And in other news, I see that Con*Stellation, down in Huntsville, Alabama, is closing down after this year's iteration. Himself and I were Guests of Honor there, back in 1990, and they sent us a nice note asking us if we wanted to be there for the finale -- but alas, Huntsville is much too far out of our range for us to go if it isn't on the convention's dime. This year will be the 35th Con*Stellation, so it's not surprising it's shutting down -- the conrunners who were energetic young fans 35 years ago are approaching retirement age. (Thirty-five years is a long run for a regional con; Boskone hits 55 next year, and Mini-con hits 53, and Wiscon is coming up on 44, but they've all got active organizations behind them feeding in new blood to run things.)
Also, today is grey and rainy.
Also, he was supposed to be bringing the ambulance squad paycheck with him, but it wasn't in the office yesterday morning before he left because the squad chief was out on Monday with a death in the family. And now I'm fretting that they'll end up rolling this week's paycheck into next week's, for convenience, which wouldn't be convenient for me at all, at all . . . I was counting on that check to pay the phone bill and buy this week's groceries, never mind gas and the laundry.
ETA: He made in just in time, ambulance check in hand.
(Why is it that I never seem to get any of the good surprises? Just stuff that I have to cope with, and that I mostly don't get acknowedged for . . . and this after I swore a mighty oath, once, that I was going to avoid the kind of jobs that only draw notice when something goes wrong. But try as one might, one still gets stuck with some of them.)
If you tried to schedule a second import while the first one was still running, at any time in the past 10 days or so, you may have confused the poor thing. If you think your import should be finished by now and it isn't, and you're seeing "Aborted" on the Importer Status part of the Importer page, feel free to open a support request in the Importer category and we'll look into it for you. (It may take a little bit before you get a response; those of us who have the access to look into importer problems have been really busy for the past two weeks or so, and I at least need a few days to catch my breath a bit before diving back into the fray! But we'll do what we can.)
I hope all y'all are continuing to settle in well to your new home!
Just a quick note to let everyone know that my springtime seasonal sale expires at midnight this coming Sunday the 23rd.And a DW/LJ-specific note: If you're thinking of taking the plunge, right now would (from my point of view) be a very good time to do so, what with taxes and all.
Buy a line-edit and critique for a writer friend, or for yourself; you needn’t use the gift right away, but can claim it whenever you desire.
I’m back from Minicon 52 in Minneapolis. It was a fun con, and I’m hoping to write up some thoughts and reactions and talk about various cool stuff, but for now I’m still wiped and low on coherent wordage.
So instead, here’s a link to my Flickr album of Minicon pictures.
A few of my favorites…
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
This relocation has actually been in the works for some time, but Twin B, who is a kindly soul and a good son, held off on pushing the button until snow-shoveling season was over for this year. I won't deny that I'll miss him, because he's good company as well as having been useful around the house, but I also won't deny that I'm pleased to see him make his move. He tried job-searching in Pittsburgh PA where the Elder Son is, but that didn't pan out -- he got a job at Bath & Body Works, but didn't see any chance for advancing there because of the two temps on staff, he wasn't the one who was already good friends with the assistant manager. The greater Boston area has better public transit and a more congenial climate for a job-searcher with a B.A. in English.
And on another springtime note -- readers of my editorial blog will have already noted that I've extended my traditional seasonal sale for another week, until Low Sunday.
It's been years since I built my vacations around big conventions, anyway. LonCon was an exception and so is Helsinki. I do like foreign cons, so I've built vacations around a couple in Sweden and Åland. Next year the San Jose Worldcon is a mere 50 miles from us and so I'm sure we'll go for a couple of days. But I doubt there are many more con vacations in my future.
I would rather travel widely these next five or six years (please god let it not be more than that, I do want to retire) while both of us are employed, healthy and willing to sit on planes for long periods. I want to visit Chile, Thailand/Cambodia, Morocco, Egypt, New Zealand, Australia, and French Polynesia. I know we will probably be able to afford vacations even after we retire, but I'd rather do the longest, costliest ones now. And it's no fun going to see people if they're all working on a gigantic convention; why not go when no one else is?
But no, it's not GAFIA. I doubt I could stop being a fan. You know what they say.
