Pixel Scroll 5/31/16 Every Bark a Doorway

(1) ATTACKING CREATORS. Devin Faraci at Birth. Movies. Death. lit up the internet with the claim “Fandom Is Broken”.

… Last week the AV Club ran an excellent piece about the nature of modern fan entitlement, and I think it’s fairly even-handed. The piece covers both the reaction to an all-female Ghostbusters reboot but also the hashtag that trended trying to get Elsa a girlfriend in Frozen 2. The author of that piece, Jesse Hasenger, draws a line between the two fan campaigns, rightly saying that whether driven by hate (Ghostbusters) or a desire for inclusion (Frozen 2) both campaigns show the entitlement of modern fan culture. It’s all about demanding what you want out of the story, believing that the story should be tailored to your individual needs, not the expression of the creators….

The old fan entitlement has been soldered onto the ‘customer is always right’ mindset that seems to motivate the people who make Yelp so shitty. I’m spending a dollar here, which makes me the lord and master of all, is the reasoning (I don’t even want to speculate about whether or not modern fans spend their dollars on licensed, legal products – that’s an essay for another weary day). It’s what makes people act like assholes to servers, and somehow it’s become the way ever-growing segments of fans are behaving towards creators. It’s been interesting watching so many people bring up Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the Captain America fracas; one of part of it is that their Jewishness allows angry, petulant fans to throw down a social justice bomb but it also speaks to how modern fans see many modern creators. They’re nobody compared to the ones who invented this stuff. The modern creator is the server, and they should be going back into the kitchen and bringing back a Captain America cooked to their exact specifications, and without any sort of complications or surprises. This is what fans have always wanted, but the idea of being consumers – people who are offering money for services rendered – only reinforces the entitlement.

And so we have these three elements – one old as fandom itself, one rooted in technological advances and one impacted by the corporatization of storytelling – coming together in such a way to truly break fandom. I wish this was the part of the essay where I come to you with a hopeful pep talk about how we can all be better, but I just don’t see a positive solution. If anything, I see things getting worse – creators walling themselves off from fans while corporate masters happily throw vision and storytelling under the bus to appease the people who can get hashtags trending. “You can’t always get what you want” is a sentiment that belongs to another era when it comes to mass storytelling. I recently read Glen Weldon’s excellent The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture and the arc of fandom it sketches out is a profoundly disheartening one, with Batfans morphing from monkish annotators of the character’s fictional history into crusaders harrassing anyone on the internet who sees Batman differently than they do….

(2) THE RISING OF THE DOUGH. More details about the Sons of Anarchy cast payment problems at a Houston convention this past weekend from Official Ava Jade Cosplay: “Space City Comic (Con) – Thousands Swindled, Contracts Broken and Many Still Looking for Answers”:

The previously included statement about the rooms not being paid for has been retracted-  A representative from the staff contacted me and informed me that I was misinformed about the exact situation. There was a mishap regarding the hotel check in. The credit card for the room was for the reservations and not for incidentals. Upon checking in, some cast members had to pay cash for the incidentals, instead of putting their own credit card up, and risking being charged upon checking out.  The cast was NOT charged for their room.  I was informed during the interview, that there was a problem checking in the hotel due to the credit card not being accepted, it later was realized that we should clarify to what extent.   When Mr. Hunnam took his check to the bank to cash it, he found out that the check that was given to him was written from an account that had been CLOSED. This happened to the entire cast. Many of the actors went to the promoters office to demand payment, where the promoter ended up calling the cops because he was “being held hostage”. The cast was in no way held him hostage, but wanted answers and payment.  The panel schedule was completely jacked up, the cast was not given the correct times for photo ops and for panels. The Friday panel was canceled due to the AVI team refusing to allow anyone onstage until they were paid. They were promised payment upfront, instead they weren’t paid and pulled the plug on the event. The cast was all there, waiting to go on. It seems that the event promoter broke the contract not once, but TWICE.

Bleeding Cool wrote a story of its own based on the Official Ava Jade post with the dramatic headline, “Police Called On Cast Of Sons Of Anarchy After They Demanded Space City Comic Con Pay Up”. Houston police were helpful in protecting the convention staff from an irate customer —

Comments from volunteers included this, from Shelley Montrose,

This will be the last Saturday/Sunday that I volunteer at any Comic Convention. I was shouted at more in the 6 hours that I volunteered on Saturday than I was in the entire year last year. Friday was amazing and Saturday in my LAST 2 MINUTES there HPD had to intervene as a grown man came into my face and threatened to “choke me to death, rape me, and burn me like on YouTube.” I decided not to come to my scheduled 8 hour volunteer shift on Sunday. I thought my life was in danger. One of Charlie’s bodyguards ran over to help me before the guy got to me. Honestly, I thought the guy was gonna to hit me. After reading this article I think I understand what happened a little bit better. I can’t even explain how horrible it was the tell people who traveled all the way from England, China, Australia,etc., that the $800-$3000 that they spent on a prepaid ticket will not be honored at the desk at the majority of the sons of anarchy autograph sessions , and that they would have to go to the ATMs on the inside of the convention ( because all the ATMs on the outside of the entrances were broken ) in order to get money to pay cash for any autographs or photo ops they wanted with the celebrities.I personally ended up going to the ATM to help people pay for the prepaid tickets that they purchased for autographs with the celebrities. I won’t even go into how much that puts me back on my budget, including but not limited to my rent, utilities, and food.I was with Charlie Hunnam for almost four hours, and He pulled it together for all of his fans. Anyone that was there saw me standing beside Charlie Hunnam, I was taking pictures of them with him, knows that he was very giving to fans as well as professional. I feel like I did a good job of keeping the fans calm, entertained, and happy until they got to Charlie Hunnam .Ron Perlman was also professional as well. When I left he was still excepting those bogus tickets that people had pre-purchased.

