- Heads up: Today is the last day you can register (for free) to vote for the Dragon Awards, which will be presented at DragonCon next weekend. The Hugo Awards have made their preferences clearly known; for the cast-out Puppy cohort the Dragons are every bit as good and probably better.
- The least affordable American cities, and how much you need to be making to buy a home in them. Do you need to live in Silicon Valley to have a satisfying career? No. Whatever salary you make will go direct to landlords, or to long-time homeowners who will take your million+ and retire. Get Thy Ass Unto Omaha.
- Zerohedge posted a chart showing how much Obamacare premiums are going up in 2017, by state. Carol and I have been paying $20,000 per year for premiums since the ACA killed our pre-ACA policy. (Didn’t somebody important say we could keep our plan if we liked it?) This is starting to make Medicare look good. (Thanks to Charlie Martin for the link.)
- The FTC is going after a large publisher of nominally peer-reviewed scientific journals, claiming that almost no peer review is done on the articles. Also, people named as editors by the publisher were often not affiliated with the firm in any way. Sigh. Peer review is not any sort of gold standard these days. I’m thinking it might be a zinc standard, or perhaps a tin standard.
- People scratch their heads when I say that Woodrow Wilson was the worst US President ever. He is also the most-bleached. The reasons I loathe him begin with his racism but are mostly about his hatred of the US Constitution. He came as close as any President ever did to being a dictator, and that’s precisely what he wanted to be.
- Here’s a map depicting every cargo ship in the world and where it was going at the displayed time. Yes, yes, the map is from 2012, but it’s a good illustration of how goods move around the world. I don’t see any action in the Northwest Passage, but there are ships going up and down the coast of Greenland, and a few crossing under South America through Tierra Del Fuego.
- Here are some photos of more Tarzans and Janes than I’ve ever seen in one place, gathered at LACon in 1975 for the 100th birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
- Heh. I was a big Tarzan fan in grade school. And I actually met Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. In fact, I think she may have been about to ask me down to the bar for a drink. Or maybe not; and I wonder if I missed a chance to make a fascinating new friend that night.
- Friday was International Boron Appreciation Day, and in the excitement of National Dog Day, I missed it. How could you blame me? There wasn’t a mule in sight. (Thanks again to Charlie Martin for the link.)
- Today is Go Topless Day. Why don’t they have a National Ytterbium Appreciation Day? I can go topless any time, but damn, ytterbium gets no respect at all!
So another Worldcon is now history, and people immediately began asking me what I thought. When Kansas City won the 2016 bid as MidAmericon II a few years ago, I’d had some hopes of attending. Then we decided to move to Phoenix, and our near-term lifestyle choices narrowed radically. Next year the con is in Finland, which would be a cool trip, but…well…no.
So all I know is what I’ve heard. And most of what I’ve heard about is, once again, focused on the Hugo Awards. Here’s the official summary. I wasn’t particularly surprised by any of it. Each of the three major factions won a little and lost a little. It’s a complicated business, and I’ve written several popular entries on the subject. If you’re coming to the Puppies Saga for the first time, you should probably read what I’ve written in the past:
Most of what I’ve linked to above applies to 2016, even though I wrote it all last year, and what I wrote focused on Sad Puppies 3. There was a Sad Puppies 4 campaign this year, coordinated by Kate Paulk, Sarah A. Hoyt, and Amanda S. Green. I wrote about that earlier this year, when the 2016 nominations appeared:
As you can see from the marvelous SP4 logo from Lee “Artraccoon” Madison, the SP4 motto was “The Embiggening.” The goal was to bring still more people to Worldcon and the Hugo Awards process, as a means of fighting the worsening numeric irrelevance of the con and the awards. The other, more subtle goal of SP4 was to combat the ideological monoculture of Hugo-nominated fiction, art, and media, by nominating works and people outside the narrow boundaries of what’s acceptable to the ideological progressives in SFF.
Mike Glyer did a very good comparison of the final ballot against the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies lists back in April. Vox Day got 64 of his 81 recommendations on the final ballot, which I found nothing short of astonishing, especially considering some “poison pill” items like Chuck Tingle’s “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” and an episode of My Little Pony. Sad Puppies didn’t do quite as well, placing only 36 out of 80 recommendations on the final ballot.
A sidenote: I do not use the term “SJW” (social justice warrior) for a couple of reasons, which I’ll explain here on Contra at some point. Basically, it’s about accuracy and the objective meanings of words.
So what happened at MidAmericon II? These are the major items:
- Sad Puppies 4 brought a significant number of new memberships to Worldcon. Attendance figures have not been released at this writing, but 4,032 valid nomination ballots were cast, and 3,130 valid voting ballots. That’s about twice last year’s numbers. Obviously, not all of those additional people were Sad Puppies supporters, but many of them were certainly APs (Anti-Puppies) who might not have joined except to counter the Puppies threat.
