Summer Cons and All the Awesome! | Suzanne van Rooyen – This summer I had the privilege of attending two amazing science fiction and fantasy conventions, not only as a fan, but as a panelist. The first was FinnCon held in June in my university town of Jyväskylä. The second was WorldCon held in London just last week. Both cons were great in different ways and here’s why…
- I Went To Loncon 3 On My Own, And Left It With Myself – For conventions are, for one thing, places of understanding. I suppose I feared that I would not understand this world, or it would not understand me, or something equally high-minded. But there’s something wonderful about people brought together by common passion. We sat through the opening ceremony, stuffed full of in-jokes and genre references. I didn’t get half of them, but even that was fun. A sense of being welcomed into a 72-year-old family with its own customs. A dinner table with one extra place waiting.
The Wanderground | Just Higher-Ed- jobs.ac.uk career blog – Why am I telling you about what was effectively my summer holiday? Because this Convention-Conference taught me a lot, about how academic conferences are run, what academic conferences could be, and how more intellectual credibility should be given to people outside academia than it often is.
Conventions, hierarchies and forced diversity | The 13th Colony – And this was something that appears to be continually driven through over the weekend, or at the very least the panels that I’ve sat and spoken in: the ageism, sexism, racism, anti-academic-ism, hierarchism and various other -isms. I have no doubt Worldcon means a lot to the people who have been going to the convention throughout the decades it has been running and has forged a community there. I even understand the protectionism that they feel when hordes of media fans invade, because yes, sometimes we haven’t read the book or appreciate the fight to be legitimised back in the day but does that make our experience less valid, and therefore devalued?
On LonCon3, Diversity and Hierarchies | bethanvjones – And that wasn’t the only dismissive attitude I saw in relation to LGBTQIA people. Another panellist used the offhand ‘gender-whatever’ in discussing diversity. I tweeted about these instances, as did others, and from what I’ve heard they weren’t the only ones. But on the flip side I also saw how quickly the con organisers were to deal with racism and how supported one of my fellow panellists felt by them.
6 Impossible Things: LonCon 3 – After being in my new job for a week and a half I took some leave (starting on the busiest day of the year) for 6 days in order to attend LonCon 3, the 72nd WorldCon. Of course I 'd booked to go to WorldCon a year before I knew about the job, so it was really just lucky timing.
Comet Flyby Missions for Mars Rovers | The Planetary Society – On October 19, the Mars rovers—like their orbiting cousins—will become comet flyby missions. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass within 140,000 kilometers of Mars. This is less than 20 times the distance from Mars to its smaller moon, Deimos. Those distances provide a sense of scale: Deimos appears only a few pixels across to the rover cameras, so the nucleus of the comet will effectively a point source. The coma of the comet, tens of thousands of kilometers across, will take up a substantial fraction of the sky.
Flat Out: Worldcon on Wheels – I rolled up at the Excel bright and early on Thursday 14th, and I have to say Access was excellent. I was greeted by one of the volunteers before I even reached the registration queue, which they told me was 45 minutes long at that point, and whisked away to the Access Desk, where I was given a seat while the volunteer dashed off to pick up my badge and registration packet. Even the failure of the Access ribbons to appear was being dealt with courtesy of improvisation with tape and a marker pen in the best traditions of fandom.
LonCon3 Report ~ things mean a lot – LonCon3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, was happening too close to me this year for me to be able to resist temptation. So last Saturday I got up at an ungodly hour, got on a train to London, and spent the day at the ExCel Convention Centre attending panels where writers and critics I admire discussed various aspects of speculative fiction and fandom, going to readings by some of my favourite authors, and wandering around.
TERF Battle: A New Book Reignites the War Between Radical Lesbian Feminists and Trans Women | Village Voice – The Internet and social media have only relocated this long-running war online, even as mainstream feminists have banished TERFs — "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists," as trans allies call the opposition, a label the feminists consider a slur — to the outer fringes of the movement. Steinem herself disavowed her older views in an essay published in the Advocate in 2013. "Transgender people," she wrote, "including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned."
Why it’s time to lay the selfish gene to rest – David Dobbs – Aeon – This raises a question: if merely reading a genome differently can change organisms so wildly, why bother rewriting the genome to evolve? How vital, really, are actual changes in the genetic code? Do we always need DNA changes to adapt to new environments? Are there other ways to get the job done? Is the importance of the gene as the driver of evolution being overplayed?
