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"Dudebropocalypse" - Sun, 20 Apr 2014 [Apr. 20th, 2014|12:00 am]

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Day 520: Friday 11 April 2014 by Lord Omlette [Apr. 20th, 2014|01:25 am]

After the End of the World

Work - Farewell lunch for M @ Biggies. She was never talkative to begin with, but the venue was so loud we couldn't hear anything she said. She is good at what she does, so I'm happy she's staying w/ the country, even though we prolly won't ever see her again.

I told everyone EK (former co-worker) was in town, and everyone was really excited to see him. Naturally, they all ditched me. glare

So I alone had drinks w/ EK & his friend D (sp?). D works next door, which is weird. I believed the Land Building was a decrepit landmark in desperate need of demolition, but it's supposedly doing good these days... EK's doing good too, even if his latest startup didn't work out.

A bit too buzzed to concentrate on work, but I banged some small details out. dead

Home - Kept pecking away @ vector calculus mma homework. Caught up on Cosmos. Love that show. victory!  love and peace!


Dropbox added Condoleezza Rice to their board of directors. User outrage is unlikely to change that.

TechDirt has a story calling Dropbox "tone-deaf" for adding Condoleezza Rice to their board of directors, given that she played a central role in creating the surveillance state that we now find ourselves in. … But it's only tone-deaf if you were expecting a different tune. I think it's refreshingly honest and open. It tells the users that it's very important for Dropbox to have a way to communicate with governments at a very high level. Someone has to rep the company at meetings that are now taking place regularly where new rules are being created to govern the Internet. Private rules that we may not know anything about.

Dave Winer

Winer's perspective echoes what AOL co-founder Steve Case said at our last PandoMonthly event in New York: That for the next generation of Web companies to succeed, they'll need to work with governments, not against them. "It requires a different skill set with more partnership, more understanding of government and policy," Case says. "To have a significant impact, you need to understand that government's going to play a role. More than you'd like."

From this perspective, the addition of Rice to the board could help Dropbox better navigate the thorny privacy issues that came to light after Edward Snowden leaked a trove of classified NSA documents. In many cases, from the NSA's deliberate attempts to weaken encryption to its infiltration of Google and Yahoo's data center links, the government often has the means to access data with or without these companies' knowledge. By creating more opportunities for direct dialogue between the government and Dropbox, Rice's appointment may potentially allow the interests of Dropbox's customers to play a greater role in discussions over when data should be turned over to authorities and when it should not. Furthermore, to consider this a threat to the notion that the Internet is open and free from government intrusion is to assume that the Internet ever operated this way - an idea that many Silicon Valley lifers like Marc Andreessen say is a fairy tale at best.

David Holmes
I've canceled my paid Dropbox subscription because they clearly don't need my money anymore. glare

Yesterday, I mentioned the idea that the NSA created Heartbleed and called it a conspiracy theory. I think you know where this is going and it bothers me that I wasn't smart enough to figure this out on my own.

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said. The agency's reported decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government's top computer experts.

… Following the leaks about NSA's electronic spying, President Barack Obama convened a panel to review surveillance activities and suggest reforms. Among the dozens of changes put forward was a recommendation that the NSA quickly move to fix software flaws rather that exploit them, and that they be used only in "rare instances" and for short periods of time. "If the NSA knows about a vulnerability, then often other nation states and even criminal organizations can exploit the same security vulnerability," said Harley Geiger, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington. "What may be a good tool for the NSA may also turn out to be a tool for organizations that are less ethical or have no ethics at all."

Michael Riley

The Lavabit news doesnt make sense in a world where the NSA knew about heartbleed

Either they didn't know about it, in which case what the fuck are we paying them for? Or they did know about it and figured breaking the internet was a fair trade because FREEDOM ISN'T FREE. angry

Never pay for in-flight WiFi; the Feds have already paid for you!

Gogo, the inflight Wi-Fi provider, is used by millions of airline passengers each year to stay connected while flying the friendly skies. But if you think the long arm of government surveillance doesn't have a vertical reach, think again.

Gogo and others that provide Wi-Fi aboard aircraft must follow the same wiretap provisions that require telecoms and terrestrial ISPs to assist U.S. law enforcement and the NSA in tracking users when so ordered. But they may be doing more than the law requires.

According to a letter Gogo submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, the company voluntarily exceeded the requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, by adding capabilities to its service at the request of law enforcement. The revelation alarms civil liberties groups, which say companies should not be cutting deals with the government that may enhance the ability to monitor or track users.

Kim Zetter
In other words, if you've gotta fly, bring a book. sticking tongue out

We saw in Zero Dark Thirty that torture was effective! Never mind that the torture delayed the finding of bin Laden by 2-6 years, never mind that it was completely unnecessary, never mind that the victim didn't tell the Feds anything after being tortured that he hadn't told them before. Torture works!

The Committee's complete list of findings follows.

The CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques did not effectively assist the agency in acquiring intelligence or in gaining cooperation from detainees.

The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program.

The CIA subjected detainees to interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.

The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention.

The CIA's claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced interrogation techniques were inaccurate.

The CIA inaccurately characterized the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques to justify their use.

The CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques was brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.

The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.

The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.

The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA's Office of Inspector General.

Numerous internal critiques and objections concerning the CIA's management and use of the Detention and Interrogation were ignored.

