Pixel Scroll 5/28/18 Chapter 5 – Our Last, Best Hope For Pixels

(1) MORE ABOUT WISCON’S KILLABLE BODIES PANEL. One of the program participants, Nicasio Reed, put up “a quick mid-WisCon post”. This excerpt is about half of it.

So this morning I was on a 10AM panel at WisCon 42, and it was called The Desire for Killable Bodies in SFF. I’d been very much looking forward to the discussion, even though we’d had little pre-panel discussion about it. It’s a topic that deeply interests me, and that I strive to think deeply about while consuming and creating narratives and characters. The panel was staffed by myself, one other panelist, and a moderator. I was familiar with Molly Aplet, our moderator, who very appropriately made the call to act also a third panelist, because there were just the three of us. Lisa Freitag, my fellow panelist, I knew from one email before the start of the convention, and from a brief conversation in the Dealer’s Room on the Saturday before the panel, when we chatted about texts to bring up. My biggest fear before the panel started was not getting to bring up all the things I wanted to talk about, or not having intelligent responses to the inevitably brilliant audience questions.

Turns out I should be more creative with my fears! As was reported live via Twitter, and then on the WisCon blog, Lisa repeatedly made statements that expressed a desire to sympathize with both individual Nazis (in this context we would be talking about, I believe, Third Reich-era Nazis), and later also individual Confederate soldiers. That this happened once was confusing, surprising, and alarming. That this happened multiple times as the panel went on was flabbergasting, frightening, and finally just damaging.

A lot of people have checked in on me since the panel, making sure I was doing okay, and I appreciate all of you so much. However, I was absolutely not the most affected by what she said, and what she brought into that room. Most saliently, I’m not Jewish. I want to apologize to everyone who was there who was justly rattled, afraid, saddened, or made to feel unsafe. While I gathered myself enough to push back ideologically while on the panel, I didn’t take the step of directly turning to Lisa and saying, in however many words, “That was a fucked up thing to say, and it’s not okay.” The person who did eventually do that was an audience member, who I won’t name here without their permission. (Panelist and moderator names are, of course, public knowledge.) The onus for directly confronting those statements should absolutely not have fallen on the audience, particularly on those most directly and historically affected by the views expressed. That was my failure, and I am extremely sorry for it. So, again, to everyone in the audience who helped to push back, I’m sorry, and thank you….

The blogger Coffeeandink attended the panel and wrote a post detailing some of the discussion.

I don’t feel comfortable naming the panelist, though I wouldn’t say it was wrong to do so, either, and I do link to a post that names them. For this post, though, I’m just going to call them X.

I’m willing to answer questions about what happened. I am not willing to discuss the punishment or the con’s reaction with people who are not targeted by Nazis. If you are not Jewish, Roma, queer, disabled, or nonwhite/a person of color, please have that discussion elsewhere.

  • The discussion was focused on Nazis in Third Reich.
  • X did not express support for Nazi or Confederate ideology. What they did, repeatedly, was express sympathy for Nazi individuals and stress the need to “humanize” Nazis. They mentioned Confederates in support of this, appearing to think that saying that every soldier on both sides was “some mother’s son” was a convincing argument for extending compassion to Nazis. They argued that some Nazis were “good people”.
  • According to Wiscon’s post, X “appeared to posit that disabled or injured people sometimes ‘have to be sacrificed'”, but I was pretty distracted at the point when that came up and can’t confirm it.
  • The panel description focused on SFF “killable bodies” that are stand-ins for marginalized people, so I was not expecting the subject of Nazis as killable bodies rather than as killers to come up. It’s not innately problematic for a panel discussion to have a larger scope than its description, but I think a lot of people had this expectation and that it made the approach X took especially unexpected.
  • Multiple audience members, multiple times, objected to what X was saying. At the end of the panel, one audience member said bluntly, “There’s a difference between understanding Nazis and sympathizing with them.”
  • I remember the audience as being the ones who pushed back most assertively, but the moderator and panelist Nicasio Reed also argued with X after the audience broke the ice. I do not blame anyone for being too startled to respond firmly while in the room. I myself did not speak up.
  • It’s important to recognize and acknowledge the humanity of people who do terrible things. However, when doing so, it is a moral imperative to center the victims of those terrible things. X centered the emotions and conflicts of the perpetrators–directly in the face of survivors or people who would have been targeted, who repeatedly pointed out that this is what X was doing. I do not believe X did spoke out of malice, but this is a topic that requires great care. If X has considered the topic with that care, it was not apparent during the panel….

(2) THE LAST OF LE GUIN. David Naimon on working with a legend at Literary Hub: “Ursula K. Le Guin, Editing to the End”.

