Suppose They Gave A Culture War And Nobody Came

Immediately after Jim Baen died in 2006, his friends’ wide-ranging discussions about their great respect and affection for him as a person, and regard for his accomplishments as an editor, woke Francis Turner to the realization fandom would have only one more chance to vote him the Best Editor Hugo

Baen had revitalized Galaxy in the 1970s with works from many top writers (most of John Varley’s great early stories were published in Baen’s Galaxy). He ran Ace’s sf book line under publisher Tom Doherty, and later did the same at TOR Books, before starting his own company, Baen Books. Prior to his death he’d received seven Hugo nominations, but the last had been in 1981 and he had never won the award.

Francis Turner wrote a blog post on L’Ombre de l’Olivier in August 2006 encouraging people not only to vote Baen the Best Editor (Long Form) Hugo the following year — but to visualize “A Baen Sweep of the Hugos”.

Turner listed three goals:

  • Get Jim Baen nominated and voted for Editor (books) for 2006 [i.e., the eligibility year for the 2007 Hugos]
  • Increase the participation in the Hugo process
  • Get some Baen works on the ballots

Turner’s first stop in the get-out-the-vote campaign was going to be Baen’s Bar.

As noted at Toni’s Table, the electorate for Hugo awards (and the Campbell award) is almost as small and fluid as that of a “Rotten Burough”. Also noted there is that Baen hasn’t won many such awards recently despite Baen being the #2 or #3 (depending on how you count/who is counting) speculative fiction (SF) publisher. This totally unaffiliated page is therefore set up so that loyal Baen Barflies can do a little consensus building and nominate appropriately with the goal of seeing Jim Baen nominated as editor and ideally also seeing a Baen author/artist win some other category of the 2007 Hugo awards.

Some of Turner’s other arguments have proven equally evergreen:

The participation of the wider SF community in the Hugo awards is declining….

To be honest I find it sad that even 5 years ago less than 1000 people could be bothered to vote for the awards that are supposed to represent all of SF-fandom. The fact that these numbers have now dwindled to two thirds of that in 2006 is even more tragic. What I think is also sad is that I, personally, had only read one 2006 Novel nominee – Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” – and that a number of books that I thought were great did not appear. Most of the books I liked were published by Baen (but not all were) and it was notable that none of the 5 most nominated works were published by Baen…

This is an attempt to mobilise the large number of loyal Baen readers to nominate and vote so that their point of view is recognised within the SF world. I believe both the awards and SF as a whole would benefit from the Hugos not being seen as a high-brow cliquey award…. I hope to do this by convincing a number of loyal Baen readers (aka Barflies) to register as attendees for Worldcon 2007 or as voting associates and, having done so, to nominate Jim Baen for the editor award and to nominate some Baen works/authors/artists for the other awards.

Well aware of the objections that would be raised in other quarters, Turner preemptively insisted —

There is NO intention to produce a Baen “slate” and to insist (as if it were possible) that Barflies nominate and vote for the “slate”.

And another entire section tried to deflect “Potential Controversy.” There, Turner offered such reassurances as —

Secondly despite the title, I neither want nor expect a sweep of all the awards – not in 2007 at least 🙂 .

Surprisingly, considering how well Correia and Torgersen did with the same arguments later on, Turner’s appeal failed to generate the faintest support.

Yes, Jim Baen was nominated for Best Editor. However, that was accomplished with just 30 votes and there’s no sign they were the product of any concerted effort. Because if you look at the Best Novel category in the 2007 Hugo Award nominating statistics you’ll find zero Baen novels among the top 27 books receiving votes — and it took only four votes to be listed in the report.

Two other Baen Editors, Toni Weisskopf and Jim Minz, each received seven votes.

Although Mike Resnick’s novelette “All the Things You Are” (Jim Baen’s Universe October 2006) was a Hugo finalist, nobody has had more fiction nominated for the Hugo than Resnick. He achieved that result without any dependence on Turner’s efforts.

But reading Turner’s 10-year-old post certainly produces a stunning sense of déjà-vu.

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh for the story.]

184 thoughts on “Suppose They Gave A Culture War And Nobody Came

  1. @Peace: I know at least one asexual young person who is uncomfortable with descriptions of the perfect woman as naturally sexually aggressive.

    Excellent point.

