Pixel Scroll 6/9/19 It’s the Great Pixel, Churlie Brown!

(1) WHITE SPACE. The public radio investigative news show Reveal included Vox Day and his foray into alt-right comics in its program “Hate in the homeland”. (He’s the topic of the second of the program’s three segments.)

The mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue and the burning of churches in Louisiana are reminders that hate crimes are on the rise in the U.S. This episode surveys the state of the white supremacist movement in America, focusing on how hate groups are spreading their message.

The first segment is a discussion with Megan Squire, a professor of computer science at Elon University who’s been studying how hate groups are using the internet to win converts. She says that despite attempts to silence extreme sites, they are finding ways to stay online.

Al Letson then explores how comic books are being weaponized by the far right to spread the message of white supremacy.

We end with a conversation with Pastor Mike McBride, founder of The Way Church in Berkeley, California. He talks about how communities of color are standing up to attacks from white supremacists.

(2) SENSITIVITY. Vicky Who Reads takes on a big YA issue with “So. Your Favorite Books Are Problematic. Now What?”

…I’ve been thinking about this since January, especially with a lot of realizations on my part about some of the books I loved when I was younger.

Books like . . .

  • Eleanor & Park, which is extremely racist to Koreans & biracial Koreans
  • Cinder, which has questionable Asian representation and worldbuilding
  • The Grishaverse, which has bad Shu (aka East Asian) rep and magic yellowface

And so many others. These are the most stark to me, because all of them include negative portrayals of identities very close to my own (I’m East & Southeast Asian), yet these were also some of my favorite books when I was 14.

And there are so many other formative YA novels that are extremely popular, and also portray some minority group(s) badly.

(Okay, we definitely still are being hurt sometimes, but we’re letting less people hurt us.)

But these are our favorites. They hold a special place in our hearts. They’re almost untouchable.

Key word: almost.

Are you saying we should cancel them?

No, actually. I’m not.

I know you wanted to scream “cAnCeL cUlTuRe!!!1!!11!” at me, but not today, Satan.

I don’t think mass-cancelling them will do anything. I don’t think issuing a community-wide “Six of Crows is officially cancelled for bad Asian rep!!!” statement will do anything productive, nor will it help us do better in the future.

(And some people see themselves in that rep. I don’t, but some people do, and I respect this.)

I do think, that some people might want to individually-cancel books, in different extents….

(3) CANCELLATION FOLLOWED BY LITIGATION. In the Washington Post,  Deanna Paul and Lindsey Beyer report that Jordanian American writer Natasha Tynes is suing her former publisher, Rare Bird Books, for $13 million after they cancelled her forthcoming novel They Called Me Wyatt, “about a murdered Jordanian student whose ‘consciousness’ inhabits a 3-year-old boy with speech delays.”  At issue is a tweet Tynes wrote (and withdrew) showing an African-American woman working for the Metro subway eating her breakfast on a train, (which is against the rules) and whether, as her publisher claims, this deleted tweet was about “the policing of a black woman’s body.” “An author lost her book deal after tweeting about a Metro worker. She’s suing for $13 million”.

Natasha Tynes, an award-winning Jordanian American author who lost a book deal following claims of online racism, is suing her publishing house for $13 million. The lawsuit, filed in California on Friday, alleges that Rare Bird Books breached its contract and defamed her, causing “extreme emotional distress” and destroying her reputation.

… On the morning of May 10, the World Bank communications officer and mother of three tweeted a photo of a black female Metro worker who was breaking the D.C. region transportation agency’s rules by eating breakfast on a train….

…Hours later, Rare Bird released a statement, calling Tynes’s tweet — which it described as the policing of a black woman‘s body — “something truly horrible.”

As The Washington Post previously reported, in response to the tweet, Rare Bird announced it had decided not to distribute her book. “We think this is unacceptable and have no desire to be involved with anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to jeopardize a person’s safety and employment in this way,” the company announced on Twitter.

By the following day, the publisher had announced plans to halt shipments of the book and postpone the publication date while taking the “appropriate next steps to officially cancel the book’s publication.” Preorders for the novel were also canceled, even though sales had skyrocketed, court documents say.

… Court papers also said she temporarily returned to Jordan on May 21, fearing her family “would be the subject of violence, reprisals and harassment at the hands of a mob incited by Rare Bird if she remained in the United States.”

“What Rare Bird has done to Natasha Tynes is just beyond abhorrent,” said attorney William Moran, who is representing Tynes. “I’ve never seen a publisher throw an author under the bus like this before.”

(4) RIPLEY: BELIEVE IT. Sigourney Weaver chats with Parade about the 40th anniversary of Alien and her future roles: “Sigourney Weaver Reminisces on Her Career, Alien, Avatar and the New Ghostbusters

…She’ll soon head back to New Zealand, where she’s been at work filming the live and CGI portions of the long-awaited, effects-driven Avatar sequels. (Because her Avatar character died at the end of the 2009 original, she’ll be playing someone new in the next four installments, the first of which is scheduled for the big screen in 2021.) She’s also set to reunite with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in the new Ghostbusters, due July 2020. “It’s going to be crazy working with the guys again!” she says. She won’t reveal any details except to confirm she’s reprising her role as hauntee Dana Barrett.

