Monthly Archives: July 2020

Friday Five (moms standing tall edition)

And we have arrived at the final Friday in July!

My cough is still lingering. It has become much less frequent, which leads me even more to suspect that it’s a weird hay fever side effect, but still, no fun. And on Monday we set a record for heat, and the temperatures remain much higher than I am comfortable with.

Which brings us to the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our alles, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about the alleged president of the republic, five stories about hate and injustice, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

In Lewis eulogy, Obama issues forceful call to action on voting rights, racial equality – Barack Obama was one of three former presidents to pay tribute to the civil rights icon and longtime Democratic congressman as he was laid to rest in Atlanta and bonus link: Barack Obama’s Eulogy for John Lewis: Full Text.

‘Now it is your turn’: John Lewis issues call to action in posthumous op-ed.

Believe It Or Not, Forests Migrate — But Not Fast Enough For Climate Change.

Don’t Plant the Mystery Seeds That Have Been Appearing in Local Mailboxes.

10 products you may not realise are threatened by the CO2 shortage. Did you know there was a CO2 shortage? I just found out this week!

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Stop at Rainbow Crosswalks Honors John Lewis’s LGBTQ+ Rights Legacy.

Puberty blockers linked to lower suicide risk for transgender people – The finding suggests that a major — and politically controversial — aspect of trans health care for minors could help reduce the community’s disproportionate suicide risk.

Media keep misidentifying trans murder victims, police are to blame .

Family of gay officer who died of COVID-19 denied insurance benefits.

Beyond ‘he’ and ‘she’: 1 in 4 LGBTQ youths use nonbinary pronouns, survey find – They/them is the most popular nonbinary option, but 4 percent of those surveyed report using “neopronouns,” like xe/xim and ze/zir.

This Week in the Pandemic:

Six U.S. states see record COVID-19 deaths, Latinos hit hard in California.

Expert: Major League Baseball Showing Us How Impossible It Will Be To Contain Virus In Schools – “I’m actually terrified that that’s about to happen to our school systems,” William Haseltine said.

Trader Joe’s workers attacked at New York store after asking customers to wear face masks, police say.

Pro-Trump youth group TPUSA deleted a tweet mocking protective masks after its cofounder died of the coronavirus.

The congressional underclass erupts in fury after Gohmert gets Covid-19 – The men and women who make Capitol Hill run are anxious and angry about the risks they’ve been forced to take amid the pandemic.

This Week in the Deplorable Thug Occupying the White House:

Trump Admits He Didn’t Confront Putin On Bounties Russia Paid Taliban to Kill U.S. Soldiers.

In just one month, Trump commits a whole new set of potentially impeachable offenses.

Trump Rages About Demand By Reagan Foundation that He Stop Using Reagan’s Image and Name in Campaign Ads.

Trump Can’t Postpone the Election—But He’s Trying to Destroy Its Legitimacy – The president today suggested postponing the November balloting, a move he lacks the legal authority to carry ou.

Sen. Ben Sasse Slams Trump’s Germany Troop Withdrawal as ‘Weak’.

This Week in the Police Brutality, Bigotry, and Other Injustice:

Wall of Moms, Black Lives Matter sue Trump admin over Portland response.

Minneapolis Looting Was Spawned By White Supremacist Seeking To Incite Race War .

Plainclothes cops in an unmarked van abducted a trans teenager as she skateboarded down the street – The 18-year-old was participating in a Black Lives Matter march when the secret police swarmed in and NYPD officers began threatening everyone around her.

ISIS & militia members are raping gay men & transgender women because they’re “soft” – Militants “look at gestures. The way we sit and move our hands, body language. They target gay and trans people.”.

He held a BLM sign in what he called ‘America’s most racist town.’ The result? A viral video of abuse.

In Memoriam:

Gay Critical Care Doc Dies Of COVID In His Own ICU – “I keep thinking, ‘Now there is one less ICU doctor to care for pandemic patients in Baltimore,’” Dr. Joseph Costa’s husband said of his death.

John Saxon, ‘Enter the Dragon,’ ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ Actor, Dies at 83 – The Brooklyn tough guy also starred in ‘The Appaloosa,’ ‘The Unguarded Moment’ and ‘Black Christmas’.

Regis Philbin, Iconic TV Host, Dead at 88.

Olivia de Havilland Dies at 104.

Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendant Dies Of COVID After In-Person Training Event Linked To At Least 17 Cases – “We’ve lost an angel,” said Jeff Kurtzman’s close friend.

Things I wrote:

Do not get lost in a sea of despair — why this white homo mourns John Lewis.

