Pixel Scroll 9/19/16 Scroll Like A Pixel Day

(1) OUT OF STEAM. Southern California will be without one of its Halloween traditions this year, and probably for the future. “Ghost Train Cancelled by Los Angeles Live Steamers Board of Directors”. The Griffith Park model steam railroad center will not be giving rides or decorating for Halloween. Jay Carsman, a members of LA Live Steamers, told the Theme Park Adventure blog the reasons.

“The LA Live Steamers Ghost Train’s popularity finally outgrew our volunteer club’s ability to manage it,” said Carsman. “Of course, there were other issues too. For 2015 [sic], we really did not plan to have a Ghost Train at all because of the water pipeline project underway on Zoo Drive. The pipe was huge and due to the tunnel boring and the collapse of part of the old pipe, a fairly long stretch of our railroad began to sink in the ground. Just a few weeks before Halloween 2015 [sic], the city’s contractor for the pipe project shored up the mess and injected cement into the ground to stop the sinking. We went ahead and did the Ghost Train but everything was very rushed and stressful. We managed to do it, but the small group of volunteers who really made it happen were exhausted.

“Compounding the problem for future Halloween Ghost Trains were some financial issues, the city advising that our Ghost Train had become a major safety issue for the park due to the crowds, traffic on Zoo Drive, and parking issues,” stated Carsman. Last, they said absolutely no more flames, torches, and exposed hazardous electrical wiring. Then there was the continuing problem of the scale-model railroad is just not designed for such concentrated heavy use. The trains are models, not amusement park machines and the track is a very small scaled-down version of real train track. Carrying ten or fifteen thousand people on the little railroad during a 10-day period is just brutal for such small machines….”


(2) MIDAMERICON II PHOTOS AT FANAC.ORG. They’ve started a photo album for MidAmericon 2 at Fanac.org. “So far there are 42 photos up, most of them courtesy of Frank Olynyk.”

Shots of the Guests of Honor and Toastmaster are here.

(3) AWARD PHOTO. This year Orbital Comics in London beat off fierce competition to win the Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. James Bacon who seems to collect opinions on good comic shops around the world took the photo and said; “First time at Orbital Comics since the win. The shop embodies an awful lot of what I consider to be just right in comic shops. Huge amount of small press, great events and a gallery, with a lovely attitude, and Karl and his team really deserve it.”

Spirit of Comics Retailer Award

Spirit of Comics Retailer Award

(4) FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T HEARD ENOUGH. Dave Truesdale appeared on the SuperversiveSF podcast today. He gives his version of the notorious MAC II panel beginning immediately after the intros.

“[The] theme of my opening remarks….was that science fiction is not for snowflakes, those people who are perpetually offended or microaggressed at every turn, these people are nothing but, they are intellectually shallow emotionally stunted thumb-sucking crybabies who are given validation by such organisations or platforms as the Incident Report Team at Worldcon, or places they can go such as safe rooms at WisCon or other safe places around the internet or social media. Science fiction is not the place for these people because SF is part of the arts and the arts should be always one of the most freeform places for expression and thought and instances of being provocative and controversial there should be. They have invaded science fiction to the point where we are not seeing the sort of fiction,, short fiction at least, any more that we used to, we are not seeing the provocative controversial stuff…”

A bit later he comments on the specifics of his expulsion

“…95% of the audience were probably somewhere along the snowflake spectrum and it was just anathema to them so they went crying to the IRT (the Incident Reporting Team) and a one-sided version of what happened got me expelled from the convention and I think it was a travesty that I never got to give my side and it was more or less just a kangaroo court and I think it was just abominable and set a very bad precedent for future Worldcons and just fandom at conventions in general”

(5) EXPULSIONS THROUGHOUT FANHISTORY. Alec Nevala-Lee, in “The Past Through Tomorrow”, discusses Dave Truesdale’s conduct at MidAmeriCon II, and ends by comparing it with the “Great Exclusion Act” at the first Worldcon.

Afterward, one of the other participants shook my hand, saying that he thought that I did a good job, and essentially apologized for taking over the discussion. “I don’t usually talk much,” he told me, “but when I’m on a panel like this, I just can’t stop myself.”

And this turned out to be a prophetic remark. The next day, the very same participant was expelled from the convention for hijacking another panel that he was moderating, using his position to indulge in a ten-minute speech on how political correctness was destroying science fiction and fantasy. I wasn’t there, but I later spoke to another member of that panel, who noted dryly that it was the first time she had ever found herself on the most controversial event of the weekend. Based on other accounts of the incident, the speaker—who, again, had been nothing but polite to me the day before—said that the fear of giving offense had made it hard for writers to write the same kinds of innovative, challenging stories that they had in the past. Inevitably, there are those who believe that his expulsion simply proved his point, and that he was cast out by the convention’s thought police for expressing an unpopular opinion. But that isn’t really what happened. As another blogger correctly observes, the participant wasn’t expelled for his words, but for his actions: he deliberately derailed a panel that he was supposed to moderate, recorded it without the consent of the other panelists, and planned the whole thing in advance, complete with props and a prepared statement. He came into the event with the intention of disrupting any real conversation, rather than facilitating it, and the result was an act of massive discourtesy. For a supposed champion of free speech, he didn’t seem very interested in encouraging it. As a result, he was clearly in violation of the convention’s code of conduct, and his removal was justified.