(5) CLEARANCE. Heather Rose Jones sorts her garage in anticipation of a “Yes, I’m ready to admit I’m not doing SCA any more” giveaway open house in “The Great SCA Gear Divestment Project”.

…The hardest part of this process isn’t the “stuff” itself, but the investment I put into making and adapting things for my “ideal medieval environment”. Some of those things I only enjoyed a few times. Some were still in the process of being perfected. But here’s the thing: I’m *not* using them. And I have no rational expectation of using them in the future. And I’d rather that someone else used them to help build *their* “ideal medieval environment” rather than having the stuff continue to collect dust in my garage.

There’s been a recurring theme in my life of needing to distinguish between living the life I will truly enjoy, and trying to live a fantasy life that I only *want* to want. Let me unpack that. The example I usually use to illustrate this struggle is My Fantasy Canopy Bed.

(6) HEERMAN SHARES EXPERIENCES. The Odyssey Workshop’s “Interview: Graduate Travis Heermann (Part 1 of 2)” includes advice about Kickstarter campaigns.

Your latest novel, The Hammer Falls, was funded on Kickstarter in only twelve hours. Congratulations on both a successful Kickstarter and on the release of a new novel! You wrote a post in 2016 for the Odyssey blog on running a Kickstarter. Would you share some tips for getting the word out about Kickstarters? How did you encourage people to participate?

The key is stoking up your friends, family, and fans. 90% of this campaign’s backers were friends, family, fans, and repeat business people who had supported my Kickstarters in the past. And then you have to ask. For many of us, that’s the hardest part.

For this campaign, I used several strategies to get the word out:

1. Facebook ads. Resulted in no traffic AT ALL. It’s like going back to an abusive, gold-digging ex, and you think it’ll be different this time…

2. Posting on Facebook. Way, way, way less useful than it used to be. Their algorithms make sure your link doesn’t get seen by anybody. Posting a textual message to your wall and then posting the link in the comments helps with this somewhat,but the results were not nearly as good as the campaign I ran in 2015.

3. Posting on Twitter. Similar problem to Facebook with its incomprehensible black box algorithm. Practically no engagement.

4. Posting updates in previous Kickstarter campaigns, so that all my previous backers could see that I had a new project coming. Theoretically, these are my staunchest supporters, most likely to come back for another go.

5. Appealing to my email list. This is where nearly half of the contributions came from. These are people I send communications to regularly. I got about a 30% click-through from the email list to the campaign. Not everybody who clicked contributed, but that’s a good click-through ratio….

(7) NOT A HIPPPOPOTAMUS. NPR’s Liza Graham reports that Sarah Gailey’s “‘Magic For Liars’ Asks, What If You’re Actually Not Magic?”

You are not the chosen one. You don’t get to leave your humdrum life behind and go to the mysterious school where they teach magic. You will not discover powers you never dreamed you had. The reason you don’t fit in socially is not because you’re a once-in-a-generation sorcerer. Your blemishes and aches and colds and unfulfilled longings will not miraculously fade away as you become the marvelous creature you were always meant to be. You are not magic.

But your twin sister is.

Ivy Gamble, PI, protagonist of Sarah Gailey’s Magic For Liars, has lived with disappointment for years. She wasn’t the chosen one — single and solitary in her 40s, she couldn’t be less chosen if she tried. But she’s smart and damn good at her job, and she keeps going. Until one day, she’s called into the magicians’ school — Osthorne Academy, where her brilliant sister is now a faculty member — to investigate a case no magician can crack….


