the end of the 20th century

A couple of articles in the Times 1 about Europe, nationalist movements, and the possibly opposing destinies of Angela Merkel and Marine Le Pen 2

Here.

Those who follow Ms. Merkel closely say that she is weary of grappling with Europe’s troubles, and that her close circle, always small, is more defensive and withdrawn after last year’s migrant crisis, which has weakened her politically. Still, she is under pressure to run for a fourth four-year term, a decision expected by early December.

“She’s the last one standing, and that makes her both strong and weak at the same time,” said Stefan Kornelius, one of her biographers and a political analyst for the daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “She’s a pillar of stability, the last wall, and people want to lean against it.”

And here.

That revolution, they said, has overthrown what they called the “elites” — the mainstream news media and establishment politicians — who are in a tacit alliance.

The enthusiasm of the far right was in striking contrast to the coolness of Europe’s mainstream leaders to the week’s news. Some of them, like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, offered veiled criticism even as they sent Mr. Trump pro forma letters of congratulation.

“It’s the emergence of a new world,” Ms. Le Pen said, after being the first to lay a wreath at the monument here to France’s World War I dead. “It’s the end of the 20th century.”

 

  1. The New Yorker has a funny style guide. From time to time, I copy it without care for consistency.
  2. Among other things, what an amazing name.

emptying my pockets of puppies

Hello, readers.

This morning, I watched a periscope of Tom Warren trying on a $17,000 watch. We live in the future and it’s ridiculously expensive.

The best part of my Apple Watch periscope was the guy who was wearing the iPod nano as a watch! Legend

And I almost bought one of the cheaper versions before I noticed it wouldn’t be delivered until the end of May, and I figured if one must wait that long, one might as well wait a little bit longer and see how the thing works. Also, I might find something more interesting to spend that money on, in the meantime. Perhaps a post-wedding adventure, or two.

Also, the hugo award nominees were announced at Eastercon. A fairly fervent fervor occurred in the wake of those announcements involving puppies. To make a long story short, there were some angry puppies angry about the supposed lack of good old-fashioned, traditional futuristic science fiction and possibly elf-laded fantasy(?) and they campaigned to get a lot of certain types of writers on the Hugo ballot and succeeded in large part this year, as opposed to last year, and here’s a whole lot of people of note who’ve written on the subject.

Why SAD PUPPIES 3 is going to destroy Science Fiction! from big puppy Brad R. Torgersen

In other words, while the big consumer world is at the theater gobbling up the latest Avengers movie, “fandom” is giving “science fiction’s most prestigious award” to stories and books that bore the crap out of the people at the theater: books and stories long on “literary” elements (for all definitions of “literary” that entail: what college hairshirts are fawning over this decade) while being entirely too short on the very elements that made Science Fiction and Fantasy exciting and fun in the first place!

Yes, people do read the non-Puppy novels up for the Hugo and Nebula Awards from Jason Sanford

All of these numbers indicate that people are reading the novels on the Sad Puppies slate AND the novels their campaign implies no one reads. In fact, if you take VanderMeer’s novel into consideration, then far more people read the first novel in his Southern Reach series than all the other Hugo and Nebula shortlisted novels combined with the exception of Skin Game by Jim Butcher.

What these numbers tell me is there’s no reason to say that the Sad Puppies campaign represents the true genre fandom any more than people should say the novels which made the Nebula Awards are the true fandom. People in the science fiction and fantasy genre are reading all of these works.

So the next time someone tells you their view of SF/F represents the genre’s true fans, don’t believe them. Because the numbers say otherwise.

Also very much worth reading:

The Hugo Awards Were Always Political. But Now They’re Only Political. from Charlie Jane Anders

A Note About the Hugo Nominations This Year

Where’s the beef? from George R.R. Martin, and a guardian article about his post.

Hijacking the Hugo Awards Won’t Stifle Diversity in Science Fiction from Kameron Hurley in The Atlantic

Holding the Hugos–and the English Language–Hostage for Fun and Profit from Cat Valente

The 2015 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Nominees from Abigail Nussbaum

Happy weekend, readers.

