Archive | August 2016

Thank you, Mr. Wilder

Gene Wilder, Gilda Radnor, and Dom DeLuise on the poster for Haunted Honeymoon. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Orion Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.

Gene Wilder, Gilda Radnor, and Dom DeLuise on the poster for Haunted Honeymoon. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Orion Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist. (Click to embiggen)

For many years, Haunted Honeymoon has been my go-to movie for fixing a bad mood. Written, directed, and starring Gene Wilder (along with Gilda Radner, Dom DeLuise, and Jonathan Pryce), it is a silly thrilling tale set in the 1930s. Radio actors Larry Abbott and Vicky Pearle are the stars of the wildly successful Manhattan Mystery Theatre and are engaged to be married, but Larry’s recent erratic behavior has their sponsor ready to cancel the show. Larry’s uncle, Paul Abbott is a “famous psychiatrist” who claims that Larry’s recent engagement had opened a crack in Larry’s mind which can only be cured by forcing Larry to confront his worst fears—to scare him “to death.” Which he’s going to attempt to do while the entire Abbott family is gathered at the country estate of their Great-aunt Katherine.

Aunt Kate (played hilariously by Dom DeLuise in drag), meanwhile, has recently changed her will so that Larry inherits everything. Unless Larry predeceases her, at which point the inheritance goes to all the other Abbotts equally. And someone is stalking Kate’s home in a cheesey werewolf mask, and has already killed one person…

I can’t explain why the show works so well for me. Is it the banter and onscreen chemistry between Gilda and Gene (this was the last movie they made together; mysterious pain she kept feeling during filming was later diagnosed as the ovarian cancer that eventually killed her)? Is it Dom’s hysterical performance as Aunt Kate? Especially the song and dance number Kate and Vicky perform in the music room after dinner? Is it Jonathan Pryce’s delicious performance as the slightly sleazy cousin Charlie? Or Eve Ferret’s vampy turn as Charlie’s girlfriend (and Larry’s ex-) Sylvia?

I don’t know. But I love the movie. My husband always makes certain that we have a copy on more than one of our computers when we go on long trips, in case I wind up in a dismal or vicious mood because things go awry.

Last night I watched it, and I enjoyed it as always. But for the first time I was crying at the end. Because yesterday the world learned that Gene Wilder had died the night before.

I love other movies Gene made. I was ten years old when Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came out. The town we lived in at that time didn’t have a movie theatre. But a mere thirty miles away, just over the border in neighboring Colorado, my grandparents lived in a town that did have a theatre. And I and my sister and Mom all went to see the movie along with my paternal grandmother one summer evening. I loved it, of course. I had read book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a couple of years previously. I remember early on in the movie thinking that they weren’t following the book very faithfully. But once Wilder came out and started playing the mad, bewildering Willy Wonka, I decided that the movie got it right.

I don’t watch this movie as often. Although many people love Wilders’ Willy Wonka even more than I do, my husband had a very different reaction to the film as a child. It gave him nightmares—severe enough that he just can’t watch the show even now as an adult.

And of course I re-watch Young Frankenstein at least once a year. Quoting along and laughing throughout. It’s a brilliant comedy and parody.

The only other of his films I currently own is Blazing Saddles which I hadn’t watched in a long while, so I watched it as well, last night. Gene was good in that, though with not nearly as much screen time as I’d have liked.

Gilda and Gene from a scene early in Haunted Honeymoon. Gene is literally "awoo"-ing in this one.

Gilda and Gene from a scene early in Haunted Honeymoon. Gene is literally “awoo”-ing in this one.

I love Gene is so many of his roles: Willy, Dr. FRON-ken-STEEN, Larry, the Waco Kid… We have his movies to enjoy again and again. And we need to remember the sentiment his family expressed in their official announcement, along with the explanation for why Gene didn’t publicly reveal his health problem: he couldn’t stand the thought of even one less smile in the world. He put many smiles into the world. And yes, many of us shed some tears yesterday, but I know re-watching his movies will bring smiles and laughs instead of tears again. Just not today.

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Diamonds, houses, bars of soap and what I almost mansplained

Which Generation Are You? According to click bait headlines, everyone is either a Boomer or a Millennial, but it's more complicated than that. © 2010 Price Consulting

Which Generation Are You? According to click bait headlines, everyone is either a Boomer or a Millennial, but it’s more complicated than that. (Click to embiggen) © 2010 Price Consulting

I’ve been seeing the clickbait headlines for some time now, things like “Why Aren’t Millennials Buying Homes?” or “Millennials Prioritize Home Life Over Career” or “Don’t Take Enough Vacation? Blame Millenials” and so on. More recently the clickbait headlines have begun with “Millenials Are Killing…” and then lists the real estate industry, or the golf industry, or the car industry, or the like.

Mostly I’ve ignored them. If someone I follow on social media makes a comment ridiculing one of those clickbait headlines I might re-blog it or click “Like.” I don’t have to read the articles or the commentary to know that rather than looking at the actual socio-economic forces at work, the article is just going to make a lame connection between some out of context statistics in a way that will make clueless people of a certain age nod and congratulate themselves on being a better, more mature person those “those darn kids!”

The one that broke me was soap. I kept seeing slightly outraged comments on Twitter about bar soap vs other kinds of soap that I didn’t quite understand. Clearly all these folks were commenting on some article or something that I hadn’t seen. Then I saw one comment tied the term millennials to soap, and I thought, “Oh, no! Now what?” So I had to go find the articles in question.

“Millennials Aren’t Buying Bar Soap and It’s Killing the Industry!” —it really isn’t any more ridiculous than the others, I suppose, but I found myself feeling a little outraged, too. The actual statistics buried in the article are this: sales of bar soap have been going down an average of 2.2 percent per year for the last five years or so, and the vast majority of bar soap that is still being sold is being purchased by people over the age of 60. But the other statistic buried right along in there: sales of soap overall have been increasing over the same period of time at a rate of 3% a year. And the same companies manufacture and sell body wash and liquid hand soap, so there actually isn’t any problem for the industry at all. But they tried to hide even that part by changing the time scale of how they described it.

Before I’d reached the point where the article undermines its own headline, I was already getting irritated because I’m under 60 and we buy bar soap regularly. And let’s be honest, it’s my husband, who is ten years younger than me who buys most of them because he prefers bars. I’m the older one who loves body wash and keeps multiple dispensers of liquid soap next to every faucet in the house. (Not because I believe the myth that soap bars harbor dangerous bacteria; it’s because I’m clumsy and drop bars all the time, and because I like having a choice of scents when I wash my hands or hair or whatever. The shower has four or five different scents of shampoo and matching conditioners and complimentary body washes because I’m a weirdo.)

So it’s ridiculous clickbait you can dismantle in a few minutes. I decided I’d already wasted enough time thinking about it and I should definitely not write a blog post about it. Then, this weekend, I couldn’t look at any social media stream (unless I used the filters that only showed me the tiny subset of those streams being written by people I know personally) without seeing all the backlash. There was a lot of backlash–joke after joke about how clueless Boomers are. Many were at least chuckle-worthy. But I kept seeing, again and again, jokes that mentioned specific ages. It was clear that a lot of the people posting them thought that the term Baby Boomer referred to anyone older than, say, mid-thirties.

