Last weekend, I was on a panel at FogCon about invisible disabilities. I told this story for the first time.
After I’d been working at Apple for a while, I needed a handicap placard. I’ll go into why later.
Apple culture has had an “execs get a pass” culture as long as it’s been around. There’s a story (possibly apocryphal) that Jean-Louis Gassée once saw Steve Jobs park in a handicap space (long before SJ was seriously ill) and JLG quipped, “Being morally handicapped doesn’t count.”
Now, I knew that story before I started at Apple, but what I didn’t know was that more than just SJ got a pass.
At the time, I worked in Infinite Loop 3. There were 4 handicap spaces outside the building, and 3 underneath the building. For pretty much anyone handicapped, the spaces underneath the building were the better accommodation for reasons I’ll explain later.
An average of once every two weeks, there would be a car without a placard in one of those spaces. The first time it happened, I asked the building receptionist (at Apple, they are part of Security) what I should do. She said to give her the license plate #, so I did. In practice, it was easiest to do so by taking a photo on my phone. Over time, I got quite an iPhoto library of said license plates on one of my work computers.
If someone without a placard parked in the handicap space, there’s always the possibility it’s someone who actually needs the space (and the striped zone for a wheelchair)—and they’ve just managed to screw up somehow and forget to put their placard out. Anyone who’s had a placard for a long time has managed that once or twice. So, essentially, it means I was denied a space I was entitled to, and I didn’t know if I was denied for a good reason or a bad one.
Depressed that nothing was happening, I filed a complaint with HR about it.
It kept happening. I kept reporting it to the receptionist.
I go on vacation. Specifically, we go on a cruise. (April 2011, so Tim Cook was interim CEO)
When I come back, my manager pulls me into a meeting, but not a normal one-on-one kind of meeting. He says that while I was gone, some Apple exec got their car towed, and Scott Forstall was angry about it. The way my manager said it at first, I thought Forstall’s car had been towed. Maybe so.
I said, “I was in Morocco on that day. Would you like to see my passport?”
I was actually trying not to laugh at the whole situation, because, looking at it from the point of view of my frustration, it was pretty hilarious.
So I pointed out that there were three handicap spots under the building, and there were three handicapped people using those spaces every single day. Some days, one of us would have to use the outside spaces because another handicapped person was visiting our building.
My manager, I had noticed, was not at all clued into mobility issues. He bicycle commuted from Santa Cruz. Over the mountains. Hardcore stuff. That doesn’t prohibit understanding, of course, but it sure seemed to elude him.
My manager said, and I wish I were kidding, “Well, couldn’t you park in one of the handicap spots in another building?”
I was so gobsmacked, I couldn’t even form curse words in my head. What I wanted to say was, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
So, in order to protect the able-bodied special snowflakes and save them two minutes, I’m supposed to put myself at risk?
What I was aware was that I didn’t need to share the specific details of my disability, so I did not. What I did, however, was say how much accommodation I actually required. I pointed out that I wasn’t in a wheelchair, so I didn’t need the striped part of the space. So if they parked in the stripe zone next to my car (and not next to the car owned by the dude in a wheelchair or the person I didn’t know), I’d know the regular part of the handicap space was available for me.
Which started happening.
Instead of Apple accommodating the disabled properly, I accommodated the able-bodied.
My manager detailed a different way of reporting violations that cc’ed some honcho in facilities, but I never needed to use it. Not long after that, my group moved to City Center, where there were not only green parking spaces (which I could use), but there were also more handicap spaces.
There are a lot of reasons people get handicap placards, and mine is a fairly common reason. When I was shopping one day, my leg suddenly went numb. Terrified, I went to sit in my car (using a shopping cart for support to get there) while I waited for the others to finish shopping. As I sat, the numbness went away.
Turns out, I’ve had a defective lower back for some time, it’s just now gotten bad enough that that happens, and I never know when it’ll happen, how quickly or how fully numb my leg will become (sometimes it’s just slightly tingly), or how much time I have until I actually fall. Because it happens, it makes it unsafe for me to walk across traffic (which is why the outdoor spaces were a significantly worse accommodation, especially since drivers tended to speed around that end of the Infinite Loop oval).