 

ttfn.

well-intentioned poorly informed high status idiot

Hello, readers.

In the UK, they start there weeks on Monday, as opposed to the more traditional, equally made-up, tradition in the U.S. of beginning our weeks on Sunday. At least in the calendrical sense. In any case, today is neither Sunday, nor Monday, but Wednesday. Which more or less comes in the middle whatever way you count your days.

Here are some things to see you through the middle. All of them about Stephen Colbert. Because I am sad he is going away, and so happy that he is only just arriving. He once described the character of Stephen Colbert as a ’well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot.” Over the years, the reason I kept watching the show, though, while in part for his absurdist proof-by-contradiction style, was as much for Colbert the role-playing geek, the star wars geek, and the lotr geek.

Thing one:

“It has been an amazing high-wire act, every night, watching one of the greatest live performers of our time create an intricate meta-upon-meta joke we can all feel in on.”

Will Leitch, writing for Bloomberg, on Colbert as one of the best improv performers of all time. Includes Colbert’s great interview with Maurice Sendak

Thing two:
Here’s Colbert’s last musical guest, Kendrick Lamar.

Thing three:

“At first, it was unsettling to see him without his invisible mask, but he was such a sweet guy that, ultimately, the brief pre-show chat stayed with me longer than anything he did on the show. I’ll miss ‘Colbert.’ But I’m really excited about Colbert.”

Hadley Freeman writing in the Guardian on Colbert’s persona and interview skills

Thing four:

’‘“Yeah,” said Colbert, “but no one’s going to pay me to watch him anymore, so fuck that noise.”’

Colbert on never having to watch Bill O’Reilly again.

Thing five:

“I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books,” Colbert boasted during his very first show in October 2005. “They are elitist, constantly telling us what is or isn’t true, or what did or didn’t happen…I don’t trust books. They’re all fact, no heart.”

EW has a list of wonderful things Colbert has done for us.

Happy truthiness, readers.

ttfn.

winning television

Hello, readers.

It’s Friday. I’m in the kitchen. James Corden’s on Stephen Colbert and preparing to sing a duet of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.’ Now, that’s done. It was amazing.

Yesterday, a wise friend pointed out that all the glorification of McCain pointing out that maybe torture is bad was kind of funny because of all the McCain pointing out support for our army of shadowy KILLER ROBOTS and also not saying a lot of other things that people should be saying. This was all very true and important to remember so that our bar for cheering doesn’t completely fall on our heads and knock us unconscious and lead to the sort of amnesia where we forget what people do when they’re not making speeches.

also.

It being Friday, tomorrow is Saturday, and tomorrow is STAR WARS DAY. If you can’t go, don’t worry, I will. And then I will write about it and you can pretend. That’s the way this blog works. I write. You pretend.

also. also.

It being Friday, December 12th, THE PROJECT FOR AWESOME begins today at noon. Noon being the eastern one. In London, it will begin at not noon.

also x3.

Here are 5 things you can read and/or watch over the weekend.

1) Stephen Colbert’s final ‘BETTER KNOW A DISTRICT.’ Watch until the end. It’s, well, awesome.
2) Possibly there’s another universe where time runs backwards.
3) Regarding Susan Sontag.
4) J.J. Abrams on the Magic of Mystery. An oldie, but, well, you know.
5) Awesome art by Kevin Dart (oh, a rhyme!). He’s worked on Powerpuff Girls and Big Hero 6 and his things are pretty and cool.

Happy awesome sauce, readers.

ttfn.

john mccain is not a puppet

Hello, readers.

In the flat at the moment, with drying clothes hung over radiators and a very warm delicious cup of tea in an orange mug resting on a coffee table which is, in fact, actually, a very large foot stool. It’s pretty awesome. Another thing that’s awesome is outside. By which I mean, all of outside. It looks, well, I don’t know. I left my words behind yesterday. Let’s say it looks like the inside of a nickel, which makes it sound less awesome, but, well.

