Category Archives: Uncategorized

The End of a Blog and the Start of a New One

Hullo hullo, lovely readers!

I’m very pleased to announce that I’m going to be moving my blogging activities!  Some friends and I decided to start a new group blog together.  It’s called Bad Menagerie, and I’ll be blogging there henceforth.

This is quite exciting, and I hope you’ll enjoy the new content just as much as I will — many of the people I’m blogging with are far funnier than I am!  (Also, there will be comics and other art.  There already is.  It’s da bomb.)

We started the blog Monday, and have three posts up so far:

IT’S ALL SHINY AND NEW I AM SO EXCITED GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, what will happen over here?  I’m not going to delete the archives of this blog, obviously — all the permalinks will remain intact.  I will be freezing user registration and commenting here in the near future, though, and resetting my top menu to show the old blog archives (here) and the new blog (where I’m actually blogging).  The rest of this site will remain active as my author website.

Thank you for reading and following my journey here.  I truly hope you all will enjoy the new blog as much as I think you will.

Hugos 2014

I’ve only got a minute here — I’m buried in edits — but I wanted to drop a quick note about this year’s Hugos before we’re too far out.

The full list of winner and nomination votes is here: http://loncon3.org/hugos/2014%20Hugo%20awards%20full%20details.pdf

First, congratulations to all the winners!

Second . . .

I’m on record as having problems with the Hugos.  But this year has made me feel a lot more invested and a lot more excited about both the Hugo process and SFF awards in general.  Not because everything I wanted won — in fact, I think my first choice lost in more categories than it won, giving me a few wallops of disappointment! — but because I observed so much passion in the discussions surrounding the Hugos this year, so much love for the genre, so much desire even by people who had problems with the awards to make their voices heard, to vote, to make it be better.

I can’t say I still don’t have problems with the awards.  But in one year I’ve gone from not caring at all about the Hugos to caring quite a lot, and I think that’s down to the people in the SFF community around me, the people who put so much passion into recognizing the voices in our genre that speak to them.  You’ve made me care, y’all.

Also, the Hugo packet?  Pretty rad reading.  I’ve gotten way more into short fiction the past few years, and I really dug having such a great collection of it to immerse myself in.  And I’ve gone on to recommend a bunch of the short pieces I read this year to others.  (I’ll probably be making rec posts for some of them here, too, as soon as I get some time.)

I’m very much looking forward to nominating and voting next year now.  And I hope even more people consider nominating and voting as time goes on.  I have to say, it felt rather excellent to cast my ballot for honoring some remarkable talent, and I’m excited to keep doing that.

Truly, congratulations to everyone who won.

(And hey, now maybe I’ll finally send in my application to be in the Emmy academy.  After all, Orphan Black NEEDS that nomination . . . ;) )

I Am An American, and This Is Not Okay

The violence in Ferguson is still happening.  Another journalist was arrested today.  The National Guard is coming in.  By all appearances, the local PD seems to be invested in fanning the flames and working against the Missouri Highway Patrol (who briefly had things under better management) and the DOJ/FBI.  Follow the links from my previous post for coverage.

I want to say something about what’s happening here.  It’s not as important as what other people are saying — go read them — but I want to say it.

There’s a fairly vocal subset of the US-based Internet who seems to like to cry, “Free speech!  First Amendment!” at the drop of a hat.  Even when it doesn’t apply.  Like when people’s words get criticized (not a free speech violation).  Or when people lose the platform that was previously provided by another free person (also not a free speech violation).  Or when people are banned from privately-owned spaces (seriously, NOT a free speech violation).

You know what qualifies as actual First Amendment violations?  Gross, extreme, no-American-should-be-okay-with-this First Amendment violations?  What’s happening in Ferguson right the fuck now.

Journalists being arrested.  Press and citizens being told by authorities to stop recording.  Police aggressively preventing citizens from engaging in peaceful assembly or protest.  News helicopters being banned.  People having guns pointed at them or handcuffs slapped on them because they were standing or walking or talking or shouting or protesting or recording or associating in a manner a police officer didn’t like.  Curfews.  Snipers.  Tear gas.

IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE BILL OF RIGHTS, IF YOU BELIEVE IN THE FIRST AMENDMENT, THIS IS WHEN YOU GET MAD.  THIS IS WHEN YOU GET BEYOND OUTRAGED.  THIS IS WHEN YOU THROW A FUCKING SHITFIT.

The people of Ferguson are my fellow Americans.  And this is what it looks like when Americans’ rights are being violated.

For God’s sake, get angry.

Ferguson: Everyone Needs to Be Following This

I haven’t said much on Ferguson because I don’t have anything smart to add, and also I’m here safe on the West Coast and not in St. Louis having tear gas thrown in my fucking yard.  But I realized: I can and should signal boost, even to my small audience here.  To anyone I can.  Because if you’re not following what’s going on in Ferguson, start right now.  Police are assaulting unarmed protesters with tear gas — journalists are being arrested — a no-fly zone has been instituted — police are ordering citizens and reporters to turn off their cameras —

THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN FERGUSON, MISSOURI. JUST OUTSIDE ST. LOUIS.

