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Let’s get that obvious and ultimately unhelpful piece of advice out of the way. If you’re here and reading this post, you’ve already given in to the siren song of someone being wrong on the internet. But all is not lost. Change happens in you, my friend. Your perspective needs some adjustment for the sake of your own stress levels. So let Uncle Alex share their secret to not getting your life and sanity sucked out of you by randos on the internet.

1. Assume until proven otherwise that the other person is arguing in bad faith.

Most of us are kind people who want to believe the best in others. Deep in our souls, we want to believe that the person on the other end of the keyboard is just ignorant and wanting to be enlightened, or one argument away from understanding your position even if they still disagree, or at the least willing to listen.

Well, put that out of your mind. Place your faith in humanity in a lockbox and stick it in the back of the closet for the duration. In my entire career of arguing with randos on the internet – and I’ve done it a lot, thanks to being someone who was peripherally involved in climate change research among other things – I’ve encountered a grand total of three people who were actually interested in having a good faith discussion. The rest were just, with varying degrees of verisimilitude, pretending in an attempt to waste my time.

If you’re not sure what I mean by “good faith” and “bad faith”:

Arguing in good faith – The other person is approaching this argument with honest intention. They are willing to listen, understand your position, modify their argument if necessary, and maybe (GASP) even change their mind. They are entering into this discussion with, at the very least, the intention of listening.

Arguing in bad faith – The opposite of the above; the intention is basically dishonest or duplicitous. They’re not in it to reach understanding or have their mind changed or even listen to a damn word you’re saying. They just want to waste your time, make you mad, suck out your energy, or all of the above.

This is the foundation you need to start on. This isn’t a call to be rude or insulting out of hand – unless this addresses your ultimate goal, more on that later – but you need approach from word one with the understanding that the other person is not actually interested in having a debate, discussion, or argument. They’re interested in pissing you off. Sure, be open to the possibility that they’re the rare sort of unicorn that does want to have honest intellectual interchange and then you can have a really satisfying conversation – but don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

And what this frees you to do is take a step back from what’s in front of you and address it as a performance rather than an honest communication1.

2. Decide what your goal for the argument is.

And no, it should never be, I’m going to change the other guy’s mind or make them admit they were wrong2. That is, again, setting yourself up for disappointment at best, endless frustration at worst. You need to decide what you want to get out of this discussion, when you will consider yourself satisfied or having “won.”3 Probably the most major cause of troll-induced frustration is that you’re allowing some asshole who doesn’t give a shit about you (or facts in general) to determine what the victory condition for this encounter is – which means it’s going to always be out of your grasp.

Fuck that. You are choosing to engage, at this point. You decide what you want out of this.

Here’s a few sample goals to give you an idea what I mean:

  1. Thoroughly debunk the other person’s bullshit first point, ignoring any goalpost shifting
  2. Give the other person enough rope to display the breadth of their utter bigotry
  3. Explain your argument in full for the benefit of anyone watching
  4. See how long you can counter-troll or insult the other person publicly <— this is not an approach I tend to use except for that time I repeatedly told the anti-trans guy to go fuck himself, but goddamn that was really satisfying

And so on. The point is knowing what you want out of this exchange and pursuing that goal rather than being tricked into playing a game that you cannot possibly win.

And if you don’t have a goal for this particular encounter? If there’s nothing you want out of it? Skip directly to point #5. You don’t owe anyone free access to your time, energy, or expertise. Mute, block, move on.

3. Remember all public argument is performative.

When you’re a scientist choosing to engage with obvious trolls, the question is often why you would want to waste your time like that. The thing you need to keep in mind is that you are never arguing for the sake of changing the mind of the person sea lioning you. You’re arguing for the people who are witnessing this public exchange. And there are a lot of reasons why you might want to do that. Including:

  1. They’re disseminating incorrect facts and there needs to be pushback and debunking for future reference.
  2. They’re espousing hateful, unacceptable views and it needs to be demonstrated that no, their viewpoint is not universally accepted.
  3. They’re acting as if their opinion is fact, and an alternate viewpoint needs to be offered.
  4. It needs to be demonstrated that their blanket statement is proven false by your very existence.

This is a non-exhaustive list. But keep in mind that you are almost never trying to convince the person you’re actually talking to – they approached in bad faith. You are addressing the silent watchers who may actually be listening in good faith. So keep that in your thoughts before your frustration gets the better of you. If you want to really give yourself a pep talk, think about how this asshole that’s started shit with you is maybe doing you a favor, because they’re giving you a chance to reach others.

Also remember: their arguing is just as performative.

4. Do not get distracted.

There’s a thing skeptics call “the Gish Gallop.” It’s named after creationist Duane Gish, who used to derail debates by posing an endless series of questions or counterpoints, to the frustration of scientists. Because the fact of the matter is, when the other guy is a total bullshit artist who doesn’t actually care about facts, they will always be able to throw out more random shit than you can sling back, even if you have the fastest research fingers in the west.

You see Gish Gallop-like moments in a lot of internet arguing; someone poses a lot of questions they obviously have no real interest in having answered, but it’s sure going to waste a lot of your time. Or people will try to distract you by being insulting, by moving the goalposts, by changing the topic.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Remember your goal. And keep going for it.

5. And then walk away.

So then what, after you’ve had your performative argument and reached your goal?

Walk away, because you’ve accomplished what you were after. Feel free to block or mute or otherwise ignore any further attempts to engage. And if that means ye olde randome asshole runs off to their sweaty friends and claims they won because they made you block them? Who the fuck cares.

“Winning” and “losing” are relative, despite what many people seem to believe deep in their souls. You have “won” because you accomplished the goal you set for yourself. The other person declaring victory does not in any way detract from that.

The fact is, you have zero control over someone else’s smugness level. All you can control is the way you choose to address your end of the argument. And when you come down to it, no matter how furiously they masturbate about how they made some SJW mad on the internet, they’re still a sad, pathetic asshole who gets off on being a sad, pathetic asshole. That is not a path you want to go down.

Walk away tall.


1 – This is not permission for you to argue in bad faith. Even if you’re taking that mental step sideways and understanding what you’re about to do as a goal-motivated performance, it behooves you to still be honest in your interaction. This is a defense against trolls manipulating you, not permission to engage in the same behavior you’ve come to hate.

2 – “Make the other guy admit he’s wrong” isn’t such a great goal if you’re having a good faith argument either, because it indicates an unwillingness to listen on your part. And I say this about even science issues that I’ve discussed with well-meaning but misguided people who weren’t trolls; my goal wasn’t to beat them into intellectual submission, it was to educate. It may seem like a fine line, but there’s a definite difference between helping someone understand facts and putting them in a corner and trying to make them lose face. Sometimes the greatest victory (in an honest conversation) comes from, “wow, you gave me a lot to think about. Thanks.” Keep that in mind.

3 – The fact that so much gets framed in terms of “winning” and “losing” is not great either, since it precludes compromise and places an arbitrary appearance of “victory” over things like, you know, having actual evidence to back up your claims. That said, I’m using “winning” and “losing” here because most of these bullshit internet arguments effectively are contests with arbitrary rules thanks to being initiated by bad faith actors.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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There’s something I’ve been wanting to growl about since July, but I’ve been waiting to see if anyone from DCC would get back to me. So far it’s a big no, and I’m not a fan of the “respond to me or I’ll say something publicly” style follow-up because frankly, I shouldn’t have to make threats to get a response. So.

I had a generally good time at Denver Comic Con, on the scale of Comic Cons. I’ll be honest, these aren’t events I ever go to willingly as an attendee because they’re too crowded, too big, too noisy. (In general, I don’t go to any cons as an attendee anymore.) But the panels I was on were lively, the other panelists were great, and the volunteers I talked to were all excellent and helpful people. Also, I do want to say that the person who actually put the programming together and communicated with us little fish writers was fantastic and responsive.

That said, at the end of the con, I was honestly upset. And it’s about something that on its face seems like a very small matter: name tags.

As part of programming, but not an invited “celebrity guest,” I had to go collect my badge for each day I was on programming, and that badge was only good for the day. The badge just generically says, “PROGRAMMING [day]” and no name. It’s a little annoying to not get a comped membership for the entire weekend and to have to go through the badge pickup dance every freaking day (especially when badge pickup and entry is as confused as it was), but that’s a thing I can roll with.

The bigger problem was that I wasn’t given a name card at any of the panels I was on. None of the regular panelists got name cards either. We also weren’t given an opportunity and supplies to just make them ourselves. This is, frankly, bizarre.

At every con I’ve ever been to, large or small, having a little folded name card that you can put in front of yourself so people know who the hell you are is standard practice. Some cons just put the name cards in packets that are given to the moderators, so you get a fresh one at every panel. Some cons give you one name card when you pick up your badge, and it’s your responsibility to carry it with you and not lose it. But you get a name card regardless.

Except at DCC apparently.

So what this adds up to, when I have no name on my badge and no name card, is that unless someone was in the panel audience and ready to take notes at the very beginning when I introduced myself, they had no way of knowing who the hell I was. I had multiple attendees ask me or other panelists who we were for that reason. And if one person asked the question, you know there were at least ten others wondering but unwilling speak up themselves for various reasons.

It’s incredibly hard to get people to motivate and go look for your stuff. Any little thing that makes the cost of that step higher (like forcing someone to ask for your name and how to spell it instead of just being able to look at your name tag) makes it that much less likely they’ll bother to try. These on-their-face small things are actually very important.

At the end of the con, I asked about the deal with the name cards, because it was honestly a little upsetting. And I found out from a source that I completely trust (but will not be naming) that the reason we did not get name cards was that because DCC was willing to print cards for the “celebrity guest authors,” but not for the rest of us.

It’s also worth noting that we (meaning the non-guest authors) also didn’t get any kind of easily locatable presence on the website. The only place regular panelists seemed to show up on the DCC website at all was as tags in the scheduling widget. This is a definite contrast to other large cons I’ve done programming for, like Houston Comicpalooza, which puts all of their attending authors on a page with their picture and a link to a bio.

(And yes, Houston Comicpalooza is a smaller convention than DCC; this year it had around 40K attendees, which would put it at about 1/3 the size of DCC if the attendance numbers I’ve heard are correct. But we’re also not talking about a tiny mom and pop literary convention where there’s a green room maintained by a nice person with a bunch of crock pots that all writers are welcome in.)

There seems to be this feeling from DCC that small name authors just starting out are bottom feeders who deserve no courtesy and ought to be grateful that they’ve allowed us in the door to have exposure at panels. Setting aside for now the endless, exploitative plague that is expecting artists to do things “for exposure” because I’ll grant that cons are an arguably different sort of fish: Your exposure is worth absolutely nothing if it doesn’t even put my name where anyone can see it. You are treating my time and presence as if it has no value, and that’s highly insulting. It cost me money to go to DCC in real terms, and further cost me time that I would have otherwise been devoting to the editing of my next book – which is also money in my pocket.

I get that I’m no John Scalzi or Cat Valente. I’m under no illusions here. People are not coming to conventions specifically to see me. But I know that we little guppies of the publishing world are necessary to programming at these big conventions; we fill out their panels and give the programming volume that would be impossible if they relied only on their “celebrity guests.” My presence, however slight, brings value to the convention and I’ll be damned if I’ll accept disdainful treatment like I’m the one being done a favor.

I am worth at least a goddamn piece of 8.5×11″ card stock, a pinch of printer toner, and some basic fucking courtesy.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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I made the mistake of mentioning on Twitter that some day I would vent about why I hate fantasy maps, and that got enough people asking that apparently today will be that day.

DISCLAIMER THE FIRST: These are my personal opinions as a reader. If you, as a reader who is not me, happen to love fantasy maps and can’t get enough of them, that’s totally fine. This is not a judgment on you. We are allowed to like different things when we’re talking pretendy funtimes and not, say, fascism.

DISCLAIMER THE SECOND: Some of my fellow writers may read this. I want you to please understand that this is not a personal attack on you for having decided to make one of those fantasy maps. Readers have different preferences, and I’m sure you have readers who will like maps as much as I don’t like them. And in fact, despite my preferences as a reader, as a geologist, I would be more than happy to help make sure your fantasy map doesn’t contain horrendous geography for a reasonable fee. Because if they’re gonna be out there, I’d like for your maps to be good ones. And I actually do enjoy maps as objects of art, weirdly enough.

We all on the same page now? Good.

