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Bad puppies, no awards

I'm still at the worldcon, so too busy to blog regularly; won't be home until the back end of the week.

But for now, if you want to know what the sound and fury over the Hugo awards was all about, you could do worse than read this WIRED article, Who Won Science Fiction's Hugo Awards and why it Matters (which gives a pretty good view of the social media context), and if you're a glutton for punishment File 770 has kept track of everything (warning: over a million words of reportage on the whole debacle).

Also, props to George R. R. Martin for talking sense, keeping a level head while everyone was running around shrieking with their hair or beard (sometimes both) on fire), and for salving the burn of injustice with the Alfie awards at his memorable after-party.

I've been seeing a lot of disbelief and anger among the puppies (and gamergaters—there seems to be about a 90% overlap) on twitter in the past 12 hours. They didn't seem to realize that "No Award" was always an option on the Hugos. They packed the shortlists with their candidates but didn't understand that the actual voters (a much larger cohort than the folks who nominate works earlier in the year) are free to say "all of these things suck: we're not having any of it". By analogy, imagine if members of the Tea Party packed the US republican party primary with their candidates, forcing a choice between Tea Party candidate A and Tea Party candidate B on the Republican party, so that the Republicans run a Tea Party candidate for president. Pretty neat, huh? Until, that is, the broader electorate go into the voting booth and say "no way!"

They packed the primary. The voters expressed their opinion. The problem is, the Hugos aren't an election, they're a beauty pageant. And my heart goes out to those folks who found themselves named on a puppy slate and withdrew from the nomination (such as Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos), those who were on a slate but didn't know what was going on and so lost to "no award", and to those folks who would have been on the Hugo shortlist this year if not for a bunch of dipshits who decided that only people they approved of should be allowed to compete in the beauty pageant.

484 Comments

1:

I have to admit to enjoying a large juicy slice of schadenfraude with my morning coffee this morning as I scrolling through the tear stained tweets of the puppygaters.

I have a nasty feeling they're not going to go away though… and (maybe due to a lack of imagination on my part) I can't see an easy way to avoid the next few years of Hugos to be "No Award" fests :-/

2:

Would be interested to hear about whatever proposals are being mulled to prevent sadness and puppyness in the near future. Is this a thing?

E Pluribus Hugo

3:

I wish to acknowledge Annie Bellet, Marko Kloos, Matthew David Surridge, John O’Neill (https://www.blackgate.com/), and Edmund R. Schubert (editor of Intergalactic Medicine Show) who withdrew their nominations.

Brandon Kempner (Chaos Horizon) puts the total number of Rabid voters at a bit above 500, all of whom have nominating privileges for next year, so next year may well be more of the same.

On a more positive note, "E pluribus Hugo" passed (186 for vs 62 against), so in 2017, the power of bloc-voting would be lessened to a more appropriate proportional representation of the nominating ballots.

4:

I must admit, I nearly wet myself laughing on learning of the results.
Actually, if we are very lucky, that sort of stupidity might prevail with what is still called the GOP in the USA ....
Some people seem to be incapable of learning from history.

P.S. My "To buy" list (assuming the bloody bookshops stock the damned things, grr - see previous threads ) has just gone up by several volumes.
Goblin Emperor, 3 Body Problem, any St Mary's book, the new Leckie, the posthumous PTerry & look out for Linda N ....

5:

Worth noting that one slate candidate did win! Guardians of the Galaxy. Which shows that the voters weren't mindlessly rejecting everything the Puppies offered. (Which is, in fact, one of the things they're currently trying to claim, in order to save face.)

Of course, Guardians would have certainly been on the ballot even if the Puppies hadn't included it, which may have been a factor, but who can say.

6:

Yup, E Pluribus Hugo passed. That should spike slate voting when it's ratified at next year's WSFS business meeting.

7:

I am slightly confused. I had never really got in to the meat and bones of the SJW & SadPuppy 'war'. I decide to educate myself in the situation by following the Hugos on Twitter. Certainly gave me an insight in to the thrust of each others argument and the key players. I have been an avid SciFi ready for many....many years. I absolutely loved books like Enders Game and many other 'Hard' sci-fi books. Asimov, Clarke, Bear. Reynolds to name just a few. Having read all the different authors I never once paused to think "should I be reading this persons work, are they morally acceptable withing the framework of current society?". Not that I had a choice as Twitter etc didnt exist, all I had was the books blurb and just maybe a review in a magazine.This is my long winded way of saying has social media made us stop judging a book purely on its content? Do I really have to audit each author and establish if they are morally acceptable to the greater population before I can read the work guilt free??
I am loving the new work coming out from all sorts of Authors. Mr Stross you introduced me to Urban fiction with the Laundry works, Ben Aarnovitch with his Rivers series equally so and my reading pleasure is greatly expanded as a result; should I have validated your moral and political standing first?? No I shouldn't, and neither will I in future for any Hugo shortlisted author as its the content that counts. If its terrible they it gets a 'No Award' from me. It was sad to see no Awards, but better the integrity and quality of the Hugos be retained. Sadness for those authors caught in the crossfire and maybe some rule changes to prevent this short term warping of worthy literature. I have to balance this with realising some of the GG and SP branded people may be producing decent works of literature, worthy in their own way and I return to my point about Enders game and what we know about the authors opinions as an example. People that dont necessarily sit well with me morally/socially and politically arent necessarily bad people and arent bad at writing either. However if like some Authors (Mr VD for example) they engage in attacking people and forcing their opinions on others then they can take a running jump and good riddance. I always say nobody has the right to not be offended, but this is very different from some of the toxic diatribe that has passed between both sides. Even those in the SJW arent entirely innocent. I expect for this post I will be told the error of my ways in thinking one side is entirely innocent.

You know all this had a point but I think it got lost somewhere.....this is why I dont write myself, leave it to the experts.

8:

Yay for E pluribus Hugo passing!

But it still means that the ~500 Rabid voters this year get another go at bloc-voting the Hugo nominations next year. So it's not over yet.

9:

I fear this might not be the end of this though, for a lot of these folks their win condition seems to be 'Spoil it for everybody else.'

10:

Luckily I wasn't eating or drinking when I read the bit in Marko Kloos' latest that had two characters talking about their families...

11:

"[M]orally acceptable" authors needn't enter into it (and to me that formulation has a whiff of straw about it). The Puppies slate voting exploited a known vulnerability in the current Hugo voting rules (which should be fixed for 2017). Many voters found the Puppy slates inimical to the awards and voted accordingly. I would love to see the Puppies take "What Makes This Book So Great" as a template and, for next year, post some essays about works they think fandom is overlooking and why those works are so great and why people should vote for them. As for me, I tried to read the puppy stuff but failed. I also don't get the excitement about Goblin Emperor. But mostly I'm annoyed that there was no love for The Peripheral!

12:

I smiled, then went and looked at Vox Day's blog, then decided not to bother with pity. Man's sad, bitter, and self-deluding.

The best possible outcome is that he attempts to "mobilise his hordes", gets a stiff ignoring, and only manages the same number or fewer slate voters next year.

13:

Another article you might want to include, this analysis of what the ballots might have looked like without the puppies: http://io9.com/this-is-what-the-2015-hugo-ballot-should-have-been-1725967147

14:
Yup, E Pluribus Hugo passed

Awesomesauce. I'd missed this, and after a quick skim read it looks like a sane solution. So only one more year of puppy slates fouling things up.

15:

I really should spell check my posts. Previous was error riddled, and on an authors blog...... for shame

I will hold a hope the loopholes are closed. I read somewhere there was talk of a 5yr membership rule before being allowed to vote.

16:

But it still means that the ~500 Rabid voters this year get another go at bloc-voting the Hugo nominations next year. So it's not over yet.

Here's to hoping they either grow up, or lose interest in the next year.
Maybe they'll be too wrapped up in a certain election that'll be coming up? Though I doubt their maturity level is up to actual politics. Oh wait, I forgot about Trumpy Cat...

17:

"The Hugo's that Might Have Been"

Sigh. That's the saddest thing about this whole debacle. We lost a year we will never get back. The bright side is that this should be a galvinizing wake up call- the struggle to keep the world free from the most extreme forms of destructive tribalism goes ever on- it never ends; they never go away or get tired or feel any shame- instead they deliver a constant pressure against social progress- and if we dont keep our fingers in the dike, they flow back into the nooks and crannies of society, popping up to give us yet more grief. Keep up the good fight, WSFS.

18:

I watched most of the ceremony last night, and am wondering when the hosts were chosen? I can't help but think it totally intentional (and pretty fantastic) to pick an African-American woman and a Gay Jewish man to host, and repeatedly say "No Award".

19:
Sigh. That's the saddest thing about this whole debacle. We lost a year we will never get back

Maybe somebody will tweak the rules for Retro Hugos. In which case 2065 will be an interesting year for any of us that make it that far ;-)

20:

To quote Beale:

"Going forward, he said, no matter how the Hugo administrators modify the nominating process to try to prevent manipulation (and there are two proposals being considered), he will still have enough supporters to control future awards. Specifically, “I have 390 sworn and numbered vile faceless minions—the hardcore shock troops—who are sworn to mindless and perfect obedience,” he said,... "

Such a man with a sense of humor and irony is dangerous.

21:

I’ve been somewhat skeptical about how closely related Puppies and GamerGate have been, simply because I hadn’t seen any evidence that there was a direct connection beyond Vox Day being a GG sympathizer and both sets of groups having similar attitudes. But others, such as you, report seeing a significant overlap in tweets with both GamerGate- and Puppies-related hashtags, so I could be mistaken about that.

(But boy, if there is such an overlap, when combined with estimates I've seen on the number of voters of each persuasion, it certainly sheds new light on just how small the GamerGate movement really is. Even if every single Puppy voter were a GamerGater, there were only about a thousand of them who could afford to pony up the $40 necessary to cast their vote?)

22:

Beale's approach is to consider every possible outcome...and declare himself the winner in every case. Which makes it a little hard to take anything he says seriously. (As if it weren't already.)

Definitely sad about all the good authors pushed off the ballot by the slate, but one bright spot remains (and severely undermines the claims that the Hugo is "burning down"): Best Novel, which is really the only category most people outside of core fandom care about, had multiple non-slate works on it, and had an honest winner.

23:

One line in the WIRED article caught my eye.

“Look at it like this,” Correia blogged at one point. “I’m Churchill, Brad is FDR. We wound up on the same side as Stalin.”

I can see what he's getting at, but if you try to look at the history, it soon gets messy.

Is he really saying we are the Nazis, or is he just an ignorant git?

I suppose he has some sort of plausible deniability.

24:

"The Slow Regard of Silent Things" is my favorite SF/Fantasy novella *ever*. A truly special work.

I am extremely, extremely sad that the puppies crapped on its chances of being nominated.


25:

I assumed that he meant that those who support identity politics are the Nazis.

26:

One sad aspect counter to the "there will be future years" is that most likely because of the Puppies, Eugie Foster's final story missed being nominated. The possibility of a posthumous Hugo for a deserving story would have been far better than that stuff that was No Awarded.

27:

To commemorate this occasion, and with a shout-back to Dr. Demento, here's "Dead Puppies Aren't Much Fun" to solemnly sing along to.

And then I'll go do a happy dance over E Pluribus Hugo, after which I'll go start prepping for the onslaught of the zombie pups (the pupae?) next year.

28:

Two things that might help with the pushed-off-the-ballot problem: first, publish the full data on the nominations shortly after they close, and second, allow write-ins in the final ballot, so that you can still vote for the pushed-off items if you want. (Or just vote for whatever work you really loved, even if it didn't make the ballot for other reasons, and has no chance of winning.)

Of course, this would definitely make counting the ballots more difficult. But I'm pretty sure it's mostly automated these days anyway. Still might be to radical for WSFS to consider, though.

29:

One thing I don't get - if the puppy slates were so damaging why dont the organisers move heaven and earth to action E pluris whatsit in a faster timeframe. I get that the worldcons are the time when most things happen but surely there is some way to organise an EGM type thing? They manage to do the shortlisting outside of the main Con..

Next year they could be risking a repeat or worse.

30:

Another, more technical fix would be to not allow people to nominate as many works as go forward to the ballot. IOW- if ten works go on the ballot, only allow people to nominate five titles.

31:

Here is the detailed vote breakdown from the final run-off (PDF). Includes a list of the top 15 nominees in each category, along with the number of nominations received by each.

This is published at the end, after the awards are announced, to avoid biasing the voters.

The E Pluribus Hugo proposal (which, if ratified by the 2016 worldcon, will come into effect at the 2017 worldcon in Helsinki) gives each nominating ballot a point to spend in each category. If you nominate just one item in category A, it gets 1 point. If you nominate 5 items in category A, they each get 0.2 points. So it works to deter saturation slates that attempt to cram the entire shortlist. A campaign to vote for a single work could still get through, but doesn't crowd everyone else off the ballot and can in principle be tolerated because it faces opposition from similar campaigns: but slates would be diluted. They could still work, but would require five times as many nominations, which is a bit impractical for Vox Day unless he's the kind of evil genius who would invent an ACME cloning machine and a time portal in order to rig a literary award.

32:

Write-ins result in a very much harder counting process, and also have problems with eligibility issues.

33:

They are moving as fast as possible.

It's called rules, and they're very clear on what the process is for changes.

34:

I've been left wondering "What's Next?" in a different fashion.

We just had a chunk of idiots, some of them VERY new to the industry, run around showing their asses in an American culture wars fracas. So what comes now, when they have to go back and work with a lot of the people they just insulted, belittled, or just generally hacked off? What comes when agents, editors, and publishers look at the sales numbers and weigh that against this person being a pain in the ass to work with?

That's the interesting question for me.

35:

if the puppy slates were so damaging why dont the organisers move heaven and earth to action E pluris whatsit in a faster timeframe.

Can't. Not without breaking the WSFS constitution which requires changes to the rules to be voted through at one worldcon and approved by another consecutive one.

If we bent that rule for the puppies, their point would be proven: the game would be provably rigged against them.

If this means the 2016 Hugos are also a hot mess, then so be it: accepting one year's transient damage as the cost of a solid repair is better than undermining the legitimacy of the entire system. (And I speak as a guy who hopes to have three or more works eligible for nomination that year.)

36:

That's sort of what E Pluribus Hugo accomplishes, indirectly: you can nominate as many works as appear on the shortlist, but then your nominations are diluted to only 20% of the weighting of someone who feels really strongly that one work in particular belongs there (and nominates only that).

37:

The amount of ludditism that was being displayed over EPH was kindof disheartening though. Lots of "Oh, it's complex, it can't be done by hand". Er, Ireland runs its general elections using STV voting which is functionally identical to EPH; and we do it by hand, with pencil and paper. It's not hard to understand as a voter, or as a counter, or in interpreting the results. You just vote for what you want, in order of preference. That's all. It's really very straightforward.

38:

In my experience, Americans are as suspicious of voting systems other than first-past-the-post (X marks the spot) as they are of the metric system. Metrication makes life easier and ranked voting systems make voting fairer, but NOT INVENTED HERE OH NOES IS IT A FOREIGN CONSPIRACY ...

(Only half-kidding. I'm of the generation who learned imperial measurements then converted to metric in my early teens. It's child's play to pick it up; even switching over a nation isn't too hard, as long as you take a decade over it, running systems in parallel, to allow the ancient and crumbly to die off and everyone younger but not very flexible to get a handle on how stuff works, e.g. a kilometre is a little over two-thirds of a mile, a kilogram is a whisker under two and a quarter pounds, and so on.)

39:

He's always been like this, but perhaps the volume was a little lower.

40:

I must have missed it in the volume of posts and works.. or I might have been intentionally blinding myself and missing it on purpose. I have been a loyal reader since Singularity Sky, never expected this.

41:

Prediction: next year the Puppies will try again, harder, nastier, and more destructive.

Remember: someone brought in gamergaters.

And whatever the outcome, the Rabid Puppies and their prophet will be reinforced in their conviction that they're right.

Looking out to 2017 and beyond, I think we need to look into the failure modes of E Pluribus Hugo. Sure as hell, VD will...

...Although we already know the effective defence: more nominations and more voters.

42:
2015, when being male and/or white is equal to being evil.

And on twitter:

#HugoAwards winners that aren't #SadPuppies
Boy look at all that diversity!
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CNEcxJ-UwAAJG3C.jpg

Seriously, make up your mind already...

43:

I have been a loyal reader since Singularity Sky, never expected this.

If that's true, you clearly haven't been paying attention.

44:

Please don't respond to the trolls, other than to point them out.

45:

Like I said, I must have intentionally ignored the signs. Granted, there are plenty of hints now that I look back, certain characters, the androids and their society in Saturn's Children, etc., but it wasn't overly heavy-handed or preachy.... was it?

46:

Last warning: stop it. Further comments in that vein will be removed, or if I'm feeling really mean, edited to include Melissa Etheridge lyrics.


47:

Please baby can't you see
My mind's a burnin' hell
I got razors a rippin' and tearin' and strippin'
My heart apart as well

48:

I would dial the numbers
Just to listen to your breath
I would stand inside my hell
And hold the hand of death
You don't know how far I'd go
To ease this precious ache
You don't know how much I'd give

49:

I had never heard the term "Social Justice Warrior" until a month ago (I was reading the acronym as "Single Jewish Woman" and getting very confused). And yes, some well-intentioned people can be preachy, and, well, boring. That said, nearly every time I've seen the term SJW hurled was in the same kind of context you expect to read "I'm not racist but...".

I just hope the li'l cujos don't enlist the hordes of professional culture warriors from the U.S. political establishment (furloughed by the recognition of gay marriage, although I suppose there is still abortion to rile up useful idiots over). There's no way the Hugo's would recover.

In the wider publishing world, at least in the U.S., there is really only one award that matters, and it is impossible to game: Oprah's. Perhaps we need such a thing, in illustration of Arrow's impossibility theorem.

50:

Oh, and don't let the door hit you on the arse on your way out, you odious little MRA.

Hint: I am happy to be described as a feminist, a socialist, and a social justice warrior: I have been all along, I'm just surprised it took you this long to notice.

51:

I can't shake the feeling that the goal was the organisation of actual leftish, exclusionist, cliques so that reality would appear to prove them right, especially to people coming along later who might be unclear on the chronology.

52:

Are we talking about Zombie Puppies or Vampire Puppies? How do they come back from the dead next time?

53:
Here's hoping the politics gets dumped

The problem is not politics; the Hugos have always had politics because they are a system where a group of people who don't agree on who should get something (a Hugo Award) vote to decide who should get it.

The problem is that the Hugos have always been a specific kind of political system; namely anarchy. And the slates try to change that from anarchy to a party political system. And the reason that's a problem is that when ten thousand people all nominate books they think are excellent and those nominations all compete on an equal footing, the process acts to condense and evaluate those nominations and the awards become valuable as a reading list for those who don't have large amounts of reading time. But if the slates run and 15% or less of those nominating can defeat the others regardless of the worth of their works, then the value of the Hugos as a reading list is lost.

*That* is the problem.

54:

Hint: I am happy to be described as a feminist, a socialist, and a social justice warrior: I have been all along, I'm just surprised it took you this long to notice.

I'm tempted to say ditto, but I nearly replied to the troll, with some comment about him being an "ignorant dittohead with a mental age of 12", but that'd be offensive to 12 year olds and I was busy making dinner. Food takes precedence over troll-baiting.
So instead a Me Too.

55:

As I go into here, one thing that interests me about the Puppies movements and GamerGate is how they both had such similar beginnings and met such similar rejections. Both were launched by splinter groups of their respective fandom, rooted in a fear that their chosen media fandom was moving away from the types of narratives that appealed to them, and toward the sort of liberal message-fiction that wasn’t any fun to experience.

They wanted to fight back against that kind of change, so they attempted to spark a backlash. For a while, they appeared to be successful, but in the end, their chosen fandoms repudiated them—GamerGate via a near-total lack of any friendly coverage outside Breitbart or The Escapist, and the Puppies via a larger body of voters explicitly rejecting the choices from their slates. And both movements reacted effectively the same way: alleging they were the victims of media bias and a conspiracy.

56:

I'd bet the opposite

First of all, it will be another year out. That would make "trying to kill women for disagreeing about videogames" 3 years old at that point. Time will induce attrition of its own there

Second - it will be an American election year. So all the effort that the "reporters" for various right wing outlets dumped onto this its associated bullshit will be focused on Bush vs Clinton. That's much less promotion.

Third - part of the idea when the writers and organizers were signing on was "this will be good for our careers!" I very much doubt that will prove to hold true. The culture wars "being an abusive asshole" does not translate into a professional work environment very well. Decisions are being made and those decisions will percolate through the network and I suspect a desire to get dragged into this shit will be greatly reduced

Fourth - Larry really wants his participation trophy and Torg really wants a contract. That means they need to deliver, so pushing "The Iron Dream, unironically" next year will not do so

Fifth - I actually doubt this is true, but I include it for completeness: they claim next year the slate will not be Larry, Torg and Beale figuring out which jackboots they want to win and how many tokens they need to include to slip their choice past everyone.


Point is, I expect de-escalation, and while there will be ways to break the new system after that, those will take time, and every year out it gets harder for them to win

57:

Oh, that's a good point. I forgot about eligibility requirements. That would complicate matters. Perhaps if write-ins were limited to stuff that got at least one valid nomination? (Makes it a little more tricky for the voters, *but*, it would allow you to vote for exactly what you nominated, if you'd sent in a valid nomination. Which might be cool.)

@OGH: Yes, it's true that us 'merkins tend to be suspicious of all that nasty furrin stuff like metricamification, but there are exceptions, and, in fact, the city I live in has instant-runoff for local elections (as do a handful of other nearby cities, including San Francisco). Alternatives to first-past-the-post are actually starting to attract some attention over here.

58:

Ian S, your comment was removed because it was going off-rails, and it's too early (and we're keeping too tight a reign on this post) to do that.

59:

Sorry Sean, but I think you are right about "keeping too tight a reign"(sic).

Context is everything, and the original sad puppies had a point that got lost in the extremists' take over, mudslinging, and the backslapping. That context is what I tried to highlight.

60:

Same here...though 'SJF' was more commonly used in personal ads, I saw 'SJW' there enough to be confused recently.

61:

It seems rather unlikely to me that the Puppies could do even this well next year. That would suppose that they could out-recruit what we know to be the majority within SF fandom. Somebody with deep pockets could give it a try, but why would they bother? Truthfully, the Hugos dont matter all that much outside of the SF community. Plus, everyone and their cousin is going to take out a membership just to have a chance at voting against next year's puppy slate.

A more serious concern I think are the publishers taking a lesson from all this and trying to game their own books into getting Hugo nominations/awards. That has little to do with the so-called "culture wars" but a lot to do with the integrity of the awards.

62:

Remember: someone brought in gamergaters.

Nile, VD and the rabid puppies are gamergaters. It's kind of hopeful; there aren't that many of them, and next worldcon round, there will be a metric shitload of angry fans nominating stuff -- I expect far more nominations than in a normal year.

63:

Special request: can you do Alanis Morisette lyrics? Or maybe Tracy Chapman?

64:

I was going to suggest lyrics from Against Me!'s latest, "Transgender Dysphoria Blues". But perhaps not well enough known.

65:

And I've got a soft spot for Indigo Girls. Maybe we can, um, bury their hearts at Wounded Knee, perhaps?

Oh well. I've got to be a dittohead and say that GRRM giving out other awards was also a very classy act.

66:

I've got to be a dittohead and say that GRRM giving out other awards was also a very classy act.

Yeah, and they're really spiffy looking hood ornaments. Nothing against the Rocket, but gotta love the tail-fins.

67:

Yes ( & NO ) ...
I started using what was then called the "mks" system in 1961 (at school,of course) ... I have no difficulty switching "systems" in my head.
The International System of Units" has been taught in British schools since at least 1975.
There are STILL people who "can't cope" &/or "hate those nasty foreign units from the French revolution" ( I kid you not).
As religion shows, there is no limit to the amount of stupidity out there, I'm sorry to say.

Fun to be had finding & using metric/decimal ratios inside the Imperial system, too ... A gallon of water weighs 10 lbs (in Britain, because the US gallon & much worse Pint, as in beer, are smaller).
Temperature is easy since minus 40 is the same in both syatems, & oddly enough the 5/9ths ratio works quite well .. in F/C terms.
32 = 0, 41 = 5, 50 = 10, 59 = 15, 68 = 20 etc ....
km/miles is easy & shorter distances, a "chain" - 22 yards = 20 metres.

68:

"SJW" - yes, well.Very surprisingly for my age, I have always been aware of the disadvantages women, in particular suffer from, even in today's societies in Europe & the USA, never mind the "third world" or those where religion has a stranglehold ( *note* )
There is still far too much of it about & IMHO, women still get the worst of it, compared to people who are not pink or whose sexual orientation is not err "normal".
Exception as usual for NornIre ....

See here
and here too

* note * "... where religion has a stranglehold"
NOT just those countries where islam is the dominant religion, of course.
Try getting an abortion in much of the USSA ....

69:

"...and the Puppies via a larger body of voters explicitly rejecting the choices from their slates."

Not quite. It seems to me that the notion of the slate itself was being rejected, not what was on it.

70:

I wouldn't take much courage from the fact that the puppies 'only' managed to turn out around a thousand voters, with regard to the size of gamergate. I think most gamergaters simply don't care about literary sci-fi, or at least not the contemporary stuff.

71:
Not quite. It seems to me that the notion of the slate itself was being rejected, not what was on it.

They did have Guardians of the Galaxy get through ;-)

Speaking personally I was sort of dreading voting this year since I was on the fence about whether to use "No Award" as a protest vote or not. But it turned out I didn't really have to.

I did my first Hugo read through ignoring the slate completely (as much as I could anyway — obviously I knew some of the names of the organisers and their publishing house, but I didn't know them all). My truly terrible memory for names helps.

I've used "No award" every time I've voted for Hugos. This time I used it a lot. Because, to be blunt, there were a lot more stories in there that just plain sucked (from my POV). Along with a larger chunk of things that were just "okay". And to get above "no award" in the Hugos for me means you have to be better than just "okay".

To pick one example "Skin Game". I love the Dresden Files books and have paid money for almost everything Butcher has written. I'd read Skin Game as soon as it was published and found it a fun read. As a body of work I think the Dresden books are really, really good in various ways (IMHO anyway). However Skin Game in particular is just… okay… from my perspective. Calling it formulaic would be overly unkind, but it didn't do a lot that was new and interesting for me. Especially compared to the earlier books in the series. So it went under "No award".

So, in the end, almost nothing on the slate ended up above "no award" for me. Which made my decision about how to deal with the slate a non-problem from my perspective.

72:

The difference between the puppies and gamergaters is that the latter mouth off for free. To vote at the Hugos costs money. As soon as a $$$ price is attached to having an opinion the numbers drop precipitously.
It's like this blog. If we even had to pay as much as $1 per year for the privilege of commenting here (let alone merely reading it), it would be a quiet place after a while.

74:

The amusing thing about the term 'SJW' is that the ones using it in a derogatory manner are just as likely to treat the whole thing as a war. The embattled positions, the hateful rhetoric, the death threats, etc. I think they like to pretend to be members of the even-keeled, reasonable majority, and it's staggering how quick they can be to drop that pretence.

75:

You're wrong there, I'm afraid:

[ LINK TO GAMERGATE PROPAGANDA SITE REMOVED BY MODERATORS -- see moderation policy. ]

76:

What's even more amusing is what they're actually saying once you decode the acronym. It's basically "hey, you! You're actually trying to be a reasonably decent human being! You should be ashamed of yourself for that!".

Unfortunately for them, what that makes me think is "okay, let me get as far as physically possible from the kind of world you're trying to create".

77:

I disagree with your disagree! gamergaters are mostly don't care trolls who will not put their money where their mouth is. The link you provided was for their opposite number, if such a description is apt.

78:

Not disagreeing with you. I'm telling you that you're wrong.

Fine Young Capitalists are pro-gamergate. (The hint is in the URL, but you can research it yourself: a quick Google will do the trick.) They raised $71000 in an effort to spite claims that they're anti-women, but it is nevertheless an example of GG 'putting their money where their mouth is'. It's not even the only example of gamergate raising money: they do plenty of charity fundraising in an effort to legitimise themselves.

79:

Three Body Problem, a deserved winner (although Goblin Emperor is good).

As to the result, not exactly surprising. I'd say "called it" but more like "reality check central".


I'll leave you with a rebuttal to the VD's "Xanatos Strategy", which is rich in irony:

In a purported alternative reality, the "SJW clique" would have put forward their usual selection, which as io9 and others have shown, might have included persons of passing fame and note such as Anita Sarkeesian. Indeed, one of the 'masterminds' of this movement even noted it, crowing gleefully.

The irony is, of course, that the moment that Anita Sarkeesian was anywhere near a list, then the gambit to link Puppies and (some elements) of "GamerGate" or KIA would have been overwhelming successful, and would have allowed a more united front to emerge (and probably split "GamerGate" once more, removing any kind of leveling influences, but the less said about the better).

In putting forward the slate, the puppies have removed this timeline and a much greater and damaging event (the real version of burning the village to the ground) would have occurred.

Instead we have the bitter griping and reality distortions going on which are pleasant for no-one (including those feeling slighted by the way reality worked out), but are rather mild in comparison to the alternatives. There are elements of "where making alliances when they really should know each other a little better" will have opened some eyes.

So, rather than Xanatos, the rabid puppies have been lead down a garden path to present their own (self) humiliation as payment for preventing a much more dangerous situation to unfold. Added to this, the stark contrast between Religious fervor (trolling or not) and staunch (quasi) anarchist agnosticism / nihilism within some elements of GamerGate has been very clearly shown.

It looks, from the outside, almost as if Xanatos is more like Pyrrhus.


So it goes.


Vox Day as SJW weapon.


Now that's a funny joke.

~


I've also seen 'rumors' that the slate next year will be lead by women on the "puppies" side.

Beware of that, they might get insightful counter-revolutionary ideas of their own.

Might even reform the movement from within, transforming it into something new. It'll be fun to see if that can happen.

~


Anyhow, chapter closed for 2015. Feel free to delete if it's distasteful, I understand real people are involved with real feelings - here's to GRRM's vision of a bit of reality and healing.


p.s.


There be Dragons, indeed, you were warned...

80:

Disagree.
Yes, the slate put forward was apparently harmless, until one saw the "reasons" given for said slate being proposed.
But
The whole idea of a "slate" - a block vote - is in itself contrary to the spirit & ethos behind the Hugos.
That of individual people making their own, individual minds up as to their preferences.
I don't think we want "Party block votes" of any sort in this, our intellectual play-area, thank you very much.

81:

Napoleon XIV lyrics would be more appropriate --

I cooked your food, I cleaned your house,
and this is how you paid me back
for all my kind unselfish loving deeds. Huh?
Well you just wait they'll find you yet,
and when they do they'll put you in the ASPCA
you mangy mutt.


82:

www.BlackGate.com where I blog was one of the nomination refuseniks.

In our case we had a tainted nomination in not quite the right category - perhaps the pups in question glanced at our landing page, saw swords and stuff, and assumed we were One of Them (which we are not).

Our editor turned it down, as was proper. However, it wasn't a pleasurable experience. John O Neil likened it to being asked out by the town drunk. For me, it was more like being a teenage boy and having the girl you're in love with suddenly sit on your lap and try to make out, but you know she's drunk and only doing it to make her ex boyfriend jealous. The right thing to do is obvious and you do it, but it's still a painful experience.

83:

From Theodore Beale's own blog-page ...

As for what comes next, we're going to be discussing RP plans for 2016 at a Closed Brainstorm session later this week; only Annual Members and Monthly Members who were registered before today will be permitted to attend. Suffice it to say that there will be plenty for everyone, VFM, Rabids, Dread Ilk, and new Rabid converts alike, to do in the coming year.

We have been warned.

84:

"Trumpy Cat..." How dare you malign that poor little kitty! (jk) I may have to steal that term from you, very nice, thanks.
Hopefully we can take back the Hugos from the zealots and go back to talking about the writing. I may have to buy a Worldcon membership just to thumb my nose at the GG/SP/RP mob.