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 9, 1925 Keith Laumer. I remember his Bolo series fondly and read quite a bit of it. Can’t say which novels at this point, though Bolo definitely and Last Command almost certainly. The Imperium and Retief series were also very enjoyable though the latter is the one I’d re-read at this point. Amazon and iBooks have decent though not complete ebooks listings for him, heavy on Imperium and Retief, no Bolo. (Died 1993)
  • Born June 9, 1930 Lin Carter. He is best known for his work in the 1970s as editor of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. As a writer, His first professional publication was the short story “Masters of the Metropolis”, co-written with Randall Garrett, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1957. He would be a prolific writer, average as many as six novels a year. In addition, he was influential as a critic of the fantasy genre and an early historian of the genre. (Died 1988.)
  • Born June 9, 1934 Donald Duck, 85. He made his first appearance in “The Wise Little Hen” on June 9, 1934. In this cartoon, Donald and his friend, Peter Pig, lie their way out of helping the titular little hen tend to her corn. 
  • Born June 9, 1943 Joe Haldeman, 76. Whether or not, it was written as a response to Starship Troopers as some critics thought at time, The Forever War is a damn great novel. No surprise that it won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards. 
  • Born June 9, 1949 Drew Sanders, 70. He’s an LA resident who’s active in con-running and costuming. He has worked on many Worldcons and is a member of LASFS and SCIFI, and has been a officer of both groups. He co-chaired Costume-Con 4 in 1986.
  • Born June 9, 1954 Gregory Maguire, 65. He is the author of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West based of course on the Oz Mythos; Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister retelling the tale of Cinderella; and Mirror, Mirror, a revisionist retelling of the Snow White tale. Well you get the idea. He’s damn good at this schtick.
  • Born June 9, 1961 Michael J. Fox, 58. The Back to The Future trilogy stands as one of the best SF series ever done and his acting was brilliant. Since 1999 due to his Parkinson’s Disease, he’s has mainly worked as a voice-over actor in films such as Stuart Little and Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Prior to his diagnosis, he performed on Tales from the Crypt and directed “The Trap” episode. He would return to live action performing in 2014, bless him, with The Michael J. Fox Show series. 
  • Born June 9, 1967 Dave McCarty, 52. He’s a Chicago-area con-running fan who chaired Chicon 7. He also headed the Chicago Worldcon Bid who lost out in 2008 and was victorious in 2012. He is married to fellow fan Elizabeth McCarty. He was the Hugo Administrator for Loncon (2014), MidAmeriCon II (2016), and for Worldcon 76 (2018).
  • Born June 9, 1981 Natalie Portman, 38. Padmé Amidala in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. She also played Evey Hammond in V for Vendetta. (Very weird film.) And, of course, Jane Foster in Thor and Thor: The Dark World.


  • Brevity explains why a leprechaun might object to Judy Garland singing her old standard.

(10) DUBLIN 2019. Now live — Dublin 2019 Irish WorldCon Member’s Page.

Hello and welcome members of Dublin 2019, An Irish WorldCon! This page has been created as a place where WorldCon members can chat, share information, sell memberships or swap accomdation with each other. This is not an official page and as such is not regulated by WorldCon staff. Please treat each other with respect and dignity. Can’t wait to see ye in Dublin this August!

(11) MINTY FRESH. A whole flock of coins celebrating the first manned Moon landing are on sale from the U.S. Mint. Here’s one in gold struck at West Point.

(12) GOING MONTHLY. At Galactic Journey, Gideon Marcus cheers Fred Pohl’s latest (1964) plans for IF: [June 8, 1964] Be Prepared! (July 1964 IF).

IF Worlds of Science Fiction, Galaxy’s scrappy younger sister, has also launched a big operation, the result of a long-ranged plan.  For years, the magazine has been a bi-monthly, alternating publication with Galaxy.  Now, editor Fred Pohl says it’s going monthly.  To that end, he lined up a slew of big-name authors to contribute enough material to sustain the increased publication rate.  Moreover, Pohl intends IF to be the adventurous throwback mag, in contrast to the more cerebral digests under his direction (Galaxy and Worlds of Tomorrow.  Or in his words:

“Adventure.  Excitement.  Drama.  Color.  Not hack pulp-writing or gory comic-strip blood and thunder, but the sort of story that attracted most of us to science fiction in the first place.”

Frankly, it was Galaxy that got me into SF in 1950, so I’m not sure I want a return to the “Golden Age”.  But I’m willing to see how this works out, and in fact, this month’s issue is encouragingly decent, as you shall soon see.

(13) DIFFERENCES IN THE ORIGINAL. Luke, I am your second cousin twice removed on your mother’s side: “The Original ‘Empire Strikes Back’ Script Shows Darth Vader Wasn’t Supposed to Be Luke’s Father” at Yahoo! Entertainment.

George Lucas once described his own father as a “domineering, ultra right-wing businessman”-a man who is largely believed to have inspired the relationship between Luke and Anakin Skywalker. In 1980, The Empire Strikes Back revealed that Darth Vader was actually Luke’s father, a twist that has become one of the most famous father-son stories of the century. That reveal marked a pivotal moment in the Star Wars franchise-one that turned this into a decades-long narrative about fathers and sons that has resonated in virtually every major plot point of the eight films in the Skywalker Saga.

But that major twist almost didn’t even happen. A transcript of what is allegedly the original script for The Empire Strikes Back has appeared online and includes a number of key differences.

(14) UNWANTED SJWCS. You know that plastic polluting the sea you always hear about? “Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years”.

A French coastal community has finally cracked the mystery behind the Garfield telephones that have plagued its picturesque beaches for decades.

Since the 1980s, the Iroise coast in Brittany has received a supply of bright orange landline novelty phones shaped like the famous cartoon cat.

Anti-litter campaigners have been collecting fragments of the feline for years as they clean the beaches.

…The beach-cleaning teams had long suspected that a lost shipping container – perhaps blown overboard – had regurgitated its precious orange cargo. But they had never been able to find it.

(15) THREE MILE (SAND) ISLAND. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the Martian wind: “Exploring The Mysterious Origins Of Mars’ 3-Mile-High Sand Pile” at NPR.