Why I Don’t Like Fantasy Maps: A Short List by Alex Acks

  1. Most of them are terrible. Like geographically, geologically terrible. You’ve already probably seen me complain about the map of Middle Earth. From my experience as a reader, and I’ll readily admit that I have neither had the patience nor time to read every fantasy book ever written, the majority of fantasy maps make me want to tear my hair out as a geologist. Many of them are worse than the Tolkien map, and without his fig leaf of mythology to justify it. (And sorry, it’s not a fig leaf that works for me.)
  2. Corollary: If your fantasy map is terrible, you have probably already lost my willing suspension of disbelief before I even dive into the book. Sorry, but this is what an MS in Geology will do to an otherwise easygoing person.
  3. Corollary: Looking at these maps will often make major worldbuilding issues lunge out at me that otherwise might have slid by. Like, for example, the question of where the hell your massive population center is getting its water when it is located nowhere near a river. Or the question of where they’re getting their food from. And so on.
  4. A lot of fantasy maps stand out very glaringly as lands that have been artificially created around a story that was already written, rather than organic geographies that shape the stories and peoples. This will often point back at the previous three points, because features and geography that are located to suit a story aren’t necessarily going to make any goddamn geographical sense. I find this artificiality annoying.
  5. There’s a tendency in certain fantasy maps to make most country borders follow things like mountain ranges or rivers. This, frankly, looks extremely weird.
  6. The number of people who don’t bother to put a fucking scale on their fucking map astounds me. A map without a scale is functionally useless.
    1. We failed student projects in field lab for not doing this, because without a scale, a map (or diagram, or picture) is meaningless.
    2. Putting some kind of scale or other surveying marks to indicate how distance on a map relates to measured distance is not a recent invention. (Even if the measurements weren’t terribly accurate at times.)
    3. If you don’t put a scale on your map, then it’s basically a relativistic perception exercise for whoever the cartographer was… which could almost be interesting if one of the characters made the map, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen in a book I’ve read.
  7. I get extremely offended as a reader if understanding a book requires me to check an appendix or look at a map for what’s happening to make any sense. It breaks up the flow of reading, and a lot of times, it’s something that could be taken care of in the text.
    1. There is literally only one book I can think of as an exception to this: The Killer Angels. Which is not a fantasy novel; it’s a historical novel that closely follows the Battle of Gettysburg. It’s got some very detailed maps of the battlefield over each of the days in it that it does help to consult for understanding of things like troop movements and line of sight. I have never run across a fantasy novel that hits this level of detail, and honestly I doubt I’d be interested in one.
    2. ETA1: OH WAIT I LIED! There is one other exception, and it is a fantasy map! The map of the Stillness that NK Jemisin has at the beginning of The Stone Sky is A+ and has a scale. I didn’t feel the need to consult it during reading, but it warmed the rockles of my geologist’s heart to see all the plate boundaries laid out for the supercontinent.
  8. If the map isn’t required for understanding of the text, I’m left wondering why it’s even there. It’s not necessary. It’s more information than I need.
  9. I’d rather have the space to imagine things for myself.
  10. I don’t like that the ubiquity of unnecessary maps in fantasy literature puts pressure on me as a writer to follow suit. As someone who has drawn or otherwise generated many a map as a function of my job as a scientist, you can’t make me.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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This meeting felt incredibly fast and quiet compared to every other meeting. We just ran right through things. A little over thirty minutes from start to adjourning sine die.

  • Retrospective Improvement Part 1 is ratified without debate.
  • Retrospective Improvement Part 2 is ratified without debate.
  • Universal Suffrage is ratified without debate.
  • What Our Marks Really Are is adopted without debate and sent on to be considered for ratification in San Jose.
  • The Reasonable Amendment is adopted without debate and sent on to be considered for ratification in San Jose.
  • Make Room! Make Room! is adopted without debate and sent on to be considered for ratification in San Jose.
  • Big thanks all around to everyone, and meeting is adjourned!

And that’s it until next year. If you like what I do, throw the price of a coffee into my tip jar. See y’all in San Jose!

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Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Usual rules apply!

1001: Meeting called to order.

1006: On to the ratification of constitutional amendments still remaining.

1006: Retrospective Improvement Part 1. This is a replacement for retro Hugos. This is to allow retro Hugos for the four year window between the third and fourth WorldCons because “there was a disruption.” “The late unpleasantness.”

1009: Retrospective Improvement Part 1 is ratified without debate and a simple show of hands.

1010: On to Retrospective Improvement Part 2.  Ratified without debate.

1011: Next will be Universal Suffrage. This is basically to prevent a convention committee from selling a convention full weekend pass without including WSFS voting rights. This prevents the decoupling of membership from attendance. WorldCons will still be able to sell individual day passes just fine.

1015: Clarification: full weekend passes bought after the Hugo voting deadline means you wouldn’t be able to exercise Hugo nominating/voting for that year because the deadline was past, but only because of that. And you still would be able to vote/nominate/etc for the next year. And come to the WSFS meeting and vote, and so on.

1017: No debate, Universal Suffrage is ratified.

1017: And that’s all the business from last year! (I think there might be more than a few hangovers in the crowd today.)

1018: Three items of new business remain, as D5 (Requiring Electronic Payments) has been withdrawn, D4 (Name that Award) was passed Friday, and D6-8 (Category reorganization stuff) were referred to committee.

1020: D.1 What Our Marks Really Are. There’s a little language correction to it to instruct the MPC to communicate with NASFiCs as well as WorldCons.

1022: Motion to adopt the amendment without debate. Needs 2/3 majority… which the chair thinks we have. Division is called for, but before I can get the serpentine alarm wound up, the motion is withdrawn. Apparently we are not in a serpentine kind of mood today.

1023: There are some questions but honestly it’s nitpicky and I need more tea, sorry.

1026: No debate, What Our Marks Really Are passes and will be sent to San Jose for ratification.

1026: Next up The Reasonable Amendment. This is a one word change.

1027: Another move to suspend the rules and adopt the motion. This time, it worked just fine. The Reasonable Amendment will be going on to San Jose for ratification.

1028: Last item is Make Room! Make Room! The effect of this would be to make the gray zone boundary between novella and novel 8000 words.

1029: Mr Dunn moves to send to the Hugo Award Study Committee. No second, so that doesn’t happen.

1030: Dr Laurie moves to suspend the rules and adopt the motion. This passes. Make Room! Make Room! will be sent on to San Jose for ratification.

1031: Point of personal privilege from Ms Secor, an all around thank you. Lots of applause.

1032: Almost time to adjourn. The chair announces about fifteen minutes after adjournment, the MPC will meet.

1033: Mr Docherty moves to adjourn Sine Die in memory of David A Kyle, Kathleen Mire, and Peter Weston.

And that’s it! Fastest business meeting ever.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Summary for the rather short main business meeting, since I didn’t show up until after site selection and the WorldCon Chairs photo.

  • Best Series is ratified. It will continue as a regular category. It will be up for re-ratification in 2021 and automatically added to the agenda.
  • Three Stage Voting fails ratification.
  • EPH+ fails ratification by a large majority. This is likely because its effect would have strengthened bullet voting still further, and we’ve already seen that happening this year.
  • Motion to suspend EPH fails. EPH will continue to be in effect.
  • Motion to suspend 5 and 6 fails. 5 and 6 will remain in effect. (Discussion was had as to whether this worked at conflict with EPH. Personally, I would need to see more data.)
  • Defining North America is ratified, with apologies from Ben Yalow.
  • Meeting adjourned with dire warning from the chair that we have the room for five hours tomorrow, and we had better not use all that time.

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Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Sorry to be a few minutes late, everyone.

What we missed: By unanimous consent, the word “volume” in Best Series was changed to “installment” to indicate it doesn’t necessarily have to be a full novel added.

Now we join our meeting, already in progress.

1108: Dr Farah Mendelsohn for the ratification of Best Series. Basically a rehash of the arguments for from last year, indicating there are mechanisms for keeping the category fresh, etc.

1112: Question from Dr Adams; if we ratify this amendment this year, will the series that won for 2017 be eligible since the Best Series this year was actually a special Hugo, not under this amendment. The Chair rules that he declines to rule and it’s up to the administrator for next year’s award.

1115: Ben Yalow speaking against the chair’s ruling. Believes the chair is incorrect because the exclusion clause is “has not won previously 3.3.x” and thus this year’s winner will still be eligible.

1116: Lisa Hayes for; this leaves it open to the administrators. You have to leave it open to the interpretation by the administrators, that’s their job.

1117: Debate ended and question called. The chair’s ruling is sustained.

1117: Dr Adams offering amendment to add that the winner under WorldCon 75 be excluded as if it had won under 3.3.x. Chair rules the motion is out of order. It would increase the scope of the amendment.

1118: Dr Laurie brings up that it’s impossible to actually become familiar with all of the series to vote intelligently.

1119: There is no time left for arguments in favor. Mr Tredaway has an inquiry – does this exclude a graphic series from eligibility? Chair rules that it’s defined by word count, so if you have a graphic series that has that number of words, sure. Dr Adams clarifies that this was asked last year too and answered the same way.

1121: Mr Whyte, this year’s Hugo administrator also against – agrees with Dr Laurie. The joy is in celebrating the work of the previous year. We’re really changing the meaningfulness of that if we’re shifting to work that goes back sometimes decades.

1122: Motion to end debate fails.

1123: Ms Rudolph against – agrees with Dr Laurie, and does not think there will be sufficient Hugo-worthy works to keep nominating after a few years.

1124: Mr Yalow against – has vast sympathies for the burden on the Hugo administrators. Series vs sub-series; uses the “1632” series as an example. How are we defining it? The award is difficult if not impossible to administer.

1125: Mr McCarty against – in all other fiction categories, we judge complete works. The series are not necessarily compete.

1126: SERPENTINE SERPENTINE SERPENTINE (the Chair is in doubt)

1131: 51 for, 39 against. Best Series is ratified. It will become a regular category starting in 2018. Note that it will be up for re-ratification in 2021 and is automatically on the agenda.

1133: Three Stage Voting is up. The chair recuses himself as he intends to speak in favor in debate. Mr Eastlake becomes acting chair.

1134: Mr Harris for – 3SV is a targeted strategy for removing unsuitable works; brings the No Award option forward. All algorithmic approaches are still vulnerable to gaming. The human judgment places the responsibility upon the voters. 3SV is something forced on us as a response by people who are bad actors. The question is if this is still needed. If you think there’s a chance of people coming back with a targeted attack again; if you think the measures are unnecessary and the bad actors have lost interest, then vote against it. What is our success criteria? What do we consider a good ballot? EPH guarantees a couple of good candidates; a lot of us thought that years in the future with categories that are half slate was not great. Decide you are okay, for example, with PNH being displaced by VD because of bullet voting.

1138: PRK has a PoI – would an amendment to make 3SV at the discretion of the Hugo Administrator be a greater or lesser change? The chair rules that this would be a lesser scope change and such an amendment would be in order.

1139: Dr Laurie against – doesn’t think we need this. Thinks making sure we have five good nominees, that’s good enough.

1140: Mr Standlee for – in 2015, Kevin had the choice to preside over the business meeting as opposed to proposing this, and he regrets not doing 3SV then. This strategy is more in keeping with the ethos of the Hugos; it has safeguards built into it. It puts the power in the hands of the voters. It has a supermajority and quorum requirement. It doesn’t empower just the administrator. This takes some of the things the administrators have had to do in secret and quickly before, and puts them in the open and in the hands of the voters. During the preliminary period, that’s when permission and eligibility checks for the nominees; and now the Hugo admins can openly ask for help contacting people instead of trying to do so in secret. Also takes burden of keeping quiet from potential finalists. Crowdsources the eligibility and contact research.

1144: Ms Secor against – introduces a political stage to the Hugos.

1146: Mr Wallace for – welcomes this amendment as an author of EPH and EPH+. Helps restore the honor of being a finalist. By putting junk nominations out there.

1147: Ms Deneroff question – is this intended to replace EPH or be an adjunct?

1148: Mr Whyte against – as this year’s Hugo admin, has changed his position on this. Says puppies are no longer a problem. Doesn’t think there’s sufficient evidence for thresholds set in amendment.

1151: Question – is it possible to delay this another year so we don’t have to go through the whole process? Not as such, but there are ways to effectively do that.

1152: Mr Oakes for – this will be very easy to implement. Does not trust VD to keep his word. (hear hear!)

1154: Mr Boucher moves to insert “at the discretion of the site selection of the Hugo Administrator” – Kevin Standlee requests it’s “the administering WorldCon” as a point of order. No objection.

1155: Mr Boucher in favor of the amendment – we need weapons that are available to us, but doesn’t mean we have to use them constantly.

1156: Mr Yalow against – 3SV is already becoming a political question. This makes it more political and puts the administrator in the heart of the politics.

1157: Kevin Standlee with a PoI – would this increase the scope of the change. Chair is of the opinion that it decreases the scope and as such is a lesser change.

1157: Chair’s ruling is appealed. Sorry, not following the ruling appeal debate because I needed another cup of tea.

1201: Question is called on appeal of the chair’s ruling. We are three deep now and people are getting confused, so Mr Eastlake is explaining it. And we’re a SERPENTINE HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS

1205: 40 for, 47 against; chair’s ruling is overturned, making this proposed amendment a major change.

1206: Back to the amendment. Kevin moves to call the question. Seconded. (This would mean voting to the amendment and then the underlying proposal with no further debate.)

1208: Mr Cronengold has a PI – has there been sufficient debate? Yes.

1208: Mr Yalow with a PI – will you have to have two calls on who wishes to speak? Yes.

1209: Dr Laurie is confused (ME TOO, DR LAURIE) – voting order of the stack? Yes. Okay.

1210: Question is called on all pending questions. So we’re going to vote on the amendment first. Nays have it and amendment fails. (The bit about the additional clause.)

1210: Now onto ratification of 3SV. Ratification is defeated.

1211: 10 minute recess.

1223: And we’re back. The chair would like to remind us that when he asks if there is objection, if you do not object, keep your mouth shut. There is no objection to taking up EPH+ before the motion to suspend EPH.

1223: Now we will have a report from the Hugo Administrators on EPH not to exceed 10 minutes.

1224: Mr Whyte has provided detailed reports. Perhaps unprecedentedly so.

1226: This is a really impressive number of reports Mr Whyte has produced, y’all.

1229: Clear conclusion: EPH this year made it much harder for slate candidates to get on the nomination list, but made it easier for those with bullet voting to do so.

