beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
For those of you fortunate enough to not know what they are, TERFs are trans-exclusionary radical feminists.  There are a wide variety of them (and some sound reasonable at first blush), but those few "man-hating feminists" who actually exist are all pretty much TERFs.  And part of what their extremist response to men ends up as is a denial that transwomen are women.  (Hence "trans-exclusionary.")  Feminism isn't about equality for all people, to a TERF; it's about advancement for biological females.  These are also the people behind "queer is a slur which can't be reclaimed!"  Because queer is an umbrella category, see, which makes it a lot harder to police who is a "real" LGBT+ person than any other term.  And if you can push some people--aces, genderqueer, transpeople, bi/pan people, and others out or at least to the fringes--you can much more easily separate out who the "real" women are, and who "deserves" support, from those who "don't".

Anyway, I was listening to the On Being podcast today.  (On Being, for those of you who don't know, is an EXCELLENT radio show/podcast which "opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?"  It often addresses issues of religion and spirituality from a broad range of traditions.)  This week's show is a conversation with Joy Ladin, an Orthodox Jewish transwoman who is a professor at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University.  And I was excited.  Queer representation!  Religious queer representation!  I'm not trans, and I'm not Jewish, but I am asexual and aromantic and there isn't much out there sympathetic to the intersection of queerness and religion, and most of what there is focuses on Evangelical/Fundamentalist/Conservative Christianity (which I am not) and homosexuality, no nuance or anything (and I'm also not homosexual).

cut for TERF bullshit )

beatrice_otter: Plot Bunny Princess (Plot Bunny Princess)
If you mean “a short fic of less than 1000 words” you can say “ficlet” or “vignette,” but a drabble, properly speaking, is 100 words.  Anyone who doesn’t think you can do anything worthwhile with 100 words should go read “By the Water Cooler" by [personal profile] tielan .  It is hilarious and true to the characters and 100 words is exactly the right length.  (Captain America, post-TWS, Maria Hill, Pepper Potts, Sam Wilson, Steve Rogers)

beatrice_otter: Poirot: Little Grey Cells (Little Grey Cells)
So, [ profile] wiscon!  Which proudly bills itself as a feminist science fiction/fantasy con, and yet in the last couple of years has shown that they have issues actually acting like a feminist con.

Short version: Jim Frenkel, formerly an employee of Tor Books (one of the largest and best SF/F publishing houses in the US, is a serial harrasser.  As in, he's been behaving badly towards women for twenty years, but mostly what's been done is that women "in the know" warn other women to keep away from him.  In 2013, he harassed a woman who a) made a complaint, b) followed through on it, and c) called out [ profile] wiscon when they let her report fall through the cracks.  Lots of feminist SF/F bloggers take up the call.  You can read about it on the Geek Feminism Wiki.

Jim Frenkel lost his job over the incident, which shows that Tor Books took it seriously.  Not so, [ profile] wiscon, which allowed Frenkel to come to the 2014 con and even had him slated to moderate panels, on the original schedule.  Cue righteous wrath.  (They apologized pretty nicely for letting things slip through the cracks such that the 2013 concom knew about him and the 2014 concom didn't.  It was a pretty good apology, taking full responsibility for screwing up.  Pity it wasn't followed by a genuine turnaround on behavior.)

The final decision is that Frenkel is banned for four years for sure--and if, at the end of those four years, he can provide evidence that he has changed, he can come back.  Note that he can appeal, but it has been made quite clear that his victims can't.  Cue even more righteous wrath in the SF/F blogosphere, and as usual Radish Reviews has both good commentary and a good link roundup of other responses.  I particularly like Sigrid Ellis's post on procedure and how, you know, a con disciplinary committee is not a court of law and why the differences matter.

Which got me thinking.  I am a pastor.  Churches are also places that should be safe where trust has often been abused.  And our councils are also not courts of law.  So, here's what "best practices" are for churches for handling predators once they have been identified.  First, we have to protect their victims from further harm.  That's number one.  But we also, as churches have an obligation to everyone--including predators--to spread the Good News of God's love to all people.  When Jesus told his followers to visit the people in prison, he didn't say "but only the nice people who are falsely/wrongly accused."  So we can't just throw the predators out.  But at the same time, our first priority has to be protecting the victims and possible victims.  So here's the compromise when we know there's a serial predator: they can attend worship, but not any other event (Sunday School, picnic, work day, whatever) where the predator's target group will be present.  And they can only arrive ten minutes before worship and must leave immediately after it--they can't hang around.  And any time they are on the church property, the church has a couple of designated people to stay with the predator and make sure they behave themselves.  If they have already preyed on someone within the congregation, a church may well work with neighboring congregations to find someplace else the predator can attend where the predator will be watched to ensure no further harm is done but the victims don't have to deal with them.  The chances of the predator harming someone are minimized.  That's what you should do when you can't just throw the predator out.