(6) BAD WOLF. Bertie MacAvoy had a science fictional encounter this weekend.

Seeing the Tardis is always unexpected:

This weekend I drove to the nearest town for some Thai take-out. As I passed down the aisle of cars I saw a dark blue van on the other side of the row. It had decals on the top of its windows. They read: POLICE CALL BOX. Carrying my tubs of soup and cardboard boxes of food, I crossed over. Each rear door had a magnetic sticker on it, such as are used by people to signify that theirs is a company car. These said SAINT JOHN’S AMBULANCE SERVICE and all the rest of the usual Tardis markings. On the rearmost window had been scrawled in white paint: BAD WOLF….

(7) INFLUENTIAL BOOKS. The Washington Posts’s Nora Krug, getting ready for the Library of Congress National Book Festival next weekend, asked writers “What book–or books–influenced you most?”  Here is Kelly Link’s response:

Kelly Link s books include “ Stranger Things Happen ” and “ Pretty Monsters .” Her latest collection, “ Get in Trouble: Stories ,” was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist:

The short-story collection “Not What You Expected,” by Joan Aiken, is one of the most magical of all the books I found at the Coral Gables public library during one of my many childhood moves. I checked it out on my library card over and over. In it were stories about dog ghosts, unusual harps, curses and phones that could connect you to the past. Aiken could put a whole world into a 10-page story, and she was funny as well as terrifying. She made the act of storytelling feel limitless, liberating, joyful.

(8) LOSE THESE TROPES. Fond as we are of the number five, consider “Marc Turner with Five Fantasy Tropes That Should Be Consigned To History” for The Speculative Herald.

…Having said that, here are five tropes that I’d be happy never to see again. (Please note, I’m not suggesting that any book that contains these tropes is “bad” or “unimaginative”; I’m simply saying that I would be less inclined to read it.)

  1. Prophecies

When I was a teen, it seemed every other fantasy book I read featured a prophecy. You know the sort of thing: “The Chosen One will claim the Sword of Light and defeat the Dark Lord”, or “Upon the death of three kings, the world will be plunged into Chaos”. Now maybe it’s just me, but if I foresaw the precise set of circumstances that would bring about the end of all things, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to share it with the world. You can guarantee that somewhere a Dark Lord is listening in and saying, “Well, that is interesting.”

And why is it that whoever makes these prophecies never sees clearly enough to be able to provide a complete picture? It’s never an entirely useful prophecy. There’s always room for misinterpretation so the author can throw in a twist at the end.

Plus, there’s so much scope for abuse. It’s a wonder the bad guys don’t have fun with prophecies more often. “Ah, yes, paradise on earth is just one step away. All you have to do is destroy that kingdom over there. What’s that you say? If you attack, you’ll leave your border with my Evil Empire undefended? Purely a coincidence, I assure you.” *Whistles innocently*

(9) GRAVELINE OBIT. Duane E. Graveline (1931-2016), a doctor who did pioneering research in space medicine, and was briefly a NASA astronaut, died September 5. According to the New York Times:

In 1965, Duane E. Graveline, a doctor who did pioneering research in space medicine, was awarded one of the most coveted jobs the government can bestow: astronaut. But he resigned less than two months later without ever being fitted for a spacesuit, let alone riding a rocket into space. His tenure is believed to be the shortest of anyone in the astronaut program, a NASA spokeswoman said.

Dr. Graveline cited “personal reasons” for his resignation. In fact, NASA officials later said, he had been forced out because his marriage was coming apart and the agency, worried about tarnishing its image at a time when divorce was stigmatized, wanted to avoid embarrassment.

Dr. Graveline, who married five more times and became a prolific author but whose later career as a doctor was marred by scandal, died on Sept. 5 at 85 in a hospital near his home in Merritt Island, Fla.

In later years, Dr. Graveline continued to consult with NASA and wrote 15 books, including memoirs, science fiction novels and works detailing his research into side effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which he blamed for his own medical decline.

Graveline also was a self-published science fiction author with numerous works available through his website.


  • September 19, 1961 — On a return trip from Canada, while in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been abducted for two hours by a UFO. After going public with their story, the two gained worldwide notoriety. The incident is the first fully documented case of an alleged alien abduction.
  • September 19, 2000 — The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a novel by Michael Chabon about the glory years of the American comic book, is published on this day in 2000. The book went on to win the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

(11) TODAY IN PIRACY. It’s “Talk Like  Pirate Day” and if you show up at Krispy Kreme and talk or dress like a pirate you can get a dozen free doughnuts.

Customers who do their best pirate voice get a free glazed donut. Dress like a pirate and you get a free dozen glazed donuts.

To qualify for the free dozen, customers must wear three pirate items like a bandana or eye patch.