Every Day Is Like Wednesday: Re: That movie that’s probably well on its way to making tens of millions of dollars already – And, if a lot of people make a lot of money and there are a lot of accolades being thrown about, then a lot of credit is going to go to a lot of people, from whoever cut those winning trailers to the designers and animators who got Rocket's fur to look just so to Gunn himself. If comic book people get any credit, chances are it's going to be as a collective (i.e. "Marvel") or under a "Special Thanks" near the end of the end-credit scrawl (IMDb has comics writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lannning receiving writing credit; if that's on the screen near the "written by" credit, then that's awesome).
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Character Creators Fight for Cash and Credit – NYTimes.com – As Michael explained in a telephone interview, the focus on his brother has encouraged the studio to reconsider its obligations to him. “The more often Bill’s name gets mentioned, and the more often he is given public credit for something that he did, the easier it is for me to go to Marvel and say, ‘You might want to consider raising your offer.’ ”
Robotic suit gives shipyard workers super strength – health – 04 August 2014 – New Scientist – The exoskeleton fits anyone between 160 and 185 centimetres tall. Workers do not feel the weight of its 28-kilogram frame of carbon, aluminium alloy and steel, as the suit supports itself and is engineered to follow the wearer's movements. With a 3-hour battery life, the exoskeleton allows users to walk at a normal pace and, in its prototype form, it can lift objects with a mass of up to 30 kilograms.
Bowlers, ballads, bells, and blasters: Living history and fandom | Soderstrom | Transformative Works and Cultures – As Scottish SF writer Ken MacLeod said, "history is the trade secret of science fiction." The two disciplines cross paths often and sometimes even seem to merge. In many people's lives the disposition to create community around historical interest or reenacted historical community practices, or even just entertainment in a mythic-history setting, intersects with a related and similar interest in science fiction/fantasy literature and participation on some level in the related fandoms and social activities of SF/F. The bowlers, ballads, bells, and blasters of my title come together not just in current steampunk scenes but also in the storied and genred lives of many reenactors and fans. Or, as a friend of mine suggested when discussing this essay, "historical reenactment is the trade secret to fandom."
Google Groups – An code name is quickly picked for the exploration of Earth 1/4 Billion: Green Door. Like 'tanks', 'Manhattan District' or many other project names, it is designed to give away as little as possible about the project. As usual, the Soviet hear about GD in a few weeks.
EPONA – Third stone from taranis – Imagine that you have just landed on a planet twenty-one light years from Earth. You are about to enter a lush world where things are more than just a little different! Evolution has taken exotic paths and a whole new kingdom of life reigns over land, sea and air! You are the leader of a first contact mission on the planet named Epona. The mission you have organized has journeyed here in an interstellar craft that orbits Epona. Your hand-picked crew must provide all the information you will need about Epona from the 21st Century technology available to you. Your objective is to unlock the secret of Epona's remarkable life-forms and discover if there is intelligent life you can communicate with.
Markov Chains – Markov chains, named after Andrey Markov, are mathematical systems that hop from one "state" (a situation or set of values) to another. For example, if you made a Markov chain model of a baby's behavior, you might include "playing," "eating", "sleeping," and "crying" as states, which together with other behaviors could form a 'state space': a list of all possible states. In addition, on top of the state space, a Markov chain tells you the probabilitiy of hopping, or "transitioning," from one state to any other state—e.g., the chance that a baby currently playing will fall asleep in the next five minutes without crying first.
The Mouth of the WWE « – In a match between a 15-time World Champion and the most dominating real-life wrestler in the world, Paul Heyman is somehow the best pro wrestler in the story line. So forget Cena and Bryan and Orton and Roman Reigns — Paul Heyman is the face of the WWE. How in the world did that happen?
As Reason’s editor defends its racist history, here’s a copy of its holocaust denial “special issue” – For them, FDR was a tyrant and a criminal, an American Hitler, only no one else could see things their way, because the real Hitler was widely believed to be one of the worst figures in history. Therefore, libertarian “historical revisionism” had to convince these Americans that Hitler wasn’t nearly as awful as they believed, which meant that the Holocaust couldn’t have happened — if the goal was to discredit FDR and the New Deal.
The Top 200 Ways Bleacher Report Screwed Me Over – In my three years at Bleacher Report, I covered the San Jose Sharks while studying in the Bay Area, and the Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, and Vikings upon returning home to Minnesota. I wrote over 500 articles, generated nearly three million page views, and received $200 for my services.
Jim Frenkel at WisCon 38 – Geek Feminism Wiki – In 2014, serial harasser Jim Frenkel attended Wiscon 38 despite complaints about him harassing a Wiscon 37 attendee, and previous reports. The Wiscon 38 organisers reported that they did not have a systemic way to track such issues. They reviewed the situation and provisionally banned Frenkel for several future years, a response that did not satisfy many onlookers.