… “We don’t have a gravimeter on the surface of Mars, but we do have accelerometers,” he says, “and gravity is just an acceleration.”

You may not think of gravity that way, but you can, and scientists do.

So with the help of engineers Stephen Peters and Kurt Gonter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he was able to adjust the way the data from the RIMU were handled; that gave Lewis his gravimeter.

He knew just what he wanted to do with it: Try to figure out how a 15,000-foot-tall mountain could form in the middle of Gale crater, the crater Curiosity landed in.

(16) RAKSURA. Nina Shepardson reviews The Siren Depths by Martha Wells for Outside of a Dog.

In the third installment of Martha Wells’s Books of the Raksura series, Moon finds himself with exactly the opposite problem from what he’s used to. As he finally starts to settle into his home at Indigo Cloud, he discovers that another group of Raksura has taken an interest in him—and because of Raksura society’s complex rules, they may be able to force him to take up residence with them instead. Combined with gradually emerging hints about the reasons behind the Fell’s repeated attacks on Raksura settlements, this makes for a tense and dramatic story.

(17) CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. Paul Weimer tells what he likes about a new novel in “Microreview [book]: Velocity Weapon, by Megan E. O’Keefe” at Nerds of a Feather.

In Velocity Weapon, Megan O’Keefe takes her talents honed in steampunk fantasy and expands her oeuvre to an intriguing interplanetary space opera.

…The novel has lots of interesting ideas right down to character beats. Sanda’s war-manifested disability, the loss of a leg, is an abiding and recurring problem for her throughout the book. The author doesn’t trivialize the loss of the limb with magic future tech, especially given the impoverished, solitary future she now lives in, and we can see and understand the frustration that a soldier feels when so horrendously injured. On a similar beat, back in the past, Biran’s unexpected change in role and status when he is fruitlessly simply trying to find his sister means that he has to level up into a leadership role quickly.The author does a great job showing how he has to rise to this challenge and deal with the issues emerging from his rise. The two siblings, even though separated in time and space, make a strong core of a resonant pair of main characters to support action, plot and theme….

(18) UNDONE. Watch the first official teaser for Undone, a genre-bending animated series starring Rosa Salazar and Bob Odenkirk destined for Amazon Prime.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Dann, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

66 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/9/19 It’s the Great Pixel, Churlie Brown!

  1. (8) I just read Keith Laumer’s Dinosaur Beach last week on the recommendation of a friend of mine. Convoluted time travel fun.

  2. (3) No, what Rare Bird did was drop Natasha Tynes for not only being gratuitously nasty to a hardworking woman who had done nothing to her, publicly mocking her on the internet, but intentionally trying to get the woman in trouble with her employer. For eating lunch. On what is all too likely to be a short break with little practical opportunity to go elsewhere to eat and still be back on duty in time.

    Bonus extra: The transit worker was black, and Tynes said, “I never even thought about race.” Bullshit. If she really didn’t, it just shows she’s at best embarrassingly oblivious.

  3. (8) Well, let’s be fair here. Maybe Donald Duck really did have a stomach ache.

    (13) My theory on the “I am your father” bit was always that Vader was just lying his plastic ass off. How hard would that have been? But no.


    It’s a pity that Tynes is unwilling to accept personal responsibility for her bad behavior and is blaming her publisher instead. One would have hoped she might have learned a lesson, but obviously not. 😐

  5. (8) “He would return to live action performing in 2014, bless him, with The Michael J. Fox Show series.” Actually that series began in fall 2013 and ended in 2014, but even before then he’d frequently appeared as the wily Louis Canning in The Good Wife starting in 2010.

    (3) Would Tynes have photographed the Metro employee no matter what the employee’s color was? (And would there have been such a reaction no matter what her color was?) All I know is that avoiding Twitter is something I’ll continue to do.


  6. 2) What precisely is the issue with Eleanor and Park? Cause I remember that the novel was very positively received when it came out a couple of years ago.

    3) Seconding what JJ and Lis Carey said, Natasha Tynes was just a jerk for harrassing that transport worker. And why is at any business of hers where that worker eats her lunch?

    14) It was obvious that the culprit is a lost shipping container, especially since cargo from lost shipping containers washing up on beaches along the North Sea is a very common occurence. In January, the MSC Zoe lost more than 200 containers, flooding Dutch and German beaches with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, including lightbulbs, Ikea chairs, car parts, shoes and hundreds of My Little Pony toys.

    Furthermore, lost shipping containers can discharge cargo for a long time. In 1992, a container fell of a freighter in the Pacific. The cargo, 28000 rubber duckies and other bath toys, have been washing up on beaches all around the world for 25 years now.

    And then there are the Tjipetir guttapercha blocks, which were carried on board a Japanese freighter that was sunk by a German submarine during WWI. The blocks are still washing up on beaches all along the North Sea more than a 100 years later.

  7. Plus, the contract she lost was only for brick and mortar distribution. The publisher who has the e-rights has carried on and intends to release it at Amazon, et al. In fact, it’s there now.