If you’re not willing to go that far, but still want to get the free dozen, there is another option: Customers can digitally dress like a pirate through Krispy Kreme Snapchat pirate filter. Just be sure to show the photo to a team member


  • Born September 19, 1928 — Adam West
  • Born September 19, 1933  — David McCallum in 1933. His was in arguably the best Outer Limits episode, The Sixth Finger. And then, of course, he was in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

(13) READING WITHOUT TURNING A PAGE. M.I.T. uses radiation to read closed books reports Engadget.

There are some books that are simply too delicate to crack open — the last thing you want to do is destroy an ornate medieval Bible simply because you’re curious about its contents. If MIT has its way, though, you won’t have to stay away. Its scientists have crafted a computational imaging system that can read the individual pages of a book while it’s closed. Their technology scans a book using terahertz radiation, and relies on the tiny, 20-micrometer air gaps between pages to identify and scan those pages one by one. A letter interpretation algorithm (of the sort that can defeat captchas) helps make sense of any distorted or incomplete text.

(14) EMMY NOTES. Steven H Silver lists all the Emmy Award winners of genre interest at SF Site News. And he sent along this summary to File 770:

As I noted in my coverage of the Emmy Awards, with their nine wins earlier this week and their three wins last night, Game of Thrones now has the record for the most Emmy wins for a scripted prime time series with 38 (it took the record from Frasier, which has 37).  The record for most Emmys of any type seems to be Saturday Night Live, with 43 (including Kate McKinnon’s win this year).  It took GOT only six seasons to rack up that total, Frasier took 11, and SNL took 41 years.

(15) ALAN MOORE TALKS TO NPR ABOUT HIS NEW PROJECT. The writer of Watchmen is writing a book (without pictures) based on his hometown: “In ‘Jerusalem,’ Nothing You’ve Ever Lost Is Truly Gone”.

Recently, Moore said he’s stepping back from comics to focus on other projects — like his epic new novel, Jerusalem. It’s full of angels, devils, saints and sinners and visionaries, ghost children and wandering writers, all circling his home town of Northampton, England.

Moore still lives in Northampton, about an hour north of London. He rarely leaves, so I went there to meet him.

“This is holy ground for me,” he told me as we stood on a neglected grassy strip by a busy road. It doesn’t look like holy ground — nothing’s here now except a few trees, and a solitary house on the corner. But it wasn’t always this way.

“This is it,” Moore says, pointing to the grown-over remains of a little path behind the corner house. “This is the alley that used to run behind our terrace. This is where I was born.”

(16) OWN HARRY POTTER’S CUBBYHOLE. The house used to stand in for the Dursleys’ house in the Harry Potter films is on the market.

Until he went to Hogwarts, Harry was forced to live there with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and his cousin Dudley, and returned there every summer.

The house in Bracknell, Berkshire, rather than the fictive Little Whinging dreamt up by J. K. Rowling, but is otherwise as it appeared in the films.

On the market for £475,000, it has three bedrooms, enough for a married couple, their over-indulged son, and their over-indulged son’s second bedroom. Whether there is room for a child to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs is unclear.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Steven H Silver, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint and Cadbury Moose.]


238 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/19/16 Scroll Like A Pixel Day

  1. Urgh, and I just realize I fell for idontknow’s Goalpost Moving.

    You weren’t just arguing that you shouldn’t antagonize someone you were trying to convince, you SPECIFICALLY argued that you shouldn’t use “microaggressions” in a discussion with a Right Wing person because they find it antagonizing.

    You know what? If a person finds the term “microaggression” to be antagonizing then they aren’t discussing in good faith and I don’t owe them shit. It’s a tedious attempt to control the conversation.

  2. Kurt Busiek: If “white dudes” implies racism, then surely it implies sexism, too, so including women doesn’t really change anything. The dudes are being noted for their whiteness and their dudeness.

    Hmmm. (Must think why I immediately seized on the whiteness and yet my dudeness felt unthreatened…. Usually it’s the other way around…)

  3. “You weren’t just arguing that you shouldn’t antagonize someone you were trying to convince, you SPECIFICALLY argued that you shouldn’t use “microaggressions” in a discussion with a Right Wing person because they find it antagonizing.”


    These are my first two responses to this topic:

    “Saying something is a microaggression is not going to convince them either.By and large, they will simply regard that as a pretentious way of saying that you don’t like them.”

    “If you are acting in good faith in trying to change a right wing person’s behavior, ‘microaggression’ is not a term you should use. They regard it as an antagonistic term in the same way that a left wing person regards the term ‘social justice warrior’ as an antagonistic term.”

    No goalposts have been moved.

    If you just want to have an argument or have someone respond to you with hostility, then use whatever language you want to use.

  4. Yeah, bored now. Tedious argument is tedious.

    So thanks to a lot of downtime at my new job I’ve been able to start reading again, and in a two week period I was able to read four books: The first three books in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series, followed by John Steakly’s Armor . Loved all of them, but wished I would have read those in reverse order. OMW I really liked, quick fun reads, while Armor I would describe as “Slit-my-wrists Excellent”. It was a very good book, but so damn bleak.