Tuesday Tidbits 7/27/2020: Tear-gassed moms.

Vote like you’ve never voted before.

Received wisdom is the mind-killer, or, is it time to end the Retro Hugos?.


Trump Praises “Demon Sperm” Doctor Who Pushed Hydroxychloroquine: A Closer Look:

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Bezos’s Ex Spreads the Wealth & Trump Shrugs Off Bounty Hunters | The Daily Social Distancing Show:

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Karen, Please Just Wear A Mask:

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GESS – Digital Romance (Official Video):

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BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC Official Trailer #2 (2020):

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Received wisdom is the mind-killer, or, is it time to end the Retro Hugos?

False dichotomies…
The Hugo Awards (though at the time they were called the Science Fiction Achievement Awards) were first awarded at the 1953 WorldCon (PhilCon II, which was the 11th World Science Fiction Convention) in a process much different than the way winners are selected today. The organizers of the 1954 WorldCon did not conduct any sort of award survey or ceremony, but the 1955 organizers did, as did the next few WorldCons. It wasn’t until 1961 that the rules for the awards were codified with the adoption of the World Science Fiction Society constitution, which also made the awards a permanent recurring part of the convention.

In 1994 the World Science Fiction Society approved the awarding of Retrospective Hugos for those years when there had been a WorldCon, but no Hugos. WorldCons aren’t required to award them. Also, Retro Hugos awards are allowed only for specific years: 50, 75, or 100 years before the current Worldcon, and only if another WorldCon hasn’t already awarded Retro Hugos for that year.

The original idea was that the Retro Hugos can only be given out 11 times—for the years 1939, 1940, 1941, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1954. Because there was no WorldCon from 1942-1945, due to World War II. A recent rule change now allows for awards for those war years, as well, which is how we got to the ceremony earlier this week at CoNZealand where Retro Hugos for 1945 were handed out.

When I first heard about the idea, I thought it was a good one. People were creating and reading (or viewing) science fiction in those years, and it made sense that the organizations handing out awards for excellence in sf/f should look at award-worthy stuff during that time. It gives fans a chance to read stories with which they are unfamiliar and learn about the history of this genre we love, right? And if gives us, as a community, and opportunity to recognize some works and creators who are less famous today.

In practice, I’m not sure things have exactly worked out that way.

A lot of the Retro Hugos have gone to people who are still famous today (and who often had received plenty of awards while they were still alive). And it isn’t even because those are the best stories that made it to the ballot from that year. Several of the Retro Hugos have gone to rather mediocre stories from early in the careers of people who went on later to write much better stuff.

In other words, it seems that a lot of voters aren’t actually reading the nominated works, but rather picking works that are written by people they have heard of.

It it difficult to track down some of these old stories, I get it. Even though there are wonderful fan blogs out there publishing lists of links to where you can find these tales (since they have often fallen into the public domain many are available for free). As a voter myself, I admit that each time it has been a struggle to read everything nominated from both the regular Hugo ballot and the Retro Hugo ballot during the time between when the ballots are announced and when voting closes.

An even more difficult category is Best Editor, Short Form. Which is, in practical terms, an award for best magazine editor. So in order to do one’s due diligence this year, for instance, you would have to peruse all of the issues published in the eligibility year of the at least the magazines Astounding Stories, Weird Tales, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Amazing Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Planet Stories.

That’s a lot of 75-year-old magazines to track down.

And if, like me, you track down scanned versions of the old zines at places like the Internet Archive, probably your first reaction will be a lot of “WTF?” because all the ‘zines from that era printed a lot of stuff which would never pass muster today. A month or so ago it shouldn’t have surprised me at how much WTF-material there was (because this is hardly my first time looking at stories and magazines from the time), yet it did a bit. It’s amazing how quickly we forget the weird stuff, the poorly written stories you couldn’t force yourself to finish, and so on. You remember the stories you thought weren’t bad (and sometimes even quite good) more than the other stuff.

If you aren’t willing to do that, you’re going to fall back (as the voters did this year), and the name you know: John f-ing Campbell, yet again.

I haven’t read every single issue of Astounding (later renamed Analog) Campbell ever edited, but I’ve read enough to draw an opinion of his skills as an editor overall. Looking at the stories he published in the year under questions, to the extent I could in the time frame, I found his selection of stories to be overall, mediocre. Yes, there was good stuff in there, but the was a lot more meh than wow.

