Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

In Light of the Recent Wiscon Meltdown…

21 July 2014

Natalie Luhrs has the linkfest about the fallout from Jim Frenkel’s appearance at this year’s Wiscon after last year’s harassment complaints that went, well, apparently nowhere.
I know a lot of bay area locals go to Wiscon, and that’s had quite the ironic problem set, recently. I typically haven’t gone because I’d rather go to a local con and spend my travel $ elsewhere.
Here’s a review of this year’s BayCon by Carrie Sessarego of SBTB. I was delighted to be on panels with her. She’s thoughtful and smart, and extremely well-read.
So, just a thought: come to BayCon next year. The theme is Women of Wonder.

Read More

Model View Culture / Bigger Issues

17 July 2014

Elizabeth Spiers’s article about the magazine and its founder Shanley Kane has a great quote relevant to the art vs. artist debate of yore:

But important work gets done every day by flawed people, sometimes even by assholes. No one should be more aware of that than people who work in the tech industry, where many of the vaunted innovators and revolutionaries were not warm, fuzzy people. Ultimately, they’re judged by their work.

If you’re in tech—or interested in tech or diversity issues in tech—Model View Culture is a superb magazine that has no analog.

  1. It talks about how perks can divide people. Been there, done that. Especially when you’re at some doughnut event and they’ve forgotten to cater to the vegan and the celiac. Again.
  2. It talks about acquaintance rape by a coworker.
  3. It has great pieces like this one by Rachel Chalmers on why not to raise venture capital.

Going Beyond Assholes

When I made the Traitor to the Mens t-shirts, I got a note about American Apparel. I’d known about the sexist advertising, but not about how awful the CEO was (he’s still awful, he’s just gotten resigned). Their shirts being produced in the US was important to me for various reasons, including knowing that labor standards and business practices were, at least in theory, up to US standards.
This human slavery story comes out of Thailand’s shrimp industry.
And this story about Scientology’s drydock bill also has, at its heart, human slavery. In short, Curaçao’s drydock was using slave labor from Cuba, people Cuba sent over to do work to pay down Cuba’s drydock bill. They worked under horrific conditions. (The electrocution story reminds me of the tale of Kendrick Moxon, one of Scientology’s attorneys, and his Sea Org daughter who died of electrocution.)
One of my concerns is knowing that I’m doing less harm, and that means knowing more about where things come from and how they’re produced/delivered. And sometimes, there’s a bunch of crappy choices.
You might think that t-shirt made in Nicaragua or Honduras is better because it’s not made by American Apparel.
You know what? Nicaragua has an appalling lack of infrastructure. Many Nicaraguans work part of the year in Costa Rica due to lack of opportunity. As our tour guide said:

We cannot even bag plantains.

So imagine, if you will, given that they don’t have the factory capability to bag plantains, how it is that they’re able to make t-shirts for shirt.woot (among others) but can’t even bag plantains, one of their major crops.
Nicaragua’s the only country I’ve been to where the TV’s world weather pointedly excludes the US and Canada from its list of world cities. They are angry with us and, frankly, they have good reason to be.
It’s not that I don’t want to do business with Nicaragua. To the contrary. I’ve been there twice (short trips, granted). It’s just that, given what I know, I don’t inherently trust that any business has manufacturing in Nicaragua has Nicaraguan infrastructure interests as a design goal.
As Rick has pointed out more than once, “How do you know the company you’re not boycotting isn’t worse?”
Like, you know, Nestlé, and its chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who doesn’t believe human beings have a right to water. Corporations buying up water rights in poor countries is an enormous global human rights issue.
Here, have a list of Nestlé brands for your boycott needs. I’m happy to say that none of my regular brands are on that list. \o/
Sometimes, I think we lose sight of the bigger picture because some bad things in front of us seem like the “worst thing ever.” They’re bad, but there are worse things, and I think we need to keep perspective on that.

The Response on the Delany/NAMBLA Stuff Wasn’t What I Expected

No comments on my post, and few on Will’s. None on the LJ repost. None on Tumblr.
Apart from a few people, mostly not in sf/f, being horrified, mostly on facebook.
I get this tweet:

@deirdresm i wish you wouldn’t promote WS. he’s a doxxer, racist sexist abuser, and has hurt a lot of victims of abuse.