1231: Move to thank the administrator and his staff for going above and beyond on this analysis. Lots of applause.

1233: On to EPH+, or rather the amendment for EPH+. Recognizing Mr Wallace first to speak in favor. Chair is ruling that if the amendment for EPH+ passes, it will be a greater change and there will need to be an additional for EPH+ for ratification.

1235: The ruling of the chair is appealed. Five minutes of debate that comes out of the five minutes for the amendment. The chair says looking at the proposal, it’s changing a lot of stuff and the only way to digest it properly is with another year.

1236: Ms Secor against the ruling – the effect of 6.1 is to make the use of EPH+ is optional. Making things optional is a lesser and not a greater change.

1236: Mr Yalow for the ruling – in our recent history, ie a few minutes ago, we decided things that give greater power and flexibility that did not exist prior in fact do constitute greater changes. We should follow the precedent that we set twenty minutes ago.

1237: Mr Cronengold against the ruling – the change here is that 6.1 would allow the business meeting to make the change available a year in advance. It makes a sunrise clause. It does not expand the scope.

1238: Dr Laurie calls the question on the appeal. Chair’s ruling is sustained. The amendment is a greater change if passed and will require an additional year of ratification.

1239: Motion to extend debate back to five minutes since we just used a bunch of the amendment’s debate time. There is objection because I think we want to keep moving.

1240: Debate clock is not reset because there’s less than 2/3 voting for it.

1241: Dave Wallace for the amendment – the effect is to make EPH+ optional on a vote of the business meeting. It’s the extra strength version; makes anti-slate stronger but also makes bullet voting stronger.

1243: Mr Harris against – it’s not helpful to switch this on and off from year to year; this only becomes clear in Jan/Feb when people start announcing intent.

1244: The amendment fails. Now on to EPH+.

1245: Mr Wallace for – This has a stronger anti-slating effect. Given that 3SV has failed, we should pass EPH+, because he does not trust the chief puppy to abandon his efforts. Doesn’t think we’ve seen the end of it.

1247: Mr McCarty against – EPH does reward bullet voting. People who nominate only one thing get disproportionate strength under this system. Under EPH+ this becomes even worse.

1248: Mr Cronengold moves to add a one year sunrise…. can’t do that, since amendments are considered speech against.

1248: Ms Hayes against – fundamentally against EPH, and thus EPH+ is basically worse. It’s a magic box.

1251: Debate ended, we are voting to ratify of EPH+.

1251: EPH+ is NOT ratified by a vast majority.

1253: Mr Yalow speaking for suspending EPH for a year because the way it encourages people to bullet vote. EPH makes nominating harder to explain. Points out that Sad Puppies, who include longtime members of fandom, changed their behavior to be less bad, while the rabids went back to gaming things.

1255: Mr Dunn against – if EPH goes away, what’s to say the slates won’t return? The suspension motion was just up if things interacted strangely, which they didn’t.

1256: Ms Hayes for – agreement with Ben Yalow

1257: Ms Stark against – bullet voting allows one bad candidate on the list, but that’s what 5 and 6 is for. Don’t bring back the slates.

1257: Mr Bloom for – his opinion that EPH has no effect on the puppies. The No Awarding is what made them change their strategy.

1258: Alex speech against (hi this is Corina).  Getting rid of EPH would be bad because the Puppies are watching and won’t give up.  Sad that 3SV was struck down so strongly suggesting it be kept on until we get something better.

1300: Mr Kovalcek for – better we have a clear system that is easy to explain in the short term. EPH is horrible, we need to come up with something better.

1300: Mr Renda against – EPH is bad, but it’s the price we pay for having better resistance to slates.

1301: Mr McCarty for – for the record; while we use EPH we will continue to get perverse results with things getting knocked off the ballot for inexplicable reasons.

1303: Mr Pomeranz against – reluctantly, defends EPH. Thinks the greatest harm will be swinging back and forth too quickly. Get more data on the results. The ill effects are not so significantly bad as to need to remove it immediately.

1304: By vast majority, the motion fails. EPH continues in effect for the following year.

1305: 10 minute recess.

1314: Meeting back in order. We are on to Defining North America.

1316: Mr McCarty proposes to suspend rules so we can bring up 5 and 6 now to dispose of like business together.

1318: Rules are suspended, motion to suspend 5 and 6 for one year is before the meeting.

1319: Clarification: laying a motion on the table does not specify when we will pick it back up. It requires a motion to pick it back up. If we do not pick it back up before the meeting is adjourned sine die, the motion dies.

1319: Mr Yalow is not asking a question where he knows the answer already for once. We are not allowed to adjourn sine die when there is still privileged business on the agenda, so is this motion privileged?

1320: Chair: We can adjourn sine die without picking it back up.

1321: Motion to lay on the table fails.

1321: Now on to the motion to suspend 5 and 6.

1322: Mr Bloom in favor of suspending 5 and 6 because we didn’t suspend EPH and says they are at cross purposes. At least one should be suspended.

1324: Mr Cronengold against – please stop switching back and forth. Let’s see how it runs for a little bit.

1325: Mr McCarty in favor – We’ve tested EPH against many sets of data. If there is a slate of five candidates, the candidates that EPH knocks off, like 50% of the time it puts them back on. These don’t work well together.

1326: Mr Desjardin against – consistency, some resistance against slating. It makes a better ballot. What was added to the ballot this year was mostly very good works. Anecdotal experience is that this is a very popular change.

1327: Ms Hayes calls the question. Seconded. Question is called.

1327: Motion fails overwhelmingly. 5 and 6 remains in effect for one year.

1328: Back to Defining North America.

1330: Ms Dashoff – why is central America part of North America here? Chair rules that’s actually debate. Okay.

1331: Mr Yalow for – being the person who carelessly and accidentally took it out of the constitution years ago, he apologizes for the necessity of putting it back in.

1331: What about the Caribbean islands? Does this extend to islands bordering the Gulf of Mexico? Yes, those things are part of the Caribbean.

1333: Mr Cronengold moves to call the question. Soundly seconded. Question is called.

1333: Motion is ratified by a very large majority.

1334: No, Iceland is not eligible to hold a NASFiC. (Continents, not tectonic plates, people.)

1334: Mr Kovalcek motions to adjourn.

1334: Mr Cronengold wants to debate.

1335: Mr Kovalcek for the motion – most of us are tired and stayed up late last night. It’d be better to come back tomorrow when we’re fresh.

1336: Kevin notes that we have the room for five hours tomorrow. DO NOT MAKE US USE ALL THAT TIME. Meeting adjourned.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

Summary for all the action on Friday!

  • Kevin Standlee gives the report for the MPC and we re-elect the standing members.
  • Nitpicking and Flyspecking Committee report by Mr Eastlake. All members reappointed by the chair.
  • FOLLE Committee continues with no objection.
  • YA Award Committee officially sunsets this year and are thanked for their hard work.
  • The “No Vanishing Business” resolution returns with new language from the committee. Effectively, this will allow people to withdraw new business they’ve submitted to WSFS (with agreement from all submitting parties) up to 4 weeks before the first business meeting. The withdrawn business will still be available to be viewed, so that in the remaining two weeks before the business meeting deadline that business can be resubmitted if someone still really wants it brought up.
  • Committee report from the Hugo Award Study Committee from Mr. Docherty, which mostly acknowledges who has volunteered, tentative plans for moving forward, etc. Items D.6-8 are referred back to the study committee until next year.
  • Best Series Category is postponed definitely until Saturday, so it can be considered after seeing the Hugo results.
  • December Is Good Enough is ratified and will take effect next year. (This moves the deadline for buying memberships if you want to nominate for the Hugos up to December 31.)
  • Two Years Are Enough barely passes, 45-41. This N+1 WorldCon membership will no longer confer nominating rights for the Hugo. 2019 will be an exception to this.
  • The Young Adult Award is ratified 65-27.
    • A new amendment to name the YA Award “The Lodestar Award” passes despite items to change it to the L’Engle. This amendment is sent on for ratification in 2018.
    • So it should be noted that technically while we have an award in 2018, it can’t possibly have an official name until 2019 at the earliest. There was some wrangling over how WorldCon 76 might be able to get around this using the WorldCon’s constitutional power to create a special Hugo award.

Previous Posts:

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

Good morning everyone! I feel less like death today, so keep your fingers crossed for me. Liveblog will commence shortly, normal rules apply. Just waiting for the secretary of the meeting to arrive…

1004: Kevin Standlee calls the meeting to order.

1011: MPC report. Good news, marks were registered in the EU last year.

1013: Dr Adam – this year, as part of the New Zealand bid the marks and domain have been registered for 2020 and will pass that on to whichever bid wins. Would be good for the committee to do this advance registration as a matter of course. May be a good idea to register some years ahead as there’s been a shift in the WorldCon naming scheme that’s made it much more predictable and we don’t want the domains, etc, being poached.

1015: Vince Docherty – we purchased WorldCon.com some time ago and it was expensive to get, make sure we know we have that one.

1015: Kevin is responsible for most of the words on the main websites, so blame him if there’s a problem.

1016: MPC elections. Reminder that these ballots are preferential.

1021: Election closed.

1021: Nitpicking and Flyspecking Committee report from Mr Eastlake.

1023: All members reappointed by chair. Kevin Standlee will be chair unless the committee prefers someone else.

1024: Mr Wilmuth reports for the WorldCon Runners Guide standing committee. They’d like to move the guide to a new domain potentially. Mr Standlee suggests they consult with the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, which controls the sites. Committee is reappointed.

1026: FOLLE Committee is continued with no objection.

1026: YA Committee report is included and implicitly part of the YA Award debate. Committee has no request to continue and will sunset at this WorldCon.

1026: Ms Neal thanks the YA Committee for their work. There’s applause. THANK YOU GUYS.

1027: “No Vanishing Business” Committee Report has come back with language for the proposed standing rule change. Basically, would change things so up to 4 weeks before the Business Meeting, new business could be withdrawn. Then withdrawn business would have to be available to be viewed. Business could be withdrawn if everyone who proposed it agreed to it. (This would then give everyone a 2 week window to step in and re-propose the withdrawn business if they wanted, before the agenda is frozen for the Business Meeting.)

1032: Six minutes of debate time is agreed on.

1031: Kate Secor in favor. Permitting people to withdraw business that they’ve decided is a bad idea without having to waste the business meeting’s time; this seems the balance between that efficiency and disappointing people who look forward to debating that business at the meeting.

1034: Member wants notice of withdrawn business established.

1034: Mr Eastlake notes that at this time, there is no provision to allow for the notification of the members for submitted business.

1035: Motion to call the question, which is seconded.

1035: Mr Cronengold has  point of order. Does call the question outrank motion to amend. Yes. And that’s actually a parliamentary inquiry. Call the question outranks almost anything.

1036: Question is called, debate is ended. So now we’ll vote on “No Vanishing Business.”

1037: The item is adopted and will take effect next year.

1038: One minute recess.

1040: MPC members re-elected.

1041: Hugo Awards Study Committee, Mr Docherty. (Mr Docherty: “How long?” Mr Standlee: “Technically 42 minutes.” Mr Docherty: “I’ll do it in interpretive mime.”) Briefly going over the report. If you wish to participate in the committee, please contact him as noted in the report.

1042: Is there any objection to referring D6-8 back to the study committee for next year? No objections.

1043: WorldCon and NASFiC reports are in the packet, not going to go over them here.

1043: Okay, we are on to business referred from 2016 WorldCon. Up first: BEST SERIES!

1044: Motion to postpone until tomorrow until after we see the Hugo Award results. Seconded. And the affirmative has that, so it is postponed until tomorrow.

1045: On to C.2 December Is Good Enough. This is moving the deadline on when you’re eligible to nominate for the Hugos. Debate time is 8 minutes.

1046: Mr White gets to go first. It’s fairly straightforward and technical. This is simply because the most tedious element of administering is merging the member list for the current and previous WorldCon. Simply better to end it on the calendar year. This may facilitate 3SV, but will not speak on that further.

1048: Corina is speaking! Finances are generally much tighter for people in December, so extending through January will make it easier for people to get in.

1049: Mr Oakes the process of merging the data is very complicated. Moving back a month would save a significant amount of work. Would allow them to get the award nominations up much sooner.

1050: No objection to ending debate and bringing it to vote.

1050: Motion is ratified. This will take effect next year.

1050: Now C.3 Two Years Are Enough. This is to make it so the people from the past and present WorldCon get to nominate for the Hugos. This would disallow the members of the future WorldCon as is current from nominating, though 2019 will be grandfathered in.

1051: Mr Harris for; this simplifies the data merging process. N+1 members are mostly people who voted in site selection… who for the most part are members of the N WorldCon. This change was originally made to get more people participating in nominating for the Hugo Awards. That’s obviously not a problem anymore… [bitter laughter from the crowd]

1053: Dr Adams against; when we have a WorldCon in a new place, we get people who join fairly soon after the WorldCon is seated. We want to bring those people in as soon as possible and encourage more people to join and be involved.

1055: Mr Wallace for; anyone new to the WorldCon family can get a supporting membership in the current year’s WorldCon. Doesn’t think it would have that great of an impact.

1055: Mr Walling against; while the number of 50-100 has been bandied around. A lot of times when a WorldCon is in a new place, people will join early in order to vote in site selection to bring that WorldCon to them. They tend to join too late to be involved if this measure is accepted. As is, this encourages more participation.