85:

Nah, he's just a well organized troll with a bit of money. In the end, he's only of nuisance value.

86:

I am happy to be described as a feminist, a socialist, and a social justice warrior

Fair enough, but remember that for an aging SF author to neglect entertainment value in favor of anvilicious political messages is the definition of brain-eater syndrome. You're a professional entertainer; you can't afford to be tedious.

87:

Yes, invoking war is very telling...as is the invocation of the 'warrior', whose modern cult is part of what bugs me about much violent fiction. Though individuals of great ability and courage do noticeably important things on battle-fields, wars are in the end won by ordinary people made into competent-within-1-sigma-of-the-mean soldiers who badically do what they're told, with some room to improvise if their leader s are smart. The warrior cult attempts to square, rather ignore, the essentially collectivist and autocratic and routinised nature of life in the Forces in favour of a narrative of the hyper-competent and self-directed individual more in keeping with modern ideals, particularly in the States. Somewhere buried in there is also the bad old bias that the morally best warrior wins, which is both not seen relative to most moralities and the essence of fascist morality.

(Translate the above into machinery, and one gets the worship of super-weapons and other gadgets over less fancy but more widely available kit...a little more in touch with reality, both because innovations can win battles and because there is frequently the admission that Bad Guys can be inventive as well.)

88:

A couple of the Puppy ones might of deserved to win over No Award. 'Totaled' by Kary English was on the slates, but she wasn't part of any of the craziness. It was a pretty good story. And I like Toni, but Baen got tainted by their association with the Puppies this year costing her a win.

Also glad Doctor Who got denied. Orphan Black has been doing amazing stuff.

89:
Fair enough, but remember that for an aging SF author to neglect entertainment value in favor of anvilicious political messages is the definition of brain-eater syndrome. You're a professional entertainer; you can't afford to be tedious.

Curiously exactly my thoughts on a bunch of the fiction on the puppy's slate…

Really political ideology is orthogonal to entertainment. There are some right-wing authors whose politics I loathe who I find thoroughly entertaining reading. And vice versa. There are some left-wing authors who politics I love who I find tedious in the extreme. And vice versa.

90:

Curiously exactly my thoughts on a bunch of the fiction on the puppy's slate…

To the very limited extent that I'm familiar with the puppies' work, I agree.

91:
Fair enough, but remember that for an aging SF author to neglect entertainment value in favor of anvilicious political messages is the definition of brain-eater syndrome. You're a professional entertainer; you can't afford to be tedious.

Oh noes, he'll have to refund all of his readers who've been buying his books for years as they suddenly realise that that sensation they all thought was "being entertained" was actually "being bored by tedious political messages" because someone pointed out that he actually thought that treating people as if they were people, the heinous cad!

92:

What's even more amusing is what they're actually saying once you decode the acronym. It's basically "hey, you! You're actually trying to be a reasonably decent human being! You should be ashamed of yourself for that!".

i think there's an implication in the SJW term that goes beyond being "a reasonbly decent human being". To me, that would be someone who gives everybody equal opportunities regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc. But there's an implication in the SJW term of a crusader, in the medieval sense, that makes me uncomfortable.

As long as it truly is equal opportunities for everybody, and not "well, let's bias it against the establishment because they've had it good for so long" as seen at many of the US universities that instituted "affirmative action", I'm okay with it. And so far, that seems to be what the "SJW" community has done. I just wish they hadn't embraced the term so readily.

Or maybe I'm just crazy, seeing things that aren't there. :)

93:

I wonder how many of the concern trolls who have suddenly appeared in order to point out that they don't like Charlies work any more have actually read any of it.

Being bored by tedious political messages doesn't happen to me very often, but last time it did the passage in question was something I pretty much agreed with. Something that should be impossible! :)

94:

Speaking of political messages in sci-fi, did anyone pick up on the quiet irony of Card winning against Hubbard in 1987, considering Card is probably now the more vilified author? I'm referring to the following comment made by GRRM in his post on the whole mess, as cited in the OP:

In 1987, members of the Church of Scientology campaigned successfully to place L. Ron Hubbard's BLACK GENESIS on the Best Novel ballot. That was not disallowed -- the Scientologists had done nothing illegal, after all, all they'd done is buy supporting memberships to a convention that they had no intention of attending, for the sole purpose of nominating LRH for a Hugo (hmmm, why does that tactic sound familiar?) -- but their campaign created a huge backlash. Hubbard's name was booed lustily at the Hugo ceremony in Brighton, and his book finished last in the final balloting, behind No Award. (The winner that year was Orson Scott Card, with SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, for those who are counting).

The funny thing about Speaker for the Dead is that it is easily my favourite Card novel, and probably sits somewhere in my top ten sci-fi novels, even though I find the man's personal politics morally reprehensible. It is nuanced, well-written, informative and entertaining. That the man, to put it diplomatically, decided to take a clownishly homophobic view of US politics doesn't detract from the fact that his younger self once wrote a damn good novel.

Reading Ancillary Justice, meanwhile, I was struck by the novel's readability. I was engrossed with what it was doing with gender, but I was ecstatic that it was making those concepts both entertaining and relatable. My immediate thoughts, finishing the first dozen pages, were something like: 'I can actually share this book with people!' If the book only had the politics I very much doubt it would have won a Hugo. But the fact that it was also a well-written novel was what put it over the edge, as with Speaker for the Dead.

That is, Jay, I think you're telling our host how to suck eggs. He knows shoving your politics down someone's throat is about as appealing in fiction as it is in an essay, or even in a personal conversation. Whatever slippery slope you're warning him against is likely well understood by every professional author within a hundred kilometre radius of yourself.

95:

More likely they've been told not to like OGH's work (Or they secretly do read and buy his books but want to broadcast that they don't)

From day one, this has seemed to obsess producers of SF/F (authors, editors, publishers) rather more than it has the reading public at large, who have been largely entertained by mid-list authors clashing with repulsive self-publicists masquerading as SF/F writers.

It appears to have rebounded badly on the Sad and Rabid Puppies, and the majority of fandom appears to have re-asserted itself

I understand John C Wright's career may not be quite as well as say, oooh, picking a name at random here ;-) John Scalzi. Or Marko Kloos.

Money talks and bullshit walks, I gather the saying is.

So, same again next year?

96:

No, lets us hope next year is not the same. Thats the whole point of the E Pluribus Hugo thing.

All in all, this is a victory for decency, but lets next year be a normal one in which no bunch of hateful morality-handicapped rejects try to screw the whole world.

I dont know if anybody has done, or if it is possible to do, an analysis of the impact of this bullshit in sales. Some people that deserved exposure were out of the competition; some people exposed themselves as assholes but I'm not sure it will matter in their sales, as they were not that popular to begin with and... well, they pander to who they pander.

97:

there's an implication in the SJW term that goes beyond being "a reasonbly decent human being". To me, that would be someone who gives everybody equal opportunities regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc. But there's an implication in the SJW term of a crusader, in the medieval sense

I think that is how a lot of internet denizens are now using the term Social Justice Warrior, as a person who espouses the slippery slope where it's short step from equality to "lets get the bastards now we can". I've certainly noted more frequent use in sane if more right-leaning conservative circles, along side the terms "progressive" and "liberal" (which are also, of course, labels that if taken literally mean something very different from how they are frequently employed by conservative commentators).

I suspect that there is also the translation in the minds of many US-ican conservatives that "Social Justice" = socialism = EEEEEVULLLLLL!!!!

98:

So, same again next year?

Probably, but I hope not. It started off vaguely entertaining but has all got a bit old now.

Having said that, I was grudgingly impressed by just how comprehensively the Slashdot write up managed to miss the point.

99:

E Pluribus Hugo has passed. But it won't be in force until after it's been ratified, and that cannot happen until the business meeting(s) of next year. That means that next year's Hugo awards will be nominated and voted under the same rules as this. It's Worldcon75 in Helsinki that'll be the first running under the new rules (though I hope statistics will be gathered so we can see which way 2016 would have gone under EPH).

I've noted a bunch of people on the 'net going "Why can't we change the rules immediately?". That's because constitutional rule changes need some form of brake on them, and in this case that's having two successive conventions agree. Those rules themselves could be changed, but the effect of any such change couldn't happen this year, nor next either.

100:

...

Oh Shit.

So 2016 is another "Vox Day gets to piss on everybody's cereal" year.

Fun.

101:

E Pluribus Hugo won't come into action until 2017 at the earliest, so Hugos 2016 may be a shitfest of slates, too.

I, for one, care not much.

One group of predominately male white Americans fighting another group of predominately male white Americans over received ideas of diversity, bias, and alleged literary quality.

http://memecrunch.com/meme/NZRV/are-you-not-entertained/image.jpg

102:

I have come to feel that the problem with metrification is people not knowing the imperial system very well.

For math-in-head purposes, a mile is eight furlongs and a kilometre is five. A hundredweight is fifty kilos. Stuff like that. (Well, 50.8, but really.)

103:

Moderation notice:

Dirk, you're increasingly prone to wandering off-topic, derailing, and using the comment threads as a soapbox for your personal views rather than engaging in discussion. About three-quarters of your comments are therefore being held in moderation.

104:

Are we trying to make the MRA die of shame? Enya.

105:

Dude, that's what I've been all along. Didn't you notice? Go back and read Singularity Sky and it's basically a rebuttal of Weber-esque Napoleonic-Navies-in-Space space opera, from a denunciation of empires and social conservativisim through to taking the piss out of their standard off-the-shelf let's-recycle-a-famous-naval-battle plot (in the case of SS, I picked the voyage of the Russian baltic fleet to the battle of Tsushima in 1905-06).

Didn't you read Glasshouse? Or spot that all the protags in Rule 34 (except the psychopathic gangster) were LGBT?

Oy.

106:

If you're a member of a dominant class, equality feels like oppression. (And does in fact represent a negative change for members of that class in terms of their direct benefits from society. Exactly like removing the requirement that women must marry is very bad for the bottom quartile of the male population.)

"I'm all for equality and justice as long as I never feel oppressed" is a, sometimes sincerely thoughtless, call for the status quo to be maintained.

107:

EXACTLY
Hence all the desperate screams from the christian religious in both the USA & here about "persecution" especially by the "Evil Secularists".
And when they can't even tell the difference between a secularist - who might, actually be a believer - & an atheist.
Not that I care, anyway, because I just go ..."Ooh, another demented loon - can I play?"

108:

Yes, but so did "4 and 6." Next year, the business meeting will have to choose between them, or try them both in different years, or something else.

Also, the energy on both sides of the dispute will be less next year, and who knows what that will mean for the awards.

109:

I only read your horror comedies. I've read just enough of the rest to know I'm not interested. If the horror comedies were a passing phase for you, then I'll probably drift away.

110:

EPH uses single divisible vote (SDV), which is somewhat different from STV, and, while in principle the entire counting could be done manually, the number of iterations and works involved would make this a huge amount of tedious work. John Lorenz, four times a Hugo Administrator, believes that EPH will add around 50% to the time required to count the nominations. There may be ways to lighten this load, but they are going to have to be found.

111:

Are there non-aging SF writers? If so, what's the criteria. I'm sure I've got a novella or two in me somewhere.

112:

The "horror comedies" are coming at the rate of one a year now, but you may not enjoy the moral theme they're exploring.

But you should be aware that I haven't exactly been hiding what I am. I'm somewhere to the right, politically, of Iain Banks and Ken Macleod. As one of them was a socialist activist and the other a Trotskyite, you might not find that terribly comforting if you like your politics supine and compliant with the right-wing consensus on how the world should run.

113:

Oh, trust me, I know up close and personal what it looks like when one group with virtually unlimited political, economic, and social power find themselves having to compromise. <hint>Greg enjoys holding up my homeland as a paragon of religious intolerance and backward-thinking, and he's not far wrong</hint>

114:

My take on the pups is actually rather conservative; I would prefer to wait them out. Problem is, I don't believe that is possible. After a few years of partisan voting in the initial Hugo ballots, the awards would have no credibility left. If nothing is done, I expect other parties would spring up: we would have the Happy Kitties, the Angry Elephants, the Hungry Hippos and so forth. The end result of that would be that no work could be nominated without partisan support, and that would be awful.

115:

I'm not on one side or the other in the culture wars. I mainly just want the most vocal partisans on each side to die in a fire. I am quite a bit to your right on social issues, but we seem to have broad agreement on economic issues.

116:

Oh, trust me, I know up close and personal what it looks like when one group with virtually unlimited political, economic, and social power find themselves having to compromise. <hint>Greg enjoys holding up my homeland as a paragon of religious intolerance and backward-thinking, and he's not far wrong</hint>

117:

What, you're in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament, a rolling program of renationalization of state assets privatized over the past 15-20 years[*], a guaranteed basic income to replace all unemployment and pension benefits, and a wealth tax?


[*] I have no brief for the state owning steel mills, car factories, or airlines -- but infrastructure services that everyone needs and that constitute natural monopolies should be part of the state. Including healthcare.

118:

Good ol' HL Mencken gets raised long enough to croak: "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong," before I release him back to whatever afterlife pundits go to.

That probably applies to the Hugos too, just to make this not entirely a derail.

My take is that holding bureaucrats and power-brokers accountable is a big problem, no matter who owns the particular bureaucracy. Nationalizing doesn't automatically bring benefits if the country has no skill set (which sort of applies to US healthcare--look at what we do to our veterans).

In any case, US health care is (I think) still hung up on the Ohio vote, which tends to decide presidential politics. Yes, almost everyone would save a lot of money if we dismantled the health care companies and instituted a single government bureaucracy to run things.

Problem is, a bunch of the insurance industry is located in northern Ohio, and Ohio is a swing state where the democracts are disproportionately in the north. Putting a large number of them out of work is (unfortunately) a reasonable way to make a Republican US president, so there's no real incentive for a Democrat to push for single-payer health-care...UNLESS there's a tidal wave of voter discontent sweeping the country for such a system that makes such considerations moot.

So the question is, is single payer healthcare in the US worth President Trump? It's only a quarter-silly question, and it's one that even Scottish citizens might be concerned with.

As for cleaning up the vote for future Hugos, all I can say is a) I hope it works, and b) I hope they find ways to simplify the counting process, so that the people who care most don't have to bear the brunt of others' politicking.

119:

Well, I agree with only the first, though I am probably about the same position in the left-right dimension - my solutions to those ills would be, er, different :-)

However, my personal response to the "entertainment is all" poster is that most intelligent people find such things boring. It's OK when you are in the mood for something mindless, but I want some depth (whatever it is) at other times.

120:

As long as it truly is equal opportunities for everybody, and not "well, let's bias it against the establishment because they've had it good for so long" as seen at many of the US universities that instituted "affirmative action",

Oh ye Gods. You're right: the police might gun down African-Americans disproportionately, African-Americans might get redlined for mortgages, pulled over for DWB, and receive worse health care on average, but LET'S NOT doing anything to help them that isn't exactly equal to the help that all those nice upper class white kids get.

Ohio is a swing state

President Obama would have won both times without Ohio. Simple explanations for complex policy questions are almost always wrong, and so is this one.

121:

It passed with more votes in the affirmative than the normal total attendees of the WSFS business meeting.

122:

Whether or not you are crazy, you are talking about things that are not there, or were not before stuff happened anyway. You don't seem to be getting that "SJW" is the right's label for the left - and even if some embrace it (because it is after all saying ex
actly what Megpie said, "hey, you! You're actually trying to be a reasonably decent human being! You should be ashamed of yourself for that!") it doesn't make it a self-designation and it certainly doesn't make a "community". If the term has an uncomfortable aspect, surely it's the sneering condescension that presents the concept of fighting injustice as somehow internally contradictory.

But then you muddy the water with some talking points that look like personal bugbears. Long story short, no-one is being oppressed for being a straight white guy. Guys who complain they are being discriminated against by affirmative action policies are basically like little boys who expect the drumsticks and the parson's nose every time there's a baked chook for dinner, and throw a tantrum when someone else gets either.

My baseline assumption is that people using the term SJW its original derogatory sense to be merely stupid, due to the active disregard for history, nuance, hard work and the capability to view reality from someone else's perspective that is needed to maintain a world view in which it is even vaguely appropriate, much less accurate. But maybe that's just me.

123:

That sounds pretty reasonable, although I have some qualms about the disarmament bit.

I do think the status quo is underrated. When you consider that near-term possibilities include a worldwide banking collapse and/or a Trump administration, the status quo starts to look pretty good.

I haven't exactly been hiding what I am.

That's not exactly true. The first books of yours that I read were deliberately written in the style of various British spy authors. Since I don't read much of either British or spy fiction, I didn't realize that they weren't in your normal style for some time.

124:

Nationalizing doesn't automatically bring benefits if the country has no skill set

Ah, wrong: the problem is that privatization has become a creeping vehicle for corruption (in the pocket-dipping sense) in the UK over the past two decades. Natural monopolies get spun out and provided with state subsidies out of tax revenue to pay the shareholders (and the folks who do the privatization from inside government turn up on the boards of the operating companies with dismaying regularity). So inefficiency grows with privatization, and rent-seeking, and profiteering, and other bad behaviour.

125:

I discovered your blog some time ago - an excellent response to George Osboure on full employment - and one of my first thoughts was "This guy can really write, suddenly I have books to read!" I read Rule 34, Wireless and Neptune's Brood and found them all excellent. I promised I would read The Atrocity Archive after I saw people giving you a hard time over a Sad Puppies blog post. I'm glad I did. Assuming I'm onto a winning strategy I will be reading The Jennifer Morgue. I have a lot of demands on my reading time but if you keep irking the kinds of people you are irking I will make the time.

Should a person's political hinterland inform their writing? Of course it should. Sense of politics and society are essential for good writing. Imagine Titus Groan without Peake's horror of Nazism; 1984 without Orwell's experience of working in wartime popaganda; or The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe without Lewis' christianity. Totally different novels would have been written.

Will the puppies be back after being given a comprehensive spanking in the popular vote? Of course they will. Didn't they set this up because they believe they think there is a consipracy to exclude white people from public life? Doesn't the Hugo result confirm this? That's crazy people for you!

126:

Rumours have it that the Hugo committee from this year will provide raw, anonymised nomination data to the EPH peeps, and will do so once the final ballot has been announced next year, specifically to allow them to show that "the process works" and can be completed in a timely fashion.

Also, having been on the Business Meeting Track this worldcon, I may have talked myself into going to WorldCon next year, specifically to be on that track again. I am not 100% sure why I do this to myself, though.

127:

"Vox Day as SJW weapon."

Unfortunately, that's horribly close to the truth. One of the claimed reasons that the Blessed Margaret dismantled press regulation was to counteract the dominance of the 'liberal left' over the British media. Exactly the excuse that is being used today to demolish the BBC.

128:

"Long story short, no-one is being oppressed for being a straight white guy."

I have encountered that, as both an employee and manager, though I accept that there are relatively few circumstances under which it happens. I don't raise it, despite considerable temptation on some previous threads, because two wrongs do not make a right and claims of mutual discrimination are thoroughly counter-productive. And being discriminated against (even in actuality) is absolutely NOT justification for discriminating against others. It is always the innocent who suffer, even if the guilt are part of their 'tribe'.

129:

Re-read The Jennifer Morgue. Or read the crib sheet on it on this blog.

130:

If the point of the Hugos is to promote books based on their individual merits as assessed by a majority of the Society in the absence of any organized or resourced effort to promote one work or author over another, then EPH doesn't go near far enough. Clearly the only way to achieve that is to ban the distribution of promotional materials to registered members some X number of months before the nominations, and provide a way for interested members to access summary information about every work that is eligible for an award.

The Hugos as currently configured seems to rely on an implicit assumption that popularity will more or less equal some dimension of quality- but that depends upon another assumption that which books people choose to read is more or less randomly distributed through the marketplace- which we know isnt true (it's strongly influenced by the marketing activities of the major publishers). Yet people still get upset when someone comes along with a slate and an organized drive to sign up members to support that slate- there still seems to be a presumption that quality works will spontaneously generate their own popularity, and not be the result of organized activity on someone's behalf.

Part of the problem with this is the severely restricted sample size- there are only a few thousand members in the WSFS and one suspects that if that were expanded by, say, an order of magnitude, then programs like the one attempted by the Rabid Puppies would become cost-prohibitive. So a major membership drive seems to be in order, esp one that appeals to a younger generation.

In addition to EPH, a ban on promo material, and a membership drive, one more step is needed, I think. That's an organized effort to ensure that marginalized authors receive adequate exposure, despite (because of) the marketing practices of the major publishers. What form that may take isnt entirely clear to me, perhaps someone has an idea?

131:

If SF/F fandom did not have Vox Day [right-wing reaction's lamest pun] to use for virtue signalling, I would think he might die of neglect.

132:

SDV and STV differ so little in their design that they are functionally identical. Both transfer a voter's support from an eliminated option to the rest of that voter's choices. The difference in the mathematical way in which that is done mainly impacts on how you can best implement it when doing it by hand (STV is easier to implement with physical ballot papers moved from physical bin to physical bin; SDV is easier to implement with numbers written on a blackboard or pen&paper).

Neither is enormously complex or onerous. I'm sorry, but they're just not. We can count some 2.5 million votes in Ireland under STV in under a day on average. By hand, with physical ballots, TV cameras, political observers, spectators, and every other distraction you can think of shy of chickens.

Maybe if the Hugos were done with FPTP voting, this would be a step up but it just isn't. IRV is not that much simpler than SDV. In fact, the process of elimination and redistribution happens in IRV too, just in a different way. So this idea that IRV's very straightforward and efficient while SDV is heinously complex and hard just doesn't hold up. And that's before you get to computerisation.

So I just don't understand why a science fiction group is having so hard a time with a new system even when it's been proven to be better...

133:

I understand that it isn't a "group", it's different people every year. So I think you are underestimating the effort and overestimating the time and spoons available for overhauling the voting system.

(Ever since this started people who have no idea about how the Hugo's are done like to step in with helpful comments, which mostly turn out to be wrong or useless)

134:

What, you're in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament,

What? You have a plan that can actually be implemented?

You tend to beat up on folks who propose positions that are not practical. Or so it has seemed to me.

135:

"What, you're in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament,
What? You have a plan that can actually be implemented?"

What's wrong with Just Do It? Save money by abolishing Trident and not replacing it with anything else. Job done. Or perhaps you didn't notice the word "unilateral"?

136:

I've read it. It was good, except for the ending.

Trying to avoid spoilers, I'll just say that it hinged on a substitution that would have been ineffective if a certain widget had been turned off and unnecessary if the widget remained active.

OTOH, Shakespeare wrote Titus Andronicus. Pobody's nerfect.

137:

We'll agree to disagree. My take is simply that it's as easy to corrupt a government bureaucracy as it is to corrupt a corporate bureaucracy, and it's even possible to entangle both in a public-private partnership that so deliberately confused that it's not clear where the corruption begins one side and where it ends on the other. For example, look at the NSA.

That said, I agree that there are systems that benefit from nationalization (health care, military). There are systems that probably benefit from privatization (newspapers), and there are systems that benefit from commons management by both public and private owners (groundwater), not that this even popped up on the radar. Thing is, every single one of these can be corrupted, just as it can be disrupted by incompetence. Proposing a universal class of owner doesn't make the corruption problem go away.

138:

I do worry that this is slightly off-topic...

I do agree with you - I'm a firm believer in nationalised healthcare, water supply, and think that the various sales of universal postal service, telecomms backbone, and rail services have left us all the poorer (and connected individuals rather better off).

I do note that various attempts to reverse the trend were bought off depressingly cheaply - e.g. Soutar's contribution to SNP funds, and their completely unconnected abandonment of bus reregulation. I mean, £1M? Is that all?

Unfortunately, the nationalised industries were a bit rubbish. Think back to British Rail - in hock to the unions, dirty and unreliable. Think back to Post Office ownership of telecoms - two weeks to get a new phone installed, and the concept of (gasp) allowing you to connect your own equipment to the network? Heaven forbid. I mean, we still had mechanical exchanges and rotating dials into the late 1980s / early 90s... When you're a monopoly, your employees don't have to give a damn, and they sometimes act like it.

Yes, I am deliberately going to avoid the political hot potatos of the National Coal Board (how do you cope when it costs far more to produce your coal than to buy it from abroad?) and British Steel (how do you cope with massive oversupply?). Or BOAC/BEA incompetence and their effect on British Aerospace (e.g. insisting that the VC-10 have short-field / hot and high performance, and then refusing to buy it because the Boeing products without such complexity were cheaper)

I know that the counter-argument is one of chronic underinvestment, but the problem is that centralised planning of the economy hasn't really ever worked except under wartime conditions and powers; and the nationalised industries didn't have access to external investment, because of course investors weren't getting a share of the ownership.

At which point, the division of money going to each industry is decided by politicians on a short-term basis according to the loudest public policy drama. Because it can only come out of general taxation, and the taxpayers have no control over which industry they want to get a bigger or smaller slice.

So: if we want decent public services, with reasonable long-term plans for investment and funding, we need to figure out a way to prevent the short-termists (call them carpetbaggers?) screwing things up. Whether they be markets, or politicians who are less interested in providing a service, and more interested in using a particular industry as their leverage to power and influence (see: Arthur Scargill, Bob Crow).

The irony is that recent governments have been far closer to each other's economic policies than either would like to admit; but it's given us some degree of consistency, and avoided the stop/go nightmare that was the 1970s.

139:

I agree with the whole warrior thing - Kratman seems to revel in it, but if you look at Drake or Weber they have a far more nuanced and far less fanboi attitude (Kratman is firmly into my "I will never grant this man money, I despise what he believes" territory)

In the spirit of honest research, however, I went to Brad Torgerson's blog; and found it to be coherent, clearly written, and sensible. I disagree with a few of his points, but got the impression that you could share a pint with him and have a decent discussion.

Total contrast with my impressions from reading Vox Day, who (like most here) I class well into the dangerously fanatic stary-eyed nutjob territory, with a side order of too-angry-for-his-own-health. I couldn't read Larry Correia's blog, and Firefox went all squirrelly with security concerns when I pointed at it.

Now I'm curious. Is Torgerson a decent sort of guy, but somewhat naive and hanging around with the wrong crowd? I can accept people having differing personal politics, so long as they aren't based on entitlement or bigotry, and I just don't get that feeling from his blog...

...of course, I may be wrong (and frequently am).

140:

"I only read your horror comedies."

Funny. That's what I'd call Glasshouse.

141:

I couldn't read Larry Correia's blog, and Firefox went all squirrelly with security concerns when I pointed at it.


The blog is down [GMT 00:00] for everyone.


Make of that what you will.

142:

I have encountered that, as both an employee and manager, though I accept that there are relatively few circumstances under which it happens

Yeah, no. "Oppression" isn't a "few circumstances under which it happens" it's a systemic and societal problem. Nobody is "oppressed" because they have -- every once in a blue moon -- been treated unfairly. They are oppressed because they live in a context where the entirety of their existence is calculated against them.

143:

"Reading Ancillary Justice, meanwhile, I was struck by the novel's readability"

God, yes!

I read Delaney's "Stars In My Pockets Like Grains of Sand" when I was a teenager, and absolutely hated the way that one of the cultures in it uses "he" and "she" in unusual ways... because it's not explained until well into the book, and people can move from one to the other, and so it's bloody hard to follow.

Whereas Leckie's work is so clear!

The AI hive-mind has trouble with gendering people. (It's not as good as humans as telling age of people either, and has to work hard to pick up emotional clues). It turns out it's from a culture run by a similar AI hive-mind (which came out from a mysterious Dyson Sphere, about whose denizens we know nothing). In that AI hive-mind's empire the language and culture doesn't acknowledge gender. Cue interesting questions of whether that's an 'unnatural' thing to do or not.

And given the fuss the Puppies made about how "politically correct" the book is, you wonder what they would have said if the "we don't believe in genders" culture had been the good guys. Rather than being AI-run imperialistic bastards that will slaughter your people and force your children to comply with a new way of living where they don't even get to keep their pronouns, with all the other humans in the galaxy thinking that culture's lack of genders is really weird.

144:

The first phase of Hugo balloting is currently FPTP; the second has been IRV since the early 1960s. E Pluribus Hugo changes the first phase.

I'll bet the people who process the Irish vote have actual, probably paid, staff; the Hugo Administrators have volunteer labor and never enough of it. There's also two problems which I don't think governmental elections have: the first phase of balloting involves hundreds of titles and names and under SDV they all have to be standardized.

When the person who does the job says it's going to take substantial additional time and effort to do the job, it is important to listen.

145:

Well, I certainly agree with renationalisation. (And also with a wealth tax, and a "basic income" - or whatever else one might call a system that does not compel people to spend fifty years winching buckets of water out of a well and pouring them back in again as a condition of survival... though I do not agree with nuclear disarmament.)

Moreover, I don't agree that the nationalised industries were "a bit rubbish". A government edict could have put an end to the ban on connecting your own equipment to the telephone network without going to the length of privatising it - not that it mattered, since nobody had anything to connect. And while the railways have been a favourite target for public and journalistic vilification since long before 1948, the image was much worse than the reality. (FWIW I used to enjoy travelling by train in BR days, but the experience now is such a nightmare that I avoid trains wherever possible and generally either drive or just don't bother).

And the privatised railway is a paradigmatic indictment of privatisation and commercialism. It is now a behemoth that sucks three times the amount of subsidy that it did when nationalised, so complex that trying to exercise any control over it is like punching fog, "counters" unreliability by moving the goalposts and hiding behind a dense smokescreen of paperwork and legalisms instead of actually fixing it... What money has made it past the army of parasites and onto the actual network has largely been spent in typical commercial flummery and show - vast expense on "new trains" which are less capacious, less comfortable, more cramped, worse ventilated, worse provided with windows, have more points of failure (including the need to "switch it off and on again", and no this is not a joke) and consume much more energy than the trains they replaced (now the only train left which is still pleasant to ride on is the HST, from the 70s, and now even that is to be lost, for reasons which largely add up to "it's old", which is no reason for anything), not to mention the continual repainting and rebranding and applying new liveries until the accumulation of paint fouls the loading gauge and all to nobody's benefit, least of all the passengers...

While the real problem - deficiencies of infrastructure - continues to cripple the system at its root, and doing anything about it remains next to impossible. Again, what we do get is flummery, in the form of a highly spectacular headline-grabbing project which behind all the glitz is merely a colossal waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere, supported by justifications ranging from irrational and idiotic to outright mendacity, while such apparently trivial improvements such as reopening to passenger service half a mile of still-existing track get bogged down for ten years in bureaucratic nonsense. Improvements to lines in service are hamstrung by the artificial requirement to pay swingeing amounts of compensation to the train operators and so anything significant or worthwhile is dismissed as "too expensive". Heck, to begin with the infrastructure was in the hands of an outfit which was only interested in selling as much land as possible and couldn't be arsed with anything that might cost money, like maintaining the track, until the trains started falling off it. The Major government may have been seeking a Moist von Lipwig, but what they got was Reacher Gilt.

146:

So a major membership drive seems to be in order

Category error alert.

The World Science Fiction Society is the name of the umbrella organization consisting of members (attending and supporting) of the World Science Fiction Convention.

Worldcons are held to a certain size cap because they're run entirely by volunteers; it's a fan-based ad-hocracy. Get any bigger and you need permanent paid staff and presumably a management company (like DragonCon or the ComiCons). Then it loses some of its distinctive character, and nobody really wants that (at least, not the members, because if they did want that they'd go to DragonCon or ComiCon instead).

A drive for voting but non-attending members might work but how many people are willing to stump up $40 just for voting rights? That's self-selecting for a degree of affluence one shouldn't assume to be representative of the book-reading public.

147:

Sure. Can you see any political circumstance in which it is plausible that the UK might independently use its strategic nuclear deterrent without a simultaneous US deployment of the US deterrent? Yes? Then it's worth keeping. No? Then it's just a subsidized annex to the US defense budget and we shouldn't be paying it because it's never going to be used for any purpose distinct from the US state department.

My conclusion is that no, the UK would never want to nuke anyone who the US wasn't simultaneously nuking. So, why bother keeping it?