I believe strong arguments can be made for at least two of the other nominees to be ranked above Campbell in this particular year. But if you point that out, people come back with basically three counter-arguments:

  • Everyone knows that Astounding was hands-down the best sci fi ‘zine of the time so who else could anyone vote for,
  • Campbell’s influence over the field dwarfs everyone else so who else could anyone vote for,
  • I liked more of the stories in the Astounding issues I sampled than in the others so…

The third of those arguments is the only one with any legitimacy. But let’s deal with the first two before I tackle the third.

It’s amazing how many people still feel the need to defend the already much lauded racist, fascist misogynist…
“Everyone knows” is simply a really bad reason to make any decision. We’re talking about very subjective things here, for one. And for most people it’s all second-hand knowledge at best. Most contemporary fans weren’t alive 75 years ago, let alone comprehensibly reading everything that was published. And cultural artifacts don’t survive equally. Astounding appealed to a certain demographic who, for a variety of reasons, are much more likely to live and remain active in a particularly hobby for many years than some others. The demographic has also, historically, had its preferences elevated above other groups, whose preferences and activities are often erased from history.

Also, the Suck Fairy has had 75 years to visit those publications. You shouldn’t fall back on the received wisdom without verifying for yourself.

As to the second argument, well, Donald J. Trump’s influence over the United States right now dwarfs everyone else, but it hardly means historians should be handing him a “Best President” trophy. I know that metaphor is a stretch, but the point is that having a lot of influence isn’t the same thing as using that influence well. And again, how much of Campbell’s influence was due to him, and how much is it due to that ability of the demographic he most appealed to to have an outsized impact on how the time period is remembered?

That third argument is a reasonable reason to determine who you vote for, I agree. But at least some of the people I’ve seen making that argument don’t stop at “this is why I voted for him,” they went on and tacked on the “…so who else could anyone vote for?”

Judging the editor categories is always difficult. Most people approach it by voting for the nominee who published the stuff the individual voter liked most.

That’s not the only criteria one ought to consider, in my opinion. Full disclosure: for over twenty years I edited a very small ‘zine that printed science fiction. Our circulation was never over about 300, but we also knew we were aiming at a particular niche. Still, it means I judge editors by more than just whether I like every story they publish. I didn’t limit myself, as an editor, to publishing only stories I thought were award-worthy and would stand the test of time. I picked stories because I thought my readers would like them and were worth their time and attention. Another quality I judge editors on is how well they seem to know their audience. If I have information about how they treat the writers they work with and the staff of their publications, I let that influence me, too.

Because giving your audience things they will enjoy (which isn’t the same thing as fan service, but that’s another discussion), cultivating writers, and managing staff are all also part of the job of an editor.

If I only voted for the editors whose publications I loved (and only stories I loved, et cetera), there would have been a lot more No Awards on my Hugo ballots over the last five years. I can look at something that isn’t to my particular taste and say, “Well, I don’t like that, but I know a lot of people do, and this seems to be a competent execution/exploration of a topic I don’t care for” and go ahead and vote for it. It’ll just be lower on my ballot than other things.

None of this is to say that no one has a right to vote for Campbell in the Retros. The question I raise in the title of this blog post is about whether the Retro Hugos are actually recognizing things that are award-worthy, or merely handing out trophies to nominees based on received wisdom instead of merit.

Unfortunately, the jury is still out.

Edited to add: Not many minutes after this published, one reader pointed out a copy-and-paste blunder that ate one whole sentence and part of a word.

Then another pointed out that my question is sort rhetorical for at least the next year, since the 1946 Retros were given out at LA Con III back in 1996, so it won’t be until 2022 that the question will come up again. To which I say, an amendment to the WSF Constitution has to be passed at two WorldCons before taking effect, though we don’t need a rule change if the organizers of 2022 and later conventions can be convinced that maybe these aren’t a great idea…

ETA 2: As always, Cora Buhlert writes much more informatively and nicely than I do on a fannish subject: Some Thoughts on the 1945 Retro Hugo Winners.

ETA 3: I wrote a rebuttal to this a big later: It shouldn’t require a keymaster to have fun, or, canon and other forms of gatekeeping in sf/f.

And Cora Buhlert wrote more elequantly on the same topic and included a lot links to other people writing on the same topic: Why the Retro Hugos Have Value.

Vote like you’ve never voted before

“I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma. I almost died. Some of my friends and colleagues were murdered. I'm not asking any of you to give any blood. I'm just asking you to go and vote like you've never voted before."
“I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma. I almost died. Some of my friends and colleagues were murdered. I’m not asking any of you to give any blood. I’m just asking you to go and vote like you’ve never voted before.”

Register to vote.

If you think you are already registered to vote, check to make sure. In many states voter suppression tactics include deregistering voters.