Before we get into all the things I have to cover, though: Given the reasons most people are citing for not wanting to agree to LiveJournal's new ToS, I'd like to take a moment and ask: if you're able to (and only if you're able!), please consider donating to the Russian LGBT Network/Российская ЛГБТ-сеть. They not only do excellent work across the Russian Federation, but are currently mobilizing to help evacuate LGBT people in Chechnya who are in danger of detention or death. (EDIT: If you're outside Russia, you can donate through All Out; the Russian LGBT Network website won't accept donations from outside Russia.)
To our friends in Russia who are LGBT and those who are against the mistreatment of anyone because of their sexual orientation: We stand with you. Please stay safe above all else, but if it would be safe for you to post that link, the LGBT Network is asking that as many people as possible publicly share the information that the LGBT Network is ready to help. (They also ask that you do not contact people in Chechnya directly to let them know, as there are reports the authorities are searching people's phones and computers for evidence of sexual orientation.)
The rest of this post is primarily to give y'all new folks a brief orientation (or as brief as I am ever capable of; no one has ever called me concise) to help you settle in, although I hope at least some of it will be useful (or at least interesting!) to those of you who have been with us for a while. Come with me as we discuss Dreamwidth's history, a bit of what (we think) makes us special, the answers to a few common questions about how we roll, and a few useful tips that may help you with the transition.
( Dreamwidth 101! )
Whew! That was a lot to throw at y'all at once, I know. (Yes, I always am this longwinded. And I always use this many parentheses.) Everybody who's been here for a while: thank you for your patience as I got our new arrivals up to speed! We'll be back in a few weeks with a code push and a bunch of new features and fixes, so the next news post should be more broadly applicable.
In the meantime, let's have a welcome party in the comments:
* If you're looking for new people to subscribe to you, leave a comment with some basic info about your journal and what you tend to write about! Then everybody can browse around and meet each other. (There's also 2017revival and addme, both of which are unofficial but bustling lately; holler if you know of any more.)
* If you've been here for a while and have a favorite community that's active, drop a link and a brief description!
* If you're new or you've been here for a while, and you're looking for an active community on a particular topic, leave a comment with what you're looking for and people can recommend you some options. (We've done this a few times before, as "the great community rec-o-matic", and it's never a bad time for another round.)
* If you know of any scripts, resources, extensions, tools, or toys that will help someone make the move, get settled in, or customize their DW experience once they're here, drop a link and a description in the comments. (We can't be responsible for unofficial tools, scripts, extensions, etc, so use at your own risk, but I know there are a bunch of them floating around!)
Finally, a quick note on the importer queue: it's still going, I swear. The jobs finishing now are the ones that were scheduled around 48 hours ago, though, so we really appreciate how patient y'all are being!
As always, if you're having problems with Dreamwidth, Support can help you; for notices of site problems and downtime, check dw_maintenance and the Twitter status account. (We can't do support through Twitter, though! Open a support request instead. Me trying to fit into 140 characters is not a pretty sight.)
Comment notifications may be delayed for an hour or two, due to the high volume of notifications generated after an update is posted to dw_news. This was posted at 5:30AM EDT (see in your time zone). Please don't worry about delayed notifications until at least two hours after that.
As we continue to see discussion and fallout surrounding Odyssey Con, it’s important to remember that these things don’t happen in isolation. While I wish it weren’t necessary, I’m happy to share this guest essay from software developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu, talking about some of the reasons we keep seeing this kind of mess with sexism and sexual harassers.
I want to tell you a heartwarming story about second chances. Last year, Google welcomed a developer named Chris onto their team. Chris is like a lot of men I know in the tech industry. He’s super geeky, white, male, just 28 — and has an incredibly irreverent sense of humor. He’s the kind of guy that would fit right in a Google — or really any other large tech corporation.
Just one catch. Chris had a bit of a misadventure as a teenager, launching a well-trafficked internet site where some pretty unsavory things happened. An encyclopedic list would take too long, but here are the highlights:
- The site was a haven for child pornography.
- A member murdered a woman violently, and posted picture of her strangled to death on the site.
- A transgender woman was outed and then bullied until she committed suicide.