The CIA manipulated the media by coordinating the release of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency's enhanced interrogation techniques.

The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.

The way in which the CIA operated and managed the program complicated, and in some cases hindered the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.

Management of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout its duration, particularly so in 2002 and 2003.

Two contract psychologists devised the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques and were central figures in the program's operation.

By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program. The effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques was not sufficiently evaluated by the CIA.

CIA personnel who were responsible for serious violations, inappropriate behavior, or management failures in the program's operation were seldom reprimanded or held accountable by the agency.

The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program ended by 2006 due to legal and oversight concerns, unauthorized press disclosures and reduced cooperation from other nations.

The CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States' global reputation, and came with heavy costs, both monetary and nonmonetary.

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
This is a good start. Next, release the entire, unredacted report, please. (via)

Kathleen Sebelius can hold her head up high; she has done her duty by herself and by her country. She has nothing to be ashamed of.

Assuming she can survive what is likely to be a confirmation hearing circus, OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell will soon replace Kathleen Sebelius as the Secretary of Health & Human Services, with responsibility for further implementing the Affordable Care Act. The White House insists that Sebelius submitted her resignation without any prompting, which is likely true. But that doesn't mean she is leaving on fantastic terms.

Nonetheless, the White House is promoting the fact that she overcame the initial problems with the website and actually exceeded enrollment expectations and goals. Basically, they're saying that Sebelius oversaw the HHS Department at a time when approximately ten million people got access to health care they would not otherwise have, and her critics cannot claim to have done anything of similar merit.

Martin Longman

As National Journal's Major Garrett reported, Obama believes that "scaring people with a ceremonial firing deepens fear, turns allies against one another, makes them risk-averse, and saps productivity." Moreover, there was too much to be done to fire one of the few people who knew how to finish the job. Sebelius would stay. The White House wouldn't panic in ways that made it harder to save the law. The evidence has piled up in recent weeks that the strategy worked. Obamacare's first year, despite a truly horrific start, was a success. More than 7 million people look to have signed up for health insurance through the exchanges. Millions more have signed up through Medicaid. And millions beyond that have signed up for insurance through their employers. isn't perfect, but it works.

Ezra Klein

Secretary Sebelius will soon experience a job loss. She will be losing her employer sponsored healthcare shortly. She has two options. The first is to go on Medicare as her exclusive insurance as she is 66 and qualified by age. The second is to COBRA her policy. If she was two years younger, she would have had a third option. She could have gone on the Exchange for an individual policy to bridge her to Medicare eligibility.

These are just two of the many qualifying events that can see people add or change their Exchange based insurnace outside of the normal open enrollment. Qualifying events are major life changes such as marriages, divorces, births, adoptions and deaths of family members, significant employment changes and moving primary residences. People with major qualifying events have thirty days from the event to go on the Exchange, update their information and potentially make a new selection of a new plan that accomodates their new situation better.

Richard Mayhew

The truth is, folks, how many of you have launched a website and had it work perfectly the first day? Zero. Either you've never been faced with such a task, or you have and it didn't go well. Very few people can say they've launched a big site and had it be perfect the first day.

Let me quote from a draft of the new book I'm working on with Strata and Christine ("The Practice of Cloud Administration", due out this autumn):

[Some companies] declare that all outages are unacceptable and only accept perfection. Any time there is an outage, therefore, it must be someone's fault and that person, being imperfect, is fired. By repeating this process eventually the company will only employ perfect people. While this is laughable, impossible, and unrealistic it is the methodology we have observed in many organizations. Perfect people don't exist, yet organizations often adopt strategies that assume they do.

Firing someone "to prove a point" makes for exciting press coverage but terrible IT. Quoting Allspaw, "an engineer who thinks they're going to be reprimanded are disincentivized to give the details necessary to get an understanding of the mechanism, pathology, and operation of the failure. This lack of understanding of how the accident occurred all but guarantees that it will repeat. If not with the original engineer, another one in the future."

… Obama did the right thing by not accepting her resignation until the system was up and running. It would have been disruptive and delayed the entire process. It would have also disincentivized engineers and managers to do the right thing in the future. … What government official has learned the most about doing IT right in the last year? Probably Sebelius. It's a shame she's leaving.

Tom Limoncelli

A medical clinic in Mena, Ark. announced that it would be closing, citing a large drop in need for the clinic as people have signed up for health insurance under Obamacare. "Because people are qualifying for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, our free medical clinic will not be needed anymore," Stacey Bowser, the director of the 9th Street Ministries Clinic, told the Mena Star. "We've gone from seeing around 300 people a month on a regular basis, but as people were enrolling in Obamacare, the numbers we were seeing have dropped. We were down to 80 people that came through the medical clinic in February, all the way down to three people at the medical clinic in March. Our services won't be needed anymore, and this will conclude our mission," she continued.

Caitlin MacNeal
It would be nice, really nice, to have computer-savvy people in the parts of the govt that aren't the NSA. glare

Hillary Clinton is not someone I would normally consider "badass".

"Is that somebody throwing something at me?" Clinton said after the object flew past her on the stage at the Mandalay Bay resort. "Is that part of Cirque de Soleil?" Most in the audience of more than 1,000 people understood the reference to the popular series of Las Vegas Strip shows featuring acrobats, magic and whimsy. "My goodness, I didn't know that solid waste management was so controversial," Clinton laughed. "Thank goodness she didn't play softball like I did."