On the other hand, continuing to walk really is my best long-term strategy.
I’m also significantly stiffer in the morning (every morning), and being that much closer really did make it easier to get into the office every single day. The accommodation was important.
In addition to falling, one of the other side effects is extreme pain if I stand too long on hard surfaces, and “too long” can be a minute or twenty. I don’t know until the pain hits. In this case, the pain flare usually precedes numbness, but again, I don’t know how long I have for that, either.
Which brings us neatly to the next section….
My third (and final) manager at Apple believed in the so-called stand-up meeting. For me, that’s an inherently problematic name to call a meeting when you have a mobility impaired person as a part of your staff, though I’m all for the concept of more frequent shorter meetings. It excluded me by its very title.
A good manager might actually come to the new staff member being transfered into the group (as I was) and ask if there’s any accommodation that needed to be made. Which didn’t happen.
A good manager might actually invite the mobility impaired person to the daily meeting. Which didn’t happen. Really.
Only quite a few weeks later did I hear about it from one of my coworkers, but I thought it was a new thing. Turns out it wasn’t, I was just forgotten. In a company where physical presence is as important as it is at Apple, that can cause huge perception issues.
Now, I will grant you: people are mobility impaired in different ways. Some people need to stand instead of sit, and regular meetings are hard for them, so a stand-up meeting better accommodates their needs. For those who need to stand, Apple provides standing desks as an ergonomic accomodation. And I did make a point of standing some every day at mine.
Still, if you’ve got meetings where most people stand, really try to make the person who has to sit comfortable and feel like they’re really a part of the team and not just some fucking afterthought. (Likewise, the reverse for the reverse situation.)
I don’t know how common the execs parking in handicap spaces problem is in other companies (I’d never encountered it before), but it’s surprising that it survived that long at Apple. Much as I liked Tim Cook’s statement about not comsidering the ROI of catering to blind users, it left me even angrier about my own treatment when I was at Apple.
When will people who can’t walk or have difficulty walking be as fully human to Apple?
…is when indigenous words show up in dictionaries show up with derivations that are non-indigenous.
Today’s example: mosquito
ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Spanish and Portuguese, diminutive of mosca, from Latin musca ‘fly.’
And where did the Spanish get it?
(See also: desert.)
Ahh, didn’t expect to ragequit transcribing my notes from Nicaragua.
Kilauea, of course.
Except for being resized, these are straight out of camera. Taken in 2010. These were taken with a wide-angle (28mm) lens half a minute apart.
We don’t know each other, but we have something in common: a former relationship with Scientology. Only I didn’t grow up at its centre, then in East Grinstead, Sussex, the way you did. I got in when I was 18.
I read your piece Storms and how they start, and I get that Jonathan Ross is your friend. That isn’t a problem for me. What is a problem? Is failure to understand that your friend was always a problematic choice for hosting the Hugos, which I will get to.
One of the problems of the culture of Scientology is that you’re not supposed to talk about things that other people do to upset you, lest you yourself get told to get to Ethics and write up everything you’ve done. Or, worse, have to pay for a bunch of sessions to “handle” the whole thing. It takes the stiff upper lip thing to the next level, so it’s hard to hear a bunch of complaints and realize there is legitimacy to them.
Your dad was one of the most problematic people in Scientology. He ordered false information put in US security agency computers. He was involved, though not to the point of being an unindicted co-conspirator, in Operation Snow White, the largest civilian intrusion into US government systems to date. He took over for Jane Kember after she was convicted. Your dad, as Public Relations official for the Scientology’s Guardian’s Office Worldwide, was involved in cleaning up L. Ron Hubbard’s PR disasters, such as the chain locker abuses on the ships, particularly the incidents involving children. One disaster was throwing Mary Sue Hubbard under the bus after she was convicted in Operation Snow White. (She arguably got the best treatment by Hubbard of any of his wives.)
But still—David Gaiman was your dad.