That’s how I found myself typing out an explanation about the definition of the Baby Boom, the sociological arguments for why one of the definitions made more sense than others, the economic arguments why yet another definition was better, and so on. The fact is that the whole “generation” thing is a silly mess no matter how you look at it. And I was ranting about why these jokes were as intellectually-shallow to the situation as the original headlines and… and… and…

Of course the jokes are parodies. A parody is supposed to be even more ludicrous than the thing being parodied. Meanwhile, if I posted my mansplaining, I would be even more ridiculous, still!

But, there are a couple of things I do have to get off my chest. One of the academic definitions of the term, “Baby Boomer” puts both myself and my mother in the same generation. And it puts my father in the generation before the Baby Boom, yet he was only 10 months older than my mom. I know we’re a weird case. I was born six days before my father’s 18th birthday. My parents were both 17 years old when I was born. On the other hand, my dad was 34 when my youngest half-sister was born. Going strictly by the arbitrary dates some people use, then, dad was a Silent Generation man who married a two different Baby Boomers, sired another Baby Boomer, and sired a bunch of Gen X-ers.

If you, instead, use the dates on the info graphic I swiped from Price Consulting, well, we spread out a little more, with me landing smack in the middle of Generation Jones, my oldest sister almost getting in the same generation as me, and then the younger siblings all solidly in Generation X.

Any cut-off dates have to be arbitrary.

My childhood didn’t include any of the 1950s. That makes my culturally programmed expectations different than those of my parents’ generation, for instance. My childhood includes the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy. That gives me a slightly different impression of the world than my husband who was born after all three. I voted against Reagan—twice! And was close to tears the night he was re-elected. That gives me a different impression of the 80s than friends who were born while Bill Clinton was in the White House.

But, due to a variety of complications (including the fact that my father refused to sign financial aid applications) I didn’t go to university until I was in my mid-twenties. So friends I graduated from High School with came out of college practically debt-free, whereas I had student loans that added up to more than the assessed value (at the time) of my dad’s house or my grandparents’ house. Which means economically I have a bit more in common with the cliché Millennial than my own generation (whichever one you stick me in).

All of which is a really round-about way to get to this: the economy is f—ed up for almost everyone.

Maybe the stereotypical Boomer owns their own home, but not all of them by any means. And even the ones that do are finding themselves being buried under medical bills and the like, can’t afford to retire, and often are trying to help their own kids and grandkids keep their heads above water. Folks a bit younger than that are sandwiched between aging parents or other relatives whose failing health (and sometimes mental faculties) are throwing unexpected responsibilities on them while they’re still trying to get their own kids out of the nest. Folks a little younger still are stuck in jobs they hate, paying rent that keeps going up faster than their wages, trying to explain to their grandparents why they don’t feel the need to own (and try to pay upkeep, insurance, et al for) a car, trying not to be a burden on their parents who they see are spending a lot of time worrying about the grandparents, and don’t see how they’re ever going to get their heads above water to begin with.

And the clickbaiters have succeeded in getting us all making fun of each other. Meanwhile parasites like Donald Trump and Peter Thiel and Martin Shkreli are happily siphoning billions out of the pockets of middle and working class people of all ages, and into their off-shore tax-sheltered accounts.

Maybe we should find a way to unite against the actual enemy?

Weekend Update 8/27/2016: Homophobic pastor is a child molester… surprise?

Top 5 Reasons Churches End Up in Court. Surprise, Sexual abuse of minors is the number one reason five years running! Source: ChurchLawAndTax.com (click to embiggen)

Top 5 Reasons Churches End Up in Court. Surprise, Sexual abuse of minors is the number one reason five years running! Source: ChurchLawAndTax.com (click to embiggen)

It’s happened yet again. Homophobic pastor has been saying reprehensible/non-Christian things about queers, and now he’s been arrested: GEORGIA: Pastor Who Said Pulse Victims “Got What They Deserved” Arrested For Child Molestation. Maybe this is what all the whacky anti-gay preachers and other so-called leaders of the religious right mean when they say that people who speak out against queers are being arrested? They’re just leaving out the part where the arrest isn’t for their anti-gay beliefs?

For several years Dan Savage ran a recurring column at the Stranger called Youth Pastor Watch, where he would publish stories of youth pastors convicted of sexual molesting (usually) underage church members of either gender. And I’ve linked to and commented on the phenomenon of both anti-gay religious leaders and anti-gay political figures who have later been caught up in sex scandals, again, usually involving underage victims. Savage has also frequently said, “If children were sexually molested at Dennys’ restaurants as often as they are assaulted at churches, it would be illegal in all 50 states to take your children to Dennys’.” It isn’t that all religious people are child molesters, but most child molesters find communities willing to turn a blind eye toward their suspicious behavior among organized religion.

A perfect example is the story of former New Jersey Assemblies of God paster Gregorio Martinez: American Preacher Molested a Teen Boy, Then Fled 2,000 Miles. Martinez was convicted of sexually molesting a 13-year-old member of his congregation, and between the reading of the jury’s verdict and the sentencing hearing, he fled the country. For many months no one knew where he was.

A couple of reporters working for the news site NJ.com got a tip, and when they presented it to their editor, he authorized a trip to Honduras to try to catch the guy. Note! It wasn’t U.S. law enforcement who went looking for him, it was a pair or reporters! By the time the reporters located the church where Martinez had been working, he had fled again. But here’s the truly astounding part: the reporters learned that 1) Martinez was given a job at another church based solely on the recommendation of one other pastor—no other vetting was attempted, but even worse, 2) with several church members googled the pastor and learned he had been convicted of molesting children in the U.S., the response of church leaders was to claim it wasn’t their responsibility to report a criminal wanted by a foreign country!

Unfortunately, after he fled, it was discovered that Martinez had molested a 15-year-old boy there in Honduras. Martinez was eventually captured, but only because the reporters from New Jersey filed a lot of stories that got a lot of attention online about their attempts to find him, which shamed the law enforcement people into taking action.

I’ve also posted before links to stories about how many times various churches have lobbied for laws that shield child molesters from prosecution:

As I said of anti-gay politicians and vocally anti-gay religious leaders many times: “I really don’t understand why anyone, particularly in the media, doesn’t immediately assume that a legislator or prosecutor or governor or preacher who pushes for anti-gay bills has a scandalous sexual secret. I mean, when someone can create an entire web site devoted to chronicling the prominent anti-gay folks who are later caught in a gay sex scandal: GayHomophobe.com, it’s time to stop turning a blind eye to the issue!”

It has happened so many times, that I’m getting a little impatient at both law enforcement and the media. Seriously, if the media just moved a few resources into looking into the backgrounds of the most vehemently anti-gay religious leaders, all the evidence indicates that they would find dozens of scandals. Scandals generate ratings, right? I’m at the point of saying that not looking into these guys should be considered a breach of journalistic ethics. I’m sorry, the evidence is fairly clear: the more they preach against queers in the name of Jesus, the more likely they are to be sexual predators.

Emphasis on predator. Real people, often children, are victims as institutions such as these churches and the Republican party enable these molesters. And as I said when I posted one of these weekend updates on a related topic, the sexual dysfunction and community denial and cover-ups are not a bug, they are a feature of the rightwing ideology.

