ideatrash

Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Share Your Happiness, No Matter What Size It Is. (No, really. Now.)

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You have experienced pain.

If you're old enough to read this - or even have it read to you - you have experienced pain.

It doesn't matter why you felt the pain.  It counts.  To paraphrase Amanda Palmer's reaction to "First World Problems":

Who are you to judge another person's pain?

Physical pain is a highly subjective experience.  Applying that same standard to emotional pain just makes sense

Here's the pretty kick-ass flip side:

There are times that you are happy.  There are times when you feel joy.  And no matter how big or small the reason, it's a subjective experience too.

You are allowed to feel them.  You are allowed to rejoice in them.  You are allowed to show your joy.

That's what the "humblebrag haters"  don't seem to understand.  There is no limited supply on happiness and joy.  Heck, Facebook's1 study seems to indicate that spreading your happiness encourages more happiness.

So do it.  Right now.

I don't care how big or small it is, how "important" or "unimportant". For example, this description of @TranceWithMe's desk had me laughing out loud:

Goofy, silly, but it brought a moment of joy to me.

On the other end of the spectrum,  I am so deeply thankful for and head over heels in love with my amour, Cynthia.  Enough that I'm thankful for every second that got me to where I could have this relationship with her now; enough that I feel cheated because every one of those seconds is one I didn't have with her.

They're both joy.  They're both things that made me happy. 

Now share yours.  Share something that made you happy recently.  Wherever you see this blog, somewhere else, heck, even in real life, share something that made you happy.

Get excited. Make something. Do something. See something.  And share it.

No matter how big or small.



1 Mind you, a HORRIBLY AND DEEPLY UNETHICAL EXPERIMENT- read the Slate article for a good breakdown: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/06/facebook_unethical_experiment_it_made_news_feeds_happier_or_sadder_to_manipulate.html

1 comment :

How To Get Out of the Friend Zone... and Just Be A Friend, You Douchebag.

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I got a lot of "you're a great friend" and "I love you like a brother" while I was in my teens and twenties.  I probably described it as being in the "friend zone"... but there's something different about it now.

It's not just the "get off my lawn you whippersnappers" thing.  Yes, I had female friends who I wished were more than just friends. 

Yes, it sucks when your feelings are not reciprocated.  It sucks a lot.  It's a FML like of moment.

But there's something... nastier... to the concept now.

It is not just the creepy way his arm bends, either.
Let me try to share my unease through these images from around the internet:


Notice the trend?  The entitled whining of the men's rights and pickup artists douchebags has taken over.  Who cares if she just wants to be friends - he gets benefits.  Who cares if the girl doesn't want his hands on her breasts?  That's unimportant - we just care about whether or not he's in the "friendzone".


But this one is almost worse.

Not because of the Twilight connection.


Did you catch the message here:  That friendship is worthless.

This isn't the When Harry Met Sally "can men and women be friends" question.  This is explicitly saying that there's no point in being nice to women unless you're getting sexual favors in return.


While I'm not - by far - the first to comment on this (this Salon article is very good), I started thinking about this again after writing how diversity in fiction should be a given.

Because there's a fundamental missed point here:

Being a nice person does not mean you "earn" anything.  It means you're not kicked to the curb.

Somehow we - men in particular - have gotten the idea that being a basic, decent human being toward someone else somehow entitles us to... well, anything.  And then they whine when they don't get it... somehow not realizing that might be part of the problem.

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Please Diversify Your Panel: The Writing/Literature Convention Edition

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I remembered seeing the comment that GenCon had a panel on diversity in gaming with an all male panel back in 20111, but the idea kind of slipped to the wayside for a little while.

But it refocused when Sarah Hans pointed me at plzdiversifyyourpanel last week. As the site says:
This blog's goal is to create diverse, intersectional panels. We've chosen to accomplish this by organizing a list of people who will refuse to be on panels/podcasts/etc which do not include a diverse representation of people who have been marginalized for any reason — race, gender, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness, etc.

While that blog is primarily focused at gamers and gaming (though there are calls to bring this elsewhere), among my friends on Facebook, it quickly turned into "we should do this for writing and other fandom conventions".2

Considering that I'm the programming director for Context 27, and one of those people suggesting we check gender diversity was one of the con chairs for that convention (e.g. my boss), I figured I should check and see how I did.