Brian Spellacy, U.S. Secret Service supervisory special agent in Las Vegas, said the woman in custody was being questioned and would face criminal charges. Spellacy declined to identify the woman.

Ken Ritter
Congrats, unidentified woman: you made Hillary Clinton look cool. wide eyed

If you wish to comment, please do so at the entry itself and not on LJ. Thanks for reading!
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Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure. [Apr. 19th, 2014|08:44 pm]

When our kids were little, they loved Harry Potter, especially Ryan, who has the exact same birthday at Harry.

I never read the books because of reasons, and I only saw the first couple of movies, also because of reasons.

Recently, Anne and I decided that we would finally read the books, and we’re about halfway through the first one (I’m a couple chapters ahead of Anne, because I had some time on an airplane that I spent … wisely).

Yesterday at Wondercon, while we were walking to our panel, I told  Felicia that we were reading the books, and trying to describe to her how much I love them.

“I just … I really want to go to Hogwarts,” I said.

“They’re building one at Universal Studios,” she said.

We passed through a curtain and approached a set of large, closed doors.

“No, I don’t want to go to an amusement park recreation of Hogwarts,” I said, “I want to go to Hogwarts. I want to go to a train station, run though a wall to platform 9 3/4, and take a train to Hogwarts, where I will learn how to be a wizard. I want Hogwarts to be real.

I noticed that she’d taken a subtle step away from me, which was probably a good idea. I was getting excited.

“What house are you?” She said. Our escort opened the doors and led us into an enormous corridor that was over twenty feet high, equally as wide, and a few hundred feet long. Chairs were stacked along one wall, and the other wall had doors in it that granted access to the various meeting rooms where the panels were held.

“I’m pretty sure I’m Ravenclaw,” I said.

“No way, dude. You’re totally a Slytherin.”

“I am not a Slytherin!”

“Yeah, you totally are a Slytherin.” Felicia crunched up her nose and grinned at me. “My brother’s a Slytherin.”

“Dude, I’m going to be Ravenclaw … or maybe Gryffindor. But I really think I’m Ravenclaw.” Our footsteps and voices echoed off the cement floor and walls. I imagined that we were in a castle.

“I’m Ravenclaw,” Felicia said.

“When I get home, I’m taking the test at Pottermore, and I’m going to be Ravenclaw, too.” We arrived at the door for our panel, and waited while the panel before us finished up. We talked a little bit about what we’d make sure to cover on the panel, and I realized that the corridor we’d just walked down was perfect for riding a longboard skateboard.

The previous panel walked out, the room filled up with people who were there to see us, and after a quick Tabletop trailer, we went inside for our panel. It was great.

When I got home last night, I was too tired for taking the sorting hat test at Pottermore, so I took it this morning. I was honest in all of my answers, and spent a fair amount of time thinking about some of the questions. I wasn’t trying to get the house I wanted (and I don’t know enough about Harry Potter to manipulate the results, anyway), so I was incredibly happy (and a little relieved) when I found out that, yes, I was in Ravenclaw.

RavenclawI know it’s a silly thing, and I know I’m a little too old to really care about it, but reading Harry Potter makes me feel like I’m part of something that’s special, that means a lot to a lot of people.

And I know it’s silly to care about what house I’m in … but I’m really glad to be in Ravenclaw, because I have a lot of books I need to read.

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Day 519: Thursday 10 April 2014 by Lord Omlette [Apr. 19th, 2014|03:05 am]

After the End of the World

Work - Those fucking fucks ditched me for lunch after a two fucking hour meeting! Still no review either. angry

Home - Started the next Vector Calculus MMA chapter.


I thought Mars was in opposition yesterday but, as usual, I was wrong. I'll get it right eventually... confused, embarrassed

Comixology provides pull list reminders, so the average nerd will know when to hit up the local comic shop to pick them up... but nerds supporting local business are, by definition, not shopping @, and that makes Jeff Bezos unhappy.

Amazon has just announced that it's acquiring Comixology, the highly successful digital comics platform. … Comixology operates both a comics store and a mobile comics app, which was the top-grossing non-game iPad app last year. It also opened a self-publishing platform in 2013, a tactic Amazon has used extensively on its Kindle platform.

Amazon has played with comics before, offering storyboards for potential films as rough comic series to gauge interest. It's already possible to buy graphic novels for the Kindle. But this marks a major move into the space -- Comixology has managed to make deals with a broad swathe of comics publishers, including Marvel and DC. The purchase also follows Amazon's acquisition of Double Helix Games earlier this year, not long before the announcement of the Fire TV set-top box. It's not clear yet exactly what Amazon plans to do with Comixology, which says its mission will continue to be spreading "the love of comics and graphic novels in all forms."

Adi Robertson
I've loved webcomics since Sluggy Freelance led me to Big Panda, so it's a little weird that I'm not a fan of digital comics. confused, embarrassed

Heartbleed is the exact opposite of good times, but everyone screaming "NSA conspiracy!" doesn't quite get how difficult secure programming is.

Disable Segglemann's RFC520 hearbeat.