And speaking of nice, loving Christian politicians: ‘I lost. The ni**er won’: Alabama GOP mayor gets racist on Facebook after losing to black candidate. Okay, so not every single Republican is racist, but most racists seem to be Republican.

Speaking of people claiming to be religious, I love this article from the Washington Post: Where in the Bible does it say you can’t be transgender? Nowhere. I’ve done the article one better in past posts and pointed out that the Bible seems to be pro-genderfluidity (or maybe agender?):

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
—Galation 3:28

But then, I actually read the Bible all the way through more than once—unlike most of the people on the anti-gay right.

Friday Links (astronaut with a tiara edition)

Astronaut Stan Love accepted the John W. Campbell Award on behalf of Andy Weir last weekend. Love even wore the traditional Campbell Tiara while he read Andy's remarks.

Astronaut Stan Love accepted the John W. Campbell Award on behalf of Andy Weir last weekend. Love even wore the traditional Campbell Tiara while he read Andy’s remarks.

It’s Friday! The fifth Friday in August and things are… well, the weather is too hot for me. I’ve been sleeping at weird times and feeling as if I’m unstuck in time.

I’ve done very little writing and a lot of revising this week.

Anyway, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Links of the Week

After 525 years, it’s time to actually listen to Native Americans.

This anti-racism group will build a memorial to lynching victims — and it’s about time.

What Is The “Alt-Right”? A Guide To The White Nationalist Movement Now Leading Conservative Media.

Happy News!

#SQUADGOALS: HOW TEAMWORK STARTS WITH SELECTING THE RIGHT UNDERWEAR.

Hero Cop Catches Kids Jumping From Burning Home’s Second-Story Window.

This Week in Difficult to Classify

A Feel Bad Story in Disguise: Two Florida Hospitals Won’t Bill Orlando Pulse Shooting Victims. “The news out of Orlando this morning shouldn’t make us feel good. It should make us feel bad. It is an indictment of our society, an indictment of our health care system, an indictment of each and every one of us. Because we don’t care enough about shooting victims to do something about guns and we don’t care enough about shooting victims — or people with cancer, or children with broken bones, or our fellow citizens at the end of their lives — to create an equitable health care system that doesn’t bankrupt and destroy families by design for the crime of getting sick or the crime of getting shot in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and by the wrong maniac.”

Caught in a Bad Bromance? We Should Be Encouraging Man Hugs, Not Mocking Them.

Drug Maker’s Application For Crucial HIV Pill Was “Homophobic, Illogical, And Greedy”.

This week in stupid

Get ’em off! Armed police order Muslim woman to remove her burkini on packed Nice beach – as mother, 34, wearing Islamic headscarf is threatened with pepper spray and fined in Cannes .

PSA: YOUR TRANSPHOBIA AND BODY SHAMING ISN’T RADICAL. I wasn’t very impressed with the Trump statues, either…

Russian Hackers Accidentally Post Different Versions of Stolen Docs. Post-Steal Editing?

This week in awful news

Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered. “Dee Dee Blancharde was a model parent: a tireless single mom taking care of her gravely ill child. But after Dee Dee was killed, it turned out things weren’t as they appeared — and her daughter Gypsy had never been sick at all.”

Italy earthquake: Death toll rises to at least 159.

Kabul siege: 12 killed in attack on American University.

Boys’ remains from troubled Dozier school to be buried in Tallahassee, memorial to be erected on school grounds.

“I Still See All The Red”: First Responser In Pulse Massacre May Lose His Job.

This week in evil people

Apple issues critical iOS update to thwart ‘Pegasus’ malware.

Trolls Hacked Leslie Jones’ Website And Put Her Naked Pics Out There.

Feds Are Investigating Hack Of Leslie Jones’ Site.

Where’s the money? Milo Yiannopoulos denies he spent cash for charity fund.

This week in the environment

Protesters anxiously await temporary injunction ruling to halt construction of Dakota Access Pipeline.

News for queers and our allies:

The Scariest Part About America’s LGBTQ Youth Suicide Epidemic Is What We Don’t Know About It.

MEET THE GAY LUCHADOR FIGHTING MACHISMO IN MEXICAN WRESTLING: Not so mucho macho in El Paso: Cassandro, lucha libre’s unlikely hero.

When My Son Met Another Out LGBTQ Kid On The First Day Of Middle School.

Having Sex With Poz Men Helped Kick My Fear of HIV.

The Most LGBT-Friendly Colleges Are Also the Most Financially Inaccessible.

Documentary: What You’ve Heard About Latino Dads of LGBT Kids Isn’t True.

Frank Ocean’s Poem About His Boyfriend.

Juneau Assembly Passes LGBTQ-Inclusive Non-Discrimination Ordinance.

New Study: Large Majority of Americans Support LGBT Nondiscrimination Laws, Oppose ‘Bathroom Bills’.

Science!

Prepare for This Study on the Misuse of Science on LGBT Issues to Be Misused.

The Science of Swearing: Your Filthy Mouth Helps You Make Friends.

Nasa to make all its research available free on the Internet.

Thousands of strange blue lakes are appearing in Antarctica, and it’s very bad news.

Twisted Light Could Dramatically Boost Data Rates.

16 fascinating science stories eclipsed by Donald Trump and the Olympics.

Column: Why it’s important to look at the stars – literally.

World’s biggest telescope meets world’s second fastest supercomputer.

This week in Cosplay

PHOTOS: The Sexiest Cosplay, Artists, And Geeks At FlameCon.

MERNICORN COSPLAY: SUPERB GENDER BENDING COSPLAYER & ROLEMODEL.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

My WisCon 40 Guest of Honour Speech. “You’d think the shared bond of loving books would diminish the hatred and suspicion of teenagers and the things they like. You’d be wrong.”

Analysis of Slate Voting for the 2016 Hugos.

My MidAmeriCon II badge was just suspended. That is awesome. This is why. It’s a pretty cool thing when someone admits they screwed up, however unintentionally, and doesn’t throw a fit that there were consequences.

Here are the winners of the 2016 Hugo Awards – Once again, slated works were largely outvoted.

Worldcon Expels Truesdale. And a follow-up: More Worldcon Thoughts.

An oldy, but a goodie: “Get your girly stuff out of my SF, for SF should be sciency, manly and hard”.

Another great one: WHEN AN OPINION IS NOT AN OPINION (OR AN OPINION ON OPINIONS).

Right-Wing Activists Fail to Ruin the Hugo Awards; Fiction Categories Swept by Women.

Must read post from Andy Duncan on how Dave Truesdale’s rant mischaracterized the meaning & legacy of David Hartwell.

Notes from Worldcon 74: Here are cool people saying cool things about spec fic.

2016 HUGO AWARDS: RESULTS AND (VERY) PERSONAL REFLECTIONS. What’s it like to, two years in a row, learn that you just missed being on the Hugo ballot because of the Puppies.

The past through tomorrow. ‘“You got the impression that for him, it was still 1937.” You could say much the same thing about the current crop of reactionaries, both in the positions that they take and the means that they use to express them.’

FROM A SNOWFLAKE OF SCIENCE FICTION.

Spinning Lovecraft Into a Feminist Dream Quest.