Methodology:

  • I did not assess or factor in gender while making up the schedule.
  • I am not counting workshops, single person presentations, or reading slots (shared or otherwise) in this count.
  • I have not assessed any other factors such as race, socioeconomic status, religious orientation, sexual orientation, et cetera.
  • The mean and modal number of panelists per panel is three.

Results:

At Context 27, 42% of the panelists are female. The breakdown of gender diversity in each panel is:

  • 2 panels (3.7%)3 that are all-women. Both of these panels are gender specific (e.g. "Skewering the Trope: Tough Women in Literature")
  • 9 panels (16.6%) that are all-men. One of these panels is gender specific ("Skewering the Trope: Tough Guys in Literature")
  • 43 panels (79.6%) that have both men and women as panelists.


Discussion:

This isn't bad at all, especially since there was no special emphasis or deliberation put upon gender diversity when inviting guests or on co-ordinating which guests would be on which panels.

This is not a reason to rest on our laurels. As Sarah put it, "That's good, but what about those 9 panels?" While having almost 80% mixed gender panels is important, it is not ideal. Further, other factors of diversity must be assessed... and I suspect that that I didn't do as well there.

That said, the data point of this convention demonstrates pretty convincingly that it is possible to ensure gender diversity among genre writing conventions while maintaining a high degree of quality. Having more diverse voices is an inherent good for us as storytellers.

And it's something that those of us who are running conventions must be aware of... and it's a standard that we must be held accountable to.



1 It's not clear if the panel was part of the Writer's Symposium. Regardless, it was not a panel I was on.
2 Yes, it's a given that a more diverse panel is a better panel for guests and attendees. Go read this if you're clueless enough to argue the point: http://www.themarysue.com/we-all-benefit-from-better-representation/
3 An earlier calculation I posted on Facebook had slightly incorrect percentages, because math is hard.

#sfwapro

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The Incompetence of Jeff, a Heath Consultant Contractor for Vectren Energy

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TL;DR:  "Jeff", a local employee of Heath Consultants doing gas meter inspections for Vectren Energy, apparently decided he didn't have to do his job today.  He did not ring my doorbell, knock on my door, or even place the door hanger upon my door.

Why is this an issue?  Because supposedly if this inspection doesn't happen, my gas gets turned off.  (And yes, the threat of disconnection along with the lie of "a Vectren representative attempted to gain access" is why I'm blogging this in addition to contacting the companies in question.  I doubt that I'm the only one who has suffered from "Jeff's" work ethic.)

There has been no knock on my door.  My doorbell has not rung.  I have two dogs who bark and run to the door whenever there is a knock or the doorbell is rung. 

But apparently "Jeff" did step onto my property and left a door hanger. 

But not on the door.

Where did I find the door hanger that "Jeff" left?  At the base of the stairs leading to my porch.  About 10 feet from my door.

"But Steve," you might ask (and you will, because you're my voice in my head), "why wouldn't it still be on the door?"

Good question, person in my head!  Turns out that Jeff didn't even hang it up properly.


Yup, he just kinda tossed it there and hoped for the best.  Perforation unperforated.

This annoys me on so many levels.  The difficulty of getting a hold of anyone at the gas company or the contractor.  The annoyance of having to cancel an appearance to be here for this appointment.  The stupidity of him not ringing my doorbell.

And it's especially galling considering that one of my first nonfiction publication credits was about service as interactive advertising.

I know a few people that have had similar issues with Vectren - or maybe a subcontractor, it's hard to tell by the way they present the literature.  Some of them are to the point of avoiding dealing with any gas company at all.

And with service like this, I don't blame them.

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You're Saying Make Sure He Rapes The Other Girl

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If you can't read the image (or it didn't come through on Goodreads or Livejournal), there are two main bits.
If you're promoting changes to women's behavior to prevent rape, you're really saying "make sure he rapes the other girl".

and

There will always be a girl who is less sober, less secure, with less friends walking in a darker part of town.  I want her safe as much as I want me safe.
Think about that.

Then think about how we address sexual assault in this country.

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If you tried to comment and couldn't...

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Big thanks to pal Edward, who pointed out that the G+ commenting system wasn't letting anyone (including me!) post comments directly on the blog.

No idea why, but I've reverted it to regular commenting for the time being and probably for the foreseeable future.

So go back and read everything over the last few weeks and comment away!

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Diversity in our fiction should be a given, not something worthy of praise

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If you've ever cared for a small child, you know this.