But a con is not a church, and if there is a deep moral imperative to allow anyone (even predators) at a con, I've never heard it.  If there is a deep moral imperative for why it has to be one con in particular and not another, I've never heard it.  And if there's any procedure in place for what to do if Frenkel appeals after four years, gets a couple of character witnesses to swear he's reformed, and gets back in, and how to handle him to make sure he doesn't revert to type, I haven't heard that either.
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)
You know what I find really annoying in Pride and Prejudice fic?

All the stories where there's nothing wrong with Anne de Bourgh but her mother's fussing, and if she just got out and was active, she'd be just perfectly normal and as soon as her mother's out of the picture Anne is a lively and outspoken woman.  That's like, 95% of the fic where Anne appears.

And you know, it's possible that's the case.  But while they may not have had much medical knowledge in Austen's day, that makes it even more likely that she really has some kind of nasty ailment that won't kill her but will keep her from being able to do much.  Maybe something we'd find easily treatable, but that they wouldn't have a clue about.  And yes, upper-class girls were often cossetted, but not to the extent of being turned into invalids by it.

And as for Anne becoming lively and outspoken when her mother's not in the room, that's much worse.  There's a couple of possibilities.
  • she really is sick, in which case her mother's presence or absence may affect her comfort but she won't have much energy to speak whether or not Lady Catherine is in the room.
  • she does not have a physical illness beyond her mother's interference, but she's naturally shy and/or introverted, which won't change whether or not Lady Catherine is present or
  • she does not have a physical illness beyond her mother's interference, and she's not naturally shy and/or introverted, but her mother has bullied her into becoming so, which also will not change whether or not her mother is present.  Particularly since the amount of bullying/abuse necessary to make a healthy person physically weak is, er, pretty substantial even if (especially if) we're talking about chronic rather than acute mistreatment.
I highly doubt her illness is imaginary or made up or forced upon her by Lady Catherine's having decided that she is sickly and to be treated as such.  It's possible, but unlikely.  But if that's the case, she is going to be so psychologically damaged.  She would NOT be turning into a normal, social, outgoing woman the minute her mother's back is turned!
beatrice_otter: Atlantis--And the sky full of stars (Sky Full of Stars)
There is a divide in science fiction and fantasy fandom, dating back to Star Trek.  Media fans (fans of TV shows and movies) are on one side and lit fans (fans of books and short stories and original written works of varying kinds) are on the other, and it's not hard-and-fast but things that make huge waves in one area of fandom often don't even get noticed in the other part of fandom.

There is something huge going on in lit fandom, and it's important.  So here, for your edification, is what's going on with the 2014 Hugo nominations.

First, some background.  The Hugo Awards are the Oscars of the SF/F world.  They're voted on every year by the members of WorldCon, the World Science Fiction Convention, and handed out there.  (This year it will be in London.)  Who is a member of WorldCon?  Anyone who buys a membership for that year!  A full membership is $205, but if you will not be attending in person you can buy a supporting membership for $40.  This $40 investment will get you a) a packet with all the written works nominated for an award that year (which is a pretty good deal--5 novels, 5 novellas, 5 novellettes, and five short stories, each of them ones that a large number of fans think were the absolute best thing published the year before) and b) the right to vote for the Hugos and c) the right to nominate works for next year's awards.  There is wank about this every year, just like there's always wank about the Oscars.  Usually it's nothing.  This year, it's bad.

Second, some background on the major players.  As in all areas of life, there are some SF/F authors who are complete wastes of space on a personal level.  (I can't speak to the quality of their writing as I've never read it, but they are total wastes of space as people.)  In particular, Larry Correia and Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale) are vocally sexist, racist, homophobic pieces of trash who think that only white men can be real SF/F fans and that while they can spew any filth they want, anybody who dares to stand up to them is a horrible person who is oppressing them.  I won't be linking because y'all have google and I am not going to waste my spoons diving through their splooge for examples.  (Day/Beale uses both name and pseudonym for a variety of things so if you want to look him up, google both.)