  8. Laumer is definitely a mixed bag, but his fun stuff is pretty fun. I recently picked up a Baen omnibus of his three short Lafayette O’Leary novels, which were big favorites of mine when I was young. They suffered a bit from age, but not as much as I might have feared.

  9. I was a big fan of Retief, but even that turned out to be a mixed bag in the later stories, when they turned into a mish-mash of lesser diplomats arguing over standardized facial expressions ad infinitum.

    (But it still couldn’t wipe out the genius of the earlier stories, or the notion of unbearable alien torture consisting of bad music and clashing colors.)

  10. I am pleased to read about Leigh Brackett’s Empire Strikes Back draft, as I’ve always maintained that the family stuff felt bolted on in the middle of making the movie.

  11. Xtifr: There were actually four Lafayette O’Leary books. I just looked up the omnibus you mention and for some reason it omits The Galaxy Builder. Odd, that.

    (I remember reading them, quite a while ago; I liked the first one but thought the rest weren’t very good.)

  12. 8) I have happy memories of checking Retief novels out of the public library when I was young. Never read any of the Bolo stuff. (Nor, as it happens, have I read any of Saberhagen’s Berserker stories — well, maybe an odd one in an anthology or something.)

    Lin Carter was deeply flawed in a lot of ways, but without his tireless editorial work, I never would have found several of my favorite authors. I have a particular soft spot for two post-Ballantine Adult Fantasy anthologies he put together: Kingdoms of Sorcery and Realms of Wizardry, which, amongst other things, gave me my first introduction to H. Rider Haggard and to A. Merritt.

    Also: Hooray! Title credit!

  13. @3: I’d like to hear facts (e.g., original tweet(s) ) about the original action; I know the DC Metro has always been strict about food on the trains. (Does anyone else remember who Fawn Hall was? I remember her getting fined for eating on the Metro, but not whether she was actually eating a banana or whether that part was just a MITSFS in-joke.) I’d really like to see the publisher’s explanation about how showing somebody breaking rules is “policing [their] body”, but WaPo has decided I’m already over their limit.

    @8: I remember loving Retief when I was in high school — the contempt for bureaucracy resonated — but I haven’t reread for a long time and don’t know whether the suck fairy has gotten at the stories.

    @8 also: Maguire is very marmite; I thought he was too heavy on the “everything is awful” in Wicked, and Lost (explanation of Scrooge) was just pointless, but Hiddensee (full bio of the man we call Dr. Drosselmeyer) was fascinating even if I couldn’t judge the history he set it in.

    @Joe H: I don’t remember any of the anthologies, but I still think getting The Blue Star back into print was a good thing; it was a lot more thoughtful about power than works of that time tended to be.

  14. Cora Buhlert: What precisely is the issue with Eleanor and Park? Cause I remember that the novel was very positively received when it came out a couple of years ago.

    It was, and it’s apparently in development as a movie. However, I found these:

    “Rowell did very little, if any, research on what it is like to be an East Asian American… Eleanor & Park perpetuates stereotypes and contributes to the fetishization of East Asians, as well as depicts a toxic power dynamic between an interracial couple as an example of romance.”
    The Problem with Eleanor & Park

    “Park’s interracial family faces minimal racial prejudice in the midwestern United States, an area known for lacking in diversity, during the 1970s and 1980s. Park’s Korean mother and Caucasian father married and lived happily with their biracial children, facing little racism in Omaha, Nebraska starting in 1970, less than 30 years after United States citizens of Japanese descent were forced into internment camps during World War II, less than twenty years after the Korean War took 36,516 American lives, only seven years after interracial marriage was legalized in the state of Nebraska, only three years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all other anti-miscegenation laws throughout the country via their Loving v. Virginia decision, only two years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the height of the Civil Rights Movement, and smack-dab in the middle of the controversial Vietnam war, which made villains out of members of the military who served in it upon their stateside returns and caused a swell of anti-Asian sentiment throughout the country… I call bullshit.”
    I Have Thought About Eleanor and Park Everyday Since I Read it Two Months Ago

  15. On what is all too likely to be a short break with little practical opportunity to go elsewhere to eat and still be back on duty in time.

    When I’ve ridden the DC Metro they were notorious for being hard-assed about people not eating on the trains. So I’ve wondered if Natasha Tynes was reacting to that, not the race of the Metro employee breaking the rule. Is that a guess? Absolutely. It’s also a guess that she made her Twitter complaint because of the employee’s race. Sometimes I tire of the certainty that accompanies every controversy of this kind.

    Filing a lawsuit is an interesting move if Tynes had any hopes of landing another publishing deal. “Litigious” not high on the list of traits a publisher is seeking in new authors.

  16. rcade: Sometimes I tire of the certainty that accompanies every controversy of this kind.

    Whether her motives were racist or not, it’s not a guess to say that she was Punching Down — a wealthy, famous person shitting on a low-paid service worker, just because she could. That’s my biggest objection to her behavior, and why I don’t feel the slightest bit bad that her publisher dumped her.