Michi Trota: 2016 Hugo Awards Acceptance Speech from MidAmeriCon II. “Nurturing a community isn’t just about throwing open the gates and expecting others to walk in merrily, especially when there’s been a long history of systemic barriers to entry. It’s essential to both create a space that welcomes and encourages others to come in, and to venture outside your comfort zones to find new people, invite them to share their voices and visions with you, and provide them with support and opportunities.”

Fake sci-fi boys cry salty tears over Puppies defeat at the Hugo Awards.

Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF.

The Ultimate Guide to Every Science Fiction and Fantasy Show on TV This Fall.

An oldie, but a goodie: An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping.

N.K. Jemisin: Scattered Post-Hugo Thoughts.

Awesomeness Out of WorldCon.

This Week in Love Conquers…

Sharon Van Etten’s Powerful Pulse Tribute Song Will Fight Gun Violence.

And other news:

Seattle Police on Drugging in Bars: “This Is Definitely a Problem”.

This week in Writing

Your Writing Group is Not a Godhead: Building Upon Some Fine Writing Advice from Ann Leckie.

Why I Talked to Word Sluts at WorldCon.

Networking: You’re Doing It Wrong.

This week in Words

Merriam-Webster: The History and Origin of ‘Headdesk’.

5 Writing Rules Destroyed by the Dictionary.

This Week in History

HUEY P. NEWTON’S 1970 SPEECH ON THE WOMEN’S & GAY LIBERATION MOVEMENTS.

The Macaroni in ‘Yankee Doodle’ is Not What You Think.

This Week in Tech

This Site Under Construction. Some people are trying to archive the old Geocities sites before the all vanish. This page contains hundreds of the old ‘This site under construction’ animated GIFs that were popular at the time…

‘Redshirts’ Author John Scalzi’s Suicidal Journey Through ‘No Man’s Sky’.

This Week in Covering the News

30K Muslims Just Slammed Terrorism And Media Is Silent.

NY Times’ Jim Rutenberg: Fox’s Hannity Acts Like A Trump “Adviser,” Ignores All Of “Journalism’s General Requirements”.

What Do The Simple Folk Do?.

Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight.

This Week in Inclusiveness

All 162 Dead Lesbian and Bisexual Characters On TV, And How They Died. The first time I linked to this, in March, the title was “All 65…” there have been additions…

Queerbaiting Phenomenon Pisses Me Off & You Should Be Angry Too.

Writing Characters of Color: How to Avoid Being Racist.

Saying Goodbye to Larry Wilmore, a Voice of Advocacy in Late-Night TV.

HERE IS NO SECRET TO WRITING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LOOK LIKE YOU.

Culture war news:

Louisiana floods destroy home of Christian leader who says God sends natural disasters to punish gay people. This is not ironic. This is just desserts.

Ciara moved wedding to NFL’s Russel Wilson out of North Carolina over anti-LGBT law.

Welfare Reform Is 20 Years Old and It’s Worse Than You Can Imagine.

Michael Brown Has A Simple Solution To The Transgender Bathroom Controversy. What an idiot…

Anti-LGBT Preacher Flip Benham Tries to Disrupt Charlotte Pride (Photos, Videos).

Providing Transgender People Health Care Violates Religious Beliefs, New Lawsuit Claims.

Anti-Gay Family Research Council Leader (after his home is destroyed in Louisiana floods): I never said God causes disasters, but He can and does.

This Week in Hate Crimes

Man sentenced to 40 years for pouring boiling water on gay couple.

Washington man stabs kissing interracial couple, cites Donald Trump when arrested.

Yet Another Transgender Woman Suffers Brutal Attack in New York.

This week in rape culture

Judge sets aside rape charges for probation so ex-athlete can enjoy ‘a college experience’.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liars:

Gaps in Melania Trump’s immigration story raise questions. This is only relevant because Mr. Trump has made tough immigration enforcement a centerpiece of his campaign.

CNN’s Carol Costello: It “Seems Like The Conservative Media Is Running Trump’s Campaign”.

Dropping Out Is the Only Way for Trump to Save His Legacy, Argues John Oliver.

When Donald Trump says the election is ‘rigged’ what he means is that minorities get to vote.

This week in Politics:

19 Women Who Will Make History if Elected to Congress This Year.

U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds.

Clinton Spox: If You’re Troubled that Hillary Wants to Fight AIDS While President, Don’t Vote For Her.

Hillary Health Trutherism, Misogyny, And The Media.

Attention, Class! John Oliver Is Here to Explain Everything Wrong With Charter Schools.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Restores Voting Rights to 13,000 Felons.

This Week in Racism

‘It’s not illegal to be black’: Cops complain online about white people getting ‘freaked out’ by their black neighbors and wasting police time with 911 calls .

‘Racialists’ are cheered by Trump’s latest strategy.

Trump’s New Ad Is The Worst General Election ‘Dog Whistle’ In Nearly 30 Years.

Americans May Not Be As Open To Mixed-Race Couples As They Think, UW Study Says.

The Alt-Right Is Neither Christian Nor Conservative.

This Week in Police Problems

MAPPING POLICE VIOLENCE: 2015 Police Violence Report.

Being white may have saved the Florida face-eating suspect from being shot by police. May have?

Cops Framed Schizophrenic Woman as Killer Lesbian, Sending Her to Prison for 35 Years.

Farewells:

Jack Riley, Voice Of Stu Pickles On Rugrats, Has Died. He’ll always be Mr. Carlin from the Bob Newhart Show to me…

Marvin Kaplan, Character Actor Known for ‘Alice’ and ‘Top Cat,’ Dies at 89.

Marvin Kaplan, R.I.P..

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 8/20/2016: Good night, and good news.

Highly illogical canines and the 2016 Hugo awards.

Characters (and stories) are more than the sum of their parts.

Zoinks! Trying to break some verbal habits.

Metallic Rodents and Secret Agencies: more of why I love sf/f.

Videos!

Frank Ocean – Nikes (Music Video):

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The Get Down | “Telepathy” by Christina Aguilera [HD] | Netflix:

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Barbra Streisand with Chris Pine – I’ll Be Seeing You / I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face:

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Trailer – “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders”:

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Metallic Rodents and Secret Agencies: more of why I love sf/f

The 1961 paperback edition of The Stainless Steel Rat, cover art by John Schoenherr

The 1961 paperback edition of The Stainless Steel Rat, cover art by John Schoenherr (click to embiggen)

I was in middle school when I found a copy of Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat in a pile of cheap used books for sale. It was missing the front cover, which I didn’t know at the time probably meant it had been stripped. When a bookstore decides that a book has been sitting on the shelf too long and isn’t going to sell, their distribution contract usually allows them to destroy the book without selling it and get a refund from the publisher. To prove that they’ve destroyed the unsold copies, the store is required to send back the covers from each book destroyed. Shipping back just the cover was cheaper than shipping entire books. This is why many books carry a warning on one of the opening pages that if the book is sold without a cover, it is considered stolen property. (Hardbacks usually are not destroyed, as they will be remaindered, specifically sold at super cheap prices at certain chain stores.)

I didn’t know that at the time. I just knew that whenever damaged books showed up at the used book store, they were sold for a lot cheaper than the others.