Vote in every election and for every race.

Vote as if your life depends on it (it does). Vote as if your life, your community, and your country depends on it (they do).

Make sure you’re registered. Don’t let them prevent you from voting!

Tuesday Tidbits 7/27/2020: Tear-gassed moms

Republican elephant kneeling on the head of a Black man wearing a voting rights t-shirt. “I want to take a moment to honor the memory of civil rights legend, John Lewis...”
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48 senators call on McConnell to allow vote on bill restoring Voting Rights Act.

Picture of gun-toting trumpers protesting quarantine orders: “In Trump's America, these guys got zero repercussions for storming state capitols with guns because they wanted to go to Applebees.”  Then a picture of the Wall of Moms: “Yet these Moms got tear gassed & beat with clubs by Trump's secret police for standing up for Black lives?”
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Portland mom shot in the face during Black Lives Matter protest.

Wall of Moms, Black Lives Matter protesters sue Trump administration for use of tear gas, force in Portland.

A ‘Wall of Vets’ Joins the Front Lines of Portland Protests.

“NRA supporters have been claiming for decades that the reason they need their arsenals is to fight against authoritarian government overreach. Now that armed government agents in unmarked vans are snatching citizens off the streets without charges in the most glaringly obvious example of authoritarian government overreach imaginable, they are either twiddling their thumbs nonchalantly or screaming about how they want to get haircuts without taking any public safety precautions during a pandemic. It's almost as if it was never about fighting out of control authoritarian government at all. Funny, that.”
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From the Administration that Brought You Kids-in-Cages, It’s Tear-Gassed-Moms.

“Elect a clown, expect a circus.”
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Reich: Trump trying to shift attention away from his COVID-19 failures.

“If you love an LGBTQ+ person and you're planning on voting for Donald Trump in November, that's an act of violence against them.”
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33 Ways Trump Has Harmed the Rights and Lives of LGBT People.

“Putin paying to kill U.S. soldiers means we're at ware with Russia, which means Trump did, in fact, commit treason.”
“Putin paying to kill U.S. soldiers means we’re at ware with Russia, which means Trump did, in fact, commit treason.”

Trump won’t say if Russian bounties came up in Putin call.

Trump won’t say if he’s confronted Putin over Russia’s reported bounties on US troops.

AP sources: White House aware of Russian bounties in 2019.

“America has once again proven that a pile of dead bodies is on cause for change and the fact that you're not sure which issue I'm talking about speaks to the depther of that problem.”
“America has once again proven that a pile of dead bodies is on cause for change and the fact that you’re not sure which issue I’m talking about speaks to the depther of that problem.”

Do not get lost in a sea of despair — why this white homo mourns John Lewis

Full quote: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Full quote: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

John Lewis, ‘conscience of Congress,’ to lie in state at the Capitol

Lots of other people have written about U.S. Representative John Lewis. He was one of many fighting in the civil rights movement from the Nashville Student Movement in 1960, through the Freedom Rides and beyond. He was one of the “Big Six” organizers of the 1963 March On Washington (and until his death last week, he was the last survivor of the Big Six). He was beaten by police, arrested, had dog set on him, received countless death threats, but he never backed down. And eventually, he became not just an activist, but a member of Congress.

He was an American Hero from early on.

But he became one of my personal heroes in 1996. Bill Clinton had run for President on a promise to bring equal rights to the LGBT community, but instead he caved to pressure from the Republicans, conservative Democrats, and (even more problematic) timid Democrats. Instead of equality, he created the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for the armed services, which instead of making it easier for queer people to serve, significantly increased the number of discharges for being gay. And he also ultimately signed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which made it illegal for the federal government to recognized marriages of same-sex couples if states decided to extend those rights, and also exempted states from recognizing those marriages from other states (a clear violation of the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution).

John Lewis was not one of the timid Democrats. He rose in opposition to the act. He spoke passionately about why he would vote against it.

“This bill is a slap in the face of the Declaration of Independence. It denies gay men and women the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Marriage is a basic human right.”
—Rep. John Lewis, explaining why he was voting against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in 1996

Unfortunately, the law passed. And we would have to wait for the Supreme Court to finally rule it unconstitutional in 2012.

That wasn’t the only time that John Lewis—a straight Black man, raised in the south, and an ordained Southern Baptist preacher—fought for LGBT rights.