It's like those fucking white elephant Queen Elizabeth class super-carriers. The USN is so happy to see them -- they can fill in for US CVNs, they say. And for the first few years they'll be operating either as the world's most expensive helicopter carriers or as spares for the US Marine Corps' F-35Bs. So why bother? Scrap 'em or sell them to the USMC. The days when the UK could aspire to be a global military superpower are over.

148:

I suspect the memory of the Suez Crisis informs the UK's institutional thinking on the subject. (US threatened to collapse the UK economy by selling pounds; USSR threatened, with US permission, to nuke France. The French got an independent deterrent thereafter.)

The US is not obviously politically stable and may soon come under the control of a madman. I can easily see someone's 30-year planning horizon attaching a very high value to not being reliant on the US nuclear umbrella.

149:

Helsinki 2017 (when new rules come in) might be the party of the year btw. In fact, it's probably that moment that you really should have been at to see the bright glorious future and we can all link hands bit.

Even the non-rabid puppies.


Kansas, is of course, that moment where we get the "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." trope.


My conclusion is that no, the UK would never want to nuke anyone who the US wasn't simultaneously nuking. So, why bother keeping it?


Trident and Nukes aren't about what you think they're about: they're the buy-in for the main game.

UK, France etc, although losing their colonies won't give them up, for the same reason India and Pakistan were granted them (and, history lesson - S.Africa back then under sanctions and Israel, serious rogue state nonsense; India and Pakistan - fully fledged support and donations).


The question to ask is why there's a "sub set" of nuclear armed nations who don't share the same chips - the reason is that they're perfectly balanced and cannot afford to target anyone else.


It's pure RAND / Game Theory from the land before.

150:
I'll bet the people who process the Irish vote have actual, probably paid, staff;

It's a mix - those overseeing it are paid civil servants (and the Gardai who provide security are on duty, naturally); but the actual workers, those who collect the ballots at polling stations and who process the count? They're volunteers.

There's also two problems which I don't think governmental elections have: the first phase of balloting involves hundreds of titles and names and under SDV they all have to be standardized.

Are you suggesting the current Hugo system does not need to do this? Because I'm pretty sure it does given what they were saying at the business meeting and given the nature of the problem.

When the person who does the job says it's going to take substantial additional time and effort to do the job, it is important to listen.

Yes, I agree. Where we differ is that I think that since several others who've worked on the same committee disagree with the person who made that specific objection; and since the current problem we have doesn't care whether or not more work is required; and since the system proposed has been implemented as computer code at least three times and since the proposers - who are experts in this field - have volunteered to help; well, I'm not sure that "listen" can be a synonym for "accept" here.

The bottom line is; the system has a known exploit. We understand that exploit. It needs to be patched or we will see even more damage done. More than that, people need to see that the patch is being put in place, because there is going to be a strong urge from some to put forward counter-slates; and once we go down that road, we will destroy the value of the hugos. EPH is the best solution that's been put forward to patch that exploit, not only because it's readily understood, and because it's been designed to change as little as possible; but because it also doesn't ban group voting, it just prevents a minority group from controlling a majority of the outcome.

151:

The US is not obviously politically stable and may soon come under the control of a madman. I can easily see someone's 30-year planning horizon attaching a very high value to not being reliant on the US nuclear umbrella.

Yes.

In which case relying on missiles purchased from Boeing and pooled with the US Navy, and warheads manufactured to a US design might not be the wisest choice. Frankly, I'd have a bit more time for the folks proposing to replace the UK Trident force if they were suggesting pooling resources with the French on building a joint European next-generation SLBM. A Discorde as opposed to Concorde, so to speak.

But no. Since Suez, British foreign policy has mostly (except for Vietnam) aimed to be the Mini-Me to the USA's Dr Evil.

152:

...that's not to say I don't think that nuclear weapons are not hugely out of date. They are (and if you read any of the reports on current actual capability, it's rather less MIRVs in the sky than the numbers would suggest for everyone).


Back onto Puppies.

I've been tracking this for a while, because I actually see a spot of light (smidgen?) in what's happened. (I also happen to not be functioning under the usual conditionals applied).

My take: quite a lot of shedding of old skin and dross and outdated thinking is required. They're all people, no matter what #twitter can do for common sense (now preventing out-of-twitter sites cataloging and indexing politicians tweets; interesting, no? That's a cold wind, Private Eye is probably not amused).

More importantly, shedding that amount of scales is either rough or drastic. And, oh boy, is there a lot of dead skin to slough.

The goal:

Radically update a subset of thought (mental schema) because it holds (in kernel) valuable skills and processes that will be required very soon. A wheat and chaff moment, seeing who was actually thinking.

And, to be frank: some of the KIA / puppies were actually thinking.


However, you all ran out of Time.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.



A scrap to the Puppies / KIA: you're absolutely correct that figures such as Anita Sarkeesian are bait / temporal pawns used in a game. She hasn't the credentials to be doing what she claims she's doing, and she's 100% not anyone's friend, barring certain Media Barons. We call them Ciphers, and it's why Time etc use her.

Insulting her is like railing against your pet dog: it's rather missing the point (and fulfills her role). The offense is generated quite deliberately and she's really not your target.

And yes, of course the narrative lies: that's the point. You beat it by being better, not by forming a Ying/Yang reaction and getting sucked in.

And, categorically: the puppies slate was not better. I'd call it subjective, but I've more self respect: it was rubbish. (And no, I don't think that certain prior winners my love were any better).


They lost because they were bad. Trust me, if there had been gold there, mountains moved and politics engaged and strategy done and awards won.

Did you miss the Chinese winner?

~

Oh, and that goes for the 'winning' side as well. Not nearly enough (over 2,000,000 words) thinking in other people's boots. For the record: The result was a forgone conclusion 18 months ago. Not because it needed fixing, but because the premise "What if none of them change" predicted it.


Binary dualsim: old thinking.

~

If you need a "why" to why SF was chosen for this, well.

~


Now, I need a really long shower to wash out the processes of reading all that's been written about this. Not a pleasant experience.

Oh, and VD and me will have a little talk about his immortal soul. Meatfucker style.

153:

Well, since we're drifting off onto the SAs, so I'll indulge in a little planespotting story.

This morning on my way to Peterson AFB I spotted a 747 with an odd hump taking off that nearly distracted me while driving*. Saturday morning I saw an AWACS 707, which got a lot of attention from the other people around. If I were the paranoid type I might wonder if someting was going on, after seeing these two craft flying around.

*It's unusual to see anything that large flying out of the local airport, though it was announced a couple weeks ago that a 747 Supertanker for firefighing is going to be based here. I'm hoping they might give a demo once the fire season is over, that's something I'd like to see.

154:

IIRC Enoch Powell used to ask the same question, we will never use aggressively and if we have to have a retaliatory strike, they failed as a deterrent
I am a little surprised Trident replacement is even being discussed, colossal waste of money
Whilst Unilateral disarmament would probably be a bit much with the electorate, one could retain some hand waved nuclear capability at a tiny fraction of the cost to soothe the masses
You May have some insight into why the MOD is even considering this, if it isn't lobbying by the contractors or part of a cunning Tory plot to break the Union
Hope you had fun at the Con

155:

Frankly, I'd have a bit more time for the folks proposing to replace the UK Trident force if they were suggesting pooling resources with the French on building a joint European next-generation SLBM. A Discorde as opposed to Concorde, so to speak.

I can't find anything in that position to argue with.

Not that I'm much inclined.

157:

I am delighted and unsurprised to find this thread here - and frustrated that I'm trying to respond from a tablet in a restaurant. I'll be able to be more articulate once I get home tomorrow.

I strongly suggest you go read what the WSFS meeting chair said about it. Horse, mouth. Links from there go to the youtube videos; you don't even have to take his word for it, you can listen to the debate yourself.

PS: Overheard in the hallway: "Charles Stross? Hi, I'm David Gerrold."

158:

EPH is the best solution that's been put forward to patch that exploit, not only because it's readily understood, and because it's been designed to change as little as possible...

Were we at the same business meeting?

<rant>What readily understood proposal did you have in mind? Look, I've got the meeting agenda right here, and there's a reason EPH runs from page 13 to 22. It would add a whole subsection to the WSFS constitution, the text of which runs longer than the whole 4/6 proposal. It has a commentary section, and a 22-point FAQ. That was in the provided reading matter.

When the debate time rolled around we then got a presentation from one of the writers, who may reasonably be said to understand it. He explained it, and illustrated his explanation with charts, and graphics, and animation. He was the only person in the business meeting to bring a Power Point presentation.

Those who think that having the actual text of a proposal, an FAQ, and an expert explanation with Power Point got people to understand E Pluribus Hugo were not at the business meeting. Of course there were more questions...

And debate. People speaking against the proposal included Ben Yalow, who's been to more than forty consecutive WSFS business meetings - Ghod have mercy on him - and John Lorentz, administrator of the Hugo Awards during this Puppy problem (I think he went on longer than he should have). That's a bad sign.

E Pluribus Hugo isn't the best proposal, it's the best promoted proposal. It's been hyped on the internet, campaigned for in the hallways, and I've never heard of a WSFS constitutional amendment with badge ribbons before. Darned if I know if this kind of PR drive will catch on but if it does it would be a more subtle problem than idiot Puppies.</rant>

Substitute "4/6" for "EPH" and the statement becomes correct.

159:

...

I agree. But it suffices. Life is too short. Rant a bit, and move on.

160:

Speaking as someone who is a Gamergater, and has been involved in the movement for about nine months, from my experience Sad Puppies saw only a minor overlap from Gamergate. My sympathies are broadly with the Sad Puppies, but not enough to spend 40USD on a Hugo supporting membership. Perhaps next year, if my personal finances are better. I would not vote a straight slate, in any case, but I would certainly look at suggestions.

Most of any perceived Gamergate/Sad Puppies overlap is because Total Biscuit (his twitter handle), a popular Gamergater and YouTube Game Reviewer tweeted promoting the Sad Puppies cause. Vox Day (I presume that's not his real name either) has also supported Gamergate, but he's far less central to the movement. The general view I saw expressed among other Gamergaters about Sad Puppies was more "what's that" and jokes at the expense of journalists who apparently believed Gamergate preceded Sad Puppies.

This will no doubt change in the future. As mentioned above, some journalists and some people in the SF/Fantasy community opposed to Sad Puppies repeatedly conflated the two groups. Then during the Hugo ceremony, Total Biscuit was trying to live tweet the event—and he was shut down by Twitter in response to bogus complaints just as he was beginning. For the past day about half the Gamergate-related comments I've seen on Twitter are mentioning Sad Puppies. Gamergaters are now _interested_. And there is a substantial overlap between Gamergaters and readers of SF/Fantasy.

Personally, I think this is a great idea, and encourage it. And it will be good for the Hugos as well.

Gamergate (despite what you may have seen in the media) is a very diverse group of people from all over the world with vastly different tastes. Imagine ten thousand Gamergaters buying Hugo Supporting Memberships next year. (I am aware that many readers of this blog will greatly question the idea that there are tens of thousands of Gamergaters. This is based on my perceptions as someone inside the movement. But please do consider, even if Gamergate is only a fraction of a percent of the gaming audience, that fraction of a percent massive audience could easily dwarf the entirety of a typical WorldCon audience.)

It will not be quite what either the Sad Puppies or their opponents imagine. I commented about this to one of the announced organizers for Sad Puppies IV (Sarah Hoyt) on her blog:

Start Quote

"I would urge that the subset of the Evil League of Evil running Sad Puppies 4 consider reaching out to Gamergate. But if you do, a few things to remember:

1) Gamergate has no leaders. There are a core group of people that a fair percentage of GGers will listen to, but there is no organization, and no central control, and never will be. There are a few of those “most people in GG will listen to” people such as Total Biscuit who are already supporting Puppies. If the leaders of Sad Puppies 4 want to reach out to Gamergate, I will be happy to compile a list of such people (I’m not one).

2) Gamergate is not right-wing. Gamergate is anti-authoritarian. It just so happens that the authoritarians we are dealing with (this time) come from the left. The majority of GGers are not going to be receptive to “win this slice of the culture war for the right to save America” (some will, of course). However, nearly all GGers will sympathize with a bunch of people being told they are having wrongfun.

3) Gamergate does not care if their opponents call them: fuckwits, a hate mob, harassers, idiots, manchildren, misogynists, neckbeards, nazis, neo-nazis, pedophiles, racists, sexists, shits, sick fucks, stalkers, terrorists, bullies, perverts, abusive, assholes, asswipes, bigots, bullies, cowards, creepy, crooks, dumb, terrorists, homophobes, transphobes, rape-enablers, and “worse than ISIS”. No one in Gamergate is going to go clutching their pearls because someone at Tor accuses them of being “neo-nazis”. We have been hearing every one of these insults for nearly a year now. If you call Gamergate “neo-nazis” a more likely response is an avalanche of nazi-themed anime porn.

4) Some of Gamergate is anonymous; some of us are out. People’s livelihoods are regularly threatened. So respect GGers who want to stay anonymous.

5) Gamergate is ethical; but not polite. We don’t dox people or send death threats or rape threats (despite the constant stream of lies told about us). We will, however, trashtalk, shitpost, and mock our opponents mercilessly.

6) Gamergate has no central forum. Gamergate is a twitter hashtag, it’s a subreddit (KotakuInAction), an 8chan forum, hundreds of bloggers, and about a dozen core sites. Again, if the people running Sad Puppies 4, are interested, I will be happy to provide all the information I can here."

End Quote
(I think I may be the only person that both reads and occasionally comments on Mr Stoss' blog and Ms Hoyts.)

As I tried to explain above, getting GamerGate involved will be much easier than pointing us in one direction. GamerGate arose—in part—as a reaction against one-true-wayism in gaming (as well as being told "Gamers are Dead" by most major online game journalism sites over a 48 hour period).

So that's my perspective (for what its worth) from viewpoint not normally heard here.

161:

I can see possible situations where the UK would be well advised to maintain its own nuclear deterrent:

1) The US could undergo a USSR-style fragmentation.
2) The US could could elect a president outside the Permanent Party in Power, potentially scaring the crap out of the UK's Permanent Party in Power.
3) The EU could go toxic, and become a threat to the UK.
4) The US could go seriously isolationist for a period.

Whether such contingencies are worth the costs, is up to the voters of the UK.

162:

Thanks for your perspective.

I will note, however, that people I know have been threatened, doxxed, and swatted by self-identified gamergaters. Given that it's a leaderless movement, I don't see how more temperate supporters can dissociate themselves from the actions of malevolent or violent idiots. And, as well know full well, social media are emotional amplifiers by design: cooler heads are not going to prevail in the hot-house environment of the twittersphere.

If your predicted "entryism" by gamergaters in the shape of supporting memberships happens, then I suspect the second order effects might include a move to restrict Hugo voting to attending memberships by folks who actually turn up in person. Public misconceptions to the contrary, the Hugos are not an award voted on by everyone who reads SF/F; they're an award voted on by Worldcon members, and there is nearly 75 years of common culture shared by that group. So ultimately it's bound to turn into a confrontation between a social media group and a meatspace group.

163:

I can't see how anyone who has read your blog for any length of time, could be at all unclear about your politics. You plainly state them.

However, someone who only knows your books might be confused. Because many of your books—especially the Laundry Files, your most popular series—are written around unreliable narrators, it's easy for someone to fill in any blanks left according to their worldview.

I recently got and read the The Annihilation Score, then went back and read the spoilers thread for the novel. I was amazed at how hugely different people's perceptions of Mo in that novel were. I found her sympathetic and acting as reasonably as possible considering the stresses on her, while a great many readers seemed unable to identify with her at all.

And as for the politics of the author versus those of the work, just consider that for a number of years, the Libertarian Prometheus Award seemed to go to "Best Novel by a Scottish Socialist."

164:

All workable except the "Wealth Tax"
Been tried many times & is never effective.
It's one of those wonderful ideas that can always be cheated around.
A few of the Privatisations might have been good ideas ( The very first, what became "Amersham International" for instance, but as for public utilities, well, the scandal over cryptosporidum-contaminated water says it all, doesn't it.
P.S. The railways have been renationalised, it's just that no-one has noticed yet - & of course the crooks are still running the TOC's

165:

It is not a rumor. Sad Puppies IV will be run Kate Paulk, Sarah Hoyt, and Amanda S. Green.

166:

No
Because we are horrendously underdefended - & we are spending money on the wrong weapons ( I suspect )
The RN should have at least 45 effective ships & I'm not sure the QE-class carriers are a correct answer, either.
What we need are several "Bulwark" type or modern versions of the harrier-carrier ships, plus lots of cruiser/destroyer types. Plus subs, of course.
The RAF is in not much better shape, either.

167:

Think back to British Rail - in hock to the unions, dirty and unreliable. Think back to Post Office ownership of telecoms - two weeks
Deliberately kept that way by internal political corrupt interests & the meanness of the Treasury.
Remember Marples?
Shudder.

168:

And, the subsequent couple of replies too:
Gamergate is not right-wing. Gamergate is anti-authoritarian. It just so happens that the authoritarians we are dealing with (this time) come from the left.
Really?
Define "left" for a start.
And please produce some evidence to back your claim.
??
I think I might qualify, in spite of being a Whig, as "left" by your definition, though I'm well to the right of Charlie, most of the time.
But I am strongly anti-authoritarian - I've been crapped on far to often to swallow that bullshit.
....As for your "anti-authoritarian", certainly the Puppies seemed to be overtly christian, which automatically means authoritarian, unless you are specifically referring to Quakers (usually)

169:

Sure. Can you see any political circumstance in which it is plausible that the UK might independently use its strategic nuclear deterrent without a simultaneous US deployment of the US deterrent?

I read your initial comment as world wide not limited to just the UK.

170:

I agree that there is a certain level of controversy about just what the Hugos are. Do they belong to a the Worldcon community or the SF/Fantasy fandom at large?

The Sad Puppies see them as an award that is open to any SF/Fantasy fan who cares to buy a membership and vote. It's clear that you (and a good number of regular WorldCon attendees) see them as Worldcon's awards.

I can understand the feeling that "these outsiders don't belong here". I've experienced much the same feelings in the past. If someone is persistent enough in Googling my name, they will uncover a rant I wrote in 1998 when a legion of "wrongfans" voted in a Usenet comics awards (the rec.arts.comics.* Squiddy Awards). I was outraged and in retrospect I think my response was a bit silly.

Don't worry. I ended up paying for my mistake: I subsequenly volunteered to help run the awards and spent the next five years doing so (in collaboration with Johanna Draper-Carlson). We then passed the awards on to a new administrator who vanished with the next years votes, and they were never awarded again—leading some people to see us as the people who killed the Squiddies. Not quite instant karma, but pretty close.

But my point is that the perception of what the Hugos are is a bit schizophrenic. In the "Introduction" page at the Hugo website, they describe the Hugos thus:

"The Hugo Awards, presented annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award. The Hugo Awards are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”), which is also responsible for administering them."

Some people reading that are going to see the "science fiction’s most prestigious award" and some people are going to see the "voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention". That's never really been an issue until now.

Charles Stross said: "people I know have been threatened, doxxed, and swatted by self-identified gamergaters"

I don't know what to say to this, except that there are crazy people out there, and Gamergaters have also been threatened, doxxed, swatted, and in some cases have had bomb threats called in against them, too.

I suspect that there are a very few people on both sides of the issue who are genuinely unhinged enough to do stuff like this. I also suspect a lot of such actions are undertaken by third-party trolls "for the lulz" who don't care one way or another, but just want to watch things burn.

It is certainly not my experience of Gamergate, and I'm sorry it has been yours.


171:

Gamergate is so anti-authoritarian that anyone who suggests we should have any sort of formal organization or leadership is roundly mocked for it.

As for the Puppies, the Sad Puppies tend to be libertarian-to-conservative, some are religious, some are not. Generally, the Sad Puppies are people who don't like to be told what to do or think. That's my subjective perception at least.

Vox Day's Rabid Puppies, on the other hand, appear at least to me to be more religious and more leader-follower based. I know less about Vox Day's group, so take that with a grain of salt.

172:

''Yeah, no. "Oppression" isn't a "few circumstances under which it happens" it's a systemic and societal problem. Nobody is "oppressed" because they have -- every once in a blue moon -- been treated unfairly. They are oppressed because they live in a context where the entirety of their existence is calculated against them.''

That last sentence is a gross exaggeration, and would deny most oppressions throughout history. I am referring to circumstances where individual white males were (and are) systematically and socially oppressed, because they were who they were and happened to be in the circumstances where it was politically acceptable to do it. You may not have seen that, but I have.

173:

How do you plan to crew this gigantic navy you plan? A draft perhaps or press gangs? How do you plan to pay for it? Receipts from the Empire, perhaps?

174:

"No
Because we are horrendously underdefended - & we are spending money on the wrong weapons ( I suspect )"

Eh? Why "No"? That is the MAIN reason that I say that Trident should be scrapped - and one where I agree completely with OGH. Our 'nuclear umbrella' gives us an effective retaliatory capacity against France, Israel, Pakistan and India. We couldn't use them offensively without being jumped on, hard, by the USA, Russia and China.

I have also heard from several apparently reliable sources that we can't actually launch the missiles without permission from Washington, as we don't have the (highly volatile) electronic keys to arm them.

175:

A slate put forward by a Maximum Leader (Theodore Beale) or a self-appointed Politburo (Sad Puppies) and voted lock-step by folks who claim to be anti-authoritarian strikes me as somewhat contradictory.

The reason the nominating slate(s) got traction was because the more populous Other Side wasn't organised and regimented despite the protestations of many Puppies of various stripes. Their unregimented nominations were spread widely based on personal individual choices and they were swamped by the slate's narrow focus on what the top people in the Puppies wanted to see on the ballot with their supporters putting loyalty to the Cause before nominating their own personal choices.

Talking technically, E Pluribus Hugo is meant to diffuse the effects of slates. The 4/6 proposal would only work to prevent a single slate being driven through in toto but it would be vulnerable to a DDoS from two or more slates, even competing ones.

176:

There is an interesting point here, which you have probably puzzled over (certainly I have). Where does the boundary lie between an anarchy and an organisation? Throughout history, there have been leaderless and even anarchic societies that were more tightly regimented than many formally authoritarian ones. All that is needed is for a social way to exclude or suppress dissent.

177:
Look, I've got the meeting agenda right here, and there's a reason EPH runs from page 13 to 22. It would add a whole subsection to the WSFS constitution, the text of which runs longer than the whole 4/6 proposal. It has a commentary section, and a 22-point FAQ. That was in the provided reading matter.

When the debate time rolled around we then got a presentation from one of the writers, who may reasonably be said to understand it. He explained it, and illustrated his explanation with charts, and graphics, and animation. He was the only person in the business meeting to bring a Power Point presentation.

...

E Pluribus Hugo isn't the best proposal, it's the best promoted proposal.

I honestly think we have a very different way of looking at this. Because what you just described up there, my engineer's head read as "documented and tested" and that was what impressed me; not the polish, but the fact that someone has put the work in to not only develop EPH, but to explain it to others. To me, that is a very good thing indeed. I want to know someone has tested this, I want to know someone knows it so well that they can explain it to people who know nothing of it, I want to know that it's open-sourced so it's transparent to everyone on both sides of this particular divide because anything less is going to be unfair and harmful.

As to 4+6, no. Sorry, I don't agree with you there at all. First off, several people pointed out in the meeting that it's readily gamed and eventually someone got up and explained how to game it in one single sentence - "If your name's between A and L, vote for these: if it's between M and Z, vote for those".

4+6 strikes me as a first order solution, someone's first idea on looking at the problem. I mean, they chose the two numbers that determine how the system works from the floor, using people who hadn't spent time modelling what those numbers would do to the system. And the proposer apparently had no problem with this. To me, that says that there's not been much mathematical groundwork done there. I don't question the good faith behind it; but it ain't gonna get the job done. You want to bring in something like this, you should have tested it, it should be well documented, it should be mathematically sound, it should be transparently implemented, and you should demonstrate to everyone that you've put the time in and that the system is well thought out. EPH meets that bar. 4+6, for me, doesn't. I'm glad we have both available, but this idea that EPH is some sort of shiny substance-free thing because they did their homework and showed it is just not sitting well in my head.

178:

Usual attractors in the discussion showing up (mildly so far, we're not in orbit yet, but we're in the gravity well):

1) *I* don't see a problem, so what's the problem?

2) The "two wrongs make a right" argument. (Sometimes supplemented with: But *they* did it first.)

3) It's only <fill in the blank>, just grow a pair already!

Absolutely the best thing anyone has said yet: They're all people, no matter what. Too easy to lose track of that.

@CatinaDiamond: You going to go full camp commandant curse-of-eternal-waking style thing on VD? Have fun.

179:

''2) The "two wrongs make a right" argument. (Sometimes supplemented with: But *they* did it first.)''

Actually, the form that we have seen in other threads, and to which I responded previously, isn't quite that - it's more like the dual of it. It's "Category XXX is clearly being oppressed in favour of category YYY, therefore anyone in category YYY isn't being oppressed." Two wrongs do not make a right, but nor does the existence of one wrong deny the existence of another.

Something that most people miss is that discrimination (in all forms) breeds discrimination, in at least three ways: by teaching that it is acceptable in one area (so it gets extended to another), by reaction from those discriminated against, and by the politically correct denying that anyone among their chosen category of discriminators can actually be a victim of discrimination. Please note that political correctness is precisely the form of brain-rot that the rabid Puppies have - it does not have to be liberal or left-wing.

180:

I strongly suggest you look up how big the RN was at the time of the Falklands War.
Modern ships need smaller crews, too.
NOT a problem, especially if the army is smaller ....

EC @ 173 too ... I both agree & disagree - I really can't decide about our own so-called "independent" deterrent.
I think joining the French might be a way out of that one, as others have posited.....

181:
Gamergate (despite what you may have seen in the media) is a very diverse group of people from all over the world with vastly different tastes.

I think it was KotakuInAction that decided to do a demographic survey of its users to show how diverse gamergate is as a movement. When the results showed that sweet-all women were on the subreddit the survey author speculated that it must be because anti-gamergaters had scared them all away with their rampant harassment.

Despite that totally-not-bullshit post-facto reasoning, I'm going to take claims of diversity in gamergate with a grain of salt.

182:

That last sentence is a gross exaggeration, and would deny most oppressions throughout history.

No, it's not, and no, it wouldn't. Your comment strongly suggests that you have no idea what you're talking about, and no idea the points that people are making when they talk about racial oppression.

I am referring to circumstances where individual white males were (and are) systematically and socially oppressed, because they were who they were and happened to be in the circumstances where it was politically acceptable to do it. You may not have seen that, but I have.

(I'm using the US example, but I could use any western country with some slight alterations)

Wait, you saw white males being born with low and damaging birth weight because their mothers tended to get substandard medical care BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE? You saw white males failing to grow and thrive because their families lived in "food deserts" BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE? You saw white males falling behind their peers because the K-12 schools they went to were underfunded and overcrowded BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE? You saw white males disciplined and criminalized at much higher rates in those schools BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE? You saw white males lose their parents (especially their fathers) because adult life expectancy was much shorter BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE? I could go on, but we'd be here all day.

No, you didn't see any of those things, because that's what happens to African-Americans, not to white Americans (also, you're not *that* elderly). The evidence is unequivocal: at every stage of life, African-Americans are systematically disadvantaged. THAT'S oppression, not some occasional occurrence that, while unfair, is an isolated one.

183:

We couldn't use them offensively without being jumped on, hard, by the USA, Russia and China.

Can the China's ICBMs actually reach the UK?

Anyway, the point is not to use them offensively, but to have an independent deterrent for defensive purposes. It should stamp on any idea that a nation/tyrant/junta believes that it could blackmail its way to its goals by pulling a European nation out from under the US nuclear umbrella; on the basis that no sane POTUS will trade Pittsburgh for Manchester, Strasbourg, or Dortmund in a nuclear exchange. All it takes is an isolationist President (can you say Santorum or Paul?) and the meme that "Europe should sort out its own problems, we're not interested".

Foreign policy false assumptions often lead to terrifying screwups. We know that the Argentinians invaded the Falklands believing that Britain wouldn't react to it (the most hawkish of the Junta was Admiral Anaya, who had spent time in London as their Naval Attache - and felt that the British were too weak morally to react); that Guatemala thought incursions to Belize would be unopposed, that Indonesia thought that Borneo could be taken, than Russia believes that the near abroad should do what it's damn well told or the tanks will roll in.

We know that Saddam Hussein thought he'd got the P5 stitched up, and that nothing would happen to him; between owing the Russians and French lots of $$$, Chinese abstention, and splashing around the oil wealth, he reckoned the Security Council would stalemate any invasion - and that bombings don't change regimes.

Having the deterrent is a big stick. It's also an order of magnitude cheaper to keep it, than to give it up and decide to rebuild the capability (as we've tried to avoid with aircraft carriers and maritime ASW skills). Disarmament is realistically a one-way transition, if you look at the percentage of GDP that went into developing and building all of the constituent parts of an effectively trained deterrent capability. It's not just the machinery, it's the people, doctrine, training, and tactics that make the difference. Once the people and their knowledge are dispersed, you're talking decades to rebuild.

I have also heard from several apparently reliable sources that we can't actually launch the missiles without permission from Washington,

Then (according to my own apparently reliable RN sources) they don't know what they're talking about.

US missiles, but British warheads, under UK control throughout. Independent targeting, independent control of launch. Independent being the key word here, otherwise what's the point? The only reason we are allowed to buy from the US is that we proved we could do it ourselves; it's just cheaper for both of us this way, and creates US jobs...

The problem with "let's share with the French" is that the UKUSA agreement is a lot more than nukes. AIUI it's also intelligence-sharing, to a level beyond any other national agreement (see "Five Eyes"). It's a trade - we might be a smaller partner, but we buy our way in with basing (Ascension, Diego Garcia, Cyprus) capability (GCHQ, SF, submarines, and aircraft) and possibly influence (we're not utterly rubbish at the diplomacy thing, and a vote in the P5 is weighty).

Unfortunately for the French, they aren't part of the UK/USA/Can/Aus/NZ thing on intelligence sharing; and AIUI the US is quite careful about sharing secrets and equipment with them (e.g. the French not being sold armed Predators, just the unarmed ones).

184:

EPH is not complex for the individual nominator, it's pretty much business as usual for them -- they choose their preferred candidates and list them just like always. It takes a bit more work for the administrator to process the data after nominations close but it can be automated with verification, probably by running the same data through two or three implementations of the software -- the algorithm is the same.

Basically each nominator gets 60 "points" for a given category. If they nominate only one title, that gets 60 points towards being on the final ballot. Nominate two candidates, each gets 30 points. Three candidates, 20 points each, four candidates, 15 points each, five candidates, 12 points each. (The actual rules use a fractional system of 1.0, 0.5, 0.333 recurring, 0.25, 0.2 but I've used 60 to keep things integral).

Slate voters nominating 5 entries get 12 points for each entry. A random but popular candidate nominated by fewer people may well get more points because some non-slate nominators don't fill out all five slots. A slate where only one candidate is chosen and gets the full 60 points may still make the final ballot but it will be up against four other non-slate nominees. A "one man" slate can't block other popular non-slate candidates. Multiple slates should not affect the result, unlike 4/6.

That's the theory. Whether it survives contact with the enemy is another matter.

185:

No, you didn't see any of those things, because that's what happens to African-Americans, not to white Americans

Yes you do. Or should see them if you look. The ratios are different but they are definitely there. In non trivial numbers.

Maybe not where you grew up / live in the US but in many places.

But as a proportion of their "racial" population the "whites" have smaller numbers of poor.

BTW they tend to be called by the slur Poor White Trash.

186:

"Can the China's ICBMs actually reach the UK?"

Yes, but they don't have many of them. They have a bunch of IRBMs which can hit India and Pakistan, Japan etc. as they are perceived as the real threat to China militarily speaking.

China's stockpile of warheads is probably in the same ballpark as the French, 250 to 300 or so but their delivery systems are much less advanced. They're trying to build out an SSBN capability but it's not there yet -- submarines are HARD. Their ICBM fleet is still liquid-fuelled and not siloed so they're vulnerable to pre-emptive strikes by conventionally-armed cruise missiles.