(3) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Speaking of grand theft – Swedish astronomers theorize Planet 9 is a stolen exoplanet.

New research suggests the mysterious and controversial “Planet 9” isn’t an original member of our solar system. According to a new computer simulation developed by astronomers at Lund University in Sweden, the ninth planet is an exoplanet — stolen by the sun from its original host star.

“It is almost ironic that while astronomers often find exoplanets hundreds of light years away in other solar systems, there’s probably one hiding in our own backyard,” researcher Alexander Mustill said in a news release….


(4) EXCELLENCE IN FILKING. SF Site News reported that nominations have opened for the 2016 Pegasus Awards, given by the Ohio Valley Filk Festival.

pegasus logo

Any member of the worldwide filk community is eligible to win. Past Nominees have hailed from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Singapore as well as the United States.

The nomination and ballot procedure is similar to that of the Hugo, except that one does not need to be a paid member of the convention to nominate or vote. Anyone with an interest in Filking or Filk music can place a nomination and/or vote.

The results are tabulated, the winners determined, and the award is presented at the Pegasus Awards Banquet...

There are currently six Pegasus award categories, including two floating categories that are different each year.

Fans suggested nominees and songs through the Brainstorming Poll, and the results can be seen on these pages:

Ballots must be received by 12:01AM PDT, August 1, 2016, whether cast online or by mail.

(5) BEWARE GAME OF THRONES SPOILER. Here’s something George R.R. Martin revealed at Balticon 50:

According to Vanity Fair, Martin appeared at a convention in Baltimore called Balticon to read aloud to those in attendance a new chapter from his forthcoming book The Winds of Winter. During his time in front of the crowd, the author announced that Brienne of Tarth is the descendant of Ser Duncan the Tall.

For those who don’t know, Ser Duncan the Tall is one of Westeros’ most famous knights, making this connection with Brienne particularly noteworthy, especially when considering he’s one of Martin’s favorite characters.

(6) MORE SHOOTING. ScienceFiction.com says “’Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ Gets Planned Reshoots After Disney’s Rumored Unhappiness”.

Many films that are destined for the big screen get re-shoots or planned production times after an initial cut of the film has been done where the crews can go back and shoot additional or replacement footage for certain scenes.  It’s a fairly common practice, although the re-shot and re-edited scenes are usually minimal in nature, comparative to the overall plot of the film.  Rumor has it, however, that the upcoming Star Wars spinoff, ‘Rogue One,’ has heavy reshoots planned by parent company Disney, who is unhappy with how the film has fared so far with test audiences.

There has only been one trailer released so far for the film, which was actually met with great enthusiasm from the fans.  However, a cool-looking trailer does not directly equate to a successful and well-received film — look no further than this very franchise’s ‘Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ for evidence of such.

(7) WHO BLABBED? Cora Buhlert shares Cap’s secret with us:

(8) SFWA YA JURORS. “Andre Norton Award Jury Announced” at the SFWA Blog.  

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announce the members of the jury for the 2016 Andre Norton Award. Throughout the coming year, the jury will be compiling its list of picks for the Norton Award. This year for the first time, SFWA will release a Norton Honor list of the top 15-20 books compiled from member votes and jury picks.

Chair Ellen Klages says, “Speculative fiction is a literature about exploration, possibilities, and dreams. The Andre Norton Award honors the best SF/F works written for the people who will create the future — children and young adults. What they read today will influence them — and the world — for decades to come.”

The jury members are: Ellen Klages (jury chair), E.C. Myers, Fran Wilde, Leah Bobet, and Jei D. Marcade. Read their bios at the linked post.

(9) SFWA SFWA. Cat Rambo notes anyone can watch the SFWA Chat Hour, 1st edition, on YouTube, “complete with annoying echo that we will fix next time.”

Come hear Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) officials and staff Cat Rambo, M.C.A. Hogarth, and Kate Baker talk about the recent Nebula conference weekend, current SFWA efforts, and what’s coming in 2016 in the first episode of the biweekly SFWA Chat Hour.



  • Born May 31, 1961 — Lea Thompson, known to the world for other things but to fans for Howard the Duck and Back to the Future.

(11) BUTLER CONFERENCE. UC San Diego will be the site of “Shaping Change: Remembering Octavia E. Butler Through Archives, Art, and Worldmaking”, a conference from June 3-5 that is open to the public.

Shaping change

50 years from now, how have we shaped change (through art, activism, and archives) in the world? What have we left behind that that we can draw from our presents and pasts? What lessons in Butler’s life and writing will help forestall what seems like the inevitable collapse of human civilization?