1057: Mr Kovalcek in favor; if people have joined the year before to vote, they would already be eligible. Have to do the best job we can instead of trying to do everything and doing it badly.

1058: Mr Whyte against; the real hassle is merging the previous and current year’s membership. The next year’s really isn’t that big of a deal since it’s not that large. This is a marketing opportunity to bring more people in. This helps boost membership and participation. Also think it looks bad for this meeting to be restricting the franchise.

1059: I have no idea who is speaking. For LonCon though, N+1 came to about 117 new names.

1101: Point of Order from me: will the chair please remind people to state their names.

1101: Mr Yalow in favor; this provides an incentive to join because you get greater rights.

1103: On the motion to ratify, here we go… oooh it’s close.


1106: Affirmative 45, negative 41. Motion is barely ratified.

1106: We have now reached 11 o’clock, but Chair suggests a recess until 1115.

1116: Meeting back in order. We are taking up C.11 Young Adult Award and C.11.1 Clean Up “Young Adult” Award, which names the award and has been ruled to not change the scope and therefore will not postpone the implementation of the amendment.

1117: Looking at the amendment to name. Ms Rask for; there was a lot of debate about the issue, and this was the best compromise for the naming concern. Technical stuff here for how the voting and naming will work; basically naming will begin as soon as the main amendment is passed.

1119: Dr Laurie against; so we’re going to have a Not A Hugo that’s for YA but there’s no requirement it will be named ever. This sounds like a bad thing for the MPC.

1120: Kevin strongly reminds us that members don’t get to talk to each other. All comments are THROUGH the chair.

1121: Mr Cronengold for; … sorry, I’ve lost the thread of this argument. This is some technical stuff here.

1122: Ms Secor against; we have been told the naming of this award is contentious so we might be debating this for years. But we’ll still be giving out the award. Would rather say that we have to name the thing or we’re just not going to pass it at all.

1124: C.11.1 passes, so the blanks are stricken out of the Young Adult Award amendment.

1124: NOW C.11 Young Adult Award, Ms Rask for. She is one of the assistant chairs and will give the report. Has been instructed by the chair to not discuss the naming because that is not in the scope. Asking everyone to consider the award in a positive light.

1126: Chair reminds us there is a provision that this will have to be re-ratified by the 2021 Business Meeting.

1126: Ms Secor has a motion to amend, so that the award should not be given out until there is a name for it. But worded in a way that leaves it to the discretion of the WorldCon.

1127: Mr Dunn proposes now for a second order amendment to make “need not” to “shall not” to remove the discretion from the WorldCon concom. He is seconded, but there is objection to the suspension of the rules.

1128: We are having amendmentception here guys.

1128: No rules suspension 4 u. So that amending of the amendment fails and we’re back to the original.

1129: Question (sorry, he said his name SUPER FAST): will this be a greater change? Chair rules that this does not increase the scope of the amendment, which would allow it to be ratified here.

1130: Mr Cooper PI: British versus American English, suggests changing presented to awarded. Kevin agrees, since technically speaking we are not required to hold a Hugo ceremony.

1131: Ms Secor for this amendment – there is sufficient concern about giving out a nameless award. This would be a way to let us pass the award with allowing us to still hold it back if a name hasn’t been agreed on.

1131: Mr Peterson: believes that there is already the name; there’s capitalized “Young Adult Award” which would be the name. Point of order? No, per Kevin, not well taken. He’s pretty sure that YA authors would rather have an award with a generic name rather than no award at all.

1133: PRK point of order: says member is not debating amendment, but Kevin rules Mr Peterson is speaking to the amendment.

1134: Dr Laurie for – it’s not a Hugo, it’s not a Campbell, it’s just “an award” so it has no standing.

1135: Mr Yalow against – agrees in general that we should not give out a nameless; we can’t have a second order amendment, we decided that earlier. But he wants a shall rather than may, so he wants to defeat the amendment and then propose his own.

1137: Motion to call the question on the amendment, seconded. Debate is ended on this amendment.

1138: Amendment fails.

1138: Now Mr Yalow proposes a new amendment with a shall not instead of need not. (Thus requiring a WorldCon to not give out an award if it’s unnamed.)

1140: Ms Neal going to speak against this amendment as no speech for. Concern is that this amendment will delay the implementation of the award, which has already been delayed for years. Thinks it is worth giving an award out even with a generic name rather than stopping this momentum. Vote down this amendment.

1141: Mr Gunston PoI: would this amendment prevent the concom from exercising its existing power to create a special Hugo category for a YA award. Kevin says in that case, it would be a Hugo rather than a Not-a-Hugo as proposed.

1143: Dr Adams for – if you’re going to do this, then don’t do it in this silly way. Do it right from the start.

1144: Mr Gerrib against – let’s not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. We’ve been working on this for years, let’s DO IT.

1144: Dr Laurie for – thinks this is the only way we’re actually going to get a name for this award.

1145: Mr Peterson against – there’s time already provisioned for getting the award named.

1145: Mr Dunn for – just because there’s time on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll get done.

1146: Mr Cronengold against – if we want a name, just do a greater change instead of leaving something dangling in the constitution.

1147: Question is called.

1149: SERPENTINE TIME, GUYS. BUCKLE UP. (argh this is tough, because I really don’t like this amendment, but I think if we don’t attach it, a bunch of people are going to turn on the YA Award and it won’t get ratified at all. Arggggggh.)

1151: Negative has it (56-35), provision is not adopted.

1152: We are back to the underlying motion, the award itself. Oh god this is tense. And of course there’s a one minute recess.

1153: We’re back with Ms Rask now talking for the underlying motion. Quick going over the committee report for the naming timeline. There were 460 names suggested and all were researched and vetted.

1155: Mr Dashoff with a PoI – can we put “WSFS” in front of the name? That would be a greater change.

1156: Mr Bloom against – opposed to dividing fiction into categories. We want the best of the best and that’s it.

1157: Mr Cronengold moves to call the question. Seconded. Debate is closed.

1158: Oh god here it is, we’re voting on the YA Award.

1158: SERPENTINE NUMBER FOUR KIDS. Kevin thinks the affirmative has it, but we’ll be happier with a count.

1200: 65 for the YA Award. Now counting negative.

1200: 27 against. WE HAVE A YA AWARD GUYS!!!!

1201: 5 minute recess.

1209: And we’re back. Next up is naming the YA Award. First we will vote on the suggested name, yes or no. If it fails, then we will solicit suggestions.

1210: Mr Cronengold asks that the matter be laid on the table so the committee can correct errors in its report for about 5 minutes.

1211: I just want a recording of Kevin saying, “FOR WHAT PURPOSE DOES THE MEMBER RISE?” as a ringtone on my phone.

1212: Affirmative has it, we’re laying the naming aside for not more than five minutes while the YA committee speaks to us about its corrections. It’s basically just a two percent bump on one of the numbers.

1214: Back to the naming. This currently is to pick a name to put in the blank that will then be voted on in the motion to name.

1216: Lodestar is now in the blank. So the question is now D.4 Name That Award. This has the effect of if it is ratified, the award will be named Lodestar in 2019, so the 2018 award would be nameless.

1219: Mr Cronengold asks if we can put retroactive naming in the amendment. Chair rules no.

1220: We are appealing the ruling of the chair.

1221: Mr Thorpe – sees no reason why we can’t retroactively name it. (I think?)

1221: Debate is ended and the appeal for the ruling is on the table. The chair’s ruling is sustained.

1223: About 14 minutes remain to debate the motion.

1224: Mr Peterson from the committee for; since MidAmeriCon, the primary issue has been the name. They’ve spent a lot of time debating and vetting. It doesn’t violate any other award names or copyrights.

1225: Dr Laurie against because the vast majority wanted Madeline L’Engle, wants to strike Lodestar and substitute that name instead.

1227: Ms Rask against this change. The question about whether to name the award after a person is very contentious. For example, L’Engle has been criticized for her depiction of LGBT characters and promotion of an Evangelical mission. Also, she’s mostly really promoted by people of a certain age group.

1229: Yalow for the change – if we want public recognition for the award; using the name of an author is more likely to get public attention and will have more credibility.

1230: Motion to extend debate by 5 minutes by PRK. Debate is not extended.

1231: Motion to call the question. Seconded. Okay, question is called.

1231: Negative has it, amendment fails. We’re keeping Lodestar rather than going with L’Engel.

1232: Ms Hayes calls the question on the underlying amendment too. Seconded.

1232: PoI from Dr Laurie – if we vote to use Lodestar, can next year’s business meeting change the name prior to ratification? The chair rules that this kind of change would be major and require an additional year for ratification.

1233: Ms Rudolph with a PoI – is there anything in the rules that would prevent the WorldCon from using the name that will be up for ratification? The chair rules that the con would not be allowed to use the name. Dr Adams asks that the chair recuse himself and hands off to Mr Eastlake.

1234: Mr Eastlake rules next year’s convention could use weasel wording to mostly get around this.

1235: Mr Lee comes to support Mr Eastlake, who says he does not need support but thanks anyway.

1236: Mr Kovalcek asks if we are voting on the ruling. Mr Eastlake: the ruling hasn’t been appealed, do you want to appeal it? Mr Kovalcek: No. In that case, can next year’s WorldCon choose to have their special Hugo Category and call it the Lodestar?

1238: We are down a definitional rabbit hole, y’all, and it’s getting very silly.

1243: We are now voting on the appeal of the ruling of the chair. Which is that next year’s WorldCon can create a special Hugo and call it the Lodestar award for this purpose. Ruling is sustained.

1244: Now the question is if we are calling the question for D.4

1245: Okay, question is called. We’re getting there. Now will we adopt the name?

1245: The affirmative has it. The name motion passes. The YA Award is named Lodestar, subject to ratification.

1246: Tomorrow when we convene, site selection business only to start. Recess at 10:30 will be the former WorldCon chairs photo. Not before 1100 we will reconvene for regular business. You don’t have to be here until 11 if you aren’t interested in those things.

1248: Ms Secor says reports requested from the Hugo Administrator will be distributed at 10. You don’t have to stay, but come pick up the reports so you can study them before the business meeting comes back to order at 11.

1249: Meeting is adjourned until 1000 tomorrow.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

Shame on me for not looking at these earlier. But I will be prepared as we move forward.

From the agenda here.

D.1 What Our Marks Really Are: This is basically a maintenance thing for mark protection that allows faster response times by the MPC for what notices it includes in its publications. Considering right now there’s an inflexible two-year constitutional amendment process in place, seems like a smart move. (I don’t recall there ever being meeting controversy about mark protection for as long as I’ve attended. It’s an important but unexciting thing.)

D.2 The Reasonable Amendment: This is an amendment for Nominee Diversity, which is the amendment we ratified that says you can’t have more than two works in the same category that are from the same dramatic presentation series or written by the same author. All this amendment does is change “WorldCon Committee shall make best efforts to notify those…” to “WorldCon Committee shall make reasonable efforts to notify those…” which seems, well, reasonable to me.

D.3 Make Room! Make Room! This amends section 3.2.8; currently that section allows the Committee to relocate a story to a more appropriate Hugo Category if it’s within 5,000 words or 20% of the new category limits. The amendment would get rid of the 5,000 words, so the requirement will just be within 20% of the category limit. The reason for this is the marketing/perception of novels and novellas versus their actual word count, which most nominators are not going to know and means that novels are getting nominated as novellas on occasion and vice versa. This effectively changes the “wiggle room” between novella and novel to be 8,000 words instead of 5,000, which seems fine to me.

D.4 Name That Award: This is for the naming of the YA Award, assuming that it passes. Considering I’d like the YA Award to have some name (and for it to pass) I’m in favor. We’ll see what the offered names end up being. There’ll be runoff voting on them.

D.5 got postponed indefinitely so I’m not going to bother looking at it.

D.6 The Division of the Hugo Award Best Novel Category: Basically they want to split the Best Novel Hugo into Best Fantasy Novel and Best Science Fiction Novel, since there are a lot of other awards that have things split up by genre. I’m… not really in favor of this as such. First, it introduces a serious inconsistency into the awards, if you’re going to split novel up but not any of the other lengths. The unique aspect of the Hugos until now has been that all the spec fic gets to ride together, and the divisions are based almost entirely on length rather than segregation by subgenre. There is a definitional issue here as well; the discussion basically wants to use publishing-derived categorization, but that seems like something of a nightmare for administration purposes because nominating fans are likely to go by what they perceive its category to be, not necessarily what the publisher says. There’s plenty out there that straddles the line… depending on how you define it. This sounds like serious fan-wank waiting to happen. I’m also not really in favor of anything that’s going to make life easier on the “my genre is better than your genre” crowd, but YMMV.

On the other hand, I’m generally in favor of anything that means there will be more rockets, because I don’t think a few more awards is going to dilute the impact of winning a Hugo. But god save me from anyone who would use the dual existence of the novel category to try to kill novelette YET AGAIN under the banner of “there are too many Hugos.” Or more accurately, god save them from me.