Ursula’s final words to me, her final edits on the manuscript of our collected conversations, were in pencil. We had talked in one of these conversations about technology, about how, in her mind, she was unfairly labeled a Luddite. That some of the most perfect tools—a pestle, a kitchen knife—were in fact perfected technologies. I had just received the manuscript from her days before, and the pencil on it reminded me of the aura of in-the-world magic this whole endeavor, bringing a book into the world together, had assumed.

The manuscript had traveled in the world as an object, one carried by foot and passed hand to hand. Our publisher, Tin House, located literally in a house of tin on the corner of a leafy boulevard in Northwest Portland, was just down the hill from Ursula’s home. And by a remarkable twist of fate, as if sharing the same street were not enough, Ursula’s own granddaughter worked as an intern there. It was often her or the book’s editor Tony who would walk up the hill to deliver the pages, or walk up the hill to walk them back down again. …

She could have published most if not all of her books at one of the big five publishers in New York. She could’ve economized and maximized her time by only granting interviews to the likes of Terry Gross, Bill Moyers, and Charlie Rose. And yet she continued to choose small presses, and often ones distant from the hierarchy of the publishing powers in NYC, whether an anarchist press from San Francisco or a feminist science fiction press from Seattle. Similarly, she never said no to her hometown community radio, KBOO, a station that is not Portland’s NPR affiliate, but whose mission statement is to give voice to the voiceless, with shows like Rose City Native Radio, Transpositive PDX, and Black Book Talk. By conventional metrics, KBOO is a small station, both in reach and listenership, and yet you wouldn’t get that impression when Ursula speaks of it…

(3) CALLING ALL HOLLYWOOD ACCOUNTANTS. We Got This Covered puts its flopologist to work: “Disney Responds To Solo: A Star Wars Story Flopping At The Box Office”.

Although the full four-day estimate won’t be released until later today, it’s probably safe to say that the Anthology pic won’t be gunning for the Memorial Day holiday weekend record anymore. As you’ve surely heard, the Ron Howard-directed space western hauled in $83.3 million in its opening weekend and will finish off Monday with about $110 million, nowhere even remotely near the current record holder, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($140M).

In a year that’s seen three releases enter the domestic top thirty for all-time opening weekends, Deadpool 2 ($125M), Black Panther ($202M) and Avengers: Infinity War ($257M), the box office failure of Solo: A Stars Wars Story is only amplified that much more.

(4) DANCING IN AND AROUND THE MAY POOL: At Featured Futures, Jason has compiled another month of choice reading to dip into with “Summation: May 2018”.

This month’s baker’s dozen of noted stories (four recommended) comes from the pool of ninety (of 440 Kwds) published between April 30 and May 28. The print zines were individually strongest with Analog and F&SF each contributing multiple tales but the web combined to contribute seven.

While not applicable to the monthly recommendations, I did review a collection this month which had eight reprints (three recommended) that I especially liked.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY REDWOMBAT

  • Born May 28, 1977 – Ursula Vernon

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY SPOOK

  • Born May 28, 1908 – Ian Fleming. Happy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) WORD TO THE WIS(E)CON. I wish I could transplant this axiom to the comment section here. Beware the free-floating harshers of squee.

(9) HARDLY A MARVEL. Nicholas Whyte chimes in with his preferences for “The 2018 Hugo finalists for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form”. Landing well below No Award is —

7) Thor: Ragnarok

This is the fourth Marvel Universe film I have seen, but only the third in chronological order – the others were the first Iron Man, which didn’t impress me much, and nor did Captain America: The First Avenger, which I also ranked below No Award. On the other hand there is also Black Panther, made after Thor: Ragnarok but which I saw earlier this year, and loved. I’m afraid Thor: Ragnarok is back to the usual form for me. Not being terribly invested in the characters of the Marvel Universe, let alone the Thor storyline, I could see that the whole thing was trying to be funny but it wasn’t really my fandom. At least Jeff Goldblum was treating it with the approriate level of seriousness. I am sure it will do better than seventh place in the overall vote.

(10) DINING (WAY) OUT. NPR reports “Great White Sharks Have A Secret ‘Cafe,’ And They Led Scientists Right To It”.

“We expected it to be the desert that the textbooks sort of advertised it would be,” said Bruce Robison, a senior scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

But this was no desert.

A layer of nutrient-rich plant life exists deeper under the ocean than satellites could detect. Tiny creatures feed on it, and larger creatures feed on them. And up and up. It represents “a complete food chain, a ladder of consumption, that made us believe that there was an adequate food supply out here for big animals like tunas and the sharks,” Robison said.

(11) LET’S ALL TWEET LIKE THE ROBOTS DO. Too sensitive: “Bulgarians tweeting in Cyrillic confused for Russian bots”. Twitter has several criteria, ANY of which can cause a tweet or account to be suppressed; using Cyrillic is one of them, despite it being used in 11 countries beside Russia.

Speaking at a United States Senate Committee inquiry into extremist content and Russian disinformation online, Twitter’s acting general counsel Sean Edgett shed some light on why this might be happening.

