Linkdump for April 16th through April 19th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between April 16th and April 19th.

Sometime between April 16th and April 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black: Dolezal is simply a white woman who cannot help but center herself in all that she does—including her fight for racial justice. And if racial justice doesn't center her, she will redefine race itself in order to make that happen.
  • Volunteers, Professionals, and Who Gets to Have Fun at Cons: If your fun is dependent using your status as a volunteer as an excuse to not act responsibly, if it requires victims to stay quiet about mistreatment: then it’s not really a fun time for “everyone” is it? It’s not the expectation of professionalism that’s killing the fun at cons, it’s the lack of it.
  • Time to Fix the Missing Stair: It’s time to stop pretending the missing stair doesn’t need to be fixed. Relying on word-of-mouth means that the people who are new, who are just entering, are the ones most at risk of trying to step on it.
  • seriously, the guy has a point: A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.
  • Westboro Wannabes Picket Norwescon: Thank you for proving, by your actions, the value that Norwescon (and all such fan-run conventions) have in this world. Thank you for proving that we can’t be bullied. You gave us all a teachable moment, and we learned something about ourselves.

Norwescon 40 Wrap-Up

So, that’s a brief overview of my weekend. To all of you I got to see, I’m glad we crossed paths, however briefly, and I hope we get to do so again before too long (but if not, then at least next year at Norwescon 41).

In case you haven’t noticed (either by social media proxy, or by actually being there to watch me run around the con in person), I’ve been a bit busy over the past few days with Norwescon. For me, at least, this was a really good year; certainly better than last year (not that the con was bad last year, just that this year I didn’t overexhaust myself and make myself sick). I got to see (if not always as much as I might have liked) many friends, run around being silly in an inflatable T-Rex costume (and I wasn’t the only one this year), take a few thousand pictures, fanboy and chat with Pillow (renowned both as a burlesque performer and as an Alaskan), and generally thoroughly enjoy my annual geek vacation.

I experimented a bit this year with taking some photos and video clips on my phone each day, and then using Apple’s new Clips app to create short (less than a minute) “today at Norwescon 40” videos that went out on our social media channels (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). It was a fun little project, and I think it went okay; people seem to be enjoying them, at least. Definitely on my “to do next year” list.

I was also gratified to see the “happy 20th anniversary Sakura-Con” post get as many “likes” as it did (27 on the official Norwescon Facebook page’s post, and 89 on the post in the Norwescon Facebook group). Though I got approval for that beforehand, I’ll admit to a little trepidation, as both cons being scheduled over the same weekend gives some the perception that there’s more rivalry between the cons than there is. But since we gave them some assistance in starting out, as there is a decent amount of cross-pollination between the cons, and as we were both celebrating major milestone years (our 40th, their 20th), I wanted to be sure we recognized that. I’m quite glad to see so many people appreciated that recognition.

So, that’s a brief overview of my weekend. To all of you I got to see, I’m glad we crossed paths, however briefly, and I hope we get to do so again before too long (but if not, then at least next year at Norwescon 41). To those of you I didn’t manage to see, well, we’ll just have to try again later (it’s amazing how some people at Norwescon you see every time you turn around, while others can be in the same hotel as you for four days and virtually never interact (unless I’m just not noticing when I’m being stalked and when I’m being avoided…)).

Now rest up, and brace yourselves for the return to the mundane world. Less than a year to wait for our next gathering! You can make it!

(This post originally appeared in a slightly different form on Facebook.)

Linkdump for April 8th through April 10th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between April 8th and April 10th.

Sometime between April 8th and April 10th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

Linkdump for April 2nd through April 7th

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between April 2nd and April 7th.

Sometime between April 2nd and April 7th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Custom Men’s High Tops: Custom printed pseudo-Chucks for $89 CAD (roughly $66 USD). Out of my budget now, but in the future….
  • Mastodon Is Like Twitter Without Nazis, So Why Are We Not Using It?: I'm @djwudi on mastodon.social, if you're over that way.
  • Joss Whedon’s Greatest…hits?: My new album, Joss Whedon Kind Of Really Sucks and Even Though I Have and May Continue to Enjoy Some of His Shows or Aspects of His Shows That Doesn’t Mean That I Don’t Need To Recognize How They Have A Lot of Problematic Elements, is coming out next week!
  • How to Make the Electoral College Work for Everyone: The Constitution asks us to elect a president of the United States, but what we get is a president of Ohio and Florida. There’s an easy way to fix that.
  • UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it: The information networks we’ve built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor. “Your brain tells you ‘Hey, I got this from three different sources,’ ” she says. “But you don’t realize it all traces back to the same place, and might have even reached you via bots posing as real people. If we think of this as a virus, I wouldn’t know how to vaccinate for it.”

Linkdump for March 31st through April 2nd

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between March 31st and April 2nd.