“I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”
—Rep. John Lewis, in an op-ed he wrote for the Boston Globe in 2003

“As a nation, we cannot say we are committed to equality, if we do not mandate equality for every citizen. You cannot have equality for some in America and not equality for all. This is another major step down a very long road toward the realization of a fair and just society. We should embrace the decision of the United States Supreme Court. It is now the law of the land.”
—Rep. John Lewis, commenting after the Supreme Court legalized Marriage Equality in 2015

I had really hoped that Rep. Lewis would live long enough to see us oust the fascist from the White House. I guess we’ll have to do in on our own.

Every time I see another headline about Lewis’s death, tears come to my eyes. We have lost a giant.

Rise in glory, John Lewis.

Rest in power, sir.

Friday Five (microbe economics edition)

“Police haven't violated the Geneva Convention because protesters are our own civilians.” “Okay. But that's worse. You do get how that's worse, right?”
Meanwhile: “Portland Police Shoot Tear Gas at Group of Moms Protesting Police Brutality”
Is it really the fourth Friday in July? Well, I guess it must be!

I’ve had a cough and sore throat since Saturday. The temperatures were scalding hot for a few days, and then we got a few days of overcast cooler days, though the forecast says that will soon pass. And, of course, the slow burn apocalypse of the real world drags on.

Which brings us to the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our alles, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about the alleged president of the republic, five stories about science fact and fiction, and five videos (plus notable obituaries).

Stories of the Week:

How Portland Could Undermine Trump’s Urban Crackdown – The arrests in Portland now give courts a chance to expose the unconstitutionality of the president’s June executive order. The fight is already underway.

Steve Wozniak sues YouTube over ongoing bitcoin scams.

David Shor’s Unified Theory of American Politics. “In the postwar era, college-educated professionals were maybe 4 percent of the electorate. Which meant that basically no voters had remotely cosmopolitan values. But the flip side of this is that this educated 4 percent still ran the world. Both parties at this point were run by this highly educated, cosmopolitan minority that held a bunch of values that undergirded the postwar consensus, around democracy and rule of law, and all these things.”

Murder map: Deadliest U.S. cities. And the cities most people expect to be at the top of the list don’t even crack the top ten…

WWE Star Dave Bautista Calls Senator Ted Cruz an Ass-Sucking Nazi.

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Four Myths About Trans Athletes, Debunked.

Dem AGs sue Trump admin. to stop reversal of transgender health protections.

Number of Out U.S. Elected Officials Grows by 21 Percent in Past Year.

Transgender man named Michigan Teacher of the Year – He knows as a transgender man that “everything else takes a back seat” when you don’t feel safe in school.

COVID-19 is quietly ravaging the LGBTQ community.

This Week in the Pandemic:

Ex-FDA Chief Says US Could Hit 300K Deaths In 2020.

Known Coronavirus cases surpassed four million in the United States. The White House and Senate Republicans neared agreement on a proposal for the next round of virus relief.

173 new coronavirus deaths reported Thursday in Florida’s largest daily increase; over 10K cases added.

Republicans Keep Flunking Microbe Economics – Getting other people sick isn’t an “individual choice.”.

Fox Sports To Add Virtual Fans To Baseball Stadiums.

This Week in the Deplorable Thug Occupying the White House:

When Trump Is Gone the US Can Finally Grieve For the Pandemic Dead.

‘They Realize the Bully Is Just Kind of an Empty Suit’ .

US Attorney Demands DHS Investigation Into Arrests Of Protesters By “Secret Police”.

White House portraits of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush moved from prominent space to rarely used room.

Stephen Miller’s Grandmother Died of COVID-19. Her Son Blames the Trump Administration.

This Week in Science Fiction and Science Fact:

My Science Fiction Rabbi – How the prolific writer Barry N. Malzberg showed me my passion was just Judaism in a spacesuit.

The best science fiction and fantasy of the year so far — plus what we’re looking forward to next.

Humans settled in the Americas much earlier than previously thought, according to new finds from Mexico.

This is the first picture of a sunlike star with multiple exoplanets.

Study: Staring at Deep Red Light Can Improve Naturally Declining Vision.

In Memoriam:

Civil Rights Icon, American Hero, and Committed LGBTQ Ally John Lewis Dead at 80.

Obama on his ‘hero’ Rep. John Lewis: ‘I was only there because of the sacrifices he made’.

Rep. John Lewis, civil rights icon, original Freedom Rider, has died.

John Robert Lewis, the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, to become a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman, has died after a six-month battle with cancer.

Flossie Wong-Staal, Who Unlocked Mystery of H.I.V., Dies at 73 – A molecular biologist, she helped establish the virus as the cause of AIDS, then cloned it and took it apart to understand how it evades the immune system.

Manzanar survivor Yuki Llewellyn dies at 81.