However, better is relative here. I think the statement you made about your affiliation with Scientology (“As a child, I suppose I was as much a Scientologist as I was Jewish, which is to say it was the family religion. Am I now? No.”) was disingenuous given that a) you married a Scientologist before (not Amanda, obviously) and b) non-Scientologists don’t fork over $35,000 for obscure religious level contributions of benefit only to long-standing Scientologists. Sure, I believe you’re not a Scientologist now.
Still, that conditioning is hard to break. Hubbard and David Gaiman, among others, developed strategies specifically for silencing critics. So I can’t help but wonder if there’s a part of you still stuck in the “what are your crimes?” victim-blaming of critics that your father perfected.
Given that kind of a background, I can understand why you might have overlooked why Jonathan Ross was a problematic choice.
The best explanation I’ve read is Patton Oswalt’s post about rape jokes:
In fact, every viewpoint I’ve read on this, especially from feminists, is simply asking to kick upward, to think twice about who is the target of the punchline, and make sure it isn’t the victim.
Now, with that in mind, let’s look at these ten moments of Jonathan Ross’s. I’ll pick three.
- Heather Mills: kicking downward.
- Ethnic minorities at work: kicking downward.
- Madonna: kicking downward about her child.
What the people tweeting didn’t like? They didn’t want a Hugo announcer to kick downward. They had a reasonable fear that he would.
Look, I get that comedians tend to go too far. It’s how they find out where the edges are. But as a culture, SF/F fandom is still trying to cope with how to stop kicking downward. For that reason, Ross was simply the wrong choice. Oswalt again:
We bomb all the time. We go too far all the time. It’s in our nature. [...]
I’m a man. I get to be wrong. And I get to change.
What I’d like, Neil, is for you to consider one thing: maybe the people who objected to Ross had a valid point. And maybe you just didn’t see that point while reeling at the backlash.
It’s not too late to look again in a new unit of time.
I’m going to go out on what seems to be a wildly unpopular limb here and say this: asking a developer to write an implementation of a sort algorithm is almost certainly a bad job interview question.
Why? Because you’re likely not hiring someone to write implementations of sort algorithms. Even if you were, they probably would not be writing optimized code in a job interview situation, so what’s it really testing?
Problem solving skills aren’t universal, nor does the ability/inability or inclination/disinclination to solve one kind of problem necessarily reflect one’s overall skills. Or lack thereof.
Remember that the person being interviewed is also interviewing you and deciding whether they want to work with you or not. If you ask a coding question that’s more directly relevant to the job at hand, then they will have a better sense of what it is you do every day—and whether that’s something they want to do, too. You’re engaging them in your problem space, not asking something they may or may not warm to even if they’d love the job you’re interviewing for.
For example, in an interview I went on once upon a time, the interviewer said, “We have this problem, and I’d like to see how you approach it.” So it was a supportive, shared, coding question. I had questions about some aspects of the requirements, which the interviewer then answered. That was a great interview approach.
I’ve come to dread the sort interview questions. Frankly, it’s not a part of programming I enjoy. I like the fact that other people think about sort implementations. Yay, diversity.
I remember once, I think it was 2005, having re-reviewed all the common sort algorithms, then flown to a job interview. The question: “How would you write a shuffle algorithm?”
I remember that instant of total frustration far more than anything else from the interview.
My answer was something like: create a hash of something like a random seed from the current time plus some aspect of the information you had about the song (since it was about shuffling songs) like the title, and then sort the hashes. I have no idea if that’s a good answer, but it’s what I came up with at the time.
Using a different field, asking someone who’s applying for a general application programmer to write a sort implementation is like interviewing for a job as a Cosmo article writer and being asked to produce a sonnet in the job interview. (With the added bonus of live critique questioning your choices.)
Now that’s not to say that knowing how to write sonnets isn’t a cool skill. It is.