  5. There’s more to life than reality.
    This comment isn’t even going to moderation….
    Failing to recognize the unity of life and its environment is a fundamental error, that no group has cornered the market on.

  6. Mike, seizing your dudeness leads to visual impairment, doesn’t it? While I don’t know of any “don’t do that, you’ll go blind” warnings about seizing your whiteness.

  7. I think it’s odd that the thread has so thoroughly veered into a tone argument, largely about how if you’re going to talk about the Puppies and the Puppylike, you’d better treat them with great concern and care for your words, lest you offend their delicate feelings and fail to convince them of something you weren’t actually trying to convince them of, since you were talking about them, not trying to make an appeal to their better natures.

    I reread a long thread yesterday in which BrianZ was in full cry, and this is a lot like that, except phrased differently.

    If Dave Truesdale wants to call people special snowflakes and crap on the idea of cons trying to keep attendees safe, I don’t really give a fuck about whether the word “microaggression” will work on him and his pals — I’m not talking to him, and he’s decided to go with full-on aggression, anyway.

    I don’t expect that the world will improve by getting the aggressively-entitled to shed the scales from their eyes. I think it’ll improve by getting more reasonable people to understand that the aggressively-entitled are selfish louts, and outvoting them, avoiding them or ignoring them as need be. The selfish louts can follow along and change, or get marginalized, it’s fine with me.

    But if I’m talking about them, I don’t feel the need to act as if I’m trying to appeal to them. If others want to do that, fine, good for them, and they may have more patience and/or free time than I do — but they should do it themselves, and not assume that I need their instruction on how to modify my tone when talking about selfish louts so as not to bruise the poor louts’ sensibilities.

  8. I will repeat myself and post a link to Doug Muder’s Instead of Dumbing Down again.

    The particular bias of educated people is that we rely too much on our vocabularies, and think that other people can’t grasp an idea until they learn all the words we use when we think about it. (Goethe: “When an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its place.”) Academic papers usually start by defining a bunch of terms, and only eventually get around to showing what they’re good for. But good popular explanations often turn that around: Through examples, metaphors, and stories, you put an idea in someone’s head, then tell them what it’s called. (Once people see the use of an idea, they’re usually grateful to find out that it has a name.)

    So this is why I don’t lead with something like “microaggression”. I may get there with someone, but you start where someone is and go from there. It’s not because they’re offended by it–those are not people I can imagine a way to be able to reach–but because they don’t know it and it’s not useful to in helping them start to understand.

  9. (and now for something completely different…)

    I finished Annihilation the other day. I have copied my Goodreads review:

    Thirty years ago, Area X was abandoned for mysterious reasons. The mysterious government entity, Southern Reach, has sent expeditions into this mysterious area, many of them ending with the mysterious deaths of the members. The twelfth expedition discovers a mysterious set of stairs descending into the earth, which is not on their map. Then mysterious things happen. Mysteriously.

    Smart-assery aside, I quite enjoyed this book. It’s atmospheric and creepy, with unexplained phenomena and death and a couple of splashes of violence. Add a possibly unreliable narrator, and it adds up to a quietly unsettling read.

    Just don’t expect any explanations or answers from this one. This is about the journey, not the destination. Maybe some answers will come in the remaining books of the trilogy, but since this is Jeff VanderMeer, I’m not going to hold my breath.

  10. So this is why I don’t lead with something like “microaggression”. I may get there with someone, but you start where someone is and go from there.

    A conversation about microagressions almost never starts with someone saying “microagression”. It usually starts with the microagression, and someone pointing out that doing so isn’t cool. Only after that point does anything technical start being discussed.

  11. @Dawn: I hope you enjoy the other two books in the trilogy. Looking forward to your reaction to them.

  12. What Kurt Busiek and Bruce Baugh* said.

    @John A Arkansawyer, my apologies for not quoting you but my phone isn’t cooperating. I would like to hear a convincing argument that force leads to effective, lasting change or that what change occurs is what the applier of force had in mind. Generally, you can force only one of the three, no matter how large your army. But maybe we have a disagreement about what constitutes actual change.

    As to the efficacy of the different ways in which we got from the rampant homophobia to marriage equality, I agree that all of the people rejecting closets helped. Everything did.

    * The first post. Don’t want to be involved in the leading to blindness conversation…

  13. One good piece of writing that springs to my mind regarding Truesdale is The Distress of the Privileged:

    In a memorable scene from the 1998 film Pleasantville (in which two 1998 teen-agers are transported into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV show), the father of the TV-perfect Parker family returns from work and says the magic words “Honey, I’m home!”, expecting them to conjure up a smiling wife, adorable children, and dinner on the table.

    This time, though, it doesn’t work. No wife, no kids, no food. Confused, he repeats the invocation, as if he must have said it wrong. After searching the house, he wanders out into the rain and plaintively questions this strangely malfunctioning Universe: “Where’s my dinner?”

    [ … ]

    I think it’s worthwhile to spend a minute or two looking at the world from George Parker’s point of view: He’s a good 1950s TV father. He never set out to be the bad guy. He never meant to stifle his wife’s humanity or enforce a dull conformity on his kids. Nobody ever asked him whether the world should be black-and-white; it just was.