He said in October 2017 that Twitter’s tools “do not attempt to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ automation,” when looking for Russian-linked accounts.

“They rely on objective, measurable signals, such as the timing of tweets and engagements to classify a given action as automated.”

What can qualify as a Russian-linked Twitter account?

  • Created in Russia
  • Registered with a Russian phone carrier or email address
  • User’s display name contains Cyrillic characters
  • Tweets are frequently in the Russian language
  • Logged in to Twitter via a Russian IP address even once

“We considered an account to be Russian-linked if it had even one of the relevant criteria,” said Mr Edgett.

(12) DINO DANDER. Might be evidence of the first step towards birds: “Dinosaur dandruff reveals first evidence of skin shedding”

An analysis of fossilised dandruff fragments has given scientists their first evidence of how dinosaurs and early birds shed their skin.

Found among the plumage of these ancient creatures, the 125-million-year-old flakes are almost identical to those found in modern birds.

It shows that these dinosaurs shed their skins in small pieces, and not all at once like many modern reptiles.

It’s more evidence that early birds had limited flying skills, the authors say.

(13) FUN FOR ALL. Here’s video of the Anime North 2018 religious protesters. (There’s several posts about them in Reddit’s Anime North thread.)

These guys show up every year. The congoers also do this every year [play songs on a loudspeaker].

 

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

179 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/28/18 Chapter 5 – Our Last, Best Hope For Pixels

  1. Re: Hugo packet: That’s a relief!

    I’d like to add my thanks to the publishers, authors and the Worldcon 76 Hugo Awards team for all their hard work. It’s very much appreciated!

    I’d also like to add what a pleasure this year’s reading has been. There are so many great candidates that I’m having a hard time deciding on the ranking, which is a lovely problem to have.

  2. @Anna: Frankly, as a video game player, the definition for “killable body” is simple. Is it shooting at me?

    The point of decision is on the game designers who put the skins on the targets. How they come to their decisions is a discussion worth having. I’ve gotten a sense from the accounts of the panel that the problem panelist tried to hijack that into something else. When we have literal Nazis marching in the streets, a lot of people are going to nope right out of that.

  3. “ Makes me think that this would allow for some cheapness in special effects.”

    Not my experience at all. Care to elaborate?

  4. @Cliff Ramshaw: The resolution needed for believability goes down in a dark scene.

  5. Thank you to the rightsholders for their contribution to the Hugo packet

    @Rail: Yeah, I had no luck with the Netgalley stuff last year.

  6. @rail – I’ve never heard of resolution being adjusted for intensity of the shot. You also have to account for final intensity being dependent on color grading, compositing etc, the results of which are not finalized when rendering occurs.

  7. I went out and bought some Hugo (and related) shortlisted books this morning, and as I did so I thought ‘I bet now the Hugo packet will appear, just in time to render my buying of the books useless’. And it worked! (But actually two of the books I bought are not in it, so I win all round.)

  8. @Anna, that isn’t what the question under discussion that caused the problems was. It was not, by all accounts, about determining whether Nazis were ‘killable bodies’, at that point; it was doubling down on specifically asking for sympathy for individual Nazis. The question of the ethics of killing Nazis is a separate question from the question of sympathising with them, much as the panellist, by all accounts, tried to conflate the two and suggest that they’re the same.

  9. I think there is a notable difference between worrying about whether you should shoot every Nazi in Castle Wolfenstein (If you fret about this you tend to die in turn), and whether in a real war, the enemy is in fact a fellow human (important for the troops on the ground, but more important for the generals who don’t get to look at them and are thus Much more inclined to forget), and whether you should treat neo-nazis at a rally as either Castle Wolfenstein ciphers(NO!), enemy combatants (no), a violent and potentially dangerous opposition you may have to defend against with force but should be able to oppose with words and marches alone (yes), a human being who probably has loved ones and definitely holds all the same rights and privileges you do under the law (YES!) and a person with whom you should share sympathy (Uh, no, actually.)

  10. I had a long talk with the person who was banned shortly after the banning (we went off site to escape the awfulness). My friend very clearly understands the difference between empathy, compassion, and sympathy. My friend is not nor ever has been a sympathizer with Nazis or other hate groups. My friend is kind, and empathetic, they ponder ethical issues deeply. At worst, my friend’s speech lacked clarity, at best it was a strong statement about not othering even the worst people.
    My issue is that no one on the concom went and talked to my friend to get their side of the story. No opportunity was allowed for explanation or defense. It appears to have been a trial by tweet.

    If we kick everyone out of conventions who ever misspoke or made a mistake on a panel at a science fiction convention, pretty soon there would be no panels at all.

