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Back with the clowns again

The Bartender: "May God turn His merciful face towards them."
The Fudir: "Better his face, than what he's been showing them lately."
- Michael Flynn, THE JANUARY DANCER

"When crying, stung by bee."
- Japanese proverb

So I went to see my primary care doc yesterday afternoon, and we went over the records from Sunrise & Canyon Vista. The good news was that the wound on the bottom of my right foot has healed; the bad news was that I I have an abscess on my back, for which I was prescribed doxycycline. This antibiotic is doing what all its kind do, which is drain me of energy so all I want to do is sleep, or at least be in a horizontal position, so even if Uber wasn't screwing around with my account, I wouldn't be out driving until the wee hours anyway.

From there I went to the VA hospital for the aforementioned antibiotic, plus more BP meds, insulin, and test strips; then to Arizona Charlie's for the half-price buffet. Then it was back to Circus Circus for two nights (mysterious are the ways of Priceline) where I unpacked my backpack and nose hose, took my evening drugs, and fell asleep for twelve hours until I was wakened by some collectors who want money for NVEnergy. They'll get paid when everybody else does. In the meantime, thanks to the generosity of my friends and family, I don't have to worry about sleeping in my car for the rest of the week.

And in the center ring...

Just so people know what's going on with a number of issues...if you want to comment, do so on Facebook.

Paperwork for the last tranche of the relocation money (about $5800) has been faxed to the relocation people in Phoenix, who assured me that the check went in the mail this afternoon and should show up by Friday. So I have that to look forward to. I am pretty much down to marching on my chinstrap - there's about $2 left in the credit union between savings & checking, another buck in PayPal, and $15 or so in GoBank. Fortunately, I'm feeling well enough to drive 3-4 hours a night for Uber*, and it's possible to find decent hotels to stay in for $20 a night. Unfortunately, the resort fees and taxes tend to push that back up towards $50 a night. So if you're feeling generous this week, let me encourage you to throw money at my PayPal.

My leg wounds have nearly finished healing up - the one on my left leg has completely healed, and my right leg is almost there. Compression stockings have been replaced by Spandaflex bandages for the duration, I'm seeing my primary care doc tomorrow, and that's pretty much all there is to say about that.

May have a short story collection (mostly SF, but some urban fantasy/horror in there as well) out in time for Christmas, depending on whether the cover art is ready in time. We'll see.

Now I need to get dressed and drive.

*Dr. K and the wound care folks don't like it, but I have rent to pay, unless someone or several somebodies throw a lot of money at my PayPal.

The current financial mess

The bottom line is that for the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to get my stuff out of my apartment and into storage, or the trash as the case may be. As all of you know who have done the moving thing, it's hard work, and doing it myself has been very difficult - most of the time when I have been going full blast on boxing and lifting and hauling and bagging, I'm too tired to drive safely, which means there's less money to go around.

And so we get to where we are now - no flex left on the credit card, about $60 on my Uber debit card, and behind on a few bills, most notably my car loan. That's in the way of getting my credit union to front me some money against the relocation $$$ the convention center owes me, which would solve a lot of my problems until the convention center gets around to paying the first month's rent and deposit to my new landlords. So I'm going to look into hocking Masha (my Makarov pistol) tomorrow, and see if I can raise the necessary $200 to get the car loan up to date and free up the credit union to extend me some credit.

tl;dr: I don't need lawyers, I'm hocking my gun - just send money.

The Thirty-Day Song Challenge

Ganked from @Communism_Kills on Twitter
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Status report

Sitting here in the Chick-Fil-A, trying to bump a bad motivator circuit into functioning so I can go out and drive tonight...
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Thankless Jobs For Fans: Programming

I read with some interest and not a little schadenfreude about the kerfluffle over programming at Worldcon this year. I'm not going into the details, but suffice it to say quite a number of people are being hoist on their own politically correct petards, and now the poor bastards doing programming have to jump through their asses to redo panels with less than a month before the convention. Welp.
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That having been said, I don't envy them their task. Next to running consuite, programming is probably one of the most thankless jobs on con staff, mainly because as George Brett once said when asked who should be voting for the players in the All-Star Game said "I don't know, because I don't know who the game is for." And so it is with programming. I have worked on programming for two very large conventions, and who programming is for is a question that doesn't seem to get asked very often. There is an assumption that panels and other events are there to entertain the membership, but there are also panels that are purely informational (Balticon and Convergence both have science tracks, for example) and panels where the filthy pros talk about their latest work, general trends in the field, or whatever. I don't know about Balticon, never having been on staff or been a volunteer there, but both Anime Detour and Convergence depend heavily on input from the membership to suggest (and staff) panels*. Apparently this wasn't done at Worldcon, because quite a few of the obscure Hugo nominees -which is to say, virtually all of them - felt snubbed by not having enough panels, and there was much anger that people who had suggested panels found that they'd been passed over for those panels in favor of people the head of programming thought would be a better fit for said panels. It was at that point the fewmets hit the fan, much screeching ensued, and the aforementioned overhauling of panels commenced.