I am completely blown away that the same IETF that cannot efficiently allocate needed protocol, service numbers, or other such things when they are needed, can so quickly and easily rubber stamp the addition of a 64K Covert Channel in a critical protocol. The organization should look at itself very carefully, find out how this this happened, and everyone who allowed this to happen on their watch should be evicted from the decision making process. IETF, I don't trust you.


This patch is setting OPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEAT, but openssl actually only disables heartbeats when you set OPENSSL_NO_HEARTBEATS (note trailing S).

Someone should make a thing which does sentiment analysis on commit messages, and flags vitriolic or angry commits as possibly containing more typos than usual.


There are smart people working in the TLS WG, but there are also people there that shouldn't be governing the development of the Internet's most important encrypted transport.

More importantly, the working group appears to be geared towards saying "yes" to new features, when exactly the opposite posture is needed. The Heartbeat feature is just the most obvious example, because its reference implementation was so slapdash.

The weirder thing here is that it would even be controversial or newsworthy to disable TCP TLS heartbeats, a feature nobody needs or really ever asked for. Why was it enabled by default in the first place? What sense did that decision ever make?

So even the best of the best make mistakes knowing full well the consequences of failure. Of course, anyone thinking Theo de Raadt is trying to cover something up needs their fucking head checked. sticking tongue out

Why the fuck is the prison @ Guantanamo Bay still open?

The House Appropriations Committee has proposed a $65 million budget for the creation of a school for the children of Department of Defense officials stationed at Guantanamo Bay. The school would feature dedicated science labs, health offices, art rooms, and a gymnasium. It would be used by 275 children, which means that each child is worth more than $230,000.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and a co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, released a statement condemning the proposal shortly after its introduction. Why? Because Congress appropriated just $55 million for the Bureau of Indian Education schools responsible for the education of roughly 48,000 Native Americans -- which means that each Native American child is worth just $1,145.

… Then again, perhaps it's just another example of the government's willingness to spend much more than it needs while it keeps the Guantanamo Bay prison open. Reuters reported in 2013 that it costs the government $2.7 million per year to keep each of the 164 detainees at the prison -- it would cost just $35,000 per year to detain those prisoners in the United States. The prison isn't just a host to gross human rights violations, including the force feeding and torture of detainees. It's also a financial abyss into which the government keeps tossing money. … McCollum concluded her statement today with a line saying that "this situation is inequality." She couldn't be more right: everything about Guantanamo Bay, from its prison to its school, is a stunning example of inequality, whether it's in the budgets allocated to educating children, the cost of keeping men who were never charged with a crime imprisoned, or prisoners' rights.

Nathaniel Mott
Close the fucking prison, you fucking fucks, and don't fucking complain about defecits and debt until you do. angry

Once upon a time, two brothers from Chechnya detonated pressure cookers @ the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The Russian government declined to provide the F.B.I. with information about one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that would most likely have led to more extensive scrutiny of him at least two years before the attack, according to an inspector general's report.

Russian officials had told the F.B.I. in 2011 that the suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, "was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer" and that Mr. Tsarnaev "had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country's region to join unspecified underground groups."

But after an initial investigation by the F.B.I., the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Mr. Tsarnaev, according to the report, a review of how intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing.

At the time, American law enforcement officials believed that Mr. Tsarnaev posed a far greater threat to Russia.

The new inspector general's report found that it was only after the bombing occurred last April that the Russians shared with the F.B.I. the additional intelligence, including information from a telephone conversation the Russian authorities had intercepted between Mr. Tsarnaev and his mother in which they discussed Islamic jihad.

Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt

Gotta hand it to the FBI. Fuck up massively, get the IG to blame Russia for it, and then demand more power. That's a true natsec hat-trick.


Hey, let's not forget the NYT's contribution here. As if Judy Miller had never left.


Also too, if only our Local Heroes had been given the authority to read more Americans' emails and riffle through more American drawers, everything would have been different and better. … Yeah, good luck convincing us about that, guys. The FBI does not have a sterling reputation in these parts. And there are persistent rumors that the heroic local Waltham police force missed a chance to get Tamerlane Tsarnaev off the streets months before the bombing, either because the FBI warned them off or just that 'nobody cared about a couple drug dealers getting iced'. Even our local law'n'order tabloid, the Boston Herald, could not find it in their hearts to wave the Security Theatre flag

There is nothing about the whole Tsarnaev saga that doesn't stink, and the repercussions will probably last at least as long as the search for Whitey Bulger. But pretending that "more surveillance" would've kept a badly damaged immigrant with a family history of failure and too many murky ties to the security forces of at least three nations from reading bad stuff on the interwebs is just bass-akwards. There are certainly any number of turning points which don't lead to dead and wounded innocents on a sunny April day, but all of them would have involved using information already available to better effect.