  11. Some thoughts on sympathy vs empathy: Although the two are often conflated in casual use (and even by some non-casual use!) the two have very important distinctions. Empathy is understanding someone’s feelings and implicit in that understanding is an acknowledgement of a shared humanity. Sympathy, on the other hand, is sharing someone’s feelings, wanting to alleviate their distress and is a sign of support for the sufferer, his or her feelings and viewpoint.

    I can’t speak to whether the panelist was conflating the two words, but I think it’s important that in discussing this topic none of us lose the distinction.

  12. NetGalley strikes me as an option that would work great–for those of us who already use NetGalley, and a poor choice for any Hugo voter who doesn’t.

    It’s possible some of the rights holders are overestimating how many Hugo voters are likely to be NetGalley users.

  13. I became a Netgally user last year to download the Toby Day books for Best Series. It’s not hard.

  14. Amy Thomson on May 29, 2018 at 4:06 pm said:
    I had a long talk with the person who was banned shortly after the banning (we went off site to escape the awfulness). My friend very clearly understands the difference between empathy, compassion, and sympathy. My friend is not nor ever has been a sympathizer with Nazis or other hate groups. My friend is kind, and empathetic, they ponder ethical issues deeply. At worst, my friend’s speech lacked clarity, at best it was a strong statement about not othering even the worst people.
    My issue is that no one on the concom went and talked to my friend to get their side of the story. No opportunity was allowed for explanation or defense. It appears to have been a trial by tweet.

    I am sorry you both had to go through that.
    There must be a happy medium between “ignoring sexual harrassment and losing the report” and “banning a longstanding attendant immediately and with no discussion on the basis of tweets”.

  15. @ULTRAGOTHA: I tried to use NetGalley, and could download the files to my computer (as I recall), but not transfer them to my preferred reader – I’ll try again this year, and see if I have better luck.

  16. Re: Netgallery:

    It works reasonably well for Kindle/mobi users. I still have the ability to read the October Daye novel set from last year’s packet, even though the epub version is defunct now and has been for some time. The only place I can’t send it to is my Kindle For PC, as it mails the files, which doesn’t work with the PC app.

  17. Andrew, I don’t recall exactly what I did, but I managed to get the *hugemongous* Toby Day ‘book’ on my tablet to read with the Kindle ap with little problem last year. Good luck to you this year.

  18. There are subjects which are very difficult to talk about, for various reasons. It behooves a person to show that they’ve thought carefully about such subjects by actually thinking about how their words are going to be felt by those most sensitive to them. And, frankly, thinking about the venue; a few minutes of a casual con-panel about a wider subject isn’t really a place to delicately probe the nuances of Nazi ideology vs working or fighting for the German regime in WWII.

    Unless, possibly, you have the wit to open your remarks with a straight-forward and obvious “Nazis are bad,” and not take it as read that everybody will of course understand that when you suggest that Nazis are also human beings…. Nah, I don’t see how anybody with any nous at all could not see that talking about Nazis is going to threaten to take over any panel and result in hurt feelings and worse even with a significant build up. That is something I would leave to the experts, e.g. Jacob Bronowski.

  19. One minor complaint: The Worldcon staff this year has been uh….lacking at emailing updates on things like nominations and voting open or the packet. In fact, I STILL haven’t received an email that Hugo Voting is open, even though I found out about it through this site. What gives?

  20. Netgalley:
    The Incryptid Series and “A Skinful of Shadows” have arrived on my Kindle without problems. The three Divine Cities links do not work, message is “This widget is no longer valid.”

    (I also registered last year for October Daye and have not used the account for anything else.)

  21. People like Panelist X (and commenters online) need to be mindful of the First Rule of Holes. Like @D. Franklin said: Maybe when an audience member points out that you’re demanding people at a feminist convention, with queer people and people of colour in the room, sympathise with NAZIS, you shouldn’t DOUBLE DOWN

    @Lenora Rose: It wasn’t required, but I did read it. That is indeed how to make a Nazi a complex, sympathetic character without generalizing all the way to “so some of them were nice people, therefore Nazis weren’t evil.” Nope, sorry. Anton being a hunky sweetie does not excuse the beliefs and actions of the regime.

    @Chip Hitchcock: From your lips to the Mouse’s giant ears; we really don’t need a Boba Fett movie. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since 1977 and not only am I anti-Fett movie, I’m in no hurry to go see “Solo”. If I don’t make it to the theater, then rental disc it is. With the price of movies, it takes a lot for me to go to one, and everything I read about this meant I wasn’t excited about showing up first thing. Donald Glover’s swagger can’t carry the whole thing himself.

    @Robert Walker Sirignano: Yes, dim lighting can hide a multitude of budget deficits and sloppy work. I also heard that rather too much of the movie is shot in close-ups — no sweeping panoramas and not even two-shots — because then only small parts of the set had to be rebuilt for the reshooting. That also saves money but makes the movie claustrophobic.