    And there’s also the issue of just what “sexually aggressive” means (it’s bound to be not only subjective but culturally influenced–heck, in the time/place I grew up, I don’t think any of the young women I knew in high school or college would have called a man we knew *unless* we were returning his call–let along asked him out for coffee or a meal or a drink, especially not a drink!)

  2. @Wildcat: *excellent points*

    So *much* of how we read/interpret texts is based on this whole complex of factors (age, gender, class, ethnicity, etc.) influencing us (not mandating, and as you say, you cannot speak for all your generation just as I cannot speak for all feminists).

    One of my favorite feminist essays on Tolkien is by Edith Crowe who starts the piece with a story about a friend’s daughter who noted the lack of female characters in TH when first being read it as a child and follows that story up with the note that for those of us who first read Tolkien in 1965, there weren’t huge numbers of other types of texts available, so that did influence our reading.

    And now I’m reminded of a review I read that blamed Tauriel in Jackson’s Hobbit film on the “Hunger Games” teenage fandom (and while the review wasn’t completely negative, there was an undertone of “this is why she’s there darnit” that leads me to use the verb “blame.”).

    And that phrase in Robinson’s essay jumped right out at me this time!

  3. said:

    So I have had it explained to me that Kate, Sarah and Little Teddy all have mensa cards.

    All a Mensa membership really shows is that you can pass a test involving word games and puzzles. It doesn’t really signify much of value. I’ll let David Mitchell explain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPMKqyaXtHI

    I have an older cousin who joined Mensa a long time ago, told me not to bother. Said there was no correlation between being able to pass an IQ test and being an interesting or thoughtful or sensible person.

  4. @ Aaron
    All a Mensa membership really shows is that you can pass a test involving word games and puzzles.

    That link was amusing, thanks. When I met some local Mensa members many years ago I ended up with a similar opinion. It’s like a club restricted to people who are 2″ taller than average. The individuals have almost nothing in common except for a trait they had no hand in crafting – and – Why would you want to join such a club?

    That’s not to diss all Mensa members, I’m sure some of the club members and activities can be interesting, but bragging about being a member as a response to or preface for an unrelated discussion is just silly. It’s like saying “I can run faster than you, therefore I win the argument!”

  5. Re: Heinlein–I recently read The Puppet Masters (original version) and while at first I loved how Mary seemed so much more capable and important than Elihu, was disappointed that by the end of the book, the tables had turned, so much so I barely recognized either character. But the entire book seemed a bit slap-dash, especially as it proceeded. Was he generally writing for deadlines?

  6. Robin, thanks so much! I will now go looking for your footnotes too. U rite gud.

    I grew up in conservative white-bread suburbia and yet even in the 70’s when I read “Moon”, “Chinee” set my teeth on edge. The characters seemed so smart and so nice and so young, and here they were using this terrible old white man word! And how could Mannie parse Earth ethnicities when he only knew Loonies and Luna?

    Note also that sense of humor is coded male/female when Wyoh determines that Mike’s responses to the jokes list means the computer’s actually female. This is probably a little closer to true than other things, though; particularly in such a male-dominated society, the humor might get dudebro. I wish we’d seen more from Michelle’s POV. Maybe she worked with the wives’ group.

    Who Friday married just RUINS it. And since it seems to be completely by chance/flip of a coin/whatever, there was no reason at all for it to be so. It just as easily could have been not so. All Heinlein’s books are ragingly heteronormative. Men aren’t bi, women are only bi till The Right Man comes along, nobody’s homosexual. Transgender Andy is apparently completely chaste and asexual until he becomes completely a woman, who then gets on with the baby-making.

    There are a LOT of assholes in Mensa. So you can pass a test involving a couple WEIRD measures of some kinds of intelligence? It doesn’t make you smart, sensible, kind, generous, have common sense, creativity, any talent, or not delusional. Most people I know are smart enough to be in Mensa (and even passed one of the tests), but are also human enough to never ever join, and never ever brag about it. I don’t care if someone’s got a card saying they did really well on any one of a number of tests (several of which don’t even measure nearly the same thing) if they can show up on a holiday weekend and fix my plumbing or feed and pet my kitty. Contrariwise, probably the smartest family I ever knew all qualified for Mensa with flying colors, and also have barely-managed schizophrenia, regularly spending plenty of time in places where the locks are on the outside of the doors so they don’t hurt themselves or get hurt. And that’s with state of the art doctoring and a great willingness to take the pills and go to therapy.

