Ah, I see some GamerGaters are whining to Tor that I am being mean to them. Well, good luck with that tactic, kids.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 23, 2014
So a few days ago, it was suggested to a faction of the hot, pathetic misogynist mess known as GamerGate that launching a boycott of Tor Books was a possible “action op” for them. This was quickly shot down, no doubt in part because the person suggesting it was Theodore Beale, and no one at this point actually gives a crap what he thinks about anything. However, last night I went on another Twitter tear on the subject of GamerGate, and I woke up this morning to a few chuckleheads bleating to Tor about what a terrible person I am, in order to, I don’t know, get Tor to talk to me sternly about having opinions on the Internet, because apparently Tor is my dad. So maybe this push to boycott Tor because of me has legs after all! Hooray!
That said, my takeaway from these furtive attempts to make me shut up about the fact that GamerGate is basically a bunch of terrible human beings being shitty to women, up to and including threatening them and publishing their personal information online in an obvious attempt to silence them is to be just a little bit sad. Not because a few of these human-shaped pieces of ambulatory refuse are trying to do it, but because they’re thinking too small about it.
I mean, seriously, boycotting just Tor Books? Why limit yourself? Sure, it’s the largest publisher of science fiction and fantasy books in North America and possibly the world, but it’s just one imprint of Tom Doherty Associates. There are several other imprints, including Forge, Starscape, Tor Teen and Seven Seas. You should boycott those, too. That’ll show me!
But even then, you’d be thinking too small. Tom Doherty Associates is itself just one appendage of the publishing giant known as Macmillan, with offices in 41 countries! It publishes thousands of books a year! What a target! You should boycott all of Macmillan. Man, I’m quaking in my boots just thinking about it. But even then, it’s small potatoes, for Macmillan is just one part of the mighty Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, with annual sales in the billions of euros. Boycott it all! No doubt all of Stuttgart shall fall into a shambles at the thought.
But even then you are not done, boycotters! For you see, I am crafty and have diversified my revenue stream. I have many publishers and many people I work with. You must punish them all for having me in their midst. All of them. And not just the tiny imprint or sub-company that works with me directly. That’s what a coward would do. And are you a coward? Well, yes, probably, because the tactics of GamerGate have been astoundingly cowardly right from the start. But still! Think big, my friends. Your boycott must not just take out a few targets, it must nuke them all from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
With that in mind, here are your other boycott targets:
In the UK I am published by Gollancz, which is part of Orion Publishing Group, which is in itself part of Hachette, which is part of Lagardère Group. Crush them!
In audio, I am published by Audible, which is owned by Amazon. Surely it is worth giving up your sweet Amazon Prime subscriptions to make Jeff Bezos shake in his chinos!
But wait! We’re still not done. Because as you may know I have TV deals! One is with FX, which is owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox (yes, it’s 21st Century Fox now. Look it up). You will need to boycott it all. Yes, even Fox News. Be strong! It’s for the cause!
Another is with Syfy and Universal Cable Productions, which is part of NBCUniversal, which is itself part of Comcast. So for this one, some of you will have to give up cable, and possibly your Internet connection. Keep your eye on the prize! It will be worth it!
My third TV deal is with Legendary TV, which is part of Legendary Pictures. And you’re thinking, whew, at least they aren’t part of a multinational corporation! True, but they make films that are distributed through a number of film studios, including Warner Bros (basically, all the DC Comics movies) and Universal. They also own both Geek & Sundry and Nerdist Industries. Noooooo! You can’t get your nerd on anymore! Stay focused! Your pain will make victory that much sweeter!
So, in short, in order to effectively punish my business partners for me having thoughts you don’t like, all you need to do is boycott three of the five major US publishers, two of the five major film/television studios (plus selected product of one of the other ones), and the largest single online retailer in the world. Which, well. It will keep you busy, at least.
Which, to be clear, I am fine with. While you are off whining to these corporations about me, perhaps you will be too busy to, you know, threaten death, rape and assault against women who also dare to express thoughts you don’t like. And you know what? I think that’s a fair trade.
So please: If you’re going to boycott a company because of me, at least do it right. Do it big. There are all your targets, laid out for you. Go get ‘em! I’ll be rooting for you, kids!
And in the meantime, just remember this:
If you think threatening women is a legitimate tactic for anything, feel free to stop reading my work. I don't need you or your money.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 11, 2014
Still true, people. Still true.
What is the farthest from Earth that any Earth thing has died?
—Amy from NZ
With Halloween approaching, I guess it's the season for death-related questions.