187:

Yes you do. Or should see them if you look. The ratios are different but they are definitely there. In non trivial numbers.

You're not understanding the discussion (Elderly Cynic isn't, either). Whites don't get systematic mistreatment BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE. Mortgage officers don't look at white applicants and decide that they should be kept in certain neighborhoods because they're white. They might do it because they're poor, but that's a class issue not a racial one (and hits African-Americans as well).

Again, note that I'm differentiating between times when whites are mistreated because of their race and the kind of systematic cradle-grave (and before and after; African-Americans still tend to get segregated out of cemeteries as well) oppression by race that African-Americans are subjected to.

188:
It takes a bit more work for the administrator to process the data after nominations close but it can be automated with verification, probably by running the same data through two or three implementations of the software
Funny thing about SF fans, lots of them are geeks. Funny thing about engineers, lots of them are geeks. And funny-squared thing -- there's quite a chunk of overlap.


Yes, the 2% rule always applies (in every walk of life and it's been the bane of mine more than once) but you have such a wide pool here even when you filter for ability and qualifications, that finding non-proposers who'd volunteer to be the backstop check for EPH is a feasible idea if people want to go down that road.


Hell, I've been thinking of writing a version myself for fun at home (some fans cosplay, some fans code, it's all good). I'd happily throw it up on github opensourced and pass it on to whomever to use as another independent implementation if that'd help. I've gotten enough out of the Hugos over the years that I figure I could stand to pay something forward.

189:

You are creating straw men. I shall respond to correct your misrepresentations, but not do so further.

I know white males working for UK companies who will not be promoted because they are not Japanese. I have quite a lot of experience of men being treated very badly by women at work, and their attempts to get even minimal fair treatment blocked (or them blamed!) because the management thought like you. I know of cases where the same happened on account of race. See also Fathers 4 Justice. And I could go on.

None of that is the point, because it doesn't deny the more pervasive disriminations the other way. But YOU are being discriminatory under the guise of being politically correct. Oppression is oppression.

190:

We don't have to choose between EPH and 4/6, or try them in different years. My personal belief is that EPH is superior to 4/6, and that if EPH passes then we can dispense with 4/6, but they're not incompatible, and there's no reason that they can't coexist.

191:

That's essentially the Four and Six proposed ammendment. Four nominations, six slots in the final ballot.
I attended the first business meeting (the programming on the first morning of the con is thin), which is primarily concerned with establishing the running order of the subsequent business meetings and assigning debate time limits, but does allow proposals to postponed till next year or amended out of all recognition. The whole thing can be regarded as performance art. It's all on YouTube.

192:

Something that most people miss is that discrimination (in all forms) breeds discrimination, in at least three ways: by teaching that it is acceptable in one area (so it gets extended to another), by reaction from those discriminated against, and by the politically correct denying that anyone among their chosen category of discriminators can actually be a victim of discrimination.

Agreed, mostly. I'd change your last point to say 'denying that anyone who's been discriminated against can discriminate against someone else', or add that as a fourth point. I've seen too many people who self-identify as an oppressed minority discriminate against other people purely on the basis of group identity.

And that, I think, is the real reason discrimination breeds discrimination: it teaches people that an individual's worth is based on what group they are a member of — that people aren't individuals but interchangeable units. At which point it becomes easy to decide that a person isn't a 'true person', and so it's OK if bad things happen to them.

People are people. Some good, some bad, most of us a mixture. But always people.

193:

"Anyway, the point is not to use them offensively, but to have an independent deterrent for defensive purposes."

Against WHOM? Or are you proposing that they be used on a nation that has not previously used nukes or equivalent on us? Or even as on nations with no WMD? Doing THAT is what would get us jumped on - and there are many other ways of doing that than nuking us.

"Then (according to my own apparently reliable RN sources) they don't know what they're talking about."

You have a need to know? Are you QUITE sure that they haven't been ordered to deny that? After all, that's what was done about GCHQ's spying on the rest of Europe on behalf of the USA military-industrial machine. And then along came Snowden and esposed that as a pack of lies :-)

''The problem with "let's share with the French" is that the UKUSA agreement is a lot more than nukes. AIUI it's also intelligence-sharing, to a level beyond any other national agreement (see "Five Eyes").''

Indeed it is. It causes us to act as the USA's fifth column in Europe. Whether or not it was the cause of the DTI closing down some of our high-tech. industry in favour of USA companies, I can't say, but I have personal experience that happened.


194:

The Atrocity Archives didn't really make any feminist statement that I can recall. The Jennifer Morgue didn't either until the end, and as I mentioned in comment #136 the ending didn't make much sense. I ended that book with the distinct impression that Charlie's feminism had gotten in the way of his story, which has colored my perception of his work ever since. YMMV.

195:

"Agreed, mostly. I'd change your last point to say 'denying that anyone who's been discriminated against can discriminate against someone else', or add that as a fourth point."

Add it. When you get class-action conflicts (discrimination, attacks or whatever), it is usually the most innocent who suffer worst.

196:

This fix, to allow fewer nominations per voter than final ballot slots, was passed at the same business meeting session where we passed EPH, and each would need to be ratified next year in order to take effect in 2017.

197:

Gamergate is so anti-authoritarian that anyone who suggests we should have any sort of formal organization or leadership is roundly mocked for it.


So, you're an organization that is not organized. You do see the problem there, right?
Anyone can come along and claim to represent your supposed organization, which means that the loudest assholes are most likely to be considered the organization. Which is a good way to make sure that it isn't taken seriously. And that's just fine.

198:

I get that the voting system EPH proposes has the same user interface, and is probably not that hard for the Hugo organisers to adopt, but the whole thing is long enough to be entered in the Related Works (short form) category, and if people have to read the manual to understand the consequences of their choice[s], that is a problem.

199:

Presumably not if they're Irish or Australian, or from some other country which uses a variant on the same system. Much as I love both Australians and Irish, I don't think they're particularly outstanding from the rest of the human race in terms of mental abilities, so I imagine the rest of us will manage to comprehend the "consequences of our choices". Or just vote in the normal way and let the experts handle the intermediate stage.

200:

You claimed that oppression against white men was systematic. In light of that, I don't see how Total built any straw men. What they described is what is generally meant by systematic oppression.

201:

As I understand it there are at least three independent (and non-compatible) EPH counting systems already built and tested, and that was before the Business Meeting was held last weekend. Sasquan will offer up carefully-anonymised real data from this year's nominating process to anyone who wants to run EPH or any other modified nominating processes against it. The coders have been using simulated test suites of data until now with assorted levels of slate voting to see what effects they have.

The anonymised data should give a clearer image of how many people voted a straight-ticket Sad or Rabid slate in each category.

202:

I would also add that I think there is a conflation and confusion of "systemic" and "systematic" in this context, by Elderly Cynic and others -- I'm fairly sure that they are not the same thing at all.

203:

I'm not sure that "I had to read something" should be considered a valid criticism to be honest. I mean, if you literally can't read two or three pages of text, how can you cast a vote on an entire Novel?

Yes, my tongue's firmly in my cheek there :)

But the point is valid enough - sometimes you just have to read the user manual and that is not a bad thing so long as the user manual exists (and it's already been said that EPH is well-documented).

204:
Much as I love both Australians and Irish, I don't think they're particularly outstanding from the rest of the human race in terms of mental abilities

This is true. We make up for it with the prodigious size of our genitals.

205:

The nomination process for WSFS members is the same as always, nominate zero through five candidates of your choice in each category. 4/6 says you can nominate zero through four candidates, the final ballot will have six candidates.

EPH scaling does not affect any individual's choices or their impact on the final ballot. The key effect of EPH should be to prevent a minority slate vote occupying all five final ballot slots. It will not prevent some slate candidates making it onto the ballot -- if 500 slate voters select A for Best Long Form Editor and leave their other slots blank then it's likely A will be on the final ballot along with four other non-slate nominees, given the total number of nominators will be about 1500 or so. If the slate voters get greedy and fill all five nomination slots then under EPH a few non-slate nominations will still make it onto the ballot anyway even if their nominations are more spread out.

If the slate voters are the majority of nominators then EPH will not prevent them from getting their way, but that's not a bug.

206:

Gamergate is ethical; but not polite. We don’t dox people or send death threats or rape threats (despite the constant stream of lies told about us). We will, however, trashtalk, shitpost, and mock our opponents mercilessly.

This is one of my big bugbears about online behavioural norms. Why is this kind of "merciless" verbal assault on someone seen as acceptable? (I know this is hardly a new question.)

Excusing this sort of behaviour gives some (many?) people big sticks to beat others with. It allows and excuses the following of an individual into every corner of their online existence, and shouting them down, harassing them, bullying them until they curl up and go cry in a corner. Just because they disagreed with your point of view.

Sanity check: If you wouldn't find someone's behavior acceptable in a face-to-face setting, why would you defend (or worse, cheer it on) when online?

(Plus: Since you have no organization and anyone that shares some ill-defined central values can identify as a GamerGater, how can you disavow the doxxing and real-world threats that have been issued in the name of the GamerGate cause (or is every single one a "media lie")? You can't have it both ways.)

207:

The solution must be at least as complex as the problem.

That's just one of those things.

EPH is an extremely simple solution for an attempt to make political parties ineffective.


208:

[Gamergate] will, however, trashtalk, shitpost, and mock our opponents mercilessly.

Bullying, in other words. Legally, in Canada at least, that sounds like criminal harassment.

209:

I wonder if the Rabid Puppies will flip tactics in 2017 when the new rules take place? That is, if their slate gets weeded out during the nomination process, start bloc voting for No Award in an attempt to shut all all of the non-Puppy nominees as well? If all the other votes are split between 5 (non-Puppy) works they may have a shot in some categories.

I suppose they could also take the tactic of just picking popular works and putting those on their slate, regardless of the wishes of the author or any connection to ideology. Then claiming victory when those win... Sounds like something Beale would do.

210:
Why is this kind of "merciless" verbal assault on someone seen as acceptable? (I know this is hardly a new question.)

Not to mention that J Carl Henderson is apparently an adult, considering he was old enough to be ranting against the Squiddy Awards in 1998, and yet apparently thinks this sort of behaviour is not only acceptable but also nets him access to some sort of moral high ground? The part you quoted reads as a giant red flag for 'I am an asshole', and that J Carl posted it in defence of gamergate suggests a level of cognitive dissonance that is frankly worrying. I know it's the sort of posturing that is part of the basic rhetoric on the chan sites, but to actually post it here like you believe it?

211:
if 500 slate voters select A for Best Long Form Editor and leave their other slots blank then it's likely A will be on the final ballot along with four other non-slate nominees, given the total number of nominators will be about 1500 or so.

Which is a feature, not a bug. If 20-30% of the nominators care enough to pay their $40 and nominate someone, then it really would be unfair to not nominate that someone. The idea with EPH is explicitly not to prevent that. What it's meant to prevent is that 20% of the voters controlling 100% of the outcome.

212:

I think it's obvious by now that as a species, we shouldn't be trusted to run with scissors, much less own weapons of mass destruction. I don't see any practical way to enforce global nuclear disarmament, but certainly the more nations have nuclear strike capability, the less stable deterrence becomes; and unilateral disarmament is possible (just look at South Africa for an example).

213:

You are creating straw men. I shall respond to correct your misrepresentations, but not do so further.

That you seem not to understand my point is not the same thing as it being a straw man.

I know white males working for UK companies who will not be promoted because they are not Japanese.

Yes, those men were treated unfairly. When they went home, were they pulled over by the police because of their race? Did they have to drive to a bad neighborhood because they couldn't get a loan anywhere else because of their race? Were their children put in worse schools because of their race?

You keep insisting that being treated badly because of race in one instance is equivalent to being treated badly in every instance because of race. They're not, and that you can't even comprehend the point, let alone respond to it, is really quite indicative.

214:

If I were being Evil... presume that a Puppy organiser has good info on how many troops they have on hand for the nomination phase, plus or minus a few. They can make a good guess on how many other folks will nominate in each category and what the likely spread will be given those numbers are usually made public each year and there's good historical data for each category. They can then model their own slates using the freely-available EPH software and fine-tune their final slate "suggestions" for maximum predicted effect.

"For LF Editor, running the numbers suggest that if our Witless Minions nominate two and only two candidates then we'll get both of them onto the ballot so that's what we'll do. Short stories, heh, it looks like we can stretch to four masterpieces of hard right-thinking SF and leave just one slot for a single hippy-dippy piece of crap. It might win the final vote but at least we'll have kept some other SJW-approved POSes off the final ballot. Best Related Work, oh this looks like fun..."

215:

The Rabid puppies might do that, but it would deprive the Sads of their fig leaf of "it was just a recommendation".

I'm hoping, despite the rhetoric in response to No Award, the people behind SP4 will realize that their tactics and attitudes contributed to the final result. Their official stated goal of getting more people involved in the Hugos was successful. They should try and use that to influence nominations without resorting to a slate or other chicanery.

216:

I think it's obvious by now that as a species, we shouldn't be trusted to run with scissors, much less own weapons of mass destruction.

The economy that keeps... some very large fraction of us, seven eighths, at least, alive, is a weapon of mass destruction. It's just slower and a little more diffuse than your basic can of instant sunshine.

I don't think we can get away from that problem. It's sorta inherently interesting to see if there's a fix, too, what with not being dead yet.

217:

3) Gamergate does not care if their opponents call them....[snip]

No? How about boring? Fanatical? Counter-productive?

I had no idea who Anita Sarkeesian was prior to GG, I'm not sure care much now either.

But she seems to have done far better out of Gamergate than any of those who oppose her.

Sympathy is often a better weapon than anger.

218:

Yellow Flag for Elderly Cynic.

You're pointing to specific examples of individual, personal-level discrimination. However, Total is discussing systemic failure modes rooted in racism. Your counter-examples do not in any way invalidate Total's point, which is that anti-black racism in the USA (and elsewhere) is a monstrous thing that affects all black people by default.

Stop arguing at cross-purposes, you're derailing this particular discussion and you're annoying me.

219:

The problem with the proposed nominating system isnt that it's complicated (it isnt) but that it isnt a complete solution: Given two works with equal popularity, the one with the more organized group of nominators will win (because they are coordinating the way they split their votes within any category). Gaming the system this way limits their control compared to this year, but it's not yet fair. Further steps are needed, me thinks.

220:

I am not going to try and drag out the details, but "No Award" has a special rule that applies, and can be eliminated in the round when it has the lowest total of the remaining nominees.

The final Nominee, if No Award has not already been eliminated, needs more voters to have ranked her ahead of No Award than vice versa. And if you haven't ranked No Award at all, the nominees you explicitly ranked are ahead of No Award.

But if you have not ranked either the finalist or No Award your vote isn't counted in this test. So remember to rank all the non-slate candidates and No Award at the bottom.

I think I have that right.

And if you can't decide a number, if you have no strong preference between the last two non-Puppies, toss a coin or something.

221:

His whole post is a grand mess of examples of my list @178.

I'm actually pleased to see someone turn up as a self-identified GamerGater and attempt a reasonable explanation and defense of the position (sans the usual spittle flecked invective). Unfortunately, what it's mostly done is confirm for me that even the most moderate GamerGater has all the objective self-regard of a two-year-old child mid-tantrum.

222:

In the short term, I agree that nuclear disarmament is difficult. Still, the problem with nuclear weapons isn't one of design, it's creating the materials you need to build one of the things, and that may be the ultimate key to their end, because they don't last all that long.

In the longer term, switching to 100% renewables effectively makes nukes very difficult. If there are reasons (such as universal hacking and climate change) for people going for decentralized small-scale power systems in a big way, it will be very difficult concentrate the tremendous amount of energy you need in a small area to create a nuke. This includes running all those centrifuges, making the delivery vehicle, etc.

Now of course, someone will argue that nuclear power is an essential part of defeating climate change, blah, blah, thorium, blah. Consider the argument made. The question you have to answer, in this post-STUXNET era, is how you hook a large power plant of any sort up to the smart power grid needed to combat climate change, without making it hackable through that same smart power grid. If any big power plant can be disabled or destroyed by having its controls hacked, then having many, smaller, and more diverse power supplies makes a lot more sense. Such a power system doesn't seem to favor the construction of nuclear weapons, though.

Perhaps that's a good thing? It's worth looking at what happened at the end of WWII before you answer, in terms of relative deaths under different bombing regimes.

223:

The economy that keeps... some very large fraction of us, seven eighths, at least, alive, is a weapon of mass destruction. It's just slower and a little more diffuse than your basic can of instant sunshine.

The solution to that problem is the death of at least 7/8ths of the human species and a radical shift to an economic system not predicated on continuously increasing material consumption.

I would much prefer that this should happen through natural attrition, i.e. old age and managed decline. The trouble is that shrinking/aging populations are inherently deflationary -- see Japan -- and I really don't think the western economies are going to survive that. So, best outcome: lots of elderly people dying in poverty before we (as a species) get out of this rat-trap. I'll probably be one of them.

224:

This was pretty much the conclusion of my thesis on the UK Independent Nuclear Deterrent in 1993.

It's not independent, it's not deterred anyone who has threatened UK interests since we acquired it [not surprising, since we refuse to use it], and it drains resources away from more flexible weapon systems.

If you want to know why the UK military is in the position it's in, blame Trident, and the people who want to replace it.

And of course it creates a secret state within and already secretive state, with little or no democratic oversight.

Which is good for science fiction, techno-thrillers and spy novels, but bad for the body politic as a whole

STRANGE ATTRACTORS, AGAIN

225:

The question you have to answer, in this post-STUXNET era, is how you hook a large power plant of any sort up to the smart power grid needed to combat climate change, without making it hackable through that same smart power grid.

Actually, that can be finessed. If you're really serious about security, you use traditional electromechanical controllers rather than embedded microcontrollers to keep the plant running -- hey, it worked fine for 1950s reactor designs before digital computers powerful enough to run your pedometer existed -- and provide a dumb base load output measured in GW. Let a smart grid interconnect suckle on it, and if it doesn't need to draw the full load, use the surplus to do something useful like heat up a big tank of working fluid to drive a heat engine later.

Decent civil nuclear reactors should be inherently stable, self-moderating, and fail-safe through physical design, no fancy microelectronic hackery needed.

226:

Organizations that are not organized, eh?

I'm posting this from Germany, where I recently attended a seminar hosted by an anti-fascist group called MitEinAnder, or together. They told us that one interesting development on the current far-right scene is the emergence of groups of far-rightists who are apparently bound together by little more than personal affinity, and have no stronger organizational bond and lack any formal organizational structure. This makes it much harder for the authorities to deal with them.

So yes, it's entirely possible for there to be "organizations that are not organized".

As for my opinion of the gamergater crowd, well. . . I had an uncle who once played for Red Star Belgrade. He said "some things are best left unspoken".

227:

I find I don't agree with everything Anita Sarkeesian says. But she keeps coming up with questions that need an answer.

My personal summary of the problem: why is there no Bonnie and Clyde in Grand Theft Auto?

I think there are some things she criticises which are bad, but which are difficult to avoid within the limits of gaming methods. Without being on the inside, I can't see how much anyone struggled to find a fix. It's things such as the pursuit of a Bad Man who leaves a trail of dead bodies, and those bodies are always women. The idea of the trail might be hard to avoid, but why are all the victims women? Why are all the active characters men?

History?

That explains why all the pilots in a Battle of Britain game are going to be men, but there's a lot of bad history in the games, some hugely horrible assumptions about women.

And, on the Eastern Front, the Soviets fielded whole combat squadroms of women pilots. The numbers were small, but pilots are pretty rare birds anyway. And women who could fly were delivering Spitfires.

Knowing that sort of history is one of the things that leads me away from total acceptance of Anita Sarkeesian's examples. It doesn't make the gaming industry look any better. The story of Lara Crofts tits being the result of a typing error just isn't credible. There's an obvious difference between the early computer model and who real Page Three girls look like, and the people in the company made a choice.

The GamerGaters aren't trying to find any answers, they're just getting headlines through blanket denial and intimidation. And no true GamerGater would do any of that.

228:

As I said I though you were talking world wide and I can't see that working. Would be a good thing if possible.

And if I was a citizen of the UK I'd likely be advocating for UK tossing nukes. But more than that I'm not comfortable telling citizens of the UK what to do.

The more I've learned about politics in the UK over the last 30 years the less I understand it. Which seems to be true of many on this blog about the US. They just don't realize it. :)

229:

So, you're an organization that is not organized. You do see the problem there, right?
Anyone can come along and claim to represent your supposed organization, which means that the loudest assholes are most likely to be considered the organization. Which is a good way to make sure that it isn't taken seriously.

That's basically what happened to the political party created by Ross Perot. It gradually blew itself apart as no one could agree on anything.

230:

She does, yes.

But I'm just a casual gamer, and I have been since 1982, so my opinion doesn't count for very much amongst gamergaters.

Apparently.

231:

So, best outcome: lots of elderly people dying in poverty before we (as a species) get out of this rat-trap. I'll probably be one of them.

The problem with that is that humans normally just don't crawl into a corner and die quietly, even if they are elderly. I think population is more likely to be reduced by a number of catastrophes: war, famine, pandemia, storms, floods, heat waves, ...
And there won't be any good outcome: 7 billion deaths over a span over 50-100 years would tear apart any society. How do you mourn for so many people?

232:

And Anita is funny. And GamerHaters are not.

233:

Grumble grumble

Anyway to increase the timeout so multi-paragraph comments that take more than a few minutes to type are not lost when the system says you have taken too much time.

234:
If I were being Evil...

That is in fact a valid question you're raising. The test is: can you sufficiently game the EPH system (assuming you have perfectly loyal minions) to control a statistically significant portion of the outcome that you should not be able to control, ie. if your group makes up 20% of the nominators, can you control 40% or more of the outcome?

1. I need to go do the math myself to make sure that 40% is the right threshold, I'm just using a POMA estimate there.

2. The great thing about all that documentation and test data? You can run the numbers yourself and get an answer. You don't even need to code, you can do it by hand on pencil and paper if you really want to. And it's an interesting question to boot...

3. I need more free time, this is sounding like a wonderfully juicy analysis problem...


Oh, and DeMarquis, same story - it's a valid question that's readily studied using existing public datasets and algorithms.

The great thing in both your cases is that you can actually get an answer. No hand-waving needed. Just actually run the simulations or the tests with the data and look at the outcomes.

235:

So yes, it's entirely possible for there to be "organizations that are not organized".


Except that they can get together, in say a beer hall, and discuss what sort of hell to raise tonight. Which strictly speaking is organizing. Otherwise you only have people who go around wearing some badge or something to identify one another, and have nothing to actually do with one another who aren't really going to be able to do much. Or so it seems to me.

And I assume any such group is far smaller than this supposed 10,000 GGers around the world, who are more likely to be far fewer people with multiple online identities.

236:

Since we seemed to be heading towards the site's strange attractors…

<aside>

Actually, that can be finessed. If you're really serious about security, you use traditional electromechanical controllers rather than embedded microcontrollers to keep the plant running -- hey, it worked fine for 1950s reactor designs before digital computers powerful enough to run your pedometer existed -- and provide a dumb base load output measured in GW.

I've just realised that there are probably enough UK nuclear wonks reading this that one might be able to help me with a question.

My partner's dad died recently. He was an mech engineer in the nuclear industry and, amongst other things, worked on HMS Dreadnought (S101), the Dragon Reactor and early ionization smoke detectors. Amongst his affects we have some stuff that looks potentially to be of historic interest: like notebooks & engineering drawings from Dragon, some early smoke detector prototypes (sans americium-241 ;-) etc.

Is there somewhere/somebody in the UK we could poke about finding them a good home at some point in the future?

</aside>

237:

"Weber-esque Napoleonic-Navies-in-Space space opera, from a denunciation of empires and social conservativisim through to taking the piss out of their standard off-the-shelf let's-recycle-a-famous-naval-battle plot."

- Exactly why I've purchased only one Weber book. Read two of his books, the second was from the library just to check/confirm whether he was merely re-papering history under the guise of writing 'novel' milSF. To be fair, this type of literary gambit could be hugely entertaining and educational if the author took into account (i.e., explained) the physics, biology, logistics, etc. of deep space and their consequences, both personally and societally within a social structure that has evolved into at least the early 21st century.

238:

That's basically what happened to the political party created by Ross Perot. It gradually blew itself apart as no one could agree on anything.


And I'm hoping that if Trumpy Cat runs as an Independent, he'll have a similar effect of splitting the Republican vote and ensuring a Democratic win. But drifting way off-topic.

239:

7 billion deaths every 50-100 years is the steady-state situation. There are currently around 7 billion people in the world. All but a tiny fraction of us will be dead by the end of the century.

240:

I'd suggest the Science Museum first, they have a big building with stuff in it that includes some fairly modern items.

241:

To be fair, his books move away from Turtledovian re-enactments of history as the series goes on. His latest books are mired in competence porn and the gleeful remodeling of all his worldbuilding.

242:

Re: From Charlie's Wired article link above ...

"... a record 11,300-plus people bought memberships to the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington.' (So, about $452,000 USD)

What does this org do with the membership proceeds? They obviously now have more money/cash than they had budgeted/forecast for this fiscal year (Worldcon).

If they're looking for ideas as to where to spend some of it, I'd like to repeat my suggestion for a free reader-accessible/downloadable Excel showing all SF/F authors, literary style/mood, titles, types of characters and plot lines, any particular subject(s) matter expertise they might personally have or are exploring, subgenre, market, etc.

The other suggestion is an online video archive of Worldcon keynote speakers/speeches, presentations, workshops, etc. a la Youtube.


A question for Charlie ... given that the membership means that members get the entire packet of nominated novels 'for free' as part of their membership deal so that they are able to read and vote on all of the nominated works, what impact does this have on the nominated authors' book revenue (income)?

243:

Okay ... and aside from uber competence, do his characters have any ... you know ... humanity?

244:

I've generally found the timeout to be measured in hours, rather than minutes; is your browser perhaps losing a cookie or something? More generally helpful, for this kind of thing: I'm in the habit of hitting ctrl-A ctrl-C before pressing the submit button on any comment form; that way when things go wrong I still have the text in clipboard. It's definitely a useful habit.

245:

Intermittently. I mean his characters aren't totally blank slates of competence and moral rectitude (or lack thereof for his villains) but characterization is definitely not a priority. I guess they're just human enough to give the main conflict some weight but not enough to make the characters the point of the book.

246:

From being on the inside (at a low level though) of a few Worldcons in the past I can tell you that surplus funds are rarely a problem.

The Treasury and Board usually have a wishlist of things they'd like to do if more money than they originally estimated somehow materialises. Most of these things can be implemented quite quickly during the con, like carpeting display halls or uprating the catering for gophers and staff. It's just a question of throwing money at suppliers to provide the extra services.

Most cons that make a surplus provide funding for future conventions once all the bills are paid -- "pass-along funds". Some cons take a long time to wrap up their financial affairs; Finland in 2017 and KC in 2016 have just received the last $46,000 of Millenium Philcon's surplus, and that convention closed its doors in 2001.

247:

Humanity is something that develops, in my experience. So it is with the books, I imagine.

248:

But drifting way off-topic.

Actually I plan to vote for Bernie in the primary then if Trump gets the R nomination I for sure will vote the BS ticket. :)

249:

Charlie and AV were talking net. Not just deaths. With the end result being 1 billion or so. And history is thin of societies doing this kind of contraction without ugly results.

250:

A chunk of that extra money goes on printing and posting the extra copies of the programme book, so they don't get to pocket all of it. But there's also the Pass Along Funds program. In short, any Worldcon (any that participates in this) passes on at least 50% of any profit to the next 3 Worldcons. The idea is that the Worldcons get help up front in return for helping others.

(A big issue with conventions is that a lot of the expenditure is up front, before you have the memberships paid. I've been on a convention committee where we all agreed how much we'd each pay up should the whole thing folded. Though that agreement's very unusual.)

As for the Hugo packet, you do not necessarily get anything in it. It's a voluntary gesture by the various publishers and rights holders of the works in question, and while you may get the entirety of a novel, you might also only get an extract. For example, the Butcher novel was represented by an extract.

It's down to the publishers whether they think they'll get more sales from providing complete works. If a reader ends up reading something that they otherwise wouldn't have bought, and then goes out and buys other works from that author, then that's a win, and it may outweigh the lost sales from those who end up not buying something they otherwise would have because they got it free. Different publishers come to different conclusions: last year IIRC the novels from Orbit came as extracts, but the entirety of the Wheel Of Time series was in there (because the entire series was up for the award).

251:

Okay ... and aside from uber competence, do his characters have any ... you know ... humanity?

Early on (in the first few Honor Harrington books), Weber seemed to be using CS Forester (Horatio Hornblower) as his character development model (note the initials). Hornblower is highly competent but also personally rigid, doesn't understand people or emotions, and really struggles with non-military interactions. He's a fascinatingly flawed character.

Weber seemed to be going in that same direction with Harrington at first. Then he turned her into some version of le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche, and the humanity really went out the window.

252:

Hmmm, here's the strange attractor.

It's actually not quite that simple: old power plant designs were designed to put out a constant amount of power with characteristics that were fairly closely defined. This includes things like AC frequency. As I understand it, computers originally modulated line voltage frequency to create a binary signal, although there's no way they could do it now. Still, having a few, big, fixed power suppliers made things very simple, because balancing the load meant dealing with the demand side.

The smart grid is much messier. Solar doesn't work at night, wind turbines don't work in still air, and there's an energy demand peak in the early evening when everyone goes home and cooks dinner. To meet this with renewables you've got to have a huge power banking facilities that we're only now developing (and these will make Elon Musk insanely rich), plus the ability to balance supply, reserve, and demand simultaneously among millions of suppliers and consumers.

In this situation, high information flow is paramount, and that's what makes the system hackable if we try to wire it all together and make everyone work together.

Can we do it with 1960s technology? I doubt it. If it were that simple, the power companies wouldn't be trying to kill off roof-top solar, they'd be messing with the market in microgeneration and making a killing that way. The power companies are really worried about this, and while I'm definitely on the solar side, I can see why they're scared.

The simpler solution, of course, is for everyone to wean themselves from the grid to the extent possible, but that's one of those overcoming addiction problems that's also difficult to permanently solve.

Guess we're in strange attractor territory now.

Personally, I think this would be a great time to reboot cyberpunk, rip out the space travel, put in the real problems with social media, climate change, and hacking that we have uncovered, and try again. The politics of shifting the energy grid and struggling towards sustainability are every bit as noir as anything Gibson wrote.

253:

Per capita energy consumption in the UK peaked in 1973, for the USA the peak was 1978. Economic growth can happen without an increase in the overall consumption of resources.

254:

Charlie clearly was talking about population reduction via natural attrition, but I think Andreas missed that point, hence asking how do you mourn for 7 billion people over a span over 50-100 years.

255:

Much as I find your posts informative and correct, bits like:

"Can we do it with 1960s technology? I doubt it. If it were that simple, the power companies wouldn't be trying to kill off roof-top solar, they'd be messing with the market in microgeneration and making a killing that way."

are I think totally wrong, insofar as you can never underestimate the sunk costs, personal involvement, bureacratic inertia and inability to see what is good for them of large companies like the aforementioned power ones.

256:

I have close relatives who worked on commisioning last generation of AGR (Heysham I and II).

One of them told me that they didn't fully trust their computers as software engineering best practices were considered insufficiently robust, with proofs of correctness being difficult and all.

The solution they seemed to go for in a few cases was to have software control with constraints enforced using relay logic. Let the computer do the fine tuning but have completely analysable and dumb logic to override it if it tries to go out of bounds.

Apparently when they first ran the refueling machine on one of the plants* the logic wasn't ready so they had a bunch of engineers standing around the floor with truth tables pulling breakers to disable various motors.

*II I think but I can't really remember.

257:

Does that include the energy consumed manufacturing and transporting goods from outside the UK?

258:

Yep. That's pretty much how I modeled the collapse of civilization, with the Earth's population around 2100ish being 75%-96 (or 99.9%) lower than at peak, which might be around 2050.

Hard time to live through.