    I had a friend who joined a Tall Club, for which men had to be over X height and women over Y. It’s just as arbitrary as Mensa, but as a woman of 6’1″, she had trouble finding men who were willing to date her. And she did lurve the men. 😉 She married a nice 6’6″ man and then they both stopped going to the meetings, since they had plenty of interesting friends of all sizes to hang out with.

  7. @ lurkertype

    Completely pedantic point – you take one of the standard intelligence tests administered under proper conditions to qualify for Mensa (or have taken such a test given by an official organization – school, military, etc. – and have official results). Some of the problems with the standardized tests were covered in robinareid’s link above.

    I completely agree that scoring well on these tests doesn’t prove much except that under some particular conditions such a person can ‘run faster’ than other people.* It doesn’t make that person ‘better’ at being a human, i.e. compassion, courage, steadfastness, etc. It also doesn’t make them any worse or more prone to mental instability.

    re: The Tall Club.
    I stand corrected, there can be a reason to join such a club. 😀

    @ all
    Do public schools still give standard IQ tests? (in the US or elsewhere?) They were still doing it in California in the late 80s when my son was in school.

    * I’m not sure what IQ tests measure, but I think they do measure something. Maybe all it meaures is the ability and motivation to learn from a Western-style education system, if properly encultured.

  8. I’m not sure what IQ tests measure, but I think they do measure something. Maybe all it meaures is the ability and motivation to learn from a Western-style education system, if properly encultured.

    To be fair to proper IQ test used with children by psychologist, their purpose is to assess a capacity for academic achievement and hence to look for discrepancies between that measure and how a child might actually be performing. But yes, in so far as they measure something it is by virtue of being a intermediate proxy for whatever the thing is that they measure – and rather like using a person’s weight to measure their height will naturally suffer a lot of issues given the extent that people are all sorts of different shapes mentally as well as physically.

    As for culturally neutral IQ tests, the idea is problematic from start to finish. Cognition isn’t culturally neutral, how we think and what we think about is affected by the people around us.

  9. Unlike many here who commented on RAH, I happened to begin reading his works when I was ten, my “golden age of sf”.

    I can see the academic/critical points being made and won’t dispute the various conclusions (agree with some, disagree with others) except to say that, on a personal level, Heinlein was responsible for my becoming aware of many societal issues and arriving at positions on them that are decidedly “progressive”. I distinctly remember being shocked that Ellie (Starman Jones) enjoyed playing chess (not that she played, that she enjoyed it) and the fact that ‘girls’ (I was 10) might/could enjoy many of the same things that boys did evolved into my understanding that they were treated differently and unfairly (and a personal resolve not to participate in such treatment).

    Likewise for many other lessons drawn from RAH reads; I’m not a misogynist, or a fascist, or homophobic, have never had a twinge of incestuous desire, and lean left on just about every issue there is out there.

    It intrigues me that someone as impressionable and as devoted to Heinlein as I was back then (my friends in school were so sick of my devotion to RAH that when we made a film parody of Star Wars, the trash compactor scene was comprised of the characters drowning under mounds of Heinlein books) would come away influenced by them in a manner so at odds with the conclusions and critiques we see these days. And I find it difficult to believe that I was just reading him “wrong”

  10. steve davidson: It intrigues me that someone as impressionable and as devoted to Heinlein as I was back then… would come away influenced by them in a manner so at odds with the conclusions and critiques we see these days. And I find it difficult to believe that I was just reading him “wrong”.

    As others have pointed out, there certainly were progressive aspects to his work — I was very young when I started reading Heinlein, too, and certainly his work influenced me. But while I recognized the progressive themes in his works, there were also things (such as certain aspects of his treatment of women, the treatment of Asians in Sixth Column [a book that I still loved because science], the “I built this all by myself” attitude which is common with conservatives and libertarians today and which appeared in some of his works) which made me uncomfortable long before I was able to articulate why. And yet, despite my love for Heinlein, I didn’t imprint on those negative things. Why?

    All I can say is that I was raised in whitey-white-bread America, in a household with one parent who was extremely racist and sexist. I was exposed to this from birth — and yet somehow I didn’t imprint those negative things, either. I remember from a very early age feeling very distinctly that those things were wrong and unfair.

    When things influence us, it is not always in the sense that we adopt those things unquestioningly.

