2010-11-04, Me

On the Kerfuffle Over the Hugos

I'm not a member of Worldcon this year, which is kind of a shame because I'd like to vote against the slate nominations (both Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies), even in the instances where I might otherwise have considered a nominee (e.g., Toni Weisskopf for Editor, Long Form; Guardians of the Galaxy, Dramatic Presentation, Long Form; or Skin Game by Jim Butcher, Best Novel -- though I likely wouldn't have voted for it, at least it's not a bad nom). I've been reading the holy gods long and occasionally rancorous discussions about the noms at Making Light (if you somehow aren't aware, that's the blog run by Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Tor Books, and several other highly knowledgeable fans and pros, and which has a commenting community that is both widely read and intelligent, partly the result of strong moderation), and think that I agree with the folks who won't vote for a slate nominee even if they think it's a worthy nomination, since slate nomination/voting distorts the spirit and tradition of the Hugo Awards (and pushes it more toward the political model, with limited choices, that we tend to see, rather than the open field that we've mostly had since they were established).

I know that other people think differently, and feel that a nominee is a nominee, and if one is worthy, then they'll vote for it. That's a valid POV, and I see where they're coming from, even if I disagree.

Some people think that the only way to counter "bad" slates is with "good" slates, and the idea scares me. I don't want to see the awards become a battleground of ideology (any more than they have been in the past).

Here are some references, with background and information. First, a post that indicates which 2015 Hugo nominees come from which slate, or none (info from a Making Light commenter): http://file770.com/?p=21708

Then the three Making Light threads on the topic, in chronological order:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016177.html…
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016191.html…
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016194.html…
[Caution: these three threads currently have a total of >1600 comments, and the last one is growing fast]

I ask that any discussion here remain civil; I know this is a heated topic, and I would prefer not to (but will) bring the Vorpal Croquet Mallet Of Doom-Doom-Doooooom into play.
2010-11-04, Me

RIP Leonard Nimoy

As with so many other people, I celebrate the life and grieve for the death of Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek's Mr. Spock.

I never met him; by all reports, he was a mensch. For example, this piece he wrote in 1968 for a girl who was of the two worlds that seemed irreconcilable in the US at that time. And Spock, too, was a mensch, who worked hard to be excellent, and wound up being both excellent at what he did, and excellent to his friends.

There's no higher praise I can give, but to admit, freely and proudly, that my ST role-play, from the first time I saw the series in the 1960s, was about Spock, and not Kirk, McCoy, Sulu, etc. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with the other characters; I just thought -- and think -- Spock was the epitome of motherfscking awesomeness.

May Bilbo Baggins sing you to the West, sir. You have well earned it.
2010-11-04, Me

New Year's Intentions

Posted this at FB, and realized it should be here as well.

I have never been very good about keeping resolutions, so here are several intentions for the new year.

I intend to get to the gym at least three times per week (probably M/W/F/ mornings). The sessions certainly won't be long to begin with -- I need to ramp them up, given my current terrible shape -- but they should be consistent, and build up.

I intend to get back to making music. At least five days weekly, at least one hour each, whether on guitar, mandolin, violin, or other strings, while rebuilding the callouses and muscle memories I have lost in not playing for so long.

I intend to continue to get the house in order, to the point where, I hope, in the second half of the year, we have space to entertain guests again.

I intend to continue to do my artwork, at least once weekly, and to clear the last few WIPs while beginning anything new that occurs to me.

I intend to forgive myself when I inevitably miss one of these goals, and NOT allow it to be an excuse to give up. Dammit, it's time to get back on the horse.

Quick note: all of this to start on Monday, January 5; I've been on vacation at year-end and don't mind starting this when I am no longer vacated.
2010-11-04, Me

A Quick Political Note

Tomorrow is the NY primary, which will largely determine who the candidates are for state office. I recommend that anyone in NY who's registered with a party (NY's primaries are strictly per party, unlike many other states) get out and vote.

Of course, I recommend that Democrats vote the same way as me, i.e., for Zephyr Teachout and Louis Tim Wu. It's pretty telling that while the NYTimes didn't endorse Teachout, neither did they endorse the incumbent, Andrew Cuomo. Considering the possible shenanigans he pulled with the committee intended to investigate corruption, in which he apparently directed it not to investigate his people, that's a very strong statement for the Times. Moreover, they DID endorse Wu over conservadem Kathy Hochul, who looks like another triangulating Rockefeller Republican, rather than the modern progressive Democrat NY needs.

If Cuomo and Hochul win, I'll hold my nose and vote for them as by far the lesser evil in November, but I really hope not to have to.
2010-11-04, Me

Doctor Who, Series 8

No spoilers, though skirting the edge.

I have a love/hate relationship with Clara, especially after her utterly shallow reaction to the Doctor's regeneration at the beginning of Series 8.

Kind of saw where this ep was going early on, when I wondered why they didn't deal with what turned out to be the solution when it was clearly the key to the episode the first time they encountered it.