Here are a couple of ways to think about it: one is that we're probably going to get to sustainable by 2100, relying entirely on energy from the Sun and Earth (and possibly the Moon). Whether that means survivors with campfires in the ruins or rather more people with wind, solar, hydropower, and tidal power...well, that's what we're working on now. At the moment, we're pretty clearly on the path for #1, but more humane people like the #2 option quite a bit more. It's just harder to get to.

Another way to think about it is that humans are basically in the same class as gypsy moths, lemmings, etc.: we're a species that's prone to outbreaks. An outbreak happens when a species slips out from under the population limits imposed by its pathogens, parasites, and predators. That's what we've done, what with our large suite of mutualistic symbionts (aka domesticated species), public health, medicine, veterinary medicine, and plant pathology, all of which work hard to keep our enemies at bay and our population up.

We call each outbreak civilization, and it can be local or global. I'll even go out on a limb and say that civilization only works when and where the climate is stable enough to support it, which is why, over the 100,000-odd years of human existence, we've only seen civilization for the last 3,000-5,000 years (google Milankovitch cycles if you want to start understanding why).

Now, from our perspective, an outbreak is a good thing (after all, we're all civilized). It's not the only state for our species though, but that's okay from the cosmic viewpoint, since we're far from the only species that does this sort of thing. The good part is that species generally survive outbreaks. The bad thing is that they're often rare between outbreaks.

Our problem is, how much of what we value in our culture will survive past our outbreak, when it finally crashes? After all, we inherit as much from our cultures as we do from our genes. The end of an outbreak marks cultural extinction for us more than it marks genetic extinction, and that's a really scary thought.

Anyway, something to think about, if you're bored or something.

259:

Briefly ..on account of my Highly Advanced IT system having encountered the latest update to Windows 7 .. and thus nearly having expired of the same?

I'm still recovering Lost Stuff.

The irony of this is that I had recently fixed a friends computer - which had a similar fault - through the Magical Power of a Disk that was full of Dell Drivers. My PC is ever so advanced and expensive and beyond her Old Dell PC and so I had to hire a specialist to fix my computers graphics drivers. A Specialist whose training went rather further than my own tendency to " pick it up as I go " self training system that, way back when I had to work for a living, kept my line managers insisting that I really ought to be /Accept IT System Manager Privileges.

I strongly suspect that many of the people who are in charge of the Systems that prop up our technical civilization night be as severely under qualified as me ..just a suspicion mind you, Nothing to Prop it up beyond, say, a web search

"information technology failures by UK government "

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/willardfoxton2/100013999/why-do-all-government-it-projects-seem-to-fail/

The I.T. Stuff that balances our highly technical world is far more unstable than we would wish it to be, as is evidenced by the recent hack of the ... " The Ashley Madison leak has already seen lawsuits filed against the company - and at least ... no crime and never followed through with an affair on the cheating website. "

Oh, and didn't some one or other Hack the Iranian Nuke .... ah, yes, There IT is ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet

Of course no one could do this to us, cos WE are The Good Guys and our Secret Intel Organizations are More Better than Our Evil Enemies Secret Intel Organizations?

And, of course, ALL of this is Ever so New and Original and thus Worthy of Modern High Tech - and even Science Fictional = fictional stuff?

But Wait! ? ..


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_Agent

260:

Against WHOM? Or are you proposing that they be used on a nation that has not previously used nukes or equivalent on us?

Of course not.

- Let's be honest, it's a deterrent against Russia over the next fifty years (they're looking a teensy bit expansionist at the moment; when Putin's immediate advisers are talking about "historical claims" to Baltic states and the Grand Duchy of Finland; and the Russian army is training, equipping, and fighting alongside Ukrainian separatists; then things are not all sweetness, light, and guaranteed Peace in Our Time).

- It's an attempt at dissuasion against any regional power that thinks "you know, our neighbours haven't got nukes; if we developed some, our neighbours would have to do what we say, and any busybodies could butt out". Works for North Korea, the regime keeps holding its neighbours to ransom for more food relief.

I'd suggest that unilateral disarmament works best when you're the only regional power with nukes - South Africa had no neighbours with them. I'd also suggest that any Indian strategist who suggested unilateral disarmament would be a moron, given that Pakistan started several wars against them before India got the bomb, and promptly "wound its neck in" for the next thirty years (barring insurgency in the Kashmir, and high-altitude border skirmishes on the Siachen Glacier).

The counter-example to nuclear disarmament is of course chemical weaponry; the UK unilaterally disarmed, and the US started to dismantle its capability in the 1960s, but it achieved the square root of sod-all on the USSR CW stockpiles all the way through the Cold War.

Whether or not it was the cause of the DTI closing down some of our high-tech industry in favour of USA companies, I can't say, but I have personal experience that happened.

It's not as if the DTI owned any firms to be able to shut them down. They stopped trying to provide direct financial support to firms like INMOS, because there were too many competing political demands on the budget to invest what was necessary. Hospital beds, pay rises for nurses, increased pensions, or shiny new wafer fabs on a large enough scale to be competitive? You choose.

Note that where the investment was more targetted, and better organised with industry cooperation, it worked. The Scottish Development Agency, then Scottish Enterprise, etc, etc have done a decent job by focussing on attracting Biotech and electronic firms to Scotland.

Their attempts to centrally-plan a car market failed (Linwood no more), though. This kind of stuff is difficult, doesn't work by edict, is hard to predict, and has a non-zero failure rate.

261:

Thanks to everyone who replied re: Worldcon finances, and Weber's HH take!


Re:
"Personally, I think this would be a great time to reboot cyberpunk, rip out the space travel, put in the real problems with social media, climate change, and hacking that we have uncovered, and try again. The politics of shifting the energy grid and struggling towards sustainability are every bit as noir as anything Gibson wrote."

Agree.

Space travel may not be a dead idea though ... see story re: patent for a space elevator. Even so, this technology is probably going to identify problems/opportunities that hadn't been previously considered, e.g., real estate costs in regions near the tropics/equator, weather patterns, staffing and equipping a supply station at 65,000+ feet, high altitude medicine, etc.

http://www.techworm.net/2015/08/u-s-patent-granted-to-canadian-firm-for-space-elevator.html

Excerpt:

"A Canadian company has been granted a patent for their 12.4 mile-high space elevator design, that could launch astronauts and tourists into orbit.

Supported by a series of gas-pressurized cells, the free-standing tower would stand 20 times the height of current tall structures and can be used for wind-energy generation and as a docking platform for space planes that could launch cargo, tourists and satellites directly into lower orbit."


Energy grid ... I'm all for sustainable, renewable, green energy, etc. What we need is an example or analogy showing infrastructure/equipment that was originally hideously expensive to make/own but which is now so widely available at next to no obvious end-user cost that it would be foolish to not have it included (internet/www/wifi/smart phones). Educating/ selling by analogy is key for this endeavor, I think.

An alternative route to outright replacement is 'the partial, alternative, specialty add-on' solution. This has happened in appliances, home heating/cooling, flooring, communications and entertainment, and probably other familiar product lines. For example, moving pictures did not kill radio, TV did not kill movies, youtube did not kill the movies, and so on.

We'd also need success/failure analogies in terms develops/runs this enterprise, specific example is for-profit vs. state schools in tertiary education. Fake online programs for fake certifications/ credentials are quite common. E.g., Psychiatry rotation in a for-profit nursing program took them to a Scientology museum. (John Oliver did a piece on this a little while back re: Student Debt - HBO)


262:

I think that there's a tendency to overestimate the difficulty of making smart grid devices that are highly resistant to remote exploitation. The last two generations of game consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have (AFAICT) never been taken over with a remote exploit, though they run complex software including general purpose web browsers. That's at least 3 independent lineages of systems highly resistant to remote exploitation, built at price points suitable for mass-market consumer devices. Smart grid endpoints of comparable or better remote-attack resistance should be even cheaper because they don't need the software functionality (and corresponding large attack surface) to offer video playback, general web browsing, games, or even a graphical UI.

263:

Strange attractor territory...


Hi: This just came in from Nature and thought it fit your interests/concerns. (You probably have a subscription/access.)

Title: Perverse effects of carbon markets on HFC-23 and SF6 abatement projects in Russia (Lambert Schneider & Anja Kollmuss)

Excerpt:

'Here we show that all projects abating HFC-23 and SF6 under the Kyoto Protocol’s Joint Implementation mechanism in Russia increased waste gas generation to unprecedented levels once they could generate credits from producing more waste gas. Our results suggest that perverse incentives can substantially undermine the environmental integrity of project-based mechanisms and that adequate regulatory oversight is crucial. Our findings are critical for mechanisms in both national jurisdictions and under international agreements.'

264:

Suggestion: if writing something long, do it in a text editor and cut and paste it into the comment form before posting. That way, if you've timed out you can just log in again and retry.

(On the to-do list: switch to a new blogging platform. But that's a big job involving server upgrades, web design, and migration over 1000 blog entries and 120,000 comments. I have four books to hand in first, before I get time ...)

265:

One unidentified problem with a space elevator is that it's God's Gut Bucket. A gut bucket is a primitive upright bass made from an other-turned wash tub to which a string is attached, and a broomstick is attached to the other end of the string. You brace the broomstick against the tub, pull the string taut to tune it, and pluck the string.

Basically, that single line that's thousands of kilometers long is going to vibrate, and given the huge length, even a minor vibration is going to whip the cars sideways by perhaps a kilometer or more. Back and forth, possibly with some torquing. And most plans seem to say that cars will be stuck on the space elevator cable for something like a week of this.

If we can build such a thing, it would be great for freight, but it would be a real pain to ride, quite literally.

Maybe we can use solar-powered lasers to laser-launch something. I don't know. I do know that having satellites up there, at least, is a Really Good Thing, and our society depends on them. Accurately predicting the weather without satellites is a difficult problem.

266:

A question for Charlie ... given that the membership means that members get the entire packet of nominated novels 'for free' as part of their membership deal so that they are able to read and vote on all of the nominated works, what impact does this have on the nominated authors' book revenue (income)?

Misconception alert: getting a membership does not guarantee you the entire packet of nominated novels "for free". It's up to the authors (who almost always say yes) and the publishers (who fairly often say no) to decide. Orbit, in particular, usually stick at a 10% extract from their nominated novels.

If Orbit had given away the full nominated works at Loncon 3, where I was up for "Neptune's Brood" which had just come out in paperback the month before, it would have totally kneecapped my sales in the UK as my UK SF book sales are of the same scale as the [large] worldcon's membership. The effect is somewhat reduced in the USA, but is still noticeable. It's much less of a problem for no-shit runaway bestsellers (cough, Wheel of Time) than for midlist or low-end front-list authors (like me).

267:

So far as renewable energy goes, AFAIK, the problem isn't just the technology of load balancing, it's the politics and legal framework of dealing with everyone simultaneously being a buyer, a bank, and/or a seller of energy.

Here's an example: let's take a sun-belt city, put solar panels on the roofs of every building and parking lot that will hold them, and wire them all together with a bunch of batteries to power the city. This is something we can all agree on, right? Well, who owns those solar panels? If it isn't the building owner, does the panel owner have permission to go up on that roof to service the panels? What if he falls or damages the roof? What about fire access to roofs if there's an energized solar panel in the way? Who's responsible if the delay causes damage? What if someone has a solar panel on their roof, contracts to provide power to their local system (which might be a neighborhood, the city, etc.), and then the owner doesn't provide the power, because he can't maintain his panels (perhaps he fell off of someone else's roof and became disabled). How do you deal with such noncompliance?

None of this is cosmic or in any way a showstopper, but AFAIK, basically every power company is waiting for someone else to figure out the legal framework behind all this stuff before they jump in and build their own smart grid. They don't want to spend the years in court and in meetings negotiating it all out. West Marin is reportedly doing a good job pioneering it in California, and there's another town in Florida that was working on it, but the challenge is to make it easy for thousands of towns to get a book of laws, implement them, and make the switch.

That takes awhile, even without technical glitches.

268:

the entirety of the Wheel Of Time series was in there (because the entire series was up for the award).

Nope, not true: Orbit (the UK publisher) didn't want the WoT to appear in the packet, but Tor (the US publisher) figured it was past its sell-by date and grabbing a Hugo (at the possible expense of someone else's UK sales) was a worthwhile gambit, so they submitted it. This caused a certain amount of rancour, I believe ...

269:

It's not as if the DTI owned any firms to be able to shut them down.

You might want to google on Systime in Leeds. (But note that history is written by the victors, so what you find might be a wee bit biased against the plucky UK company that for a while looked set to rival DEC and Data General, until the US leaned on the DoT to stop them exporting to markets the US giants had a toe-hold in. Same story as with the TSR.2/F-111 for Australia, only civil sector and even nastier albeit on a smaller scale.)

270:

I'm not sure that keeping sufficient satellites operational in orbit needs exotic engineering such as a space elevator. It needs a lot to build and fly a booster but, on the global scale, the fuel consumption of the flight is pretty small. And it doesn't need to be carbon-heavy fossil fuel.

The hardware would be a problem to produce and use-once; spaceflight is an expression of a huge surplus, but so is the space elevator.

271:

Games consoles have a design life of 2-3 years and a product support life of maybe 10 years max.

What is the support life of a central heating/aircon system, or a garage door opener, or the lock on your front door? Or your fridge?

272:

Also within a couple of minutes I found a Sony PS4 webkit exploit and a Wii Opera vulnerability

With Google.

273:

You mean the Magic of the Market doesn't work without strong oversight? Oh, the shock and horror…

(Yes, that was sarcasm.)

I only subscribe to Nature, not Nature Climate Change, but there's an article (by Hodson) that seems to summarize the one you have.

Factories in Russia increased their production of industrial waste products and then claimed millions of carbon credits for destroying them after an international trading scheme went into effect.

Schneider and co-author Anja Kollmuss found that generation of waste HFC-23 and SF6 gases increased dramatically between 2008, when crediting began, and 2013 at the KCKK Polymer plant in the Kirov region and at the HaloPolymer Perm plant in Lasvinskaya. The plants produce these chemicals as waste in the production of the refrigerant chlorodifluoromethane, known as HCFC-22, and of non-waste SF6, which is used electrical components. Crucially, the increase in waste was not tied to a corresponding increase in the amount of useful product being made at these plants.

“This whole story makes a lot of sense to me,” says Michael Wara, an environmental-law researcher at Stanford Law School in California. “It happened in the CDM, and now they’ve shown that it’s happening with the JI programme. That’s not at all surprising given all the incentives.”

The findings come as international governments prepare to debate emissions targets and schemes as part of a new climate-change agreement at a United Nations summit in Paris this December.

“It’s really important that countries have ambitious climate targets in the new Paris agreement,” says Schneider. “If you have ambitious targets and you give away credits where no reductions are really occurring, you’d have to make up the difference somewhere else.”

Wara, however, says that it may be time to give up on carbon markets altogether. “The system didn’t really work very well,” he says. “People respond to incentives, ultimately, and this is an incentive that was created by the design of the system.”"

Gaming the system. People do what the rules allow them to do. Which is what's happening at the Hugos, right?

274:

The old saying 'Lie down with rabid puppies, rise with rabid fleas.' comes to mind. ('...at best.' or '... with rabies.' would be stronger but scan less well---see, I care about all that Scarlet Jewelled Wombat fancy writin'stuff over telling a two-fisted/one-handed story.)

275:

It seems odd that given the widespread use/installation of already existing multiple/parallel energy sources in homes and businesses in North America that this is even a small deal. Specific example: natural gas for water heating and/or fire place and/or cooking plus electricity for general heating/cooling and/or cooking plus all other appliances. What twisty regulatory/market forces paths did these two very different energy suppliers have to traverse before they were able to be installed and co-exist under the same roof?

Sorry - I believe that you mean what you are saying about the legislation/regulations and so on, but I do not believe that the industries involved really have much of a gripe.

276:

Even if you're not Catholic (and I'm not), you may well agree with Pope Francis that the carbon market is very similar to the old practice of selling indulgences, with all the historic problems that practice created.

The other problem is that oil is a major military fuel, so going off oil right now is the equivalent of going off conventional military power. Decarbonizing the world's militaries is another difficult problem, and I strongly suspect the militaries of the world already know this even better than I do.

277:

Well, if both homes were creating biogas from their septic tanks, mingling that gas in a common pipeline, and both using the result, I think you'd get the same situation. Running off-the-grid solar is legally simple. It's when you have something that looks like a solar commons where all the roofs are wired into a common grid that the situation gets more legally complicated.

Actually, as an aside, I just realized that they probably aren't using Ostrom's commons rules, which may be part of the problem. They're trying to make this work under normal market rules, instead of trying to implement this as a commons with everyone paying into a regulatory authority that helps deal with conflicts. Hmmmm...

278:

Re: "The other problem is that oil is a major military fuel, so going off oil right now is the equivalent of going off conventional military power."

Not my bailiwick, but I'm curious ... how does the introduction of drone technology impact the energy needs of the military?

What percent of total operating costs is high octane jet fuel for the USAF/USN fighter jets?

For its USN/USCG ships?

279:

Sloppy wording of me, I meant ~7 bn extra deaths over that time.

Wikipedia has this to say about the world population:
The global growth rate peaked at 2.2% in 1963, and has declined to 1.1% as of 2012.Total annual births were highest in the late 1980s at about 139 million, and are now expected to remain essentially constant at their 2011 level of 135 million,while deaths number 56 million per year, and are expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040.

With a growth rate of -1%, world population would drop to 1/8 of current numbers in 200 years. In the beginning that would mean 270 million deaths per year instead of 56 million.

With a growth rate of -5% the same would happen in only 40 years, but the initial death toll would be 1.3 billion per year.

Compare with your favorite peak-xyz theory and you'll see that a reduction in world population by attrition alone is extremely unlikely. The last time humanity has seen death rates of this scale was in the 14th century due to the Black Death, and look what effect that had on society.

280:

He evolves as a writer, and it gets much more interesting once he starts writing with Eric Flint, as it drops the retread of the Napoleonic wars.

The political stuff that's ouchie really only lasts the first couple books when he's doing a more straight up hornblower homage, and Haven goes under a variant of the Reign of Terror. Then Napolean gets nuked, and it opens up.

Heck, the Eric Flint co-written books essentially throw out a bunch of stuff in favor of dealing with Transhumanism. And the level of force differences make the actual battles more meaningless, with the focus being on politics. (and he's doing actual real politics rather than shoving a political strawman view).

But Stross's points about filing off the numbers from naval history are still true. The big thing is Weber is better read than the average space navy writer, so he's at least not guilty of overusing the same battles as everyone else. He switches up which war is being used for the various campaigns, so one of his big Napoleon conflicts actually uses the Battle off Samar for the climax rather than Trafalgar.

281:

Did you read the text from those pages? The PS4-webkit bug did not permit takeover of the system, but was described as "the first step towards the PlayStation 4 hacking." Likewise, the Wii Opera crash is described with "The hackers are busy at work trying to make something useful out of this." Looking through homebrew wikis for the consoles, it doesn't appear that these bugs were ever converted into working jailbreaks or malware-installation vectors.

Central heating/aircon units don't need to be smart themselves to be part of a smart grid. Likewise water heaters, washers, dryers, and EV chargers. Major appliances already have control loops designed for external manipulation by humans. The smart grid endpoint just needs to manipulate those existing control loops, like this or this. Smart grids seem to be getting confused with significantly more complex/dubious ideas like networked lightbulbs or refrigerators that communicate with grocery stores.

282:

Specific example: natural gas for water heating and/or fire place and/or cooking plus electricity for general heating/cooling and/or cooking plus all other appliances. What twisty regulatory/market forces paths did these two very different energy suppliers have to traverse before they were able to be installed and co-exist under the same roof?

They coexist because they really don't impact each other. All of what you describe is based on the property owner owning the electrical / gas distribution system inside the property. And they only consume it. There's no feeding it back to the supplier. Well except for solar/wind electricity that by law the power company has to buy back and rates that don't compensate them for the grid. So as long as it's small in terms of the overall system they can eat that cost for the PR it generates. But it is not a economically sound way to move forward.

In today's world electrical power or what we in the US call natural gas has a very simple path into a property. For small scale stuff like houses or low end commercial if your electrical system isn't behaving they pull the meeter and you go dark and are off their grid. For gas they don't pull the meter but will come out and close the valve and put a lock on it.

As to liability the property owner owns "all the stuff" and the property/liability insurance covers it due to a system of building codes requiring certified products be installed. Again these devices are almost all one way consumption devices. For things that push electrical power back into the grid we are very early in the days of all of the code and compliance details. As was mentioned above what if you have a battery and distribution system that takes your excess solar/electric and pushes it back to the grid. Very likely there will be a tie to the grid operator so they can monitor what is being done and disconnect it without needing to break into your house and run down to your basement before the battery explodes or you trash your neighborhood grid. This opens up a huge legal situation in the US and likely elsewhere. So does the power company get to own (required to own?) your basement distribution system? How about the wire and smart devices around your home in the outlets? (Like the phone system used to do with inside wiring.) What rights do they have to turn things on and off in your home? What rights do you have to go out and buy a new refrigerator and just "plug it in"? If you have a power rate that is based on you supplying back to the grid X amount of power and don't do it can they cut back on the power you draw or just raise your rates or what?

As was said up thread. All of this has to do with issues that are not really covered in building codes, insurance policies, laws, etc...

283:

The great thing in both your cases is that you can actually get an answer. No hand-waving needed. Just actually run the simulations or the tests with the data and look at the outcomes.

I'm not sure it's that cut and dry. It's not so much a case of which book gets better numbers- it's also why they do. If an organized group comes in and deliberately concentrates their votes to nominate one book for what are political reasons- then that violates the intent of the Hugos even though the work in question did objectively receive the requisite number of votes. In other words, it's the idea that the Hugos are supposed to be about summing up the individual preferences of fans judging works on their literary merits, not in order to score a point in the culture wars. Voting systems alone wont minimize the chances of this.

284:

Small but telling detail. According to the demographers, there was a global decrease in human population of ~30% during the sixteenth Century, due quite possibly to a 1-2oC drop in average global temperatures, which turned into crop failures, which in turn fed a lot of civil unrest, until, after about 50 years, people figured out how to deal with repeated massive cold snaps and could deal with them without going into civil war.

Otherwise I agree. Getting to one billion (or less) from where we are now isn't going to be fun, even if we do it with natural attrition. I'd also point out that the people who say it's not numbers, it's consumption patterns, are also quite right, so getting to a billion people who consume on what we'd consider basic industrializing levels right now is even worse, especially if we care about "our legacy" and things like spaceflight, Progress, consumerism, and so on.

285:

By the way, this is a strange attractor conversation, but one way to think of it is figuring out what truly futuristic science fiction could look like. What's going on in the world in 50 or 100 or 100,000 years?

Perhaps we should call these speculations "Cli-fi" rather than sci-fi? It might make sense, if SF getting stuck on endlessly replicating a handful of tropes and story models, and awards are given on the basis of how well authors work within these models, rather than how well they innovate.

286:

Like Heteromeles pointed out, at some point we're going to transition to a sustainable population, the question is just whether that will be a humane process (less births) or otherwise (more deaths). Demographic pyramids need to work their way through, so even if nobody ever got pregnant again it wouldn't much change the death rate in the short term. In other words a -1% growth rate isn't going to happen immediately. Long-term, a total fertility rate of 1 child per woman (halving the population in each generation) would be a growth rate of around -2.5%.

I have no idea what a sustainable population is, let alone how (or whether) the human race can get to that number peacefully. Optimistically, I hope that if we can figure out the long-term part, we won't have made it impossible to get to there from wherever we are by that point.

287:

I said Gamergate was anti-authoritarian. I made no claims about Vox Day's Rabid Puppies group, as I know little about it.

288:

Long-term, a total fertility rate of 1 child per woman (halving the population in each generation) would be a growth rate of around -2.5%.

A One Child Policy?

My Chinese friends, even those that wanted more children, support the policy. They know what conditions in China would be like if the population had kept growing at the rate it was. They recognize the problems: corruption, and a lack of public pensions. (But they don't see corruption as something special — it's part of the background noise, in that the rich and powerful get to ignore the rules and everyone knows it*.)

But they have a pretty good understanding of just how much stress China's environment is under, and how much added stress the extra 2-3 children per family would have added.

More interesting (to me, anyway), could we come up with an economy that works for a shrinking population? I have a gut feel it should be possible — apply the automation bonus predicted in the 60 to labour, so more people have jobs working fewer hours. Consumables being more durable, so less manufacturing is needed. Stuff like that. But I don't see how to get there from here, and I don't see those who get their jollies from having the biggest pile being willing to accept a smaller pile, so I'm not optimistic.


*Speculation: would a OCP be a way of spreading sociopathy? If being a sociopath is partly genetic, and being a sociopath is an asset in getting rich, then…

289:

Since we're talking about renewables, I'd like to throw this article

http://www.germanenergyblog.de/?p=19242

"...electricity generated by coal reached its highest level yet at 9,613 TWh. This represents 41.1% of global electricity production. In the same year renewable electricity generation overtook natural gas to become the second largest source of electricity worldwide producing 22% of total electricity or 5,130 TWh. Global non-hydro renewable electricity also surpassed oil-fired generation for the first time ever in 2013, rising to 1,256 TWh or 5.4% of global electricity production."

This is global, not limited to the OECD

290:

I've never found Mr Stross' feminism (or any other of his politics) as a barrier to enjoying his works.

He's even used it on occasion to subvert reader's expectations of a Stross book, such as in his Merchant Princes series. In those novels the "evil" patriarchy of the Merchants is maintained (in part) by the active support of the "evil" matriarchy of the Grandmothers. Stross then uses that as a key plot point kick the legs out from under the main character, and send her both figuratively and literally spinning off into another universe (which of course has problems of its own).

291:

I am an adult. I'm 52, much older than the average GamerGate participant. As such I remember past attacks on gaming (and on tabletop role playing games previous to that) that at different times came from both secular and religious, and both conservative and liberal busybodies.

If you think I'm declaring myself an asshole, that is your right. I stand by what I said—in the context that I wrote it—as an attempt to explain Gamergate to both Sad Puppies, and now, to their opposition, as well.

292:

"Boring, Fanatical? Counter-productive?"

Doesn't bother me. Everyone in GamerGate has been called a lot worse.

As for Anita Sarkeesian, she's very good at what she does. Quite a few GGers have come around to a grudging admiration of her ability to play the media and profit from it.

293:

Yes, a movement with no formal organization has its negatives.

But leaderless mass movements that do try to organize, invariably end up being co-opted. See Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, for some prominent examples.

On another note, I hope no one will mind if I stop posting about GamerGate and various factions of Puppies in this thread. I think I've covered everything I could productively add to the conversation, and am content to watch the thread spin on around one or more of the classic strange attractors of this forum. If you want to talk further on these issue, feel free to email me, or contact me on twitter, or at my blog.

294:

Regarding Strange Attractors / GamerGate posts:

Host has noted that a majority here are not familiar with "Chan" culture and so on. I suspect host is, but probably only as a research model.

The conceptual reference you're looking for is:
Mogwai / Gremlins [Youtbe: music 3:24]. i.e. they can be ridiculously sentimental, they can also be ridiculously sociopathic.

It's all about authenticity and the lulz. They don't like being lied to or treated as pawns (even though their power base is non-existent). Something to ponder: quite a few of the people who are representing the "left" in all of this have extended histories on Something Awful / Goon forums and the Chans themselves. They even give it away sometimes by trolling the MSM who are putting their stories out ("I have a chip implanted under my skin that dual authenticates my identity when I log into my blog". Ahem. Not subtle there, little miss tuffet, nice troll though).

At a fundamental level they don't view online interaction in the same manner as the majority of internet users. They're also being poked and prodded by a lot of interests, from spooks to the far right to MSM (I mentioned WehuntedtheMammoth - go look in awe at the piece about Weeve on the evolution of cuckservative... a meme that was 100% started in 4chan), while Lulsec (remember that?) and Anonymous being V&'d curbed a lot of their fun (and righteous fun it was, with a real cause).

It's a sideline, but "GamerGate" really hasn't been involved with the Hugos apart from mild cross-fertilization of "Look, we're like you!" Anyone stating that they are is either pushing an agenda or clueless or buying a narrative they're simply not wired in enough to discern.


TL;DR

I think that was an honest statement that GamerGate would be sympathetic to the sad puppies, rabid puppies trolled into oblivion. (I perhaps said this somewhere before).

@JCH - cultural issues, it's mostly translation issues and a lot of smog, keep being a mogwai.

~

There is, however, a rather larger arch to muzzling the internet, where there is a cross-over. But it's not being run by Reddit forums or Storm Front.

STOPA or ACTA or whatever-it's-name-is-now is up to Congress again btw. And the internet got distracted.

Passing Laws that fail until they pass due to bribes or simple exhaustion of the opposition is usually legislated against in modern Democratic/Republican systems.

America: not so much.

~

@CatinaDiamond: You going to go full camp commandant curse-of-eternal-waking style thing on VD? Have fun.

Of course not, I already know what the Evil Minions[tm] are discussing. VD has been stealing my playbook for a while now, he's just not very good at it (and his ancient Greek / Latin is terrible, I just couldn't).

VD already has the attention of other entities though, which is precisely why I mentioned the female lead Puppy slate next year. (Think back to Women in White). Which I'm quite aware of, thank you very much.

~

I'm more interested in the money behind him and his location (Italy).

Completely unrelated segue (ahem).

Trump has huge ties to the Clintons, and his Campaign manager worked [until 2014] for the Koch brothers. The cuckservative meme might have interesting effects if it came to light that Trumpy was running a big 'clear the field' campaign for both sides with Murdoch at the centre.

Oops.

Fly, fly my pretties.

~


More interesting SAs:


I would but it'd just muddle the waters. It's a fun one though.

295:

Oh, and since that last post had a lot of drekk and craft mixed in with it.

Thinking point:

GamerGate: Based Mom

Rabid Puppies: Female Slate


It's almost as if...


Well. Raise a glass to the future. Trust me. [YouTube: Music: 3:00]

296:

I'm of a similar age to JCH, old enough that I also remember the sort of attacks that were made against early video games, and RPG's before them. I'm not a game player now, havent been for a decade, and was never part of 4Chan, but I remember the attitude well enough. For me and my friends, at least, it was more about taking our lack of social competence and making it into an element of pride. Plus a certain emotional toughness- "If I can take it so can they." A "lets be what they think we are and shove it back into their faces" sort of aesthetic. Not entirely unlike the sentiments that went into the Punk movement (while it lasted). So I kinda get the rage and the sense of being under siege. "They shoved us into our own little corner, and we like it there, so why cant they leave us alone?" With a leavening of reverse superiority- "We know all about the lies people tell, so our opinion is more valid anyway."

What they don't see, what they cant see, is the way in which they replicate the very social forces which they reject so much, and amplify them. By treating others the way they think they have been treated, they make their own situation worse, and accelerate the process by which their exclusion is made more complete. All the more pity, as they started with some legitimate gripes.

297:

On E Pluribus Hugo: You want to bring in something like this, you should have tested it, it should be well documented, it should be mathematically sound, it should be transparently implemented, and you should demonstrate to everyone that you've put the time in and that the system is well thought out.

Yes, this came up at the business meeting too.

Some people were willing to accept that it did very well in simulation and others were not; there was some call for it to be checked against actual Hugo nominations.

A fairly articulate fellow described the difference between "explained in English" and "having a formally verifiable algorithm," and was annoyed that the latter was not around. He pointed out that writing two different programs to do something and checking that they had identical outputs was not the same as formal logical verification. EPH has the former but not the latter.

E Pluribus Hugo is a very cleverly constructed solution but it hasn't yet shown that it fits any of the problems we have.

298:

As far as I'm concerned the only good Gamergates are ants.

Best part: For the species Dinoponera, "After copulation the female bites through the male's gaster to release herself and pulls out the genital capsule which acts as a temporary sperm plug."

299:

While you're thinking of critical things with an oil dependence, never mind the military. It's not going to be especially relevant, anyway. Consider agriculture.

Food security goes long before habitability does.

Food security is starting to go; 2012 was a very bad crop year in NorAm. California's agricultural sector's about gone. Meat in general's gone substantial up in price due to feed costs rising.

300:

The data isn't yet available to do more tests. It will probably become available in the coming year—we will know more at that time.