  11. @Steve Davidson: I was reading Heinlein well before the age of 10 (I was reading his juveniles in second and third grade, kept reading them throughout, and then when I was allowed to move upstairs to the “adult” section of the library which took official meetings between librarians and parents because the “children’s section” was supposed to last through high school in sixth grade, I was reading his “adult” stuff). And I loved it all back then as I said–along with Clarke, Asimov, and many other male sf authors (I didn’t realize Andre Norton was a woman until later!). (I was born in 1955, to contextualize all this).

    And your reading experience is wonderful–and I would never say that you were reading his work wrong. Many of us point out the progressive aspects of Heinlein’s work (and my analysis of the scholarship I’ve read is that it is impossible to categorize Heinlein’s work as either progressive or conservative–his body of work is too large, and covers too many years, and his own personal experiences and changes in philosophy are reflected in it).

    However, I would not say that your personal experience means that people who see the other elements in the work are “reading it wrong” either which seems to be a subtext of what you’re trying to say here:

    Likewise for many other lessons drawn from RAH reads; I’m not a misogynist, or a fascist, or homophobic, have never had a twinge of incestuous desire, and lean left on just about every issue there is out there.

    Your response to Ellie and chess playing is your response–I would suspect there are many other reasons/influences on you as a person (since I don’t buy the “one thing makes us X” theory of identity development).

    But I would say that it would be equally possible for someone else to read, say, _Podkayne of Mars_, and think that because Poddy realizes she doesn’t really want a REAL job but wants to take care of babies (the fact that taking care of children is so devalued in U.S. culture is one of the major talking points of many feminists, btw!), and that Uncle Tom who is definitely one of the Admirable Old Men of Heinlein’s world who blames Poddy’s mother for the way the two children turned out, that really girls who think they want careers and not to have children (ME ME ME ME ME) are just deluded and wrong, and they should know what a bad decison they’re making.

    Heck, I read Tolkien devotedly for years and came out the other end, so to speak, an animistic pagan, queer, radical feminist etc. AND I consider Tolkien’s work a major influence on me as a person. So when I read the strong religious academic criticism (Patrick Curry, Ralph Wood, etc.) about the CHRISTIANITY in Tolkien, I am rather bemused (not that I don’t see the spiritual aspects of the works, but because I don’t see them as CATHOLIC despite Tolkien’s statement that his personal brand of Christianity is foundational to them). (I don’t say they’re wrong either–although I sometimes wonder what people who see the religion as most important in Tolkien’s work might think about me–especially my queer reading of Eowyn).

    Even more complicated is the fact that a number of white supremacists on Aryan Nation sites as well as the British National Party websites post of their extreme love for Tolkien’s work as well (I won’t link because you can fairly easily Google).

    I think there are multiple reasons for those fans of Tolkien (connected to the historical fact that Hitler and his party drew on the same body of Germanic mythology for their nation-building that Tolkien was drawing on–and he definitely thought they were reading it wrong).

    I have taught Tolkien a number of times, and devoted fans of his works span the political-religious spectrum from devout Christian to pagan to atheist, and they can all point to aspects of his work that they think influenced them as people.

    Readers create their own readings.

  12. @J.J. All I can say is that I was raised in whitey-white-bread America, in a household with one parent who was extremely racist and sexist. I was exposed to this from birth — and yet somehow I didn’t imprint those negative things, either. I remember from a very early age feeling very distinctly that those things were wrong and unfair.

    Ditto–and while I wouldn’t say my parents were extremely racist or sexist, I’d say that the whole cultural context northern Idaho was racist AND sexist AND homophobic. I got out as soon as I could.

    I don’t know why I resisted those attitudes from such a fairly early age, but I know science fiction was a huge part of it despite all the problematic aspects, simply because “girls weren’t supposed to read science fiction” (“fantasy” at that time was sort of folded in).

    When things influence us, it is not always in the sense that we adopt those things unquestioningly.

    Exactly! It can also mean we resist/oppose them! And those may be even more powerful influences.

    Heinlein’s narrators’ “I built this all by myself” attitude which is common with conservatives and libertarians today and which appeared in some of his works) which made me uncomfortable long before I was able to articulate why.

    I had some major self-doubts when reading some of Lazarus Long’s pronouncements about education and people–some quote about being able to solve a quadratic equation and skin a mule (and a bunch of other stuff) or not being able to really consider yourself educated/capable (I’m sure I’m misremembering).

    Damn, I thought. I suck at math (I blame the new math theories and the different approach our schools took every year because of being in a college town in some part) and skinning a mule? WHY?

    That was self-doubt. Later I started doubting the male characters making those pronouncements.

