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On Personas

For those not in the know, a gaming convention recently invited as Author Guest of Honor a science fiction writer. Said writer had, as a result of his actions (see: Sad Puppies) developed a reputation for being a jerk on-line. When some sponsors and exhibitors at said convention heard about this author's invite, they contacted the organizer, who promptly uninvited the author. A bog-standard Internet tempest in a teacup ensued. Herewith, some thoughts.

1) As Jim Hines and Wesley Chu noted, saying somebody who is a jerk on the Internet is nice in real life is not a defense. The Internet is also part of real life.

2) My addition to #2 above that is if somebody is a jerk on the Internet and nice in real life, one of those aspects is an act. Personally, I think much like in vino, veritas in Internet, truth. Basically, in person there are consequences to being a jerk, but on the Internet one can let one's flag fly.

3) As Camestros Felapton says, people who run cons are inviting guests for their public persona. A guest at a con is in fact a dancing monkey, there to entertain the crowd, and the guest's public (including Internet) persona is part of their public persona.

4) As remarked on in various places, the author and their supporters are doing no favors for their cause by whining about these events. Simply put, con-runners now have yet another reason to not invite the author.

5) Having said that, the con should have done a better job of checking on their guests. A quick Google of the author's name would have flagged the potential problems.

(cross-posted to Facebook)

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/695529.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

It's Not How Hard You Try...

The famous basketball coach Bobby Knight is alleged to have said, "it's not how hard you try, it's how hard you prepare." Now, Coach Knight spent most of his career at Indiana University, arch-rivals to my alma mater the University of Illinois, so I'm not a big fan of the coach. But, to give the devil his due, Coach Knight is right on with this one.

I was reminded of this because I just finished reading a book entitled Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812. It's an academic book, intended for professional historians, but I found it quite engaging. Relevant to this post is a quote by a British admiral who was in charge of Royal Navy operations in this area. He said in a report back to England, "this country couldn't be more unprepared for war."

The admiral should know - he spent the summers of 1813 and 1814 sailing up and down the Chesapeake Bay (and pretty much every river, creek, and kinda-wet piece of ground around the bay) looting and burning. Heatstroke, heart attacks and accidents caused way more casualties then the Americans, largely because either the militia wasn't where he was or if they were, they immediately beat feet elsewhere.

The militia ran because they were completely unprepared. Facing veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, the Americans had no ships, few artillery pieces, a shortage of muskets and no training. Command was divided among two state militias, the US Navy, the US Army, and the independent Flotilla Service. The three "professional" military organizations were ill-equipped and with the exception of the Flotilla Service poorly-led.

As a result of this lack of preparation, not much could be done to stop the British from going where they wished and doing what they wanted to. But perhaps more importantly, this lack of preparation meant that much of what could be done wasn't. A sense of helplessness and futility pervaded the US defenders, such that simple things like stationing artillery at natural choke-points wasn't even attempted.

The only exception to this was the defense of Baltimore, and that was in large part because the City of Baltimore had made significant independent efforts to defend themselves. In war, in business, in life, prior preparation leads to improved performance.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/695274.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Incels, Nazis and Entitlement

John Scalzi is running a Reader Request Week on his site, and on request, he decided to hit the "incel" movement with a large stick. If you don't know what "incel" means, it's short for "involuntary celibacy" and is used by a group of white men who aren't having enough sex with women they consider hot. Herewith, some thoughts.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Hitler and the Nazi Party had some legitimate grievances with the then-current order of things. However, their horrible, bad and no-good response to those grievances mean that, almost 80 years after the start of WWII, just saying "the Nazis had legitimate grievances" is mildly controversial.

Thus unto the incels. It's no accident that the people who adopt that label are the same demographic that brought you 99 of the past 100 mass shootings. These white males have chosen to wrap their grievances in the same Cloak of Entitlement that Joe Mass Shooter uses for his. Their theory is "I am owed this by society and if they don't give it to me I will punish society." The difference between Joe Mass Shooter and Joe Incel is that the later has a specific want, namely hot and cold running sex on demand, while the former's wants are more vague.

It's no accident that one of the first things to happen in an AA meeting is everybody individually saying "I'm an alcoholic." That's the first step in addressing the problem - recognizing it as a problem with yourself. Until that happens, little can be done to help the sufferer. Until somebody founds "Incels Anonymous" and people start joining, all society can do is penalize bad behavior when we see it.

Ross Douthat emitted an article on the subject. What his article missed was that society has always had incels. What's changed is the criterion for becoming one. In societies where women were the property of men, a man of sufficient stature would be provided a woman. I (unfortunately) mean "provided" in the most literal sense, in that some family would decide that offering their daughter in marriage made sense, regardless of the daughter's opinion in the matter. Men who were not of sufficient stature were left out in the cold.