Under the Beret » The Readercon Thing – I’m sure that most people on my friends lists are already aware of the sexual harassment incident at Readercon, but here’s my attempt at a link round-up
1974 -1986: A Spotlight Chronology (work in progress/draft) | Bits of Books, Mostly Biographies – What is perhaps most notable in placing a series of press reports on abuse scandals over any period of time is that there’s a lot of shock and outrage and not much action from anyone in a position of duty, responsibility or power to do anything except to apparently express more shock and outrage, this time on our behalf, before swiftly moving on. Something the collection of press reports at SpotlightOnAbuse ably demonstrate and which forms the spine of this chronology.
BBC – Blogs – Adam Curtis – WHAT THE FLUCK! – That at the same time as the police pursue the dodgy private investigators, like AIS, who are bugging and hacking their way into thousands of peoples' lives, the very same police – along with the security services, GCHQ and the NSA – are doing exactly the same to millions of other people. The only difference is that it's legal – because the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, and other laws, allow them to do it.
i believe you | it’s not your fault – Can we use our collective life experience to be a safe haven for kids who need it? Can we tell stories and answer questions and offer solidarity and resources and maybe break some cycles before they begin? Can we do it with humor and transparency, and without coming across like dorky, hand-wringing moms? After all, so many of us are still those kids. So many of us will always be those kids. Well, we can try. … We’re just people who’ve been through stuff, and we’re here. Ask us anything. It’s not your fault. We believe you.
Rick Remender, Alleged Statutory Rape, and Jet Black – If your discomfort with the whole Captain America #22 issue is simply the fact that sex had happened between two consenting adults in the presence of alcohol, this isn’t for you. You’re free and completely entitled to hate that and view it with great disdain but my attitude and problem with the fandom is not because of people finding issue with that overused plot device to get two people to finally be comfortable enough to do it but because of people making claims that Jet Black is 14 years old (when she’s not) and thus stating that despite her even saying she’s beyond those years to dare accuse Remender writing a statutory rape scene and faulting Sam Wilson as a rapist. If you had any of these thoughts, this is for you. Before you continue your crusade, please at least let me provide you with some facts.
The End of Fan-Run Conventions? | Cheryl’s Mewsings – My point is, however, that there is no upside to running fan conventions anymore. There is no satisfaction in a job well done. The only probable outcome is that you will spend the weeks after the convention dealing with angry and disappointed attendees, and avoiding social media because you don’t want to have to read the awful things that are being said about you.
Review: ‘Unexpected Stories,’ By Octavia Butler : NPR – At some point during the excavation, two short stories emerged: "A Necessary Being" and "Childfinder." Both written in the '70s, one was apparently left unpublished by Butler herself, the other part of a famously unreleased anthology. Both are finally seeing the light of day in an e-book called Unexpected Stories.
Jack Halberstam’s Flying Circus: on postmodernism and the scapegoating of trans women – The argument turns on the fallacy that trans women are being insufficiently radical, and that our fight for dignity is really just a cynical play for respectability and power. It is a very Foucauldian argument, in that sense. We just need to allow ourselves to be more transgressive (in terms defined hazily by Halberstam), otherwise our personal behaviour is complicit with oppression, and thus wrong. This is how we can make sense of Halberstam’s valedictory prescription to “move on, to confuse the enemy, to become illegible, invisible, anonymous.” His whole point is, ironically, to discipline what he sees as the defective personal behaviour of those he disagrees with.
After a Police Dog Bit His Leg, This Protester Was Jailed Thanks to a Cop’s Testilying | VICE United States – The expensive consequences of New York City’s heavy-handed approach to policing protest have been on display lately. In December, the city finally settled most of the lawsuits stemming from its mass arrest of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Earlier this month, falsely arrested Occupy Wall Street protesters announced the largest settlement yet between participants and the powers that be, with the city poised to shell out nearly $600,000 in damages. NYC already paid $350,000 last year to settle a suit over its destruction of media equipment and Occupy’s library during the 2011 eviction of Zuccotti Park, $82,500 this past December to settle an Occupier’s suit claiming that police beat him up across the span of three arrests, and $50,000 the month before to settle a suit by people arrested on suspicion that they might later attend a protest.
The 20 most hipster neighbourhoods in the world | Skyscanner – On the ‘other’ side of the IJ, the big bit of water behind Centraal station that no-one notices because they head in the other direction when they arrive, has been growing in coolness for a few years now. Previously a bit of a wasteland, now the disused warehouses host creative start-ups, festivals, restaurants and, once a month, mega flea market IJ Hallen,