— Ann Somerville (@ann_somerville) July 11, 2014

…which leads to a long conversation ending in…

@Cecily_Kane @deirdresm forget it. she’s not interested unless it’s her hobby horse. other victims can go fish

— Ann Somerville (@ann_somerville) July 12, 2014

Hobby. Horse.
Let me pull a quote out from Samuel Delany’s writing about sex with children:

Finally a composite score is reached, and the “seriousness” of the infraction judged accordingly. The consent of a seven-, eight-, or nine-year old is not the same thing as the consent of a seventeen- or eighteen-year old. And the “consent” of a three, four, and five year old means much less—especially if it’s negative. But it must count for something, otherwise you are just saying the child is not human and has no feelings or agency whatsoever—which, in itself, is abusive and counter-intuitive. And, I would maintain, immoral when another possibility presents itself.

Delany’s commented on Will’s post. He stands by what he wrote.
Is that really okay with everyone?

Read More

World Domination Summit 2014: a Quick Recap

15 July 2014

One of the first questions I get asked when I mentioned that I was going was, “What’s the World Domination Summit?”
Fair question. And, to be honest, I didn’t know when I first heard about it either.
The goal is to help get people who want to do something different with their lives to take that leap, to find other people who also want to do different and remarkable things—and to help each other do them.
The speakers come from a variety of different fields, including Shannon Galpin, the only woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan, and who teaches street art to Afghani girls. Shannon linked to teafly’s amazing My Body Is Not a Democracy.
Another speaker, Saki Mafundikwa, a graphic designer teaching in Africa, is making a film about people dislocated due to a dam. He’s previously published a book on African writing systems.
Gavin Aung Than talked about giving up his graphic design job to start zenpencils, his cartoon and poster site.
Quite a few attendees got to stand up and give a short version of their own stories.
A woman had come to run the New York Marathon that was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy. She was disappointed, but understood. She had a trip coming up to London, so she thought: why not run the London Marathon?
Five months early.
She wound up getting on the front page of one BBC site, and had people run with her the entire way.
One of the reasons I love the science fiction community is that it’s a really broad spectrum of educated people (and not always in the traditional sense) who are interested in a wide variety of topics.
WDS is like that—squared, with the addition of more hopefulness.
I’ll end with this quote from speaker Michael Hyatt:
all-the-important-stuff

Read More

Greenland, I Love You, Let's Talk

14 July 2014

In viewing my map statistics for who’s visited my site, the single largest block of land on the planet from which I’ve had no visitors is Greenland.
Sure, it’s sparsely populated. I don’t think that’s a good reason.
I’ve pondered the flight schedules of Air Greenland, wondering if there were any way to make a trip work for me. So far, not yet. Alas.
Also, no joy with the various cruise companies that come during summer. Much as I’d love to, they just haven’t been in the budget.
Anyhow, if you visit my website from Greenland, and it shows up in my web logs that you have, AND you drop me an email (I’ve placed a handy contact form below), I’ll send you a signed copy of an anthology I was in to your mailing address in Greenland. I’ll also give you electronic copies of my two current releases (one of which is in the book I’ll mail).
It’s not the same as me visiting Greenland, but a girl can hope.
[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Read More

Mark Greyland Speaks Out

13 July 2014

C.A. Starfire has an interview with Mark Greyland, the son of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Walter Breen.

I thought everyone knew and that I was such a bad person no one would speak to me.

And, later, addressing the inheritance issue:

I was disinherited by language that sounded so unlike my mother that I knew she never wrote it, as was my sister and my half-brother who is now deceased.
The money went to the opera and to her lover.

Heartbreaking stuff.
In addition to the links C.A. Starfire provided, Mark previously permitted me to share two of his Zazzle links: Stringbreaker and Geofractal.
I bought the Space Kitten! t-shirt (partly from the proceeds of Scalzi t-shirts, so thank you for your support).
Space Kitten!
It doesn’t make up for the hurt I inadvertently caused Mark, but I really do love that piece.

New Post Category

In other news, given a significant number of my website hits are about Marion Zimmer Bradley and are likely to continue to be, I’ve added that as a category. Previously, it was just a tag. So I’m going back and re-categorizing older posts on this matter.

Read More

The Great Namaste

11 July 2014

Friday morning was The Great Namaste, an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the number of people simultaneously doing yoga.
Can you spot me in the pic? (I can, but I know where I was sitting. Hint: I’m on a green mat.)
the-great-namaste
Early results say that we broke the record by more than 100 people. Woohoo! I’d like to thank everyone who helped.
One of the volunteers came up to me later saying she was really happy to see me there and, “you go, girl.” Let’s just say that I’m not typical in anything I do, yoga included. It was very difficult for me, and I had to manage my energy and pain levels very carefully so I didn’t flare.
Sadly, SPF 70 was not enough. Oh well, I got my Vitamin D quota. 🙂

Other News

In other news, I keep being reminded of Kij Johnson’s “Ponies.” I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite story, exactly, but uncomfortably true in its own way.