Sometime between March 31st and April 2nd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • Rosie’s Phenomenal Precision Insult Machine!: Don't reach for those old, tired gendered, ableist, or otherwise lazy and harmful insults. Trust the machine to help you find the perfect, targeted insult for your specific needs! (Does not contain gendered- genital-based insults, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, dis-ableism, body-shaming, slut-shaming. May contain peanuts.)
  • Joss Whedon’s obsession is not feminism: The problem is that at some point in his career, Joss became so intent on the masochistic fantasy of being hated by strong women for being a nerd that he spent a decade writing stories about violating those women to ensure they would hate him.
  • Of dwarves and gender: So one day a dwarf is talking to a human and finally realizes that when humans say woman, they generally mean “person who is theoretically capable of childbirth” because for whatever reason, humans assign social expectations based genital differences.
  • On Wm. Golding’s Lord of the Flies: Basically all the good Golding scholars agree that Lord of the Flies is intended as a condemnation specifically of western positivism and superiority, not a condemnation of human nature.  Golding believed that good societies were possible, but that he was not living in one.
  • What’s Wrong With Using The Word “Gypsy?”: TL;DR: It's racist. Here is a list of myths and realities about the Romani/Roma people.

Linkdump for March 30th from 13:25 to 16:32

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between 13:25 and 16:32 on March 30th.

Sometime between 13:25 and 16:32 on March 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Male Power Fantasy (and why Mad Max and Captain Kirk don’t fit): This relates to a theory I have, which is that the archetypal Western Male Hero is James Bond, to the degree that people (Mainly straight white men) start to see every Western Male Hero as James Bond. Which is to say an aggressively masculine, quip-spitting, hyper violent womanizer. The ultimate Male Power Fantasy. A new supermodel love interest (or two) every film, a gun in his hand, and no consequences for his actions.
  • So many biological genders: If anyone tells you that there are 2-3 sexes in the world I want you to just go ahead and slap them.
  • Fight Club and toxic masculinity (with a side of Mad Max: Fury Road): Hold up – you mean there are people who watch Fight Club and don’t realise that Tyler Durden is meant to be full of shit?
  • Geisha FAQ: Please do not spread misconceptions about these hard-working women artists. They deserve respect and have persevered for centuries with women at the forefront of these professions.
  • Earth is dangerous: I really want a science fiction story where aliens come to invade earth and effortlessly wipe out humanity, only to be fought off by the wildlife.
  • Of privilege and nostalgia: The reality is, there was never a time when everyone could just enjoy things. To be able to say you had that time is to admit the privilege you had at not having to think about problematic behavior because it didn’t negatively affect your life.
  • To everyone else in the galaxy, all humans are basically Doc Brown.: Random Headcanon: That Federation vessels in Star Trek seem to experience bizarre malfunctions with such overwhelming frequency isn’t just an artefact of the television serial format. Rather, it’s because the Federation as a culture are a bunch of deranged hyper-neophiles, tooling around in ships packed full of beyond-cutting-edge tech they don’t really understand.
  • Snarky but amusing and thorough Romeo and Juliet analysis: SUMMARY: Romeo and Juliet is a stunningly rich play that is mostly about how feuds fuck people over badly and how if you have to wait until YOUR KIDS OFF THEMSELVES to figure that out you deserve to lose your children. Romeo and Juliet are victims of the feud and its mindless death-lust, not perpetrators of death on others. They’re not supposed to be figures of ridicule OR representatives of True Love: they’re supposed to make the audience go “oh BABIES, no, you’re going to end so badly” and then be sad when they do.
  • The singular “they”: Next time someone complains about singular “they” I’ll point them to this 17th century rant against singular “you”.

Linkdumps are Back

Resurrecting my old occasional digest posts of neat stuff I’ve seen recently, this time using Pinboard, the Pinner iOS app, and the Postalicious WordPress plugin.

For quite a while in the past, I used the del.icio.us bookmarking service to save bookmarks, which were then automagically gathered and posted here as occasional “here’s what I found interesting recently” posts. Unfortunately, del.icio.us went through some changes a few years back, things fell over, I got distracted by other projects, and the whole thing fell apart.

I’ve been missing that aspect of my blog, though (along with the ability to quickly search through a list of bookmarks to find that thing I know I read a while back that I’d love to refer someone to while it’s on my mind), and have finally resurrected the system (with a few changes).

Rather than using the del.icio.us service again, I’m instead using Pinboard. It’s essentially the same thing that del.icio.us was “back in the day” — simple and fast saving of bookmarks, complete with a field for descriptions or excerpts, and tagging for categorization — with some extra niceties that either weren’t part of del.icio.us or that I just don’t remember, such as being able to designate particular links as “private”. Plus, there are a few iOS apps for easy mobile use of Pinboard, and after finding this review of a few, I’ve installed Pinner.

I’ve set up an IFTTT applet so that if I tag a link on Pinboard with the “.twitter” tag, that link will automatically get posted as a Tweet to my Twitter account for quick sharing that way.

Finally, I was quite happy to discover that Postalicious, the WordPress plugin I used to collect and post my del.icio.us links, still works (even though it hasn’t been updated in six years), and works fine with Pinboard.

So, as I find interesting stuff, I’ll toss links into Pinboard, and every so often (when there are at least five new links since the last time Postalicious checked), a Linkdump post will show up here on Eclecticism.