The farthest from Earth that any human has died is about 167 kilometers,Plus or minus a kilometer. when three cosmonauts on Soyuz 11—Vladislav Volkov, Viktor Patsayev, and Georgi Dobrovolsky—suffered a depressurization accident while returning from Earth. They were moving at about 7,755 meters per second at the time, which is also the highest forward speed at which any human has ever died.
Volkov, Patsayev, and Dobrovolsky are the only humans who have died in space. Every other fatal space accident—and, for that matter, every other human death of any kind—happened within 70 kilometers of the surface.Morbid list from my notes: The crew of Columbia died at just over 60 km, Pyotr Dolgov died at roughly 24 km, James Zwayer died at 23 km, Michael J. Adams died at 20 km, Ying Chin Wang died at 20 km, and Rudolf Anderson died at between 18 and 23 km. Jack Weeks presumably died somewhere between 20 and 0 km the ocean surface.
But humans don't hold this record.
For starters, there are plenty of test animals which have died in space. But, to be honest, I can't bring myself to collect statistics about them. I mean, at least the human pilots who died had all volunteered and understood what was happening to them. So instead, I'm going to skip straight to the organisms that are the real answer to Amy's question: Microbes.
Spacecraft carry bacteria, although we do our best to sterilize them before and during launch. This sterilization is important, because we don't want to contaminate another planet or Moon with Earth bacteria. There are two big reasons for this—one ethical and one practical. The ethical one is that we don't want to accidentally introduce Earth life that disrupts and/or destroys a native ecosystem. The practical one is that if we find life on some other planet, we don't want to have to struggle to figure out whether it was contamination from one of our probes.
But sterilizing spacecraft is hard. NASA has an employee specifically assigned to this task, and she has possibly the best job title of all time: Planetary Protection Officer.Another competitor for this title is Philip M. Breedlove, who has the job title Supreme Allied Commander.
The Planetary Protection Officer is responsible for avoiding spacecraft contamination, although there are occasionally problems.
A 2008 study of lunar missions estimated that spacecraft carried 1.98x1011 viable microorganisms per vehicle. Spacecraft such as the Voyagers and Pioneers, which were ultimately headed for deep space, were also not fully sterilized—the official planetary protection strategy was "try not to hit any planets."
Voyager certainly carries lots of bacterial spores. If we take the number from the 2008 paper as a (very rough) estimate of the number of microbes Voyager might carry, we can try to figure out how many might still be alive.
Some microorganisms can survive for a long time in a vacuum. One study found that the majority of bacteria that spent six years in space survived—though only if a shade protected them from the Sun's UV light. Other studies have agreed that radiation is the main thing to worry about, and the radiation environment inside a spacecraft is complex. The bottom line is that we just don't know for sure how long bacteria can survive in deep space.
But we can still give part of an answer Amy's question. If we assume that 1 in 1,000 bacterial spores on Voyager were of a space-tolerant variety, and 1 in 10 of those is somewhere on the craft where UV light doesn't reach it, then that still leaves on the order of 10 million viable bacterial spores traveling on Voyager.
If they suffer a death rate of 30% per six years, as in one of the studies, then there would still be a million of them alive after 50 years, dying at a rate of 1 every 10 minutes. On the other hand, the author of the 2008 study speculated that microbes could avoid hits from cosmic radiation for extremely long time periods, and other sources have speculated about survival for thousands or even millions of years. But no one really knows.
For our Voyager bacteria, there's a higher death rate at first, for spores in more exposed positions, and a much lower one for the more protected ones. Today, it's quite possible there thousands of bacterial spores still alive on Voyager 1 and 2, lurking quietly in the dead of space. Every few hours, days, or months, one of them degrades enough to no longer be viable.
And each one sets a new record for the most distant Earth thing to die.
Hikers exploring England’s Derbyshire Peak District earlier this week stumbled onto a rare phenomenon caused by extreme winds. The River Downfall, a 30-meter (98 foot) waterfall was blown back almost vertically by a powerful updraft, making it seem as if the waterfall was simply flowing into nothing. Very cool. (via Twisted Sifter)
This is a British dish, if the sharp cheddar, mustard powder, cayenne and charmed name didn’t give it away. I realize that British food has long been a punching bag for other supposedly superior world cuisines, but I found this to be anything but the case. Even if I had, the awesome names of national dishes — toad in the holes, bubble and squeaks, spotted dicks, singing hinnies, jam roly-polys and doorstop sandwiches — would have more than compensated for any failures in the flavor department.
I keep thinking oh man, I’m so immature. How am I allowed to be an adult.
Then I spend time with teenagers.
And it’s like, wow, okay, yeah. I am an adult. I am so adult. Look at me adulting all over the place.