But let’s look at what an article writer needs skill at that a sonnet writer doesn’t:
- Ability to write whole sentences
- On time
- Correct length (sonnets have a lines/syllable count, but what an article writer needs is correct amount of space on the page, which is an entirely different form of length requirement)
- On correct subject
- Supports advertisers
- Current and relevant
- Literal language
What skills a sonnet writer needs that an article writer doesn’t:
- A feel for syllables
- Exhaustive vocabulary (because poetry readers will look up words but Cosmo readers almost certainly won’t)
- How to write something timeless
- The ability to fiddle until it’s “just so”
- Metaphorical language
99.9% of all people making their living as writers aren’t writing poetry. 99.9% of the rest write greeting cards for money. The other two are poetry professors. Random aside: did you know Cupertino has a poet laureate?
99.9% of all software engineers making a living as such aren’t writing implementations of sort algorithms or developing new sort algorithms as their job.
Ask more relevant questions.
In 2010, with a steadily growing backlist and fan base, my income turned us from sweating over every dollar to being able to go out to a nice dinner (not terribly expensive, just not “fries with that”), and in 2011, the royalties roughly equaled what I’d been making at my previous day job. In 2012, it doubled. In 2013, it doubled again. It’s entirely possible the pattern will continue in 2014.
Another pull quote:
As of right now, Aleks has 32 books on Amazon. Between my two pen names, I have 66. It’s not just novels, either. We both have short stories and novellas, which frequently don’t make it into print except in collections or magazines. Those collections and magazines tend to pay token amounts if at all — contributor’s copies are common — whereas I’ve made over $8,000 from a novella published in 2011. Aleks and I co-wrote a short story that was released last year and has made each of us just under $2,000.
In 2008 I sold a book-in-progress for $200,000 ($170,000 after commission, to be paid in four installments), which still seems to me like a lot of money. At the time, though, it seemed infinite. The resulting book—a “paperback original,” as they’re called—has sold around 8,000 copies, which is about a fifth of what it needed to sell not to be considered a flop. This essentially guarantees that no one will ever pay me that kind of money to write a book again.
Having only one book and having its marketing be at the mercy of a big house’s ad budget is having no Plan B. Lori’s plan B was to write more words. That has been really successful for her—she’s made most of her living writing gay romance and is now making four times her old day job doing it. Granted, it took her a while to wind up, but go look at the titles on her site and count up how many, many words she published.
Note that these two women are talking about publishing in approximately the same timespan, and both are talking different forms of traditional publishing. Most of Lori’s titles are digital first, and many are digital only. She’s self-published a couple of items off her backlist.
As a random geeky aside, I love the fact that the number 8,000 figures in both stories in very different ways.
This page is not affiliated with authorearnings.com. Rails app to generate this can be found on GitHub. Some earlier charts are here.
Table columns are percentiles: 25% means that, if you line everyone up in order, 25% made that or less.
Self-Published Earnings, 2013
Traditionally-Published Earnings, 2013
Self-Published Earnings by # Books Self-Published
Traditional Earnings by # Books Traditionally Published
Self-Published Earnings by Cover Art Type
|Hire a Pro||500||5000||35000||113232||250000||13000000|
Self-Published Earnings by Editor Type
|Friends & Family||150||1200||12000||70000||100000||567000|
Context: this post from Cassie Alexander.
Cassie, I’ve known you for a long time. We’ve spent nights writing in chat, on Twitter, at conventions, all kinds of things. I remember you bringing your (impressively large) box of rejection letters to BayCon one year before you had a pro sale.
I love you so much I even set foot in a Scientology building for you (because I said I’d be there for you for Writers of the Future) even though I hadn’t done that in many years.
I’m sorry that St. Martin’s has dropped your series, which I’ve loved. (And I feel guilty that I didn’t do as much as I’d have liked to help promote it, and I’m a shitty friend that way. Sorry.)
I’ve never known anyone as dedicated to their art as you are. You’ve written nine novels in the same time I’ve written four (and a half). I keep getting novel ideas, though, and series ideas.
The early days of self-publishing (via POD) were fraught with peril. I remember when I worked at Kepler’s that we wouldn’t order them because they were often so poorly produced (and I’m not just talking badly edited, I mean the covers would fall off, etc.) that they were just too problematic.