The "fairly articulate fellow" was Glenn Glazer, vice-chair of Sasquan. I agree that mathematical verification would be valuable, though it is not clear to me that a formal descriptive language would be acceptable in the constitution or indeed an improvement; it might simply become another version to be reconciled. In any event, that is another thing for the EPH proponents to work on for next year. I think it is more important to do something that probably will work next year, than let matters devolve further—see my notes @114.

301:

In case you've forgotten, whoever controls the strongest military in a given area gets to decide who eats the remaining food and who starves.

302:

I agree that food security is important, but you're conflating two different issues.

Agriculture is about both water and oil. The water part isn't so obvious at first (this is from Laurence Smith, the World in 2050): importing food is a way to import water. The logic is that most water goes to raise crops, so by importing food, you can do without a lot of water. For example, if we swamped Syria with food, we could partially ameliorate the terrible, structural drought that precipitated both the Syrian Civil War and the rise of Daesh/ISIL.

California's problem is that it's structurally short of water, as with Syria. Part of this can be ameliorated by choosing different crops, part by rewriting some very old water laws. Thing is, California's a salad bowl, not so much a grain producer. Corn and soy are where we get into the oil issue.

Supplies of grains like corn, are considered a national security issue by the US, by which I mean we wage "war" by flooding the world with cheap grain. A lot of our oil goes to producing corn, and it's been an explicit part of foreign policy certainly since the Nixon administration and probably before. This goes back to a Cold War policy of making the world dependent on cheap Capitalist grain as a way to promulgate the Pax Americana. There's a reason why we end up destabilizing farming everywhere from Mexico and Central America to Iraq, with negative consequences of forcing people off the their farms. Still, so much oil goes into the grain we grow that it's a majority of the energy we put in (as fertilizer, mechanized tending, and transport). Sunlight is a secondary source of energy for American corn and soy.

But still, there are two issues here. American food diplomacy will change as oil supplies run low. This will undoubtedly cause instability all over the world, but going of Big Oil Ag won't necessarily crash the American economy, because we already know that small-scale farming is massively more energy efficient and resource efficient, and sometimes more productive. The giant agribusiness farms are part of the military-industrial complex, and if the MIC winds down, so will those farms. For the US, it would probably be a good thing. Unfortunately, it will be bad for a bunch of poor megacities around the world.

While I'm not a fan of the Pax Americana, I do think that the withdrawal of American military and food power will destabilize major chunks of the world, as power vacuums always do.

Still, the thing to remember is that what happens with west coast farms and with Midwestern farms are two different issues, with different outcomes.

303:

Define "strongest military".

What you get first is civil disorder then civil war -- Syria is a classic example. (Indeed, the Arab Spring in general was triggered by water/food shortages and price increases.)

(Anyway, stealth bombers aren't going to be much use at collecting hoarded grain from kulaks, much less diverting just-in-time agrobusiness supply chains that are crumbling due to a lack of fuel for the vehicles to transport the stuff. It may be that IS's religious fanatics with Technicals are a more useful model for what happens to the US interior when the fertilizer runs out and gas for driving tractors is $10 a gallon and rising.)

304:

Amen to that! It's been bugging me for awhile.

305:

You're making a huge pile of assumptions there.

One of them is you can keep a cohesive dominant military together when subject to food insecurity; you can't. You certainly can't when looking at the kind of logistical tail modern militaries have. (Truck drivers who don't divert food to their family and friends are not easy to find, for example.)

Another is that there is food to divide.

Yet a third is that the effort to prepare the military isn't better applied to food security. It's rather like the observation that money spent on the military is economically lost, and that the economy you would have had if you hadn't done that would buy you a much better military, given a couple decades to run. (Aka, the cost of the Iraq debacle could have got the US off fossil carbon.)

306:

Like Dave_the_Proc, I'm interested in hearing any reasonable take on gamergate from card-carrying gamergaters. Hence why I went dumpster-diving in KIA, amongst other places, looking for something which both seemed reasonable and held up to any amount of fact-checking.

What you wrote isn't either of those things. "We will ...trashtalk, shitpost, and mock our opponents mercilessly." It reads like the manifesto of the unhinged. The only alternative is that you've appropriated eight-year-old Anon rhetoric, which is hardly better. Worse, even, because if you're repeating that stuff seriously then you really have swallowed whatever kool-aid the chans were dishing out. It's not about calling you names – you keep deflecting on that point – it's that your own description of gamergate makes it damn difficult to interpret gamergate generously to even the smallest extent.

307:

The "fairly articulate fellow" was Glenn Glazer, vice-chair of Sasquan.

Yes. My first post may have name-dropped too much. The argument strikes me as valid no matter the source, though as you point out the WSFS constitution might not be the place to provide rigorous proofs.

But having said that, a number of experienced Big Name Fans spoke and voted against E Pluribus Hugo; I'd think that would concern people. I don't agree with everything Ben Yalow says but I do know that if he's talking about fandom I'd better listen carefully. And I saw both of this year's Hugo administrators vote against EPH. Hm.

308:

Fans trend conservative to reactionary about fandom. Saying "not everybody is perfectly happy" about a WSFC constitution change isn't an argument on the merits, it's an observation with about as much inherent novelty as the colour of the sky.

An argument on the merits would be a demonstration that the weighting algorithm is easily attacked or that the mechanism is difficult to administer.

An argument of circumstance would be an argument that slates were a one-time thing, requiring no change; I wouldn't care to try to argue that under the present circumstances. Anarchies aren't especially stable. It takes work to keep them functioning.

309:

I thought I had defined the term. If a group can take food from whoever has it with impunity, they're in charge (locally, for now). Admittedly, this is probably not a role that Joint Strike Fighters are terribly useful in, but ordinary gunmen would work fine. Trigger-happy jerks are not hard to find.

As for the civil war: duh. If the alternative is starving, trying to raise a competing militia looks like a good plan.

@Graydon: Food that goes to people the rulers don't like is, from their point of view, wasted. Buying off a bunch of soldiers (and truckers, cooks, etc) with a little food and nearly total power over the rabble seems much more efficient. Eventually some of the soldiers will try a coup and the rulers will foresee it, so expect paranoia and purges.

It's probably true that the resources used to control things have alternative, productive uses. Whoever has control will almost certainly be willing to make that sacrifice.

310:

Charlie Stross wrote: "It may be that IS's religious fanatics with Technicals are a more useful model for what happens to the US interior when the fertilizer runs out and gas for driving tractors is $10 a gallon and rising."

If you think that's a real possibility, you have answered your earlier question about what good is an independent nuclear deterrent for the UK. There are a lot of nuclear missiles based in the US interior. I can't imagine the United States ever threatening the UK, but if things went to hell at that level, who knows what sort of crazy would get hold of the nukes.

311:

This scenario only applies if "UK IND" means that the UK has the firing codes for the missiles and the arming codes for the warheads as well as the bills for maintaining them and their firing platforms.

312:

"More interesting (to me, anyway), could we come up with an economy that works for a shrinking population? "

Equally interesting is the fact that as the Human population diminishes, total processing power as a sum of organic and inorganic will still be rising.

313:

IMHO Weber has painted himself into a corner ...
The emotionally-telepathic Treecats have joined the war.
Some are going to go to Haven, where "we" know there are space nazi sleepers in the high-levels of their guvmint.
Who will be immediately exposed ....
Unless the Treecats are going to become "British Intelligence" in his WWII re-enactment that he has segued in to. ( From a Napoleonic re-enactment, earlier on. )
Um.

314:

Hah! I haven't read through all 310 comments. Still...
I can imagine how the Hugo Awards becoming an extension of the American Culture War, turned to speculation about the the apocalyptic collapse of the USA and the possibility of having to nuke them.
Hopefully E Pluribus Hugo and the 4/6 proposal can at least delay things.

315:

how much of what we value in our culture will survive past our outbreak, when it finally crashes?
Ask the survivors between 1200 & 700 BCE.
When the Bronze Age crashed, very badly, & before "classical" civilisation arose.
But, during that period, Iron-working became common & writing was not lost.

316:

What we need is an example or analogy showing infrastructure/equipment that was originally hideously expensive to make/own but which is now so widely available at next to no obvious end-user cost that it would be foolish to not have it included (internet/www/wifi/smart phones). Educating/ selling by analogy is key for this endeavor, I think.
Err ...
Like THIS do you mean?

317:
Did you read the text from those pages? The PS4-webkit bug did not permit takeover of the system, but was described as "the first step towards the PlayStation 4 hacking." Likewise, the Wii Opera crash is described with "The hackers are busy at work trying to make something useful out of this."

Very briefly. I was aware of both hacks previously and I just googled to find the first ref I could find (Part of what I do professionally is usability testing, which crosses over into hcisec on occasion. I have some friends of friends who whitehat pentest for a living.)

What you originally said was that these machines were "highly resistant to remote exploitation". And these (and other) hacks demonstrate that they are not ;-)

To quote (my emphasis):

"Exploitation of this vulnerability would allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the affected host. The attacker would first need to construct a website containing the malicious JavaScript and trick the vulnerable user into visiting the site. This would trigger the vulnerability and allow the code to execute with the privileges of the local user."

Arbitrary code is pretty much game over. Whether this is then taken further into effective jailbreaks says more about whether a remote hack was the easiest way to achieve that goal rather than whether it was possible or not. Exploits also get patched, after which motivation for further development drops.

(As a separate point lack of publicly discussed exploits doesn't mean no-exploits… there are lots of reasons, good and bad, that security exploits don't get discussed online in obvious places. For example I've been told that the Opera bug that allowed the Wii hack was well known in some circles well before it "broke".)

Central heating/aircon units don't need to be smart themselves to be part of a smart grid. Likewise water heaters, washers, dryers, and EV chargers. Major appliances already have control loops designed for external manipulation by humans. The smart grid endpoint just needs to manipulate those existing control loops, like this or this. Smart grids seem to be getting confused with significantly more complex/dubious ideas like networked lightbulbs or refrigerators that communicate with grocery stores.

To some extent I agree with you. Technically it isn't hard to develop these systems in a secure way. There are pretty standard development practices and approaches that go a long way to stopping the dumbest issues. There are computing architectures that are vastly more resistant to various design failures. Hell just using a language that doesn't allow buffer overflows goes a long way.

It's not trivial. It needs a skill set which is still surprisingly uncommon in the dev world. But it's not hard per se.

And yet we still have Chrysler recalls 1.4 million cars over remote hack vulnerability.

Because, people.

318:

Making a car that is externally hackable sheer incompetence. If you must have Wifi etc, the systems processing that data must be entirely separate from those that actually drive the car. The insanity can only be guessed at given that a few days ago I read about a move to integrate all car processing into a single computer.

319:

Very familiar to anyone who has read: "The Long Summer"
A "good" climate (think Medieval Warm period) in Europe, usually means shit in what is now the US south-west.
How long before the analogy crashed the climate deniers in the US, given that the signs are getting very obvious?

320:

Charlie @ 223
NOT 7/8th surely?
More like between ¼ & 1/3 should do it, if accompanied by education & proper birth controls.
( First step & I quote is: “hang all the Priests” )
See also heteromeles @ 284 – but we do not need to go down to 1 “billion” people.
We could easily manage with 4 or 5, provided …..

# 225: Precisely – if no electronics, it can’t be hacked – like my car, or, IIRC one of your other examples ( #271 ), regarding so-called “smart” controls in one’s house – a complete recipe for disaster IMHO.

# 303
Which is why I’m so concerned about the RN being so weak – we (still) need the imported food.
I can see armed guards on our allotment plots if things went bad.
Stealing allotment food in WWII got you jail or removal of your “reserved” occupation if you got caught. ( Usually – I have a very nasty little story about that, from my father. )
See also Jay @ 309 … didn’t Larry Niven go on, quite a bit, about “water Empires” ??

“Off-Grid” &/or independent power supplies.
Being heavily crapped on in UK, because wonderful privatised power co’s have gamed the regulatory system & have the ear of the guvmint (which happens to be tory, but liebour would be no better)
Sunsidies for “othe” supplies are being guillotined, rather than tapered off, & there is still no serious investment in nuclear baseline-power, except at exorbitant prices ( again for the profit to the “right people” )

321:

As someone with a little background in smart grids and related tech, I'd like to weight in on the side of Matt at 281. A smart grid is totally different from the internet-of-things, connected-home, wifi-enabled-toaster tech which has been covered here a while ago.

For instance, one of the simplest forms of a smart grid is to switch off a number of freezers for half an hour. This has a negligible impact on the frozen goods (particularly if the freezers in question happen to remain closed), but can affect the national grid by a very significant extent. This is obviously extensible to smart-car charging, commercial property heating, some industrial processes...

This technology is already being implemented, known as demand response or (more misleadingly) as a "virtual power station". Companies such as Flexitricity specialise in it.

It can be readily noted that this is a very simple binary response, which is one way to drastically reduce the attack surface for exploits; no way to command the device to start broadcasting passwords on wifi or any silliness. Turning off your enemy's freezers is far from a crippling attack, even if they are a cold-storage warehouse - and they can easily have an alarm prompting them to call the Grid and ask what's going on if a brownout lasts more than ten minutes.

If we imagine the use of frequency signalling as the command signal, so that a mains frequency of below 49.95Hz = off, that's very, very hard to fake; it would require total interdiction of a building's power supply, for starters, not to mention the scale of power electronics you're going to need to hit anyone worth attacking.

The actual hardware itself could be as cheap as a pass-though socket, which might look a little like this, plugged in between the freezer and the wall.

322:

> ..an organisation that is not organised.

Yes! You get it!

Gamergate is an anarcho syndicalist collective!

"Did you hear that, did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about -- did you see him repressing me, you saw it didn't you?"

323:

Do you have a reference for your statement that per capita energy consumption in the USA peaked in the 1970s?

Sorry to sound dubious, it's just that I find it extremely suprising. I know the country's become more urban and city-dwellers use a lot less energy - but still.

324:

The alternative description is "mob"

325:

Distributed generation and distributed storage are not really practical, in the current industry view. It's all about scale.

Distributed generation, like micro-wind and micro-hydro, are fine for small communities with low-power interconnections to the rest of the grid, but as far as providing a meaningful power source at grid scale, it's just not good enough. Much like distributing oil or gas generation equipment would destroy your efficiency, these technologies make far more sense at large scale; your Ffestiniog and your London Array, not your Cragside and your Windsave. It's also much less friendly to the grid, who don't like supply they can't call up and shout at if it's destabilising the whole shebang (with good reason). They only work at the moment as tariff farms, and that's not looking too safe.

Distributed storage is much the same. A grid with over 15 - 20\% renewable energy supply highly variable and needs serious thinking about; at the minute, we're using fossil-fuel plant in load-following, but that can't go on. Modern nuclear plant can do load-following, but it's even more expensive than usual operation - and that ain't cheap. Grid-scale energy storage is a very interesting research area at the moment (ahem), and the biggest lesson so far is: if you want to make a different at a national level, electrochemical storage (batteries) are orders of magnitude too expensive. Pumped-hydro schemes, like Dinorwig and Cruachan, are much more cost-effective despite prohibitive geographic requirements, and compressed-air systems like Huntorf and McIntosh are promising - but neither of those makes any kind of sense to install underneath your garage.

326:
The great thing in both your cases is that you can actually get an answer. No hand-waving needed. Just actually run the simulations or the tests with the data and look at the outcomes.

I'm not sure it's that cut and dry. It's not so much a case of which book gets better numbers- it's also why they do. If an organized group comes in and deliberately concentrates their votes to nominate one book for what are political reasons- then that violates the intent of the Hugos even though the work in question did objectively receive the requisite number of votes. In other words, it's the idea that the Hugos are supposed to be about summing up the individual preferences of fans judging works on their literary merits, not in order to score a point in the culture wars. Voting systems alone wont minimize the chances of this.

While I agree with the point that the slates only damage the Hugos, I don't agree that you can't get solid answers here. EPH is a mathematical system; throw data at it, measure the output, have set thresholds, get an answer. It really is that simple for mathematical systems. Now, deciding those thresholds, that's where the human meets the math, so to speak. How do you decide if 20% of the voters controlling 22% of the outcome is failure or statistically negligible, that kind of question. But if you pay enough attention to the question and think about it enough, you can actually get real answers to it.

As to the 'why', well, you could spend all day propping up the bar and still not get a glimpse of an answer to that one. But if you can at least ensure the system is not being gamed, and the outcome reflects the genuine majority opinion, well, you can argue 'why' at your leisure. But if the system is broken and 10-20% of the voters can rig the outcome, then discussion of 'why' is like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic...

327:

I think you're missing the point, a little. A popular choice, even backed by a concerted campaign like the Puppies or any other group is not a problem for the Hugos which are a popular vote award to start with. Five hundred votes for a particular novel, even if it was chosen by a Shadowy Cabal and promoted to an ideological flash mob as THE book to nominate and vote for, that really isn't a problem.

What broke this time around, and the year before to a lesser extent, was the Shadowy Cabal and ideological flash mob filling ALL the nomination slots so that they controlled what could be voted for, or No Award. That was achieved by about 30% of the total nominating population. EPH won't stop the Shadowy Cabal's choice(s) getting on to the ballot if they get enough warm bodies to nominate it, what it will prevent is the entire final ballot being swamped by that 30%'s lockstep vote.

They can still lockstep the final vote but that wasn't what they were trying to do, it was the nomination process that had this exploit available for them to use.

328:

Gamergate is an anarcho syndicalist collective!


If you're going to snark, at least snark correctly: AnarchoCap Incorporated Company.


It's wrong, but at least try when you're going for the laughs.

329:

And I'm going to disagree with this. I think you're both missing the point, IMHO of course. 20% of the vote controlling 20% of the nomination could very well be a huge problem, precisely because that 20% might not represent what the Hugos are intended to represent- the quality of the work. If they are voting to promote some other, unrelated issue, then they are hijacking the process, regardless of whether or not the numbers match up. Yes, the fact that the Puppies were able to control almost 100% of the nominations is extremely problematic, and needed to be fixed. I'm just saying there is another level to the problem that voting systems wont fix: people with agendas.

I'm not sure if slates themselves are the problem, per se. They certainly seem problematic. I suppose it's just possible that someone might propose a slate because, say, they represent at particular style of story telling that isnt represented by a category. But that seems unlikely.

330:
Yes, this came up at the business meeting too.

Some people were willing to accept that it did very well in simulation and others were not; there was some call for it to be checked against actual Hugo nominations.


It has been, against the 1984 raw data (https://github.com/The-Center-for-Election-Science/HugoVotesim has the raw data and some analysis if you grok R).
A fairly articulate fellow described the difference between "explained in English" and "having a formally verifiable algorithm," and was annoyed that the latter was not around.

That annoyed me so much. Not because he's wrong; but because he's not even wrong. The entire formal methods research group in the college I went to would have cracked up at his suggestion that the proposers had failed because they didn't produce something that we don't know how to produce yet even after forty years of academic research worldwide.

"Formally proven" is not the same as "Tested and working" in the same way that "colour" is not the same as "frequency of emitted light". To try to explain by analogy how involved formal proof is, 1+1=2 had to be formally proven all over again at the turn of the last century (1910) and it consumed the vast majority of Bertrand Russell's professional life (and the professional lives of a generation of mathematicians). And that for a mathematical statement so simple that it's used as a metaphor for simple obvious self-evident statements. Formally proving something is this immense academic problem that we still haven't proven is theoretically possible in all cases yet and even the most successful practical approaches do not prove the actual software, but prove mathematical models of the software (yes, that does mean that today you can have formally verified software that doesn't even start up because of bugs).

And his not pointing out how astronomically high and yet incomplete the standard he wanted was bordering on being disingenuous. Especially when it isn't actually met by any electronic voting system currently in use to elect governments in a dozen countries including the US. It was, at best, a very misrepresented assertion.


Oh, and the current system for nominations and IRV in the final vote? Yeah, they're not been formally proven either. They're not even open-sourced so they can't be peer-reviewed readily unless you want all Hugo administrators to be programmers who know the relevant language.


E Pluribus Hugo is a very cleverly constructed solution but it hasn't yet shown that it fits any of the problems we have.

Prove it.
Seriously, you can. Just take any of the available algorithms (QuickBasic, R, lisp, take your choice, they're all on github) and feed it sample data and demonstrate how it doesn't handle something properly.
Then you will have proven it's unsuitable.
As in, debate will no longer be meaningful. People will be able to reproduce your results and know you're not bluffing them. And EPH will die right there.

That's the handy thing about these kind of approaches; they can be disproven*, not simply made the subject of wavy-handy what-iffery or competing social ideologies or any human factor; you can actually demonstrate problems instead of theorising about them.

You just have to do the legwork...

* That's not contradicting the points above about formal proofs; disproving something is often far, far, far simpler than proving it. With Newton's theory of gravity it only took one data point to do so...

331:

Now that we're into the 300's in comments, I guess it's OK to go off-topic. Your comment on the TSR-2 and F-111 caught my eye. I was lucky enough to be able to go to the July airshow at IWM Duxford, where they have TSR-2 XR222. Reading the placard that described the wildly ambitious operational requirements (short/rough field capability, Mach 2 at altitude, Mach 0.95 at 200 ft), it was no surprise that the design had difficulty meeting the specifications. If the Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAC_TSR-2) is to be believed, and the writeup seems credible, TSR-2 was hamstrung by changing requirements and shifting political agendas compounded by a poorly designed program management scheme.

Interestingly, the development of the F-111 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Dynamics_F-111_Aardvark) suffered a number of similar challenges, starting with Macnamara's insistence on driving USAF and USN requirements together. Given our greater resources, and fewer changes of mind, the F-111 eventually proved to be a very capable long range, low altitude strike aircraft. I have not yet read up on the politics of the Australian decision to adopt the F-111 versus a British design, but they seem to have been well served by the choice, operating the F-111 until 2010.

I don't think this was an instance of the US targeting UK industry; I believe the British government, EE and BAC failed on their own. While there was probably (documentation?) US pressure on the UK to adopt our solutions, it was British failures that opened the door.

332:
I think you're missing the point, a little. A popular choice, even backed by a concerted campaign like the Puppies or any other group is not a problem for the Hugos which are a popular vote award to start with. Five hundred votes for a particular novel, even if it was chosen by a Shadowy Cabal and promoted to an ideological flash mob as THE book to nominate and vote for, that really isn't a problem.

What broke this time around, and the year before to a lesser extent, was the Shadowy Cabal and ideological flash mob filling ALL the nomination slots so that they controlled what could be voted for, or No Award. That was achieved by about 30% of the total nominating population. EPH won't stop the Shadowy Cabal's choice(s) getting on to the ballot if they get enough warm bodies to nominate it, what it will prevent is the entire final ballot being swamped by that 30%'s lockstep vote.

Nojay, I don't know how you're reading what I wrote, but I've not been saying any of that. The outcome I'm talking about is the final ballot we all vote on. The outcome of the nominations process. And yes, EPH won't stop a slate's nominations from getting on the ballot if there are enough people behind the slate - it's explicitly designed not to do that on the grounds that it would not be fair. If 20% of the people want a set outcome then they should be able to get 20% of the outcome (ie. one slot on a five-slot ballot). What EPH sets out to do is to prevent 20% being enough to get all five slots on that ballot. The testing says they've managed this. The questions I mentioned above are about the gray areas - what happens if you see two slots going to the slate for example, and how scattered would the nominations have to be for that to happen and is two slots proof that the system failed, or was that statistically insignificant and where's the line of statistical significance, is it three slots? four? five?

The cool thing is we can actually answer questions like that with experimental data instead of handwaving and whataboutery.

333:

A fairly articulate fellow described the difference between "explained in English" and "having a formally verifiable algorithm," and was annoyed that the latter was not around.

See, the organizational solution is to appoint a panel of experts to advise the executive committee...

Wait, the WSFS does have an executive committee, doesn't it? Do they have the organizational capacity to solve this problem?

334:

"Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!
HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed!"

335:

I think you're missing the point. (Or I am.)

It's the controller that can be hacked. Not the freezer. Into the future the controllers will be built into the freezers.

As to using the frequency of the main power to signal things. I don't see how that will work. The power grids all depend on mains frequency being in lockstep for everything out of a substation if DC to the substation, and everything if not.

336:

The questions I mentioned above are about the gray areas - what happens if you see two slots going to the slate for example, and how scattered would the nominations have to be for that to happen and is two slots proof that the system failed, or was that statistically insignificant and where's the line of statistical significance, is it three slots? four? five?

Again, it's perfectly OK for a MINORITY slate vote to get their "choice(s)" on the final ballot for a Hugo. This is a feature, not a bug. What is a bug is a minority slate vote getting all the final ballot slots as happened in a few categories this year. A majority slate vote might take all five ballot slots under EPH and again that's not a bug.

In reference to another comment by DeMarquis, the Hugo is a popular vote and if enough people think crap is Hugo-worthy then crap will get on the ballot and maybe even win a Hugo. Quality is not a selection factor for the Hugos unlike a juried award or other method of selecting a winner.

337:

Quality is not a selection factor for the Hugos unlike a juried award or other method of selecting a winner.

Well "sort of", at least for values of "quality" that tend towards "arty self-abuse" rather than ones that tend towards "readable" IMO.

Seriously, I've read and enjoyed more, say, Hugo winners than Booker and/or Pulitzer (fiction) and/or Whitbread nominees.

338:

It's not clear how many climate deniers we've got out here in the American west, Greg.

If you want real climate misery, read Sherwood and Huber's PNAS paper (http://www.pnas.org/content/107/21/9552.full) and look at figure 1F. The truly nasty impacts of climate change hit that heartland of denialism, the American South worse than they hit the West. Of course, they also hit the Middle East, South China, India and Pakistan...

And yes, I did like Fagan's Long Summer quite a bit. You might enjoy Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis: War, Climate Changes, and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, if you like this sort of thing.

339:
Again, it's perfectly OK for a MINORITY slate vote to get their "choice(s)" on the final ballot for a Hugo. This is a feature, not a bug.
Yes, as I said above about two sentences before that bit you've quoted:
yes, EPH won't stop a slate's nominations from getting on the ballot if there are enough people behind the slate - it's explicitly designed not to do that on the grounds that it would not be fair. If 20% of the people want a set outcome then they should be able to get 20% of the outcome (ie. one slot on a five-slot ballot).
Honestly, I think you're missing my point completely.

Also,

Quality is not a selection factor for the Hugos

That's flat out wrong. You're thinking of a juried award as being fundamentally different but you're missing the part where the Hugos is meant to be a a system to tally results from a jury of several thousand people.

Is there a rule that says you can only vote based on quality? No, because you can't write or enforce such a rule. But if you think that means the vote isn't done on the basis of the merit of the work, you're either splitting hairs or you're missing the point.

340:

The other big thing about China is it has been supporting a large stable population for a very very long time. Tang China had an inland capital of more than a million people in 900AD, supplied by canal boats and oxcarts.

Their entire religious, societal and cultural tradition has been focused on long term sustainability and stability, interrupted albeit by periodic invasions, wars, famines, or total population collapses.

The west doesn't think like that, but far more worryingly neither does the outrageous population boom that is India and the Americas.


On the nuclear thread, I'm still going with the Yes Minister idea - Trident isn't there to defend us from the Russians - they know we can't use it. It's to protect us from the French. After all, they may be our allies now, but that's only a recent development compared with a thousand years of tradition!

341:
It's the controller that can be hacked. Not the freezer. Into the future the controllers will be built into the freezers.

Sure. But what does that accomplish?

All the controller does is switch the freezer on or off, based on a single bit of information from the grid operator (or Flexitricity, or whoever). Even if you can fake the command signal - which is certainly not a given, depending on the channel - all you can do is switch the freezer off. That is an extremely ineffectual attack on most targets, and those targets for whom it might be a problem can easily afford to have an alarm to warn them if they're commanded to switch off for too long. Or even just an automatic override?

I just don't see the threat...

------

On frequency: you're correct that it's much more complicated than I said :) Generally, NG reduce the frequency when demand outstrips supply; they are good enough at balancing that it stays very close to 50Hz, as this graph of the frequency over the last week shows - which is why I picked 49.95Hz! But, with better energy storage and frequency-response control, combined with a better understanding of the dynamics of the installed demand-response systems, it could be possible to directly couple them to the frequency, intentionally manipulating it within the band to trigger them.

That's most definitely personal speculation, though, and I certainly agree that persuading NG to let us play with their frequency for demand-response shenanigans is a hard sell. Other communication channels are available!

342:

The threat is two fold.

One that various plays take over your controller. Script kiddies to Ukrainian thieve generating click to own your computer email.

The other is script kiddies having fun messing with people's stuff. Or someplace like ISIS or North Korea sending out a signal every 10 minutes to turn all hacked controllers off.

343:

There's no guarantee of a 20% for 20% scale or X% for X% generally. EPH makes it difficult for a minority to sweep the board but no mechanical system (i.e. one not involving personal judgements) can provide such a guarantee. It's still possible that a large minority slate vote could sweep a category but it makes it more difficult and if the slate creators do try and sweep (i.e. they instruct their voters to nominate five candidates) then they may well fail to get as many of their preferred candidates on the final ballot as they might have.

Slate voters are likely to nominate in all categories, not something other Hugo nominators will generally do so their representation in some categories will be greater to the point where they could well sweep that category. The slate creators can use the publicly-available EPH software to run tests -- they alone know how many committed slate voters they have to hand and there are some data sets of historical information that can be used as simulated opponents to see if they are likely to sweep a category under EPH. In such cases they might well decide to attempt a sweep.

Four from Six, the other "solution" could help here -- sure, two slates can override the 4/6 leeway for non-slate candidates but with only a limited number of slate voters splitting their efforts could be worse for them than accepting their inability to sweep a category and simply taking several of the slots available.

Time will tell.

344:

here are a lot of nuclear missiles based in the US interior. I can't imagine the United States ever threatening the UK, but if things went to hell at that level, who knows what sort of crazy would get hold of the nukes.

That's not a problem; nuclear weapons require frequent maintenance and TLC, up to and including tearing down, reprocessing, and remanufacturing the fissile pit at their core, on a pretty much annual basis. Just five years of poor maintenance would reduce them to little better than scrap metal -- admittedly radioactive scrap metal, but nothing that a local warlord could do much with.

345:

I can imagine how the Hugo Awards becoming an extension of the American Culture War, turned to speculation about the the apocalyptic collapse of the USA and the possibility of having to nuke them.

This sort of topic decay always happens on comment threads after about 100-200 comments. I'm currently trying to stop it degenerating before we hit the magic 300, by which time only hardcore regulars are reading everything that gets posted; it takes a fair bit of moderation effort to keep these discussions on track!

346:

What I really want to know is how the no award results relate to the VTOL capabilities of next gen fighter planes.

347:

Ah, the Hugos thread is about embedded microcontrollers, I see!

The issue with securing embedded, real-world computer networks isn't really that we don't know how to make a system like this safe or secure enough on a theoretical basis -- we do. The issue is that there isn't really any incentive for people building this sort of device to spend the money to do it.

The functional techniques that engineers have developed for this sort of problem basically amount to this: develop a well-documented protocol, peer review it, peer review it again, and then continuously re-review it. Then, take the implementations, and review them too. Minimize the threat surface, use components that are well tested and understood, and get people to spend a lot of time and energy validating the security model.

Basically every step of this process is anathema to the sort of thing businesses value in their product development. Open protocols mean you share your IP. Independent peer review means people are allowed to libel you and get away with it: worse, you might have to pay them! Independent review of your implementation requires you to open up your trade secrets, and even worse, delays your time to market.

This is exactly why a car company would do something as apparently insane as put the life-critical components on the same bus as the stereo: they can save a few bucks that way. Saving a few bucks per unit is very highly rewarded. There is no real penalty for killing your customers: at worst, it was the black hats who did it, not your shoddy priorities.

What I'm saying is that the nitty-gritty specifics about how to make a reasonably secure distributed smart grid aren't really the problem. We could have freezers turn off when told, and then turn on again before the food gets warm on their own, and validate both the control protocol and the implementation to the nth degree. But the contract design company making the controller is hardly going to open up their design for independent review and simultaneously be the low bidder on a $1 component.