Naya Rivera Confirmed Dead at 33 in Drowning Accident at Calif. Lake.


A Socially Distanced Conversation: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden:

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A Desperate Trump Promises New Covid Strategy, Sends Bizarre Well Wishes To Ghislaine Maxwell:

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Trump’s Insane Chris Wallace Interview; Secret Police in Portland: A Closer Look:

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‘Unbelievable!!!!!’ Produced By Snoop Dogg Stars 40 Former ‘Star Trek’ Cast Members And A Puppet:

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GEE, ANTHONY FAUCI! – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

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Friday Five (people who don’t care edition)

"Do not take deadly pandemic advice from people who don't care if your children are gunned down in classrooms."
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And here we are at the third Friday in July!

Much of this week I’ve been playing a much more annoying version of the “COVID or hay fever?” game. Not exactly a fun game in any variation. The weather got hot enough that I got to test my new air cooling devices this week. And then a new weather front moved in and we are back to rain and cool again. Usually summer arrives around July 11th here in the Pacific Northwest, but this year maybe not?

Which brings us to the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories of interest to queers and our alles, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about the alleged president of the republic, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Carl Reiner’s Final Performance Is in ‘The Princess Bride’ Fan Film.

Zuckerberg Never Fails to Disappoint. “This week, I finally settled on a simpler comparison: Think about Facebook as a seller of meat products.

“Most of the meat is produced by others, and some of the cuts are delicious and uncontaminated. But tainted meat — say, Trump steaks — also gets out the door in ever increasing amounts and without regulatory oversight.

“The argument from the head butcher is this: People should be free to eat rotten hamburger, even if it wreaks havoc on their gastrointestinal tract, and the seller of the meat should not be the one to tell them which meat is good and which is bad (even though the butcher can tell in most cases).

“Basically, the message is that you should find the truth through vomiting and — so sorry — maybe even death.”

Additional Asian giant hornet traps set in Bellingham – Five Asian giant hornets have been found in Whatcom County since last winter.

What Our First Close Look at Mars Actually Revealed. A really interesting take on the shock scientists got with the first pictures from Mariner 4 back in 1965

Why Marshes Capture Our Imaginations—And Inspire Some of Our Most Unsettling Folklore.

This Week in News for Queers and Allies:

Record number of LGBTQ candidates running for office in US.

Transgender women win elections for the first time in West Virginia & Louisiana – “I’m proud to stand for transgender and gender non-conforming people in the state,” said Peyton Rose Michelle, who won in Louisiana.

Governor Jared Polis Signs Bill Banning Gay and Trans Panic Defense, Making Colorado 11th State to Do So.

Data Collection And State Surveillance Put LGBTQ People At Risk Online And Off – Apps that harvest data, dark web marketplaces, and state surveillance are just some of the dangers LGBTQ people have to think about online.

Religious same-sex marriages have finally been made law in Northern Ireland in a stunning victory for queer activists.

This Week in the Pandemic:

Scientists focus on how immune system T cells fight coronavirus in absence of antibodies.

Pastor Sorry For Ignoring Masks After COVID Cases Among Flock Becomes “Too Great To Keep Track Of”.

Georgia’s Dumbass Governor Abolishes Local Mask Requirements as Covid-19 Cases Soar.

A Second Coronavirus Death Surge Is Coming.

U.S. shatters coronavirus record with over 77,000 cases in a day.

This Week in the Deplorable Thug Occupying the White House:

The White House Called a News Conference. Trump Turned It Into a Meandering Monologue – The president spoke in the Rose Garden for 63 minutes. He spent only six of those minutes answering questions from reporters.

White House officials sent document to Pentagon criticizing Vindman after impeachment testimony.

Rudy Giuliani Blows Up Trump’s ‘Audit’ Excuse on Tax Returns.

President Trump has made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims.

Team Trump Frantically Plots New Ways to Make Him Feel Good About Himself.

In Memoriam:

‘Magic School Bus’ author Joanna Cole dies at age 75.

Grant Imahara, Host of ‘MythBusters’ and ‘White Rabbit Project,’ Dies at 49 – An electrical engineer and roboticist by training, he worked for a long time at Lucasfilm’s THX and Industrial Light and Magic divisions.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 7/11/2020: Ignorant selfish pricks.