    George never demanded a privileged role, he just uncritically accepted the role society assigned him and played it to the best of his ability. And now suddenly that society isn’t working for the people he loves, and they’re blaming him.

    It seems so unfair. He doesn’t want anybody to be unhappy. He just wants dinner.

    Levels of distress. But even as we accept the reality of George’s privileged-white-male distress, we need to hold on to the understanding that the less privileged citizens of Pleasantville are distressed in an entirely different way. (Margaret Atwood is supposed to have summed up the gender power-differential like this: “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”)

    George deserves compassion, but his until-recently-ideal housewife Betty Parker (and the other characters assigned subservient roles) deserves justice. George and Betty’s claims are not equivalent, and if we treat them the same way, we do Betty an injustice.

  14. @Christian: I like that quote a lot. Thanks!

    @Cheryl: I also really like the point that “Everything did.” It really does take a whole bunch of things to change a society. If each of us can do any of them, so much the better.

  15. @Aaron
    I think the relevant portion is here:

    “Any action or behavior that is illegal or causes significant interference with event operations, excessive discomfort to other attendees, or adversely affects MidAmeriCon II’s relationship with its guests, its venue, or the public is strictly forbidden and may result in revocation of membership privileges.” [emphasis added]

    I think that “conspiring to disrupt the convention”, as you put it, probably falls into the actions described by the bolded portion of the excerpt of the policy.

    Truesdale train-wrecked one panel, in a convention with something like a thousand scheduled events. Hard to see that as “significant interference with event operations” or “conspiring to disrupt the convention.”

    If I were part of convention management, I’d have told him why this was bad, made a public announcement that it was a mistake to have him moderate a panel, and never let him do it again. The punishment (public announcement) would have been more effective, I think.

  16. @Dawn Incognito

    It’s good you’re not holding your breath. You get some answers, I think. But then again, maybe not.

    I highly recommend the audio books for this series. The narrators are great and really add another interesting layer due to the epistolary nature of the books.

  17. There was something I wanted to say about microagression but I have forgotten it. So instead I’d like to share some other things.

    First, an article on tor.com about Hermione Granger: More Than a Sidekick – arguing that Hermione “gets her own story, if you know how to look for it.” And with lots of nice fanart illustrations.

    Second, a certain T. Kingfisher have released the first chapter of a new serial, Summer in Orcus. I regret saying I haven’t read it yet but my spider sense says it’s good.

  18. A quick delurk to post the following Meredith Moment:

    Karen Lord’s Best of All Possible Worlds (one of my faves), is available for $1.99 at amzon, b&n, apple, google, kobo, and possibly elsewhere. Read it. It’s great!

    Now back to work….

  19. I’m about 1/5 through Safely You Deliver and kinda bummed that I’m in the middle of a very similar scene as one in the previous novel. I’m thinking (hoping) there’s a point to this other than “I did a whole lot of research about a certain engineering subject and I’m damn well gonna use it.”

    @Johan P – It may have been here, may have been elsewhere, but I recall being convinced that Hermione Granger is the hero of the Harry Potter series. In the same way that Samwise is the hero of Lord of the Rings. When I thought about it, that makes sense. Harry Potter is basically, aside from his crappy home situation, a coddled, popular jock throughout most of the series. He and his buds ignore Hermione and think she’s a total nerd for her interest in learning, and then always end up needing her to come through for them after they’ve messed everything up. That’s my fuzzy memory of the books. I keep thinking I should go back and re-read them, but I haven’t had the time.

    Now I’ll go read the actual article and realize I should have done so before commenting…

    ETA: Or maybe I’ll find the article is saying what I was thinking, but articulating it better.

  20. John A Arkansawyer:

    “@John Seavey: I had a talk with some folks about “white fragility” today. It’s not a term I use with most people. It’s too fraught. The folks feeling it are already feeling the fear of becoming a minority, with an underlying strain of guilt helping feed the fear. Telling them they’re “fragile” to boot doesn’t help.”

    The day I care about what fullblown racists think – because that is what you describe – is when hell freezes over.

  21. FYI – I received my “confirm subscription” email, but my client (Icedove/Thunderbird) thought it was “junk”. It’s possible WordPress-originating emails are being filtered for some reason or other. Folks may want to check their Spam/Junk folders (apologies if anyone’s said they already did – my head is always fuzzy).

  22. @Christian Brunschen:

    One good piece of writing that springs to my mind regarding Truesdale is The Distress of the Privileged:

    More Doug Muder! I tell you three times, his Weekly Sift is one of the best things out there. It’s one of my few must-reads.

    @Hampus Eckerman:

    The day I care about what fullblown racists think – because that is what you describe – is when hell freezes over.

    I suppose that makes me a full-blown racist, then, because I have that same implicit bias thing going on that most white Americans do. I understand it’s there in me and I consciously push back against it. When I was younger, I had to learn not to feel uncomfortable in places where I was a racial minority. It helped to work in a nearly all-black environment for a while. Now instead, I notice and feel uncomfortable when I’m surrounded by white people in places where that shouldn’t be happening (I mean, It’ll be some time before one of my family reunions is minority white) for any reason but racist coercion unless I’m sure that’s not what’s going on.