The world has changed, though. The production values on POD are now indistinguishable from traditional printing, and e-books have available samples, so there’s little risk. Now you can look and determine if it really is something you want to buy.
There’s a very, very real market and some good strategies for reaching it. And, I’m finding out, that the strategies that work for that are those that don’t work for the traditional market at all.
One of the problems with The Dip is that you tend to look at your failures, but not your successes. Losing a book contract is a hardcore dip point.
What’s easy to overlook is that you’ve had amazing success as a writer. You were contracted to write a five-book series—and you did. Four of the volumes are in print and one will be out soonish.
Moving on to Indie Publishing
A few thoughts:
- Out:think has some great resources. Read everything.
- Reading all the email I got from Out:think led me to start reading Write. Publish. Repeat. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far it’s an amazing book.
Many of the successful indie authors have an seasonal/episodic approach to books. It’s a familiar paradigm in this culture of TV viewers. Instead of one longer novel, the books are novella length, and released as episodes. A season is often six episodes. Because they’re novella length, three makes a nice size paperback.
So the marketing goes like this:
- Publish and sell episode 1.
- Temporarily drop the price (perhaps free) of episode 1 when episode 2 comes out.
- Temporarily drop the price (perhaps free) of episode 2 when episode 3 comes out.
- Create an omnibus of episodes 1-3. Create a print book to go with.
- Temporarily drop the price (perhaps free) of episodes 1-3 omnibus when episode 4 comes out.
- Temporarily drop the price (perhaps free) of episode 4 when episode 5 comes out.
- Temporarily drop the price (perhaps free) of episode 5 when episode 6 comes out.
- Create an omnibus of episodes 4-6. Create a print book to go with.
- Create an omnibus of episodes 1-6. Temporarily drop the price (perhaps free) of that when episode 7 (aka season 2, episode 1) comes out.
It’s rather brilliant, actually.
I was thinking about the whole idea of episodes, and, personally, I’m a fan of thirteen episodes to a season. Gives a great chance for reversals of fortune, too. Two six-episode arcs, a thirteen-episode arc, and a standalone in the middle.
The real point, though is to publish and market fairly consistently: have a predictable release schedule.
A Comment on “Real Writer”
But at the time, I thought, oh, no way, that’s too silly. I’m a Real Writer and I shouldn’t concern myself with smut…even though I happen to be perfectly good at writing it, heh!
Faruk Ateş raised the “real” issue on Twitter today, so I’m going to quote two of his tweets (the first not being aimed at you, obviously, it just gives context as he was wound up about someone’s writing):
“Real” as an attributive adjective has taken on the meaning of revealing that the author doesn’t know what they are talking about. link
“Real women” — meaningless; every woman is a real woman. “Real work” — no work is more “real” than any other. “Real game” — please shut up. link
It’s all real.
So do some cool stuff. I’ll be along for the ride.
- It’s easier to remove power lines by creating a path (using the pen tool) and stroking the path with the healing brush tool than the old way I used to do it. Yay. (I think this technique was added in CS5 or so.)
- I’d forgotten you could create a transparent gradient of an image. (See below)
- You can, if you want, combine two different images. One technique I used was to use a darker image over a lighter one and then use the lighten mask. Or vice-versa.
- Or, you know, you could pick a sunset one and a thin beam one from here and stack it several layers deep in photoshop (using the above techniques), fuss with it until it looks just so, edit out the stars (for sad and arcane reasons), and then you have this:
But first, new blog theme on deirdre.net! I just changed it late last night, so I haven’t lived with everything quite long enough to figure out what I want to change. I need to do some work on the covers on the front page (to make them all the same size and work better within the theme).
Computers & Technology
- WordPress security best practices (video of a conference session)
- Model View Culture print subscriptions A literary mag about the “intersection of tech, culture and diversity.”
- Atari computer demonstration, 1979. Woman in the ad, too, very progressive for that era.
- Five programming tips from a seven year old. Yep.
- They’re breaking ground at the new Apple campus already. Woohoo!
