June 26, 2015
It is so ordered
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 01:54 PM * 101 comments

Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

In 27 days, Martin and I will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. He’s been married longer than he was alive and unmarried; I reach that balance of my days in December of next year. We formed one another as adults and as people within the context of marriage.

And the legal advantages of marriage have formed our lives as well. Being married to a British citizen meant that I could live in Europe and obtain my own UK passport. The entirety of society is set up to make it easy for us, from inheritance rights to taxation, from law courts to social conventions.

And all these things were a great big door slammed in the faces of our friends and family, if the paths of their lives and the ways of their hearts led them to try to form this tremendous bond with someone of the same gender as themselves.

I have watched these restrictions ebb away over time. I remember when the UK passed civil partnerships, and I wanted to dance in the streets. I delighted in moving to a country where gay marriage is unremarkable. I rejoiced with my home state when it got rid of Proposition 8. I grinned when I tried to explain the laws against same-sex marriage to my kids and was met with fascinated horror.

But now I’m just crying with happiness, borrowed from all of my loved ones who have wanted this for so long, fought for it, marched in the streets for it. I thought I was elated when Obamacare was not overthrown (another cause I care deeply about). I was wrong.

This is elated.

June 24, 2015
“You’re asking me to agree that my great-grandparent and great-great-grandparents were monsters.”
Posted by Patrick at 05:42 AM * 138 comments

From the New York Times, 24 June 2015:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — It has been quite a few years since the lost cause has appeared quite as lost as it did Tuesday. As the afternoon drew on and their retreat turned into a rout, the lingering upholders of the Confederacy watched as license plates, statues and prominently placed Confederate battle flags slipped from their reach. […]

“You’re asking me to agree that my great-grandparent and great-great-grandparents were monsters,” said Greg Stewart, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the executive director of Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis.

From the Owensboro, Kentucky Messenger, 5 Nov 1908:


James S. Hayden Dies at His Home at West Louisville—Born in Nelson County.

James S. Hayden, one of the best known and most highly respected citizens of Daviess county, died suddenly of heart trouble Wednesday afternoon at his home in the West Louisville neighborhood. His death was entirely unexpected, as he was apparently in good health.

Mr. Hayden, for many years, was a resident of Daviess county and a valuable citizen. He was [born] in Nelson county, Ky., August 23, 1836, and was a son of Joseph Hayden, deceased, a native of Washington county. He came to this county in 1852. He enlisted in Company K, Fourth Kentucky Infantry, Confederate army. He was in many battles and never lost a day’s service while in the army. He was married to Miss Mary D. Hayden, on January 28, 1868, his first wife, and eight children were born to them. He is survived by his second wife and five children, four sons and one daughter. Mr. Hayden was a member of the Catholic church and was a Christian gentleman.

The funeral will take place at 2 o’clock this afternoon from St. Alphonsus chuch, and the interment will take place at the church cemetery.

I don’t think my great-great-grandfather was a monster. I think he was probably no more monstrous than most people, though the cause he fought for turned out to be a bad one. Who knows what our own descendants will judge us for? We should all hope that they remember, as we should, that history is a bitch.

From the New York Times, 24 June 2015:

In Austin, Tex., a tall bearded man went into the tattoo parlor where Kelly Barr works with a request: the removal a 10-year-old tattoo of the Confederate flag.

He told Mr. Barr that he had decided to get the flag removed when he saw the pained look on a middle-age black woman at his gym on Monday.

“‘If South Carolina can take theirs down,’” Mr. Barr recalled him saying, “‘I can take mine down.’” I told him, ‘Right on.’”

In 1862, Henry Isaac Newton, of Owensboro, Kentucky, father of two, joined in the Union Army of the Cumberland, 12th Kentucky Cavalry. He was captured in Sweetwater, Tennessee during Burnside’s abortive campaign to push south, and spent nearly a year in a Confederate prison. After his return, he and his wife had eight more children.

On 31 Jan 1899, the second-to-last of those, Sarah Frances “Fannie” Newton, married Clarence Eugene Hayden, the second son of Confederate veteran James S. Hayden. Fannie lived to 1970. I met her more than once.