In short, then, the incel movement will get no help because they have become so toxic as to be unapproachable.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/694947.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


writing and energy

Mary Robinette Kowal wrote that sometimes writer's block is depression. I don't have depression, but I can attest to the fact that sometimes writer's block is due to external factors.

Last year, for a variety of reasons including the drain of sleep apnea, my writing output slowly sputtered to a complete stop. Then, for another variety of reasons including my new best friend Mister CPAP Machine, suddenly I was able to crank out ~15,000 words and finish a novel.

The bottom line - if you can't write, determine why and fix it.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/694606.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Comes news today that the Golden State Killer has been captured. The suspect, a 73-year-old former police officer, was a genuine piece of work, as you can read at the link.

What's fascinating about this story is the rest of the story. The killer was the subject of the book I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. The book was a significant help in finding the killer, and it's from that book we get the killer's nom-de-murder.

What's more interesting is that the author, Michelle McNamara, was born and raised in Illinois and married a famous actor, Patton Oswalt, then died suddenly at the age of 46. The book was released posthumously and very recently. If you put all of that in a novel, it would be rejected.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/694384.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


I Was A Member of the "Deep State"

Various conservative sites, Fox News, and President Trump (not that there's much daylight between these entities) are concerned that the "deep state" is trying to overthrow Trump. Well, I was a member of that "deep state" so I have thoughts.

Many years and many pounds ago, I was a commissioned officer in the US Navy. On commissioning, I took the following oath:

I, Chris Gerrib, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

You will note that nothing in that oath says a damn thing about the President of the United States. It charges me to protect the Constitution against all enemies "foreign and domestic." That's the same general oath taken by all government officials, including the President.

The deep state is what prevents us from sliding into dictatorship. The dirty little truth about any dictatorship is it's not just one man. All sorts of people are needed to implement even a small dictatorship. So here in the USA, we swear not to a person but to an ideal. And if a person isn't living up to that ideal, we are obligated to act.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/694245.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


I am gobsmacked, gobsmacked I tell you, at the antics of various public figures the past few days. For example:

1) Sean Hannity - Mr. Hannity has spent months defending Donald Trump, including decrying the raid on Trump's attorney. Yet never once did Hannity mention that he's used said attorney for his own legal matters. Now, since Cohen (the attorney) had all of three (3)!!! clients, common sense would suggest that one might want to mention their involvement. I mean, if Cohen had had dozens of clients, it might not be as much of an issue. But three?

2) John Ringo - per File 770, John Ringo was invited to a convention then, when people decided they weren't going to a convention that featured him, he was disinvited. Allegedly this was in part due to death threats. For a self-proclaimed tough guy and military vet, Mr. Ringo seems lacking in testicular fortitude.

3) Jon Del Arroz - here, we have an author that's publicly trolled people on the Internet filing suit to gain access to a private event that banned him due to trolling. Whatever happened to the freedom of association? It seems again we have a case where "what's good for thee is not good for me."

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/693859.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Black Panther

On Friday, like most Americans, I watched the TV news report as we bombed empty buildings in Syria. (The attacks hit at approximately 4 AM local time.) Today, I attended a matinee showing of the movie Black Panther. I think I understand now why the movie is making money hand over fist, and is still in theaters weeks after its release.

So, the movie (in as spoiler-free version as possible) is about a mythical and very high-tech African country of Wakanda. The movie has plenty of explosions, car chases, fight scenes and sense of wonder visuals, but it goes deeper than that. In what other movies would be the key point but here is secondary, the villain is portrayed as exceptionally sympathetic and not the usual mustache-twirling empty costume. But where it gets really deep is with the plot. The key plot points are two: first, is one's loyalty to the country or the person running it and second, should more advanced nations help those less advanced and if so, how?

The first plot point resonated very strongly with me, because it was Trump's election to the Presidency done in Technicolor and Surround-Sound. An outsider and manifestly unfit becomes ruler of Wakanda by perfectly legitimate means. All the characters must then decide if they support the ruler because Rules or oppose the ruler because Ideals of the Country.

The second plot point comes from this. You've never heard of Wakanda because much of that high-tech is used to hide the country from everybody. The central question facing this cast of black actors with a token white guy is whether to continue hiding or step out into the world. If the later, how should this stepping out be undertaken?

And here's where I tie it to Syria. Syria is a mess, Bashar al-Assad is a wart on the ass of prosperity, and he's backed by Putin, the Napoleon III of Russia. What to do? So far, our response has boiled down to telling Assad he can kill as many of his people as he likes with bullets but if he uses chemical weapons we'll bomb some empty buildings. Oh, and no, we're not open for Syrian refugees, thanks - try Canada.