    When I was in Jackson, Mississippi in April, after I left the Jackson State campus, which I visited because I wanted to see the ground of the other 1970 massacre, the one people forget about because it happened to blacks instead of whites, I became so nervous being surrounded by white people all throughout a city which is majority black that I didn’t calm down till I drove into a black part of town, stopped at a nice, crowded Wendy’s, and surrounded myself with black people. Maybe I was a minority, but at least I knew I wasn’t surrounded by racists.

    Which is my blues, you know? But I get why people of any sort feel weird when they’re in the minority. One of the folks I was talking with on the bus today about this said, “Now you know how we feel,” and I said, “Yes, except I figure it’s worse for you, because white people still have more power and social capital. But these folks have the fear that ‘they’ll do to us what we did to them’.” That’s what I meant by that underlying current of guilt. My thinking is that white guilt does one of two things: It either motivates white fear or it substitutes for white responsibility. I mean, just because I’m not guilty of the past doesn’t mean I’m not responsible for the present.

    So anyway. The people who are afraid of being in the minority have a valid fear. They’re losing something they didn’t even really consciously realize they had. But what they’re losing–their privilege–is a real thing. I’m not going to lie like some folks did about affirmative action. If there are only a hundred jobs and some of them will start going to black people, or women, or any group that wasn’t getting them, then there will be fewer of those jobs for white guys. It’s a real loss. That they’re losing ill-gotten gains doesn’t mean they won’t be without them. And that’s not easy for anyone to swallow, especially when they aren’t the ones who ill-got them.

    And yet they must. And some of them can.

    But laying the idea of “white fragility” on them while it’s happening? Especially in a culture where men in particular have so much of their identity tied up in their ability to provide for their families? That’s both counterproductive and cruel. There’s no need to load unnecessary pain on top of what can’t be avoided.

    I realize this is long and a little confused and could probably be said better. I just wouldn’t paint with too broad a brush. Things are bad enough as they really are.

  23. @John A Arkansawyer

    If you know a way to “shift the conversation” without changing hearts and minds, I’d love to hear it, because I’m sick to death of trying but don’t see an alternative. Except force. There’s always force.

    Force has, historically, been a really important tool in advancing justice. Because the folks who are deeply invested in the continuation of injustice are not persuadable, at least not in a time frame that’s useful for those, you know, dealing with the injustice. You end slavery with a war, you go about establishing political power for black Americans with armed occupation (and then when the force goes away because the political winds shift, well), you desegregate schools with bayonets. You mitigate sexual harassment and hostile environments in the workplace with lawsuits and terminations. You impose economic penalties in the form of boycotts and bad PR on organizations that behave unacceptably. You make it clear to crazy uncle Bob that there’s a social cost to his racist utterances and if he doesn’t want to deal with righteous haranguing and/or severed ties then he can shut the fuck up. And so on.

    And, sure, you also work on persuading the people you can persuade. But Roger Ailes, for instance, isn’t persuadable. All you can do is take away his job (of course, given how pervasive his attitude is in the organization he built, to really change it would require a pretty extensive purge).

  24. After wading through all the Truesdale stuff, I finally decided to listen to the audio. But, I only lasted a few minutes–not from outrage but from boredom. He should have been booted just for that alone, Jesus if you’re going to be controversial/ antagonistic at least be entertaining. that whole ‘clutch your pearls’ thing read funny-to me-but listening to it sounded just stupid. Maybe it played out better in real time.
    Although, as a gay man, I toyed with the idea of accusing him of cultural appropriation just to stir up shit. When I first came out back in 73 and gay slang was more underground and colorful, I heard that phrase used to mock reactions to scandalous news.
    And accusing so many people of being special snowflakes is annoying to those of us who are.

  25. Aaron: my point is not about Truesdale’s intent, but rather the identity of those who have said they “aren’t offended” by his actions, and who are very concerned about his ejection. They have been overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male.

    For me, at least, it isn’t just that: it’s that they proclaim this as if they are somehow an authority whose opinion on this should trump other peoples’ opinions — as if they simply can’t imagine why their opinion on this shouldn’t be taken as the authoritative opinion.

    For example, why does John Shirley think that since he doesn’t see Truesdale’s behavior as a problem, no one else should, either? Sure, he’s an SF author — but just how high of an opinion of himself does he have that he somehow thinks this makes him an authority on whether Truesdale’s behavior was okay?

    I have to tell you, when I read these “I didn’t think it was a problem” responses from various older white men, my reponse was to roll my eyes and think, “Well, good for you, but why would you think that should carry any weight with me or anyone else?”

  26. For me, at least, it isn’t just that: it’s that they proclaim this as if they are somehow an authority whose opinion on this should trump other peoples’ opinions — as if they simply can’t imagine why their opinion on this shouldn’t be taken as the authoritative opinion.

    Where in his essay does Shirley claim to be an authority whose opinion should trump others? I don’t see it. I just see an expression of his personal viewpoint.