We’re not monsters because we say or do the wrong thing. We’re monsters when, later, we refuse to learn.

June 19, 2015
E Pluribus Hugo: Community Q&A
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:45 PM * 215 comments

After over 3000 messages and nearly two and half months of discussions, we have put together a simple Hugo Award nomination system that meets our primary goal:

No group — whoever that group may be — should be able to absolutely prevent nominees from having the chance to be considered for the Hugo Award.

This works both ways. Not only should a slate not be able to force all other nominees off the final ballot, but just because a nominee appears on a slate, it should not be disqualified from appearing on the final ballot. No “shadowy cabal” should be able to prevent a nominee from being considered, either. All nominees deserve a fair chance. E Pluribus Hugo accomplishes this goal.

The system was developed by fans with a wide range of interests in science fiction and fantasy, including those who prefer the genres supported by the Sad Puppies 3 slate. We hope that it will truly meet the needs of all varieties of SFF fans.

The purpose of this proposal is explicitly not to change the rules so as to prevent the “new voices” of 2015 from being heard. There is no shadowy cabal here. All discussions, including our missteps and paths not taken, have been conducted in a completely open forum. You can find all of those discussions in the following threads:

On voting systems: a guest post from Bruce Schneier
Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: Another Guest Post By Bruce Schneier
Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: A Post Not By Bruce Schneier
E Pluribus Hugo: Out of Many, A Hugo

This thread is for questions and answers (and hopefully voices of support!) from the community about the system. We hope that the FAQ attached to the proposal will answer many of your questions, but we want to be available for any other questions that may arise. We sincerely hope that you will give this proposal a thoughtful and fair hearing. In this effort we are not Social Justice Warriors, we are not Puppies, and we don’t hate anyone. We are simply fans who want to save the Hugo from sinking into irrelevance as a result of the flaw in the nomination system that has been pointed out this year.

The official proposal can be found here once it has been posted by the Sasquan business meeting chair. We look forward to hearing from you.

E Pluribus Hugo: Post-Proposal Planning and To-Dos
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:41 PM * 48 comments

Now that the proposal has been submitted, we can turn our attention to the other matters that we need to complete. In particular, we need to look at the following items:

  • Prepare a “6th place” amendment for handling declined nominations, in the event it is needed
  • Discuss swag/ribbons/T-shirts for handing out at Sasquan
  • Strategize ideas for the actual proposal presentation at the business meeting itself
  • Plan a meet-up for those who will be attending Sasquan
  • Discuss places/parties at Sasquan where we can campaign for the proposal
There may be other issues that need to be discussed as well — this is the place for them!

I’ve listed these iems roughly in order of importance, but as long as we are using [TAGS], I think we can multi-task without too many problems.

Let’s get to it!


June 16, 2015
Open thread 206
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:15 PM * 365 comments

It’s been almost a fortnight since my front brake cable snapped as I cycled behind Centraal Station in the busiest part of the morning. My back brake, which has a history, wasn’t really at its best either. This made for a briefly exciting time. (Because I’m pretty damn good with the bike, no one else was excited. But I found it plenty entertaining.)

Martin pointed out that Emily the Bike has done pretty well. I work about 10km from the office, and I cycle every non-icy day. If she’s done 100km a week for most of the last five years, that’s a pretty low cost per kilometer for a €150 bike, even with another €150-odd of repairs. But there’s no denying the amount of friction she adds to my journeys these days, nor the quantity of other squeaks and rattles she’s picked up over time.

And that’s a problem, because I’m planning a bit of an adventure in the late summer or early fall. I’ve decided to cycle around the IJsselmeer over four days, stopping in hotels as I go. And unlike the warriors of Clan Spandex, who rush by me on the roads like quarrels from crossbows, I shall be doing it on a normal Dutch stadsfiets, comfortably upright and ordinarily dressed.

But not, alas, on Emily.

So allow me to present Grace.

She’s a Dracat, assembled in Zaandam about five years ago on an aluminum frame. I bought her from my local bike shop for €250. She’s got front shocks and 8 gears rather than 3, but she shares Emily’s step-through frame and upright posture.