- Virtually all of the winners were people and works favored by the Worldcon Elite and their loyal followers.
- Vox Day continued his efforts to get the Worldcon community to destroy its own Hugo Awards by voting the doomsday slate of No Award over anybody recommended by either the Sad Puppies or the Rabid Puppies, or anything published by Vox Day’s publishing company, Castalia House. In the process, they gave him a fortune in absolutely free publicity, which he promptly used to build Castalia’s readership. I don’t know Vox and certainly don’t agree with all his positions, but I marvel at the hammerlock he has on his opponents’ attention. They. Just. Can’t. Get. Enough. Vox. Day.
- MidAmericon II utterly soiled itself by expelling Tangent Online‘s Dave Truesdale from the con because he made several members of the Worldcon Elite…uncomfortable. Rob Kroese wrote up an excellent summary of that little disaster earlier today, and I won’t attempt to summarize here. Read The Whole Thing, as Glenn Reynolds says. Even Moshe Feder, definitely of SFF’s left wing, thinks that Truesdale did nothing even close to warrant expulsion from the con. As with Vox Day, Dave Truesdale got a fortune in free publicity. MidAmericon II basically lit a bonfire and threw itself into the flames.
- The con venue made hotel room parties almost impossible, and so the much-anticipated Sad Puppies party had to be held sub rosa. I hope this isn’t a trend in con venues. Much of what we used to go for in the 70s and 80s were the room parties.
I’m not sure what more could be said, since I wasn’t there. Worldcon continued to make more enemies. John Scalzi smugly insists that the Puppies should all go home, a sentiment tweeted emphatically by the enigmatic Brianna Wu, who says that SF is her home, and not your (the Puppies) home. Howzat again? I was published and a member of SWFA before she was even born. Sheesh.
Scalzi has said more than once (and he isn’t alone) that Worldcon management should have the power to toss out any Hugo ballots that show evidence of slatework. Oh my, what could possibly go wrong? In essence, he and many others want the Hugos to become a juried award, with their people and only their people on the jury. He wants Sad Puppies supporters to leave the SFF fan community, perhaps not realizing that a great many of them already have, taking their money, their energy, and their insights with them. The great irony of the Worldcon progressive wing calling for more diversity is that diversity of worldview is quickly vanishing from Worldcon. It’s all progressive, all the time, all the way down.
To them that sounds like victory. To me and many others, it sounds like a bonfire.
Move to a new house in a new state. Keep your stomach lining intact.
Ok. Barely a day after we got here, I was putting stuff away in one of the 10-foot-high walk-in closets, lined on both sides with the best infrastructure that Closet Factory can offer, all the way up to the (distant) ceiling. Alluva sudden:
I looked up. Took another direct hit on my forehead. The ceiling was leaking. WTF? The leaks were right next to one of our two heat/AC air handlers in the attic. As we later found out, there was a bad PVC pipe joint in the condensate drain line. By chance I had discovered the leak early: While I watched, three more drip spots appeared on the ceiling wallboard. This was on Saturday afternoon; I tried to contact the home warranty people, and was told by their answerobot to call back on Monday.
Screw that. It was 112 outside. We called a local firm that does service calls on Sunday and hoped that they would arrive before the closet ceiling caved in. They did. They found the bad glue-job in the drain line and fixed it. Now we have to get the ceiling wallboard replaced. Home warranties? Don’t get me started.
Oh. And birds. Last December we took delivery on an expensive patio table-and-chairs set, which spent the several months that we were in Colorado on the patio under the patio’s pair of ceiling fans. Well, without either dogs or humans to disturb them, the local birds took a shine to sitting on the fan blades, comfortably out of direct sun. Sitting, and something else that rhymes with it, in quantity.
Fortunately, the water pressure here is quite high, and our pressure nozzle got everything clean again. But…yukkh!
Carol came up with a solution: Turn on the fans to their lowest possible speed, which is about how fast ceiling fans turn in bad movies set in the African desert. We’ve watched some of the local birdies trying to land on the blades. They hover for a moment, confused, and then go elsewhere in a hurry. If I haven’t told you lately, I married a brilliant woman.
A few days later, I was carting a large and heavy plastic bin of recyclables out to the can. I stumbled, and hit my head on one of the light fixtures to either side of the garage door. No damage to my skull, but the light fixture’s pot-metal casting cracked off from its mount, and is still there swinging from its wires. The fixtures haven’t been available for probably ten years. So do we replace all eleven outside light fixtures with new ones? Or do we quietly swap in one of the fixtures from the hot tub courtyard?
We have close to a quarter acre of quarter-minus pea-gravel. It has dawned on us that sun-baked dog poop is precisely the color of quarter-minus pea-gravel.