Anne Laurie
It really is weird how everyone cheering the deep security state excels at switching the subject when someone points out these people have no idea what the fuck they're doing. The Boston Marathon bombing was entirely preventable, but Edward Snowden is hiding in Russia, so I guess that makes it OK? Happy Anniversary. glare

If you wish to comment, please do so at the entry itself and not on LJ. Thanks for reading!
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"Must Be The End Times" - Sat, 19 Apr 2014 [Apr. 19th, 2014|12:00 am]

Must Be The End Times
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News Post: Hearthstone [Apr. 18th, 2014|10:49 pm]

Gabe: I’ve been playing a few hours of Hearthstone every day of my vacation. During the day while the kids are playing in the sand or after they go to bed while I’m out on the porch. The soothing sound of the ocean waves is the only thing that has kept me from snapping the iPad in half and tossing it into the water. That might make it sound like I don’t like the game and that’s not true. I actually really like it a lot. I should hate it. I should have stopped playing it days ago and I should delete it from the iPad but I haven’t done that. I haven’t done that…
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Baldur's Gate: Google Play [Apr. 17th, 2014|12:00 am]

Forced to leave your home under mysterious circumstances, you find yourself drawn into a conflict that has the Sword Coast on the brink of war. An iron shortage of unknown origin threatens to plunge the city of Baldur’s Gate into conflict with Amn. Meanwhile, there is something else at work, far more sinister than you can even begin to fathom...
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On The Myth Of “Being Inoffensive” [Apr. 18th, 2014|12:36 pm]


Yesterday, I wrote about how it takes some training to learn to shrug off insults, and said this:

“Speak carefully. Try to be kind. And don’t be a dick unless it’s your last choice.”

To which one commenter replied:

“Rather than attempt to tailor speech to be inoffensive (which is a neverending race to the bottom), we should be equipping people with the tools to handle a world where people disagree with them.”

I’m sorry – when did I say inoffensive? Christ, I offend people all the time.

I wrote “Dear Daughter: I Hope You Have Some Fucking Awesome Sex,” which was read by millions. It offended tons of conservatives, took parents off-guard, shocked hundreds of religious groups.

Did I set out to not offend them? No.

I wrote All Women And Never Men: A Rant On A Polyamory I Dislike, about the one-penis policy and how it’s usually (though not invariably, I hesitate to add) sexism and selfishness wrapped into a package that a lot of women ultimately come to regret. I still get angry letters on that one.

I wrote Can I Buy You A Coffee? and its follow-up essay, which talked about how colossally rude it is to hit on women and then pretend you were just trying to do them a favor. Pissed off a lot of guys on that one. Men’s Rights Advocates aren’t too fond of me, either.

And look through my archives! I’ve said lots of things that have deeply offended my liberal buddies, my conservative buddies, my religious buddies, my atheist pals. You’ll find thousands of comments from people who not just disagreed, but were actively enraged at what I had to say.

And you know what?

I chose to offend them.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written tons of essays where I fucked up and said something inadvertently offensive, mainly because I didn’t understand transgender issues, or kink-related issues, or some subtle form of politics. And I’ve written lots more essays where I meant to say, “Hey, I’m in favor of this” and wrote it so badly that I appeared to be me criticizing that, and that’s my piss-poor words rising up to rightfully bite me.

But with each of my better essays, I thought carefully: Who will this offend? And I quickly devised a list of the sorts of people who I thought this would piss off…

…and I was okay with it.

If some conservative father who never wants his daughter to have sex gets pissed off, then I’ve accepted that as a cost of doing business. If some douchey pick-up artist takes offense when I tell him how he’s manipulating women, sorry, but it’s what I believe.

If some couple who’ve been perfectly happy in their one-penis policy is mad because they’re different from all of those other OPP people, well, I feel a little bad, but I couldn’t figure out a way to get ‘em out of the line of fire.

If I use the phrase “Girl Drink Drunk” to discuss my love of flavored vodka, I’ll undoubtedly annoy a couple of my feminist friends who don’t like the genderification of drinks – and, more importantly, don’t love classic Kids in the Hall sketches the way I do. But I pondered that, weighed their annoyance as comparatively light versus my amusement at the term, and chose to offend a little.

But note in each of those cases: I’m usually aware of what I’m doing, and making a conscious choice. (And if enough of my friends really get bent out of shape about the Girl Drink Drunk bit, then maybe I recalculate the equation. Maybe I don’t. Times change.)

So no. I’m not trying to erase all offense from the universe. I’m trying to say that I make decisions, weighing my free speech versus how upset someone’s going to get versus how legitimate I feel their offense is, and making a judgment call. In others, I say things more nicely to cushion the blow.  In some cases, I don’t say things because I think it’d hurt people’s feelings for no good reason.

(NOTE: You may not be able to avoid hurting people’s feelings when you’re speaking the truth as you see it.  But when you start hoping to hurt people’s feelings as part of an essay? That’s when you’ve become a dick.)

And there are times I just go off on those I’ve decided I don’t give a rat’s ass about.  Point is, I offend all the fucking time. It’s impossible to do comedy without offending. It’s impossible to make legitimate changes without offending.

I just try to offend as part of a greater plan, is all.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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Forgotten savages.... [Apr. 18th, 2014|10:46 am]

[Current Mood |indifferentinsecure]
[Current Music |Ms Mr - Bones]

Trying to find that balance between being there for some one and absorbing their problems and emotions as my own... not an easy thing. I'm overly empathetic sometimes and tend to take on problems I shouldn't be taking on, and soak up emotions that have no business being mine.

So I'm trying to NOT do that, even when it's tempting... it ends up being exhausting to the point where I have no energy to take care of myself. Right now it's easy because I'm being pulled in a few directions so managing to stay in the middle is doable.

But then I worry I'm sometimes pulling away TOO much, and I'm not emotionally available to people I love.