    HUGO PACKET YAY! NetGalley boo — it doesn’t like me, or at least it didn’t last year. I could NOT get it to work at all. And I just don’t care for PDFs. But I’d put up with them if I could get them. I may have to ask here for people to ELI5.

    Thanks to the authors and publishers who participate.

  22. @Cliff Ramshaw: It’s a reasonable layman’s assumption, especially from anyone who noticed that the “resurrection” of Grand Moff Tarkin worked much better in poorly-lit scenes or has done light, hobby-level rendering.

    @ULTRAGOTHA Robert, etc.: I don’t anticipate problems with the downloading, but convincing protected Adobe files to actually open hasn’t worked well for me in the past.

  23. Mike Glyer on May 29, 2018 at 2:56 pm said:
    My enthusiasm for the Packet is considerably subdued because they have posted versions of my files in which the hyperlinks to this blog DON’T work. (Specifically, are gone.)

    The links work on my PDF, some (but not all) links work in Charles Payseur’s PDF, links don’t work in Bogi’s, links do work in Foz Meadow’s PDF.

    You may need to compile your PDF in the Southern Hemisphere for links to work.

  24. There is one thing I agree with Amy Thompson about: The concom should have also talked to X first.

    That being said, I suspect this involved a bit more information on their part than simply “Twitter says”. I am not going to assume until actively proven otherwise that, even lacking X’s perspective, they acted without sufficient complaint or information. X no doubt feels that way, and that is her right.

    I likewise won’t talk about punishment, because it’s unclear at this point if there will be more punishment than being kicked out of this one year’s con. (the con said it would review and discuss after the fact.)

  25. No, you don’t. You have a friend with permanent brain damage as a result of one person deciding to drive a car into a crowd. There is no collective guilt for the actions of one person….It doesn’t have a single damn thing to do about feelings, it has to do with facts. I jumped to the wrong conclusion that his injured friend was one of those injured by the car attack–if that had been true, blaming the rally for the injury (and not the driver of the car) would have been no more legitimate than blaming (to pick an example out of the air) whoever that country music singer was that I’m not going to bother googling up because of the gunman that shot 50+ people. I was wrong in my assumption of how the injury took place, but I was disputing the facts, not the feelings.

    I’m with Lis here – to roundly state that it’s a FACT that the driver at Charlottesville cannot be blamed in any way on the rally – even though we DO know he was a sympathizer with their cause, AND that there has been no trial yet to determine what exactly his connection with the organizers may or may not have been, isn’t a declaration based on fact. I’d guess your own emotions may be interfering there.

    And even if a full investigation does determine that the man had no official affiliations and no communications at all with neo-Nazi groups, IMO, I disagree that there is NO collective guilt when a member of a group that steadily enforces and reinforces the idea that the targets for their contempt aren’t human and should be removed one way or another acts out against that group. Granted, that guilt may not reach the level of legal responsibility, but we recognize it in blaming, for example, the crowd of bullies when one of them finally progresses beyond verbal abuse and beats a child. Or, more seriously, when a member of an incels group is convinced by his fellows that men who kill women are acting righteously and attain posthumous sainthood.

    As for the speaker…I’m willing to believe it’s possible that she made a hash of what she intended to say and stuck her foot in her mouth – possibly realizing the damage she’d done and intending to explaining herself with her further intervention, making it worse instead.

    At worst, my friend’s speech lacked clarity, at best it was a strong statement about not othering even the worst people.

    Maybe the problem is – what does ‘othering’ even mean here? I’ve seen the word thrown around, but the definition seems murky. Does it mean that even the most wicked actors are human at bottom, with complex motivations of their own, and that NO ONE can smugly look at themselves and say that they are immune to the possibility of sinking to evil in turn? That writers should manage to write three dimensional characters drawn credibly into that evil in such a way that we can understand how they got there, and understand how we ourselves need to guard against it? I could get behind that.

    However, this:

    They mentioned Confederates in support of this, appearing to think that saying that every soldier on both sides was “some mother’s son” was a convincing argument for extending compassion to Nazis. They argued that some Nazis were “good people”.

    …seems to descend to the simple-minded – that people consider Nazis evil ONLY because they forget that they are human beings who were their mother’s babies, even though to paraphrase Mark Twain, you can’t be WORSE than a human being. I mean, yes, it’s literally true that some Nazis were good people – people like Oskar Schindler, for example, who belonged to the Nazi party and saved Jews. But IMO, it IS true that you can’t be a good Nazi and a good person – serve an evil system to the best of your ability and you become complicit to one degree or another, through willful ignorance down to active abetting of the worst wrongdoing. This may have been a distinction she failed to draw.

  26. Hooray for the packet, and I’m overjoyed to see so many EPUBs that I can read on my phone or Kindle as the spirit moves me, just in time for a journey to Red Rocks to go see this weird band called Ween. It’s always a comfort to have Mount Tsundoku in my pocket whenever I face an airport.

