Allied cover.

But actually, the more compelling reason to welcome allies has nothing to do with allies themselves, and everything to do with people who are closeted, questioning, or otherwise not able to be out as LGBTQ.

If your high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance welcomes allies, that means that you can attend even if you’re not sure what your orientation is or aren’t ready to share it.

Miri on allies in queer spaces.

Miri then goes on to talk about the place of “actual” allies, i.e. straight people, and instances where allies really are welcome (e.g. social events, political and activist organizing) versus other instances where, maybe, spaces are more for “allies” in the above sense, rather than allies (e.g. emotional support or safe space groups).

A thoughtful look at a potentially sensitive topic, and definitely something for straight allies to consider.

2017-09-26T08:10:03+00:00 26th February, 2018|Tags: culture, quiltbag|0 Comments

A writer writes.

Over the years I’ve had many conversations with aspiring writers. […] A significant fraction of these random aspiring writers would talk about stories that they were working on but couldn’t quite figure out how to finish. And once I got into the details with them, it would eventually emerge that they hadn’t actually written any of the story. It was an idea they had and which they had talked about at length with friends. In many cases they would talk about the files they had full of descriptions of characters and an outline of the history of the world, but when pressed, they would admit that they hadn’t actually written a single word of the story itself.

Planning and thinking and even doodling about a story, gathering research and writing up background information are important tasks which are often necessary to the writing process, but none of that is the actual story.

fontfolly on getting the words down.

He goes on to give some advice, which I think solid and which basically boils down to, “Stop calling your procrastination ‘worldbuilding’ and get to writing!”

I’m talked before about how I think a lot of worldbuilding–specifically, mechanically focused worldbuilding–is overrated. Sketch out just enough of what you need, then let your characters tell you the rest as they go along.

2017-09-22T09:20:23+00:00 24th February, 2018|Tags: sff, writing|0 Comments

Origin story.

The logic [of John Lott’s theory of Mutually Assured Massacre] goes something like this. If most people are unarmed, the guy who’s carrying has tremendous power and can kill more or less with impunity, at least in the immediate aftermath of a shooting. No one can shoot back. But if everyone is armed or any given person might be armed, you’re going to be a lot more cautious about going for your firearm and shooting someone. Because they might be armed too. They might shoot back. Or the person next to them might be armed. If everyone is armed, everyone will be on their best behavior. Because they’re all equal in terms of lethal violence. Shootings will go down, not up.

In the abstract, where no humans actually exist, there’s actually a compelling logic to this. If I know you’re armed, I’ll be on my best behavior. You will too because you know I’m armed. Of course, in practice, almost everything is wrong with this logic. It relies on an extremely crude version of economic rational action and an even cruder form of game theory. This is particularly the case when you realize that the fraught, angry situations where people impulsively kill other people are by definition not rational. This doesn’t even get into situations like school shootings where the assailant usually intends to die in the massacre. It also doesn’t get into accidents, misunderstandings. It’s completely nuts.

But this basic concept: more guns, paradoxically, means more safety informs almost every aspect of current pro-gun politics.

Josh Marshall on the “good guy” with a gun.

The point here is that the whole core argument of the pro-gun lobby in the US, i.e. that everyone carrying around guns makes society more “safe”, is traceable back to a couple of shitty books written by one asshole in the late 1990s.

2018-02-23T14:08:37+00:00 23rd February, 2018|Tags: cw: mass shooting, politics, usa|0 Comments

Gatekeeping.

If you don’t want to read bad fiction/nonfiction/poetry, don’t edit a book/magazine/blog/journal. Bad writing is to the writing game what dirty teeth are to dentistry; it will happen all the time, the only that varies is the level of awfulness. Submission guidelines, genre specifications, and word counts should help you do your precious gatekeeping. If you need to rely on charging writers $30 to enter your chapbook contest in order to keep what you think are bad writers away, know these two things: having money has absolutely nothing to do with having writing chops and your fees, not to mention your bland gatekeeping excuse, are nothing but classism in action. I’ve also heard that charging writers is just a way to “reduce the workload for overworked editors.” Get the fuck outta here with that. You’re sitting in front a computer because you want to, not working in the mines. Don’t want to edit? Don’t be an editor. There’s a ton of jobs out there that need to get done that don’t involve the arduous task of having to deal with a huge slush pile.

Gabino Iglesias on submission fees.

On the one hand, this is basic Yog’s Law, but it’s Yog’s Law with the special corollary of, “Submission fees for literary opportunities disadvantage diverse voices–who are statistically more likely to be economically marginalized–and, thus, are a particular flavor of bullshit to add, particularly to anything claiming to want more diverse works.”

In other other words: kids, don’t pay to play.1

  1. At least for any context where you yourself don’t have full control over the end-to-end process. That is, modern-style self-publishing is a special exemption to Yog’s Law because it assumes two “yous”; one of you as the writer, one as the publisher. Publisher you spends the money, writer you collects it, and the two of you together have full control of the project. ^
2017-09-21T09:02:15+00:00 23rd February, 2018|Tags: culture, publishing|0 Comments

I’m okay, you’re a looter.

And the “clever people” part of that is the secret to [Atlas Shrugged‘s] popularity – at least in the US (it’s never really made any impact anywhere else in the world, and only really came to the rest of the world’s notice as the Internet made the idiosyncracies of local cultures more readily available. Most people in Britain, for example, have still never heard of it). It says that if you think you’re cleverer than everyone else around you but you don’t make as much money as a plumber or a welder, it’s not because the plumber or welder has a more useful skill than you, it’s because you’re being held down by evil looters. On the other hand if you, as a computer programmer or an advertising copywriter or a politician, are making more money than them, that’s because you are a supergenius who really deserves even more, because the looters are still holding you back.

Of course, to anyone who feels even the slightest resentment about their position in life (and who has no basic empathy or understanding of social structures), this is a perfect excuse for every failure and justification for every success. It’s even better than blaming black or Jewish people for those purposes, because you can draw the lines however you want. Obviously you are one of the productive people, and obviously whoever you dislike is one of the looters. I’m OK, you’re a leech who should be killed for the improvement of humanity.

Andrew Hickey on Atlas Shrugged.

As usual with Hickey’s reviews, the whole post is pretty much gold and you should totally go read it. Also, this comment totally nails the book’s (sadly) enduring appeal…

2017-09-21T08:45:48+00:00 22nd February, 2018|Tags: books, culture, politics, pop culture, sff|0 Comments

The biggest lie Law & Order ever told.

“People don’t think,” [ATF agent Charlie Houser] tells me. He’s a trim guy, 51, full lips and a thin goatee, and he likes to wear three-piece suits. They fit loose, so the overall effect is awkward innocence, like an eighth grader headed to his first formal.  I get e-mails even from police saying, ‘Can you type in the serial number and tell me who the gun is registered to?’ Every week. They think it’s like a VIN number on a car. Even police. Police from everywhere. ‘Hey, can you guys hurry up and type that number in?’ ”

So here’s a news flash, from Charlie Houser: “We ain’t got a registration system. Ain’t nobody registering no damn guns.”

Jeanne Marie Laskas on Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The fact that the ATF is disallowed, by legislation bought and paid for by the NRA in 1986, to computerize any gun ownership records tells you everything you need to know about the sincerity of the “responsible gun ownership” argument…

2018-02-22T08:13:35+00:00 22nd February, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|0 Comments