D.7 Reorganization of the Best Related Work Category: So this is basically another “This is how the Locus Award does it” case, which wants to split “Best Related Work” into “Best Non-Fiction Book” and “Best Art Book.” I think there’s an issue here to begin with by calling out the categories as “Books.” While the written definitions are a little looser, particularly for Non-Fiction, it gives the impression that only books are welcome in the categories. But consider this year we had a series of blog posts from Tor.com nominated, and previously entire seasons of Writing Excuses. I wouldn’t be surprised in the future if we get some trans-media stuff, more things like post series, who knows what else. I’d rather not see those fringe-y, related works that really don’t fit neatly in the other categories get left out because we’ve felt the need to more rigidly define them. I consider the nebulous nature of “Related Work” to be a feature, not a bug in this sense. Also questioning seriously if “Best Art Book” is really going to have enough nominations in it yearly to make it a viable and vibrant category.

D.8 Best Dramatic Presentation Reorganization: basically wants to rearrange the two current dramatic presentation categories so we’ll have Dramatic Presentation Long Form, Dramatic Presentation Episodic Form, Dramatic Presentation Short Form, and Dramatic Presentation Series. (So yes, we’d be having four categories instead of the current two.) I actually kind of like the idea of splitting up Episodic Form and Short Form, in the sense that episodes have really drowned out anything else short and speculative from the category for quite some time. This could make room for some really interesting stuff… or it could just create a category that’s not going to get a lot of traffic. Only time would tell on that one. But I’m really questioning Best Episodic Form versus Best Series… which is basically cutting between stand-alone episodes of anthology series versus long-arc series. Are there enough anthology shows versus long-arc shows to fill out two categories? Don’t know, don’t watch that much television. I don’t object to this as much as some of the other proposed reorganizations of categories, though again I’m wondering how this’ll sit with the “we give too many Hugos out” crowd.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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As usual for the Preliminary Business Meeting, today we were setting the agenda for the next three days of meetings, particularly agreeing upon debate times for the various items. Here is a link to the agenda, and my own thoughts on the new proposed amendments.


  • Big thank you here to Zalia and Corina for covering the first hour of the meeting for me. Love you guys.
  • Happy birthday to Kevin Standlee!
  • Standing rule changes:
    • No Candidate Regions (A.1), Debate Time Streamlining (A.3), and Butt Out (A.5) pass.
    • Electronic Documents Are a Thing (A.4) fails.
    • No Vanishing Business (A.2) is referred to committee, to be reported back on Friday.
  • Resolutions:
    • Kimo no Na wa (B.1) has its Hugo eligibility extended by a year.
    • Artist Eligibility (B.2) is sent to a committee. (More on this committee in a minute.)
    • Convention Publications to Be Delivered to Members (B.3) is replaced with the B.3.1 version, which is then adopted.
  • All constitutional amendments from the 2016 business meeting are assigned debate times and will be considered in the coming days. Also, there are motions to suspend both EPH and 5 and 6 up for debate. Please note that this is baked in to our adopting of both of those amendments last year; we required ourselves to reconsider them yearly to assess if they are working as intended. Both EPH and 5 and 6 have been postponed definitely to the Saturday business meeting, so they can be debated in light of this year’s Hugo results.
  • New constitutional amendments:
    • What Our Marks Really Are (D.1), The Reasonable Amendment (D.2), Make Room! Make Room! (D.3), Name That Award (D.4) have debate time set and will be considered at the main business meeting.
    • Requiring Electronic Payments (D.6) is postponed indefinitely at the request of its originator to allow better consideration of its implications.
    • The Division of the Hugo Award Best Novel Category (D.6), A Reorganization of the Best Related Category (D.7), and Best Dramatic Presentation Reorganization (D.8) are all referred to committee, to be reported back on before anything else is to be done with them.
  • SO ABOUT THAT COMMITTEE. A Hugo Award Study Committee was created to consider the best artist issues, and then had its mandated expanded by the meeting to consider all Hugo categories – but only categories, NOT anything to do with nominating or voting. This is the committee that D.6-8 were referred to. They will be making recommendations for the 2018 business meeting.
    • Committee members: Vincent Docherty will be chairman. Other appointed members: Nicholas Whyte, Chris Barkley, Kevin Standlee, Kate Secor, Michael Lee, Catherine Duval, John Hurts conditionally if he is prepared to cooperate with the committee’s requirements.
  • Mark Protection Committee nominations were made without incident.
  • And this is where we ran out of time for the day. Other items normally seen to on Preliminary Meeting day will have to just get done tomorrow because people got very exercised about the Publications resolution.

All right, going to take a look at these new proposed amendments.

Previous Posts:

  • Preliminary Business Meeting: Liveblog

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

Hello everyone! It’s Thursday at WorldCon 75, I’m sick with a cold, and it’s time for the Preliminary Business Meeting! Liveblog will commence when the meeting starts. As usual, updates will come every 5-ish minutes or so. Apologies for mis-spelling names and the like, please leave corrections in the comments and I will get them later.

Also! As a wrinkle this year, for the first hour I’m going to be on a panel, so the liveblog will be taken care of by my friends Corina and Zalia (say hi, everyone) and they’ll do their best. I’ll be back at about 1100 local time and will take over.

(If you want the short summary of what happened, see here.)

9.54: There is sweet blessed coffee for the attendees of the business meeting.

1001: Business meeting for noobs video displayed which is very helpful for me to get a feel for this.

1010: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Kevin Standlee who is spending his birthday chairing the business meeting. We thank you with a gift of a new official gavel, engraved with ‘Kevin Standlee. Chairman WSFS’.

1012: The Business Meeting will be in order! Introductions and thanks. Videos of the meeting will be uploaded to the YouTube channel and is currently being Livestreamed on the Worldcon 75 YouTube channel.

1017: Awwww yes, Business Attendee Ribbons that are visible from space!

1019: Today we will be setting the agenda, deciding time limits, hearing reports, looking at rule changes, hearing resolutions, looking at time limits for constitutional amendments, and having the initial consideration of new Consitutional Amendments. Presentations for future Worldcons will be done at the Fannish Inquisition panel at 1pm today in the same room as the business meting (207)

1023: First Main Business meeting takes place on Friday, Site Selection Business Meeting will be on Saturday with presentations from 2019 and 2018 Worldcon hosts. Maybe from 2020 potential bids if there is time.

1025: We are on to The Agenda. Which first involves setting the agenda for the main meeting on Friday/Sunday.

1027: Discussion of Standing Rule Changes.

1028: Item A1 – No Candidate Regions (2 minutes of debate). Mr. Eastlake from the Nitpicking and flyspecking committee explaining. Definition of Regions of North America have been removed from the Constituion but verbage left in standing rules relating to nominations. Move to remove this passed unanimously and takes immediate effect.

1030: Kate Secor asking for explanation of motion on No Vanishing Business. Rules say that motion is submitted in advance and cannot be removed as others have planned for it and may have skipped submitting motion itself. Time for discussion reset to 3 minutes for and against.

1033: Ben Yalow speaking against, stating that this is a motion to amend and requests exact wording of motion be figured out. Suggests that ability to withdraw does not that until the deadline for submitting new business has passed.

1035: Clarification and seconding of Ben Yalow’s point.

1036: Accepting Ben Yalow’s speech as first speech in favour of amendment.

1037: Kate Secor asking question about wording -Have specified date mentioned in the rule is the standard submission date of two weeks prior.

1038: Mr Eastlike speaking against amendment. Putting in rule to allow a motion to be withdrawn even with a deadline doesn’t give opportunity for other members to submit motions similar in nature.

1039: Chair suggests referring proposal to Committee of Mr Yalow, Mr Eastlake and Ms Secor. Passed with no objection with report to come at main business meeting.

1040: Recess for 1 minute. Delicious coffee break.

1042: Corina taking over.  Hi!  Debate time streamlining debate starts.

1045: Amendment: change “may” to “shall”, unanimous consent.

1047: Proposal to produce a pre-set list of numbers of debate times.  No second, motion fails.

1048: Motion passes unanimously, takes effect immediately.

1049: Debate on proposal to eliminate wording that suggests print copies of new proposals and recognize that electronic copies exist, making existing practice into official rules.

1050: Linda Dineron speaks against this proposal as it depends on who is the secretary of business meeting.

1052: Point of information regarding technology on electronic signatures.  The exact method will be determined by the members.

1052: Hello everyone it’s Alex, I’M BACK! (Thank you so much Corina and Zalia.)

1053: “Still Ben Yalow.” This would require distribution to all members, even those without internet access, which is a thing.

1054: Kevin Standlee notes that this would impose financial burdens on the concom, so therefore the next two WorldCons will not have to comply.

1055: None in favor. Another against. Ann-Marie Rudolph, feels that the requirement and ensconcing this in the rules is more than is needed. We are already sending all material in electronic and paper format. This imposes a burden, doesn’t allow for pivoting on technological advances. Current practice is sufficient.

1057: Debate ended, call the question. The motion fails.

1058: A5, Butt Out. (No smoking, basically.) Any objections to 2 minutes debate? None.

1058: Question from Dr. Laurie – does this include e-cigarettes? No.

1059: Emotion is unanimously adopted. The business meeting will always be a non-smoking event, even if the location is a place where smoking is allowed!

1100: Moving on to resolutions. B1, extending Hugo eligibility for Kimi no Na wa. No objections to 2 minutes of debate, no debate, unanimous approval.

1101: B2 Artist Eligibility – 10 minutes of debate time adopted unanimously.

1102: There is an amendment by substitution proposed to create a Hugo Award study committee that will study the proposed revision. So we need to decide first if we’re going to do the amended version or the original version of the resolution.

1103: Please correct Kevin if you have a doctorate and he doesn’t realize it.

1103: Dr Adams has a parliamentary inquiry – is today the decision day to do committee? Yes, if that passes.

1103: This preliminary business meeting can’t send stuff on to next year’s WorldCon directly or indirectly. The committee will refer things next year to the main business meeting, which will then deal with it.

1104: Geoff Thorpe question – this is specifically for the 2018 business meeting? Kevin says the committee may recommend a constitutional amendment, but we can require the committee to do other things when the committee is made. We are creating the committee so we can give it additional tasks in the motion to refer. We cannot tie our own hands.

1105: Mr Docherty speaks in favor of substitution – this is to broaden the study committee to look at all categories, not just the artist categories. This will look at all categories and either refer to main business meeting or bring reports with regards to a comprehensive review of categories.

1107: Question for the maker. Go ahead and use some debate time against, see what happens. The previous speaker might ask you to yield some of your time. Mr Todd Dashoff actually has a parliamentary enquiry – can this committee spin off subcommittees.

1108: Kevin says yes, they can spin off subcommittees as they want unless it is specifically forbidden to them, since that’s allowed in Roberts Rules of Order.

1108: Professor Dr White on behalf of makers of original proposal to examine artist categories, thinks it’s a good idea to broaden to examine the entire structure of the Hugos in the round. Please vote for the amendment and then the resolution.

1109: No objection to adopting the substitute, so we are adopting that and now it will be before the meeting. Now we will consider the resolution, now substituted by unanimous consent.

1110: Chair suggests we reset to 8 minutes. No objection.

1110: Mr Bloom has an incidental motion. Because we cannot create a permanent committee today, suggests we postpone to tomorrow.

1111: Kevin was going to suggest that we suspend the rules so we can form the committee today and charge it with things to be reported to tomorrow. Since it seems to be people want this.

1111: The chair is a very bad chair and apologizes for going about this the wrong way. :)

1112: Any objection to adopting this resolution – there is one hand. Mr Oakes who wishes to speak against it. He proposes an amendment to limit the scope to only changing Hugo categories and not voting or nomination procedures. Since we have been working on those enough on our own.

1113: There is no objection to this amendment it seems. This would narrow the scope of the committee. But everyone seems in basic agreement that we want a review of the categories.

1114: In favor of amendment to the resolution, Mr Oakes. We have spent many years dealing with the nomination and voting process. Allowing the committee to broadly consider article three lets them mess with those, so let’s put the safety net on to restricting them specifically to the categories.

1115: Kate Secor against – appreciate the intent of the amendment, but there’s a lot of defining language (eg fan vs pro) that aren’t in 3.3, and the committee needs to be able to reach other parts of the article.

1116: No speech for the amendment. Paul Tredaway against, why bother narrowing it, because the committee has no power to implement its recommendations, just make recommendations. Give them the power.

1117: Mr Eastlake proposes to amend the amendment so it’ll encompass 3.2 and 3.3 instead of just 3.3. We suspend the rules to allow this amendment and vote it in.

1118: The resolution is amended to be 3.2 and 3.3 instead of just article 3.

1120: Back to the main motion now as amended.

1120: Mr Cronengold moves to call the question. No objection to ending the debate.

1121: Voting on the resolution itself. Only a few opposing votes. The committee will be created. Whoever is appointed as chair, they can add people to the chair at their discretion. The chairman of this meeting is not interested in discussing your membership in the committee with you, PLEASE talk to the chairmen of the committee.

1122: Dr Laurie wants to know when we can instruct the committee… when the committee has been created please.

1122: Vincent Docherty will be chairman. Other appointed members: Nicholas Whyte, Chris Barkley, Kevin Standlee, Kate Secor, Michael Lee, Catherine Duval, John Hurts conditionally if he is prepared to cooperate with the committee’s requirements.

1124: Chair asking unanimous consent to move D6, 7, and 8 to the committee just created with instruction to report back to the meeting tomorrow.  (Division of Best Novel Category, Reorganization of the Best Related Category, Best Dramatic Presentation Reorganization) Unanimous consent, we will not be taking them back up today.

1125: Unanimous consent on this.

1126: Dr Laurie asks that the committee be instructed to consult with organizations whose members will be impacted by these changes such as ASFA and SFWA.