    This Nazi panel controversy thing gives me pause but I’m hesitant to form opinions without a transcript. I’m thinking of one of my favorite cinematic characters, Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, a handsome, charming guy who is almost likeable … except for the fact he’s a Nazi, which makes him terrifying instead.

  27. If we kick everyone out of conventions who ever misspoke or made a mistake on a panel at a science fiction convention, pretty soon there would be no panels at all.

    I don’t think anyone’s proposing to kick everyone out of conventions who ever misspoke. But if someone “misspeaks,” gets pushback, doubles down, gets pushback, then brings it up _again_ later in the panel, at some point you’ve got to figure they’re not simply misspeaking, they have a point to make and they’re determined to make it.

    Lumping that in with “everyone who ever made a mistake,” like it’s equivalent to misspelling “Asimov,” seems to me like an attempt to diminish the offense by burying it in irrelevancies.

    I wasn’t there and have no opinion as to how the concom should have decided, but I tend to think that if it’s necessary to downplay the issue like that, then it’s probably because a more accurate description doesn’t sound quite so benign.

  28. @Amy:

    You said

    At worst, my friend’s speech lacked clarity,

    Given how people interpreted their statements, I would say that at best your friend’s speech lacked clarity. Whatever X’s intentions, what they actually said upset a lot of people. The favorable interpretation is something like yours–you trust that your friend thinks deeply about ethics, and isn’t a Nazi sympathizer, therefore they can’t have meant what they said. But “X didn’t mean what they said” is the best interpretation here, not the worst. “My friend didn’t mean what they said, and the people who don’t know them should give them credit for a different thing they said to me after the panel” isn’t a reasonable expectation.

  29. Like I said before, I wasn’t at WisCon, so I have no idea what exactly was said beyond what has been reported here and how offensive the remarks really were. I do think that the panel topic in general was a bad idea.

    However, what struck me about coffeeandink’s post was that she assumed that a panel with the title “Killable bodies in SFF” would focus only on marginalised groups and that she did not expect that the discussion would also address Nazis and Confederate soldiers. Because to me, it doesn’t seem at all unlikely that the discussion would go there.

    As I said on the other thread, there are a lot of groups that are treated killable bodies and disposable villains and many of these groups do not qualify as marginalised in the current US sense. It’s not just Nazis and Confederates who are treated as killable bodies and disposable villains in US pop culture, but also Arabs and Muslims in general, Russians, Serbs, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italians, Mexicans, Cubans, Irish, etc… What is more, often members of these groups are not just treated as killable bodies in settings where this makes sense (e.g. Nazis in WWII films, Confederates in Civil War films), but also where there is no reason to treat members of a certain group as disposable villains beyond “members of group X are always bad”. See the German soldiers in the Wonder Woman, see Captain America and Bucky treating contemporary German police officers as disposable antagonists in Civil War and Charlize Theron’s character doing the same in Atomic Blonde, see any portrayal of any Russian mobster ever, any portrayal of any Italian mafioso ever, see the fact that Asian characters are inevitably villains in the NCIS shows and that Irish characters are inevitably villains in Spooks, etc…

    This dynamic is hugely problematic and addressing it is well within the scope of the panel. And no, this does not mean sympathizing with Nazis or Confederates. Nor does it mean that you cannot have Nazi villains. It means not treating people of certain nationalities or ethnic groups as the inevitable villains without even asking yourself why you are making that choice and if it even makes sense in the context of your story.

  30. Lis Carey: It’s possible some of the rights holders are overestimating how many Hugo voters are likely to be NetGalley users.

    I don’t think that they’re estimating whether any Hugo voters are NetGalley members.

    They’ve chosen a delivery mechanism which is available to anyone with an internet connection and a valid e-mail address. In return, they know how many people downloaded the work (and they’re probably getting a list of e-mail addresses for those people).

    I haven’t had a chance to download the packet yet. I hope they’ve got the Divine Cities issue sorted, or will get it sorted soon. IIRC, last year the Marketing Dept for one of the publishers specified a ceiling number of copies, and everyone who tried to download it after that couldn’t get it; the Hugo Admins got the Publisher to raise the ceiling, and then it was fine.

  31. When I get the the last of Le Guin, I go back to the beginning and start over again,

    When I get to the ending I go back to the start of Le Guin
    Where I stop and I turn and I read it again
    From “The Word of Unbinding” and things Or-sinian…
    Here we go with WIZARD OF EARTHSEA…

  32. @ Andrew M.
    Why didn’t you buy the books last week? Now I know who to blame for the delay.

  33. “.You know what that means? People did resist it. Anyone who didn’t, complied with the Nazi regime. They supported Nazism. Yeah, that is because of a complex calculus, but what can be said is: they supported it.”

    I remember how scary it was to stay in New York in 2004. The massive war propaganda. How I was told to be quiet at work when I said that Syrians were the most friendly people I met. It was not acceptable to see arabs, even from another country, as friendly.