So in both the movie and reality, an incompetent person attempts to fix a complex problem and makes a hash of it. Go see the movie to learn how it ends. I'm still waiting for reality to catch up.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/693609.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Cold Spring Update

Various items, related only by being in one mind (mine):

Item The First:

I was stuck at the car dealership. My car was diagnosed with an electrical short which was blowing out a turn signal bulb. It later turned out to be a defective replacement bulb, and was replaced at no charge under warranty. Unfortunately, Fox News was on the TV in the waiting room. I learned that:
1) Illegal immigrants are coming to murder you in your sleep
2) the House needs to know why anybody would investigate Trump
3) you should buy gold because the aged actor who's shilling it needs the money

Item the Second

On my errands today, I had need of a bathroom. So I stopped at a hotel I'm familiar with (upscale place) walked in, did my business and left. Nobody in hotel staff made any attempt to validate that I had a reason to be there. Now, I'm a white dude of a certain age and was wearing a collared shirt (international uniform of 'businessman on a travel day') but still, it's very difficult to secure public spaces.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/693337.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Hugos, announcing finalists thereof

There is yet another controversy in SF fandom, namely when to announce the finalists. There is a long-standing tradition in fandom of making said announcements on a Saturday and having a big production at as many conventions as possible. This year's committee is following tradition, and announcing the finalists this Saturday.

The problem is, this Saturday is Easter weekend (for western Christians - the Orthodox go next week) and Passover. It's not usually a good day to find a reporter, and for religious reasons a lot of people just aren't going to be paying attention. In media matters, releasing news after business hours on Friday is a good way to bury said news.

Having said that, per the Con Chair's statement, it looks like they will have at least some media coverage. Good on them. I still hope that we get away from the Saturday schedule and release the news at a better time.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/693119.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Deep Thought - Military

I was at the gym yesterday. It's one of those big box structures, and they have a row of big-screen TVs facing a lineup of treadmills and workout bikes. One of the TVs was tuned to Fox News, and I could tell from the video that they were having vapors over Russia's new hypersonic cruise missile. Now, said missile sounds formidable, and I have no idea if the hype is real. I note that, especially when budget time comes, there is a tendency to declare your enemy 8 feet tall and bullet-proof. But here's my deep thought, and it applies to militaries in general.

The US Navy is like a football team that always practices but never plays a game. It's been so long since they played, in fact, that even the coaches haven't coached a game, and only a handful of them have been in a game as players. It's the inexperienced leading the inexperienced.

In the US's case, the last time we did play a game (WWII), we won it by long passes and field-goal kicking (carrier aviation and landing Marines). So that's what we practice. Since the last big game, we've occasionally entered a long-pass contest or a field-goal contest (wars where we bombed stuff from carriers and/or landed Marines).

To make matters worse, the enemy has seen our practices and been to some of these contests. They get to write their plays specifically to oppose us.

Here's the good news. They haven't played a game in a long time either! In both the Russian and Chinese cases, their naval experience is very slim to non-existent.

As somebody said, everybody has a plan until you get hit in the nose. Or as somebody else said, the plan in the first casualty on contact with the enemy.

Here endeth the lesson.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/692962.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Monday Update

I had a quiet weekend and spent most of today out-of-pocket, so this will be a brief update. It will, in fact, consist of three Tweet-level thoughts.

Thought 1 - Assault Weapons

I am and remain a gun owner. Having said that, I agree with the tweet I saw (originally from Elizabeth Bear): "here are two reasons for a private citizen to want an assault rifle. 1) to kill a lot of people as conveniently as possible. 2) because it's a neat toy." To expound on that, neither reason is protected by the Constitution.

Thought 2 - March for our Lives

I am amazed (well, not really) at how badly the NRA and their associates are showing their asses regarding the organizers of last weekend's anti-gun marches. Calling them "crisis actors" (and WTF is a "crisis actor" in the first place) and all the other slights seem almost deliberately aimed at making the NRA look like a mustache-twirling villain in a grade-Z movie.

Thought #3 - Children of the Divide

Over the weekend I finished the third of Patrick S. Tomlinson's novels, Children of the Divide. In it, Tomlinson tuckerizes another writer of my acquaintance, Adam Rakunas, and tells an interesting story of two species living together on one planet. It appears that Tomlinson left himself room for more books in the series, which I don't see forthcoming. In any event, it's well worth a read, and since it's set 18 years after the other two books, should stand alone.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/692614.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Finally bit the bullet

For personal reasons that I'm not quite ready to discuss yet, I've had a busy past couple of days. Largely as a result of those aforementioned personal reasons, part of my busyness was because I finally bit the bullet and bought Office 365.

I have allergies to renting software, largely because that means I can get evicted or, almost as bad, see a feature I like get "improved" into uselessness. However, I needed a calendar and contact for my iPhone, and going 365 was the least painless way to accomplish that. Yeah progress?