That process is just part of the headache, sports fans. You have to figure out -sometimes based on previous years' numbers, sometimes not - which of the limited number of rooms a panel is going into (this is sometimes made easier by reserving certain rooms for particular programming tracks) and when during the weekend the panel is happening, which will affect attendance - needless to say, panels that don't/aren't expected to draw well are going to wind up on Friday and Sunday afternoons before most people show up. I myself have had panels drop in attendance by an order of magnitude when they were moved from Saturday during cosplay to Sunday just before closing ceremonies. You have to coordinate with Guest Relations and the guests themselves to keep from burning out those guests by asking them to do too much in not enough time, and this can be its own can of worms if attending professionals are not designated guests of the convention and just happen to be attending.

So it's a lot of work, and if you do everything right, nobody notices because the panels & other programming go off without a hitch and without any complaints. When stuff goes sideways, as it almost always does, suddenly everything is your fauilt. Like I said, it's a thankless job.


*Usually if you suggest a panel, you're expected to find people to be on it with you. Obviously this is going to work differently at Anime Detour, where the vast majority of panels are for and by fans, than it will at Convergence or Diversicon, where a lot of local authors show up and usually want to sit in on a couple of panels.

The penultimate move

This originally was going to be a post on e2, but the site ate my draft and I didn't feel like fighting with it...

...anyhow, after a lot of thrashing around on the VA's eBenefits site, I managed to download & print copies of my home loan certificate of eligibility last night, and the loan rep from the credit union who called me just before the close of business got me started on the online application. According to the VA, I could borrow almost half a million bucks, but realistically, I can't make the payments on anything much over $150k, so that's what I'm having my realtor look for. There's a lot of crappy stuff out there in that price range, according to Zillow, but there's some decent places too, so we'll see what she comes up with. Also, today brought a notice from management that I might be eligible for help with relocation, which would be nice.

I'm increasingly depressed about the summer session at UNLV. I can't seem to find the time to do the 4-6 hours of homework I need to do every night just to stay on top of things, at least not if I want to make money to pay bills through Uber and get 6-8 hours of sleep, which I need to keep minimally healthy. I am seriously thinking of dropping a class from the fall term and just going half-time, and ditto for the spring, because this fall I need to get my continuing education done for the 2019 tax season - which will be here in a few months - and of course in the spring it will be tax season. Yay. Giving serious thought to just chucking this whole pursuit of a bachelor's degree and just signing up for CDL training so I can drive trucks for big money, maybe see some more of the country that I haven't seen yet.

I'm fighting the depression with Avi Shmailov's uplifting trance mixes. Maybe I should get some more of them.

Some stuff about Russian

So I got a letter from CyberCoders, which as far as I know is not associated with the FSB, asking if I'd be interested in an Office Manager job, and the funny thing to me was that the recruiter's family name was Frayer. In Russian thieves' slang, frayer is the collective name for non-thieves, "suckers", or marks. Well, I thought it was funny.

Nobody else got the joke, and I wound up talking about Russian in the comments. What I wasn't willing to go into at any length was that after you master the Cyrillic alphabet, the next big hurdle is what they called at DLI "prepositional verbs of motion", which is not what this Wikipedia article calls them, but since this is my LJ post, we'll do it the way I learned it. See, in English, you can say "Priyanka [went to the strip club] with her friends" and everybody will assume she went in with her droogies and got an eyeful of boobs and butts. In Russian, this is horribly imprecise. There is a distinction between going to the club and not going in (ona podoshola k Crazy Horse) and going to the club and going in (ona voshla na Crazy Horse) and a few other variations on the theme. This looks a lot like the graphic we used in the Basic Russian course to help us get our heads around the notion:

Anyway, thought people might be interested. Comment on Facebook if you want to.