So!  This year, Correia put forth a slate of twelve works (including his own most recent novel) that should get Hugos, and urging people to buy Worldcon memberships solely to nominate and then vote for those twelve works, which Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale) then championed as well.  All of them are what he considers "real" Science Fiction by "real SF" (read: white racist sexist asshole) authors.  And seven of them got enough nominations to get on the Hugo ballot.  On the bright side, there are also a lot of women authors and authors of color and people who have never gotten Hugos on the ballot, way more than normal.  (On the weird side, since the last book in the Wheel of Time series came out last year and none of the books in the series have ever been nominated and all of the novels are part of a single story told in installments, the entire series has been nominated for a Hugo for Best Novel.  ETA: Yes, the entire series will be part of the membership packet this year, all fourteen of them.)

Natalie Luhrs over at Radish Reviews

Abigail Nussbaum (one of the nominated authors) on her own blog ignores the whole Correia and Vox Day issue but raises interesting points on other things

Far Beyond Reality does a linkspam of the whole issue

John Scalzi, one of the leading writers and bloggers in lit fandom and one who is usually pretty loudspoken about being a feminist and pro-poc, says people should take the high road and vote solely on artistic merit, not the character of the author.

Shweta Narayan
, Arachne Jericho, Rose Lemberg, and Kate Nepveu point out several flaws in Scalzi's position.

Daniel Libris' take.

Polenth Blake on separating writers and their work.

There's two issues with the Hugos this year.  First, Correia's actions in promoting a slate of candidates, and urging all of his fans to buy memberships solely to nominate it and vote for it leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths, and would no matter what kind of a person he was.  There are lots of people in literary fandom who think it's wrong to even say publicly "Hey, guess what, I'm eligible if you want to nominate me for X!"  So even if Correia's actions weren't technically against the rules, it's Not Good Behavior.

More importantly, obviously, are the social justice implications: Correia and Vox Day should not get to dictate what counts as "good" science fiction and fantasy; they should not get to dictate what science fiction fandom is like and who can and can't be part of it.

I am not going to urge anyone to buy WorldCon memberships just to vote against them, but I will note that $40 for a supporting membership will get you all the nominated works, the right to vote, and the right to nominate for next year's Hugos.  The packets aren't yet ready for distribution, because they only just announced who was nominated and are now approaching publishers and authors for the rights.  (Also, they're doing Retro-Hugos this year; it's the 75th anniversary of the first WorldCon in 1939, but the Hugos didn't come along until later, so they're going to give out Hugos for 1939 as well as 2014.  Hopefully, those works from 1938 will also be in the member packet.)

ETA: due to trolling, anonymous commenting has been disabled.  If you're going to call me a racist fascist, you're going to at least need to drum up the courage to sign it.

beatrice_otter: John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, from BBC's 2010 Sherlock miniseries (John and Sherlock)
As someone on the spectrum, I knew right off the bat that the Sherlock Holmes in the BBC Sherlock series is not on the autism spectrum, despite vague comments from the actor and/or directors and writers that maybe he was supposed to be.  But when you try to point out all the reasons why not, you get all kinds of crap.  [ profile] wellingtongoose (on both LJ and Tumblr) has done a series of excellent meta posts about Sherlock (everything from Britpicking to John's probable career history), and for one entry asked four professional psychiatrists whether Sherlock was on the autism spectrum.  All four of them said "no, absolutely not."  There was all kinds of furor and pushback and "how dare they, obviously they can't have any idea what they're talking about!" (because of course actors, writers, and TV watchers who have read three blog posts and a news article about the horrors of autism know better than people who deal with it every day on a professional basis).  So they have written a further explanation.  I bet it results in people flinging the same kind of crap; hopefully at least one or two people will read it and go, "oh, maybe they have a point."

Why we wrote: Sherlock does not have autism, thanks, from 4 Psychiatrists.

beatrice_otter: Grammar (Grammar)
A list of common grammar mistakes

If every English-speaking person had these rules drilled into them by the time they're 10, the world would be a better place.  (Well, not really.  But it would make me feel better!)

(Although 13 isn't quite right, or at least not complete--affect and effect can be difficult.  Both Yahoo and Wikihow have good explanations.)

beatrice_otter: Uhura fights like a girl (Fight like a Girl)
You know what is pissing me off right now?  People tagging fic as "Women Being Awesome" on AO3 when, in fact, the women are secondary characters and their moments of "awesome" are mostly about getting Teh Slashy Guys together.


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
So I just read a fic.

It was a good fic.