If my first copy of The Stainless Steel Rat was a stripped copy, it is highly appropriate, because the star of the book (and its many sequel), was Slippery Jim DiGriz, the slickest conman and thief of the 346th Century.

DiGriz lived in an interstellar society with very high technology that made it nearly impossible for petty criminals to escape prison and “psycho surgery” for long. It took a special kind of criminal to thrive in that society. As the blurb on most of the paperback versions said:

“We must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their society. It was easier in the old days, of course, and society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as old wooden buildings have more rats than concrete buildings. But there are rats in the building now as well. Now that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment.”

The book’s written from first person narrative, beginning while Jim is in the middle of yet another insanely daring robbery. Things start going wrong, of course, and it isn’t too many pages in before Jim realizes that the dreaded Special Corps is onto him. The Special Corps is a shadowy agency that was responsible for catching one of the greats, a thief DiGriz admired from affair, Inskipp the Uncatchable… so, of course, when Special Corps hauls DiGriz in to be interrogated by the head of operations, it turns out it’s Inskipp himself. And he has a deal for DiGriz, the same deal Inskipp was offered years ago when he was captured: join the Corps and help catch dangerous criminals, or have his brain altered…

DiGriz was chosen, just as Inskipp was, because DiGriz always planned his heists to very carefully avoid causing and physical harm to any people involved. A few of his previous operations he had even abandoned the heist when it became clear that complications had put people in danger. DiGiz’s first assignment (and the rest of the book) is to try to catch a serial killer.

But this isn’t like a gritty modern bloody serial killer story. The book is written as a light caper, with comedic bits. So the book was a romping adventure story, and far more concerned with the puzzle aspects. The character arcs and interaction are the focus, along with some humor.

It wasn’t just humor. The story explored issues of identity, free will, and what does it mean to be a member of a social species. Jim had always been careful not just to avoid hurting people, but he also always picked targets that were fully insured. He rationalized his existence as providing entertainment or spectacle. He kept security people and police on their toes and in practice. At least that’s what he told himself. Buried in that, along with his eventual confrontation with the killer, were also serious questions about privacy vs security, and control vs freedom.

So it made me think about many things. At different times in the narrative, I found myself agreeing with Jim more than I thought I would. And as I read the book again and again (because it was yet another one that I re-read many times), I found my sympathies seesawing back and forth as I considered the questions. The Special Corps protecting people from sometimes quite serious threats, but they operated in almost complete secrecy, and apparently answered only to themselves.

On the other hand, they had a number of agents like Slippery Jim, who broke ranks from time to time, and demonstrated a willingness to take down the agency if it went too far. Was that enough of to balance things out? In a real world, probably not. And it’s the kind of question still very relevant today.

In my later teens I found the sequels, and after I enthused about them to friends, someone bought me a shiny new copy of the first book for my birthday. The first few sequels cover the next several years in the life of Special Corps (occasionally rogue) Agent DiGriz… and his wife, and their eventual children. Then in 80s Harrison wrote some prequels, showing us events in the life of young Slippery Jim, how he learned his craft and became a legendary thief.

Harrison returned to the older DiGriz for the rest of the series, writing 12 Stainless Steel Rat books total before his death (the last one published posthumously). The Stainless Steel Rat wasn’t the only multibook series the Harrison wrote, but Slippery Jim was the first of his books that I remember reading, and the likable, extremely smart, and capably rogue is a character type that I became very fond of.

The book gave me another way to wrestle with the idea of my own identity. Harrison argued colorfully but persuasively for the idea that the law and customs aren’t always right. Morality and ethics have to come from a sense of empathy and a willingness to do right by people. And those were notions that gave me some more hope, as a closeted queer kid growing up among fundamentalists.

Zoinks! Trying to break some verbal habits

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I don’t remember when I first heard “duuuuuude!” As a word intended to communicate anything from, “Hello, friend!” to “I agree!” to “Don’t panic” to “I can’t believe you just said/did that! What were you thinking?” and a million things in-between. Before I looked up the linquistic history of the word, I had hazarded a guess that it was late in high school, which would put it roughly in the year 1978-79. And while that particular sense of the word seems to have arisen in several different American subcultures in the 50s and 60s, it didn’t really begin the move into pop culture until the early 80s, so it was more likely in college (which began as several years of attending community college part-time while working to save up for university, before three more years there) where I acquired the habit.

I know in the 90s I used the word with friends and acquaintances of both genders. One butch lesbian friend was very fond of using “Dude!” to mean, “You can’t be serious!” for instance. So even though I knew that the word originally meant (back in the 1800s) a foppish young man who dressed in overly-fashion-conscious clothes and affected a sophisticated manner, and then later had morphed to describe a man from the city visiting the western countryside who was unfamiliar with physical labor and the necessities of life on the range, I thought of it as a gender-neutral term.

But it’s not… Read More…

Characters (and stories) are more than the sum of their parts

plastic-male-mannequins-4I was reading this blog post: Constantine or when the imitators eclipse the original about why an adaptation of a classic might be well done, but still seem derivative (and not of its source material). It reminded me of once when I read someone’s post about being disappointed about a Theodore Sturgeon book from the fifties, because it seemed to be a rip-off of the X-men. So I explained that it was the other way around: the original X-men comic book was created more than a decade after the Sturgeon works in question, and the same reason many people called Sturgeon’s stories classics, meant that lots of stories written since then have incorporated (and in many cased improved upon) his original ideas.

Once I noticed the phenomenon, I started seeing it everywhere. A story that had first introduced a particular concept or literary technique is hailed as a classic or breakthrough, but a decade of more later when hundreds of stories, movies, television episodes, et al have been influenced by it, the original pales by comparison.

I think Buhlert, the author of the above linked blog post, is correct that this phenomenon is a big part of why the recent television adaptation of the comic book character John Constantine flopped. But I also think there is more to it than that. I complained at the time that the showrunners had explicitly stated that this John Constantine, unlike the character in the comic books, was definitely not bisexual. And I don’t think the decision was a bad one because I think adaptations ought to slavishly follow the original. Nor do I think the decision was bad merely because as a queer person myself I take queer erasure personally.

It was a bad decision artistically because it was a symptom of a bigger problem. The people adapting the character and the character’s story failed to understand the essence of the character. Constantine isn’t merely a mystical version of a noir detective. While the character appears to dwell in that aesthetic, there is a significant difference. The archetypical noir protagonist is alienated and filled with existential bitterness, striving against random uncaring fate. Noir protagonists (and noir story lines) lack hope. Noir protagonists are frequently doomed because they are manipulated by others, traditionally a femme fatale.

The art style of Hellblazer, the comic series that starred Constantine, was very like a film noir. And Constantine’s cynicism looks an awful lot like the typical noir protagonist to the casual observer. But Constantine wasn’t alienated. Alan Moore, who created Constantine, once said that he was aiming for a character who knew everything and knew everyone; a character who was charismatic and never at a loss for what to do. That made Constantine, in several important aspects, the opposite of a noir protagonist. Constantine doesn’t struggle against random, uncaring fate—he often struggles against supernatural forces that are emphatically intentional in their disruption of mortal life—not at all random.