I’ve started off by tossing a few of the many Tumblr posts I’ve liked into Pinboard (both as a test of the new setup, and because there’s a lot of discussion on Tumblr that I’ve found and enjoyed over time, but which is nearly impossible to find again without something like Pinboard to keep track of them). More links will come as time goes by.

It’s not quite the same as if I were actually posting here as regularly as I used to (or that, ideally, I would like to), but at least it will get some movement here between my all-too-infrequent “real” posts.

Linkdump for March 30th from 11:01 to 11:37

An automatically generated list of links that caught my eye between 11:01 and 11:37 on March 30th.

Sometime between , I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

2017 PK Dick Reviews

Here are my thoughts on each of the nominated books, in order from my least favorite to my personal favorite and pick for the award.

Once again, I’ve read through all of the nominated works for this year’s Philip K. Dick Awards — and there’s still almost two full months to go before the award ceremony! I think this is the fastest I’ve gotten through all of the year’s nominees. (Of course, it helped that two of them were short enough that I got through them both within 24 hours.)
Here are my thoughts on each of the nominated books, in order from my least favorite to my personal favorite and pick for the award (if I got a vote, which I don’t, and I’ve yet to pick a winner, so perhaps it’s best not to put too much stock in my opinion…).

  • The Mercy Journals, by Claudia Casper: Not as much of a dreary slog as I’d anticipated (not due to the author at all, but to the setting), but still a post-apocalyptic “everything sucks and we’re trying desperately to survive” slog. While I can recognize that it’s well written, I was tired of post-apocalyptic slogs even before it looked like they were going to be even more prescient than I’d ever thought (this one even has a US/Mexico border wall), which I know colors my impression of the book. At least this one does have moments of peace, beauty, and hope here and there; even filtered through the lens of a wounded, PTSD-suffering ex-soldier, those moments were appreciated.
  • Graft, by Matt Hill: A rather bleak and dismal look at human trafficking in a future where the victims are cybernetically modified on the other side of a trans-dimensional portal. I’m not entirely sure if it was my unfamiliarity with British slang or the author’s style, but it took a long time for me to find the rhythm and really get into the book; that, coupled with the near-total lack of joy or any form of happiness, made this one a bit of a slog for me.
  • Consider, by Kristy Acevedo: Apparently I enjoy pre-apocalyptic stories more than post-apocalyptic stories. This was an enjoyable read, as the teen heroine struggles with family and anxiety as the end of the world approaches. The mystery of the vortexes and what, if anything, lies on the other side had me unsure just how the book would wrap up, and while I’m not entirely sure about the end, I don’t find it entirely objectionable, either. Not sure if this will be my final pick, but it was the most enjoyable for me so far (with three of the six nominees read).
  • Super Extra Grande, by Yoss, translated by David Frye: A fun, quick read. In a future where faster than light travel was discovered by an Ecuadorian priest, and Spanglish is the common language used among the seven known intelligent races, a “veterinarian to giants” has to rescue two people from a 200-kilometer wide amoeba. Neat to see a future where Hispanic culture has become prominent, and there’s a lot of humor (and one literal laugh-out-loud moment for me).
  • Unpronounceable, by Susan diRende: The funniest of this year’s PK Dick nominees, and another short, quick read. When professional diplomats can’t make any headway in connecting with an alien race of pink blobs, who better to send than a smartass Jersey girl? I got a lot of laughs out of this one, and Rose makes a perfect (if nontraditional) ambassador.
  • Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens, by Eleanor Arnason: Thoroughly enjoyed this one. A collection of stories, most essentially folk tales, all originally from the only other intelligent alien life humanity has encountered. Similar to us in many ways, dissimilar in others, the stories both expose us to the history and culture of this world and comment on its morals and beliefs…and, of course, by doing so, allows us to examine our own. It frequently reminded me of Barry B. Longyear’s The Enemy Papers, another collection of stories examining alien history and culture that I very much enjoyed (and now want to re-read, as it’s been a long time). Apparently I have a thing for sociological science fiction.

2017 PK Dick Nominees

Looks like a very interesting lineup of nominees for this year’s P.K. Dick awards!

The nominees for this year’s Philip K. Dick awards have been announced! I look forward to this list every year, as the award ceremony is held at Norwescon each year. For the past few years I’ve been making it a point to read all of the nominees before the ceremony, so that I can have my own opinion as to which work I think should win (and so far, I haven’t picked correctly once), and because it’s a lot of fun to be in the room with the authors or their representatives when the award is given out.

This year’s lineup looks like an interesting one. Of the six books, only one looks to be in the post-apocalyptic vein, which I count as a good thing, as that was a definite theme for a few years that I got a little burnt out on. Of the other five, one book is a YA novel, one’s from a Cuban author and has been translated to English, one looks to be more straightforward SF adventure, one looks enjoyably weird, and one looks particularly interesting to me.

I’ve ordered my copies from Amazon, they should be here early next week, and I’m looking forward to diving into them.