Organized by Shelley Streeby (UC San Diego) and Ayana Jamieson (founder, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network), the event will feature talks from: Adrienne Maree Brown, Aimee Bahng, Alexis Lothian, M. Asli Dukan, Ayana Jamieson, Krista Franklin, Lisa Bolekaja, Melanie West, Moya Bailey, Nisi Shawl, Ola Ronke, Rasheedah Phillips, Shelley Streeby, Sophia Echavarria, Ted Chiang, and Walidah Imarisha.

(12) MEETING ABOUT MEDUSA. Steven Baxter and Alastair Reynolds will speak at Foyles Bookshop in Charing Cross Road (tickets required) on June 4.

Foyles talk

Join us for a conversation with two leading figures in science fiction, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, as they discuss their new collaboration The Medusa Chronicles. Inspired by the classic Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘A Meeting with Medusa’, The Medusa Chronicles continues the story of Commander Howard Falcon over centuries of space-exploration. One of the most compelling novels of either author’s career, it combines moments of incredible action with an intricately-realised depiction of an expansive universe.

Stephen Baxter is the author of more than forty novels, including the Sunday Times bestselling Long Earth series, co-authored with Sir Terry Pratchett, and the acclaimed Time’s Eye trilogy, co-authored with Sir Arthur C. Clarke. He has won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton.

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St Andrews universities, has a Ph.D. in astronomy and worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency before becoming a full-time writer. An award-winning as well as bestselling writer, with more than thirteen published novels to his name, Locus described him as ‘the most exciting space opera writer working today’.

Together, Reynolds and Baxter will talk about Clarke’s influence on their own writing, the themes that underpin his work, and how they were inspired to continue his story, as well as their bodies of work as a whole. This will be followed by an opportunity for the audience to ask their own questions and a book signing.

This event is in association with The Arthur C. Clarke Award and SFX.

(13) BYO LIFE ON MARS. SpaceReview.com sifts its favorite ideas from the many conferences about human expeditions to the red planet, in “A Year on Mars”.

How many humans on Mars conferences do we need in a year? That thought came to mind during the recent Humans to Mars (H2M) Summit in Washington, DC. There are a lot of them, especially in Washington. There were at least six humans-to-Mars related public events in Washington in 2015, not counting the NASA-sponsored human Mars landing site selection workshop in Houston. Now 2016 is shaping up the same way. Last Tuesday following the H2M conference, the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning DC-based think-tank, held a talk “Beyond the Moon: What will it take to get astronauts on Mars?” The Mars Society was in Washington last August and will be back in September, and there will probably be at least one or two other Mars-related meetings or lectures that will happen later this year. And not everything is happening in Washington: the same week as the H2M conference there were a series of talks on Mars at the International Space Development Conference in Puerto Rico.

Some, but not all, of this attention to the humans to Mars subject is due to the success of the movie The Martian and the book that inspired it. But the subject is also culturally bigger than that: witness the attention that Mars One got last year, both positive and negative, and NASA pushing the theme hard as well (every time somebody uses the hashtag #JourneyToMars an angel gets its wings.) Human missions to Mars, or at least talking about humans on Mars, is all the rage these days, and H2M has made a pretty impressive effort at taking the lead.

H2M seems to have upped its game recently. Their website is slick, featuring computer animations and links to video recordings of most of the presentations at their conference, much of which was live-streamed….

(14) ATTENTION ANN LECKIE. “Tea in space” might be a highly scientific idea. Scientists say it could be used to create useful materials for astronauts visiting Mars.

Former Prime Minister William Gladstone said: ‘If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.’

It may also one day help astronauts on Mars.

The humble cup of tea holds the key to new ‘wonder materials’, new research suggests.

The bacteria found in tea could lead to breakthroughs in water filtration and technology.

(15) THIS IS STRANGE. An sf novel hidden in Reddit posts? The BBC interviewed the anonymous author.

The plot ranges across the CIA, hallucinogenic drugs, humpback whales, Nazis and the death of Michael Jackson. But just as mysterious and intriguing is the way in which what is being dubbed ‘The Interface Series’ is emerging into the world.

If you watched the TV-series Lost, you’ll probably be familiar with that feeling of confused anticipation as you hope for several threads of narrative to tie together. Over the course of this month, a new kind of mystery, for a new kind of audience, has been unfolding on Reddit – the online bulletin board where people post articles and comments on threads about a bewildering range of subjects….

The posts appeared in threads about a bizarre range of seemingly unconnected topics including: a debate about whether pirates really did have parrots, the responses to somebody seeking advice about how to help a relative with a drugs problem and the comments under a video of a cat sliding down stairs.

But these weren’t just random nonsensical rants. There is a theme that ties them all together; ‘The Flesh Interfaces’ which seem to be “portals of some kind, made of thousands of dead bodies, which transport biological matter to some unknown place and returns it inside a fleshy sack, heavily dosed with LSD.”

(16) DAILY TRIVIA. George R.R. Martin, wrote 14 episodes of the Beauty and the Beast TV series, which ran from 1987-90.

(17) JOHNSON TRIBUTE VIDEO. See part one of the George Clayton Johnson Memorial held at the Egyptian on February 26.

[Thanks to Wendy Gale, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., Cat Rambo, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Arifel.]

155 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 5/31/16 Every Bark a Doorway

  1. I too am recovering from last night’s PoI. Hooboy, the intense is so much that running so many of them this close together leaves so little time to process.