Trump’s New Coronavirus Plan: Threaten America’s Schools, Trash Dr. Fauci In The Press:

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So Much News, So Little Time: Ghislaine’s Hearing & Tucker’s Trip | The Daily Social Distancing Show:

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Trump and His Allies Want You to “Adapt” to the Coronavirus Crisis: A Closer Look:

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Joshua Bassett – Anyone Else [Official Video]:

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[OFFICIAL VIDEO] when the party’s over – Pentatonix:

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Weekend Update 7/11/2020: Ignorant selfish pricks

Time once again to visit stories that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five or represent a new development in a story I’ve linked to and/or that I’ve ranted or otherwise expressed opinions upon before. This week supplemented with some graphics I collected for possible inclusion in blog posts which are just going to sit on the hard disk unless I upload a whole bunch of them at once. Let’s just jump in, shall we?

Roger Stone is an ass. He is a criminal. He is almost certainly a traitor. But he did all of that to help the alleged president, so of course just before he is to serve an extremely light sentence for the crimes he was convicted of, the narcissistic fascist occupying the oval office has commuted his sentence. And of course he had to spew a bunch of lies while doing it: Debunking 12 lies and falsehoods from the White House statement on Roger Stone’s commutation.

I mean, this really is beyond the pale. Even Trump’s toady, so-called attorney general William Barr had said that Stone’s case was a “righteous conviction.” If any single Republican in Congress had a fraction of a thread of a fibre of morality they would be condemning this. And that’s not just me saying that: What Could Be More Impeachable Than Clemency for Roger Stone? – Trump’s latest abuse of power is so flagrant that Republicans should want to punish him for their own self-preservation. But they won’t.

Edited to add: Well, I’ll be! Romney: Stone Commutation Is “Historic Corruption”.
And: GOP senator Pat Toomey says Trump commuting Stone was a ‘mistake’.

“Hey, do you remember when we used to wear hats with Obama slogans, have Obama flags outside our houses, and constantly go to Obama rallies in non-election years? Oh, that's righg, we did none of that shit because we weren't in a fucking cult.”
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Speaking of lies from the alleged president, there was supposed to be another rally, this time in New Hampshire. The rally was suddenly canceled, supposedly because of weather, but no one who isn’t a Fox News cultist believes it: Concern over turnout was factor in postponing Trump rally, GOP advisers say – Fears that the coronavirus and the weather would dampen the attendance helped postpone the New Hampshire re-election event. The Tulsa Rally was a big embarrassment, with a very empty stadium, no overflow crowd, and now even Republican officials in Oklahoma are admitting the only thing the rally accomplished was to cause a new spike in Covid-19 cases. So the campaign doesn’t want a repeat of that. Not every Republican is toeing the line on the excuse, though: Trump campaign postpones New Hampshire rally after Tulsa embarrassment – Ex-RNC head Michael Steele calls out Trump lazy excuse.

The masks speak…
The vast majority of Americans are trying to be smart. We are trying to practice social distancing. We are wearing masks when we go out. The problem is a minority of stupid, evil, mother-fuckers. And I know that if too many of them get sick that puts health care workers at risk… but me thinking that politicians like this are only getting what the deserve is NOT what’s putting those workers at risk: Commissioner who Voted Against Masks in Critical Condition with COVID-19. If he dies, he had it coming. And I will not apologize for pointing out that fact. Speaking of people who had it coming: 26 lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Mississippi state legislature outbreak.

“Canadians pulling the 'Masks reduce oxygen intake' trope. Imma stop you right there and remind you that 5/12 months a year the air is so cold it hurts your face and we adapt by wearing multiple layers of scarves and no one has ever died of scarf related hypoxia.”
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And while I mostly point out the failings of my fellow Americans, it is important to remember that we don’t have a monopoly on either stupidity or ignorant conservatism. Wear a mask, and stop being a drama queen! Surgical teams wear masks far more restrictive than the simple cloth masks we’re asking for–and they complete hours long complicated surgeries with no one passing out, et cetera. Wearing a mask is different than not wearing one, but it isn’t onerous, it isn’t damaging to your health, and it isn’t something you can’t get used to. And it does save the lives of other people. Stop being ignorant, selfish pricks, and wear a mask!

That’s all the bad news I can deal with this morning. Let’s look at something less serious, shall we?

Lin-Manuel Miranda And Stephen Cobert Perform “Button!”:

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Friday Five (who has whose back edition)

Trump's a traitor: The bounty should be on his head (metaphorically speaking)
Trump’s a traitor: The bounty should be on his head (metaphorically speaking)
And here we are at the second Friday in July!