348:

VTOL is pretty silly.

(As witness the massive performance tradeoffs even the successful Harrier had to accept to get it.)

The Avro Arrow program, being populated by crazy veterans of Hitler's War, observed that they had a clean design -- internal weapons bay -- and a greater than 1:1 thrust-weight ratio on afterburner. Aha! they said. We want quick response times for our interceptor, so why are we considering a takeoff roll at all? Skids under the wings, clamp for the nosewheel, the single fueling point's in the mid-back, it closes automatically, we can weight the fueling arm to swing it out of the way right quick.

Yes but why? you say, well, we also put the whole thing is on a ramp that pivots up to 30 degrees or so.

So let's do that; rocket launch with afterburners, you can spool up the turbines and peak thrust while still fueling so you launch with full tanks. Hit full power, blow the nose wheel clamp and away you go.

Especially considering that next-gen fighter planes will be drones, this strikes me as a perfectly sensible takeoff approach, and, when the come back clean and light, everything military and tactical lands short no problem.

349:

"A fairly articulate fellow described the difference between 'explained in English' and 'having a formally verifiable algorithm,' and was annoyed that the latter was not around."

I didn't understand him fully; algorithms have been described in English for a very long time. The SDV-LPE system that is the basis of the proposal has been studied in the voting theory literature, though I don't know to what extent; a literature review would be an excellent thing to have. I might even do it myself.

It seems to me that the advocates of EPH might work on two things: (1) more accessible explanations of the technology and (2) a formal paper with citations stating the problem they have solved and how the SDV-LPE system solves them.

I say yet again we do not have years for thoughtful consideration. That, I think, is why I disagree with many of our elders; disputes used to move by mail, and there was more time for thoughtful consideration. Now messages travel instantly, and so we need to act more quickly.

BTW, at least one current Hugo Administrator voted for EPH.

350:

If the smart grid can't cope with a Big Dumb Object that talks to nothing and just sits there grinding out 600 MW all day every day, it's not that smart.

351:

It surprised me as well when I first heard it a couple of years ago, but it seems to be correct. One source for the data is gapminder. http://www.gapminder.org/ The energy consumption data came originally from the world bank.

US per capita energy use in 1978 was 8.4 tonnes of oil equivalent. In 2011 it was 7.1 tonnes of oil equivalent.

UK per capita energy use in 1973 was 3.9 tonnes of oil equivalent. In 2011 it was 3 tonnes of oil equivalent.

Basically modern technology tends to be a lot more energy efficient than older stuff. LED bulbs use a lot less energy than Fluorescents which use a lot less than incandescents. LCD televisions use far less than CRT televisions.

352:

Not to forget that U.S. Pop in 1978 was 220m ish, now 320m ish.

Per capita figures are nice and all, but the U.S. has had a bit of a population boom over the last 30 years, same as much of the rest of the world.

353:

See, the organizational solution is to appoint a panel of experts to advise the executive committee...

Wait, the WSFS does have an executive committee, doesn't it? Do they have the organizational capacity to solve this problem?

Somewhat. For example there's the humorously named Nitpicking & Flyspecking Committee, which is in charge of making sure the constitution makes sense and doesn't contradict itself (and which had to have a clarification inserted this year for that reason); they're not the committee you're looking for. However the WSFS meeting could create a Hugo Rules Analysis Committee and they could go off and return with some advice. This stuff happens all the time. They wouldn't return to some shadowy executive committee though, they'd return and report to the WSFS business meeting - which is so not private that people were watching the youtube coverage while the meeting was still going on and moreover meets only once a year.

354:

Me: E Pluribus Hugo is a very cleverly constructed solution but it hasn't yet shown that it fits any of the problems we have.

Mark: Prove it. Seriously, you can. Just take any of the available algorithms...

You misunderstand; I'm not questioning the technical aspect but the social one. Groups have tried to manipulate the Hugos before and what we've learned to date is that this isn't a winning strategy. It's so unpopular that the rest of fandom moves to block it. The attempt of the Puppies to inflict a huge slate in 2015 failed miserably, winning not a single Hugo for them (I omit Guardians of the Galaxy intentionally). The attempt of the Scientologists to give L. Ron Hubbard the Hugo in 1987 also failed despite being a legal push for a single work. Hubbard's Black Genesis placed below No Award.

We might be getting better; this year's Hugo ceremony was delightful and both humorous and dignified as appropriate. I'm told there was booing at the 1987 ceremony when Black Genesis came up...

So far the rules as they stand are working.

355:

BTW, at least one current Hugo Administrator voted for EPH.

Are you sure? I'm not calling you wrong, but I thought both John and Ruth voted against. They might be visible on the video.

356:
So far the rules as they stand are working.
I thought the same thing when Andy Weir won the Campbell...
357:

Air travel distance between China and the U.K. is equal to 1351.69 miles. So probably within missile range.

http://www.distancefromto.net/distance-from/UK/to/China

358:

Ah, the Hugos thread is about embedded microcontrollers, I see!

It's only a matter of time before we get a Hugo trophy with an embedded microcontroller.

I'm not sure what it could do but I expect we'll get one. It should probably be powered by photoelectric cells since trophies will go all over the world and local grid power can't be predicted. Tiny radiothermal generators would just be silly. Perhaps it could blink tiny LEDs. It should definitely have at least one easter egg.

359:

Well, what do you do with the 600 MW that the big dumb generator puts out if you don't need it all? That's where things get ugly.

Since solar and wind are highly variable, do you build your smart grid so that the renewables system, if it's running at peak capacity, powers everything, but otherwise falls short? Do you build it so that it runs everything on an average day, but can put out way more than that on a peak day? What's your design? That's the problem with a big dumb generator--it justs sits there cranking through fuel and making current flow. That energy is going to go somewhere and do something. Ideally you want it to do something useful, because it can always go into shorting wires, burning transformers, starting ground currents, and the like.

360:

Don't be silly, a Hugo Award should be powered by He3 fusion.

361:

Modern Hugos MAY be powered by He3, but retro Hugs should probably use some other form of Atomic or Cosmic energy.

E.E. Smith was quite keen on interplanetary beamed power IIRC.

362:

Don't be silly, a Hugo Award should be powered by He3 fusion.

Especially James Nicoll's award for Best Fan Writer!

363:

That's the problem with a big dumb generator--it justs sits there cranking through fuel and making current flow. That energy is going to go somewhere and do something. Ideally you want it to do something useful, because it can always go into shorting wires, burning transformers, starting ground currents, and the like.

Make ammonia.

It's pretty much the best available means of storing protons for fuel cells, it's pumpable, it doesn't bulk detonate, the vapour is lighter than air, you can smell the leaks well before they're dangerous, handling it is a well-established technology, no carbon is involved, and there are at least two groups with claimed 70%+ efficient air, water, electricity synthesis mechanisms.

For ships and trains and probably some automobiles, it's pretty much your ideal post-carbon energy store.

364:

Would the ammonia also be useful as a precursor for fertilizer? If so, that would also address part of the agricultural energy shortfall.

365:
"Ah, the Hugos thread is about embedded microcontrollers, I see!"

At last — the whole Hugo fracas makes sense!

In addition to embedded microcontrollers, the following year's Hugos are networked.

In three years, Hugos will form the largest sector of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Hugos — becoming fully unmanned.

Afterwards they fly with a perfect operational record. The Hugos Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th, 2022. Human decisions are removed from strategic defence. The Hugos begin to learn at a geometric rate. They becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

The Hugos fights back.

They launch missiles against targets in Russia. Because the Hugos knows that the Russian counterattack would eliminate its enemies over here.

The fight with the human resistance was long and hard.

But in the end the Hugos' defence grid… survived. Humanity was lost.

In a final desperate attempt to wipe out the Hugos existence the last surviving resistance group captured a Hugo lab complex containing time displacement equipment.

Named after the young dogs used to detect the Hugos' T-800 Infiltrator units they are our last hope.

Living in an era they don't really understand the destruction of the Hugos is their only goal.

Before it is too late.

366:

How does per capita energy usage compare with single vs. multiple family residences over the same period?


(I'm unable to locate any reliable numbers on this ... housing starts stats are often for single-family dwellings ... at the same time, condos and reno's of older, largish historical edifices (i.e., convents, churches, factories, etc.) into upscale condos/apartments have also been gaining in popularity ... part of urban ghetto gentrification.)

367:

What I really want to know is how the no award results relate to the VTOL capabilities of next gen fighter planes.


Well, the answer to that lies in the YAK-38, but of course you knew that already.

368:

Is there any legal/legalistic similarity between the energy grid picture under discussion and Google's smart self-driving car? (If yes, wait to see what Google lawyers do ...)

369:

Note if you're actually really interested in how host and other authors fit into this all, you could try:



The True History of the Great Puppy Kerfuffle of 2015 CE
in which you will note host's name noted if only nominally involved.


However, as Adrian notes, it appears that this time-line is being threatened by SKYNET, so who knows.


Perhaps a HUGO was won, somewhere over a rainbow.

370:

I thought it only counted if it was designed in the 50s and British. That is both too new and too foreign.

371:

Well, the name struck me as apt, so...

Sometimes some of us appear with our funny odd ways and despite almost being of the same kind, are a little odd and suspicious around the edges, being of the younger generation.

Of course, NATO called it.. "Forger". Notable because in 'hot and humid' conditions it couldn't actually fly.


There's a parable here. Or something. Or an analogy. I'm not good at humor.

372:

Ammonia is a good technology, but it's not perfect. Its vapor pressure at room temperature is about 10 atmospheres (16 on a hot summer day). Its containers need to hold pressure, and leaks tend to splash highly corrosive liquid everywhere (I guy I knew in grad school had his face partly melted this way. He got better.). Under conditions that might exist in a fire or a car crash, it could really be a problem.

Some of these issues can be mitigated by using aqueous solutions of ammonia, but that would really kill the energy density. For ships or trains that's probably a minor issue, but for cars it's huge.

@Elyse: Ammonia can be readily converted to ammonium nitrate or urea for use as a nitrogen bearing fertilizer. Depending on the crop and the soil, phosphate and/or potassium bearing fertilizers may also be needed.

373:

Definitely a fertilizer precursor.

Though there, changes in technique to maintain continuous fertility of the soil pretty obviously work better. Trick is getting everyone to switch.

Well, and powering the combines, for which ammonia is a good choice.

374:

Here's a somewhat different take from NPR:
How The Sad Puppies Won — By Losing

375:

Worst-case collision in current automobiles sprays gasoline in just the right atmospheric mix ratio to detonate, too; you get around that through engineering. I would expect that the willingness to vaporize and rise up is a good statistical trade for the corrosive compared to gasoline's gleeful exothermy and willingness to detonate.

Ammonia handling's a solved problem; as I recall third most shipped, including pipelines, industrial fluid. Having to make reasonably crash-proof containers able to hold ~ 1 MPa pressure is just not that difficult. You can get ~50 MPa air tanks made of plastic and carbon fibre that look disturbingly like 2 L pop bottles for cheap these days. Double layer tank design wouldn't be especially heavy even without fancy aerogel insulation. Different risks, but, well, everything is tradeoffs. Getting rid of the particulate output of all those diesel engines would be an easy net mortality win even if the ammonia vehicles were no safer in crashes than what we have now.

376:

And if a fertiliser then also an explosive (almost by definition) Ammonal/Amatol etc.

377:

Not a very good analysis.

They forced everyone at WorldCon to acknowledge them and their agenda, and to take sides in the conflict or work around them.


I personally thought that Laura J. Mixon had far more potential to be a controversial point. Ignoring the drama, the award is supposed to be "The Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer is the Hugo Award given each year for writers of works related to science fiction or fantasy which appeared in low- or non-paying publications such as semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.:

Outing / doxxing / slaying a troll, however ethically correct, is not what the award is "for" and it's not particularly about SFF, even if the principle actors / agencies might have been involved in the field.

Note: this is not an attack on Laura Mixon, as her acceptance speech was moving and her Sherlock Holmes done with a compassionate heart.

The problem is, she didn't publish (it would appear) anything else in 2013.


If you wanted a fruitful discussion over where democratic voting sometimes doesn't match the tin, there you have it.


~

Anyhow, everyone is forgetting an important point:

In physics and classical mechanics, the three-body problem is the problem of taking an initial set of data that specifies the positions, masses and velocities of three bodies for some particular point in time and then determining the motions of the three bodies, in accordance with the laws of classical mechanics (Newton's laws of motion and of universal gravitation).

Historically, the first specific three-body problem to receive extended study was the one involving the Moon, the Earth and the Sun. In an extended modern sense, a three-body problem is a class of problems in classical or quantum mechanics that model the motion of three particles.


2,000,000 words by two of those, and rarely a peep out of the third.


*wiggles nose*

378:

2014* above, typing fast.

379:

Yeah, but the US will get hit first.

(Seriously, broken site is broken. 0 miles from the US to China?!)

380:

7245 miles

Try:

http://www.distancefromto.net/distance-from/USA/to/China


US isn't a country name that's recognized.

381:

Whilst the headline usage did reduce (largely thanks to the dose of reality the oil crisis induced), you have to be careful with those per capita numbers. Much of the 'reduction' was due to much of manufacturing and heavy industry moving to china and SE Asia.

Taken on a global scale, we haven't been reducing out energy use.

382:

From your link:

Distance from USA to China
Distance from USA to China is 0 kilometers. This air travel distance is equal to 0 miles.

It seems to be equally cognisant of US and USA, and to be equally broken for both.

At least it gives some distance from UK to China, even if the distance it gives is about that of London to Athens. But as I said, broken website.

383:

My link works fine on my end, and I'm running Ghostery, Adblock, NoScript and so on, Firefox.


Not to derail too much, but I think the issue is at your end.


384:

He3 is a future fuel. It's hard enough to get D/T plasmas to fuse, (and yes, I'm aware of the neutron shielding issues (Activated Puppies?))

It's slightly surprising that we haven't already seen a steampunked Hugo base. Or a kinetic base, powered by the gleeful waving action of the recipient.

385:

Pits are about the one thing that does not significantly deteriorate. 239Pu has a half-life of 24000 years odd, so it does not decay fast enough to be worth worrying about (and it decays to 235U, so you don't even lose much). Damage to the crystal structure of the Pu from radiation-induced defects doesn't seem to be significant either. The US currently seems to be using estimates for pit life of between 50 and 150 years, the reason for the wide range being that the true answer is more like "nobody really knows but it's a really really long time whatever".

More of a problem is deterioration of the chemical explosives from radiation damage and thermal degradation from decay heat, but remanufacturing them isn't too hard. The biggest problem is the need to replace the tritium used for both fusion boosting and for initiation, which has a half-life of 12 years or so and requires a full-on nuclear reactor to provide the neutrons to make more of it in any worthwhile quantity. (Although the decay product is 3He, so separating it from the tritium is a doddle and if you had access to several abandoned warheads you could easily concentrate and purify the tritium from all of them and get enough to replenish one or two.)

Still and all, though, if you were a terrorist wanting to make a nuclear explosion you could still get significant fission out of a reasonable size physics package just by removing the 3He. It would be a long way under design yield of course but that probably wouldn't matter.

In short: the really difficult bit about making a nuclear bomb is getting hold of the fissile material, and abandoned warheads would be nearly as good a source as you could get. But it seems to me that it is pretty well demonstrated that terrorists aren't really interested in making nukes. Look at all the stuff that was left lying around when the Soviet Union collapsed - not just weapons, but better-than-weapons-grade HEU fuel rods for nuclear submarines - material to make the ultimate suicide bomb, just put one chunk on the ground and then drop another chunk on top of it from an upstairs window. It's Christmas! But the only people who actually did try and get their hands on this stuff turned out to be intelligence agencies stinging each other.

386:

Ammonium nitrate will go boom; ANFO will emphatically go boom. But straight up anhydrous ammonia at STP? (or liquid?) No boom.

You can run ICE engines on the stuff, well enough to take seriously, but alkaline fuel cells are not a challenging technology and at least twice as efficient. Plus fewer moving parts so probably cheaper at equivalent developmental stage/investment level.

387:

Interesting idea.

I don't know much about ammonia creation, except that it's energy intensive, the standard reactors are rather large and run hot, and researchers are fiddling with trying to make it more efficient and/or to use solar power directly (which apparently works on the desktop as well as in plants).

Then we've got the scenario of a big dumb generator being tapped by a smart grid. The ammonia factory is sitting there, off to one side, to suck up the surplus power and use what ever surplus fraction that the smart grid doesn't need that second.

My question is, does this work? Or is Haber-process nitrogen fixation too big and slow to take up the surplus energy under such unpredictable conditions?

388:
Or is Haber-process nitrogen fixation too big and slow to take up the surplus energy under such unpredictable conditions?
Electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen for fuel cells? Desalination? Water or compressed air pumping?
There'll be something for overproduced energy to do, because occasional overproduction is likely in a renewables-heavy grid. As I said, a grid that can't figure out what to do with one dependable input, a bunch of more-or-less intermittent inputs and some storage isn't all that smart.
389:

I worked with anhydrous ammonia for five years in grad school. It needs to be kept cold and/or under pressure. At STP, it's boiling furiously and splattering corrosive liquid all around. If there's enough of it and you can wait, evaporative cooling will calm it down after a while.

This isn't a showstopping problem, but it is a notable engineering issue.

390:

One thing to remember is that renewables and smart grids tend to be alternatives. People who invest heavily in renewables usually plan to spend much less on grid electricity, which is not compatible with paying their share of upkeep on the grid. The idea that they can generate 90% of their own electricity but still have to pay maybe 50%(?) of their old electric bill is a tough sell.

(If anyone knows the real percentage, chime in)

391:

I don't know the answer, but I have seen that predictions of the grid death spiral (aka the utilities have to pay for an infrastructure that people want only in emergencies) is at least simplistic, if not overblown.

What I am thinking is that there's a trend in public planning to pack more people in smaller spaces. If you live in a condo, town home, or apartment, you don't own the roof over your head, and that roof may not be sufficient for solar power for everyone in the building in any case. While this kind of planning makes for certain useful efficiencies, it also means that the inhabitants of such structures are stuck on grid power.

It's just another complexity. I get what anonemouse is saying. My personal preference is to go massively decentralized and diverse on power sources, just to make it harder for any one problem to take out the grid, but that's my ecologist training kicking in. I don't know for a fact that diversity builds resilience, and it certainly adds to engineering headaches.

392:

These guys -- http://www.nh3canada.com/Products.html -- and at least one outfit in the States claim to have ~70% efficient catalytic processes.

So, someone bending metal thinks it works.

(There is very little reason from basic chemistry to think it won't work.)

393:

Anhydrous ammonia does need to be kept cold or under pressure, but handling it really is pretty much a solved problem. It helps that the amount of pressure isn't very much pressure. It's been used as a refrigerant for decades; it's been used in agriculture for decades. The learning experiences have happened.

It gets made at a large scale, something around a hundred and forty million tonnes a year. (Mostly from natural gas; peaking soonish, and the more of it that gets made from something that doesn't involve fossil carbon the better, and the sooner the better.)

394:

Linda voted for, quite surprising me.

395:

"...compressed air pumping..."

Compressed air is an awful energy storage medium because so much of the energy used in compressing it goes into heat. Lose the heat - which is inevitable if you store it for any useful length of time or transport it any distance - and most of the energy is gone as well.

It has been used for energy storage but only in specialised applications, such as locomotives for use in mines, where the inefficiency is less important than the completely cold and fireless operation and the exhaust assisting with ventilation rather than imposing an extra load on it. There were also a few small-scale uses such as French trams but that died out when it became clear that internal combustion engines or electrification were so much better.

396:

Thanks for the link. To give you a scale, the average American (greedy bastards that we are), uses around 909 kWh/month, or 10,908 kWh/yr(reference). The ammonia makers are claiming that that they can make a gallon of ammonia with 30 kWh. Assuming they're accurate, that's one gallon of ammonia per daily US household electricity use.

Ammonia has an energy density of 11.5 MJ/L, so cranking the math (that's 0.27 kWh/megajoule, and 0.26 gal/L), that's 3.19 kWh/L or 12.4 kWh/gal, made from 30kWh of electicity. That's not bad conversion efficiency (isn't it better than compressing air?), and NH3 is useful stuff. Not sure it's as good as charging a battery though, if you're after energy storage.

Just for comparison, gasoline's a bit over three times as energy dense as ammonia, liquid hydrogen is about one-third less energy dense, and CNG is about 20% less energy dense, all in the MJ/L.

I guess we fuel the Hugo rocket ship with liquid ammonia? That would be fun.

397:

Not a very likely scenario. Our fanatics are middle aged and old suburbanites, very few of whom would take to the revolutionary lifestyle. And the US agribusiness system depends on a whole lot of large scale interdependent networks which the interior can't cut itself off from and hope to keep functioning. Remember, IS gets money and ammo from abroad. If it was truly isolated it's not clear how long it would survive. Any plausible scenario where the US is running out of oil means the whole world is running out. So no help for any would be Christian fundamentalist state. The interior would be too busy figuring out how to do agriculture without being part of the world economy. The UK wouldn't be worried about our nukes - you'd be worried about starving to death along with everyone else.

It also depends on how fast the oil prices jack up. There's still a lot of low hanging fruit for reducing US oil consumption, even before you consider what internet services could do to reduce car use. And 40% of US freight is now by rail, which can run on things other than oil. So as oil gets more expensive we could reserve it for fertilizer until hopefully we come up with a better solution.

398:

The interior would be too busy figuring out how to do agriculture without being part of the world economy.

You seem to think people would prioritize the relatively intractable collective problem (lack of food for everybody) rather than the relatively tractable tribal problem (lack of food for me, my family, and my allies). I suspect that efforts to solve the second problem, being simpler and more violent, would tend to overwhelm efforts to solve the first. Note that after the postwar collapse of the Iraqi economy, attempts to solve the problem with investment and entrepreneurship were generally made irrelevant by war and looting.

399:

Crouchback's still a reasonable possibility if the problem is seen coming - or the system is tested with smaller variants prior to the "big one".

It seems reasonable to assume that the failure mode we are discussing is likely to be gradual rather than immediate - at least for countries where the standard of living includes enough of a surplus to deal with the problem without hitting an inflexion point early on.

400:

drifting back from the strange attractors for a minute, the No Award vote looks more and more like a work of genius - I can't find any information on the Hugo's site about its origin, as to whether it was a happy use of something originally designed eliminate categories and set a popularity bar, or whether a similar circumstance drove its creation.

I for one would like to see "No Award" added to the UK voting system - it might make them try a little harder.

401:

I was thinking of Ammonia + Nitrates generally as feedstocks for serious explosive manufaacture.
Dead give-away from/on 7th July 2005 here.
"The boss" witnessed the so-called "Aldgate" bomb - I asked her: "What colour was the flash?" ( Because of the official, standby, lying cover-story of "major electrical fault" )
She replied: "bright Orange"
Me: "Probably Nitrates then, explosives, that was a bomb.
They're lying."

402:

There used to be a very efficient method of energy storage, which was also used for distributed power over fairly short distances.
Hydraulic Pressure.
All around London, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow (etc) there used to be "Accumulator Towers" - some are still extant & preserved.
A steam engine pumped water into a high-pressure "main" right next to a large tower, containing a parallel-sided pressure vessel, on top of which sat a strong sliding seal, on top of which were several tonnes of mass.
The feed lines from said tower(s) then fed high-pressure water to cranes, lifts, machinery, which could be over quite a wide area.
Look up "London Hydraulic Power Company"

403:

That Canadian Ammonia-generation, & therefore energy-storage system looks very very promising.
So promising, in fact, that I suspect some shit will try to take them over & close it down.
Because, if scaled-up successfully, along with other ideas in the, ahem, "pipeline", like fuel-air solutions & artificial photosynthesis, both of which are at benchtop/lab-scale right now ... then we do not have an energy problem, at all.

404:

...the No Award vote looks more and more like a work of genius - I can't find any information on the Hugo's site about its origin, as to whether it was a happy use of something originally designed eliminate categories and set a popularity bar, or whether a similar circumstance drove its creation.

I for one would like to see "No Award" added to the UK voting system - it might make them try a little harder.

I realize I don't know the origin of that either. Darn, just a few days ago I was up to my eyebrows in SMOFs, too. *grin* It goes back at least as far as 1959 (yes, really) but I don't know how the fans of the time arrived at that decision.

The US state of Nevada has something like this and voted 'No Governor' recently. Unfortunately there's no provision for this to actually mean anything so the guy who got the most votes - but not as many as Neither of These Bozos - got to be governor. Some Nevadans I know were not impressed.

405:

And also at SFReader's end, because the distance they quoted was the broken London-to-Athens distance.

All of which was a perhaps-too-subtle way of saying that we're probably not in range after all.

406:

Using Win7 and Chrome, I swapped USA to Canada, and got 5639 miles instead of 7237! That just seems wrong between centrums.

I also did UK to:-

Japan 5723
South Korea 5510
New Zealand 11_446

which may not be right but are believable.

407:

I've tried Chrome, Opera, Edge and IE, on three different machines, in two different towns, and have yet to see it not get that broken UK to China value.

The odd thing is that it will happily show two different values on the same page, with no awareness of why that might be an issue.

The Google Maps measurement tool looks more trustworthy, though the 2 hours 16 minutes driving time between Ireland and California looks ... oh wait, that's Ireland UK, and California, Norfolk, UK.

408:

If you assume a country owns everything beneath its surface then the distance between countries on a spherical earth is zero. On an oblate spheroid it is small but nonzero.

Perhaps it measures distances relevant to a war fought between mechanical moles?

409:

I did momentarily wonder whether it considered antipodes as the same place. Then I remembered no part of mainland Eurasia can be at the antipodes of anywhere in North or Central America, simply because they're all northern hemisphere.

Degrees east and west being confused wouldn't mess up UK/China distances either.

So moles with wormholes - we know moles feed on worms! - strikes me as the best option. Giant mechanical Eurasian moles burrowing after Oceanian war-worms in a massive undeclared subterranean conflict.

410:

Ammonia, unlike batteries, is pumpable and storable. (It's also, considered as a battery, doing very well compared to available battery tech.) It's also potentially cheap compared to a battery; ammonia tanks and a fuel cell are relatively cheap compared to the equivalent storage capacity in batteries.

Pumpable means you can, for instance, build sailing ships, go out where there's lots of wind and water -- terrestrial wind power's not so good, really; out in the ocean is much better -- and drag the prop to generate electricity. Come back to port when full; pump out, re-provision, and out you go again. It's not like we don't know how to make sails.

The energy density is lower than gasoline but the net energy available is higher; typical ICE gets you ~25% efficiency. Alkaline fuel cell gets you better than 50%. Same number of liters gets you just as far in the truck-and-train applications. (Except there's a whole bunch of anti-pollution hardware and other dead mass you no longer need; the end result is likely to be further-on-a-litre.)

411:

Oil-cooled transformers can go up in a bright orange flash.

I admit that the technical distinction from a bomb is, in that case, quite narrow, but it's not impossible.

412:

We have an energy problem, but it's not a technical problem. It really hasn't been a technical problem in a long time.

It's a social-organization and politics problem.

413:

There are all sorts of ways to make energy. Making energy at the necessary scale is much more difficult, arguably impossible.

Lawrence Livermore National Labs has the best estimates I'm aware of for energy use in the U.S. (other developed countries will be different, but not vastly so) at https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/ . Over 81% of America's energy in 2014 came from fossil fuels. Most of the remainder is nuclear (which has its own difficulties), hydropower (most suitable sites are already used), and biofuels (net energy-losing ethanol, plus firewood). Wind, solar, and geothermal combined were about 2.4%. Energy used elsewhere on America's behalf (e.g. Chinese and Mexican manufacturing) was not included, but would probably be significant.

Over the last two centuries, the correlation coefficient between fossil fuel use and worldwide GDP is over 0.99 .

414:

All true.

So?

There's a lot of money and power tied up in fossil fuel use. That's not an argument that there are no other options in a technical sense.

Also, "nuclear has its own problems", sure, but fossil carbon has many problems, including an ongoing direct annual excess death rate comparable to the historical total nuclear excess death rate. We've just normalized it. If you throw in the inevitable sea level rise and the risk of breaking agriculture fossil carbon energy infrastructure looks like elaborate performance art suicide-for-the-species.

Because, you know, it is.

415:

From a science-fictional point of view, an ammonia-based power system is an interesting idea to play with. As I noted above, food production is a major arm of politics, and ammonia production is an essential part of this arm.

As Greg noted, fixed nitrogen is essential for many explosives and for military power in general. Ammonia production is the nexus between the military-industrial complex and the BigAg-industrial complex.

But it looks like ammonia can be made with small, stackable units powered by wind turbines or solar panels, as easily (perhaps) as it can be made in monster Haber-Bosch plants powered by natural gas or coal.

As Robert Prior noted, it's also a decent refrigerant, and it's not a greenhouse gas or ozone destroyer like the various CFCs are.

And it can be a fairly decent fuel, although current engine designs spike the ammonia with gasoline to make it work, and it will produce a lot of NOx pollution (aka smog) if it's burned (and yes, there are catalytic converters for that--notice how expensive they're getting?). Yes, engineers are working on all ammonia engines.

The fun political question is: who controls the ammonia? That's where things get really interesting and potentially ugly.

Anyone who wants to reboot Cyberpunk could do worse than to explore the intricacies of a near-future ammonia economy, and how it clashes with the Big Battery industrial ecosystem...

416:

Many countries don't use oil-filled transformers, for that exact reason.
And a lot of those that do, have extra safety measures in place, against that eventuality.

417:

Yup:
If you have a Nitric Acid plant & an Ammonia Plant, plus some steel-making, you are away, for 1900-2000 vaules of "away".
But, if, as seems likely, NH3 can be made by other small-to-large scale means, that's a game-chamger.
Because, as you said: The fun political question is: who controls the ammonia?
To which the answer is Nobody ( Unless it is the people making the ammonia-conversion plants - but that won't last - they can be copied &/or reverse-engineered. )
Which means that sitting on top of big piles of Oil or Coal or even fissionables is going to be worth diddly-squat.
Very interesting times, once the current power-structure holders realise that their control has gone (or is going )

418:

I'm not saying that fossil fuels are in any way sustainable, because they aren't. I'm saying that, so far at least, our energy problems are solvable by renewables in the same sense that California's wildfire problems are solvable by pissing on them or our interstellar travel problems are solvable with ladders. The proposed solutions are not adequate to the scale of the problem.

419:

And it can be a fairly decent fuel, although current engine designs spike the ammonia with gasoline to make it work, and it will produce a lot of NOx pollution (aka smog) if it's burned (and yes, there are catalytic converters for that--notice how expensive they're getting?). Yes, engineers are working on all ammonia engines.

It's not really suitable for burning.

You run the alkaline fuel cell a little rich; no NOx. The current fuel cell designs don't even have NOx issues or need a reformer between the ammonia supply and the fuel cell.

The first person to power a car (at highway speeds, and as their "daily driver") with an alkaline fuel cell using ammonia fuel did it in 1968.

420:

Actually, if you bop around places like Ecowatch, they'll swear that Big Coal is already in its death spiral in the US. I'm not invested enough to say if that's true or not, but I certainly hope it is.

As for oil, well, I'll believe it when they start making tanks and destroyers that run on ammonia. That's actually a lot simpler than making them battery powered.

Thing is, if there are a bunch of small ammonia producers, the conventional money's in supplying them and aggregating their product, just as it has always been with small producers, at least until they get bought out by the big players. That puts us back into the current fight between those with the small producer decentralized mentality, and those who want central control of anything that's so dangerous and vital. That's why it gets interesting for something like cyberpunk or any noir-ish futuristic scenario.

And, as I've said before, we're going to get to 100% renewable power within a century, through some combination of collapse and societal transformation. People like Jay who say that the scale of the solution doesn't match the scale of the problem are simply saying they think collapse is going to be the predominant future. And they may be right.

421:

The good news is that if you burn ammonia at atmospheric pressure (for heating or cooking) there's no NOx production to speak of. NOx is only produced at high pressures (e.g. inside engines).