    And my gosh. That SPEECH. Ryvnf was right about the scary possibilities if Unebyq rire yrg ybbfr. John looks rightly scared. I’ve been thinking the same as IanP.

    Chicago Worldcon hotel only has one Habitrail, but you will be on it a LOT, because it’s always in the other tower. OTOH, they did great after the Hugos and Masquerade last time, having plenty of people there to escort folks to the regular elevators as well as the freight elevators, and elevator party hosts.

    Paper letters really get attention nowadays, so sometimes I invest the four bits for a serious complaint.

  2. Techier Filers: I have Chrome. How can I do that nifty thing of plonking idiot posts? Explain it like I’m 5.

  3. @ Robin Whiskers

    (I did my linguistics undergrad there in the mid-90s, during which I think the department moved from one part of Dwinelle to another part. This Did Not Help.)

    Same time I was there as a grad student. (At some point in the past, we discovered a startlingly large number of UCB linguistics students hanging out here in the Files.)

  4. lurkertype on June 1, 2016 at 7:28 pm said:

    Chicago Worldcon hotel only has one Habitrail, but you will be on it a LOT, because it’s always in the other tower.

    So many times back and forth…

    On the other hand, how often do you really get a chance to look cool striding down a hallway with your cloak flapping behind you.

  5. lurkertype,

    Go to https://userstyles.org/styles/118122/aan-s-plonk-file-script and click on the “Install with Stylish” button.

    Once installed, you should see an ‘S’ Stylish icon to the right of your URL address bar up top. Click on that & click the edit option on the pop-up menu to call up the script.

    It’s already populated with a few plonk-worthy names. I adjust the script as needed.

    To add a new name, just copy the Gravatar ID into a new line:
    img[src*=”4b1e05d5d5e554f9923485570054ea47″] + span::after, /* The Phantom */

    So using myself as an example:
    img[src*=”70eac9188a9c839b50309fec669faf85″] + span::after, /* Soon Lee */

    Once you click the save button, it is enabled immediately.

    The only thing to watch out for is that copy & pasting sometimes turns straight quotes into curly quotes. It’s an error that’s easily fixed.

    How to find one’s Gravatar ID? Rightclick on a poster’s icon & select “Inspect”. You’ll see:

    <img src= " http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/6152760056440355c299a471c79fc3af?s=100&r=pg&d=mm” width=”100″ height=”100″>

    The random text/numbers I’ve bolded is the bit you need to copy into your plonkscript.

  6. @IanP, @snowcrash: Just caught up with PoI last night also. Holy crap indeed!

  7. @DawnIncognito: That’s what I meant! It’s been so long since I’ve seen it. I enjoyed the tonal shifts–they weren’t designed for, well, cruelty–but I can see why someone else wouldn’t. The one (I think–it really has been a while) truly violent scene was, I thought, very funny, though my error in describing it to the wrong person wasn’t.

  8. I can’t speak for Hampus, but I know my problem with Site Selection’s lack of online ballot is I hate mailing things internationally and I’m not from the USA.

    Same here. I’m also not from the US and mailing anything internationally is a pain in the backside, because I can’t just stick a stamp on it, but have to go to the post office to have them weigh the letter and calculate the postage. And the post office is quite a bit away and always has long lines.

  9. @John A Arkansawyer:

    Aha, then my response is obviously “I don’t recall”. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, and I was probably expecting something like O Brother, Where Art Thou? and so set myself up for disappointment.

    It’s odd, I enjoy some black comedies, but I also remember being really upset and disturbed by the violence in The Burbs, War of the Roses, and Heathers. I’m going to try to note the next time I laugh at a violent scene and figure out what’s different.

    As for Coen-related violence, No Country For Old Men was one that I really enjoyed. I was shocked when a coworker called it boring, because I was nail-biting throughout.

  10. Archer! I have laughed at some horrible things while watching Archer. It might be as simple as cartoon vs. live action. There’s a distance that I might not be able to achieve when watching human actors.

  11. I’m not Meredith or Hampus (or Cora) but yeah, mailing in general is a pain in the ass, and adding international on top of it means a lot of standing around in lines rather than just dropping it in a post box and being done with it, plus it can be pretty expensive even for small things. Plus, this might just apply to SE Asia or countries without the infrastructure to handle it well, international post takes foreverrrrrrr here, as I can attest after having no debit cards for over a month thanks to my bank being absolutely the worst possible choice for someone who lives overseas.

    That said, I had a pretty good experience with the slow post from Thailand recently. Took almost exactly two months but showed up back home right around when they said it would, and it’s not like I was in a rush to get it back there.

    On the subject of letters for complaints: paper letters might be the way to go for a private complaint, but I’m currently on the verge of writing up a post for social media and/or a platform like Medium because of my recent craptastic experience with Sony’s customer “service” on the subject of a refund for payments I obviously didn’t make when somebody got into my PSN account…

  12. Clip Hitchcock:

    “What are your issues with mail-in, given that you have 2 months before the ballot is due, and can buy the membership online if you don’t want to send credit card info through snail mail?”

    I have something like phonephobia with regards to snailmail. An inner resistance that makes it much harder to use and makes me procrastinate again and again. I have had one I should send as a note of interest to make my queue for a small cottage active. I have tried to send it for 3-4 months, but it just isn’t possible. Mailing things internationally makes it only worse.