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/692400.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Weekend Culture Vulture Thoughts

Thoughts on various cultural things absorbed this month:

1) Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Mary Stuart: I saw this play over the weekend. It did a very good job of making the titular character, a woman who had her second husband murdered so she could marry #3, sympathetic. Although in fairness to Mary, she was queen of Scotland, a place so poor that she couldn't afford guards or spies. She was also a virtual foreigner, having been raised in France. The play also did a nice bit on how Elizabeth ruled by chaos.

2) Murder on the Orient Express: I watched the latest movie version of this on pay-per-view. There are things which sound like good ideas but aren't, and a movie version of this novel is one of them. It sounds like a good idea to have a collection of strong actors in a confined space, but you end up with a bunch of people chewing scenery.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/692222.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Vacations Booked

Yesterday, I made plans for my vacations for the rest of the year. On the week before Memorial Day, I will be visiting (I'm told) lovely Door County, Wisconsin. That's one week before their official start of the tourist season, so hopefully the crowds will be a little lighter while everything that will open has opened.

In September, I will be attending the Writing Excuses Retreat and Cruise. I'm not particularly a fan of cruising in the Caribbean in late September AKA "hot" and "hurricane season" but I am fond of the retreat. Also, I get an alumni discount and time to write.

Both vacations should be relatively inexpensive. Southwest has cheap flights to Houston and I'm driving to Door County. In Door County, I'm staying in a condo so I'll bring up some groceries and eat in at least for breakfast. Next year is the expensive trip - Dublin Worldcon, for which I just bought the attending membership.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/691916.html. Please comment there using OpenID.



There were no zombies, or at least if there were they stayed in the bushes, so I got to the gym yesterday. In one of life's little ironies, two acquaintances of mine died in circumstances related to the gym. One of them, Lee Robertson, a Woodridge Rotarian, died at the gym of a heart attack. The other one, a guy known only to me as Mark, was a regular at my gym and he died Wednesday of an infection. I'm not in the mood for the perhaps obvious joke.

In other news, Friday is usually a day for me to stay late at work. Today, it's not - I've got tickets to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Mary Stuart. It's a 7:30 show at Navy Pier, so I need to be on the road soon-ish.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/691504.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The Gym!

It appears that, short of the zombie apocalypse, I will actually go to the gym three times this week. Now, in fairness to sleep apnea, it doesn't take much to persuade me to skip a gym session, but my CPAP has removed one more of my objections. Go me!

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/691367.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


There is an area retail business which I shall not name that is being ran into the ground by the owner. It's a shame, really. The business has a good location and an adequate physical plant. (The place could use a new carpet and some paint, but there's nothing structural wrong with it.) There's no immediate competition, and a nice built-in market.

Yet they are failing. In part, this is due to a lack of consistency. They've had a series of managers and employees, resulting in wide swings in product quality and availability. The owner closed a revenue-producing section of the place for no apparent reason. What's worse, he's now kept his current hours but some of those hours have reduced services. Nothing pisses off a customer more than to walk into a place that's open but be told "we don't do X on these days."

As a result, the owner appears to be attempting to strong-arm more money out of existing customers. This attempt failed with a customer of my acquaintance, resulting in further lost business. The spiral continues downward.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/691125.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
I'm sorry this blog is becoming "all CPAP, all the time" but damn is the change dramatic. It's almost as fast as the healing abilities of Doctor McCoy on Star Trek. On Tuesday, according to my gee-whiz sleep tracking app (yes, Virginia, you might be getting old if you need an app to track your sleep) I've gone from 17 airway "events" per hour on Tuesday to 6.5 events per hour last night. Also per the tracker, I had the mask off all of 4 times last night vs. 10 on Tuesday.

More importantly, I feel better - more alert, awake and energetic. Modern medicine can be a wonderful thing.

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/690771.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


So I slept again with the CPAP. This time I had only one real wake up call, a 2 AM bladder-break. But boy did I have dreams. The 2 AM wake up call involved me actually sitting on the side of the bed for a couple of minutes - long enough to wake up and realize I didn't have to dream about gathering up piles of zinc in order to go back to sleep! Considering I had gathered up all the zinc, this was a good thing. (No, I have no idea the significance of gathering any material, including zinc.)

I did have a brief episode around 4 am when my eyes popped open and I looked at the clock. In my dream, some angry construction workers were going to beat me up for reasons that were unclear at best. That episode ended with me saying "weird dream" and immediately going back to sleep. The alarm went off at 6:15 AM and I eventually got up. For the first time in a very long time I felt rested and awake instead of groggy!

Oh, and I did in fact read the manual for my CPAP machine last night. It's a highly-automated model and does pretty much everything except make breakfast the next morning. On review, I learned that the air pressure settings on CPAPs are measured in centimeters of water. One PSI = 70.307 centimeters of water (for those metrically-challenged, that's a column of water 2 feet high).

This entry was originally posted at https://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/690496.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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