And there’s no substantive response — none — from the state or federal governments.

A lot of media outlets aren’t giving full coverage.  Places to start:

#Ferguson on Twitter

@AntonioFrench is a St. Louis alderman tweeting from the ground in Ferguson, he’s giving a stunning level of coverage eta: It’s being reported on Twitter that he’s now been arrested.

Here’s a Twitter list of people tweeting from Ferguson

Here’s a Twitter list of journalists tweeting from Ferguson (thank you to those journalists — media, we need more, send more)

This article summarizes responses from horrified military and vets: “We rolled lighter than that in an actual war zone.”

This livestream is no longer live (as of this writing) but you can see prior footage of police attacking a group of unarmed protesters with hands raised — police demand that they turn off cameras but they keep filming.

Talk about this — tell people — link about it — especially my fellow USAians, let our government know that this is not okay.  That our leaders MUST respond.  Let the people of Ferguson know they are not alone.  Make #Ferguson trend across the country, demand a response from the government of Missouri and our president.

I am angry, and I stand with Ferguson.

Why Amazon Getting the Snot Kicked Out of It Might Be the Best Outcome For Self-Publishers

There’s a contract dispute going on right now between Amazon and Hatchette, one of the “Big 5” publishers.  Lately, there has been some increasingly outsized rhetoric by people in the writing world, with some people trying to frame Amazon or Hatchette as the good guy and the other as an evil evilling evil monster.  I’m not going to link — Google if you must, but you’ll probably come away with a headache.

I don’t feel I know enough about the issues under dispute to have a firm opinion on what the outcome should be or whose tactics are more underhanded than whose.  From what I know I will tentatively say that I think it would probably be a good thing for the book market as a whole if Hatchette is able to (at least mostly) stand its ground against Amazon, but I’d be willing to be convinced otherwise on that.[1]

But one thing that’s happened lately is that a few voices in self-publishing have spoken up to plant self-publishers firmly on the side of Amazon The Glorious Let Us All Love Amazon, with Hatchette painted as the Reader-Hating Author-Trampling Hellhound, Slavering to Mash the Poor Book Industry in its Fanged Jaws.

I’m not sure quite what I think on this dispute, but I’m pretty damn certain it’s not going to be that.  Most things, in my experience, have a bit more nuance to them.

But here’s the crux of what I wanted to address here: I see self-publishers saying that others calling for boycotts of Amazon will disproportionately hurt their incomes (since most self-publishers make the majority of their sales through Amazon).  I see self-publishers complaining that others don’t understand how important Amazon is to self-publishers and that we all need to appreciate this fact more.

But I think Amazon taking it in the chin here would ultimately be better for self-publishers — for all authors and publishers, actually.  Oddly, I think that would be good for us regardless of whether they’re in the wrong.  To be clear: I’m not saying they should be punished if it turns out they were all rainbows and sunshine this whole time and just had horribly bad PR; I just see them being dinged as being ultimately beneficial to self-published authors rather than detrimental.

Yes, Amazon did a lot of really cool things with disruptive innovation that helped self-publishers.  I’m a HUGE fan of disruptive innovation!  I think it’s awesome.  I’m on record as saying that I think people should ALWAYS adapt new business models to changing technologies rather than try to restrict or destroy them — for instance, the answer to television piracy isn’t “sue people into oblivion,” it’s Hulu.  I love it when people do shit like that.  I loved the ideas Amazon had from the outset — I was going around telling people it would succeed when the stock price was a nickel and everyone said it was going to go bankrupt the next year.  And I love a lot of what Amazon did to help catapult the ebook market into existence.  (I don’t like other things it did in doing so, of course, as that is the nature of life — I’m bound to agree with some things and not with others — but I like a lot of it.)

Amazon has done a lot of cool things.  It’s also done a lot of shitty things, both as regards ebooks and not.  It has some shady business practices.  And it’s out for its own self-interests.  The fact that it’s done a lot of cool innovation in that self-interest doesn’t make the innovation any less cool — but, you know, it also means I’m not about to give Amazon much of my own personal loyalty.

And the fact that I think Amazon has done some really cool things doesn’t change the fact that it scares the shit out of me.  My impression of Amazon is that it is unrelentingly competitive: it weakens and gobbles up other markets and does its absolute damnedest to be the only game in town.  It’s like the Blob.  It wants to absorb the brains of everyone in the world and then control as much of the market of everything as it possibly can.

(Google scares me in much the same way, but at least Google’s PR machine has done a much better job of convincing me it would be a benevolent dictator, which probably speaks well to their PR.  Still doesn’t mean I want either company to take over the world.)

What happens if Amazon gains 80, 85, 90 percent of the book market?

I don’t know.  I don’t want to know.  I don’t think any other authors or publishers want to know, either.  I don’t think it would be good for any of us.  Because Amazon’s out for Amazon.

If people boycott Amazon because of the ongoing controversy — and let’s be clear, I am not advocating a boycott, nor do I think an effective one to be likely — then what happens?