Sculptor Ben Young (previously) just unveiled a collection of new glass sculptures prior to the Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design (SOFA) Fair in Chicago next month. Young works with laminated clear float glass atop cast concrete bases to create cross-section views of ocean waves that look somewhat like patterns in topographical charts. The self-taught artist is currently based in Sydney but was raised in Waihi Beach, New Zealand, where the local landscape and surroundings greatly inspired his art. You can learn more about his sculptures over on Kirra Galleries, and follow him on Facebook.
Located in a park near the center of Lede, Belgium, the Castle of Mesen dates back to the 17th century where it served as a home for various lords before a conversion to an industrial site. Throughout the 1800s the complex was used as a gin distillery, a tobacco factory, and a sugar refinery. In 1897 the castle was then sold to a religious order who constructed an impressive neo-gothic chapel and turned the entire facility into a boarding school.
Although it was still in use up until the 1960s, a tragic storm of abandonment, looting, and a failed attempt to designate the castle as a monument lead to a decision to demolish of the entire castle just a few years ago. Lucky for us, photographer Jan Stel of Past Glory managed to sneak inside and capture a few amazing shots before it disappears forever. The juxtaposition of the stained glass windows and decaying roof and sprawling foliage is especially striking. See more from this series here. (via Arch Atlas)
I had a day off this weekend from shooting Supernatural, and I was walking around downtown Vancouver on Saturday, sampling all the artisan coffee I could get my throat around. At one point I saw a pair of guys walking towards me wearing gamer shirts. Black short-sleeved, one Halo and one Call of Duty.
Now in my life up until this point, that kind of outfit has meant one thing: Potential comrades. I love games, I love gaming. If it’s Friday night, I’m not out hanging at a club, I’m diving into a new game I downloaded on Steam. And I am blessed with the fact that my career is largely built upon that love, which I channeled into fiction so many years ago with “The Guild”. If there’s anything I’m proud of in this world, it’s the fact that I’ve had people come up to me on the street and at conventions over the years to tell me that they feel confident to call themselves a gamer because of my work, where before they were ashamed. Hearing that kind of stuff has kept me going, against the mainstream, against all odds.
So seeing another gamer on the street used to be an auto-smile opportunity, or an entry into a conversation starting with, “Hey, dude! I love that game too!” Me and that stranger automatically had something in common: A love for something unconventional. Outsiders in arms. We had an auto-stepping stone to hurtle over human-introduction-awkwardness, into talking about something we loved together. Instant connection!
But for the first time maybe in my life, on that Saturday afternoon, I walked towards that pair of gamers and I didn’t smile. I didn’t say hello. In fact, I crossed the street so I wouldn’t walk by them. Because after all the years of gamer love and inclusiveness, something had changed in me. A small voice of doubt in my brain now suspected that those guys and I might not be comrades after all. That they might not greet me with reflected friendliness, but contempt.
I went home and was totally, utterly depressed.
I have not said many public things about Gamer Gate. I have tried to leave it alone, aside from a few @ replies on Twitter that journalists have decided to use in their articles, siding me against the hashtag. Why have I remained mostly silent?
Self-protection and fear.
I have been through a lot in my years on the internet. I have encountered a small fraction of the attacks from people like the ones who currently represent the worst of this “movement”. In the past, I worked through it alone because I felt shining a light on their words gave them exactly what they wanted: Attention and credibility. To say that their attacks and contempt didn’t set me back creatively would be a lie, but overall I got through the twists and turns, emotionally battered, but alright. My philosophy has always been, “Exist and represent yourself the way you want to exist as a woman who loves games, not as a reflection of what other people think or want of you. You will change minds by BEING. Show, don’t tell.” The attacks I experienced over the years were NOTHING compared to people who are the victims of these attacks now, but I still thought early on during the Gamer Gate phenomenon, “These trolls will dissipate into the night like they always do, it will be fine.”
But they have not dissipated. And because of the frightening emotions and actions attached to what has happened over the last month, the events are sure to have a long-lasting affect on gaming as a culture. The fact that it has affected me, to the point where I decided to cross the street last weekend away from those gamers, was heartbreaking. Because I realized my silence on the issue was not motivated by some grand strategy, but out of fear that the issue has created about speaking out.
