- Why New York Subway Lines Are Missing Countdown Clocks This is completely fascinating and is a window into the sort of work I do, a little bit, at my day job–completely different industry, but I work on the budgets related to this specific kind of investment. And while I was looking for information on a problem I’m having with work, I ran across this page for NYC, so if you’ve ever been curious about what the city’s investing in, this will be right up your alley.
- Blogging, Digital Labor, and Institutional Gender/Race Inequality “…focus on some of the economic and structural issues that have contributed to the lack of funding for women of color digital media ventures in an age where women of color, specifically black women, are hyper-visible as targets for online harassment, and the voices of women of color are often used as fodder for online think pieces but without accompanying payment or employment.”
- “What many of these journalists fail to grasp is that a person tweeting to a small audience may very well understand that the public tweets are subject to being shared and seen by a larger audience, but the type of exposure that comes when a larger media outlet shares your story in no way compares to 100 people on your timeline retweeting your tweet.”
- Robert Jackson Bennett on the subject of risk.
- In which GooberGate continues to be terrible.
- “The place I call home no longer feels safe.“
- “I had a collection of sticks. It was a lovely collection. It contained sticks that were long, sticks that were short, sticks that were pointy, sticks that split off into some sort of double stick thing, sticks that had been broken into more sticks, and even a few items that were not sticks but I felt deserved to be in the collection (dirt, a plastic bottle I found, some acorns, etc.).”
- Musings on the Nature of Feminine Perfection: “Honestly, gender is the worst kind of bully because where as bullies can only hurt you so much, gender teaches you to hurt yourself.”
- Living and Dying on Airbnb: “The irony is that amateur innkeepers who couldn’t be trusted with the banal task of photographing and marketing their properties are expected to excel at hospitality’s most important rule: keeping guests safe and alive.”
- How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive: “My hand, trained by the ballpoint, expected that lessening the pressure from the pen was enough to stop writing, but I found I had to lift it clear off the paper entirely. Once I started to adjust to this change, however, it felt like a godsend; a less-firm press on the page also meant less strain on my hand.”
- Sometimes Writers Block is Really Depression: “The biggest thing to say to you though, is that if you are having trouble writing take a look at what’s going on. Ask yourself if something is wrong with the story, or if the thing that is wrong is outside the story.“
- “It was very clear the weighty treatments of any topics in science fiction did not include all people as serious and worthy of interesting consideration.”
- How Apple is Giving Design a Bad Name: “Good design should be attractive, pleasurable, and wonderful to use. But the wonderfulness of use requires that the device be understandable and forgiving.“
- “The youthful breeziness of the Jersey Shore goofball is gone, and in its place is a woman made by the repercussions of being herself for an audience that wasn’t particularly kind to her.”
- There Once Was a Dildo in Nantucket: “What could more perfectly complicate the image of starched, buttoned-up, nineteenth-century Quaker women—the ones pacing the widow’s walks and stitching around the stitching circle?”
- “These student protesters were not a government entity stonewalling access to public information or a public official hiding from media questions. They were young people trying to create a safe space from not only the racism they encounter on campus, but the insensitivity they encounter in the news media.“
- “In other words, if someone’s story about enduring racism is not sufficiently appalling, listeners are likely to dismiss it entirely. But lots of Duara’s experiences wouldn’t make for satisfying sound bites. ‘Most of it’s quieter. How do you know it’s racism then, my friend asked, and not just somebody having a bad day?’ he wrote. ‘And that’s the thing of it. You don’t. You never do. It’ll drive you absolutely crazy.'”
- A lost poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley has been found! This is super exciting, as Shelley is my very favorite of the Romantic poets. Have I ever talked about the time I accidentally read all of “In Defense of Poetry”? Because I did. And it was great.
- Speaking of other things that are great: HAMILTON.
Well. That was a convention, yep.
I had a decent time, but I won’t be going back to World Fantasy until 2018 at the earliest–in part because of budget & location considerations, but mainly because of the ongoing and persistent issues regarding accessibility and codes of conduct.
Mari Ness has more about the accessibility issue and I agree with her completely: there was no reason for this to happen yet again.
And of course, it is about more than just ramps to stages (or panel rooms without stages, this isn’t SDCC, for fuck’s sake): it’s about every aspect of the convention. I saw a suggestion on Twitter earlier today (I can’t remember who it was, I’m sorry) that con staff ask someone who uses a wheelchair to walk through the facility with them well before the convention–perhaps during the bidding process for something as prominent as a World Fantasy–so they can raise awareness about potential barriers or issues.
As Elsa S. Henry points out:
But let’s even go a little further – by only seeing ADA accessibility as necessary to not get sued, you’re gatekeeping.
You’re saying that the experiences, and the participation of disabled gamers, storytellers and participants in an industry don’t matter.
Creating spaces where I, and many other creators can’t be is an effective way to make sure that we won’t be heard. Our words don’t matter because we can’t even get in the door.
There’s absolutely no reason why there can’t be an accessibility coordinator and staff (and corresponding budget). Except that, historically, there hasn’t been. Perhaps that needs to change. In my experience, when many con-runners talk about best practices, what they mean is the way it’s always been done–and the way they’re most comfortable doing it.
Mary Robinette Kowal also has a great post on this subject–with a lot of really good comments with links to other people’s experiences with accessibility.