When I bought her, she had a weak back rack (25kg weight limit) and no front cargo provision at all. In what must comprise a nearly Levitical transgression, I bought steel components to amend these lacks, and she is now fully fitted out.

I tried her out a week and a bit ago on an all-day ride, and even after 8 hours and 114 km (70 miles) in the saddle, I love her with a painless love.

June 14, 2015
The gone, growing in number
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:09 PM * 40 comments

In the current Open Thread, Tom Whitmore announced:

I’m very sad to report that Bruce Durocher, sometime member of this parish, died this morning from (basically) colon cancer. His liver had not responded to recent therapy. Karen and I had visited him on Thursday: he was in good spirits then, and we had an animated discussion about films and other topics. The final turnaround was very sudden.

His wife, Margaret Organ-Kean, wrote on the Book of Face:

My husband, Bruce, died today at 7:00 am from metastatic colon cancer.

I appreciate every one’s sympathies and offers of support greatly. People will hear from me individually, but right now I have been up since 3:00 am yesterday and I am going to sleep.

My family is with me and I am being taken care of.

There will be a funeral in two or three weeks, when I’ve had the chance to make plans.

In the meantime, nothing could make me happier than if you are of an age to have an endoscopy and have not had one, please get your butt into your doctor’s office.

Bruce’s more recent (view all by) history is visible here; his older one is here (he had an email address change). It’s a long record of solid, smart, worthwhile interaction that improved the conversation around him. Even knowing him only through this medium, I’m feeling the loss.

Condolences to Margaret, to Tom and Karen, and to the entire community he gathered around himself in his life. If anyone has memories of him they’d like to share, I’d be interested to read them.

June 09, 2015
Posted by Teresa at 05:18 PM * 296 comments

A while back, an Italian cooking blog, Il dolci di Caia, ran a contest for fellow Italian food bloggers: come up with recipes for dolce della tradizione americana — that is, “desserts in the American tradition.” Scroll down the page there for a list of links to the results.

It’s interesting to see them wrestle with the American food thing: cake pops, Naples biscuit S’mores, torta di fango del Mississippi, Whoopies Pie al lemon curd, and a momentarily puzzling panettone americano that turned out to be lemon chiffon cake.

Notable absences: pineapple upside-down cake, dump cake*, icebox cake, Key Lime pie, pecan pie, prune whip, Nilla Wafer pudding. Understandable absences: Grape-Nuts Pudding, Jello Poke Cake, Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie.

Biggest divergence from the results an American food blog would have gotten if it ran the same contest: only one of the entries is red-white-&-blue, and none of them are ironic. I have to assume that Italian cooks have less trouble than we would believing in an identifiable tradizione americana.

May 26, 2015
E Pluribus Hugo: Out of Many, A Hugo
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:11 PM * 826 comments

In this thread we will hammer out the formal language of the proposal, any FAQs we wish to include, and strategize for the presentation at the business meeting itself. At this point, we’ll consider the system itself locked in, so we are really only looking at the language.

May 20, 2015
Reading for Rockets
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:18 PM * 520 comments

Sasquan tells me that the Hugo packet can be downloaded (pin lookup here.) So if you haven’t gone looking for it before, here’s what you need to make your judgments.

A couple of useful links:

Unsurprisingly, my own personal view is that everyone should vote according to their own personal views rather than, say, mine. I’m sure we all know not to take anyone’s views in this discussion as any kind of marching orders, but I thought I’d say it for the charity- or clarity-impaired.

Note that this thread will probably abound with spoilers. I’m not going to try to slice things up into different subthreads with layered spoiler policies. If you’re spoiler-averse, you might want to wait till you’ve read everything before jumping in.

* Obviously, there may be even more different approaches than Scalzi lists. Feel free to mention yours!

May 19, 2015
Mad Max: SPOILER Road
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:42 PM * 113 comments

This is the thread where the comments do their own stunts instead of relying on ROT-13. They’re badass and full of spoilers. You’ve been warned.

May 15, 2015
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Posted by Avram Grumer at 06:52 PM * 5 comments

If you like science fiction and comics, you should be aware that C Spike Trotman — creator of the webcomic Templar, Arizona, and editor/publisher of a number of successful comics anthologies, has just today announced the Kickstarter campaign for her latest: New World: A Sci-Fi/Fantasy Anthology, with 25 stories about culture clashes. As of this writing, the campaign’s been live for about five hours, and is already halfway funded.