1126: Motion is seconded, but there is not unanimous consent, so we’re going to have a debate.

1127: Dr Laurie says that the committee will be dealing with definitions, best to ask the professional organizations that represent those people.

1127: Mr Wallace parliamentary inquiry – since the committee is reporting back tomorrow, would this require them to consultation in the next 24 hours? Goodness no.

1129: Alex gives a speech in favor of consulting with organizations re: what is a professional as it is better to have more informaiton (hi this is Corina).

1131: Ben Yalow trusts Vince. (Alex back. And. Who the fuck is Vince.)

1132: Mrs Dashoff is in ASFA and would like to volunteer she is here for consult.

1132: Against: this is unduly burdensome.

1133: Me: With all due respect, who the hell is Vince?

1134: Meeting is in recess until 1145. I need some goddamn tea.

1145: And we’re back.

1146: B3 Convention Publications to Be Delivered to Members plus its attendant amendment by substitution.

1147: 20 minutes of debate time unanimously passed. Now looking at the substitution B.3.1; rather than rephrase it, chair recognizes Mr Harris to open debate.

1147: This comes up because of this con’s proposal for distribution of the souvenir books (I have no idea what this is about); the substitution is because we feel the current resolution constrains the committees too rigidly. While recognizing valid concerns, this broadens things and brings it more in line with the constitution as is. Started to get in a messy situation when there was the option to charge people; do you want paper or electronic publications was initially intended as for progress reports, not the souvenir book. There are people who are happy for electronic PRs that still want the paper souvenir book. To be financially and environmentally efficient, we need to split out the PR and souvenir book and ask individually if they want those in paper or electronic.

1151: Mr Moen speaks against the substitution; there’s nothing in this amendment that gives advance notice on how to exercise that preference. Doesn’t even specify timely.

1152: Mr Yalow – in some ways it does say that there will be timely notice. If you’re going to charge people for things, you have to specify at the time of bid filing. Also wants to address different rights for attending and supporting. The rights of attending members are defined with respect to supporting members in the constitution. You can’t give supporting members fewer rights than the attending members; the attending member is defined as supporting members plus.

1154: Mrs Dashoff has an inquiry. Having read both proposals, and sees no provision for collecting the preferences of supporting members, who are those who vote … this is a point for debate on the underlying proposal, not for this amendment.

1156: Mr Cronengold spoke and I just missed it because Kate gave me tea ILU KATE ;_; because the table was out of tea and I was just trying to survive on coffee.

1156: Dr Adams agrees main motion is overly prescriptive; this is a fast-changing area. It should be left to the committee with the guidance that’s in this amending motion.

1157: No one else wants to speak on substitute. Are we going to adopt the substitute?

1158: Yes we are.

1158: Now we’re going to debate on B.3.1.

1158: We’re going to add 12 more minutes of debate on this. Guess people are going to have a lot to say about it. (I had no idea souvenir books were such a big deal.)

1200: I’m not sure what’s going on here, sorry.

1200: It’s a motion to amend the resolution by taking the last bullet point on page 7 and inserting it into the end of the motion. This is moving something from B3 and into B.3.1. The bullet point is “The option to sign up for the printed version of either or both publications should be included on the Site Selection ballots, and through the convention’s electronic Registration process.”

1201: Mr Harris against says it’s a bit pandora’s to do this. We inherit the supporters from the previous year, and we don’t get their preferences. This gets messy because are we going to start having differential voting fees at site selection? Because we’re not collecting the extra fees then. We tend to let people get what they want and just worry about collecting the extra funds from the new members. Would rather not put this into the rules without proper consideration and probably not even then.

1203: Mrs Dashoff for and notes there are supporting members who do not have email, so contacting them to ask their preferences is impossible. You need to have that option on the site selection form so you can contact people later.

1205: Mr Walling notes that WorldCon can purchase stamps and send letters. Proposes to suspend the rules to remove the “electronic”  from “electronic registration process” since there are a lot of registrations still done via paper.

1206: Passes easily, we remove electronic and get back on track, because that does make sense!

1207: There’s only 30 seconds for left, none against. No one seems hot to trot to use that 30 seconds.

1208: IT IS TIME FOR A SERPENTINE and I don’t even know why oh god help i’m so confused

1209: oh okay this is on adding the bullet point, thanks kevin

1210: We are having serpentine teething troubles. Just figuring out the best way to count the room.

1211: The nays are going to have this one.

1212: Inquiry about the fee for the paperwork — this doesn’t sound like a parliamentary inquiry, debating the underlying subject. There’s some back and forth, no one speaking for so he can actually go with the debate and say what he’s gonna say. Instead of extra fee, propose discount for people who want electronic publications.

1215: Chair needs better wording, since the proposal is too diffuse.

1215: Mr Eastlake proposes “Worldcons may provide a refund to members who choose to receive publications electronically.”

1216: Chair thinks this needs to be referred to a committee to report back tomorrow.

1216: Nope, no committee for us, the motion fails!

1216: An alternative wording is offered by Mr Tredaway “Worldcons may offer a discount to members who choose to not receive print publications.”

1218: Ms Neal has question – does the constitution not already have a provision that allows the charging of fees? Seems the answer is no.

1219: Mr Matthews has a parliamentary inquiry – just a little clean up, sounds like, striking out some stuff for consistency. Housekeeping.

1221: Parliamentary Inquiry from Kate Secor – does the amendment as proposed conflict with 1.5.8 in the constitution. (This is the section that says you can’t sell a membership for less than the cost of a supporting membership.)

1222: Kevin: …oh boy.

1222: This means the amendment is out of order. We are back to the original un-amended resolution! Clapping abounds.

1224: Inquiry from Bruce Allbrecht (???) – is the program guide part of the publications as contemplated here. Chair rules it is. People immediately want to appeal the ruling.

1225: Mr Harris opposed to the rule. Custom and practice and practical impact say no. What do conventions historically choose to mail out. Historically, pocket programs are NOT mailed out unless there’s an excessive print run or a lot of extra money.

1226: So is the chair’s ruling right? The chair’s ruling is overturned by the meeting.

1226: And the members don’t want to extend debate, which has run out of time. And we are adopting B.3.1.

1227: One minute recess.

1229: My love is for sale and the price is tea.

1229: Kevin would like to note that this meeting is NOT the forum for complaints on how any individual WorldCon is run. Then we return to order.

1230: We’re not going to get to committee reports today. We need nominations for the Mark Protection committee next.

1231: John Coxon, Linda Deneroff, and Dave McCarty have their terms ending on the MPC, and they have agreed to be re-nominated. There was an additional nominee whose name I missed, all are accepted and nominations close.

1232: Vincent about the Hugo Committee: the YA Hugo will not be considered. People can contact him. Wants meeting at 0930 tomorrow in this room.

1232: Now we are in the debate time setting period for the constitutional amendments.

1233: None of the constitutional amendments pending ratification can be postponed indefinitely. These are ratifications from last year. (Response to PI.)

1234: Suggested debates: 10 min for best series, 4 min for amendment to it, 8 min for December Is Good Enough, 8 min for Two Years Are Enough, 20 min for Three Stage Voting, 20 min for EPH+. All accepted without objection.

1236: There is a motion to suspend regular EPH until 2018. Moved by Ben Yalow, seconded.

1237: Now it has been moved to postpone indefinitely, also seconded.

1238: Debate is on whether we will kill the motion to suspend EPH until 2018. Mr Dunn thinks EPH worked fine, why suspend it and then bring it back, just squash this bug right now.

1238: Mr Yalow points out that we specifically said we would put EPH up for debate in 2017 when we adopted it last year. We have a right to make decisions about it, and we should not quash the ability of this body to make a decision about it.

1239: Mr Cronengold says EPH is working, it’s too soon to suspend it.

1239: Question from Mrs Dashoff how many years have we had EPH? One year.

1240: Dr Adams says that we agreed we should debate EPH yearly and proposes to postpone definitely until Saturday so we can get past the Hugos this year. And postponing definitely supersedes indefinitely, which makes the indefinite postponement go POOF.

1241: It go poof.

1242: I have no freaking idea what people are arguing about now. There is shouting back and forth.

1243: Oh, apparently people are mad C6.1 is not on the slide. This is an oversight. Is there a problem with the default five minutes? No. Okay.

1244: Oh, and for C5 (EPH) as well. Is 10 minutes of debate okay since we suspended definitely? Sounds good.

1246: Oh thank god the next slide.

1246: No objections to debate time limits. I’m not going to be able to get you the numbers, but they’re reasonable. (YA Award is going to get 20 minutes of debate btw)

1248: 5 and 6 has a motion to suspend, similar to EPH, and like EPH we have postponed definitely to Saturday pending Hugo results. That gets ten minutes.

1248: Now onto the new constitutional amendments. We are running out of time y’all and might have to do a ton of stuff tomorrow. “This is what happens when you want to spend all your time debating resolutions.”

1249: Ticking right along until we get to the naming of the YA Award. There is objection to the proposed 16 minute debate. But hey Kevin’s motion is privileged so we can vote on it and move on THANK YOU.

1252: Motion to Postpone D4 definitely to Saturday as well so they can come up with a ballot and an instant runoff vote if the YA Award is adopted.

1253: Chair suggests we postpone definitely to right after the YA award and dealt with then. Chair would really prefer this, not wanting to worry about nominations until after we know if there’s even going to be an award ratified. There doesn’t seem to be an objection to handling it this way?

1256: Motion to PostPone Requiring Electronic Payments indefinitely from Ms Neal. It imposes a weird and strange burden on committees. It should be brought up next year when there’s been more time to beat it.

1257: Mr Cronengold that sounded like a speech for sending it to committee.

1257: Mr Yalow believes this is taking a short-term approach; we can kill this now, and the original maker doesn’t object to us killing it. Gives him more time to consider implications.

1258: Requiring Electronic Payments is postponed indefinitely.

1259: Committee reports are getting postponed until later. And we are adjourned.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

I made a special effort to see The Dark Tower before I departed for Finland, because I was that excited about seeing Idris Elba be the gunslinger. Not that I’ve got that many gunslinger feelings, you should realize. I’ve never read the novels, because I’m just not that much of a Stephen King fan. But I am that much of an Idris Elba fan.

This seems to be a movie that a lot of people have some really strong feelings about, and I just don’t. Maybe because I didn’t read the books. I went in without any expectations. I don’t regret the price of my ticket or the snack food I bought since I hadn’t bothered to eat breakfast. I had an enjoyable ninety minutes and I felt appropriately entertained.

And to be honest, I don’t really have many strong opinions on this film either way, other than gosh I really love Idris Elba, and Matthew McConaughey is finally playing the evil scumbag character I always thought he had in him. Flagg (aka the Man in Black) probably could have been more evil and scummy, but there’s a limit to what you can do in a PG-13 movie. The mutual hateboner was pretty great to witness, and I bet they were both having one hell of a time.

With most films that I either really love or really hate, I can examine what about them made me feel that way. I can’t really do that here. The script for The Dark Tower ticks along and doesn’t drag. It could probably use some more developmental moments, give us a bit more time with Roland or Flagg, but I can’t really pick out anything in particular. The dialogue was serviceable as far as I can recall, and Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughy are both good enough actors that they can own just about anything anyway.

The plot is a simple portal fantasy: we have Jake, who has been catching glimpses into Roland’s world. Because of this, he’s almost taken away by some of Flagg’s henchmen, but he escapes and uses a portal to go to Roland’s world. Jake and Roland meet up, and Roland realizes he can use Jake’s information to find Flagg. Ultimately, Roland has to choose between his vengeance on Flagg and fulfilling his purpose as a gunslinger.

The only one thing I can pick out that really has a problem in The Dark Tower is the women. In that there aren’t really many to speak of, and most of them get done in rather horribly by Flagg. Like most action movies these days, it runs entirely on daddy issues, and makes no bones about it. Women are pretty much set dressing and angst-fuel and that’s it.

So if you have objections to portal fantasies about a special kid whose very special and becomes super important to the indefatigable badass character of the show, sure, it’ll probably grate on you. But if you want to see Idris Elba being awesome and having some delightful fish-out-of-water moments when he’s on Earth, you’ll probably have fun like I did. I’m not sorry I went out of my way to see this movie, but I doubt I’ll go out of my way to see it again unless I’ve got some laundry to fold.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

A little late, but here it is!

  • Wednesday, August 9, 1500-1600 – Global Warming and the Gaia Concept. Is Global Consciousness already here, and doesn’t have a clue? (Room 205)
    • Is there global self-regulation? Could the world as a whole, in some ways, be consideredto have thought processes, emotions, and/or intentions? Where does humanity come in to all of this? Has our kind of consciousness and thinking ruined a perfectly good setup? We examine the validity of the Gaia concept (a version of which is central to Asimov’s later Foundation novels) and its relation to man-made global warming.
  • Thursday August 10, 1000-1100 – In Defense of the Unlikeable Heroine (Room 101 a&b)
    • Far too often female protagonists need to be pretty and nice. But are they all – are all women pretty and nice and is that a stereotype that needs to be highlighted? The panelists defend their unlikable heroines in fiction!
  • Friday August 11, 1300-1400 – Signing (signing area)
  • Saturday August 12, 1400-1500 – Built Upon the Shoulders of Giants (Hall 3)
    • You know how to build an imaginary world, and you know which authors have constructed your favourites. But what do publishers do when they are inundated with speculative fiction novels full of great worlds. What are the defining elements that set a novel (and the world it’s built in) apart from the crowd? Our panel of publishers, editors and authors will tell all on exactly what type of world building make them squeal with delight.