Amazon isn’t much hurt much, really.  Most of what they sell isn’t books, and most people not in the book world probably don’t know or care that this is happening.  The biggest ding from any boycotting will happen in book purchases.  Yes, that might hurt self-publishers in the short term (though it may, assuming people are buying equal numbers of books, help independent bookstores on the other side — which I consider a good thing but may understandably be of cold comfort to self-publishers).  But it also potentially gets book buyers onto other platforms.

The more readers are on a diversity of platforms, the better I feel about my future as a self-publisher.  The more viable retailers there are, the better protected I feel by the competition among those retailers for a slice of my book sales.  It becomes an environment in which, I believe, the publishing atmosphere can better remain a viable one for self-publishing in the long term.  (And remember, much as Amazon helped self-publishers, they did not invent self-publishing — it exists independent of Amazon, and I wish it existed more independent of Amazon.)

Anyone with near-total control of the ebook market could easily make self-publishing into something people make hobby money off of only.  Heck, there’s been plenty of rhetoric in self-publishing already that making a little hobby money is better than not being published at all.  And I see this sort of thing happening in my other industry (movies) already: people are so desperate to work that they’ll sell themselves for almost nothing.

Like I said, I don’t know enough about the actual terms under dispute between Hatchette and Amazon to have an informed opinion on them.  Maybe Amazon’s being unreasonable.  Maybe Hatchette is.  Maybe (far more likely) they both are, and the situation’s all sorts of complicated and they’re both using underhanded tactics and authors are caught in the middle.

Here’s what I do think: whether in this dispute or any other, whether the other guy is more evil or not, it might be an overall good thing if Amazon’s book market share were to be disrupted.  Even if it were to mean fewer sales for self-publishers in the short term.  Because I worry about my ability to sell my books over the long term, and I can’t see how Amazon getting more and more of a stranglehold on the ebook market is a good thing for any of us.

I’m not urging anyone to have an opinion on the Amazon/Hatchette issues that they don’t hold.  By all means, hold whatever opinion you have after reading through the issues (or, like me, hold no firm opinion!).  I’m also not trying to suggest that people looking at what’s best for THEM should necessarily be the driving force behind what they think the outcome here should be.  But I do think people should re-think the rhetoric that any hurt to Amazon is a hurt to self-publishers — I, for one, suspect that the exact opposite is true.

  1. I have no particular love for Hatchette, by the way — they’re probably the most anti-free data, pro-DRM of the Big 5.  My concerns are more broadly how this is going to affect the book industry, authors, and other publishers.

Radio Silence, Part Deux

One of these days I will NOT overestimate my ability to keep up with online obligations while dealing with health concerns, and will post one of these messages before I go dark.

Anyway: I’ve been mostly offline for the past month or so dealing with the final stages of my cancer treatment.  It went well (w00t!).  I am, hopefully, mostly done.

Completely over-optimistically, I did not set up an email autoresponder or, yanno, post something like this beforehand, because I thought, “oh, I’ll be able to work through it this time.”

Yeah . . . that didn’t happen.

I sincerely apologize to everyone in my piled-up email inbox and Twitter stream, not for going dark for cancer (I’m sure you’ll grant me that ;) ), but for being too stubborn to put up a notice or autoreply in advance.  Sometimes that sort of thing feels like admitting defeat, when really it’s just . . . having forethought.

*tiptoes sheepishly back online*

It will take me a little time to get through my backed-up correspondence, for which I beg your patience. Please feel free to re-email me if you’re afraid your message got lost in the shuffle.

The Hacker’s Definition of Morning

Back at MIT, we pulled a lot of all-nighters.  Linguistically, it became convenient to know when “tomorrow” or “morning” happened.  Midnight?  Sunrise?  First class of the day? Do you have to sleep and wake up for it to qualify as tomorrow?

I don’t know who came up with this originally, and I can’t find it in an Internet search, but common MIT culture was to refer to the “hacker’s definition” of morning — namely, that “tomorrow” occurs when two out of the following three things happen:

  • You wake up.
  • The sun rises.
  • You eat breakfast.

I have just gotten home.  And I ate some eggs!  But since the sun hasn’t risen and I didn’t wake up, it’s not Saturday yet.  In fact, I’m going to go to sleep now, and when I wake up the sun will be in the sky, so even if I skip breakfast it’ll officially be Tomorrow.

#coderbooks

Someone started a hashtag last week called #coderbooks.  I was late to the party, but once I started doing it I COULDN’T STOP.  Rather than inflict them all on Twitter, I’m collecting my amusements here:

  • The Black Perl Script #coderbooks
  • The Man in the Iron Emacs #coderbooks
  • The Greatest Iteration #coderbooks
  • Henry vi #coderbooks
  • #000000 Beauty #coderbooks
  • Lord of the Files #coderbooks
  • Waiting for Sudo #coderbooks
  • The Secret LIFO of Bees #coderbooks
  • Root #coderbooks
  • Rikki-Tikki-Java #coderbooks
  • The Greps of Wrath #coderbooks
  • The Old Man and the C++ #coderbooks
  • To Kill -9 a Mockingbird #coderbooks

And here are some #codermovies, too!

  • My Big Fat Greek Threading #codermovies
  • Fatal Abstraction #codermovies

*snorfle*

Thanks to whoever created the hashtag!