    She will no doubt find another publisher for the paper book, and as rochrist has pointed out, sales of the ebook were not cancelled.

    What’s kind of stunning to me is that someone who promoted themselves as a “veteran communications expert” and “social media strategist” would do something so monumentally stupid.

  17. I can imagine a situation where she thought she was punching up against the mean train police (in their fascist uniforms) for being hypocrites — maybe one had scolded her for eating on the train in the past. Guess it must depend on whether you see train workers as menial servants or authority figures. But that’s why I don’t get along with publishers, too litigation savvy, there’s always a countervailing scenario somewhere.

  18. The Retief stories were uneven, but the best were pretty good. Of course, Laumer actually served as a diplomat in the Foreign Service, so it’s not surprising that the stories ring true, despite being so very silly. 🙂

    @David Goldfarb: huh, I genuinely did not know there was a fourth O’Leary book. I agree that the first one was the best, but I might still try to hunt that last one down.

  19. Retief has been a favorite of mine since I was a teen, and Earthblood by Laumer and Rosel George Brown is on my list of all time favorite books.

  20. Uh, hi! I just finished Trail of Lightning, and was rolling along fine until I hit the last three chapters. Have the Filers already talked about it, because I have questions and feel like I missed something?
    1) Jung znxrf Znttvr fhfcrpg gung Xnv naq Gnu pna erfheerpg?
    2) Ner jr fhccbfrq gb ohl Pblbgr’f pbasrffvba? Ur jnf noyr gb rkcregyl znavchyngr Znttvr rneyvre, fb jul qbrf ur pbasrff orsber fur xvyyf Arvmtunav yvxr ur jnagf?
    3) Vs Znttvr qbrf oryvrir Pblbgr, jul qbrf fur vzcevfba Arvmtunav naljnl?

  21. I do like the Retief stories. They inspired one of my roleplaying game characters, Ambassador Ingrey Wererathe, a diplomat far more willing to get his hands dirty than his superiors.

  22. *Fawn Hall was not arrested for eating on the Metro; she was part of a sex scandal. Ansche Hedgpeth was the middle-school girl arrested in 2000.
    * Metro has officially eased up its enforcement of those rules, and consequently people are more visibly eating/drinking on Metro.
    * Metro workers wear different uniforms to Metro Police or DCPD uniforms. If the Metro employee was in uniform, she was on her way to or from an assignment.

  23. Ginger says Metro workers wear different uniforms to Metro Police or DCPD uniforms. If the Metro employee was in uniform, she was on her way to or from an assignment.

    The officer in question was part of an enforcement operation aimed at cracking down on illegal drugs being sold in the Station. If you read the coverage that’s archived online, dhe did just about everything wrong that she could including an illegal search.

  24. While I got rid of my Retief collections long ago, I remember wondering about the alien residents from the Diplomatic Station at times because they occasionally seemed a bit cartoonish.

  25. @Ginger: no, Fawn Hall was not part of a sex scandal; she reached notoriety as Oliver North’s secretary during Iran/Contra. (I don’t know who you’re thinking of — there have been lots of sex scandals in DC, but the closest I recall Hall coming to such a mess was her stating “I am not a bimbo.” Possibly you’re confusing her with Fanne Foxe.) No, I did not say she was arrested; I said she was fined; see, e.g., this Los Angeles Times report. (Googling ‘ “Fawn Hall” Metro’ also finds the DC paper’s report, but it’s behind a paywall.) Yes, Ansche Hedgepeth was overreacted to; that’s a separate story.

    @JJ: the tweet in the BBC story does not strike me as even vaguely justifying the firestorm; note the point made by a respondent that the Metro trains have carpet, making messes from food harder to clean up. The Tumblr review of the book is … unimpressive; in just the first few paragraphs I found the sort of reigonal prejudices and looseness with facts that would be jumped on if they came from a different political slant. It’s quite possible there are valid points further down, but they’d need extraction and weighing.

    The New Yorker article on the Epic failure was depressing but not surprising; I found my own employer’s tracking software unnecessarily complicated (somewhat as described); I was also much less unhappy to be laid off because upper management had bought into Agile — which may be fine for people doing nothing but new development, but I spent a lot of my time cleaning up messes left by people doing Agile-speed development, and sometimes even responding moderately directly to (say it softly) customers. (I eventually learned to hack around the version-control system (?IBMRational?), but that at least was coded largely within engineering rather than being spec’d from above.) I did a fair amount of beta testing for a new bug-tracking system, and have concluded that no amount of beta testing will ever be enough and that the input of people who don’t actually do the testing — especially the input of people who can adjust specs — should be taken with enough salt to keep my sidewalk clear all winter. The comment

    “It’s disempowering. It’s sort of like they want any cookie-cutter person to be able to walk in the door, plop down in a seat, and just do the job exactly as it is laid out.”

    is telling; the implementation manager’s claim

    “But we think of this as a system for us and it’s not,” he said. “It is for the patients.”