Contributors include Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist of Finder, long-running science fiction comic whose absence from Best Graphic Story Hugo ballots is baffling to me), Blue Delliquanti (writer/artist of O Human Star), Evan Dahm (writer/artist of Rice Boy), and holy crap she got something from Matt Howarth! And a couple of dozen other creators; there’s a list on the Kickstarter page. You can get a feel for the sorts of things that will (and won’t) be in the anthology by reading Spike’s pitch document for prospective creators.

If you hurry, you might be able to get in on the “Science Fiction Double Feature” reward level, which gets you both a copy of New World and one of The Sleep of Reason, her horror anthology from last year. It’s already too late for the “Early-Bird Special” reward which gets you the book with free shipping; those 50 reward slots went within the first ten minutes.

Open thread 205
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:56 AM * 1016 comments

So we were watching “The Princess Bride” last night.

It falls down in a few places: when Westley threatens to hit Buttercup “because where I come from there are penalties when a woman lies”, the depiction of an albino character, the degree to which disfigurement is treated as worse than death. (That last could be merely because Humperdink is so vain, but I’d be more comfortable if that were better spelled out.)

But what struck me more than anything else was the Machine, the Life-Sucker.

Last weekend, we went to the windmill park near our house. My parents are visiting, and my father is a letterpress printer in his spare time*. As it happens, there is a linseed-processing windmill near us that was used to power a printing press just after World War 2, and the local letterpress enthusiasts had recreated the whole assemblage for the 70th anniversary of the liberation. Naturally, we had to visit.

Dutch windmills are impressive† pieces of heavy equipment. We live near what is sometimes described as the first industrialized area of the world, where the wind was harnessed to supply the massive power needed to saw wood, make paper, grind linseed oil, and process chocolate on a grand scale. Visiting the mills now, one is still overwhelmed by the force they produce, despite the variability of the power source and the relative inefficiency of the wooden mechanisms.

The Life-Sucker is a water mill, but there’s a lot of the same feel to it. And it makes me think that we’ve missed out on a potential genre, in our desire to play with the shiny brass of Victorian technoliogy. Where are the stories about the creaking, grinding power of wind and water mills, the impersonal forces of nature incompletely harnessed by early technologists working in the flameless dark? Why is there no love for them?

I think I want to read some millpunk.

* It’s ironic, but my bookbinding does not come from his printing. Apart from a certain passion for craftsmanship, that is.
† Thanks to Joris Meijer for supplying the link when I mused on this a little on Twitter.

Dysfunctional Families: Boundaries
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:59 AM * 235 comments

A lot of the conversations we’ve been having in recent Dysfunctional Families threads have been around a closely-linked set of very important concepts: boundaries, consent, and bodily autonomy.

May 12, 2015
Discussing Specific Changes to the Hugo Nomination Election: A Post Not By Bruce Schneier
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 02:36 AM *

After a couple thousand posts, here’s the current proposal, summarized in this comment by Keith “Kilo” Watt.

May 11, 2015
Hugo IV: A New Hope
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:03 AM * 701 comments

Moving the Hugo conversation here, if it wants to continue, because the previous Hugo thread has drifted and I’m minded to let it continue that drift uninterrupted.

May 08, 2015
The Three-SPOILER Problem
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:02 AM * 124 comments

You put on your V-suit and log in.

You stand on a desolate plain. Before you rises a great pyramid, standing like a tall mountain in the first glimmers of dawn. At its base there is a small door, standing open, and the light from the space beyond spills onto the sandy ground. The light dims as a stranger comes to stand in the doorway, then brightens as he passes through.

He approaches you, and says…what?

At least here in the game you don’t have to ROT-13 your spoilers.

ETA Extra credit points to Steve Wright @81 with “I am the very model of a modern Trisolarian”!

May 02, 2015
Avengers: The War of Orange vs Teal
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:29 PM * 179 comments

Here’s a new thread for talking about the new Avengers movie with spoilers and without ROT13 so people can read it on their tablets.

Copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.