- A breach of iCloud resulted in non-consensual sexual imagery of celebrity women to be spread through his site, most notably Jennifer Lawrence, who called it a “sex crime.”
- Prominent women in the game industry were relentlessly harassed through his site, resulting is several careers being destroyed — and unmeasurable personal harm.
I’m speaking, of course, of 4chan founder Chris Poole. Last year, after not being able to make money from his site, he decided to take a job with one of the most powerful corporations on earth. As I was one of the women who had been repeatedly targeted by 4chan, I was fairly incredulous, as were my fellow women colleagues.
Unsurprisingly, the white men in tech I know felt differently.
I’m not going to name names, but I had at least 10 conversations with colleagues in tech about Poole’s hiring. They felt it would be unfair to deny him a fresh start at a career. They didn’t want his past to haunt him forever. They saw 4chan as just a silly teenage hijink, something all in good fun. It’s hard to imagine, they saw parts of Chris Poole in themselves — and by giving him a second chance — they could give themselves a chance to clean up their own mistakes.
America loves second chances. But it’s hard to not notice that the main people that seem to get them are straight, white, and male.
This brings us Odyssey Con.
I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow, which has been written up here. But, long story short, the con had decided to let an extreme sexual harasser onto the programming committee. When guest of honor Monica Valentinelli was put on programming with him, she asked the con to step in. They wrote an amazingly condescending email back to her, at which point she withdrew from the con.
What stands out to me the most in the whole harmful affair was a single line by Gregory G.H. Rihn, writing about “what would be fair.” He suggested a compromise between Monica and Jim Frenkel, the known serial harasser. In a world where sexual harassers are on one side, and women wanting to be treated with respect are on the other — women can never win. Rihn saw himself as an impartial observer, but he’s part of the problem in a way he can’t understand.
And he’s far from alone. Or even, a particularly egregious example.
As a prominent woman in the game industry, I’m also married to four-time Hugo award winner Frank Wu — so I feel uniquely positioned between the tech industry and science fiction fandom. And while, I know it would shock some of you to think about this, the structural sexism is practically the same. Consider the following.
- Like the game industry, I am regularly asked to do programming at cons on my gender rather than my professional expertise.
- Like the game industry, I am regularly talked over by men on programming.
- Like the game industry, men generally talk to my husband and not me when we are in groups.
- Like the game industry, it’s the men in the field getting big career opportunities – and not the equally talented women.
- Like the game industry, no men I know will admit they are part of the problem.
- Like the game industry, the men in science fiction consider themselves impartial judges of structural sexism – rather than influenced by motivated reasoning.
- Like the game industry, there’s a lot of window dressing and very little examination of bias.
- Like the game industry, I regularly hear sexist, racist and transphobic jokes that make me blanch.
- Like the game industry, men that speak out about sexism are heroes — while women are put in a career box as a known feminist.
- Like the game industry, you have a hate group rooted in white supremacy — hellbent on establishing a golden age without diversity.
If the tech industry gets a D- for sexism, science fiction doesn’t deserve much better than a C-. Maybe a C+ on the good days.
This brings us to Jim Frenkel. His situation is no different than Chris Poole’s, albeit a lot less extreme. The men of Odyssey Con (and one woman is a position of power) were reluctant to exile him from fandom because if he were held to high standards, that would mean they or someone like them might be one day as well. So, he will get an ample supply of second chances, just like most white straight men in science fiction.
There are so many times in science fiction I hold my tongue because I don’t think anyone on programming would listen. Recently, I was on a panel with a rather prominent man in the game industry that made a wildly sexist remark about “banging whores.” I sat there for the panel, stewing, feeling like this inappropriate statement needed to be called out. I asked male friends about it later, who all told me to, “let it go.”
I realized it wouldn’t be worth it to fight that battle with programming, and it could burn a bridge with someone powerful in my field. Like most women, I fight these internal battles daily — and I lose a piece of my soul every time. I have to imagine Monica Valentinelli was fighting this same internal battle before withdrawing as guest of honor. Her comment about wanting to be known for her work rang so true for me. It’s the same fear all women feel when deciding to speak out, being shoved into a box that says loud feminist.