Constantine cares about people; he’s not alienated, he’s connected. And while manipulation happens in Constantine stories, it is usually Constantine doing the manipulation, rather than being the victim of manipulation. His cynicism comes from observing, again and again, that people he cares about always die. The noir protagonist’s cynicism, on the other hand, is usually the result of being betrayed or failed again and again by people they trust.

For example, in one issue of the comic, the King of the Vampires kills a man that Constantine had hooked up with the night before. When the King asks Constantine if the dead man was a friend, Constantine’s reply is, “He’s dead now, so he must have been.”

Sidenote: It has been said that noir’s roots are irrevocably American. I agree with Buhlert’s assessment that Constantine is quintessentially British, and that he works best in a British setting. And even when his stories don’t have a British setting, he is better when being writing by a British author (in my humble opinion). The showrunners’ decision to move Constantine to the U.S. certainly didn’t improve the chances they would catch the essence of the character.

To get back to my main point: You can have a straight character who has all of those characteristics, but the same sort of shallow misunderstanding of the character which leads someone to say, “we can drop his queerness” also led them to miss all the other things that made Constantine different from the noir archetype. When you combine that with the phenomenon that much of urban fantasy has adopted the aesthetic of the original Hellblazer comics, it just increased the likelihood that what they produced would come out as a bland copy of something we’ve seen a thousand times before.

Highly illogical canines and the 2016 Hugo awards

“Highly Illogical — Vulcan for Dumbass.

“Highly Illogical — Vulcan for Dumbass.

I wrote a lot less about the Hugos this year than last. I participated in the nominating process. I was greatly disappointed that having so many new nominators didn’t prevent the Rabid Puppies from bloc-filling several categories again. And I read (or tried to read in some cases) everything that was nominated which I hadn’t already read in time to fill out my ballot. Saturday night, I was very happy to see that the horrible things the Puppy slate-voters forced onto the ballot didn’t win. I was also happy that there were fewer categories that we had to No Award this year.

Not writing about it so much this year was intentional. One benefit of that was that I had fewer vitriolic comments come in on this blog that I had to delete rather than approve. I was a lot less anxious about what the results of the voting would be than I was last year. I’m not sure how much of that was because last year the Hugo voters overwhelmingly rejected the Puppy slate, rather than a result of actively avoiding writing and thinking about them as much.

I am quite certain that at least part of the reason I was less emotionally distraught going in was that I didn’t force myself to read all the way to the end of every entry in short story, novella, and novelette this year. I gave each entry three pages to hook me, and if they didn’t hook me by then, I stopped and put them beneath No Award on my ballot. Reading some of that awful stuff—stories that would have been rejected for poor composition, lack of plot, or gapping logic holes by most of the fanzines I’ve ever been associated with—and getting outraged at the knowledge that such poorly crafted material had displaced more deserving works was a big part of why I was so upset last year.

The works that won this year are great and quite deserving. A couple of them were even things that I nominated, so that was fun.

There was some drama at WorldCon, at least some of it related to the proponents of the Puppy cause. But I also hear that a lot more very cool stuff happened.

I don’t think I want to get into that. And a bunch of what I would like to say has already been said by other people: Abigail Nussbaum observes in Sunday, August 21, 2016 The 2016 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Winners,

“The one thing I keep learning, again and again, as I study this award is that, much as it frustrates me, much as it throws up shortlists that disappoint me, much as it often seems stuck in a middlebrow rut, the Hugo is always what it is. It doesn’t take thousands of new voters to keep the Hugo true to itself, because the people who vote for it every year will do that job themselves. With something like half the voters we had last year, we still managed to send the same message: that we have no patience for astroturf; that we have no time for writing that embarrasses the paper and ink used to print it; and that this is an award that can be gamed, but it can’t be stolen. This year’s Hugo voters had no trouble telling junk from serious nominees; they saw the difference between the nominees being used as shields by the puppies and the ones that truly represent their literary tastes and politics. And even more importantly, in the best novel and best novella categories in particular, Hugo voters recognized some of the finest and most exciting work published in this genre in years.”

One place where I disagree with Nussbaum is about the nature of the drop-off in voting numbers this year compared to last, after last year had such a dramatic surge of new voters. Last year’s number of voters was 5,950, which was a big leap from the 3,587 ballots cast in 2014. This year, the number dropped down to 3,130, which is in the ballpark of the 2014 number. However, as many people pointed out, 2014 had an usually high number of Hugo voters. In fact, from 1976 through 2010, the average number of ballots cast each year was about 1100.

So to argue that the voting numbers this year have dropped back to the level before is a bit shaky. Yes, last year after news broke of the Puppy assaults on the award, a couple thousand more fans than usual purchased WorldCon supporting memberships. Based on all the blogging and how they voted, those extra memberships were people coming to vote against slate voting, or at least the worst of the slates. But that the numbers didn’t leap that high this year doesn’t mean those extra fans all gave up. I know of six people who voted for the first time ever last year because of the Puppies, and who also voted this year. That isn’t a scientific sample by any means, but 3130 votes is a lot higher than the pre-Puppy typical number.

Also, last year wasn’t the first year that the Puppies ran their campaign, it was simply the first year that they managed to take over entire categories on the ballot with their bloc voting scheme.

She’s right that it is harder to get people to do something they’ve never done before consistently, but I don’t think that all of us who had never voted before last year are going away.

Then over at WeHuntedTheMammoth.com we have: Fake sci-fi boys cry salty tears over Puppies defeat at the Hugo Awards, which observes:

“[Theodore “Vox Day” Beale] is trying his best to spin the defeat as a victory (“we have the SF-SJWs exactly where we want them at this point in time”) but even the fake sci-fi boys on Reddit’s gamergate hangout KotakuInAction can see what happened. And they are indeed sad little puppies about it.”

The Reddit conversation in question links to this wonderful Guardian article: Hugo awards see off rightwing protests to celebrate diverse authors which observes:

“Another attempt by the Sad and Rabid Puppies groups to hijack the science fiction award goes to the dogs, as authors and titles not in their campaign take top prizes.”

And past Hugo-nominee Saladin Ahmed had a couple of good observations on Twitter:

The Hugos went to some very deserving works. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (which won Best Novel) was one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years; it’s hard to describe, but it is a book about a world where apocalypse events happen with great regularity, but it is also funny and hopeful even while commenting on the nature of inequality. And “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (which won Best Short Story) was the a truly delightful take on Artificial Intelligence while being a comment on the human condition. I could keep going on, because oddly enough, my first choice in most of the categories of the ballot were also the winners. They were all really good. To read a good run-down of who won, you can check out this blog: The 2016 Hugo Awards or Fandom 2 : Puppies 0:

“To sum it up, in spite of canine interference, women won or co-won Hugos in nine of seventeen categories. All four fiction categories were won by women, three of them women of colour (plus a man of colour winning as translator). So inspite of the rabid puppies doing their worst, we still have one of the most diverse list of winners ever. And even though a couple of IMO puppy hostages finished under “No Award”, we also puppy hostages winning. Actual puppies, however, lost and lost badly.”

And I could repeat all the arguments I and others have made before of how the claims of the Sad and Rabid Puppies are highly illogical, but you’d have more fun reading the Guardian’s Book Blog where Damien Walter reads and reacts to some of the Puppies’ favorite authors, Hugo awards: reading the Sad Puppies’ pets:

“[T]he Sad Puppies don’t want any of their books to end up on bestseller lists or TV screens. It’s the same frustrating paradigm that British MP Michael Gove hit upon when he said that people were sick of experts, or what Donald Trump plays upon when he rails against “professional politicians”. We’re seeing the Dunning-Kruger effect played out on a mass scale, and the Sad Puppies are just a speck in that wider problem.”