And as for the harassment policy? Completely non-existent at the convention. Wasn’t in the program book, wasn’t posted anywhere, and I still have no idea who was on the con com (never got a response to my emails). No names were in the program book and I didn’t see any special denotation on badges or ribbons on badge holders indicating con com versus volunteers or whatever. Of course, I didn’t really go to programming–because the initial program draft was nonsense and the final wasn’t a whole lot better (although it did lose the “miscegenation”–which apparently appeared later during the awards ceremony).
It just seemed–like so much else with this convention–half-assed, at best.
Interestingly, they didn’t sell out–people were able to buy memberships at the door, which is unheard of for a World Fantasy. I wonder if they made the tens of thousands of dollars in profit that previous conventions made or if they merely broke even.
Also a thing is the announcement that the Lovecraft bust will be discontinued after this year as the World Fantasy Award. This has been a long time coming–the first I remember hearing about it was this essay by Nnedi Okorafor all the way back in 2011. Other people have been talking about it since, but I remember that Okorafor was one of the first to really raise the issue of what it meant for this award–a World Fantasy Award–to be the face of a xenophobic racist.
Not everyone has handled this announcement with grace. Most notably among that group is Stephen Jones, co-chair of the 2013 World Fantasy held in Brighton, which was smugly proud of its lack of a code of conduct and which was also inaccessible–huh, imagine that (for the Facebook non-enabled, right click & open in new tab or window).
However, in addition to all the excellent company I enjoyed at World Fantasy this year (so many friends, so little time!), I also partook of these two delights:
And despite the promise of the sidewalk chalk. this did not happen:
(I do acknowledge that some folks didn’t think the sidewalk chalk announcements of a rumble were very funny, but I did because I find the word “rumble” inherently silly and conjures up choreographed dance routines for me.)
ETA: And we have an epic flounce from S.T. Joshi on the matter of the award:
- They Found Love, Then They Found Gender: “People who identify as genderqueer — or gender non-conforming, non-binary, or gender fluid — don’t fall into the male and female binaries; rather, their gender varies across the spectrum and may shift over time.”
- Olivia Waite reads and reviews a Harlequin Presents: “I would have enjoyed at least 50% more bitchiness, at minimum.“
- This may be the most horrifying thing I have ever read:
(Men help other men recover what is theirs. If you belong to a man, other men will help him find you, if you go missing. You will always be found. Does that make you feel safe?)
- No, wait. This is the most horrifying: “Child sex abuse victims face a dilemma. To be recognized as victims, they cannot remain silent, but they must be silent enough to seem authentically hurt.“
- I have very mixed feelings about Humans of New York and this is part of why: “Any ambiguity or intrigue to be found in a HONY photo is chased out into the open, and, ultimately, annihilated by Stanton’s captions, and by the satisfaction that he seems to want his followers to feel.”
- Leslie Miley speaks out about diversity at Twitter HQ: “When he responded with ‘diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar,’ I then realized I was the only African-American in Eng leadership.”
- Why I am worried about Twitter and why you should be too: “Twitter simply hasn’t managed to build an organisation capable of executing the strategies necessary to build and maintain a successful social media platform.”
And finally! “The Call of the Sad Whelkfins: The Continued Relevance of How To Suppress Women’s Writing“ is an essay that Annalee Flower Horne and myself wrote about Joanna Russ’s How To Suppress Women’s Writing, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, and Sad Whelkfins. We had a lot of fun writing it and I hope you all enjoy reading it. WHELKFINS.
- World Fantasy wasn’t the only convention this week to have a bit of a blow up. SXSW Interactive did, too.
- “And when organizers received threats to those panelists […] SXSW canceled both events without alerting them on what the threats were, who made them or how they could report them to law enforcement.”
- Chris Kluwe has some choice words for the organizers: “I read this, slammed my head against the wall for an hour, snorted half a bottle of bleach, force-fed myself eighteen pounds of lead-based paints, andstill couldn’t approach the depths of sheer bloody-minded imbecility it must have taken to put those words together in that particular order.”
- “Being a woman in tech is fraught with all kinds of complications, and speaking up against inequalities in technology and harassment leaves victims open to more harassment.”
- World Fantasy did email a revised code of conduct this morning (note: no longer a harassment policy!). It’s an unholy mash-up of last year’s policy and this year’s garbage policy of defaulting to calling the police and, in fact, indicates that con staff may call the police regardless of the wishes of the reporter.
On to other topics!
- I’m just gobsmacked that this was a thing. That people believed (believe!) that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS while people were literally dying in the streets. “Thousands of people died because the conspiracy theory was able to outrun the facts, thriving in the climate of fear and suspicion around a grisly disease that had struck a vulnerable population.”
- This link may not be particularly safe for work as it deals with Playboy’s recent decision to no longer have naked ladies in the US edition of the print magazine: “So if the busty, leggy blonde is no longer the dominant ideal, what is? Well, that’s the point: There shouldn’t be one. As a society, we shouldn’t be brainwashed into believing that a singular type is alluring.“
- What World Are We Building? “Data is power. And, increasingly, we’re seeing data being used to assert power over people. It doesn’t have to be this way, but one of the things that I’ve learned is that, unchecked, new tools are almost always empowering to the privileged at the expense of those who are not.”
- Morrissey’s marketable merde: “Morrissey’s novel has the delightful characteristic of generating income for a publisher with very little effort.”
- This is a wonderful essay about Sylvia Plath. “Her rage is what shines most clearly in her last poems – her huge, perfect, unfeminine rage.”
- In which Rose Lerner goes all conspiracy theory about the death of a journalist. This is really intriguing stuff. Did Jefferson have that journalist killed? Maybe! Maybe not!
- Harriet Klausner has, reportedly, died. It’s the end of an era.