Ugh. This "maturing" and "growing" thing is a pain in the ass - but, it never ends... and I'm actually truthfully grateful for that, I never want to feel stagnant. But still! :P
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Twist vs. McFarlane, Part 2 [Apr. 18th, 2014|11:00 am]

digresssmlOriginally published August 11, 2000, in Comics Buyer’s Guide #1395

When last we left our hero, Todd McFarlane, he was fretting outside a St. Louis courtroom after a St. Louis jury had awarded $24.5 million to former hockey player Tony Twist after McFarlane appropriated Twist’s name for a thuggish mobster in the pages of Spawn. “I thought that ‘law’ was sort of short for ‘logic,’” said Todd. “That just got blown out of the water.”

Understandably so. “Law,” according to my dictionary, derives from an Old Norse word, “log,” that means, “Something set down.” You know, like, “Captain’s Log.” “Logic,” derived from the word “logos” is something else entirely. So when the jury (described by McFarlane devotee Erik Larsen as a “pack of stupid hicks”) dropped a log on Todd, he was completely unprepared for it. Indeed, according to St. Louis columnist Bill McClellan, Todd was already contemplating his next “victim.” Wrote McClellan, “If the jury decides he can just use somebody’s name without authorization, I think I know the identity of one of his future characters. Every now and then, the cartoonist casts a wistful glance at Twist’s attorney. His name is Bob Blitz.”

Damn, that is a good name for a lawyer, isn’t it. Much less entertaining is the name of the Image lawyer, Michael Kahn, who according to reports, “noted that an appeal was certain. ‘To use a hockey metaphor, this is Game One,’ Kahn said.”

I have no doubt. Just as I have no doubt that the $24.5 million award will not stand. The figure was arrived at due to the testimony of a St. Louis University marketing expert, Brian Till, who opined that Twist should receive 20 percent of the total Spawn revenue of $120 million. However, the award comes across to me as punitive, and the judge specifically told the jury that they could not factor in punitive damages.

Nevertheless, Todd and his supporters are crying that Todd’s First Amendment rights are being violated, and that this will have a chilling effect on the creative community. I hope that the irony of Todd rolling out the First Amendment is not lost on anyone. Arguably the industry’s wealthiest talent, Todd McFarlane has never directly contributed so much as a single dime to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the main means by which artists and entrepreneurs with considerably less money than McFarlane withstand assaults by assorted pressure groups who want to put them out of business… either for creating that which they find meaningful, or else selling same to perfectly willing buyers.

Granted McFarlane Toys has contributed assorted limited edition toys and such to the CBLDF in order to garner money at auctions, and that’s nice as far as it goes. But let’s face it, we’re talking about a guy who could wipe out the CBLDF’s current debt load with a stroke of a pen, and as an individual Todd has been rather silent on the issue of not being hassled while pursuing one’s muse… until now, of course.

Technically, the case was not a libel issue. It was about unauthorized appropriation of the name of Tony Twist, whose hockey-playing career was ended last August when a motorist allegedly drove into the path of Twist’s Harley-Davidson. But let’s not kid a kidder: Libel was the subtext that drove this boat. Part of McFarlane’s defense was that he names other characters in Spawn after real people. Yeah, sure. Except that the people he likes are heroes (long-time friend Al Simmons, for instance) while the people he dislikes are thugs and KKK members, so, y’know, pull the other one, Todd. Another part of his defense was to claim on the stand that, according to reports, “he may have named ‘Twist’ after a long-ago mob figure nicknamed ‘Kid Twist.’” Now hicks the St. Louis jury may or may not have been, but even hicks can read. And Todd stated flatly everywhere, from letters pages to Wizard magazine, that Twist was named after the hockey player. Lying during testimony in a civil case is generally frowned upon unless you’re the Commander-in-Chief and there’s sex involved. And giving the comic book Twist a bookkeeper named Joe Sakic, the name of a Quebec Nordique player and former teammate of the hockey player Twist, certainly didn’t help Todd’s newly revised story over Twist’s origins. Or was the jury to believe that there was an infamous accountant named Sakic lurking in the pages of crime history?

As I said earlier, although it wasn’t a libel case… it was. Because if Todd had named a heroic figure after Twist (say, a detective character who was called Tony Twist because he was capable of unraveling twisted mysteries) I doubt the real Twist would have had a case. He probably wouldn’t even have sued. But no, Todd had to name an obese villain (obesity and villainy go hand-in-hand in the Toddverse) Tony Twist, thereby providing the jury an opportunity to watch six straight episodes of the Spawn animated series with the evil Twist doing his dirty work. Just being forced to watch Todd’s intros to those, in which he comes across like the love child of Rod Serling and Taxi’s Reverend Jim, would be enough to drive any jury to find against him on aesthetic principles alone. But added to that was a videotaped deposition of Sean Phillips, vice president for a nutrition and dietary supplement outfit in Golden, Colorado. Phillips stated that the Spawn Twist prompted his company, Experimental and Applied Sciences, Inc., to withdraw a potentially lucrative endorsement offer to Twist. Granted, Twist had the hometown advantage, and some of the jurors got autographs for him after the trial, calling their bias (or lack thereof) into question. But star-struck jurors are an occupational hazard in such celebrity cases, and besides, Todd left an evidentiary trail the size of the Mekong Delta.