  13. one response above made it clear that I was not clear:

    I was not suggesting that anyone who is criticizing Heinlein was “reading him wrong”.

    I’ve got an English lit degree. I know that critique can be rewarding, valuable and that it can provide insight that broadens and deepens a work (not to mention making other contributions). I also know that you can pretty much make a case for just about anything in any book. Researching the research on Hamlet led me to title my own thesis “Purposes Mistook”.

    I don’t mind straight academic research on the subject, but I draw the line at making assumptions about the work that rest on a contemporary basis. It is entirely possible for his writings to have been “progressive” in the 50s, 60s, 70s and to be “regressive” now.

    But all too often, much of what I read forgets the passage of time and the cultural changes and focuses on what are viewed as negative aspects of his writing.

    Farnham’s Freehold seems to be one particular target. The small amount of research I’ve done strongly suggests that every horrible thing he depicted the future rulers of Earth doing to their white slaves was engaged in – or at least discussed and written about – by white slave holders. I think the novel was intended as a mirror for white society, though a failed effort. But rather than bothering to note that everything in that book regarding slavery was based on factual reality, we get – Heinlein was a racist. Not, Heinlein wrote a crappy book while trying to make a certain point.

    And, though I’ve said it before I think it bears repeating: he was also writing from the school of science fiction that treated its stories as thought experiments (one of Campbell’s dictums). Making any assumption about the beliefs and politics of the author almost always ignores this.

  14. @Wildcat

    Excellent points. Sometimes I think the “kids aren’t reading the classics!” crowd really means “kids aren’t reading the classics the way I did, with unabashed wonder and unqualified awe!”

    @ robinareid

    The discussion of FRIDAY is interesting to me — I never read it, because I had soured on Heinlein after not liking STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and not even finishing I WILL FEAR NO EVIL. The sex-ay woman on the cover made me think “oh, it’s one of THOSE Heinleins.” But my now-husband hated it for, its problematic sexual relations.

    @Peace: I know at least one asexual young person who is uncomfortable with descriptions of the perfect woman as naturally sexually aggressive.

    It’s the difference between “some women are sexually aggressive and that’s okay” and “the ideal woman is sexually aggressive — women are naturally sexually aggressive — if there’s not sexually aggressive it’s because something is wrong with you — you’re repressed by society — perhaps you need your gonads checked out.”

    Even more complicated is the fact that a number of white supremacists on Aryan Nation sites as well as the British National Party websites post of their extreme love for Tolkien’s work as well.

    Of course, Tolkien himself is on record as telling the original Nazis to bugger off in no uncertain terms:

    http://io9.gizmodo.com/5892697/whats-classier-than-jrr-tolkien-telling-off-nazis-absolutely-nothing

    On IQ tests and Mensa — I think IQ tests are best seen as a blunt instrument that can help measure if a kid’s cognitive development renders them dramatically unsuited to their age-related grade level. But we often treat it more like a sorting hat — you know, this IQ score puts you in the smart kids’ house or the dumb kids’ house, and there you go, lugging that “smart kid” or “dumb kid” label along the rest of your life, where BOTH labels can really mess you up.

    Mensa is for people who want to spend time in the smart kid house — which is fine, but I think the smart kid house of SF fandom is a better place to hang out, in part because it fosters an environment where you can talk to genius costumers about underwear of the 14th century AND talk to genius rocket scientists about the possibility of getting people on Mars, AND talk to people who might not technically pass the smart kid entrance exam who are nevertheless thoughtful, interesting, well-informed, etc.

    Mensa is also for people who feel validated at getting sorted into the smart kid house, which is a little pathetic, but harmless.

    Worst of all, Mensa is for people who want to tell everyone they got sorted into the smart kid house, and use that factoid as if it’s proof of something very great and unusual about themselves and you should necessarily respect them for it.

    I think it’s pretty obvious where Mensa-Pups tend to fall.

  15. Looking at Heinlein, I can see that I never liked any of his novels after 1970. And that I liked almost all of them before. I got bored of reading all his ideas about sex and I hated his try to tie together all of his novels into one universe as much as when Asimov tried the same. Authors, please do not do this.

    But that was then.

    Last year I tried reading a few of his novels again. They haven’t aged well. Technology is obsolete, ridiculous or have been tried and did not work. Attitudes towards women is irritating. I was reading Tunnel in the Sky and quickly got tired of the main protagonist consistent surprise that women were capable of anything. Maybe that was progressive then. It isn’t now.