Well-written, well-characterized, interesting.

And I enjoyed it.  But at the same time, it really, really annoyed me.

I'm sure you've all read fics like it.  Characters A and B (canon ship) are married, and it is the future.  They're going through the motions, both kind of depressed and not connecting, maybe actively unhappy.  Character A falls for character C--maybe in an "It's a Wonderful Life" type viewing of an alternate universe, maybe some other ficcish plot device, maybe just in the normal course of events.  Character A leaves Character B for Character C, and all is perfect again!

Except not, because you know what, that's not how it works in real life. )

beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
To all writers, both professional and fannish: America is a big place, and yet some of the important places (though not all) are relatively close together.  Sometimes you have to fly to get places in a day.  But not always.  Sometimes, it is quicker to drive.  When your characters are traveling somewhere in America, somewhere you have never been, please do some elementary research to figure out whether it would make more sense for your characters to fly or drive.  There's this newfangled thing called Google Maps that can help.  It is your friend.  Use it.

I have seen so many goofs about stuff like that, it's not even funny.  From pros and amateurs.

Like the ep of SG-1 where we meet Sam's new boyfriend Pete, a cop from Denver in Colorado Springs on a case, who says he flew there.  It's only like an hour or two away by car.

Like the NCIS/SG-1 crossover where Gibbs et al took a helicopter to the SGC headquarters.  From the Navy Yard.  Now, the Navy Yard is in DC.  The SGC is in Colorado Springs, which is over half a continent away.  That's some helicopter.  A commercial jet would have been a lot quicker.

Like the NCIS fic I just read where Gibbs' dad flew down to DC instead of driving.  Stillwater's about 3.5/4 hours north of DC, and it's an hour away from the nearest airport (Scranton/Wilkes Barre); by the time you drove to the airport, got checked in, got through security, waited for the plane, flew down, got off the plane and through the airport, and then through DC traffic, it would probably be about that fast to just drive, and it would be a lot less hassle.

This is not rocket science, folks.  It takes five minutes to figure out.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
Originally posted by [profile] cantarina1 at post
Originally posted by [profile] electricdruid at The fiasco continues

ACTA in a Nutshell –

What is ACTA?  ACTA is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. A new intellectual property enforcement treaty being negotiated by the United States, the European Community, Switzerland, and Japan, with Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Mexico, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada recently announcing that they will join in as well.

Why should you care about ACTA? Initial reports indicate that the treaty will have a very broad scope and will involve new tools targeting “Internet distribution and information technology.”

What is the goal of ACTA? Reportedly the goal is to create new legal standards of intellectual property enforcement, as well as increased international cooperation, an example of which would be an increase in information sharing between signatory countries’ law enforcement agencies.

Essential ACTA Resources

  • Read more about ACTA here: ACTA Fact Sheet
  • Read the authentic version of the ACTA text as of 15 April 2011, as finalized by participating countries here: ACTA Finalized Text
  • Follow the history of the treaty’s formation here: ACTA history
  • Read letters from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden wherein he challenges the constitutionality of ACTA: Letter 1 | Letter 2 | Read the Administration’s Response to Wyden’s First Letter here: Response
  • Watch a short informative video on ACTA: ACTA Video
  • Watch a lulzy video on ACTA: Lulzy Video

Say NO to ACTA. It is essential to spread awareness and get the word out on ACTA.

Via Tumblr

This entry was also posted at (comments: comment count unavailable)
beatrice_otter: OMGWTFBBQ!  Hector dies in book 22!  Spoilers! (Spoilers)
There's a certain kind of review that I only get at the Pit of Voles.  On fic marked completed, people say things like "Great start!  I can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter!"  Now, granted, I tend to write stories that are fairly open-ended, but I get that kind of comment regardless of how open or closed the ending of the story is.  "Completed" is not the default setting on that or *any* archive that has it as an option; you have to select it.  Is it too much to ask that some of them, occasionally, a) glance at the top of the screen to see whether it's a WIP or not before assuming there will be another chapter and b) not assume they can bribe/guilt me into writing a new chapter by hinting for one in their review?  I never get this type of review anywhere else, not even LJ/DW which has no helpful tickyboxes to tell you something is complete.  I usually write back something passive aggressive, along the lines of "Thank you for reviewing!  I'm glad you liked my story.  This fic is completed.  If you would like to write a sequel, I'd love to read it!"