    The hate constantly spewing on TV, news that Europe had declared as falsehood and lies shown as truths. I felt then and I feel know that this was one of US nazi-moments. Even without conscription. People were allowed to cheer for genocide on national TV.

    When every Vietnam veteran has been demonized and othered, every person who ever supported the Iraq-war seen as something different than human, seen as a killable body, then I will accept that argument.

  34. Matt Y writes: Actually I am willing to believe that Stormtroopers might’ve actually had some good guys forced into it and they intentionally missed their shots all the time as a form of rebellion

    In the first movie, the Stormtroopers miss on purpose because Vader and Tarkin ordered them to let Leia escape. Many of them die putting on a good show.

    In the second movie, Vader wants his prize, Skywalker, and the troopers are actively trying not to shoot him.

    In the leaked third movie script, the elite legion of stormtroopers are beaten by teddy bears with sticks, so it’s a good thing it was never made.

  35. It is to be hoped that Wiscon will sort this all out. Maybe there’s a video that can show just what was said because that’s the only way it will get settled, i think. What I’ve seen online is people saying she tried to humanize–not any posts saying sympathized. But who knows.
    Myself, I’m currently leaning towards the idea that she mis-spoke or spoke poorly and when getting push-back, tried to explain and then tried again to make herself clear; only further muddling everything.
    Where was the moderator?
    It does seem a rather strange panel–the description seemed to be basically “Video games–the faceless hordes that get mowed down. Is it always racist?” And somehow it’s like she was talking about writing a character.
    I have seen posts calling for her to be banned for three years from Wiscon and permanently banned as a panelist.
    But like others have said; I wasn’t there–all I know is what I read on the Internet. And we know the reliability.

  36. “.You know what that means? People did resist it. Anyone who didn’t, complied with the Nazi regime. They supported Nazism. Yeah, that is because of a complex calculus, but what can be said is: they supported it.”

    That seems to be a rather smug, dismissive attitude.
    Some resisted and lived. Some resisted and died. Some resisted and caused their loved ones to die.
    To think that you know what you would do in a hypothetical situation is foolish.
    Until you are actually confronted with a situation, you don’t know.

  37. @Goobergunch and @GiantPanda thanks so much for the information – of course the packet WOULD drop while I’m away from my computer for 24 hours, but it’s helpful to have my curiousity satisfied during the extra wait!

  38. @Rail – perhaps a difference in terminology. By resolution I took you to mean number of pixels in the image. I don’t think this is a variable in movies, although I am aware of at least one that rendered ‘on twos’ or even higher due to time constraints, meaning they rendered every other frame and used interpolation techniques to construct the rest.

    So how did you think Rachael in BR2049 compared with Tarkin?

  39. Happy belated birthday to @RedWombat!!!

    (13) FUN FOR ALL. I’m glad they made lemonade out of it! I’m baffled why “religious protesters” (a.k.a. “cranks,” IMHO) would protest an anime con, of all things. Misinformed/misunderstood/mis-something.

    @Niall McAuley: “Deadpool 2 was funny, but more serious than I expected, not just a farce.”

    That’s how I felt about it, too. I enjoyed it a lot, but there was more to it than I expected. while still being over-the-top with the violence, fourth-wall-breaking, etc. 🙂

  40. @Mike Glyer: I opened both your PDFs and was able to click on links. Were they fixed? I’m using Preview on my Mac. NOTE: I just tried a couple of links in each PDF, so I have no idea whether they all work. ‘Tis early days yet in Hugo Packet exploration.

    @Various: I Nth the thanks to publishers, authors, artists, and the Hugo team. 😀

    @Andrew M: “Alas, no, the Ng is only an extract.”

    Thanks for clarifying; I hadn’t looked closely, and I was looking at the EPUB, so I didn’t realize. It’s fine that it’s an excerpt, but good to know.

    @Lis Carey: it was easy for me to make an account at NetGalley last year. I doubt they expect the unwashed WSFS masses to be NetGalley users already, based on what I skimmed. in this year’s packet when NetGalley was linked to.

    Caveat: I had no idea I could use NetGalley on a tablet, so I haven’t tried that. It sounds hit-or-miss from comments upthread.

    @Charon D.: Agreed, yay for so many EPUBs! And frequently 2-3 formats, which is great for people who prefer the other ones. 😉

  41. Darn, I had hoped that the Hugo packet might provide a way of reading the Murder Lafferty book. Sadly he publishers continue to hate those of us outside the USA.

  42. @Rail. I “do” me every day. Unavoidable. Of course my example wouldn’t work, it was just an expression of potential vulnerabilities, ones I don’t care to pay to be exposed to. If there were a relatively inexpensive service that I could trust to do the testing anonymously and then get rid of the data, I’d use it.