- SelfieCity analyzes all the selfies out there.
- One of my favorite people in the Ruby community, Jim Weirich, passed away suddenly. His last commit. He made me feel welcome.
Writing & Publishing
- How Long Is the Average Book? Also includes relative frequency of POV (1st/3rd), broken by genre. No 2nd breakdown, though that number is probably vanishingly small.
- Considering self-publishing? Out:think group has some really interesting stuff, much of it free. Hearing Tim talk about why he thinks some people’s Facebook and Twitter strategies don’t work is a breath of fresh air. Basically: the real strategy is to have a mailing list.
- SFWA thing post from N. K. Jemisin. “But you don’t get to claim marginalization when you’re at the center of a thing.” If you’re tired of the SFWA train wreck, then just stick with that one pull quote.
- The semicolon’s breezy punctuality.
- Andrew O’Hagan on ghostwriting for Julian Assange. “It was exciting to think, in that very Jane Austen kind of house, that no novel had ever captured this new kind of history, where military lies on a global scale were revealed by a bunch of sleepy amateurs two foot from an Aga.” Note that this piece is 25,000 words, but it really does explain who Assange is. “I’ve never been with anybody who made me feel so like an adult. And I say that as the father of a ten-year-old.”
- How Olympic photographers get such stunning images
- XKCD, Slippery Slope
- The history of the Marber Grid, better known as the design ratios used in Penguin books of olde.
(http://society6.com/zeruch/the-liason_Pillow#25=193&18=126) (SFW abstract).
- VHS vs. Communism Sometimes, we forget the power of art, especially when it’s not Art. This is why.
- Tatyana Fazlalizadeh wages an artistic war against street harassers.
- Photographer shoots one roll of film each week. This week features foggy San Francisco.
Science, Health, & Things Like That
- American Society of Breast Surgeons responds to Canada’s shocking recommendation against mammograms. I want to add that I’m really tired of the no-mammogram and no-PSA exam folks. Yes, there are some points to be made, but….
Rick and I had our portraits done by the awesome Scottish photographer John Parris, who was truly a delight to work with. Glad we could get him down under (when we ourselves were in the South Pacific) and out of the gloomy Scottish winter.
There are three solo portraits of me (for author photos), one solo picture of Rick, and three of us together.
…when you realize that places erupting into problem areas on the news are now more likely to be places you’ve been than places you’ve not.
- Istanbul (we were there last year just before and just after the worst of what happened)
- Ukraine (though Rick’s been to Kiev and I have not). This map helps explain what parts of the Ukraine are protesting and why. Since we’ve been to the Baltic region of Ukraine, that would be the area that’s not protesting. Also: recommendation for a 30-minute video to watch to give context to the Ukraine crisis.
- Venezuela (though I haven’t been in quite a few years)
The first three? We were there last year.
We went to three Ukranian cities last year: Odessa, Yalta, and Sevastopol/Balaklava. Loved them.
I’m going to do three separate posts for the Ukraine, partly for @bobtiki.
First, the Primorsky Stairs, better known as the Potemkin Stairs because of the film Battleship Potemkin, give the optical illusion of being longer than they are. The bottom of these steps is the port where our ship called. There were quite a few people with birds there, and they’d let you hold (and be photographed) with the bird for a few Hryvna (though they’d also accept Euros and Dollars).
The city coat of arms is everywhere.
There are lots of lovely neoclassical buildings, some with great chandeliers.
Best related work: Fic by Anne Jamison, a history of fanfiction.
Best fan artist: Randall Munroe. Last cartoon of the year is 1311 and first of 2013 was 1155 (thank you @xkcdfeed). Three of note: 1158 (it’s all about physics), 1167 (Star Trek Into Darkness), 1177 (Time Robot). For those who feel he isn’t eligible, he was ruled eligible in 2011 and the rules have not changed. Further discussion here.
Best dramatic presentation, short form: Flying Tiare by Matthieu Courtois and Ludovic Allain. Made as a fan film for the airline’s 15th birthday, it’s a real look at the technology and work of commercial flying. The really cool part, though, is seeing someone go up into the jet engine and get to see the (running) engine from the inside.