As a long-time resident of Western Washington state (I came to live here as a teenager way back in 1976), I am well aware of the fact that summer weather doesn’t typically arrive here until July 11. Many locals joke that it is July 5, mostly because people remember how many 4ths of July were overcast and/or rainy, and that sunny weather arrived sometime after Independence Day, but statistically it isn’t the 5th, it’s the 11th. I mention this because all this week a lot of local news blogs and such have been hyping the fact this this year year has seen the coolest first week in July in Seattle since 2002. Since I’m a person who basically melts into a puddle of Unable-to-do-anything whenever the temperature gets about 80º Farenheit, I’m not exactly complaining, mind you.

Which means that this must be the Friday Five. This week I bring you:the top five stories of the week, five stories about the pandemic, five stories about deplorable people, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and some things I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Froth, Feathers, Fluff: The History of the Boa.

Follow The River, No Matter Its Rapids, No Matter Its Turns .

The Study That Debunks Most Anti-Abortion Arguments – For five years, a team of researchers asked women about their experience after having—or not having—an abortion. What do their answers tell us?

Why LGBTQ Children’s Books Aren’t Just for LGBTQ Families.

Elton John says ‘racism and bigotry’ are hindering the fight against HIV/AIDS. “We can achieve an AIDS-free generation in America—but only if we design a system of care that embraces Black people and marginalized communities, and tackles structural racism head-on.”

This Week in the Pandemic:

US reaches 3m confirmed Covid-19 cases as Pence pushes for schools to reopen – as it happened.

California sets record for most coronavirus cases in a single day.

Health official: Trump rally ‘likely’ source of virus surge.

Large antibody study adds to evidence herd immunity to COVID-19 is ‘unachievable’.

Study: Lower COVID Risk for HIV-Positive People on Antiretrovirals.

This Week in Deplorables:

Ted Cruz mocked for tantrum about Gorsuch siding with Native American rights: ‘Way to channel Andrew Jackson’.

Billionaries, lobbyists reap PPP loan windfall.

Fox News regrets ‘mistakenly’ editing Donald Trump out of photo with Jeffrey Epstein.

Drivers target Black Lives Matter protesters in ‘horrifying’ spate of attacks.

Republican candidate brags about pulling her daughter out of college for supporting LGBTQ rights.

In Memoriam:

Nick Cordero, Broadway actor who battled COVID-19, has died at age 41, wife says.

Ennio Morricone, Oscar-Winning Composer of Film Scores, Dies at 91 – His vast output included atmospheric music for spaghetti westerns in his native Italy and scores for some 500 movies by a Who’s Who of directors.

Ennio Morricone, Prolific Italian Composer for the Movies, Dies at 91 – Renowned for scoring Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns, the Oscar winner also produced the sounds and music for ‘Days of Heaven,’ ‘The Mission,’ ‘Cinema Paradiso’ and ‘The Hateful Eight.’

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update on the Fifth of July.

That monument doesn’t belong here.

Speech without consequences isn’t free….

Gentlefolk, Start Your Rockets, er, Hugo Ballots!


Cooper: Trump says US in a good place. His experts say otherwise:

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Rep. Moulton on Russia bounties: ‘This is treasonous behavior’ from Trump:

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POOR DEPLORABLE TROLL – A Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

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Wrabel – since i was young (with kesha) [official audio]:

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Gentlefolk, Start Your Rockets, er, Hugo Ballots!

The Hugo trophy given out at NolaCon II, New Orleans, 1988. Trophy designed by: Ned Dameron Photo by: Michael Benveniste
The Hugo trophy given out at NolaCon II, New Orleans, 1988. Trophy designed by: Ned Dameron Photo by: Michael Benveniste
The Hugo Online Ballots have finally opened! Which means I have a lot fewer excuses not to start filling mine out. If you are a Hugo voter (i.e., have a membership to this year’s WorldCon) and you haven’t received the email telling you how to log in and vote, you should probably check your spam folder(s). I haven’t posted any reviews of any of the books or stories or otherwise on the ballots, yet. But some other folks have. I am most enthused about a series of blog posts that Camestros Felapton is putting up this week, here’s the overview: It’s Hugo Fan Writer Finalist Week! Each day this week he is posting a “Hugo Fan Writer: Why you should vote for… ” essay. Because each and everyone one of the six nominees in that category this year are just bloody brilliant fan writers. I wanna give all six of them the rocket.

His reviews give a nice overview of what each of the fan writers produce, with helpful links to stuff the many places you can find their work. Even if you aren’t a Hugo voter, but you love sci fi/fantasy, you should check these six writers out. They are all wonderful.

Just as I’m finding it very difficult to rank the six fan writer nominees, I’m having a nearly equally hard time in the Novel category. I may have to write about that some more later.

But for now, if you’re a voter, go vote! If you’re a fan, go check out those fan writers!