I will also be at all of the WSFS business meetings, which go from Thursday through Sunday, 1000-1300. I will be liveblogging, though the first hour on Thursday guest bloggers will be taking care of the meeting for me, as I’ll be in a panel.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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To me, Dunkirk feels really different from a lot of Christopher Nolan’s other movies. The plot and characters are basically incidental to how the film feels, the look and sound of it. The dialogue is almost nonexistent; I think if Nolan could have gotten the feeling he wanted without anyone ever speaking a word, he would have. The soundtrack’s pretty simple; there’s always a background ticking, as if a clock, that progressively speeds up as the movie continues on. The film’s made of three timelines that slowly collapse down to a single point. There are a lot of moments that have a lot of layers to them where the it feels like Nolan’s trusting the audience to pick things up.

Let me explain what I mean, here. The best examples of this are toward the end of the film, where the older men (Mark Rylence as Mr. Dawson and John Nolan as “Blind Man”) interact with the surviving younger soldiers. Mr. Dawson makes the understated point that first, they’ve got a job to do and they’re going to do it, and second, getting people out alive is sometimes the best you can hope for. The blind man at the end, giving blankets to the soldiers, has this interaction: (Might not be quite verbatim)

Blind man: You did good work.

Soldier: All we did is survive.

Blind man: That’s enough.

And then later one soldier comments to another that the old man wouldn’t look them in the eye, obviously projecting his own shame at the retreat onto him. What struck me about that in particular were that Nolan trusted the audience to have gotten that point without needing one of the characters to argue with him—and that both the old men were by grace of their age people who had lived through World War I. It’s another thing the film didn’t feel the need to state, but it’s powerful once you realize it.

There’s a lot of understated, chewy, emotional stuff in there that makes the movie feel more like a poem than a story. It’s different, and interesting, and very powerful at moments.

Which is what makes the last five minutes or so downright bizarre. Here, this bit is a spoiler, so highlight it if you want to read: [SPOILER] Tom Hardy’s pilot character runs out of fuel, and then while gliding, succeeds in shooting down a German fighter before it can kill the Admiral played by Kenneth Branagh, take a victory lap over the beach while soldiers cheer for him, manually put down his landing gear, land perfectly behind enemy lines, and then stand there like a badass while his plane (which he’s set on fire) burn and the German soldiers come to capture him. All intercut with one of the soldiers reading lines from Churchill’s famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech.[/SPOILER]

After the rest of the movie, that seemed… shockingly bombastic. Tonally discordant. There’s also a bit where you can really tell one of the planes is CGI and it looks remarkably terrible.

There are some other issues I take with the film. I think during the entire time, I saw one non-white soldier, a black man among the French troops. I point this out as an issue, because not all of the British and French troops at Dunkirk were white—here’s a great Twitter thread about it, and a good NYT article. In a movie where the visuals were everything, this is perhaps even more important, because the simple existence of non-white soldiers or crews on the small boats, however briefly seen, would have been striking. This becomes a problem because Chris Nolan (rightly or wrongly) has a reputation for his movies being as accurate as possible (think about the “they made new science to simulate the black hole in Interstellar” thing), with attention to detail. Some people are going to come out of Dunkirk thinking it’s a good representation of that piece of history. (And the history book written to accompany it apparently makes not effort to correct this.) It encourages the continued belief that people of color simply didn’t exist in massive events they took part in.

On a slightly sillier level, it also honestly confused me after a while, because pretty much all of the actors who played soldiers look exactly the same. They were all thin white guys with dark brown hair in the same haircuts. Most are not given names. I’m guessing this is a statement about the interchangeability of the soldiers… but there were times in the film where we did need to be able to tell them apart, at least a little. When they were shouting at each other and one was getting threatened and so on. When Cillian Murphy showed up, it really distracted me from what was going on because I couldn’t figure out if I’d missed the bit of the story that told me how he got where Mr. Dawson found him, or what was even happening.

All in all, I think it’s a movie that’s really worth seeing, because it’s grim and beautiful in how it visually addresses the ideas of cowardice and bravery and hopelessness and their relationship to survival. Just don’t go in expecting gripping characters or snappy dialogue or a challenging plot. That’s not the kind of film it is.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a film set in a colorful, utterly bananas space opera universe, which is unfortunately ill-served by both Luc Besson’s direction and writing, though these problems pale in comparison to its repulsive fuckboy of a protagonist, Valerian.

(For the short version of this post via Twitter rant, see this thread.)

I didn’t go into Valerian with much in the way of expectations. I haven’t read the source material, though my housemate who has was tentatively excited about the film. Since I knew it was going to be directed by Luc Besson, I went in hoping for something as fun and charming and weird as The Fifth Element, under the assumption that it would also come with a helping of racism and sexism. Well, it is weird and colorful, if neither fun nor charming—and I’m sad to report it delivered on the racism and sexism as well.

The story is pretty simple: Major Valerian and his partner Sergeant(?) Laureline are federal agents sent on a mission to retrieve stolen property, a cute little animal known as a Mul Converter. It’s the last of its species, since the supposedly uninhabited-by-sentient-life planet of Mul was destroyed almost thirty years ago. Of course, from the start of the movie, we know that Mul actually had a thriving civilization of tall, thin people made out of glitter, called Pearls, on it. Valerian and Laureline bring the Mul Converter back to Alpha (the city of a thousand planets) and find out that a strange radiation zone that kills everyone who enters it has begun expanding at the center of the city. Their investigation of this mystery leads them deep into a cover up that someone has an interest in protecting with deadly force.

The plot sounds interesting, right? Or at least reasonably so for a scifi effects spectacle. There’s some holes in it here and there, but I thought at least the structure avoided a lot of pitfalls that tend to come with far future or space opera scifi, where things get too arcane for the audience to be able to build an understanding of the universe while tracking a convoluted plot. Unfortunately, the actors stumble through the film, delivering their lines like they’ve all been shot up with horse tranquilizers, with the only relief the occasional spittle-flecked moment of self-righteous yelling before the monotony returns.

If that had been the only problem, it would have been almost forgivable, because the background is satisfactorily bananapants for a space opera world, and unlike Jupiter Ascending, it wasn’t actively boring. However, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has a major problem that Jupiter Ascending didn’t, in that the protagonist is vomitously unlikable and tries to pull the plot off course at every turn.

See, the movie starts with agents Valerian and Laureline having a… weird encounter where they’re both in bathing suits and sort of rolling around and wrestling, at which point Valerian embarks on his ceaseless campaign to get Laureline to marry him. Their relationship made absolutely no sense from the get-go, and veered immediately into intensely creepy territory: we’re basically talking a higher-ranked coworker persistently bugging his lower-ranked partner for a relationship. It was beyond gross. Worse, at basically every turn, something would happen in the plot, and before anyone could react or move forward, Valerian would immediately twist the situation into why won’t you marry me Laureline.

This was not a romance. This was the skeevy, passive-aggressive stalking of a fuckboy who believes he’s been friend-zoned. It made my skin crawl. And from what my houemate has now told me about the graphic novels, it really feels like what got put onto film wasn’t so much Valerian and Laureline as fanfiction written by someone who fantasized all through high school about fucking Laureline. I am not here to shame anyone for their wish fulfillment fanfic; I’ve written plenty myself. But I still know it’s not something that deserves a multimillion dollar film budget and a wide theatrical release.

Valerian’s aggressive skeeviness covers the expected sexism angle nicely, with the added bonus of Valerian’s trip through the red light district, where in the far future we’re still apparently still catering exclusively to straight male tastes. There’s a burlesque performance by a shapechanging alien named Bubble that pivots neatly from the sexism and into the racism. Bubble is played by Rihanna and for all her extremely short screen time, she’s the best developed character in the entire film. She gets an actual background, and motivations. After revealing her actual alien form, Valerian asks her to go back to “normal”—as in her super sexy Rihanna form. She also [SPOILER FOLLOWS, HIGHLIGHT IF YOU WANT TO KNOW] inexplicably dies after helping Valerian in a way that feels like a complete afterthought, though before her death she’s honored to get her skills as an artist validated by Valerian. Megabarf. Bubble helps Valerian rescue Laureline from a group of apparently “savage” aliens who [SPOILER] want to eat her brain, and the coding on the costuming and aesthetic for the aliens is pretty goddamn 1940s jungle witch doctor set. So that was nice.

Valerian also suffers from a problem many big budget scifi movies have, though not as badly as Jupiter Ascending did—it contains several action sequences that add absolutely nothing to the plot, and really feel like they got tucked in because they’ve gone the requisite number of pages and we need some more explosions. It’s particularly notable during the sequences that were almost entirely CGI; I find those extremely difficult to follow, action-wise, and mentally tune them out. The VFX department is showing off in a way that the human eye can’t follow and the brain can’t care about. For example, there’s an interminable battle sequence over the planet Mul that I couldn’t have given less of a shit about because it’s unclear why the battle is being fought, who is fighting it, or what the actual stakes are.

That said, if you could just surgically remove the title character entirely, this would be an almost enjoyable film. The opening sequence, which shows Alpha being built up from its humble beginnings as an Earth-orbiting space station, was lovely, and hopeful, and fun. Too bad the rest of the movie couldn’t live up to that promise.

You’ll notice that I keep bringing up Jupiter Ascending in this review. The movies are very comparable, I think. They’re both delightfully weird space opera universes that get crushed under the weight of their own film flaws. Jupiter Ascending had great characters and then got crushed under the weight of its shit pacing; its greatest sin was being boring. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets had absolute shit for characters to serve its mediocre-but-I’m-not-expecting-great-things-really-at-this-point plot. Both of them have left me frustrated and angry because I can see the bones beneath of what could have been the space opera movie we deserve, the film that would launch us to a place beyond Star Wars. But if you held a gun to my head and told me I had to watch one of them again, I’d have to go with Jupiter Ascending because I could at least nap through the boring bits and enjoy Jupiter being charming.


And a small side rant:

One thing I can’t help noticing is that in both of these films, the screenwriting credit goes solely to the directors. It’s endlessly frustrating that in an industry where story is supposedly king, there’s a real desire to make people whose primary skillset and interest is in writing those stories disappear. Maybe there would have been no saving either film, but their most fatal flaws (Jupiter Ascending’s pacing, Valerian’s shitty protagonist and paper thin characters) are just the sort of things that writers, or at least good writers, focus on.

Hire some fucking screenwriters already. And listen to what they say.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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Honestly, I wasn’t going to bother with this movie. I’m really, really tired of Spider-Man movies. This is the third reboot of the character, and the second reboot left me so incredibly underwhelmed that the only pit deeper in my soul was already occupied by Tobey Maguire’s goth hair in Spider-Man 3. Which is sad, because Spider-Man 2 has pretty much been my favorite superhero movie ever – thanks to Dr. Otto Octavian. The only thing that got me to the theater for this one was that it had RDJ in it, and I’m still not tired of Iron Man.

Which is why, going into the theater, I jokingly called this movie Iron Man 4.

Readers, I was wrong on so many levels. God help me, I finally like a Spider-Man movie again. And I think I might like this one more than Spider-Man 2. We’ll have to see if it has the staying power in my brain.

I think part of what helps is that Spider-Man: Homecoming is not an origin story. It dives straight in with Peter already knowing all about his powers and how to use them, and is more about him trying to find the balance in his life between superhero and teenager, figuring out how he relates to the wider world. So in that sense, it’s more of a coming of age story. He’s got the same trouble juggling responsibilities that we saw in Spider-Man 2, but this go around, Peter’s still in high school. And the crazy thing here is that the movie is populated by actors that really do seem believable as high schoolers. And since it’s basically a current year story, Peter’s in a science/engineering magnet school, which is a great twist on the social dynamic. He’s not bullied for being a nerd because they’re all nerds. Which means the focus gets to be more on Peter and the responsibilities of relationships versus the responsibilities of power, rather than beating the incredibly dead horse of the jock/nerd divide,

I think it’s probably also the most racially diverse MCU movie we’ve seen to date. There’s a great interview with Tony Revelori (Flash in Spider-Man Homecoming) about how Peter Parker’s school nemesis has been reworked here, and if you scroll down there’s a picture of Peter’s peer group. Which looks like an actual group of kids you might see in a big city high school. I also really adored Peter’s best friend Ned. Zendaya as MJ was delightful.

Between Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, the MCU is really hitting it out of the park this year. Hoping they’ll keep it going with Thor: Ragnorak, because the scripting on these last two movies has been a cut above the previous few offerings. (Civil War, I’m looking at you. I love you, but you’ve got some problems.)

So, definitely worth seeing. It’s a movie that’s really having some fun, and it far exceeds what the trailer tells you it’s going to be.

And now I want to talk about spoiler-y things! Because that’s the only way to fully explain why I loved this movie as much as I did.

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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The thirteenth incarnation of the Doctor has been announced, and it’s Jodie Whittaker.

I’m having a lot of feelings right now that cannot be expressed by just screaming endlessly on Twitter, so I’m putting them down here.