I have been terrified of inviting a deluge of abusive and condescending tweets into my timeline. I did one simple @ reply to one of the main victims several weeks back, and got a flood of things I simply couldn’t stand to read directed at me. I had to log offline for a few days until it went away. I have tried to retweet a few of the articles I’ve seen dissecting the issue in support, but personally I am terrified to be doxxed for even typing the words “Gamer Gate”. I have had stalkers and restraining orders issued in the past, I have had people show up on my doorstep when my personal information was HARD to get. To have my location revealed to the world would give a entry point for any mentally ill person who has fixated on me, and allow them to show up and make good on the kind of threats I’ve received that make me paranoid to walk around a convention alone. I haven’t been able to stomach the risk of being afraid to get out of my car in my own driveway because I’ve expressed an opinion that someone on the internet didn’t agree with.
HOW SICK IS THAT?
I have allowed a handful of anonymous people censor me. They have forced me, out of fear, into seeing myself a potential victim.
And that makes me loathe not THEM, but MYSELF.
So I write this to urge any person, male or female, who now has the impulse to do what I did, to walk away from something they loved before, to NOT.
Don’t let other people drive you away from gaming.
Games are beautiful, they are creative, they are worlds to immerse yourself in. They are art. And they are worth fighting for, even if the atmosphere is ugly right now. A small minority are putting up barbed wire walls between us who love games. And that is sad. Because odds are 99% certain that those guys on the street who I avoided would have been awesome to talk to. I realize that letting the actions of a few hateful people influence my behavior is the absolutely worst thing I could do in life. And not an example I want to set, ever.
So to myself and to everyone else who operates out of love not vengeance: Don’t abandon games. Don’t cross the street. Gaming needs you. To create, to play, to connect.
I know this entry will probably draw contempt from people in the Gamer Gate movement. Something to scorn, something to rile them up against me and everything I’ve ever made. Especially, and most hurtfully, to mock my vulnerability. I just have one thing to say to you who do that: I’m genuinely sorry you are so angry.
I have lived a large part of my life ruled by negative emotions, mainly fear and anxiety. From my experience of working through those issues, I have this to say: Steeping yourself in the emotions that you’re surrounding yourself with, of hatred and bile and contempt, is ultimately not destructive to others like you want it to be. It’s destructive to yourself.
I know it feels good to belong to a group, to feel righteous in belonging to a cause, but causing fear and pushing people away from gaming is not the way to go about doing it. Think through the repercussions of your actions and the people you are aligning yourself with. And think honestly about whether your actions are genuinely going to change gaming life for the better. Or whether they’re just going to make someone cross the street away from you. And away from something, ironically, that we both love.
I am so lucky that this woman is my friend.
Enantioselective construction of axially chiral biaryls by direct CH bond functionalization reactions has been realized. Novel axially chiral biaryls were synthesized by the direct CH bond olefination of biaryl compounds, using a chiral [Cp*RhIII] catalyst, in good to excellent yields and enantioselectivities. The obtained axially chiral biaryls were found as suitable ligands for rhodium-catalyzed asymmetric conjugate additions.
An axe to grind? Novel axially chiral biaryls were synthesized by the direct CH bond olefination of biaryl compounds, using a chiral [Cp*RhIII] catalyst (1), in good to excellent yields and enantioselectivities. The biaryls were found as suitable ligands for rhodium-catalyzed asymmetric conjugate addition reactions.
"How can you be sure [the patient wasn't alive] Doctor?" "Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar." Read the rest
One of the test vehicles for Google's Self-Driving Car project.
In the future, we may not be dealing with the hassles and frustrations that come with driving cars everyday. Autonomous automobiles can make our lives better! But are cars that drive by themselves all that it's cracked up to be?
The advertising agency Sparks & Honey has compiled a mess of data and research on autonomous cars into a report entitled "Driving Disrupted: Driverless Cars Change Everything." Besides the obvious things such as being safer for travel and freeing up time for other pursuits, there are some surprising things that will emerge in a world with intelligent cars.
Pointing to an MIT study, the report states that whole cities could adopt a car-sharing program, not unlike bike sharing, which may make car ownership obsolete.
Entertainment on the Go
Beyond having extra time to work or read or do other hobbies, the report imagines autonomous cars as a place where the owner entertains a group of friends or colleagues, almost like a moving bar. And who knows where such drunkenness and debauchery will go...
Vehicles of Vice
And that means that bar-like autonomous cars could become the go-to place for illicit activities. Whether it is casual sexual encounters or drug use, the privacy and luxury of such cars could bring a spike in such activities.
We'll Need A New Source Of Municipal Income
With fewer traffic violations, cities and towns will have to find new ways to ticket its citizens to earn revenue or the penalties for existing violations will become more harsh. So you may want to reconsider your stance on jaywalking.
We'll Need A New Source Of Organs
Whether it is through growing them in the labs or through a form of 3-D printing, according to the report, artificial organs for health care will be in high demand because less traffic accidents means fewer natural organ donations.
You can view a slideshow of the report.