I don't know which smug, entitled jerk spouted this crap at a recent nebula Awards panel*, but unfortunately he's not unique. There is a whole generation of uneducated idiots out there who think Robert Heinlein is a misogynist fascist, Tolkien is a racist, and more recently, Larry Correia is pro-rape. They can't actually provide any kind of citations to back up those assertions, but enough of them are running around saying these things that it's a useful object lesson in Goebbels' assertion about the Big Lie. The lie makes it hard to have a civil discussion with these people about the state of the genre, because they seem hellbent on erasing the past, unpersoning the great writers of the past (not all of whom were Dead White European Males, by the way**) and erecting their own pathetic totems to worship.
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Case in point: one commenter in the responses to the above tweet asserted that Tolkien must be a racist because China Mieville and Michael Moorcock said so. Well, so what? What makes those two writers, neither of which begin to compare to Tolkien in terms of accomplishments, authorities on the subject of racism? Where is the evidence Mieville and Moorcock cite as proof of this alleged racism? What relevance does our current obsession with skin color have to a heroic epic involving actual separate humanoid races set thousand of years ago, anyway? Further, why would any sensible person act like this toward the man who arguably made the fantasy genre what it is today?

Also relevant is the way Howard Phillips Lovecraft has been treated. His views on race were hardly unique in his time, and were shared by such progressive luminaries as Woodrow Wilson, Margaret Sanger, and FDR. More to the point, HPL (like Tolkien) was a formative author in his genre, opening the way to a very different and uniquely American form of horror, as Stephen King acknowledges in his excellent primer Danse Macabre. King, I think we can all agree, knows what the hell he's talking about when it comes to horror. So what have our current crop of bright young things done? Well, the World Fantasy Convention used to hand out little statues of HPL as their awards, but they don't do that any more because Lovecraft is problematic and somebody might be offended by having to look at the old racist's visage. Personally, I think if someone is that easily triggered, they ought to stay the hell away from fantasy and horror to begin with, but I'm not in charge here.***

No, judging works and people by "modern standards" is not okay, and SFWA should be publicly shamed for asserting this. The classic works of SF, horror, and fantasy are what they are because they're still entertaining almost a century or more after they were originally written, and if you have to stop and consider the historical context of the author and his work, you're trying too hard, or you're an English major - but I repeat myself. Not everything has to be a timeless literary masterpiece, and not everything has to be analyzed to death by humorless scolds who can't accept that sometimes a rocket ship is just a rocket ship and not a phallic symbol.

I seem to recall that SF writer and English professor James Gunn once told a story about coming into a classroom at UMKC and finding that someone had written on the blackboard "GET SF OUT OF THE CLASSROOM AND BACK IN THE GUTTER WHERE IT BELONGS". Well, the problem isn't so much that it's in the classroom, but that the classrooms of academia -which have now extended to the major publishing houses- seem intent on making sure that nothing gets published but SF and fantasy that fits comfortably in the English faculties of America. This is the sort of thing the Sad Puppies were and are opposed to, and you can see reflections of the same attitude in Gamergate and Comicsgate as well. It's a good thing. People want to be entertained, preferably without a bunch of lecturing and scolding, and given their druthers, they'll take entertainment that has a lot less lecturing in it.


*and I can't be bothered to look them up, because they're just a useless cog in a broken machine anyway.
** I was particularly unamused by some feminist critic passing over Anne McCaffrey, C.L.Moore, Leigh Brackett -and in the unkindest cut of all, Judith Merril- when compiling a list of great female SF&F writers. According to this numpty, the history of women in SF apparently began with Ursula LeGuin.
***And just as well, because the operations & maintenance budget for the military helicopter budget would go through the roof.

We've lost that quality now

Something Cobb said in his Facebook Live thing this afternoon got me thinking about a subject I hadn't thought about for a long time, but which used to irritate the shit out of me when I was playing D&D and related fantasy RPGs. There was a definite aversion on the part of most DMs to having a monotheistic religion in charge despite the fact that historically, the Middle Ages on which most fantasy RPGs were based were extremely monotheistic, and failing to conform to whatever flavor of Christianity was in effect in your part of Europe (or Islam, for that matter) could drastically shorten your life expectancy at worst or make you a second-class citizen at best.

So referees would set up one or another of the traditional pantheons, or maybe make one of their own up, and inevitably the players would pick a god to worship, and the DM would say nothing. Now, I don't claim to be an expert in religions, not even my own, but one thing that I do know about the pagan religions was that's not how it worked. You might have a special devotion to Athena, but you sure as hell were going to make offerings to Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the other gods as well. It was a package deal, because ignoring the other gods was...unwise. I think it says depressing things about education in our country that more people didn't see that as a problem. Maybe now that there are several flavors of paganism loose in the land, this has changed, but the cynic in me rather doubts it.

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