    does not impress me, even though I as a patient use my provider’s computer presentation (and have been abused by the apparent unwillingness of administrators such as him to use it); it’s unclear whether any study was done to count how much each of the bells-and-whistles actually helped — I suspect the 80/20 rule would apply. His claim is especially ironic since my breakfast reading included a newspaper story about the number of errors that are still happening in patient care in Boston. And as someone who owned the functional part of the API of an MCAD product for most of my last 18 years as a software engineer, I’m fascinated that the software providers are being forced to make APIs available; it’s the obvious way to get design closer to user experience, instead of being handed down from on high (the basic problem with Taylorism IMO — the author dances around this, and comments on how well some non-Tayloristic manufacturing countries have done, but doesn’t take this on directly.) And there’s a fannish irony in the patient’s take on the issue: just yesterday NESFA was discussing how to get information where it’s needed (to club members) without overdoing it.

  26. V for Vendetta wasn’t just a weird film. Prior to that, it was also a very weird comic. All in all, I think the film adaption was, well, perhaps not “identical to the original”, but “a good film adaptation” is probably close to what I think I mean. I mean, comics and films are different, so different things work, and don’t work. And where the film differed from the comic, I think it did so while mostly trying to express the same things.

  27. I have read the first three books in The Way of Voices now, the xianxia series I mentioned in another scroll. Still very good, still slow, building up mood, making every choice count.

    I found that my enjoyment dropped a bit in the third book. There was more action sequences in it and they became a bit of rinse repeat. With some time 2-3 pages for just one sword stroke with all its implications, its history, the talent behind it, what knowledgeable elders thought about it… It worked well for one or two sequences, perhaps with contemplation, intrigues, more character interactions in between, but with several in a row, I found myself skipping pages.

    Still a very interesting series. The fourth book seems to be back on track, so I’m happy again.

    For those that aren’t sure of what Xianxia is.


  28. Maybe Natasha Tynes didn’t notice the African-American woman’s race or sex because she herself is a Jordanian-American woman?

  29. 13) But — but Vader practically means “father”! It’s almost “father” in German! I always thought this was a clue planted early in the series.

    2) Speaking of Asian representation in kids’ books — I recently reread The Cricket in Times Square, and was very disappointed to see that the racist fairy had gotten ahold of it. Or, more honestly, I didn’t notice what a stereotype the Asian character was when I was a kid.

  30. Rob Thornton says While I got rid of my Retief collections long ago, I remember wondering about the alien residents from the Diplomatic Station at times because they occasionally seemed a bit cartoonish.

    You really don’t want to see the antithesis of cartoonish diplomats. I knew an Ambassador in a country where we had no apparent military or intelligence assets who never visited the Embassy. He was very busily drinking himself to death having lost his wife and only daughter to a drunk driver in D.C. several years prior. Nice guy to talk to.

  31. Chip Hitchcock – is this the article?
    Going to be interesting reading since Gawande usually knows how to tell a story and I make my living with Epic.
    Please don’t hold it against me.

  32. @Lisa Goldstein But — but Vader practically means “father”!

    I’d always assumed “Darth Vader” was a very unsubtle way to say “Dark Father”. Between that and the foreshadowing in the first film, I’d say it’s just the dramatic scene that was missing from the early draft and the twist was always going to be in there somewhere.

    (Either that or Lucas made a monumental Freudian slip when he picked the name, I suppose.)

  33. The Tumblr review of the book is … unimpressive; in just the first few paragraphs I found the sort of reigonal prejudices and looseness with facts that would be jumped on if they came from a different political slant.

    I come from that area–sure, there were problems but the whole “EVERYONE THERE IS WHITE WHITE WHITE AND THEY’LL HATE ANYONE WHO ISN’T”
    just made me roll my eyes.

    What all the outliers miss–especially with people like Steve King–is that it’s not just a matter of race. It’s about ‘the other’–ask the Norwegians and Swedes (at least the older ones) about the Dutch; or each other for that matter. Or the German Lutherans about the Catholics. Hell, I remember being told to lock the car doors when we went through the part of Omaha called the “Old Market” because that’s where all the hippies hung out. Of course, now all the head shops and cheap restaurants are gone and all the warehouses are lofts.

  34. 16) Speaking of Raksura, I have been steaming at a low boil for more than a year that there is STILL no audio version of the final book in the series, The Harbors of the Sun, which was published in **2017**. Rackafratz the rackafratzin….

  35. When we moved to Minnesota more than forty years ago, there was a joke:

    Q: What’s a mixed marriagee?

    A: A Norwegian and a Finnlander.

    Times have changed, and now St. Cloud has two good Indian restaurants. (Owned by two generations of a Kashmiri family. Our server the other day is from Nepal.) And our Greek restaurant is run by a Bangladeshi family. Then there are the halal markets. . . .

    It ain’t utopia yet, but it ain’t bad.

  36. (8) Keith Laumer’s “Night of the Trolls” is one of my five favorite SF short fiction. And it still holds up fairly well, decades after it was written.