Yesterday, I left a comment on the internet.

Today, happily, it appears that a day or so ago John McCain left a comment on things as well and it, very much like the sky, is more awesome than you might expect. I’m going to embed it here because I watched it and cried. Before 9/11, my concept of the United States of America was just beginning to complicate itself, and after that, it became wonderfully complicated. I very much cared about when and how and if and in what manner we went to war and I was upset and then we clearly tortured people and it was wrong and now we drone people and that seems wrong and also we kill unarmed people, in part, because whether or not they have guns doesn’t matter, since the social construct of race and poverty continues to demonstrate that however much we may think make believe is something we stopped playing as children, we actually still play make believe all the time and the stuff we make our beliefs has profound, tangible consequence.

Anyway.

Here’s McCain.

If tl;dw, here’s how The Daily Show reported it.

And also, because, happiness. Here’s some list of books you might want to read.

1) Tor’s Reviewer Choice Best Books of 2014
2) The avclub’s best graphic novels and comics of 2014
3) Buzzfeed’s list of best science fiction and fantasy novels by women of color

Make believe being as powerful as it is, it’s useful to get some exercise making believe outside of your experience as much, and as often, as possible. Stories are empathy machines. They’re like treadmills for your conscience. Or something.

Happy Thursday, readers.

As the nerdfighters say, don’t forget to be awesome.*

ttfn.

*http://www.projectforawesome.com/

p.s. The above link is for the project for awesome which is this thing that happens once a year where

the daily show

Hello, readers.

A lot of things happened in 1999. Things happen all the time. Some of the things that happened in 1999 include, among other things, The Phantom Menace by George Lucas, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and my graduation from high school.

I remember this one discussion from near the end of that year. I was talking to a boy in my AP English class. The boy’s name was Jake. He possessed a laconic way of being wise in which he spoke little but nodded a lot. One of the things I said in this discussion was how sad I was, at the end of the last year, when Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show with his now famous: dance, dance, dance . I was worried it wouldn’t be as good. I mean, John Stewart? The guy from MTV?

Jake nodded.

“But, well, he turned out okay, didn’t he?”

Jake nodded.

“Yep,” he said. And he nodded some more, so I knew he agreed with me more than a little bit.

I’m reminded of this conversation because yesterday and today my tumbles and tweets have been full of a literate rage. And I wonder how much of that rage, at least among people my age and younger, is, in part, inspired, distilled, and perhaps educated, through years of watching John Stewart, the guy from MTV, demonstrate a glorious obsession and wicked delight with documenting the stupidity, ignorance, and hypocrisy of everything and ever. Stewart, and his writers, defined what it was to cut apart the news and put it back together in a way that made sense. In a way that looks familiar to me now, seeing the gifs, clippings, live videos, and take-downs, that have dominated my tumbles and tweets.

I don’t know. Just a thought. A wonder. And, at least, for me, a lot of gratitude for this man existing. For showing a lot of us that it was not only possible to care, but possible to stay sane, and funny, while doing it. god bless you, Mr. Stewart.

Here are some highlights from the last 15 years.

Mr. Stewart after 9/11.
Mr. Stewart on Crossfire.
Mr. Stewart on the Financial Doodah of 2008 with special guest Jim Cramer from CNBC.
Mr. Stewart, a few months ago, right after Ferguson

A lot of people have this thing where they say that sarcasm is the coward’s way. That comedy is a shield. That being funny is a way of avoiding the things that hurt. These people are missing the point, I think.

Once upon a time, in a small town far, far, away, someone told me that I was shorter and funnier than John Stewart. Clearly, I’m not. Clearly, they were being funny. Possibly they were saying, “You are funnier than John Stewart” when really they were thinking, “I really, really, like you.” Either way, it was a very kind thing to say because maybe what they were saying is that you try to be funny in the way that John Stewart is funny. And that meant the world to me. Because John Stewart, as much as anyone else, knows how to be funny in a way honest, kind, and full of rage.