Life starts out with everyone clapping when you take a poo and goes downhill from there. - Sloane Crosley

It's not long at all before simply pooping isn't enough to get attention. Then it's about controlling your poop. Pooping in the right place. Not making a mess of things.

For anyone old enough to read this, can you imagine the reaction of anyone in your life if you announced that you had successfully pooped in the lavatory. Would there be cards? Applause? Gifts?

And then imagine the other reaction if you announced that you had not pooped in the lavatory, but instead had pooped... well, pretty much anywhere else.


 Yeah.

As we mature, the basic stuff is no longer praise worthy. As we master a task, it's only really notable when we completely screw it up.

I think we may have reached that point with diversity in speculative fiction.

I do not mean that everything is fine and dandy with diversity in speculative fiction. Not at all. I'm saying that diversity should be a given, just like properly using the restroom.

Unless a project explicitly is about diversity or a specific group1, then there's no need to call attention to the diversity of characters or authors in the project, just like there's no need to call attention to one's successful use of the lavatory. Publishers - like myself - should get no special kudos, cookies, or recognition for simply doing what is expected.

But if a publisher fails to be diverse... well, then they're covered in shit. 

(Long time readers will know this isn't a new analogy for me.  Apparently unlike me, who didn't realize it until I finished writing.  Sigh.)

1 The Apex Book of World SF, Women Destroy [a-zA-Z].*, and Steampunk World are examples where diversity is inherent to the project itself.

#sfwapro

4 comments :

Father's Day by Way of Star Wars

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Happy Father's Day to my dad, and a great big happy Father's Day to all the other dads who voluntarily step up and take care of their kids.


No, not you.  You're a whiner with a malfunctioning respirator.  I mean these folks:

 

That's right.  Uncle Ben and Aunt Beru.  They are the real parents here.

Think about this for a second.  Even though they're young kids themselves, they decide to become foster parents.

Although they seem to have that Jedi fashion sense.

These two poor as dirt kids take a whiny newborn (seems to be a Skywalker trait) who is almost certainly going to be wanted by the terrifying second in command of the galaxy

Just because.

Taking care of foster kids sure lets you rake in the bucks.

What about Anakin, then, right?  What about that DNA component?  Isn't Anakin/Darth Vader the "real" parent of Luke Skywalker?



Ben and Beru were Luke's real parents.  Every good impulse of Luke's, every bit of discipline and compassion?  Learned from his real parents, whose sacrifice meant far more than that idiot in a rebreather mask.

Yes, it meant more.  Because Darth's eventual turning against the Emperor is guilt and selfishness

Anakin first tries to use Luke against the Emperor.  Then when that fails, Anakin only turns against the Emperor as he realizes that he's going to lose.  Sure, the Emperor is letting Darth live now, but he'll realize soon enough that Darth is a liability.  And at that point, realizing that he is lost, Darth tries to salvage the last thing he can:  Anakin's legacy.

"You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister... you were right..."
Yup, Anakin wants forgiveness from his kid and for his legacy to be redeemed. 


Which makes him a horrible parent.  Parents do things for their kids... because their kids.


Let's contrast the selfish Skywalker with Ben and Beru.


They didn't get the cool times with big glowy swords that went vrroozzm. 

They changed diapers.  Dealt with teething.  And probably homework and pranks, and we know they had to put up with some good-old teenage crap.

And all the while, they knew they'd have to give their lives for this kid.

They had to know that someday, good old Annie, the guy who slaughtered an entire tribe of sandpeople and oh yeah a bunch of kids would be somewhat... miffed... if he ever came looking for his son.

They had to know that this scene was an inevitability.
No matter why the stormtroopers were there, Ben and Beru knew what was really at stake.  They gave up their lives to protect a kid they adopted.  They would never know if he survived, if he even knew that they died for him.

But they did it anyway.


Ben and Beru are the real parents of Luke Skywalker, no matter what the results on Maury would say.

The wrong reaction

Because if you have to be told that you have to be a father, you don't deserve to be one, no matter what the DNA test says.


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Get a Copy Of Sidekicks for FREE - and Back Another Anthology As Well!

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I'm kind of horrible at self-promotion.

At least, according to some metrics. I don't talk a lot - probably enough at all - about anthologies that I'm in. I'm always overworried that I'm over-mentioning my own work on social media, too. I'm just as annoyed by the over-mentioning and over-hashtagging promotion crap as you are.

It's a little different when it's other people's work.

For example, Sidekicks!.