Okay, the Puppies will be with us for years to come, just as we have never gotten rid of white supremacists nor men who want to take the right to vote away from women. But over time, the movements wither. As we’re seeing right now with the upsurgence of the Teabaggers and other Trump supporters, hate can rear its ugly head again. But in the long run, light dispels darkness and love beats hate. All this anger about people other than straight white dudes winning every single award is the dying gasp of a shrinking fraction of the population.

Vox Day and his ilk will keep trying to whip up trouble as long as he thinks it will help him sell books. But I think history is clear that he is going to be appealing to a smaller and smaller group of people. And as Mr. Spock once observed: “Without followers, evil cannot spread.”

Fortunately, there are people actively working to spread good. Alexandra Erin points out that the point of conventions or Hugos and any other awards is about connections and feelings of genuine admiration: WORLDCON: Comedy tomorrow, Hugos tonight. And once again George R.R. Martin hosted the Hugo Losers Party and handed out awards to people and publications that would have made the ballet without the slate voting: Alfie Awards.

Weekend Update 8/20/2016: Good night, and good news

Ted Knight portraying fictional (and bumbling) news anchor, Ted Baxter, on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Ted Knight portraying fictional (and bumbling) news anchor, Ted Baxter, on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Back in University, one of the majors I toyed with (I changed major several times) was Journalism. And I wasn’t the only person who studied and otherwise dabbled in the news biz for a while who thought about whether, if I pursued that career, I might one day be reporting news on the airwaves. I always thought it might be funny, if I were in a position to have a sign-off phrase, if I stole the phrase of the fictitious (and comedic) news anchor, Ted Baxter. Just as news legend Edward R. Murrow had always famously ended his broadcasts with, “Good night, and good luck,” Baxter signed off each night with, “Good night, and good news!”

This week we had a few sign-offs in the field of news reporting or commentary. I included at least one article about each one in yesterday’s Friday Links. I’d like to follow up on at least one of them today. We begin with a former writer for Gawker writing an op-ed of The Guardian: I was callow, it was unkind, and together we did some pretty ignoble things. So why am I sad to hear that after 14 long years, Gawkerdämmerung is nigh?

In case you don’t know: Gawker started out many years ago as a snarky/gossipy blog that covered “the scene” in New York City, which quite often involved covering other news sites and publications and the people who wrote for them. This was back when founding editor Elizabeth Spiers wrote almost all of the content and treated it almost as a personal blog. Spiers moved on and other people took over. Gawker expanded and changed, becoming, as Joshua David Stein says in the Guardian peace, “bullies.” He goes into a bit more detail, calling Gawker “a fertile ground for many things – ego, fame, alacrity, wit, a quick turn of phrase – but kindness was not one of them.”

I’m not writing to apologize for Gawker nor to say they were justified in what they did (Stein attempts to do that in his article, but I remain unconvinced). What I do strongly believe, however, is that Gawker’s death isn’t anything to cheer about, either. There are simply no heroes in the story of its demise. In 2007 they “outed” Peter Thiel. Thiel is often described as a billionaire investor (though he’s probably not as rich as he claims), but a more accurate description would be, man who got rich by mismanaging other people’s billions in a way that enriched him and impoverished them. If you want to know what kind of person he is, he’s the man who agreed to be Trump’s token gay speaker at the Republican National Convention; it’s harder to get any sleazier that being a gay spokesperson for a convention that adopted the single most hateful anti-gay political platform in the history of the U.S. He’s also one of the guys who thinks that women shouldn’t have the right to vote.

I put “outed” in quotes because Thiel wasn’t exactly closeted at the time. He wasn’t exactly out a proud, because like most homocons he held most out and proud queer people in contempt, but he had gone to no pains to hide his orientation, and was a public figure who regularly sought publicity and was often still trying to get people to invest in his managed funds. Being outed didn’t cause any measurable harm to his reputation. He was in no danger of losing his job, et cetera. Still, he was pissed off at Gawker because of the incident, and swore to destroy them.

Gawker, in just one of the many cases of bullying, published a sex video of former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. Hogan had been a public figure, but he was generally retired. He wasn’t the public spokesman for one of those anti-gay/anti-sex organizations campaigning for laws restricting other people’s rights in the name of morality. Which wouldn’t have, IMHO, been justification to publish the video, but could have been a legitimate rationale to report on its existence. But they didn’t have such a rationale, so publishing it was just a puerile bid for clicks.

Hogan sued. And as we now know, he was able to afford to fight it out in courts, refusing all settlements, for as long as he did because Thiel was actually paying the legal bills. Thiel has since admitted that he’s funding several other lawsuits still pending. Hogan won a large settlement (and I’m glad he won; I just wish he had done so without getting involved with a sleaze like Thiel). And the settlement was so huge, that it forced Gawker Media, the parent corporation of Gawker.com, into bankruptcy. Which has left a bunch of people who work for other, less sleazy news sites that Gawker has been buying up over the years, in a position of not knowing whether they still had jobs.

And I want to be very clear here: the other news sites were not run like Gawker, and the people working for them are not complicit in any way with the sorts of sleazy stories Gawker is known for. The other sites were purchased by Gawker to shore up Gawker’s financial position, and were allowed to be run as before so they’d keep producing the cashflow needed to support the business. Which is why Univision, which won the bankruptcy auction, has announced that the other sites will be allowed to keep operating as before. Univision has absolutely no interest in the Gawker.com name or its brand of “journalism.”

It’s not just the Thiel is a sleazy hypocrite and a bully—the real shame here is that he’s used his wealth to completely shut down a news site because he didn’t like their coverage. Gawker’s owner and managing editor, Nick Denton, has been deservedly hung out on a rope of his own making. But the actual executioner, Thiel, is not on the side of justice.

Friday Links (sinking state edition)

Drowning Louisiana © 2009 Nature Geoscience Magazine (click to embiggen)

Drowning Louisiana © 2009 Nature Geoscience Magazine (click to embiggen)

It’s Friday! August is zooming by. Wow! Work continues to be weird. I’m now metaphorically juggling 14 chainsaws, and I keep having to switch between my usual Information Architect/Tech Writer roles, and System Engineer, and Analyst; which are much worse than the usual context switching.

I’ve done very little writing and a lot of revising this week.

Anyway, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Links of the Week

Louisiana Loses Its Boot: The boot-shaped state isn’t shaped like a boot anymore. That’s why we revised its iconic outline to reflect the truth about a sinking, disappearing place.

Two Black female swimmers just made US Olympic team history – and why that’s a big deal.

Happy News!

Man (who looks like an Ompah Loompah – seriously! Click on this for the picture!!!) arrested in Tickfaw church burglary.

Pulse Shooting Survivor Angel Colon Takes First Unassisted Steps.

Britney Spears Made Colton Haynes and His Impressive ‘Ass’ Part of Her ‘Freak Show’ – VIDEOS.