Our political system trains people to root for one side like a football team- everyone points fingers and no one feels accountability. For science fiction, there are plenty of men that vote Democrat and believe intellectually in the equality of women. They think that’s the end of the story. It is not.
You can either have a community where the Jim Frenkels are thrown out, or you can just admit all the talk about gender equality is window dressing.
Brianna Wu is a software engineer and a candidate for US congress in Massachusetts district 8. You can follow her on Twitter at @spacekatgal or on Facebook at Facebook.com/developerBriannaWu.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
These days, any young sf/fantasy reader or watcher with access to a computer can connect with other likeminded souls in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. They may not be able to meet up face-to-face, but that's not necessary, and wasn't necessary even in the olden days. It's enough, most of the time, just to know that there's somebody else out there.
Back before the internet, things were harder. If you lived anywhere other than a major city, your chances of encountering another reader who shared your particular obsession were low. (I was fortunate; my best friend in high school also read sf, and the local news and magazine shop owner must have been a fan as well, because the shop carried all the new paperback releases and all of the major sf magazines, as well as some of the second-tier sf mags.) As a result, a young fan's reaction upon encountering a large, organized (for fannish values of "organization", which is to say, not very) fan group, or a science fiction convention, was often something along the lines of "My people! My people! I've found you at last!"
A note: It's also necessary to understand that this era came not just before the internet, but before the Geek Ascendancy. People who liked sf and fantasy and computers and techy/sciency stuff in general were pretty much universally regarded as weirdo loners, rather than as weirdo loners any one of whom might possibly have a greater net worth than the entire city of Chicago.
When a collection of weirdo loners (and yes -- I too was a weirdo loner) come together and discover that they are not alone in their weirdo-hood after all, the community that is created has both good and bad features, and a lot of those features are connected like good and evil twins. The fandom of those days, to give just one example, was tolerant of all sorts of social awkwardness and nonconformity (because we were entirely too aware, most of us, of our own flaws in that regard); the flip side of that virtue, unfortunately, was a willingness to put up with just about any bad behavior short of running away with the cash box.
Post-internet fandom is . . . well, it's different, in ways that as a pre-internet fan I'm not entirely capable of understanding. But the old pre-internet fandom is still around, and still inhabiting a lot of the same virtual and actual spaces as post-internet fandom, and the places where they rub up against each other sometimes chafe.
I’m not sure what can be done about this problem, or even sure that it is a problem of the needs-something-done-about-it variety. The best we can do, I guess, is be kind to each other, and remember that we all love the same thing even if we don’t necessarily do it in all the same ways.
I know, I know . . . security, safe computing, and all that. But just once I'd like to encounter a safety and security measure that didn't end up inconveniencing the regular users/customers/passengers more than it does the bad guys.
BART issues a helpful poster explaining to women how to conduct themselves so they won't be harassed. Apart from the ubiquitous victim-blaming, note "Don't get distracted, phones, music, and sleeping can make you a target."
Many, many women use earbuds to deter creepers. It doesn't always work, but it cuts back on people assuming you're available for conversation.
I'd love to live in the universe where BART and others put up posters telling passengers how to defend other passengers against creepers.
This weekend, I’ll be the author guest of honor at Minicon in Minneapolis, along with science GoH “The Pope’s Astronomer,” Brother Guy Consolmagno, and fan GoH Mark Oshiro.
They’ve posted the preliminary schedule. Here’s where I think I’ll be for most of the weekend:
- 5:30 p.m. – We Suck: The Importance of Failure
- 7 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
- 8:30 p.m. – Internet Presence
- 10 a.m. – Exploring Creativity
- 11:30 a.m. – Koffeeklatch
- 1 p.m. – Interview with Jim C. Hines
- 5 p.m. – Costume Contest
- 8:30 p.m. – Reading
- 9:30 p.m. – Autographing
- 10 a.m. – The Business of Writing
- 1 p.m. – Progressive Story
- 2:30 p.m. – Feet of Clay
- 4 p.m. – Closing Ceremonies
And then at a little after 8 that night, I’ll fly back home to Lansing.
It should be a fun time! Looking forward to seeing folks!
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.