    It might sound stupid to you, but it is a reality.

  13. To be honest, I can’t even remember having sent an international mail the last 20 years or so. And snailmails otherwise is perhaps one every third year. It is just something that isn’t used anymore unless regulated by law or administrated by people of age 60+.

  14. Oh, again on the subject of complaint letters: when I was working for a company one of my jobs happened to be opening letters. The absolute greatest letter I received was simply an empty envelope with no postage (so the company had to pay for it to be delivered) and “FUCK YOU” scrawled on the back.

  15. Y’all know some smart five year olds

    A few jobs ago I had to take the occassional support call. Boss took the phone off me during one where I was trying to talk a primary school teacher through something. As he said afterwards, “You were about to say ‘A five year old could follow this, please put one on the line’ weren’t you?”.
    Might have been…

  16. Other postal systems don’t have set rates to tell you how much it costs to mail a letter to another country? The US does. You can either buy fancy international stamps*, or just stick on enough regular postage to make up the cost. I don’t remember it now, but that’s what the web page is for. I think it’s about 3 regular stamps.** An envelope and two-three sheets of printer/copier paper is the weight. So you could complain pretty well, or have one page of letter and one small insert.

    Or you could:

    — go to all the other places that will stamp and ship things for you.
    — Pick up the stamps at the grocery store for the same price
    — get the stamps mailed to you (recursive!)
    — or print the mailing label and postage at home, without having to leave your house, ever!!

    You foreigners are really getting ripped off if you can’t do these things.

    ‘Merica, f yeah.

    Stoic Cynic, Soon Lee: thanks. I’ll get a five year old to ‘splain it further.

    *Right now you can get a round one, of the Moon! Last time I had to send several international things, I got a round Earth one. MOOOOOON!

    **The web page tells me it’s $1.15 internationally for 28 grams, which is pretty cheap! Oooh, and I need to get those planet stamps mentioned here too.

  17. @lurkertype

    The UK has a fixed cost for the USA that is £1.05 for up to 10g. £1.33 for up to 20g.

    However speaking for myself I don’t have stamps. I don’t normally send letters anymore. Two second class stamps would cover the first handily enough – a first class stamp is 64p (doubled in price in a decade) / second class is 55p. Otherwise it is a trip to a post-office – which they have closed a lot of in the UK – which would be well over a half-hour wasted for me (I would have to walk into town) – where I could pay the exact amount – and presumably buy a lot of different denomination stamps which I would lose before I need them again next year.

    Plus it is a lot of faff isn’t it. Printing out (double sided) the form you download, filling it in, posting it. Online forms would be far less faff. I only did site-selection for 2017 because I wanted Helsinki to win so that I could go there.

  18. Anthony: A few jobs ago I had to take the occassional support call. Boss took the phone off me during one where I was trying to talk a primary school teacher through something. As he said afterwards, “You were about to say ‘A five year old could follow this, please put one on the line’ weren’t you?”.

    You made me laugh hysterically. I have been on the brink of saying that to a supposed intelligent adult so many times. 😀

  19. To those of you wondering why Site Selection voting is not done electronically, and how in this day and age it seems ridiculous that it’s not:

    According to the WSFS Constitution, this can only happen if all the participating bid committees agree to it, and to a specific method of doing it. They have to be convinced of its accuracy.

    Like you, my attitude was basically “So what’s the problem?” Then someone (I believe it was Dave McCarty, talking about how a Chicon bid lost by (IIRC) 12 votes out of many hundreds, and possibly Kevin Standlee as well) talked about how bidcon members will spend thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars of their own money preparing for and promoting a bid, and how the level of personal investment is so high that they want to be able to physically sit there and tally the votes and make sure that the count is absolutely accurate.

    Once you know this, it’s a lot easier to understand why one or more of the bidcoms might be okay with electronic voting, and one or more bidcoms might be concerned about its accuracy.

  20. @snowcrash, lurkertype, oneiros

    Re PoI 5.10

    One thing I’m having issues with: V’z univat n uneq gvzr erpbapvyvat Svapu oybjvat uvf bja pbire jvgu uvf fpnel pnyz ng gur raq. V fcrag zbfg bs gur rcvfbqr guvaxvat ur jnf cynlvat ebcr-n-qbcr ntnva (yvxr jvgu gur ivehf ur tnir gb Qrpvzn juvpu serrq gur Znpuvar) V’z fgvyy abg fher ur vfa’g naq gur pbyyngreny qnzntr ur’f vasyvpgrq vf n cevpr ur jnf jvyyvat gb cnl.

    I’m also going to have to dig out my ‘Bow Before Me For I Am ROOT’ t-shirt.

  21. JJ:

    Thank you for that explanation. Here is another one. Some of us idiots that aren’t neurotypical are lousy at things like this. I don’t know how many times I failed to pay my bills on time until I managed to get that automated. And that was with constant reminders. When they moved the garbage can from outside my door to 100 meters away, it took me around four months until I got some kind of routine to stop garbage to pile up in the hallway.

    It might seem like a little thing with this little extra work once a year. But for someone that goes to shop for cat food and comes back with a barbecue grill to the poor hungry cats, it isn’t.