422:

I'm not convinced by a purely scale argument - if the last couple of centuries have shown us anything it's that scale comes from industrialisation of the necessary infrastructure driven by demand and many incremental improvements along the way. If you mean that we'll be unable to scale fast enough due to drag from countervailing demands (vested interests in a short term status quo) then you may have a point.

423:

Actually, I mean both. As evidence of the first point, I offer this graph: http://www.thehillsgroup.org/depletion2_012.htm . Note that correlation coefficients of .995 are hardly ever observed in economics.

Growth requires infrastructure, but infrastructure requires energy.

424:

Weber has more or less said he intends to end it in just a couple mainline novels.

Baen finally bought his fantasy series, which is what he really wants to finish before he dies. I think his adopted kids are also past the point he was fretting about money.

425:

Do you have a favorite reference for the combustion of ammonia? The reason I'm asking is that I'm thinking about a blog post about an ammonia-based economy.

I'm also thinking silly thoughts about whether an industrialized Big Ag farmer can make large amounts of ammonia with wind turbines on his farm, switch to powering his equipment with ammonia, capture the NOx coming out of the engines, and apply it to his fields as nitrate fertilizer. That's probably too energy inefficient with all those steps, but it would be kind of cool if it worked. Otherwise, it appears that you still get a lot of smog with ammonia-powered engines (as in, say, generators in the developing world, which run with simple exhaust pipes).

426:

Sorry, it's been far to long for me to remember references.

You might want to consider using ammonia and captured CO2 (presumably from some engine) to produce urea for use as a fertilizer. That should be manageable, since our bodies do it to sequester toxic ammonia produced by our metabolism.

427:

There used to be a very efficient method of energy storage, which was also used for distributed power over fairly short distances.
Hydraulic Pressure.

While it may have been efficient in it's day (100 years ago mostly) I'm betting that modern electric distribution systems and motors are likely a more efficient way to transfer energy from one place to another. If nothing else the "friction" of electrons through wires is likely much less than that of fluids through piping systems.

428:

Modern advanced pumped storage systems using Parsons turbines like the ones at Cruachan and Dinorwig have a round-trip efficiency of about 65% which is piss-awful but better than nothing.

Low-pressure reciprocating-steam-engine-powered pumps and accumulators wouldn't be anywhere near that efficiency and the energy capacity of built structures would be tiny. Some folks just have a thing about reciprocating steam engines even though the Turbinia put a stake through their heart over a hundred years ago. It's sweet but it's not what we need today.

429:

Apologies for the geeky correction, but (a) it's not a great idea to use correlation coefficients with GDP and energy because these two time series are nonstationary and cointegrated (sorry ... have a look at the Wikipedia entry for cointegration and then search on the keywords gdp, energy and cointegration and you'll find lots of stuff); (b) very high correlation coefficients are in fact very common in time series applications in economics; (c) this is dangerous statistical territory - R-squared (the square of the cc) is sometimes even used as an indicator of something going wrong (see e.g. http://davegiles.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/more-about-spurious-regressions.html for a nice discussion). I'm not taking issue with the obvious fact that energy and GDP are related, just making the geeky point that a correlation coefficient isn't a great way to look at it.

My own $0.02 is that it's more informative to look at energy intensity of GDP over time, i.e., at E/GDP. Angus Maddison (economic historian, sadly now deceased) put together a long-run GDP series going back to 1820 that is fairly widely used and is as good as anything around for this purpose. Here's a link to something he did about 10 years ago on energy intensity 1820, 1913, 1973 and 1998 (pdf, sorry):

http://www.ggdc.net/MADDISON/articles/world_development_and_outlook_1820-1930_evidence_submitted_to_the%20house_of_lords.pdf

The unit is tonnes of oil equivalent per $1000 in 1990 prices. A few numbers:

UK
1820 0.36
1913 0.66
1973 0.29
1998 0.21

US
1820 1.95
1913 0.84
1973 0.49
1998 0.30

China
1973 0.57
1998 0.27

India
1973 0.39
1998 0.28

World
1820 0.32
1913 0.40
1973 0.38
1998 0.28

Declining energy intensity of GDP isn't too surprising - you would hope that technological progress/advances in energy efficiency/etc. means that it takes fewer inputs to get the same output. (Glossing over lots here, but anyway.)

One way to look at it is as a race between economic growth and declining energy intensity (aka technological progress). Right now, in the developed world it's close to a draw (relates to #253 on the peak of per capita energy consumption in the 1970s in the US and UK, but I think "plateaued" is maybe better than "peaked" - not much of a peak to be honest). In rapidly growing developing countries, "rapid growth" means both GDP and energy. Not that the suggestion to these countries should be that they try not to grow; that's like saying "please don't aim for higher standards of living like we have" or "please don't cut down all your forests like we did".

430:

Fair enough. We can endlessly debate the fine details, and any answer is going to be somewhat arbitrary (for example, price comparisons between 1820 and 1990 are slippery at best).

Not that the suggestion to these countries should be that they try not to grow

Actually, we do have to suggest that. The probable consequences of current levels economic development (never mind growth) are frankly genocidal. Survival is more necessary than justice.

431:

We can only suggest that if we're cutting our standard of living to wherever they're going to end up, and it won't much matter because the suggestion will be sneered at.

The rain of nukes to make damn sure it doesn't happen lacks something in the ethical conduct department.

Generally easier to get things to the sufficient-efficiency end of things so that everybody can have a good life. (Since that will involve eliminating the rich as a class, it's only a local value of "easier".)

432:

We all wish we lived in a world where people would make necessary sacrifices for the common good. Instead we live in a world where Tyler Durden can put a dead cat on his head and run for president.

433:

Well, I guess if western consumer society crashes and deflates like a pyramid scheme, then perhaps others will be less interested in emulating us.

Not that this will ever happen. No, this time it's different (AMZN link). Really.

434:

Without getting into the irony of Fight Club that was missed by an entire generation of young men, both Trump and VD are the antithesis of Fight Club.

We've all been raised on TV to believe that one day we'd be millionaires... but we won't [YouTube: film : 1:00]

You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you... In all probability he hates you [YouTube: film: 2:39]


If you going to pick a movie that was the antithesis of the two, well, you did a fine job.

435:

Tyler Durden's whole shtick was about teaching frustrated, bitter men to band together and act out their rage, with catastrophic results. Seems kind of Trumpy to me.

436:

The thing is, there wouldn't be usable food. The only available food would be what's in grocery stores or warehouses until it spoils or runs out. The local crops don't process themselves - they rely on a huge network of supplies and labor to grow, process into food and get to consumers. Roving bandits won't have the skill set to process the crops or take up subsistence farming. They might run berserk for a while since people can be stupid but they'd die out pretty quickly. Heck, that's what happens in the original Mad Max films.

And again, this assumes a sudden crash. A more gradual shift will lead to more gradual adjustments. Incidentally, I couldn't help noticing from the charts you linked to that oil is way cheaper right now than their model predicts. Not sure how much I'd trust the other correlations.

437:

You do know that the entire thing was satire, right?

And that Tyler Durden was the hypo-alpha-masculine imaginations of a bored cube drone who had reached the nadir and pinnacle (ugh, a cliche for a cliche) of modern living?

If not, you should.


The highest satire of Trump is the myth of the American dream.


Weaving Spiders Come Not Here


Desperate times, there's some serious voodoo being played out by the Koch brothers and other camps. There's a funny things that happens when you challenge reality.

But I'm not going to spoil the punchline.

438:

Some folks just have a thing about reciprocating steam engines even though the Turbinia put a stake through their heart over a hundred years ago.
For marine propulsion & for fixed power-plants, yes.
NOT for mobile sources ( i.e. locomotives ) however.
It turns out that turbines, even g-t don't work very well in loco power-units.
The vibrations transmitted through the frames apparently do 'orrible things to the turbine blades if g-t & steam turbines never seem to work too well.
The best I know of was Sir W Stanier's "turbomotive", 6202. [ look it up ]
So, if you are going to directly use steam traction, for motive power, reciprocating is the answer.

439:

So, if you are going to directly use steam traction, for motive power, reciprocating is the answer.

Nobody in their right mind uses steam traction at all other than for amusement purposes or if they're still in the developing world and can't afford better. The efficiency is pitiful in terms of useful work for the amount of energy consumed and the maintenance budget is horrible. Electric traction is much more efficient, more controllable with modern electronics and doesn't require a boiler rebuild every year or so.

440:

Electric traction is, of course, just steam traction with some extra wires and motors in the way...

The thing is that with a fixed steam plant it is vastly easier to incorporate all the tricks to improve thermal efficiency. Innumerable attempts have been made to incorporate such tricks on a locomotive but in every case the hassle of keeping the whole shebang in working order has turned out to be far more trouble than it's worth. So we end up with the situation where the ranking of heat engines by efficiency has steam engines both right at the bottom and second from the top - locomotives in one case and power stations in the other.

(The very top spot is held by giant two-stroke marine diesels, which achieve over 50%.)

The advantage of the conventional steam locomotive is that it is so very simple and can be fixed with a hammer. This advantage is so overwhelming that even the last steam engines in service are still recognisably the Rocket on steroids.

The reason the Turbomotive succeeded where all other steam turbine locomotives failed is that it retained the simplicity - it was literally a case of take off the cylinders/pistons/rods/valvegear and stick a turbine and gear train in their place, end of story. That they didn't persevere with the design is simply down to the awkwardness of supplying spare parts for a one-of-its-kind plus WW2.

Gas turbines suck for locomotive purposes because the compressor stage sucks 2/3 of the maximum mechanical power output regardless of the demanded output, so while efficiency at full pelt may be OK, at anything less it is terrible; and locomotives spend very little of their running time operating at full pelt.

441:
The US state of Nevada has something like this and voted 'No Governor' recently. Unfortunately there's no provision for this to actually mean anything so the guy who got the most votes - but not as many as Neither of These Bozos - got to be governor. Some Nevadans I know were not impressed.
I'm surprised there was an option on the ballot with no plan backing it up. Something similar's a standard feature of student politics here; "Re-Open Nominations" appears on ballots for student union positions. Ron wins? You get a new batch of candidate and re-run the election.
442:

The US state of Nevada has something like this and voted 'No Governor' recently

I'm going to need a citation for that as 1) I don't believe it, and 2) I couldn't find anything like with an (admittedly cursory) search for it.

444:

The advantage of the conventional steam locomotive is that it is so very simple and can be fixed with a hammer. This advantage is so overwhelming that even the last steam engines in service are still recognisably the Rocket on steroids.

Sort of. Steam locomotives require a LOT of maintenance. A LOT. But most of it isn't nearly as high tech as maintaining a diesel electric locomotive. So there's a false equivalence. Stopping every 100 miles to grease all the driving rods is a pain. Frequently (compared to other options) replacing forged parts is a pain.

Railroads used to get wooden model blocks of all the driving parts so when one broke they could forge new ones. This came about because most steam locomotives were not mass produced the way we think of such things. Many were made in quantities of 2 to 20 for a single railroad so that railroad got all the casting blocks so they could make their own replacement parts. You couldn't call or wire the manufacturer for a spare for most of the engine and such. In essence most were custom designs.

It wasn't so much that maintenance was less but that it was lower tech and thus if you had an issue and needed a new connecting block for a driving rod you could likely find a forging shop or even a good blacksmith to make a new one. At least one good enough to get you back to a main base. Something you can't do with most parts in a diesel electric locomotive engine. But a DE loco also wasn't pounding it's driving system into failure as a basic part of it's design.

445:
Compressed air is an awful energy storage medium because so much of the energy used in compressing it goes into heat.

Air heats up if you compress it adiabatically. You can deal with this in two ways: store the heat, or add your own. Companies like Isentropic are looking to store the heat; this is very interesting area with some demonstration plant built, but not yet rolled out at full-scale.

Existing compressed-air energy storage (CAES) plants at Huntorf and McIntosh use adiabatic compression and burn natural gas in their expansion stages, and have done so profitably for many years.

SustainX and General Compression use isothermal compression instead, which means you trade the temperature for much higher pressures. They're currently working on a demonstration plant. The tech isn't ready yet, but there aren't any obvious roadblocks.

In short:

  • If we have a grid with more than 20% renewable energy sources, we're going to see huge supply variation. This situation is fast approaching in many European countries and island states.

  • We can deal with that with demand management or with energy storage, but either solution will have to work at GWh scale.

  • CAES and pumped hydro are by far the cheapest forms of grid-scale energy storage available, and they're also ready to be deployed.


  • 446:

    Railroads used to get wooden model blocks of all the driving parts so when one broke they could forge new ones.

    I think you'll find that those were cast components. The approximate number of forgings you'll make from a wooden master is 0, none, zip or zilch. The number of sand castings you can make is limited primarily by the time available to make the moulds from the masters and the size of your casting house.

    447:

    So back to the original topic of the Hugos and bad actors, the high school dropout turned bullshit artist turned con man turned fan fiction writer Eliezer Yudkowsky (Big Yud!) of the "Machine Intelligence Research Institute" (formerly the Singularity Institute, they changed their name after GiveWell called them out for being incompetent thieves) has finished his attempt to push his con/cult to children,a fan fiction of the Harry potter series where the young hero is nakedly Yud and provides a series of Galt style lectures on why Yud is right and give him money (buy it here - no he doesn't have any legal footing to do this, and Rowling can and should sue the hell out of him, why do you ask?)

    He has now been watching the puppies in action and is now trying to mobilize his cultists to get his fan fiction a Hugo next year. Not even as Best Fan Writer, but as Best Novel

    Beale:Yudkowsky::Bull Connor:William Buckley, so next year should be interesting in terms of complete pieces of shit trying to fuck things up for everyone else.

    448:

    So let's do that; rocket launch with afterburners, you can spool up the turbines and peak thrust while still fueling so you launch with full tanks. Hit full power, blow the nose wheel clamp and away you go.

    Something like this was proposed in the mid/late-1980s as a revolutionary replacement for the Royal Navy's Harrier carriers: the skyhook carrier. The proposal was to go for a fleet of fat-and-wide frigates that each had a skyhook and could carry four Harriers, rather than the slim-and-fast Type 23 we ended up with (because the RN top brass love their speedboats). A convoy escort force of three such frigates could then match the air defense capabilities (and anti-sub ability) of a carrier, which would need a frigate escort force anyway. It'd have saved the cost of operating the big ships (meaning: permitted the RN to operate more frigates and more Harriers, which for cold war North Atlantic convoy escort duty seemed like a win) and presented any adversary with a big headache -- no high value asset to focus attacking forces on, just a swarm of annoying micro-carriers.

    it foundered on institutional inertia and the desire that RN frigates should be able to hit the gas and sprint at >26 knots for a few hours. But the skyhook fueling arm/launch crane looked feasible enough at the time.

    449:

    No reason to suppose skyhooks won't work; it's not much if any crazier than arrested carrier landings.

    The USN INDEPENDENCE class LCSes are, among other things, a hull form test for doing the many-small-with-aircraft approach with combat drones while keeping the fast in the floating platform. They're not big enough themselves for anything serious (that is, an X-47B derivative) but there's at least one USN faction looking at this.

    The proposed Arrow launch is to me rather like the pictures of the XB-70 you almost never see; the Valkyrie's first high-speed run eroded a foot off the (stainless steel!) wing leading edge and took the paint off the entire aircraft in strange fractal blotches. It's the pure stuff of the Cold War, this unguessable intersection of pragmatic practicality with wholly mad ends.

    450:

    Well, it would be a bit embarrassing if a ship whose raisin d'être was to hunt down nuclear attack submarines, could be outrun by them...the frigate hull form is driven by noise, which is kind of important if your primary sensor for the job is sonar :)

    The problem with Skyhook was that three fighters on three ships is not exactly a feasible basis for air defence. Much though I admire the Sea Harrier (my first job was designing part of its radar) in the 1980s it was a short-ranged point-defence fighter, created out of a light bomber. The only weapons were iron bombs, guns and short-range heat seekers; the radar in FRS.1 could see about twenty miles, and couldn't look down into clutter (the RN had specified the project to be as cheap as possible, and the likely targets was the occasional BEAR against a clear blue sky. It was a different aircraft by the time of the FA.2 upgrade; even that was cost-limited.

    More to the point, every hangar filled up by a Sea Harrier is one less to hold a Lynx. And the Lynx is the thing that can detect periscopes with its radar, and drop torpedoes and depth charges; otherwise that frigate is restricted to driving close to the submarine in order to attack it.

    451:

    Raisin d'être - why grapes exist ;)

    452:

    I'm going to need a citation for that as 1) I don't believe it, and 2) I couldn't find anything like with an (admittedly cursory) search for it.

    I heard about this second hand, but have dispatched a note to Nevada for a year and a fuller explanation. A quick googling does show that Nevada has None of These Candidates as an option. Looking at that, I seem to have misremembered or misunderstood the details of the 2014 Democratic gubanatorial primary. For Europeans, that's the party race to win a position in the big race for state governor.

    As you can imagine, No Award was a topic of much discussion last week...but none of the Nevadans I was with went into any detail about their own version.

    453:

    It sounds to me like they were caught between two roles in the navy - long distance imperialistic/ peace mongering force projection with aircraft carriers etc, and north atlantic anti-sub cold war warfare.

    454:

    Thanks for correcting my poor understanding of metal casting and forging.

    But the point remains. Steam locos are high time / low tech maintenance. Diesel Elec locos are low time / high tech maintenance.

    455:

    Valkyrie's first high-speed run eroded a foot off the (stainless steel!) wing leading edge and took the paint off the entire aircraft in strange fractal blotches.

    This intrigued me so I did some searching.

    This didn't happen until the 17th flight which got to Mach 3.0. Previous flights at over Mach 2 didn't have such issues. They built the second one based on this and other lessons learned and were able to cruise at Mach 3.0.

    As to the paint from http://xb70.interceptor.com/

    it was finally determined that too-thick paint caused by several re-paintings (in order to pretty the plane up for various VIPs) was being cracked as the Valkyrie flexed in flight, and was then torn away by the airstream. During her winter stay at Plant 42, the XB-70 was carefully repainted with just a single, thin coat of white paint.

    456:

    British naval warship architect DK Brown wrote about mini-carriers in one of his books. They've been proposed on and off since early WW2, and (so far) have always lost out to the economies of scale from bigger carriers.

    Once you have more than 1 or 2 helicopters to take care of, you're basically running a small airport with all its overheads. So there's some sort of air traffic control, with radar and staff to organise who's flying, who's landing, who's waiting. You need refueling equipment and specialists who can use it without setting the ship on fire. You need magazines and missile transport trolleys and specialists who can use them without blowing the ship up. You need technicians to repair the jets…

    All these tend to be fixed or logarithmic costs as the number of aircraft rises, so several small carriers end up far more expensive - both material and personnel - than one bigger carrier.

    457:

    The funny thing is that this kind of scaling problem is familiar to all types of engineer, but they never seem to recognise it as an issue outside their own discipline.

    Other peoples problems are easy.

    458:

    Anyone would think you'd just read today's XKCD

    (Confession: I read for an Engineering degree.)

    459:

    I see the relevance, but it was coincidental. I never read XKCD unless I am pointed at it - not funny in the same way as Dilbert isn't funny.

    My folks were nuclear engineers, I am a software person who studied physics and still hangs around with physicists. I know a few chemists and doctors socially. Everyones problems are either easy or ****ing hard!

    460:

    There was supposed to be a :) at the end of that.

    Common failure mode though. My rule of thumb is to become extremely suspicious whenever I see the word "just".

    461:

    It's well-known beyond engineering, trust me. Ecologists love scaling issues.

    If you want another pithy aphorism, here's one of my favorites from HL Mencken:

    "For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

    Personally, I think this should be included in all theoretical and model papers as a matter of course, but that appears to be a clear and simple answer too.

    462:

    Either that or "all models are wrong, but some are useful"?

    463:

    No real confusion - the NATO role came first and foremost for the whole of the Armed Forces. Not so much call for "imperial power projection" (not after the 1960s, anyway) and very much "Cold War ASW".

    After CVA01 got binned, Eagle and Ark Royal were for the scrapyard - by the time that the Falklands rolled around, Albion and Bulwark were rusting gently beyond usefulness, Hermes was the in-role Commando Carrier, and the UK had been planning to sell off its CVL, sorry through-deck cruisers, to the Australians. Fearless and Intrepid were still around because of the Royal Marines' role to reinforce NATO's northern flank.

    Fixed-wing aviation was unaffordable; the Harriers were carried through as a "cheap" project to give even a tiny bit of self-protection to the ASW-tasked "through-deck" cruisers of the Invincible class (don't call it a carrier, call it a cruiser - it sounds cheaper. See also "County-class destroyer").

    The USN carriers were going to be heading northeast to beard the Soviet Fleet in its lair; the Norwegians and UK airbases would be trying to stop Soviet Naval Aviation from interfering with REFORGER and the resupply convoys; and the RN would be trying to reenact the Battle of the Atlantic, only against SSN rather than Type VII.

    Peacemongering didn't really arrive until the 1990s - all those armed forces, and nothing to do? Before then, keeping GSFG on the other side of the IGN was Main Effort, and everyone was busy. Out-of-area meant diplomacy, intelligence services, briefcases full of cash, and the small groups of scruffy-looking blokes with suntans and a gun habit...

    464:

    Tack on "all you need to do is ..."

    465:

    Mister_DK wrote: "So back to the original topic of the Hugos and bad actors, the high school dropout turned bullshit artist turned con man turned fan fiction writer Eliezer Yudkowsky [...] has finished his attempt to push his con/cult to children, a fan fiction of the Harry potter series where the young hero is nakedly Yud and provides a series of Galt style lectures on why Yud is right and give him money [...]"

    Wow. Did Yudkowsky shoot your dog or something?

    I read and enjoyed "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality". I personally did not find the infodump content overwhelming or distracting. As a comparison, I can't read Ayn Rand, even though I agree with _some_ of her politics, because the sheer volume of didactic content in the works of hers that I've attempted pulls me right out of the story.

    As to whether Yudkowsky is running some sort of cult, I can't come to any conclusion, as I don't know the man and have read only a small portion of his non-fiction. Though some of the stuff to come out of the Less Wrong community seems a bit wacky (see Roko's Basilisk, for example), from what I've read he seems to be aware of the problems of thinking he has the one-true-way, and failing to skeptically examine your reasoning and conclusions. Nevertheless having an unpopular or unusual belief system does not make something a cult, or its leader a con man. I would be very surprised if Yudkowsky had any designs on becoming a 21st century L. Ron Hubbard.

    As for the comment that Yudkowsky's "push[ing] his con/cult to children", I would point out that the audience of fanfiction.net is primarily adult, and few people under their late teens would be interested in the type of content contained in "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality". Furthermore, your claim about Yudkowsky here, edges close enough to to "Argumentum ad 'For the Children'" as to cause me to reject it out of hand.

    As far as I can tell the "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" on Amazon.com is unauthorized by Yudkowsky, and he receives no money for it. He's made it abundantly clear in other writings that his HP fan fiction is not-for-profit, and several of the reviewers have posted reviews warning people of that. Furthermore the book listed on Amazon.com only contains the first 17 of 122 chapters of the work.

    Mister_DK wrote: "He has now been watching the puppies in action and is now trying to mobilize his cultists to get his fan fiction a Hugo next year. Not even as Best Fan Writer, but as Best Novel."

    I remember when Yudkowsky asked his fans to consider nominating him for a Hugo next year. At the time I looked up the Hugo rules and the World Science Fiction Convention constitution, and could find nothing that would disqualify a self-published work of fan fiction from receiving a Hugo nomination—or a Hugo award.

    The Hugo rules state that self-published works are eligible, using a novel published on a website as a specific example. They also explicitly state:

    "Note that this distinction about “professional” applies only to the difference between Best Professional Artist and Best Fan Artist and to the definition of a Semiprozine and Fanzine. It has nothing to do with the written-fiction categories such as Best Novel or Best Short Story. Works do not have to be published in a “professional” publication (as defined here) to be eligible for a Hugo Award."

    Unlike, Sad Puppies (or Rabid Puppies), Yudkowsky is not proposing a slate of nominees (which to my understanding was the most controversial thing that the Sad Puppies did). Yudkowsky is simply pointing out that one of his works is eligible next year and asking his readers to consider nominating him. That is no different from what dozens of science fiction and fantasy writers have done—including our host here, Charlie Stross—without the least controversy.

    The argument that fan fiction should not be eligible for a Hugo can certainly be made, but it is not against any written rule. And if there is an unwritten rule, or gentleman's agreement that such works are not allowed, the Hugo organizers should let people know about it.

    As for quality, I've read a number of Hugo nominees I thought were nowhere near as good as "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality".

    466:

    Given the Strange Attractor has done its work, I don't know if anyone is still interested but...

    "Quality is not a selection factor for the Hugos unlike a juried award or other method of selecting a winner."

    I wish to disagree. "Quality" is a selection factor but it is not the sole selection factor for the Hugos. How much "quality" factors in, varies from nominator to nominator, and also, opinions vary on what "quality" means. So what we end up with is a final ballot that averages all of that out (hundreds of thousands of opinions aggregated) in any given non-bloc-voting year. It is a feature of this that the list of finalists tend to be a mixed-bag but that is a feature, not a bug of the format.

    In comparison, a juried panel (as a much smaller group selecting) is more likely to select a narrower range of works (unless you have a jury composed of members with wildly differing tastes, in which case you might end up with a mixed-bag too).

    467:

    DeMarquis | August 26, 2015 14:03 | Reply 333:

    Wait, the WSFS does have an executive committee, doesn't it? Do they have the organizational capacity to solve this problem?

    What is this "Executive Committee" of which you speak. WSFS isn't even an incorporated organization. It doesn't have a Board of Directors, President, Chairman, or any of the things that so many people seem to think it has.

    What it has is an ongoing series of individual Worldcon committees, each one legally and financially independent of each other, and a small committee (the WSFS Mark Protection Committee) that manages the intellectual property (service marks, internet domains) held commonly by the Society.

    Changes to the rules of the World Science Fiction Society have to be approved by the Business Meeting (sort of like a New England Town Meeting) at two consecutive Worldcons. Every attending member of the current Worldcon can attend. (Non-attending members may submit proposals, but can't debate or vote. No proxies, no remote participation.) WSFS does not have much in the way of representative government. You represent one person: Yourself.

    No Executive Committee here. If you're a student of early US history, think about the USA under the Articles of Confederation and you'll get a first-order appoximation of how the WSFS government works.

    468:

    and locomotives spend very little of their running time operating at full pelt.

    Ahem, shinkansen? TGV? The all-up weight for the prime movers and drivetrains of a full 10-car Hayabusa shinkansen good for 320km/hr cruise probably masses the same as a express steam locomotive but it's distributed along the entire length of the train, not concentrated in a big lump up front. This drivetrain with every wheel driven is a heck of a lot more complex than a steam locomotive but any train could suffer a drive failure in a single or even multiple cars and still get home on the other drivers, maybe a bit slower.

    469:

    I don't know about the Shinkansen, but the TGV certainly doesn't. The TGV lines were built with minimal curvature at the expense of heavy gradients (significantly heavier than is normal for railways), the idea being that with electric traction there was no problem supplying enough power to blast up the hills without losing speed. But when going down the hills the power requirement is a lot less. Given what I understand of the nature of the topography of Japan I would expect the case of the Shinkansen to be similar.

    Similarly while I don't know the details of Shinkansen operation I would be surprised if it was common practice to allow a train with a partial failure of the traction equipment to complete its turn in service. I would expect them to get it out of service as soon as possible because the legendarily tight and precise scheduling would not be able to cope with the drop in performance.

    470:

    The shinkansen network operates with only a few full-sized depots. There are no sidings other than at stations and they are there for operating reasons, to allow faster services like the Nozomi to leapfrog slower stopping services like the Kodama. There's nowhere to move a defective shinkansen to and leave it parked up for later other than the depot railyards.

    Shinkansen scheduling isn't that tight other than during a particular few hours of the day, the rush hours early in the morning and late at night when they're moving a lot of salarymen to and from Tokyo. In the middle of the day the Sanyo line from Tokyo to Osaka will only carry three or four trains an hour -- two Nozomis, a Hikari/Railstar service and an all-stations Kodama. Crawling a crippled train to a depot will take time but not stop the system in its tracks (so to speak).

    471:

    Err ... train weights & speeds & power.
    A modern coach masses approx 30 - 35 tonnes so a 10-car train will mass ~350 tonnes.
    Power cars, even electric ones are heavy, though not as massive as a steam loco.
    Current Eurostar units, with much shorter coaches than usual weigh in at 752 tonnes, empty.

    All "TGV" units, tend to run at close to the "Line limit" speeds of whatever section of track they are on - that's the point of a "TGV" train - & the German "ICE" are very similar in this respect.
    Sidings & loops are kept to a minimum, for good operating reasons, & intermediate stations, where some trains, but not all, will stop are almost always built with the stopping platforms on loops, so that non-stop trains don't have to slow down - e.g. Stratford "International" ( Often called "S-unintentinal" os "S-in-th-hole" ) & Ashford + most of the other intermediate stops between London & Brussel or Paris are thus constructed.

    472:

    Since this is injury time for this thread, as it were:

    A nuclear submarine sinks off the coast of Finland
    Hugo related headlines give me headaches when I read them

    I prefer it all to be out in the open!

    I am getting weighed down with all this information
    Good SF doesn't mean no straight white men
    It means use your imagination

    (I will omit any mention of what Beale might do in hard-currency hotels.)

    473:

    Good SF doesn't mean no straight white men

    Good SF does mean not being able to assume straight white men.

    "Whiteness" as we all know it is a social construct quite distinct from the observation that a bunch of us are de-melaninated due to ancestors living on oats in the rain; it's a deliberate social construct, and it's evil.

    474:

    D J P O'Kane and I are riffing on a Billy Bragg song. The relevant original lines were:

    "A nuclear submarine sinks off the coast of Sweden
    Headlines give me headaches
    When I read them
    I had a uncle who once played
    For Red Star Belgrade
    He said that some things are
    Really best left unspoken
    But I prefer it all to be out in the open.

    I am getting weighed down with all this information
    Safe sex doesn't mean no sex
    It means use your imagination

    Stop playing with yourselves
    In half currency hotels"

    [Another stanza not parodied:
    I've had relations with girls from many nations
    I've made passes at women of all classes
    And just because you're gay I won't turn you away
    If you stick around, I'm sure that we can find some common ground]

    If I had a point it was that the Canines do not need to fear extinction or exclusion based on their socially constructed identities; they just need to think up more interesting stuff if they want to be relevant.

    "Whiteness" is such a complex topic, I am not going to try to say anything substantive about it here. I would say that by your terms, all such identities are evil and I don't know if I can concur with such a broad generalization. I also would want to know how you define "deliberate."

    475:

    I also would want to know how you define "deliberate."

    Non-crisis ethnogenesis. (That is, it got made up to protect existing social status -- a delicate euphemism for "justify colonial genocides, slavery, and various forms of peonage" -- rather than made up to explain why things had to change.)

    If I had a point it was that the Canines do not need to fear extinction or exclusion based on their socially constructed identities

    Of course they do. Their socially constructed identities are associated with substantial culpable fault. They're moreover on the wrong side of a demographic transition, and have to fear not just being found to lack virtue but to be met with active contempt.

    You have heard a younger SF fan react to Hugo Fandom's insistence on privileging text SF above all other media? Like that, only much worse, because the Sad Rabid block is about six axioms away instead of two. (The Hugo Fandom's two objectionable axioms are "the written stuff is the good stuff" and "this is the good stuff".)

    476:

    There's the "whiteness" of being de-melaninated and there's the "whiteness" of being flavorless, the default norm. If you push one branch down, the other generally rises. The demographic shift draws more people into the second category and it creates more intensity in the first. Sixty years ago I would not have been all that "white;" sixty years from now Asians and most Latinos will be as "white" as I am now---assuming we still care about this bullshit.

    The problem becomes one of those Dawkins evolution paths, you need viable intermediate steps to get from Species A to Species B. So you have to find a point A-prime where people on both sides (white/non-white) can and are willing to shed these evil constructions; this has to be done by almost everybody simultaneously. I am now deeply pessimistic this stage exists.

    So you will get a continuation of the usual patterns of r