I’d already posted a recommendation for: Short story: “The Slow Winter” by James Mickens, so just a reminder.
The Cambellian Anthology
The 2014 Cambellian Anthology is out! It features 860,000 words (eight-ish novels in size) from 111 different writers who are eligible for the Campbell award this year. Totally, completely free.
I want to offer my immense gratitude to Stupefying Stories for this. More than any other single award, I try to be well-read for the Campbell, and it used to be a real chore before Writertopia started keeping the eligibility list. Stupefying Stories took it to the next level with the clever idea to have an annual anthology.
Also, immense gratitude (and props) to the authors and publishers who’ve permitted their work to be included.
Special shout-out for Brooke Bolander, who is one of the eligible.
Best dramatic presentation, long form: Sharknado. As billed. Loved it, and I’m not normally up for this kind of thing. Definitely smarter than it had to be.
Based on seeing a friend’s pieces on Society6, I decided to start uploading photos there for sale in various forms. They have prints, iPhone cases, computer cases, pillows, tote bags, and stuff like that.
My first piece (my plan is to upload one per week) is called Iceplant.
I know, I know, it doesn’t look like iceplant, right? I prefer to think of it as iceplant in someone’s acid trip.
Actually, the photo is really of iceplant. Rick and I were walking around Pigeon Point Lighthouse one day. I had my finger on the shutter button, as you do, and misstepped, setting off the trigger. I got a lovely streaky blurry photo of a patch of iceplant.
Honestly, it really wasn’t very fetching, but there was something about it, so I played with it.
My friend Joe (zeruch) also has a shop on Society6, and I like this piece in particular. Note that some of his figurative work is NSFW, but I’ve linked to an abstract. I think it looks pretty awesome as a pillow or clock.
Last year, my reading habits shifted as I was looking to publish in another genre. As that genre happened to be romance, I read a whole bunch of female authors (some of whom may be female in pen name only, granted). To my knowledge, none of the authors I read last year fit in a non-binary category, though some of the works I read did.
Books read: 243
Books by female authors: 220
Books by male authors: 28
91% female authors
(Sum is greater than total because of co-authors, e.g., Witt & Voinov.)
Taken Nov 22, 2011. I drove as far south as one could go south from Pahoa, which is south of Hilo on the big island of Hawai’i. The road ends near Kalapana, then there’s a dirt road that other cars were going on, so I went too. (Never a great idea.)
The “dirt” road turns out to have been a paved road that lava flowed over. A few hundred feet back, there’s a bit of road again, leading out to a parking lot ending in a guard shack with a bunch of scary signs. I parked there and got out, went to the guard shack. He made sure I knew where the safe boundaries were and that I had water, sunscreen, and a hat.
Walking in the sun on a Hawai’ian day is brutal enough, but the black lava just soaks up heat. As if that weren’t enough, you’re not actually that far above the actual real hot lava flows that are probably radiating even more heat.
Despite my SPF 85 haole basting sauce, I managed to get a sunburn.
Oh, and I’d been very close, only a few hundred feet away, the year before. Here’s what the view looked like from offshore back on Nov 23, 2010:
Here are my core values:
- I believe that true communication can be healing for all parties. Catch is, true communication can be difficult at the best of times. In some cases, I will grant, it is impossible.
- I believe that name calling, whether it be twelve rabid weasels or unperson, or anything else, cannot be true communication and therefore is not healing. I don’t care who does it, and I’ve seen it from both sides, and can we please all just be better people?
- I really, really don’t like being told who I can or can’t talk to. (Yes, there are professional limitations with confidentiality or conflict of interest, duh, but I mean apart from that.) That this has happened in the past and people have ragequit being my friend because I wasn’t #$(*#$& enough just reinforces this.
- Anyone looking to find fault with another never needs to look far. We are human. Because of that, I try to focus not on the fault but on the positive.