    Doing tings electronically is much easier. Because I can do it the exact instant I think of it without any need for planning and with only one step. I don’t first have to localize a printer or find a shop for stamps or whatever. Because I will not remember it when I pass them. Even if I have it on a list, because then I would have to remember the list.

    And that is my answer to the “So what’s the problem?” with snailmail (and yes, the question wasn’t from you).

  22. On top of the other stuff people mentioned: My local post office is not accessible, so a snail mail option isn’t something I can do without assistance. I infinitely prefer things that I can do without assistance.

  23. I’m surprised that international mail involves waiting in line; all of the smaller post offices I know on the edges of Boston have a device that will weigh your envelope, ask where it’s going, and tell you how much money to put in (or swipe) for a QR-coded label for the postage. Often these are in the front area with the personal boxes, so they’re available 24/7. The USPS is generally being strangled by the Republicans, so I wouldn’t expect it to be ahead of much of the world. (OTOH, I don’t know where Meredith is writing from, so I can’t comment on inaccessible post offices; I’m not surprised by Oneiros’s experiences in Thailand.)

    @Oneiros: people used to claim that the way to really retaliate was to tape a reply postcard to a brick; I don’t know that this ever worked.


    bidcon members will spend thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars of their own money preparing for and promoting a bid

    Definitely tens of thousands, based on two I know; presupports (and higher levels) will only go so far. I hadn’t thought of this as a factor, but I’ve never been in a close race. I have some sympathy with this viewpoint at the level you describe; there was a notorious count decades ago that took until almost morning because one chair insisted on (IIRC) reassembling and re-verifying all the ballots before counting started.

  24. Clip Hitchcock:

    “I’m surprised that international mail involves waiting in line; all of the smaller post offices I know on the edges of Boston have a device that will weigh your envelope, ask where it’s going, and tell you how much money to put in (or swipe) for a QR-coded label for the postage.”

    We haven’t got small post offices anymore. We have unstaffed rooms in supermarkets. You have to press a button and wait until someone has time to go there. That might take a while.

  25. All this site selection talk has me wondering… .has site selection opened for Worldcon?

    Never mind; found it.

  26. Hampus Eckerman: Speaking as someone who has repeatedly called work to find out if I was working that day, I sympathize. Incidentally, autocorrect thinks your name is “Yamassoukro”.
    Eliminating those extra steps is the difference between getting something done promptly and remembering a month later that it should have been done.
    I hope you at least grilled something for the cats.

  27. “Incidentally, autocorrect thinks your name is “Yamassoukro”.”

    Ivory Coast…

  28. @Chip Hitchcock

    I’m in the UK, but more specifically, I’m in a very small, very old (we have Roman ruins), very rural town where almost none of the buildings were built with access in mind and almost none of which can be reasonably and affordably altered to become accessible.

    If I still lived in my hometown (London) it wouldn’t be quite so bad, although it still wouldn’t be great. Lots of stuff in the UK is old.

  29. @Meredith: I knew about the really old stuff in the UK. (cf Wilde’s view that the US’s ruins and curiosities were limited to its navy and its manners.) I hadn’t realized that retrofitting/replacement of possibly-less-old stuff was behind; from this side of the pond it sometimes looks like social improvements (e.g. ADA compliance) always trail your side. OTOH, I suspect you have more restraints on reworking antiquities than we do.

  30. International mailing: I know a guy who lives in Japan who–among other interests–collects skeletons when he finds them in his travels and cleans them up for Japanese researchers. He once mentioned to me that if I come across anything interesting to pass it along. I just happened to have a possum skeleton (along with some hair and mummified tissue) that I had discovered under an outbuilding years earlier. So I packed it up and mailed it off to Tokyo. I can only imagine the reaction of Customs if they had opened the package…

    (As far as I know, they didn’t–unlike the time I made an on-line trade (between SC and CA) with someone–some DVDs for some DIMMs. Guy sent the DIMMs, I sent back the DVDs in the same box. Days later, the guy e-mails me a story about how he was awakened early one morning by a postal official and a couple of cops wanting to watch him open the package because a drug-sniffing dog had taken interest in it for some reason.)

  31. Actually, the Americans with Disabilities Act was pretty much a world leader from the U.S.; not many countries at all had anything like that at the time, and as noted, a great many countries would have had serious trouble retrofitting centuries-old infrastructure to meet it.

    Which, of course, makes it all the more sad that in 2014 when the U.N. proposed their own Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty that was modelled pretty much directly on the ADA, the U.S. Congress refused to sign it. It wasn’t just the folks who believe that the U.N. was trying to take over, either (though mostly them); there was also a lot of attention paid to minor changes in language that they said would put ‘the interests of the child’ higher than the family interests, which got some of the more insular home schooling groups into screaming fits. Same reason the U.S. never signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  32. I knew of some Americans who got their international package delivered directly to their door by the police. This after a friend of mine had posted a package of custard powder to them (which is much better to apple pie than ice cream). Turns out one of the detection dogs at the customs found the package suspicious and went over for a sniff – and then promptly keeled over.

  33. Jenora Feuer –

    The reactionary / “the UN is going to take our gummint over” / “how dare you legislate how I badly I can discriminate against people” movement(s) have been trying to get the ADA repealed ever since it was passed.