    I feel that it doesn’t really work for me to think of these as novels from another era. It still irritates me when reading them again. But his short stories work well for me. I haven’t tried his adult novels again for 20 years or so, apart from Glory Road which I read for the first time 5-10 years ago and found incredibly stupid and outdated.

  16. @Hampus:

    I feel that it doesn’t really work for me to think of these as novels from another era.

    I refuse to accept it was another era given that I was alive during then (*SNARKS*).

    But even the “they are product of another time” implies a homogeneous past that just isn’t accurate — there were feminist movements, protests, etc. from the 19th century on in the US and UK. There were PROTO-feminist writings from the 14th century on (Christine de Pisan, City of the Ladies!). There were protests against racism in the US from the 19th century on. There were writings protesting slavery from Africans and African Americans from at least the 18th century on, and keeping in mind how much has been lost, I would not be surprised if there were earlier works. And anti-war protests, DUH!

    And I agree with Franklin whose work I quoted that Heinlein’s work was *engaging* with those cultural movements during his entire career, so trying to weasel out by saying we shouldn’t “judge” his work by “present” standards (an argument applied to all sorts of texts, not just Heinlein’s of course) is, well, weaseling.

    Arguably one reason Heinlein’s work is still being read and debated is because of its complexity and the extent to which he touched nerves (along the political spectra!).

  17. McJulie: Tolkien on the Nazis: he did (and on a number of occasions). And brilliantly so (his letters are a joy to read, including all the contradictions that surface over time).

    But it’s also true that his academic discipline had its roots in the romantic nationalist movement (and in German scholarship relating to it) that *also* inspired the Nazi rhetoric of the Aryan folk. Myth is malleable to an amazing degree.

    The best single work and the only book on Tolkien and race is Dimitra Fimi’s Tolkien, Race, and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits, especially Chapter 9 in which she traces the nineteenth century scientific racism (i.e. the idea that there are different human races is a racist ideology), the resistances at the time including Tolkien’s own changes in language and his work over the time, and just overall presents a brilliant discussion of the complexities relating to Tolkien’s work in this respect.

    But that is sort of the point: an author cannot control what their readers (SINGULAR THEY IS WORD OF THE YEAR YAYAYAY) read/think about their works.

    Tolkien’s statements about “American feminists” (he was against it–that and American hygiene!), his ongoing commentary about Eowyn in HoME (at one point he was going to kill her off, and all his commentary about women’s nature, etc. etc.) never stopped a whole lot of women reading the book worshipping the heck out of the character. And it shouldn’t!

  18. robinareid: A tangential thought inspired by your comment about our non-homogenous past — I was quite taken with David Halberstam’s observation about the Vietnam War about how difficult it was to export to another country a system of government that barely works here….

    There have always been a lot of competing views keeping the pot on the boil.

  19. McJulie: Back to Heinlein.

    I rather enjoyed _Stranger_ but _I Will Fear no Evil_ — though I finished it — ARGH MAJOR SQUICK ICK ICK ICK ICK NO! That was another one pushing me away.

    And tests: the class and racial bias in the SAT and other “college” tests has been known for quite a while.

  20. robinareid:

    “I refuse to accept it was another era given that I was alive during then (*SNARKS*).”

    But I was not! ^^

    (born in 1970 and I only like the books he wrote before that)

  21. There were PROTO-feminist writings from the 14th century on (Christine de Pisan, City of the Ladies!).

    Don’t forget Plato, who had Socrates learn from a woman and had women equal to men in the Republic!

    Unfortunately, apparently for about two thousand years only Averroes took the role of women in the Republic seriously.*

    (I’m sure there are plenty of early female, even feminist philosophers,** but it’s something I need to learn about but haven’t; point being, the past is really intellectually diverse, I like Plato, and I’m reading Jo Walton)

    *according to a professor of mine.

    **there’s an interesting three volume History of Women Philosophers I would like to read sometime. Apparently it’s a bit overambitious in who it includes (e.g. Diotima who may be fictional), but I consider that a virtue, at least at this stage when female philosophers are still underrepresented. It’s also over a hundred bucks a book so probably not something I’m buying anytime soon.