I also want to say that there’s a very real “tone argument” problem with the way one of the sff.net posts was treated (linked above). Yes, the content is problematic, but there is an underlying point.
Let me translate it without the tone problem:
- A member spent significant time working on a document of use to the membership.
- Another member asked that it be given to her to post on the new SFWA site.
- He (member in #1) said he wouldn’t post it as long as he didn’t have access. (There’s an additional clause too.)
- She said he’d had a chance to influence the site, but hadn’t logged in.
- He had repeatedly requested an account, but never received a response. Others had the same problem. (Note: I was one of them, which I’ll talk about in a minute.)
- As a side effect of being blocked from joining the new site, he quit SFWA.
Now, given the current blow-up, you might think that’s a good thing. I don’t know about that, I’ve known him for quite a few years and have always thought, as Scalzi says, that he is generally a decent and good person. People hit their breaking points in strange ways. He apparently hit his.
Partial aside: I think Susan’s post about communities is important, and I agree. And yeah, I can relate to the hurt/comfort narrative she alludes to (and, full disclosure, also guilty of posting comfort in the thread she mentions). It’s one of the reasons I don’t read LJ or FB much.
There’s a very real difference in how “usenet” people and “web forum” people interact and how they like to receive their information. The usenet approach has always been less controlled and more decentralized. Posts can be canceled, but not edited. There are managers, but they’re very hands off. The forum approach is far more about active management, including editing of posts. Or deleting them wholesale.
This was exactly my point. Stop creating more legal and moral debt. Even a non-exclusive right diverts the authors’ sales into what are essentially Vera’s pockets at present.
Oh, and, in a related note: stop trying to show that they are loyal to you, and instead show that you are loyal to them (and their bottom lines) — by reverting all rights. That’s the only statement that’s unambiguous and clear.
Now, I could have rephrased and posted something milder after the above two paragraphs were censored, but I’m going to point something out right now: that someone is still a member of SFWA. So, if you read that thread on sfwa.org forums (sans my bit o’ content), you might not realize that you’d actually get more real information if you’d just saved your SFWA membership $ and read the Absolute Write thread instead.
So back to the thing I said I’d talk about. Many of us who were active on sff.net found that we couldn’t get sfwa.org logins that stuck. It’d work for a day or two, then not work. Then we’d ask for a reset, none would come, then we’d whine again. Everyone complained in the sff.net SFWA Lounge.
Honestly, it never occurred to me that we were being deliberately kept out, but that seems to be the narrative now. Also, I volunteered more than once, do web development for a living and not once was I even contacted to help.
I very nearly quit SFWA over it.
So I can understand why Member the First would have been upset. I understand why he quit. And I can understand why he might still be angry about it, even having experienced only what I have. The rest? I don’t understand that.
There were and are very real problems, and there’s a lot of pent-up anger from people who’d been SFWA members for a long time who have felt shut out for years.
This takes us back to core value #1, doesn’t it?
Speaking of: there’s a reason that while my name is on this timeline, I’m one of the very few who never got a letter from a lawyer, raided, sued, or stuff like that. When sides are disagreeing loudly, you’ll generally find me in the buffer zone.
Edit to respond to a couple of points raised in private conversations:
1. This was about persistent trouble getting onto the SFWA.org site, not the sff.net one.
2. I was asked if I knew of other incidents involving Member the First. I had never heard of any until this recent incident.
I’ll say this, just so it’s clear: if there were people who “should be” blacklisted for any reason other than people who had previously behaved badly on panels at at a convention I’m working on (which, frankly, was only a very few people and as many women as men), I’ve never been privy to any list of people guilty of bad behavior. I have been on the programming staff of a Worldcon and programming head for a Westercon and several regional conventions.
The kind of bad behavior I’ve heard of (these are real things that happened): monopolizing conversation on a panel so hard that con ops had to be called to shut the panel down before it erupted into violence; blowing off a panel with the other panelists and taking the Guest of Honor offsite so they missed an important event, then gaslighting the programming staff. Then there’s the episode with Harlan Ellison, the Klingons, and the speakers playing loud dance music…. (Harlan won.)