This anthology came out last year. It's edited by Sarah Hans, and I'm inordinately proud of this book. The cover is eye-catchingly awesome. The stories are... well, they're touching and sweet and funny and action-packed. All the stories in this anthology worked for me, y'know?  It's a rare anthology that can do that, and I'm really thrilled with this one.

And it's gotten some good reviews as well:

Despite what the cover art may seem to imply, the tales don't just focus on spandex clad four color warriors. Those are there, but there are also yarns of serial killers, Sheriffs, third world regimes, wizards, assassins and more. If you want variety of genre and style, buddy, you got it here. - Anton Cancre
This collection is clever, weird, disturbing and smart in a Twilight Zone meets Saturday Night Live kind of way. If Rod Serling collaborated with O. Henry and Lorne Michaels, the result probably would be something similar to Sidekicks! - Annette


Why do I bring it up again?

There's a Kickstarter going on right now from Silence in the Library publishing for Heroes!, which includes my story "Bindings". 
 
And because I'm also the publisher of Sidekicks!, we worked out a pretty cool deal: You can easily add on a copy of the anthology Sidekicks! to your Kickstarter order.

But if you're one of the first 350 people to back the project, you get a digital copy of Sidekicks! for free.

Now that's pretty damn super.

Swing, fly, or speed on over to Kickstarter to get a bunch of cool superhero fiction!

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Fix PADSP to use PulseAudio on 64 bit linux

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Do you get this error when you try to use padsp with a program that needs it?

ERROR: ld.so: object '/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/pulseaudio/libpulsedsp.so' from LD_PRELOAD cannot be preloaded: ignored.

Then you're in luck. It's simply a matter of installing the multi-arch capabilities and a copy of padsp to make it work. I used to suggest this solution, but it got clobbered when pulseaudio updated (duh). This way won't, by using multi-arch.

On Debian and Ubuntu (you may need to type sudo in front of each):

dpkg --add-architecture i386
apt-get update
apt-get install libpulse0:i386 libpulsedsp:i386

You should now have this path on your system:

/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/pulseaudio/

Then

sudo cp /usr/bin/padsp /usr/bin/padsp_32

Use your favorite text editor (as root!) to edit padsp_32. You will change the two places that say

/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/pulseaudio/libpulsedsp.so

to

/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/pulseaudio/libpulsedsp.so

Then just type

padsp_32 /your/program/here

And you're golden again!

1 comment :

Some random thoughts

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A few things that have been on my mind lately:

* Judge behavior, not the person.: ...at least at first. This is a beautiful technique; it not only allows you to stay impartial but helps you keep your personal boundaries and standards so you don't feel violated.

* Intent matters - but behaviors matter more: The person who meant to insult you is different than the person who unintentionally insulted you. But they're both very different than the person who didn't insult you at all. Another way to express this is "You can have perfectly understandable reasons for doing something, but still have not a single excuse."

* Your relationship with someone is your own.: We all have different relationships with people. I might get along famously with someone you despise... or vice versa. It is a shitty friend (or parent, or business partner) who expects you to have the same relationships that they do.

* You don't have time for destructive people.: This is a hard one for me to remember, but I'm trying. It's far better - for your sanity, for what you're trying to achieve - to create than destroy. If someone is pointing out a problem, and is willing to help fix it, then great. If they're just calling you names? Go on your merry way and build something new.

These are some of my ideals - things I try to live up to. I appreciate it when friends point out to me the times I fail to live up to them.

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You're Always On Stage

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You've probably heard of someone whose private remarks impacted their professional life.

We could be talking about an (ex) NBA owner, a speculative fiction editor (or writer), or an (ex) teacher who writes erotic poetry under a pen name.

And the stories can be terrifying. One acquaintance described it as "always being on stage", implying that we never, ever get a minute to relax and not triple-think what we're saying.

This is a huge, important question.

Where does the separation between our personal and public lives occur? What impact should our private statements or activities have on our public or professional lives? Does it matter what job you have or hold?

Due to my respect policy, this isn't an academic question for me.  So I thought about what goes into it for me.  Where do I draw the line when I'm thinking about when and how something should be considered ... well, wrong.

I came up with five big considerations.

Is it satire or art:  Perhaps the toughest of them, it's also the most important.  As a general rule of thumb, I look at whether or not it's punching down or not.

Contextualization: For whom was the action or statement intended? What was going on? Things you'd say when playing Cards Against Humanity would probably not be appropriate in a classroom setting... but they would be during the game.  Things you'd say to your lover wouldn't be right for a child... or vice versa.