This week in stupid

Trump adviser Al Baldasaro: Hillary Clinton should be shot for treason, not assassinated. Stop misquoting him, libruhl media. He meant execution! Of course, everyone in the world, even US Weekly, reported this guy’s earlier remarks as a call for execution. It isn’t this guy who suggested Hillary should be assassinated. The person who did that was Trump himself

Lyin’ Ryan! Star Olympian refuses to admit he made up robbery but is happy to laugh off Rio row by posting jokey videos online and posing with fans on his plane home.

This week in awful news

I live in Pakistan and was astounded by the lack of a global reaction to the hospital bombing here this week.

Scenes From the Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Airport Shooting That Wasn’t.

Why the media isn’t showing you the Louisiana flooding.

CNN Anchor Breaks Down During Heartbreaking Report On Five Year-Old Syrian Bombing Survivor [VIDEO].

News for queers and our allies:

20 ‘Gay Uncles Day’ Photos So Cute Your Heart Will Melt.

The results are in … we love Superhero gay porn parodies.

Much Beloved Drag Queen Darcelle Achieves Guinness World Record.

Egypt’s grand mufti says harming gays is unacceptable even as LGBT crackdown continues.

Science!

Fossil Friday: Cretaceous Captives.

Fossils hold hidden clues to the evolution of whales’ incredible hearing.

The Common Wisdom about Dog Nipples Is Wrong.

July 2016: The Hottest Month On Record [VIDEO].

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

2016 Hugo Ceremony Coverage Plans: how you can watch.

Queer fans who deny queer readings.

How Not to Respond to Accusations of Racism, World Fantasy Convention Edition.

Rape, Consent and Race in Marvel’s ‘Jessica Jones’.

How The CW’s DC universe became one of TV’s most inclusive.

The Strange Thing About Stranger Things – May it have been better to let it build?

Year’s best SF/F, January to June 2016 edition.

We Are Writing the Future #BlackSpecFic: A Fireside Fiction Company special report.

This is #guerrillaWFC.

Mister Rogers Said to Look for the Helpers

Pizza Village of Lafayette reaches out to flood victims.

And other news:

Suffering from Louisiana flooding only just beginning.

This week in Writing

The Cardinal Sin of Self-Publishing. There’s a great point in this blog post. I think he could have made it better.

The NRA’s Favorite Gun “Academic” Is A Fraud.

When You Don’t Get it Right (or That Time I Appropriated Spirit Animal).

This Week in History

Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’. Add me to the people who don’t believe that…

This Week in Tech

The Real Reason Apple Wants to Kill the Audio Jack.

Why Isn’t Twitter Taking Down Harassment As Fast As It Takes Down Olympics Content?.

Comment: A ‘boring’ iPhone 7 launch for insiders still holds magic for most.

This Week in Covering the News

My Complicated Love/Hate (But Mostly Love) Relationship With Gawker.

NPR Website To Get Rid Of Comments.

Gawker.com to shut down as Univision buys other sites.

This Week in Diversity

Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show Was the Sharpest Late-Night Voice on Race, and Comedy Central Just Killed It. I really liked the show, and watched it more often than I had watched Colbert. Sorry to see it go.

LARRY WILMORE TALKS IN-DEPTH WITH CHARLIE ROSE ABOUT HIS SHOW’S CANCELLATION, ITS ORIGINS + WHAT COMES NEXT.

#YAwithSoul and the enduring struggle for inclusion.

Here’s Why Oprah Winfrey Eliminated the Term ‘Diversity’ From Her Vocabulary, Thanks to Ava DuVernay. Should I change the name of this section?

Culture war news:

Where the Confederacy Is Rising Again.

New CDC Data: LGB Teens Face Startling Rates of Violence, Bullying and Suicidality. Yes, I posted a story about this study last week. But I have since seen op-ed pieces that keep asking, “What’s the LGBT community going to do about this?” The LGBT community can’t do anything about this. This study is about how queer kids are treated in their homes, in their churches, and in their schools. The LGBT community con’t control homophobic parents, or homophobic churches, or schools. If yet another study showing that children are bullied to the point of suicide makes upsets the straight community, the straight community, which outnumbers us and has some control over these things, needs to step up.

ISIS execute another man they believe was ‘guilty’ of being gay.

LGBTQ people hold ‘kiss-in’ in a supermarket after a couple was ejected for holding hands.

For Millennials, a consensus on transgender bathroom use.

IOC calls Olympic Grindr sex article ‘unacceptable,’ says Daily Beast sent Nico Hines home.

The Top 5 Reasons Religious Organizations Went to Court in 2015.

BYU Is Punishing Gay Students Who Report Their Rape.

Federal Judge: Religious Liberty Includes a Right to Fire LGBTQ Employees.

2 Zika awareness billboards showing condom removed amid controversy.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liars:

Donald Trump’s Strange New Attack On Hillary Clinton Echoes White Supremacists.

Breitbart thought the polls were biased against Trump. So it did its own poll. Clinton won.

Rudy Giuliani claims Islamic terrorism started under Obama….

DONALD TRUMP TESTS POSITIVE FOR EVERYTHING, ACCORDING TO HIS OWN DOCTOR. The doctor who supposedly wrote this very un-medical letter died five years before the letter was written…

Repeat After Me: A Vote For Jill Stein Is A Vote For Donald Trump.

Trump promised personal gifts on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ Here’s who really paid.

This week in Politics:

The Libertarian Party Has Qualified for 39 More Ballots Than Evan McMullin.

#NeverNeverTrump: What’s Evan McMullin Really After?

POLITICS Republicans Just Leaked Classified FBI Intelligence In Attempt to Smear Hillary.

The Problem With The DOJ’s Decision To Stop Using Private Prisons: The private prison industry will still have access to its biggest cash cow: immigrants.

This Week in Racism

3 Facts You May Not Know About the Racist Origins of ‘Colorblindness’.

Skinhead Attacks Black Man in Olympia, Says He’s Protecting Police.

This Week in Misogyny

An Open Letter to White Dudes on the Internet Who Want to Teach Me Things.

Farewells:

Kenny Baker, actor behind R2-D2, dies.

Comrades, colleagues and Star Wars cast members celebrate the life of Kenny Baker.

THE NEW YORKER SENT STAR WARS ACTOR KENNY BAKER OFF RIGHT.

Peter Mayhew’s Touching Tribute To Kenny Baker Will Bring Tears To Every Star Wars Fan.

And Another Departure:

And then a blowhard and intellectual bully came to an end: The McLaughlin Group to End 34-Year Run, Following Host’s Death, and in case you don’t know why no one should shed a tear: THE MCLAUGHLIN GOOFS.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 8/13/2016: Bigotry comes in many forms.

Bullied Bullies: Shifting blame and whipping up the troops.

Don’t waste the reader’s time: avoiding the one-way street.

Skillful Men of the Medical and Chirurgical Profession – more of why I love sf/f.

Videos!

Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix surprise a crowd at Denny’s in Santa Monica:

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Where Do Your Texts Go?:

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Things Husbands Do | MATT AND BLUE:

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A Science Vlogger Explains the Neat Genetic Differences Between Nectarines and Peaches:

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US Gymnast Danell Leyva Strips Down at Rio 2016:

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Not to Be Outdone: Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev gets silly on high bar:

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