer: I took the oath in 1979 when I was hired by the IRS.

    I had to take an oath when I worked for the government as well.

  38. Every last power that Mr. Trump is currently using….or abusing depending on one’s perspective….was used by Mr. Obama with the enthusiastic approval of those on the left side of things.

    No, it was not. The Trump administration’s attempt to conflate their actions with those of previous administrations are based on falsehoods and outright lies.

  39. A quick survey among co-workers reveals that some did take oaths, and some did not.

    I suspect that the difference is that some remember doing so, and others do not. Most oaths taken by civil servants are in written form – as part of the documentation signed by an incoming employee on their first day. I’m reasonably certain that if you went to your personnel file and looked through it there is a document in which you affirm the oath that was set out by OGH earlier in this thread.

  40. Bill: I was not, however, elected or appointed to my job. I was hired by a Personnel Office. Which may be the difference.

    The vast majority in the civil service are just hired — not elected or appointed — but we were still administered the oath.

    When I Googled that information about the oath I came across a discussion at one site where somebody complained they had only been presented the oath among the other paperwork they had to sign when hired by the Navy, that it wasn’t administered aloud with hand raised.

    Then there’s always the chance that sometimes a manager just didn’t bother to do it. Isn’t the civil service famous for having people who don’t always do what they’re supposed to?

  41. I was not, however, elected or appointed to my job. I was hired by a Personnel Office. Which may be the difference.

    If you look up the language, you will find that a person hired into the civil service is “appointed” to their position. Unless you a non-civil service contract employee, you were appointed.

  42. I didn’t take an oath. I’ve reviewed my (digitized, online) personnel file, and there’s no record of me haven taken an oath. Maybe I should have, maybe it was skipped, who knows. It did not happen.

  43. I assume my grandfather swore that oath at least once while he was with the Post Office (47 years). I know he had to be confirmed by Congress when he was appointed postmaster. He’d certainly have sworn it when he was in the army in WW1 – he was a sergeant – and maybe when he was in the National Guard before that.

  44. @PJ Evans

    Total pedantry: The military oaths are slightly different. For enlisted persons they include following the orders of the President, officers appointed above you, and following the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

    Military Oath of Office

    The one your grandfather swore would be different than the one I did since its been revised over the years.

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