Lost in the bog

Sometimes, I spend time posting to fb, only to see my post disappear into the depths. Sometimes, I post a copy here. This is one such...

First, some background...

Since I don't play video games, I was only a spectator in GamerGate--and saw that it seemed there were serious problems with incestuous relationships between game makers and magazine reviewers. Still, it wasn't my fight or my world. The same goes for the Hugo awards and the Sad Puppies mess. Just like modern television, I rarely read science fiction that is happening now, instead, I occasionally read old stuff, so I hadn't and haven't read any of the books either nominated or discussed surrounding this year's Hugos. However, I read (a fellow Dwiggie) Sarah Hoyt's, blog from time to time, have read Larry Correia's posts on the controversy, and have seen the way their (and Brad Torgerson's and others) desire for the Hugos to be based on writing merit, instead of insider connections and polemical leftist writing (aka: boring politics-based tracts), has been denigrated as a bunch of skummy white guys proposing a misogynistic and racist set of nominations. Just as with GamerGate, that simply isn't so.

In case you haven't been following...three years ago, an author wrote in a blog post on his website a list of titles that he thought were deserving of Hugos. He also noted that the actual list of nominations and awards in the last few years seem to be dominated by a small clique of authors and publishers who leaned leftist, and who wrote in a didactic, leftist, SJW way--which this author (Larry Correia) thought was very boring and not indicative of the best of science fiction. He picked the name "Sad Puppies" because the leftists always seemed to him to behave like sad puppies. He did this in part to provoke a reaction from the clique which seemed to be dominating the awards and predicted he would be labeled as an evil, racist, misogynist bastard. He was 100% correct.

The backlash was outsized: he was blasted for daring to suggest a different set of titles and slammed as an obvious racist for not jumping on the bandwagon to promote transgressive leftist art. The insiders went absolutely insane trying to circle the wagons and exorcise the evil.

In short, they dramatically proved his point.

The next year, he did it again and got the even more of a reaction, but also a wider notice.

This year, he handed off the creation of the slate of nominees to Brad Torgerson, and the slate of suggestions succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. When the list of nominees for the Hugo came out a few months ago, almost every single slot in every single category was claimed by works suggested by Sad Puppies. (Also by Rabid Puppies, led by Vox Day, who seems to delight in pressing buttons by posting openly misogynistic things around the internet. Whether he is doing this out of conviction, or just trolling to piss people off is hard to tell. He has, however, pissed off lots of people, especially people fond of Sad Puppies, because the the tar he is covered with keeps splashing on them.)

In response to this success, the insiders again circled their wagons. Often proudly crowing that they would never read any of the SP nominations, and would never in a million years consider voting for them on merit, they urged their followers to basically write in "No Award." Despite a deserving and  diverse group of nominations on the ballot, last night, none of the SP nominations won. Instead, the Hugo voters preferred to give no award, and to not even give them the benefit of a legitimate look, than choose from the nominees suggested by SP. (Well, it is democratic, you might ask, isn't this just democracy working? Yes, however, the SP voters had multiple nominations to choose from and therefore diluted their vote, while the insiders dedicated themselves to the "No Award" option. In other words, the SP's spit their vote.)

So when a friend (and another fellow Dwiggie) posted a link to the Wired magazine coverage of the awards, and claimed it as a clear explanation--which it certainly is not--it's as biased as much of what the MSM has printed about this year's controversy--I felt compelled to respond. First a snippet from Wired:

Wired Magazine
But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships.

Early this year, that shift sparked a backlash: a campaign, organized by three white, male authors, that resulted in a final Hugo ballot dominated by mostly white, mostly male nominees. While the leaders of this two-pronged movement—one faction calls itself the Sad Puppies and the other the Rabid Puppies—broke no rules, many sci-fi writers and fans felt they had played dirty, taking advantage of a loophole in an arcane voting process that enables a relatively few number of voters to dominate. Motivated by Puppygate, meanwhile, a record 11,300-plus people bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington, where the Hugo winners were announced Saturday night.
I responded with this:

This one (written back in April), which was a statistical analysis of nominees over time, is better. The Good Reads score versus Hugo winners is important. Since about 2000, the books fans seem to like and the books that win Hugos have been diverging. Also, Hugos are supposed to be awarded democratically based on the voting of readers, but the number of voters is actually very small.

Before SP began posting suggestions (SP1 was originally nothing more than a blog post), only about 2,000 SF fans voted for the Hugos. This year close to 6,000 did--and that's the stated end goal of the leaders of the SP movement: to increase the number of voters, so that it returns to being a fan-based vote, instead of a vote of only a small contingent.

As for the leaders of SP being "3 white men", I'm assuming one of those three is Vox Day--who isn't any part of SP at all, but runs a separate slate called Rabid Puppies, and most SP folks are not fans of his. As for the leaders of SP, it's generally regarded as Larry Correia, who ran it for the first two years, then Brad Torgerson, who ran it this year--and who is married to a black woman and has a mixed race child, Sarah Hoyt--a woman (full name: Sarah Marques de Almeida Hoyt) who is a native of Portugal, has a very thick accent, and has written about how her kids were discriminated against in school because a teacher viewed them as "Hispanic", and Kate Paulk--who will run SP4 next year. Not 3 men, and not all white.

California breathing, on a summer’s day

Back when my sister first moved out to Los Angeles, I remember often seeing the dark orange band that circled the city: the layer of disgusting smog, so bad you could taste it. Reformulated gasoline, emissions standards, a shift from making California’s electricity in California (and polluting our own skies) to importing our electricity from Arizona (thus polluting the skies there instead, much better!) and a decline in heavy manufacturing all helped clear the air. (Major solar and wind installations came more recently than the reductions in smog.)

But California air is still filthy. Maybe it’s because it rains so little here, that the general grime never gets washed away down to the rivers--or the concrete ditches we refer to mockingly as “rivers”--and the slightest breeze picks it up again and turns it airborne. Maybe it’s coal smoke coming over from China (US air is cleaner when it leaves the east coast than when it arrives in the west, or at least can still be a significant contributing factor: http://news.wisc.edu/14557) Or maybe, there is still a lot of domestic particulate pollution going on. Whatever the cause, it’s one of the things you really notice when you come out here: how often you have to dust, how often you have to change the air filters on your furnace and in your car, and how gross your rugs get between deep cleaning.

Because of the heat wave last week, and our running the air conditioner much more than normal, I checked whether it was time to replace one of the furnace filters; it could still hold out for a while longer (I buy the filters in bulk.) That same day, I walked past a little fan I often keep in my bedroom window, and realized how disgusting and grimy the thing was. And I mean really disgusting, with black strings of grime attached to the grill and blowing out of it like streamers. 

Now memory is an interesting thing: looking at the filter and later at the fan, made me think of Alton Brown’s contraption for drying fresh herbs ( http://altonbrown.com/how-to-dry-and-store-herbs/.) He took a box fan and some furnace filters, put the herbs between the filters, strapped them on to the back of the fan and ran it for a day or so, and voila! dried herbs.

Well, I thought, if an air filter can work to dry herbs...why not use an air filter as an air filter!

Last Saturday, I went to the hardware store and picked up a filter to match my box fan. I used painters tape to attach it and have been running it for a week. Often I hung it, as usual, in my window; but, when the air conditioner was on and the windows closed, I ran it on a low speed down on the floor.

One week later and the filter is already gray and gross. I will now never run the fan without a filter on the back, and I’ll get one for Elizabeth’s matching fan as well!