Sure, sure, technically it’s not a libel case. But this case involved reckless disregard for the truth… associating someone’s good name with criminal activities… smearing him or her to family and friends (Twist testified how he learned of the character’s existence from his distraught mother. Oy!) …and the work in question costing the plaintiff money. If it walks, talks and quacks like a duck, chances are if it’s not a duck, it’s damned close. A letter writer to this column last week suggested it might go to the Supreme Court. I hope not, because if this thing gets reviewed by the Supreme Court while Mike Diana still struggles under the most onerous anti-First Amendment ruling in recent memory, then Todd is definitely right about one thing: There is no justice.

And the really sad thing is, Todd and his pals still don’t get it.

Erik Larsen—who just had to fire off some parting broadsides at Harlan Ellison and myself in his final issue of Aquaman—is helping to take McFarlane’s case to the public. Erik is sounding alarms that, if this decision stands, “all hell will break loose” as he envisions scenarios in which O.J. Simpson can sue Mad magazine or the old friend after whom John Byrne is said to have named “Kitty Pryde” can go after Marvel. So quick, gang, let’s rally around Todd, Erik et al because otherwise we’re all doing down the chute. To which I can only respond with Tonto’s immortal words, “Whattaya mean ‘we,’ paleface?”

Send-ups of O.J. are easily defensible under parody and fair-use. The “real” Kitty Pryde gets to see her namesake portrayed heroically, and even gets bragging rights during one scene in the X-Men movie. Usurping someone’s name, turning them into a repulsive supporting character and thinking you can do so in perpetuity is something else again.

No matter what Todd, Erik and whoever else may think, this is not a First Amendment issue. This is a “You Shouldn’t Be a Peckerhead” issue. This is what happens when you’re a bully. Bullies challenge the nerdy guy to a fight (or a debate), or offer the smart British guy money to do their homework for them (or create characters) and then renege on the deal. Or they pick on people and pick on them and pick on them until the teacher or principal or the student council slaps them down, at which point they stand there, hands spread, shocked “Who me?” expressions on their faces as they say, “Wha–? Wha–? What did I do?”

“Even if you wish Todd ill—you don’t want this,” quoth Erik Larsen. You know what? I don’t wish Todd ill. A good-selling comic benefits everyone, as does a quality comic book film. And he does produce damned good looking toys. I still believe the $24.5 million decision isn’t going to stand up, but if nothing else, it should serve as a deafening wake-up call to Todd that it’s time to leave the bully boy attitude behind, because what’s going to happen is exactly what did happen: You run into someone who’s an even bigger bully than you are, and you get your face tap danced on.

And sadly enough, I suspect he won’t get it. Not he, nor Larsen. It’ll be, “Oh, well, Peter David hates Image and us. Everyone knows that.” Except it’s not true. But ya know what, guys? If I ever do decide to hate you instead of just feel sorry for you…

I’ll know better than to name a couple of KKK members after you. Or a criminal. I mean… how dumb does one have to be to do that? Even a pack of stupid hicks would see right through that one.

(Peter David, writer of stuff, can be written to at Second Age, Inc., PO Box 239, Bayport, NY 11705.)


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Eight out of ten ain’t bad. [Apr. 18th, 2014|07:01 am]

So I made good on my promise…well, my passing whim, at any rate…and dug deep into the back issue bins at the store to pull out a set of the 1970s Charlton run of E-Man. Most of it, at any rate. We had several copies of some issues, in a wide range of conditions, but alas, issues 8 and 10 were not to be found. Sure, I could have settled for the reprints of those original issues First published later, but given the choice, I’m going for the older books, what with the swell covers and the tanned pages and the terrible ads and what have you.

I’m not much of a stickler for condition; so long as they don’t fall apart in my hands or smell like gasoline I’m okay. Most of these were in the Very Good to Fine range, and the worst condition copy was #2, which was in Good (i.e. “the eBay ‘Fine Plus’”):

Speaking of the eBay, it’s probably to the Internet auctionings I go to fill out the run, unless I’ve got #8 and #10 hiding in the backroom of the shop somewhere (and given the “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” state of the backroom, it’s not unlikely).

It does look like we have all of the First Comics series, and then things get a tad complicated after that, looking at the Wikipedia page. Then there’s all the Mike Mauser stuff, Mauser being a private detective supporting character in E-Man and having his own back-up series in Charlton’s Vengeance Squad. I think we have those at the shop, but those are also reprinted along with the original E-Man stories by First Comics, and that series also has some previously unpublished work and now I’m thinking I should have just taken home the reprints instead.

AAARGH. Now I’m waffling. I may bring back the originals and go for the reprints. But the originals have the cool Ditko back-ups. Man, these big decisions are the worst. I’m going to end up buying both versions and hating myself. LOOK WHAT YOU’VE MADE ME DO.

There was also a series teaming up Mike Mauser with Ms. Tree, Ms. Tree being a series I did read and I tell you right now, without checking my inventory list, I couldn’t tell you with any confidence whether or not I own that mini. I’ve seen it at the shop plenty of times, but my memory tells me I didn’t pick it up because I wasn’t familiar or just indifferent to Mauser, but my collector-fanboy-sense tells me I did pick it up because it’s a Ms. Tree tie-in. I have no idea. Okay, hold on for a second, I’ll check.