  37. Russell Letson notes Times have changed, and now St. Cloud has two good Indian restaurants. (Owned by two generations of a Kashmiri family. Our server the other day is from Nepal.) And our Greek restaurant is run by a Bangladeshi family. Then there are the halal markets.

    The Indian restaurant scene in this city is infamous for cycling through ownership by Nepalese, Tamil, Bangladeshi and pretty much every other Indian subcontinent culture you can think of. One such restaurant had three such changes in ownership in a two year period with only the spicing changing. The Nepalese spicing was best.

  38. @khitty hawk (re Trail of Lightning) as I remember

    1) Znttvr xabjf Xnv urnyf dhvpxyl sebz frevbhf vawhevrf, ur obnfgrq nobhg orvat vaqrfgehpgvoyr naq gur dhrfgvba fur nfxrq uvz whfg orsber fur fubg uvz pbasvezrq vg, V guvax. V qba’g erzrzore na rkcynangvba bs jung unccrarq gb Gnu, V qba’g guvax uvf qrngu jnf cebcreyl pbasvezrq,

    2) Pblbgr’f rkcynangvba znxrf n ybg zber frafr guna nalguvat ryfr jr’ir urneq.

    3) Orpnhfr fur jnagf gb or srrr bs uvz naq vg’f gur bayl jnl. Fur qbrf tvir uvz ure nafjre – ur oevatf qrngu naq fur jnagf yvsr naq ybir.

  39. @Paul King Thanks!
    (Still Trail of Lightning spoilers, for those just passing by)
    1) Gnu’f qrngu jnfa’g cebcreyl pbasvezrq, ohg Znttvr jnf yrq gb oryvrir vg ol zbfg rirelbar. Thrff V jbhyq’ir jnagrq zber bs ure gubhtug cebprff. Gur Xnv guvat purpxf bhg, ohg fnzr guvat gurer.
    2) Uvf rkcynangvba qbrf znxr frafr gur zber V guvax nobhg vg, ohg jul ur pubfr gb pbasrff ng gung rknpg zbzrag onssyrf zr.
    3) V thrff V’yy unir gb erernq gung ynfg fprar jvgu gur gjb bs gurz. Znlor V jnf fghpx ba Pblbgr’f pbasrffvba naq jbaqrevat vs gurer’q or nal snyybhg vs gurl xvyyrq bar bs gur Ubyl Crbcyr (naq jung jbhyq unccra gb n zbafgre-svyyrq jbeyq jvgubhg gur Zbafgrefynlre) naq chg Znttvr’f bgure zbgvingvbaf ba gur zragny onpxoheare.

  40. “Q: What’s a mixed marriagee?

    A: A Norwegian and a Finnlander.”

    I visited Minneapolis once some 15 years ago. I remember thinking the houses looked very much like swedish houses. Otherwise it was a bit weird. When I told people I was a swede, they said “me too” when they clearly weren’t.

  41. Oh, Hampus, it’s just Minnesota nice, doncha know. We don’t want anybody to feel left out. Hell, I’m Anglo-Slovak and my wife is Lithuanian, and we feel right at home. (Especially in a nice Indian restaurant full of Somalis, West Africans, and Lutheran couples.)

  42. (16) Thank you to whoever suggested my review as a scroll item! I love the Raksura series, even more so than the Murderbot stories.

  43. I have to side with the people who thought the reaction to the tweet was over the top. Petty? Oh, hell, yes. But as written it could have easily been an outgrowth of a feud with the transit police as an attempt to punch down at a darker skinned woman.

  44. My guess, and I could be completely wrong and this is just a guess based on a gut feeling and I don’t mean it directed at any person in particular or even at those who have commented, is that a person’s reaction to the tweet might be strongly correlated with whether or not that person regularly rides a subway.

  45. I depend on city buses for work and getting around town, and I would be a total dick to call out one of the bus drivers for doing a thing like that, which some of them occasionally do. It’s a hard job with relatively low pay and a super rigid schedule. If a driver wants to inhale half a sandwich on a five-minute break, I’ve got their back.

    Not that I’m shy about complaining about abusive service. I’m not. But running a society without slack is like running an engine without oil.

  46. von Dimpleheimer: My guess, and I could be completely wrong and this is just a guess based on a gut feeling and I don’t mean it directed at any person in particular or even at those who have commented, is that a person’s reaction to the tweet might be strongly correlated with whether or not that person regularly rides a subway.

    My guess is that it’s strongly correlated with people who have worked low-paying service jobs and/or been repeatedly punched-down on, versus people with a strong sense of the “the customer is always right” mentality + people who’ve been rebuked for something by officials on the subway.

  47. (3) So why wasn’t it punching down when the publisher attacked an author, a woman of color, so publicly and so viciously?

    Lacking any other info, her tweet looks like a petty gesture from someone with a pet peeve. Not a great look, but it hardly merited a corporate effort to smear her character and destroy her career.

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