    One of the favorite tactics is to give huge publicity to the most outlandish-sounding suits brought, with supposed huge paoyouts. What is very seldom followed up on is that the “outlandish suits:”
    – very, very seldom actually get anywhere, instead being thrown out for lack of facts or lack of standing;
    – “outlandish” is usually fabricated (along the same lines as the “outlandish” McD’s coffee lawsuit – which when you actually examined was near-criminal negligence, paired with corporate indifference to safety, with the added spice of attempting to scam the courts)
    – most “awards” were usually reduced from the jury or original judge amoun t to a relative pittance

  34. I knew of some Americans who got their international package delivered directly to their door by the police.

    That reminds me of another story. Once I bought a number of ammonite fossils from a guy in England. So one Saturday morning (while I’m trying to sleep in) someone from the main county branch of my post office phones me to tell me that my package was there if I wanted to come pick it up. I (grumpily, probably) told him it was nothing time-critical and I could just wait for the delivery (which would have gone to my local office from the county office first.) I’ve always wondered if the worker thought something questionable was in the box–it isn’t exactly normal service for them to phone you up instead of just–you know–actually delivering it.

  35. @JJ
    Even knowing all that about site selection I’m still not all that sympathetic. I’ve got friends who’ve bid for Worldcon and spent tens of thousands of dollars. I spent a few cons volunteering with a bid. Weird to do when you’ve never attended Worldcon and don’t understand what bidding is. What a crash course I got the first time. I got lucky with the other bids seated next to. They were nice, helpful, and I got to hear different perspectives on electronic bidding from 3-4 bids over the few times I volunteered.

    It blows my mind the amount of personal money spent by various people involved in the bid. Add the travel, hours worked, and all the crap they get its amazing Worldcon keeps happening. I know I’m pretty critical of lack of good harassment, weapons, accessibility policies and follow through but I really appreciate all the bid committees and ConComs do.

  36. Hampus Eckerman on June 1, 2016 at 9:16 pm said:

    I have something like phonephobia with regards to snailmail. An inner resistance that makes it much harder to use and makes me procrastinate again and again. I have had one I should send as a note of interest to make my queue for a small cottage active. I have tried to send it for 3-4 months, but it just isn’t possible. Mailing things internationally makes it only worse.

    It might sound stupid to you, but it is a reality.

    It doesn’t sound stupid to me. My wife conversely will not do e-mail. She is one of the 1% of members still voting on the Hugo Awards by paper ballot. If we go to e-voting only for the Hugo Awards, she is one of the people who will be excluded from voting. She also won’t vote by touch-screen voting machines in our local elections here. Don’t try to argue with her about this.

    But I think there’s a solution here. The main reason that MACII won’t do e-voting is that they have not determined any mutually-acceptable-to-all-parties way to avoid having the Administrators see how people voted. Unlike the “trust the Administrators” model for the Hugo Awards, Site Selection actually works on a “Trust No One” model.

    However, Site Selection only concerns itself with ballots once they receive them. If you can give your ballot to anyone going to MACII to deliver it on your behalf, MACII only cares abou the ballot once it is handed over to them at the convention.

    It occurs to me (and I have confirmation from Tammy Coxen, WSFS Division Manager at MACII that it would be acceptable), that a system Of “Ballot Buddies” could be devised. A person going to MACII could agree to receive e-mails with signed, scanned copies of ballots from people who don’t want to (for whatever reason, including “cannot”) send a paper ballot through postal mail. Issues of ballot confidentiality are between the member and the “ballot buddy,” who would be responsible for delivering the ballot to MACII.

    I do not volunteer to perform this service, but if there are other people planning to attend MACII who could act as a “ballot buddy,” it would be a solution for people like Hampus, presuming Hampus can send a scan of a ballot.

  37. @Anthony: (support calls and five-year olds)

    Reminds me of an old skit that I’m going to try to embed at the proper moment. The whole thing’s funny in a “never do this” way, but the relevant part starts at about 5:41.

  38. Kevin:

    I missed the part where I could bring the paperballot directly to MACII. Or are they there on paper to so I can fill it in there? As I am going to MACII, I can bring the ballot there. That would give me two months to remember to print this, and I’m quite confident that will be enough.

  39. Hampus Eckerman on June 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm said:

    I missed the part where I could bring the paper ballot directly to MACII.

    Voting takes place at the convention on the first, second, and third days, at a specified location that should be hard to miss. If nothing else, either of the two bids (who will be running parties that should also be hard to miss) will help you find the Site Selection voting desk.

    Unlike the Hugo Awards, Site Selection voting happens at the convention as well as in advance. Voting by mail is primarily for the benefit of those members who can’t attend the convention.

    Or are they there on paper to so I can fill it in there?

    Site Selection voting ballots will be available on pieces of paper at the Site Selection Voting Desk. You can vote in person at Worldcon.

    The results of Site Selection voting will be announced at the beginning of the WSFS Business Meeting on the fourth day of the convention. The winning Worldcon will open for business later that day, allowing people to buy attending memberships (including converting from the supporting membership you get when you vote) immediately.

    BTW, one of the reasons I won’t volunteer to be a “ballot buddy” is that I’m a member of one of the bids: I’m a director of SFSFC Inc., the parent non-profit corporation of San José in 2018. I do not want to claim to be impartial when I can’t possibly be so.