Fascinated by the Doctor's refusal to bring Journey Blue along because she's a soldier. We keep running up against violence vs non-violent solutions as a major theme this series, and we're only two eps in.

And, of course, who's Missy? (I see five possibilities: (1) The Master, reincarnated female (others have already noted "Missy"<--"Mistrress"); (2) The Rani (less likely, I think); (3) The Valeyard (possible but not as likely even as the Rani); (4) an embittered, empowered Clara (so far what she's done is consistent with the powers of, say Souffle Girl); (5) something else. We DO know that she has some way of keeping track of the Doctor, and some way of retrieving his victims from oblivion (I suspect a transmat just prior to death in the case of the human; rebuilding the robot is a far less difficult matter).

Okay. Enough for now.
Bookgasm - in color

Books That Have Stayed With Me

All the Kool Ckids are doing it, and it got me thinking, which is the whole point. So nu, here are ten-plus books that have stayed with me throughout the years. They're in no particular order (except that some of them are associated in my head with others), and I reserve the right to could-have-had-a-V8 and add to the list:

The Butterfly Kid - Chester Anderson
Black and Blue Magic - Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig
The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff
Illusions - Richard Bach
Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Glory Road - Robert Heinlein
The Forbidden Tower - Marion Zimmer Bradley
Moving Pictures/Rock Music (the entire Discworld series, really, but if I have to choose...) - Terry Pratchett
The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything - John D Macdonald
Brave New World/1984 (These are inextricably linked in my mind) - Aldous Huxley/George Orwell

[Note: Yes, it's been a while. I'm mostly on FB these days, and really should return here for more long-form blogging and the other things -- like the people -- that LJ is better at.]
2010-11-04, Me

National Day of Mourning, 28 January

As everyone, their mother, and their cats have noted today, musical and actiivist icon Pete Seeger passed away early this morning of natural causes at age 94. It's not a tragedy, because of the rich legacy he leaves in both music and conscience, a higher ideal than many of us can aspire to reach (though an excellent one to aim for).

Add that to the fact that this date is also the anniversary of the Challenger disaster, and it would be a good day for a National Day of Mourning in the US (and elsewhere).

Here's a song that's triply appropriate, as being Pete making music (though not a song he wrote) with an environmental theme, and about space.

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Bookgasm - in color

Making Excuses for Science Fiction in Locus

One of the best explanations of the genre I've read, by Kameron Hurley.

Pull quote: "When I looked at what I’d call ‘‘breakout’’ books – books that everybody I know is reading, not just my trusted SF/F circle of buddies – I started to notice a common thread. No one ever tried to sell me on Carrie by say­ing, ‘‘You really need to have a solid understanding of telekinesis.’’ Not a single Hunger Games fan said, ‘‘You’ll only get it if you’ve already read Battle Royale.’’ Instead, they talked plainly about the stories – the bullied high school girl who gets revenge. The older sister who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in a fight-to-the-death lottery. They sold me on impossible situations and impossible choices. They sold me on stories."

Yep. It's about the people, and their stories. The technology (or magic, or both) is a useful way of shining lights and holding up mirrors, but it's all about the human experience.
Calvin Dancing

Paging browngirl

Have you heard this song yet? (It won't embed without me logging into Vimeo, which I don't want to do. Besides. the information is about the song on that page.)

ETA: NOT casting aspersions on your baking; this is about other folks' concoctions and prejudices and cliches. But you are associated with this baking in my mind, and thought you'd want to hear it. And maybe filk it for competent baking :-)

Enjoy!
2010-11-04, Me

Vote for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame!

If you've ever wanted a voice in the MLB Hall of Fame election, you're in luck! The website Deadspin has persuaded (read: purchased) a BBWAA voter to vote the way the site's readers tell him to. There are numerous reasons each of them has done this, though the one they go on about is "to make a mockery and farce of the increasingly solemn and absurd election process, and to take some power from the duly appointed custodians of the game's history and turn it over to the public."

Whether you agree or not that the ballot should be mocked (and there are lots of reasons to do so, starting with the fact that many eligible voters no longer actually cover the game), here's your chance to vote for the Deadspin ballot, which (along with its voter) will be revealed only AFTER the results of the HoF election are announced.

If you need lifetime stats for anyone, you can find them at Baseball-Reference or The Baseball Cube.

FWIW, here's my ballot:

Tim Raines
Alan Trammell
Mike Piazza
Greg Maddux
Tom Glavine
Jack Morris
Mike Mussina
Frank Thomas
Jeff Bagwell
Craig Biggio

Explicitly NOT voting for admitted PED users. (Suspected is a different story. Show me the evidence and I might change my mind.) So no Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, or Mark McGwire.

In another year, I might have voted for Lee Smith or Edgar Martinez. But Frank Thomas is, IMO, a better DH than Martinez -- despite Edgar's also being deserving -- and Smith is probably a borderline yes in a year that doesn't have a dozen or fifteen legitimate candidates. (Personally, I dislike the ten person limit, but it's in place, so there.)

Anyway, go vote.