    Some of it is confidently worded, but so are many comments here. Does that mean we think our opinions authoritative over the opinions of others?

    I certainly don’t feel that way in the comments I post.

    P.s. I will never read that essay again for purposes of debate here. It’s a grueling slog of can’t-we-all-just-get-along-ism. Hell no to that at this political moment in the U.S.

  27. Bill: Truesdale train-wrecked one panel, in a convention with something like a thousand scheduled events. Hard to see that as “significant interference with event operations” or “conspiring to disrupt the convention.”

    First of all, he didn’t “train-wreck” a panel. He proposed a panel to the MACII progcom, with the specific intent of using it as a personal platform, planning ahead of time and writing down the tirade that he intended to deliver instead of fulfilling the moderator’s role in good faith, and bringing props to support that tirade — which is not only a massive abuse of trust and power, but the very definition of planning to disrupt the convention.

    Whether that qualifies as “conspiring”, in that only one person was involved, is immaterial in my view.

    As far as “significance”, there was at least one person who started crying during the panel because they were personally being told what a horrible person they were for objecting to racism, sexism, or homophobia. Another said that they went back to their hotel room afterward, and just sat there, shaken and shaking, at the verbal assault they had just endured. A lot of other people were hurt at being personally attacked, or angry at his violation of the trust of the con/ panelists/ audience, or just upset about not getting the panel on short fiction to which they had really been looking forward.

    You may not consider any of those individuals “significant”, but I do.

    And this is exactly the point that I and others have been trying to make here: you, as an older white male, don’t have to think of other people as being significant, because you have spent your life in world where the only really significant people are white males.

    You might want to spend some time thinking about that.

  28. @John Arkansawyer
    I realize this . . . could probably be said better.

    I don’t see how.
    Excellent post.

  29. John A Arkansawyer:

    “I suppose that makes me a full-blown racist, then, because I have that same implicit bias thing going on that most white Americans do. I understand it’s there in me and I consciously push back against it.”

    You really see that the majority of americans are racist on that level?? That does not with the people I have met and known.

  30. Truesdale train-wrecked one panel, in a convention with something like a thousand scheduled events.

    How about I come to your house some time and burn a few of your possessions? You probably own at least a couple thousand things, so it won’t be significant to you.

  31. IDK’s long-running attempt at derailment seems weird to me. Why try to change a right-winger’s mind? Surely the low-hanging fruit is the moderate middle? I don’t need to persuade the right-wing 10%–if I persuade the moderate 80% the last 10% will get uncomfortable in a world that doesn’t wink at their prejudices anymore, and pipe down.

    And while I might need to explain the concept “micro aggression” to someone in the moderate middle, they are not going to find the term offensive. If they find it offensive I’ve buttonholed a right-winger by mistake and it’s time to quit wasting my time and theirs and move on.

    And regarding 4) Truesdale is the most special of special snowflakes who spent the bulk of the con hiding in Puppy Safe Space so his delicate feelings wouldn’t be lacerated by an encounter with ideas he found offensive or controversial. Under the circumstances, he has no standing to lecture us on seeking challenging and provocative stories.


    He picked a WorldCon panel essentially at random to hijack and explain to the audience – presumably a near-random sample of WorldCon fans – that “science fiction is not for snowflakes, those people who are perpetually offended or microaggressed at every turn… “.

    To his consternation, he learned that – IN HIS OWN WORDS –

    “…95% of the audience were probably somewhere along the snowflake spectrum…”.

    Given that Truesdale’s talk was an unexpected surprise to them, “the audience” for his remarks was probably a more-or-less random sample of WorldCon fandom.

    And here we are after the fact, where Truesdale INSISTS that HIS thesis is the perspective of a tiny (“less than 5%”) minority – and yet he presses on (without any self-awareness at all) with telling the overwhelming majority of WorldCon Fandom that UR DOIN IT RONG .

    If 95% of a random audience of fans are some sort of “snowflake” – as Truesdale claims that he learned at the panel that he hijacked at WorldCon – then Truesdale is blind to his own argument: that it’s the “non-snowflake” who is the rare outlier here.

    Does HE even listen to himself?

    So to sum up, here’s The Shorter Truesdale:

    By my own estimate, It looks like 95% of my own random sample of WorldCon fandom has at least some degree of empathy – they’re what I label “Snowflakes”.
    This is a terrible burden to the 5% of us who urgently want to be assholes to others, and want never be called on it.”

  33. @Hampus Eckerman: Yeah, recent events have caused me to figure my previous estimate of racists-as-bigots being between ten and fifteen percent was about half the reality. I now think it’s more like twenty-five percent. Maybe it’ll shrink once there’s not someone normalizing it after the election.

    But what I was talking about wasn’t those people. I mean the racists-as-people-with-implicit-or-unconscious-biases. That’s pretty much all white Americans. If ten percent of us are free of that, I’d be surprised. I became conscious of mine at an early age, tried to root it out, and am still working on it. I’m I this weird limnal state where I still feel the implicit bias from time to time. Other times I feel nervous around white people, especially when there’s a Confederate flag being flown nearby. Mostly I’m not in either state, but I’m aware I can go either way pretty quickly.