I grew up watching Doctor Who on PBS. It’s been as huge a part of my life as Star Trek. Until new Who showed up, Seven was my doctor. A big part of that was because of Ace, who was cool and amazing and I wanted to be her for a long time. Her relationship with the Doctor was different, somehow. Looking back on it, I think it’s because she had Donna-esque levels of taking absolutely zero shit off the Doctor, while still being young enough that his relationship with her was more avuncular to downright fatherly. And because she was absolutely brilliant, and the Doctor supported her in that. To the extent that he wanted her to go to the academy on Gallifrey and become a Time Lord. I think that last thing is something that’s been heavily retconned in new Who, but the idea that you don’t have to actually be from Gallifrey to be a Time Lord, and that Ace could be a Time Lord? Sign me up.

And then there was Romana. Between her two incarnations she was in seventeen episodes, but she stands out in my mind because… holy shit, a female Time Lord. Traveling around and having adventures. I loved Romana II because she got to be on equal footing with the Doctor, and had her own sonic screwdriver – I mean, how cool is that?

Looking at new Who, my favorite companions have been the ones (particularly Donna) who were able to put themselves on more equal footing with the Doctor. I think I’ve always been searching for women in the series who have that independence, who are as close to being the Doctor as they can get without actually being allowed to be the main show. The companions I liked the least were the ones who were basically doormats that existed to be the Dr. Watson-esque plot receptacle. (And you’ll notice in modern retellings of the Holmes stories, Watson’s become a much more active character in his own right, whose main purpose is no longer being the person who exists to ask dumb questions so the great detective can explain himself.)

Because let’s be honest, when I was a kid and playing pretend, I didn’t want to be the Doctor’s companion. I wanted to be the Doctor. That was why I loved Romana and Ace so much. And yes, you can pretend as many things as you like, but for all children are intensely imaginative, they’re also weirdly pedantic in certain ways. If you don’t ever see a girl being the Doctor, you come to feel that the Doctor is not something you’re allowed to be. Like when the young son of a friend of mine sadly informed one of his female classmates (this happened before we had Ahsoka and Rey, mind) that she couldn’t play Jedi with him and his friends, because girls aren’t Jedi – his parents corrected him on that one, but he made a perfectly logical conclusion from what he’d observed.

And even when you’re an adult and far more capable of saying “fuck your unspoken rules,” that comes coupled with the ability to better read those subtextual signposts about what stories you’re allowed to be the protagonist for. A better ability to fight to get out of that box also means you know how goddamn high the walls are.

Which all comes down to why I’m tearing up over the casting of Jodie Whittaker, and I wish I could tell this one to kid me. Look, one of your heroes you want to be isn’t just a (cis) man. The Doctor really can be any gender the Doctor pleases. Look, you can have adventures in time and space and be the person with the sonic screwdriver and the blue Police Box, and not just the person there to be less clever than him. And I honestly never thought this would happen, after seeing the ever-escalating manbaby shit storm each time a new Doctor was cast and someone said hey, wouldn’t it be great if the Doctor wasn’t white, or wasn’t a man, or (gasp) both? (Still waiting on the first/third of those items, and that should not be forgotten.)

Maybe I’m more surprised than I should be because I haven’t watched the last several seasons of Doctor Who after being so solidly lost by the Matt Smith episodes. I’m definitely going to go back and try the most recent season, now. I want to see the set up. I’m on board for this. I keep trying to come back to Doctor Who (have not been able to care about the show since about a year after Moffat took over) because it was a staple of my childhood, and maybe this time I’ll stick.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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It’s been two days, and I’m still furious at Into the Badlands. As usual when I’m writing about this show, there’s going to be a ton of spoilers.

The last two episodes have kind of run together in my head, I think because in all honesty, not that much happened in the final episode. A lot of fighting, which kind of makes sense because it was the battle everything else in the season set up. Over the course of these two episodes, the Widow basically loses all of her allies and Sunny has it out with Quinn. That’s the nice recap.

Before I really work myself up into a howling rage, there were some things I liked. After Tilda and Odessa started their relationship, I was incredibly worried the whole time that either one of them would end up dead, Odessa would end up betraying Tilda, or Tilda would throw off Odessa for fucking MK and his inexplicable protagonist aura. All of those would be really typical ways for the show to fuck up a queer relationship. Instead, after Tilda picks her fight with the Widow and gets put in a cell, Odessa rescues her and they basically ride off into the sunset together. THANK FUCK. I have even more affection for Odessa, by the way, since apparently she saw MK go evil and kill a bunch of cogs in the shipment they were both a part of, and she stuck to her guns about Tilda needing to get the fuck away from him instead of getting hypnotized by his I’m The Writer’s Favorite Character aura. DOUBLE THANK FUCK.


The Widow

I’ve got some real mixed feelings about the Widow, at this point. She’s still hanging in there as the most complex of the characters, and I still want to be on her team. But I also think she really earned what happened to her, in the sense of every one of her allies telling her to fuck off. Her decision to give Veil back to Quinn episodes ago bit her big time, and she deserved it. It caused Sunny to turn on her, and Tilda to turn on her, and Waldo as well.

Because this is the thing about the Widow. (And it’s a discussion I had with my housemate, who is more strongly on Team Widow than me after all this.) What’s getting her in trouble is that she’s made such a big deal out of how different from the other barons she is—she’s still ruthless, but she talked a really big game about how she wants to destroy the sick system around her, and bring about equality for people, and protect women. I’m not saying her decision to screw over Veil doesn’t make sense—it does, on an emotional level, because it was an act of pure revenge on her for Veil trying to drive a wedge between Tilda and the Widow—but it was a major crack of hypocrisy in her apparent convictions. And that was going to bite her when people found out.

Where I’ve got really mixed feelings here is wondering where the Widow is going to go from here. Will she course correct and realize she fucked up and recommit? Or is she going to show that she really is a giant hypocrite and it was all a ploy to get power, a different tack in a ruthless system? To be honest, if we get to season three and the Widow is the new villain who is just as bad as Quinn, I’m probably just going to give up on the show. She won’t be interesting any more, at least not to me.

Her final conversation with Waldo is what’s making me think we’re headed that way, though. Suddenly it’s not about knocking down the system any more. Because “these people don’t know how to be free.” Are you even fucking serious, Minerva. (Maybe you could call it a meta-critique of “white feminism” but after the way the season ended, I am giving no benefit of the doubt for this show.) And to me, it didn’t play like someone talking themselves into going over to the dark side, it read like someone finally showing their true colors now that they had their prize at hand.

I’m not expecting the Widow to be some kind of lawful good paladin, here. But I think it would be a lot more interesting watching her try to navigate a compromise between her obvious love for power and sincerely held principles, as opposed to them being faux-principles being something she discards offhand now that she has what she always wanted all along.

Because this is the thing. I never would have been on #TeamWidow if I’d thought she was just Quinn in prettier clothes who we blessedly don’t have to watch eat all the time. I wanted her to succeed because I bought in (got suckered?) to her vision of what she wanted to do and liked the push-pull of watching someone ruthless and pragmatic making terrible bargains with her eyes on that prize. But if it turned out to be bullshit all along? I guess bravo on the Widow for skunking me too, but I sure as hell won’t be cheering for her any more than I’m cheering for Baron Chau.

And at this point, I’m not really willing to trust the writers anymore, because…



After a protracted fight between Sunny and Quinn, during which time Sunny lands several good blows, Quinn seems to die. Sunny inexplicably doesn’t CUT OFF HIS GODDAMN HEAD, so that minutes later he can spring up and grab Veil. Who then stabs herself through the chest so she can stab the man behind her in the heart. And they both die.

No, really, fuck the writers. This was the most lazy, cheap, manipulative way they could have gone. Here, let’s go over a few highlights of how this was shitty, shitty writing.

  • Way to kill off the black love interest. A+ racist trope.
  • Veil was basically the token non-fighter character. Hell, even Lydia gets to put a shovel through a guy’s head. Veil has survived entirely on her wits and her determination because she isn’t a fighter. And they chose to kill her off. I guess if the message was that no one who can’t punch should survive, well done. Slow clap.
  • The clumsy, continuous build up of people questioning if Sunny could actually kill Quinn, since Quinn raised him obviously was leading to this fight. And effectively, because of this build up we get the conclusion that Sunny’s relationship to Veil and his child, whom he is specifically trying to protect, is less important than whatever connection he subconsciously still has with Quinn. This takes two seasons of Sunny’s development as someone who is struggling to escape Quinn’s shadow and shits all over it with a cherry on top.
    • Consider the difference if, say, Sunny hadn’t been able to kill Quinn, and Veil had still killed him, but without killing herself in the process. What does that say about their relationship versus Sunny standing there and watching her off herself because of something he couldn’t manage to do?
  • After you fucking FORCE MARRIED VEIL TO QUINN, this is the payoff? All of her struggle, her survival, her determination, and she literally never gets to escape Quinn because she dies with him. She kills herself with his arms around her. She dies with their blood mingling again, this time through her own action. Just fuck you.
  • Apparently his lover and child are not enough motivation for Sunny going forward. Instead, he needed a good ol’ injection of angsty manpain, because that’s the only interesting way a man can experience emotions? Fuck off.

And do not even come at me with something-something gritty realism. This is a show where the world-building is already paper thin and runs on an engine of fridge logic.

Killing Veil off destroyed a lot of avenues for interesting character development for both Veil and Sunny by cutting them off cold. It showed utter laziness because it plays into the idea that people trying to be in relationships and being prevented from being together is more interesting than people actually being in relationships and figuring them out—and this is the Badlands. It’s not like Veil and Sunny getting out of Quinn’s base together would mean they no longer have anything to do but fence repair and PTA meetings at Henry’s school. This could have been some good, crunchy, interesting character stuff in all directions.

It also basically shit on all the promise of emotional payoff that gets built into horrible situations for characters. I gritted my teeth and kept watching through all the horrific, rapey, awful shit she had to deal with regarding Quinn because I wrongly trusted the writers to give it some kind of decent resolution.

Sometimes it’s good to challenge the audience expectation if you can do something creative and even better with it. If you can take it somewhere new. If you can show there’s a reason for it, a promise that this is going to lead us on an even more wild ride. But the reason audience expectation is a thing is your audience is trusting you to tell them a good story. The way you structure a story is creates those expectations, and you better have a damn good reason if you’re going to whip around and shit all over them.

The entire fucking second season for Sunny and Veil was about a build up to their reunion—Veil surviving, escaping and failing, doing everything she could to just keep herself and Henry alive, while all the time Sunny tried to make it back to her. Their romance is one of the major emotional engines of the show—seeing if love can survive in dire circumstances, if people can keep their families together as the world falls apart around them.

Apparently the answer is no.

Killing off a woman while a man watches in horror is not new. A woman sacrificing herself while her man watches helplessly is not new. These are old, overdone, lazy tropes that reduce female characters to sacred items the men can get upset about is not new, or interesting, or a novel direction. Veil, who had her own internal life and was amazing, deserves better than to be stuffed in the refrigerator with so many other women.

Her death was a lazy betrayal, a failure of creativity, and no good narrative reason was offered. It feels like someone trying to be edgy by playing a nasty trick on an unsuspecting victim.

Sorry, it doesn’t make you edgy. It just makes you an asshole.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

katsu: (Default)

Finally I got to see this movie. And it was everything advertised on the tin, bigger and sillier and more explodey than Furious 7. These have now become my favorite superhero movies. Sorry Marvel. But while none of Dom’s team runs around in colorful spandex, there’s absolutely no pretense at them being ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The sly wink at Dwayne Johnson’s power of super strength and toughness tells us what this really is. And they’re superhero movies that have no pretensions about being serious, but still manage to have a solid emotional core because goddamnit, the cast is still utterly solid.

(Spoilers, obvs.)

I could basically write a thousand words that’s nothing but high-pitched squeeing, but let me tell you my eight favorite things:

  1. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) coaching his daughter’s soccer team and leading the girls in a haka. If you are having a bad day, this will instantly cure your sadness.
  2. Deckard (Jason Statham) doing an extended action sequence in which he takes out a bunch of goons in an airplane while juggling the world’s most adorable baby. I did not even know that Jason Statham + Baby was a combination that worked, but now I need it in my life.
  3. Deckard and Hobbs having a whirlwind romance in which they realize they have basically the same back story and bond adorably over it.
  4. Tej gets to drive a tank, okay.
  5. Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) is still in, and I love how she deals with both Tej and Roman trying to get with her.
  6. The villain, Cipher (Charlize Theron) is a super manipulative white woman with blonde faux-dreds. (Seriously, she looks like she got imported directly from Boulder.) She comes in pretending to be an innocent lady just having car trouble to hook in Dom, and then gets creepier from there — while still playing the “this is your choice to make” card constantly to force Dom to be complicit in everything that happens. Considering her opponents are a racially diverse team with a token white guy (Jason Statham) (not counting Nobody or Little Nobody here) it feels like deliciously pointed commentary.
  7. Deckard and Hobbs in prison and metaphorically pissing on each other’s shoes is also delightful. The level at which this movie doesn’t take itself seriously, and pokes fun at itself, is high in this scene.
  8. Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is still taking absolutely zero shit, and while she does not kick anyone’s ass while wearing high heels this time, she feeds someone to a submarine propeller and it’s acceptably satisfying.

You’ll note that I don’t really mention Dom, because he’s… kind of there. He’s the motivating force for everything happening, and while I understand that his Wrinkled Brow of Stern Manpain was necessary, it didn’t engage me the same way watching Deckard and Hobbs yell at each other did. Sorry, Dom. The manly man hero is often the least interesting character out there.

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.


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Tetsugawa Katsuhiro

September 2017

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