  43. @Cliff Ramshaw: I was thinking a difference in workflow, since what rendering I have done is all stills. If the scene is dark, I would expect that most of it could be done as if for a TV-sized screen (or somewhere in between) and still look good enough on a movie screen, since the visual processing software in our heads doesn’t expect to pick up as much detail. I know this works for still composites on a smaller scale, and I know how much time it saves.

    I didn’t see BR2049 in the theater, sorry.

  44. @steve davidson: Um, testing and then deleting the data wouldn’t accomplish anything. It’s the matching of your data against other people that gives us the ability to find genetic family.

    I’m not saying that there’s no reason for concern. The real reasons for concern have enveloped the testing communities for weeks now. Just … don’t follow black helicopters through the looking glass.

    I will say this much. The expansion of consumer genetic analysis means that it will be much harder to get a conviction that depends entirely on DNA evidence. Prosecutors never had to worry about getting a genealogist on a jury before.

  45. @Lenora Rose: “I think there is a notable difference between worrying about” (several aspects of The Orc Problem)

    Well, yes. However, the situations you describe are rarely cleanly demarcated, and it’s worth asking whether othering a group so they can be used as mooks in a videogame contributes to a player’s tendency to other groups in real life.

    As a simplistic example – a thought experiment, and not something I would support creating as an actual game – suppose someone made a videogame in which the player character is a white sheriff in the 1830s South, and the goal is to squash slave revolts. It would be very difficult to make the “killable bodies” in that game anything other than black slaves. Aside from all the other ways in which this is a bad idea, it would be useful to ask whether a frequent player of that game might develop a lower respect for the black people he sees in his daily life, as a result of the game “training” him to regard black people as “others” within that context.

    There’s a possibility for bleedover between the categories you describe, is what I mean to say, and that possibility should be considered carefully.

    @Cora: “However, what struck me about coffeeandink’s post was that she assumed that a panel with the title “Killable bodies in SFF” would focus only on marginalised groups and that she did not expect that the discussion would also address Nazis and Confederate soldiers. Because to me, it doesn’t seem at all unlikely that the discussion would go there.”

    Agreed! I keep coming back to orcs as the generic example because they are frequently used (in multiple media) as disposable shock troops due to their bloodlust, numbers, hardiness, and battle prowess. The concept of the peaceful orc is pretty rare, because their racial descriptions tend to paint them as marauding forces. If you see one, it’s a threat, and you should either avoid it or kill it. They are made to be killable bodies all around: cannon fodder for the forces who send them to war, and known-evil targets that Our Heroes can slaughter with impunity and without guilt or regret.

    The elderly and disabled do not get used as mooks in those senses. To be blunt, they’re not threats, so the idea of killing them on sight as proactive self-defense just doesn’t come up.

    The difference is that the bad guys other the weak and innocent, the good guys other the strong and evil, and that distinction informs the consumer of the media with respect to how they should feel about the power structures in play. One scene of the Sheriff of Nottingham dunning a peasant for taxes he cannot pay paints him as a bad guy; he preys on the weak. One scene of Robin Hood opposing him and defending the poor makes him our hero.

    So it behooves us, when creating content where we need an opposing population which can be easily identified as “killable bodies,” to consider the ramifications of that choice. Maybe, for instance, the orcs shouldn’t have dark skin. Perhaps the benevolent alien humanoids can resemble something other than attractive white Europeans. In Star Wars, the bad mooks considerately wear gleaming white armor that not only makes their faction identifiable at a distance, but renders them faceless and interchangeable – but putting that armor on is a choice. That sort of thing.

  46. While my kid was looking through Barnes and Noble’s anime, I was looking to see if Tom King’s other Batman stuff was as good as the three I got given at Christmas.

    I picked up The War of Jokes and Riddles and was amazed, first, at how bloody it was–the lighter material I’d gotten provided quite the contrast to it.

    But what really got to me–troubled me, really–was King’s treatment of the killable bodies, the bad guys. One group of villainous henchmen that got wiped out included n fnqvfg, n thl jubfr jvsr whfg arrqrq purzb, naq n pbc vasvygengvat gur tnat. I’m still not sure how I felt about King equating those three.

    It was worth reading. He’s really good, so it was also worth thinking about.

  47. ILM has an unofficial party once a year called Lighter Darker. The name is a joke reference to dailies, where the supervisor will nitpick over the tiniest detail of an artist’s work, in particular asking for changes in lighting. Agreed, these days rendering time is proportional to the number of pixels rendered, but I don’t believe lowering the resolution would ever be seen as an acceptable short cut.

    I highly recommend Blade Runner 2049. It’s beautiful to look at. I know some people found it slow, but having watched the original again recently, I reckon the two have very similar pacing. And oodles of atmosphere., obviously. After that and Arrival, i’m very much looking forward to seeing what Villeneuve does with Dune.

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