    I just don’t have much use for the outright bigots. There are a few–I hope it’s just a few–in my family. I try to love them anyway. That’s hard enough.

    But the ones who can be reached, well, I try to reach them. That’s hard, too.

    And I’m much luckier and better off than so many folks. Most people, really. It’s got to really suck for them.

    We’re actually very nice people, mostly, even the scumbags, but it’s still a very strange and scary time and place to be in.

  34. @John A Arkansawyer: Some of your comments today helped me sort through some ideas in my mind about how we set priorities. Unfortunately, I’ve contracted a germ of some kind and can’t exposit for beans right now. Hoping to come back to it soon. In the meantime, just to let you know.

  35. While I wait for my previous comment to come out of moderation (…sorry for the extra work, Mike…)

    I thought of “Truesdale’s Big WorldCon Adventure” as a classic experiment:

    Hypothesis: Science fiction is not for snowflakes.

    Methodology: We sampled the population of the most recent WorldCon.

    Examining one panel drawn at random, we found that of this sample audience, fully “95% were probably somewhere along the snowflake spectrum.”

    So – to our surprise, Truesdale’s theory is solidly refuted:
    either SF IS for snowflakes; or SF has somehow managed to attract the wrong audience. Further research is needed, and/or the investigator needs to re-think his hypothesis.

  36. John A Arkansawyer:

    “But what I was talking about wasn’t those people. I mean the racists-as-people-with-implicit-or-unconscious-biases. That’s pretty much all white Americans. If ten percent of us are free of that, I’d be surprised. “

    So you say that 90% of all white americans are so scared of being a minority that they can’t hear the term “white fragility” without getting offended?

  37. @’AsYouKnow’ Bob:

    Hmm, so he’s saying that they’re wrongfans having wrongfun? Interesting… =)

  38. @MaxL
    I have to disagree. I must believe in not force but fortune, which derives from wisdom. But if you believe in force, why do you stop where you do? Why not use enough force to solve the problem permanently by eliminating Ailes and company, etc.?

    Meta: I don’t see anyone convincing their debating opponents.

  39. @Hampus Eckerman: No, the number of offended would be much closer to the number of outright bigots. I figure maybe a quarter to a third of us are capable of taking an idea like “white fragility” into our minds and thinking it over carefully. That leaves somewhere between a plurality and a majority who, for one reason or another, would find it off-putting. They wouldn’t be offended. They’d scoff. They’d change the subject. They’d nod politely while their eyes glazed over–that’s a super common reaction. They’d discount the rest of what’s being said. It would turn them off, however you put it.

  40. @’AsYouKnow’ Bob: You’d think so wouldn’t you? However I can guarantee you that Truesdale’s reaction, in the face of his hypothesis being wrong, will be to claim that the sample populace was wrong. IIRC, he was already claiming in FB that some nefarious others had filled the audience with people who were hostile to his view. A neat trick, considering that no one else knew what he was planning.

    @Schnookums : ““If a person finds the term “microaggression” to be antagonizing then they aren’t discussing in good faith”

    I would qualify that in one manner – some people who find the term antagonizing tend to be operating from a definition that is either so vague as to be useless (“anything that hurts your feelings is a microagression!”, or have defined it as something so extreme that has little to no bearing to reality – eg, defining trigger warnings as censorship as opposed to content advisories, or seeing feminism as the Manocide Vagenda as opposed to seeking parity.

    I find that it is possible to convince those in the former category, or at least to open their mind to other possibilities. The latter….not so much.

  41. After wondering all day why it was so quiet in here, I’m going to try clicking the box again.

    I think that on discussing the larger issues around the behaviors described by them, “microaggression” and “white fragility” are important and valuable.

    In talking to a particular person who has engaged in a microaggression or expressed their white fragility, it may or may not be useful to use those terms, and I don’t think you can set a rule in the abstract for it that will always be right in concrete, specific cases.

    And yeah, Tuesdays set out to be intentionally offensive and disruptive, used deceit to get into the position to do so, and resisted attempts to stop his disruption.

  42. John A Arkansawyer:

    “@Hampus Eckerman: No, the number of offended would be much closer to the number of outright bigots.”

    Then I’m confused in why you included yourself in their number.

  43. John Arkansawyer: thanks for your comments here. I’ll be thinking about them over the next few days.

  44. I’ll copy this here, too:

    Bonnie McDaniel: Mike, is something wrong with WordPress notifications? I haven’t gotten any for the past few posts.

    Judging from the comments, there must be. So this morning I installed the latest release of WordPress and made sure all the plugins were updated — because I have no way of fixing this kind of problem other than to hope the sources of these programs will become aware something’s broken and fix it in a new release.
    If anyone has an inspiration for how I can do more, let me know.

  45. I was looking at the EPH data sheet for 2016 and noticed that The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn is listed with 194.2 votes on the EPH version while The Builders is listed with 149.283. However, The Builders is on the finalist list and The Pauper Prince is not. Is this a misprint? Did they list the votes wrong, or did they list the places wrong, or am I missing something?

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