On The Record: Was this something intended to be public? This isn't a free pass by just saying "it was meant to be private" - see below - but we all talk differently depending on whom we're speaking to. I can make off-color jokes with my amour that I'd never say to a customer. Heck, I don't even talk about politics with customers at my day job.

Reaction When Called On It: Is there an apology? (More good examples here and here.)Doubling down? Or attempts to make the evidence of the act disappear?

Harm To Others: Was this something that will impact others, especially in their line of business? A businessperson with mostly black employees being heard saying some really racist stuff? Yeah, that's a problem. A politician running for president and showing condescension toward those poorer than him? Yeah, doesn't really matter that it was "intended" for a small group of people - that's going to impact policy decisions. An editor saying they'd reject out of hand anyone who disagreed with him on the interwebs? Also problematic. Given problems with harassment at conventions, I'd even go so far as to say that labeling oneself a "Men's Rights Advocate" could be a big red flag.

The reason why we want to look at all of these factors is simple: I am first concerned about behavior. If someone is a bigot but I can never tell by their actions, does it particularly matter what goes on inside their heads?  (Short answer:  No.  I have research on this.)

And that's why I think the "on stage" metaphor is particularly apt - but not in the way that my acquaintance meant it. When you're watching a play, you have only two things to let you know what a character is thinking: What they do, and what they say1. Through those two channels, the audience not only knows what they're thinking - but can understand what's coming next.

While the size of the audience - thanks to the internet, social media, and the like - the audience has grown vast, and our words and actions may give a meaning we never intended when moved to a different context.

Just like in a play, we can't read each other's minds, or hear interior monologues.  But we can hear your tone of voice, we can see the context in which something was said, we can see if it was meant for everyone at large, we can see how you react when called on it, and we can assess the impact it will have on others.

By focusing on things that have an impact - or signal a future impact - then we can get rid of the false argument of "thought police" and start working to teach each other the language of diversity and start to actually make the world a little bit better of a place.


1 I'm including non-verbal communication here as well.

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Walking Is The Process of Controlled Stumbling

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There are a number of phrases that cycle through as the subheader on my website.

But there's one that is most important to me.

Walking is the process of controlled stumbling 

I've watched a number of children learn to walk.

They stumble.  They fall.  They get up, and stumble forward again.  They look ungainly as hell.

And then it all seems to click.  They start walking.

Until they start growing again.  And then they start stumbling again, as everything they thought they knew shifts too damn fast.  Their friends with the cruelty of judgmental insecure youth mock every trip, every last imperfection in gait.

But eventually they start to pull it off, and make the stumbling look like something smooth and graceful.

But it's not.  It's stumbling, just dressed up nice.

Physically, we never grow again the same way we did during adolescence.1  But emotionally, we will keep growing and changing, no matter how hard we cling to the end of history illusion 2.

And so will everyone else.

And all of us will fucking stumble.

You don't get to choose if you (or someone else) stumbles.

You only get to choose whether you are the kind of person who laughs at them, or the kind of person who helps them up.



1 Though sudden weight gain or loss will do the same thing to you.
2 Explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-of-history_illusion Citation: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6115/96

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The Language of Diversity Isn't Exactly Hard To Learn

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Diversity ClucksI've attended several workshops about diversity lately - particularly about diversity in publishing and fandom.

There's only one thing I can still quote directly from any of them. The topic at the moment was how to address someone (e.g. "Black" or "African-American", "disabled" or "handicapped" or "handicapable" or "differently abled"). An audience member said:

"It's like learning to speak a whole different language!"

That's perhaps the most insightful single sentence about respect that I've heard in a long time.1

When you learn another language - really learn it, as opposed to learning enough to pass a test - it can change the way you think about the world. When we talk about how people want to be called, it's about respect.

Here's a trivial, unimportant example. I answer to both "Steve" and "Steven" - but it's very, very common for me to be asked which I prefer. I suspect that every person named Steven (or Steve) has been asked the same thing.

It's a small difference, and I'm hard pressed to think of someone who would get upset about that difference.

But you sure as hell don't hear anyone complaining about not knowing whether or not it's "correct" to say "Steve" or "Steven", or expecting any one of the people with that name to decide it for the rest of us.

It is learning a different language.

It's learning how to respect others.

You can find Alliteration Ink's respect policies at http://alliterationink.com/policies.html#respect

1 Nevermind that the person saying it was complaining.

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