Yes, that’s not a hoax, it’s true.

Bill Watterson was the guest artist on the comic strip Pearls before Swine the last 3 days. Here are links to the 3 strips:




Full details here.


The Hugo Awards and political correctness

by Otaku-kun on May 9, 2014


The Hugo Awards are science fiction’s most celebrated honor (along with the Nebula Awards). This year there’s a political twist: the accusation that the Hugos are “politically correct” and favor liberal writers over those with conservative political leanings.

The fact that Orson Scott Card won the Hugo in both 1986 and 1987 for Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, or that Dan Simmons won a Hugo in 1990 for Hyperion, is sufficient evidence to prove that no such bias against conservative writers exists [1].

The current controversy is a tempest in a teapot, originating because two conservative writers (Larry Correia and Theodore Beale aka “Vox Day”) have decided to make an example out of the entrenched political correctness that both are convinced exists (see: confirmation bias). Here is Correia’s post about his actions and here is Beale’s. One of the common mantras of these people is that their hero, Robert Heinlein, would not be able to win a Hugo in today’s politically correct world.

Past SFWA president, Hugo winner, and all-around good guy on the Internet, John Scalzi definitively refutes the idea that Heinlein would not have won a Hugo and does so with genuine insight and understanding of who Heinlein was, what he wrote, and how Heinlein himself promoted SF as a literary genre. Key point:

When people say “Heinlein couldn’t win a Hugo today,” what they’re really saying is “The fetish object that I have constructed using the bits of Heinlein that I agree with could not win a Hugo today.” Robert Heinlein — or a limited version of him that only wrote Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and maybe Farnham’s Freehold or Sixth Column — is to a certain brand of conservative science fiction writer what Ronald Reagan is to a certain brand of conservative in general: A plaster idol whose utility at this point is as a vessel for a certain worldview, regardless of whether or not Heinlein (or Reagan, for that matter) would subscribe to that worldview himself.

They don’t want Heinlein to be able to win a Hugo today. Because if Heinlein could win a Hugo today, it means that their cri de coeur about how the Hugos are really all about fandom politics/who you know/unfairly biased against them because of political correctness would be wrong, and they might have to entertain the notion that Heinlein, the man, is not the platonic ideal of them, no matter how much they have held up a plaster version of the man to be just that very thing.

Read the whole thing.

In fact, the whole idea that the Hugo are biased against conservatives is a form of political correctness in and of itself. Steven just linked this article about how political correctness is a “positional good” and summarizes:

briefly, a positional good is one that a person owns for snob appeal, to set oneself apart from the rabble. Ownership of the positional good is a way of declaring, “I’m better than you lot!” And it continues to be valued by the snob only as long as it is rare and distinctive.

The idea, then, is that being one of the perpetually aggrieved is a way of being morally superior. I’m open-minded and inclusive, which makes me better than all those damned bigots out there.

Of course, Steven is invoking this idea as a critique about liberals crying racism; he overlooks the same dynamic at work by conservatives crying about exclusion, possibly because he is sympathetic to the “Hugos are biased” claim.

Regarding that claim, Scalzi had meta-commentary on the controversy overall (“No, the Hugo nominations were not rigged“) that is worth reading for perspective. It’s worth noting that Scalzi’s work was heavily promoted by Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit fame, back in the day, a debt Scalzi is not shy about acknowledging publicly. This should, but won’t, dissuade those inclined (as Correia and Beale are) to lump Scalzi in with their imaginary “leftist” oppressors.

I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is and support the Hugos by becoming a contributing supporter [2] for the next year. This will allow me to vote on nominees and I will receive a packet of nominees prior to the actual voting, which if you think about it, is an incredible value. If you’re interested in supporting the Hugos against these claims of bias, consider joining me as a contributor yourself. Now that I’m a member, I plan to blog about the nominations process as well, so it should be fun.

RELATED: Scalzi’s earlier post about The Orthodox Church of Heinlein. Much like the Bible, and history, the source material often gets ignored.

[1] To be fair, Card and Simmons aren’t really conservative – they are certifiable lunatics. See here and here.

[2] Here’s more information about becoming a member for the purposes of voting for the Hugos. This year’s convention will be in London, “Loncon3” so membership is handled through their website.



the value of creative writing MFAs

May 1, 2014

Here is a short recollection by writer Junot Diaz, in the New Yorker, about his oppressively non-diverse, anti-racial experience in a creative writing program. It’s worth reading in full, but in a nutshell, his MFA program suffered the same flaw as most MFA programs: it was too white. To elaborate, Too white as in Cornell […]

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Stranger than fiction

“Blood moon” lunar eclipse as seen from Madison, WI

April 15, 2014

Photos of the blood moon eclipse of April 15th 2014, taken at 3:00 am using a Canon G5: No tripod, unfortunately. But well worth the interrupt in sleep. The window in the cloud cover was perfect! Magnificent! UPDATE – great writeup from EarthSky on why Mars was so close to the moon, and a nice […]

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Movies and Television

Frozen wins an Oscar

March 3, 2014

If you have daughters, then the song “Let it Go” is probably stuck in your head. It certainly gets hummed, sung softly, and even sung aloud at full volume at random times in our household. I am not surprised at all that Frozen won an Oscar last night at the Oscars; it seems no one […]

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Two essential books for the wantrepreneur

March 2, 2014

I’ve been advised that these are the two books that everyone needs to read: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist So, if that’s your thing, grab these two.

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Stranger than fiction

Americas – DUCK YEAH!

February 18, 2014

No further comment.

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Geek service, metaBLOG

upgraded to ASUS RT-AC56U router – speed tests

January 30, 2014

As per my router troubles earlier, I have finally upgraded to the Asus RT-AC56U. I’ve been using an old Linksys WRT54GL as an access point for legacy 802.11g connections, so here is the baseline for comparison, using a desktop machine located two feet away, using built-in wifi antennas: Linksys WRT54GL, 802.11g, 2.4 Ghz here’s the […]

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cardio before breakfast?

January 15, 2014

In the summer months I am on my bike almost every day, but in winter it’s the elliptical in the basement for my cardio. I don’t do a lot, just 30min, while watching something or other on netflix or hulu (just finished my Buffy rewatch, in fact). I recently have resolved to try and do […]

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Anime, Movies and Television

the Simpsons do Miyazaki

January 10, 2014

beautiful. Enchanting. This is the Simpsons at its best: when they use their own rich depth of characters and settings to satirize/honor something else. In this case, the works of Miyazaki. The Kwik E Mart was my favorite bit.

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