Read More

The Samuel Delany / NAMBLA Conversation

11 July 2014

Will Shetterly takes on the hard questions.
It was posted on my birthday, and I didn’t read it in full then, and I’m not going to tonight. Maybe after my edits are done, but that’ll be a few weeks.
This is long (~8,000 words).
My initial take, without reading for nuance or depth:

  1. There are some hard issues explored (and it needs all the trigger warnings).
  2. Delany’s got some good points—except that I’d argue that rehabilitation is only possible if someone genuinely wants rehabilitation. If you read, for example, MZB’s own deposition where she refuses to answer questions about whether a child (of unknown age) was old enough to consent—it’s clear that she had her answer and would stick with it even if it cost her more in the civil suit. That’s not the kind of person who would be rehabilitated. (I agree with Chip in that I’m anti-death penalty, except possibly in cases where murders are committed on multiple occasions. I believe anyone can be pushed past their breaking point once; it’s the people who went there more than once that I feel differently about.)
  3. I tend to look at childhood trauma on a logarithmic scale. I’m going to abstract here. Let’s say someone had as similar background to my own: being battered a lot as a child and teen (and more than once having bruises because of same), gaslighted when the stepmother came into the picture, difficult family relations. Let’s call that an 8 on a 1-10 scale of childhood badness. Let’s say that said person had a similar young experience to Delany’s with the super. Because the home situation is so bad, a relatively positive contact wouldn’t register as negative (because, for that kid, it might be a 5 on that scale), where if one had a normal (1 on 1-10) background, it might feel like the most traumatic thing ever.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t harmful.
On the other hand, I tend to take at face value what people say about their own perceptions of their own experiences, so long as it’s not something that’s scientifically disprovable.

Read More

False Assumptions About Names

10 July 2014

I loved this article about names four years ago, and it continues to be relevant.
There are entire novels in the comments.
As someone whose name is frequently misparsed (my name is “Saoirse Moen, Deirdre” not “Moen,Deirdre,Saoirse”), I feel their pain.
Yes, the article is written for programmers, but it’s still useful for writers. We all carry assumptions about names.
Offhand, I can’t remember what language it was that someone filed a bug about where they had to use a non-Unicode font. Even Dhivehi/Thaana was added to Unicode in 1999, and that’s a pretty obscure script. (pic) I just remember being pretty impressed that there were still living languages where that was the case.

Read More

Birthday Reflections: Favorites from the Last Year

09 July 2014

I thought I’d go over some of the things I’ve discovered or loved in the last year, in no particular order.

  1. Johnny B. Truant’s essay, The universe doesn’t give a flying fuck about you. It’s an interesting head trip: by making everything you could possibly do look small, it help reduces fear for the consequences of what you do. Interesting NLP technique there.

    If you want to be awesome in this life, do awesome things.

  2. Bats hangin’ out on a tree. bats-on-tree-edited-sm
  3. Milford. Northern Wales and an amazing workshop. 03-wales-sm
  4. My whirlwind round-the-world tour featuring a visit with friends in New Zealand, more friends in Australia, even more friends in South Africa, and a play with an actor I like in London. 10-table-mountain-sm
  5. Overwerk. Especially when used in the Air Tahiti Nui video.
  6. Tim Grahl and his tips on book and author marketing.
  7. Tiffany Reisz. Bookalicious Pam listed The Siren as one of her favorite novels of the past year. On her recommendation, I inhaled the first four books between Christmas and New Year’s. I think her new book, The Saint, is even better.
  8. James Mickens’s “The Slow Winter” is one of the few short stories ever where Rick and I have quoted random lines to each other. Most frequently, “This does not lead to rising property values in Tokyo!”
  9. Hard-hat behind-the-scenes tour of the newly-opened part of SFO’s Terminal 3. That was pretty sweet, especially the ability to go onto the roof and watch the planes land.
  10. The number of people who search my site for the mongoose joke. (two today!)
  11. All the fun I’ve been having with Society6, Redbubble, and Zazzle. Thanks, everyone.

Here’s a Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Shield shower curtain.
12441192_10636511-crtn_l
And, you know, related stuff….. (same link set as above)
12441662_12087789-mugs11_l
12441662_12087789-mugs11f_l
12441662_12087789-mugs11l_l
12441956_11063764-clkfkhw_l
12442188_7955223-rg23_l
12442198_12796713-tsrmw112_l

Read More