  40. I think the ability of having an accurate count in front of the eyes of the people who are giving up huge amounts of their time and money for bids outweighs the problems a few people have with getting stamps. Plus getting everyone to agree on how to update the constitution — it’d be much easier to send stamps to other countries! There are, however, still many more people in the world who can get snail mail than reliable internet service. Even Amazon still has to use snail mail to get the stuff to you (Frankly, with the weight of some of my orders, I don’t EVER want them to come on drones).

    It sounds like Europe is way, WAY behind in postal technology, which is odd since (as Chip mentioned) the Republicans have been doing their best for years to kill the Post Office so everyone would have to use privatized services, which would cost more, serve fewer people less well, but allow companies to make huge profits.

    Yet apparently over there you can’t buy stamps online, by mail, or in the stores? The larger post offices don’t have automatic machines 24/7? What do old people do? I mail stuff fairly often and haven’t stood in line in years.

    Mind-boggling that the supposedly more advanced countries have the same service as they had 100+ years ago. Take a look at USPS.com and weep, foreigners!

    You guys need to complain to your governments about that. Stamps have been sold at grocery stores for as long as I can remember. The cashier always asks if I want some, they’re kept in the cash register drawer. It’s not like that’s a tough thing to do, it doesn’t require any new infrastructure.

    @Meredith: That would be illegal here. Governmental buildings have to be accessible by all the people, even if they’re historic. The building might have to have a ramp that started a long way away and took a few switchbacks, but you’d get one. Or at least they’d have to send someone out to help you. But hereabouts you’d be doing your postage online anyway.

    @Chip Hancock: I’ve never done bricks, but I have stuffed some pretty hefty things into reply envelopes, enough to kick them over to the next higher postage rate. Now, I wonder if you taped the envelope to a box with a brick in it… hmm… probably they’ve jiggered it so they don’t take it unless it still fits in the envelope.

    @Darren: Your possum skeleton reminds me of Harlan Ellison’s famous “mailing a dead gopher to a publisher” story. I think it’s on YouTube if you haven’t heard it.

  41. @Chip Hitchcock: I’ll keep the brick trick in mind if social media backlash just isn’t quite enough (if I even do it; right now I’m not sure I have the energy to). At this point it’s not even about the money. I’m fairly sickened that Sony thinks it’s okay to just hang onto £240 of my money, while offering a “refund” that is worth precisely £0 to me.

    Re postage: it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything internationally from the UK – I’m sure there are standard charges, but I remember thinking it costs a surprising amount to send something as simple as a birthday card to Aus.

  42. Kevin Standlee:

    “Site Selection voting ballots will be available on pieces of paper at the Site Selection Voting Desk. You can vote in person at Worldcon.”

    Then no problem this year or next! 😀

  43. @Kevin Standlee: Wow, I’m surprised a scanned/printed ballot would be acceptable, given the signature would’ve been before it was scanned, not an original signature on the printout. Cool.

    @Cat: Oh good to hear that you liked the later parts of Seveneves; so many people seem not to. I don’t like going into a book knowing there’s a good chance I won’t like a chunk of it, especially the ending, so you give me hope.

    @Hampus Eckerman: Thanks for posting about Burning Midnight. I liked some of McIntosh’s other stuff a lot, but had heard some mixed reviews about this one. Plus I’m not super into YA. So yay, glad to hear you liked it!

  44. “The larger post offices don’t have automatic machines 24/7? “

    Which larger post offices? We don’t have any. The thing is, here, post offices are seen as a thing of the past. Everyone has got good internet connections. People seldom use snailmail unless they need to because of legal reasons (i.e the signature must be written and can’t be scanned).

    “Post offices” are part of ordinary stores, but there is really only a unstaffed counter which you have to press a button to get someone to attend to. People only go there to send or pick up packages.

    But yes, you can buy stamps in ordinary in kiosks too. Did some research and seems like you can order them online too, but the cost is prohibitive. Either you buy so they will last for 15 years (even if you will misplace them in a month) or the shipping is 50% of the cost.

    “What do old people do?”

    Most elder people use internet. But there is a real problem because even banks have started to close their offices everywhere and refuse to deal in cash.

  45. Hampus, I can only say, Wow.

    In the US, the Post Office is in the Constitution (however much Republicans wish it weren’t.) Main post offices with 24/7 access to the parts that don’t need staff are in every town of any significant size; there are lesser post offices anyplace more than (mumblety) distance from a main office. There are commercial operations that offer USPS, UPS, and Fed-Ex services under one fairly small roof. Stamps bought online are delivered by the mail carrier and don’t have shipping charges. Why the heck would they have shipping charges attached? The mail carrier is doing their route anyway! But you can also buy stamps where you buy your groceries. And there are free-standing machines that sell stamps, though those seem to be less common now that you can order stamps online and have them brought directly to your door by the mail carrier, no extra charge.

    You can even legally print your own postage, though I’ve never gone to the effort of checking out what’s involved.

    So we’re talking about a major difference in worldview here. The idea of the post office, or postage stamps, being a real hassle to get, rather than just a minor annoyance sometimes for people who don’t often use it, is quite startling.

  46. It is now more or less 15 years since it was decided to close all post offices. Instead they moved to a counter in the supermarket. But as I said, stamps isn’t really that hard to find, kiosks are everywhere. Stampmachines? Never seen as far as I can remember. Tobacco stores often handle packages too.

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