ETA: Just got another one, this one with the gall to tell me what "needed" to happen in the sequel--basically a full outline.  Now, saying something like "wouldn't it be cool if ..." is one thing.  Saying "This is what you need to write next" is a whole different ball of wax.

Also, as the weather has gotten colder I have realized that my bedroom is the coldest room in the apartment.  This wasn't the case when I moved in in the summer.  I live in the second floor of a two-story house, where the second floor is two rectangles offset from one another.  One rectangle has my kitchen/dining/living area, and the other two small bedrooms and a bathroom.  Heat is provided by radiant baseboards along three sides of the exterior.  Three of my bedroom walls are exterior walls, two with windows in them; the baseboards only run along one (short) side.  I understand why they didn't want to run baseboards along that whole side--besides my bedroom, it's also the (narrow) entryway and part of my kitchen, so there's cabinets and stuff in the way and not a lot of room.  And maybe that corner of the house is just where it was easiest to tie in the pipes for the radiant heat.  But surely they could have done a little loop along the long side of the room?  At least the extra five feet to get under the other window?
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)
Over at [ profile] sherlockbbc they've had two posts in as many weeks about how "OMG, you guys, Sherlock totes has Aspergers!  They're bad with people and are brilliant in weird ways!"  I'm probably going to put together my various comments to that when I have enough spoons and write a post on "Why Sherlock Holmes is absolutely not on the autism spectrum in any way, shape, or form.  No, not even if Benedict Cumberbatch has said that's how he's playing him."

But there's one comment that won't fit in there, and it's in response to a sensitive subject, so I'm reposting here just to vent.  The person I am responding to (the OP)r said (about strong responses to the topic) "I am always surprized by strong reactions to particular issues or themes. It seems perfectly natural to me to openly discuss all manner of things--But then I'm a particularly extroversial individual so yacking about things is simply what I do."

My response:

As someone on the spectrum, here's why talking about Aspergers triggers a strong reaction in me: the Autism Spectrum Disorders (of which Aspergers is one) are the trendy "new" mental health issue. So people see them in anyone who is anything other than perfectly 100% "normal" and find all kinds of ways to twist the actual diagnosis so that it will fit. And they tend to assume that watching Rain Man or reading a single book makes them greater experts in the subject than someone who actually has the disorder. And then try and lecture me on how I don't know what I'm talking about. Then there are people who want to talk with me, not because they want to talk to me but because they want to talk about what they heard about Aspergers on daytime television or from their second cousin who's got a kid with autism etc., and I'm just the most convenient stand-in. It's not destigmatizing, it's emphasizing the stigma by trying to figure out every weird/unusual trait I have and categorizing it, as if I was a disorder and not a person. As if you could just put certain behaviors/thought patterns in a box and say "this is the Aspergers, and that stuff over there, that's [info]beatrice_otter." And I don't always have good enough social skills to figure out how to turn the conversation to other tracks, particularly if I'm tired and stressed. Sorry, this is my life here, not your amusement. I do not exist for the purpose of educating you.

There are a lot of people on the spectrum who like talking about it. Sometimes that's even me, when I'm not tired and stressed. I just wish that I didn't always have to start at ground zero with everyone. It's difficult and stressful, particularly for someone who finds dealing with people in general to be very stressful.

I can't tell you the number of job interviews I've been on in the last year where the subject came up (for the kinds of jobs I was applying for, prospective employers needed to know) and we spent most of the interview talking about Rain Man or Temple Grandin or whatever new book just came out instead of the job and whether or not I was qualified for it and would be a good fit.

So that's why this type of discussion strikes a nerve with me.

If you would like to educate yourself on the subject of Aspergers, there are many fine books on the subject.  I would not recommend novels about people on the spectrum unless written by someone on the spectrum, because chances are good the author is just jumping on the bandwagon and doesn't know what zie is talking about.  Most experts--and people with the disorder--tend to write non-fiction.  Anything by Temple Grandin is great, of course, but for a beginning resource for laypeople I would recommend So Odd A Mixture: Along the Autism Spectrum in Pride and Prejudice by Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer.  In the first chapter she gives the clearest description of the underlying causes of ASD and the resulting symptoms I've ever seen, and in the rest of the book she takes each character from the book that she identifies as being somewhere along the spectrum and analyzes their words and actions to show you why and where they're coming from.  It's thoughtful, well done, and easily accessible for laypeople, particularly if you happen to be an Austen fan (although you don't have to be to find it a useful book).  It's also available on Google Books, with "Autism Spectrum Disorders for Janeites" beginning on page 25.


beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

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