  22. @Mike: I was quite taken with David Halberstam’s observation about the Vietnam War about how difficult it was to export to another country a system of government that barely works here…

    I don’t think I’d ever *heard* of David Halberstam, at least not enough to recognize his name, so I googled–and wow–what an amazing career. And yes, it was ridiculous to think the US could export “democracy” (though a bunch of people still seem to think we can despite all the historical evidence otherwise).

  23. Hampus: I figured you were not (otherwise you would not have called it an era)!

    I feel the same way about “classic rock” and the fact that stuff I remember owning is now on sale in *antique* stores….*broods bitterly.*

  24. @Shao Ping: Don’t forget Plato, who had Socrates learn from a woman and had women equal to men in the Republic!

    Well, women of the philosopher/king/ruling class. There were those slaves that were also necessary to the Republic who no doubt included women who were not “counted” as women (Jo Walton’s book does amazing commentary on TR–though I was very disappointed with the second one in the series).

    Unfortunately philosophy as an academic discipline is the most sexist and racist of the humanities (worse than some of the sciences)! A lot of women philosophers up to today are being excluded from “philosophy” (one of the strategies being used is to claim “theory” is not “philosophy” — only in academia). If you’re interested, I can highly recommend the Feminist Philosophers blog where they do a lot of excellent work (https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/) (because, yes, a lot of philosophy books are expensive as heck).

    One of my favorite feminist philosophers is Elizabeth Spelman (my favorite book by her is fairly inexpensive in an e-book version: link

  25. Unfortunately philosophy as an academic discipline is the most sexist and racist of the humanities (worse than some of the sciences)!

    Sad agreement. If a philosopher is in the news these days, it’s pretty much always for sexual harassment. :/

  26. robinareid: My contribution to “doesn’t time fly” –

    Back in the 1990s, the British Association for the Advancement of Science established a history of science section. At the annual meeting a year or two later, I found myself at a session on the British space programme, hearing about things I remembered well from my younger days – Blue Streak and Black Arow, ESRO and ELDO. Having your teenage years regarded as history comes as a shock to the system when you’re still in your thirties.

  27. robinareid on January 9, 2016 at 11:59 am said:
    And tests: the class and racial bias in the SAT and other “college” tests has been known for quite a while.

    Roy Freedle’s critique is clever and fascinating and that Atlantic article is a very good summary but I feel it does overstate things a bit in so far as what Freedle demonstrated. If Freedle is correct the bias is relatively subtle and if the College Board is right in their responses to Freedle’s analysis the bias would effectively be in the other direction (i.e. a flaw in the test gives a small boost to some student’s score because of the impact of guessing).

    The Fall 2010 Harvard Education Review had a round-up of the subsequent back-and-forth. http://hepg.org/her-home/issues/harvard-educational-review-volume-80-number-3/herarticle/continuing-the-debate_780

    What worries me more is that the focus on whether the test is bias draw attention to the underlying educational biases inherent in the education system overall and the substantial impact of social inequality on educational performance.

  28. @ Camestros
    re: IQ tests
    and rather like using a person’s weight to measure their height will naturally suffer a lot of issues given the extent that people are all sorts of different shapes mentally as well as physically.

    Thank you, that’s a good analogy. The relationship can range from a tight to a very sloppy fit to what is being measured/estimated. Moreover, we’re not really sure what intelligence really is, so the IQ test proxy is even less able to accurately estimate that characteristic.

    I do know that my score has been pretty consistent throughout my life – varying only 1 or 2 points. I even once took a formally administered test with a raging hangover (on a bet) and came out with the same score!! (I was young and stupid 😀 )

  29. The description of the split between horror and urban fantasy sounds very like the reaction between “fantasy” and “magical realism.”

    In “fantasy,” if you run into your father’s ghost you get really upset and become somewhat unwrapped. Scream, run away, etc, etc, etc.

    in “magic realism,” you run into your father’s ghost and immediately use that as an opportunity to complain and bring him to task about the way that he left the business in a lurch, and the family finances took forever to clear up in probate court, and why the h*ll did you make *me* the executor of the estate without telling anybody but your lawyer, who, BTW we had to sack because he was stealing from the accounts, and why haven’t you bothered to visit in the last 15 years anyway?

    For me, really, urban fantasy has been like some of the great stuff written by those Minneapolis writers (what’s in the water out there?), and is a lot more readable than the RP/SP brand (‘though I will admit to a fondness/guilty pleasure in re the Dresden books)

  30. Pingback: Hugo Choices 7: Best Editor – Long Form aka Hell’s Own Category | Camestros Felapton

Comments are closed.