My new workshop is so small that there isn’t room to swing a ten-foot length of 1/2″ conduit. Don’t ask me how I know. I’ll be cleaning up the mess for some time.
I have misplaced my entire box of hookup wire. There will be no hooking up until I unearth it.
Having consolidated several toolboxes and bags, I realize that I own nine pairs of dykes, and three spring-loaded wire strippers. This sounds more interesting than it is.
The rat’s tangle of cables in a panel at the far rear wall of my walk-in closet includes four Cat 5 runs that vanish into the ceiling. There are exactly three RJ45 jacks in this house. So where does that fourth cable go? Is it flapping around loose in the walls? Or was it mistakenly wired into an RJ11 landline phone jack? (We don’t have a landline phone and don’t intend to get one.) I’d start removing RJ11 wall plates, except that it would rip up the paint on the plate edges. There is probably a gizmo that can tell me where that fourth Cat 5 is hiding. If you know what it is, please send me a link. I could probably lash something up, but there’s too much else to do.
And…finally…the wherethehells. The boxes are mostly gone, and in their place are piles of wherethehells. A “wherethehell” is something that you don’t want to get rid of, but have no idea where the hell it should go. Wherethehells breed freely in houses without basements. I still have several decks of punch cards from the FORTRAN course I took in high school in early 1970. Wherethehell should they go? What about my last remaining 8-track tape? My two photo tripods? The bundle of 4′ long Lionel track sections? My Lunar globe? We brought a great deal of stuff here in plastic bins. They’re now empty. What do we do with the bins?
The pool has largely kept us sane. Alas, when I jump into the pool, Aero panics and tries to hide on the other side of the house.
There is a second meaning to the command, “Don’t move.” It’s not in any dictionary I have (and I have more dictionaries than dykes) but trust me, I now know what it is.
- Whew. We’re in Phoenix, now permanently, with the Colorado house on MLS. Much remains to be done, but the immense project of getting our house emptied and ready to sell has been nailed. The Smaller But Still Significant Truck Full of Stuff has emptied itself into our living room, and we have a week or two of sorting and sifting and putting away. Overall, we’re in good shape.
- Iconic Mad Magazine cartoonist Jack Davis has died, at 91. I’ll readily admit that I used to read Mad while I was in high school, though not where my parents could see me. Humor mattered to me, as it does to this day. The only Mad artist who rivaled him in my view was Mort Drucker, who is still with us. (“I don’t believe your ears either, Mr. Spook.”)
- I’m wondering if it would be possible to write a Windows-like user shell for Windows 10 IOT, which is available for the RPi. (You would be perfectly justified, this time at least, in asking “Why would you want to do that? Answer: Because it would be a cool hack, and it would probably annoy Microsoft, which is always a plus.)
- Do you see the sunspot? I don’t see the sunspot.
- We have now gone a record 129 months without a major hurricane making landfall on the US mainland. One of my friends continues to argue that Superstorm Sandy was a major hurricane because of the damage it caused. Ok…except “major hurricane” is a technical term in climate science, with a technical definition: Class 3 or above. Sandy was Class 2 when it hit the Atlantic Coast, and not a hurricane at all when it did the most damage. We’re talking about sustained wind speed, which is the only way we have to objectively classify hurricanes and get a handle on hurricane trends over time.
- I got the impression (see above) that I was supposed to bow my head and whisper, “Hurricane Sandy was a horrible tragedy,” every time I talked about hurricane physics. Uhhhh…no. That’s like requiring me to say, “Nuclear bombs are horrible things,” every time I talk about the physics of nuclear fission. Sorry. Not gonna happen. Emotion has no place in science, except to politicize discussion and demonize dissent.
- Where do Americans smoke the most weed? No points for guessing Colorado, though central Maine has a surprising constituency. What else do you do during those interminably miserable winters? (Thanks to Esther Schindler for the link.)
- Speaking of which, Donald Trump supports allowing states to legalize marijuana, a position neither our president nor Hillary Clinton has taken. This is truly the weirdest presidential election in my considerable lifetime.
- To be honest, I’m more interested in nootropics. Here’s a light article worth citing because it mentions a nootropic I had not heard of before: L-theanine.
- Which is best used in conjunction with the oldest and probably best nootropic of all. Drinking coffee significantly reduces the risk of suicide. Well, caffeine raises mood, therefore acting against depression, and depressed people are those mostly likely to kill themselves.
- Oh, and coffee acts against prostate cancer, too. I never drank coffee regularly until I was 33. I hope that wasn’t too late.
- We had numerous Nash Ramblers when I was a kid. The company just turned 100, even though they became AMC and got devoured by Chrysler years ago. Nash did a lot of good stuff, some of it far earlier than their competition.
- Why do I have to say this so much? Genuine virtue does not need signaling. I’ve come to the conclusion that all signaled virtue is fake. The rest of us are onto you. Just stop.