[tempus fugit]

Looks like I don’t have ‘em. Well, I guess if reading E-Man is going to turn me into a Mike Mauser completist, I guess I’d better pick those up at some point, too and fill out that Ms. Tree collection at the same time.

Now, all I have to do is find time to read all these. I’m sure that’ll be no problem. I’ve almost made it through #1!

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Comic: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Five [Apr. 18th, 2014|07:01 am]

New Comic: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Five
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News Post: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Five [Apr. 18th, 2014|07:01 am]

Tycho: The Night Of A Thousand Hours: Wayrest Chapel (In the adventure proper, there’s a werewolf or two.  In another of my awesome, helpful notes, there is a single two-word line that says Cur’s Wort which is a plant Nature checks reveal to be considered protection against the creatures.  But this dude is a bad-ass, and one of the ways you can tell is that he doesn’t care.) “The church itself is lit within by a combination of torches, red candles, and glowing orbs of unknown manufacture.  Lights pours out the windows, a bringing to mind a lantern, or a…
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Comic: 04/18/14 [Apr. 18th, 2014|04:00 am]

Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.
Comic for 04/18/14

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"Return of Criminy" - Fri, 18 Apr 2014 [Apr. 18th, 2014|12:00 am]

Return of Criminy
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(no subject) [Apr. 17th, 2014|09:42 pm]

[Current Mood |amusedamused]

I need to use this to reply to most everything I see ever.

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tabletop season three [Apr. 17th, 2014|07:45 pm]

How busy have I been? So busy that I forgot to write a blog about TableTop Season 3, and how you can help make it happen.

tl;dr: We’re crowdfunding Tabletop’s 3rd season. We’ve raised $500,000, so we can afford to do 15 episodes. If we get to $750,000, we’ll have enough to do 20 episodes (like seasons one and two), and if we get to one million dollars, we can afford to do the RPG spin off that I’ve wanted to do for years (a season-long campaign, cut into about 20 or so 40-minute-ish episodes with the same players, characters, and GM).

Here’s a spiffy video I made about it:

(Don’t read the comments; they will make you mad. Or, if you’re me, they’ll make you sad, because a lot of people don’t understand television production, and how much shows cost, so they yell at you a lot, based on presumptions that turn out to be wrong.)

Because we’re going completely independent , we can do some things we’ve always wanted to do, like an episode that’s me, Anne, and our kids. We’re also going to do a special episode that’s just a game or two for children, played with children, because thousands of people have asked me what I recommend they play with their kids.

We’re also going to do the SUPER DIRTY and PROFOUNDLY INAPPROPRIATE “TableTop After Dark” episode, where we play Cards Against Humanity. There may be beer and a couple of dirty comedians involved. This will be the episode that likely makes the world hate me forever.

We have a bunch of perks for people who choose to contribute various amounts to our effort, but I want to be really clear that we’re making Tabletop for everyone who loves it, whether they can give us zero or infinity dollars.

I’m not entirely positive when we’ll be filming the first 10 episodes, but I know we’re going to try to get them done soon, so we can release them later this summer. A lot of that schedule is going to be determined by how busy I am with The Wil Wheaton Project.

There have been a lot of FAQs about this campaign, so we did our best to answer them in the standard way:

Why are you going Independent?

Felicia: Geek and Sundry (and Tabletop) up until now was funded by YouTube’s original channel initiative, which is not continuing to go forward anymore. We have been talking to a bunch of partners and are excited about some of our options to continue G&S as a company, but Wil (and we) were passionate about being able to keep Tabletop on schedule to release more episodes this year, and stay independent of influence to change the show for sponsor/commercial reasons. That is why we are fundraising like this.

Wil: We want to make the same TableTop that we’ve made for two seasons, and give our audience something that we’re proud of, and we wanted to do that without compromising our vision for the show. The quickest and most reliable way to make that happen was to go directly to the people who love TableTop as much as we do, and ask them to help us make our third season as awesome as our first two.

Why are you asking for so much money?

Felicia: This show is a standout for a reason: We pay professional people to make it. It’s polished and stands next to TV show quality because we wanted to make something long-lasting, and impact in a big way, like a TV show when we conceived it. To put it in perspective: The average 30 second commercial you see on TV? Costs 1-3 million dollars. EACH. The average 1/2 hour comedy? 2-3 million dollars. Shows like Game of Thrones? 7-9 million dollars. PER EPISODE.

We are doing a minimum of fifteen, 30 minute shows for a fraction of ONE TV SHOW. If you put it in that perspective, we are definitely not paying people professional rates to work on it. I do a lot of low budget web videos (to help do shows like TableTop, actually), and I think the ones that last beyond that moment of consumption are the ones that have budgets, that people tend to enjoy over and over. My goal always has been to show the established TV world that people can work outside the system and compete with their business, Tabletop is our best example of that, just like The Guild before us. We are doing this show for the minimum we can do it and keep up what we have established before us.

Wil: This is a question that I wasn’t expecting, and I feel really stupid for not explaining this more in advance. I’ve lived in the film and television industry my whole life, and I’ve been an active producer on TableTop for 40 episodes, so I know how much it costs to make an average show, and how much it costs to make our show. Let me be clear right away: we’re not getting rich off TableTop. In fact, if TableTop was my only job, I wouldn’t be able to support my family for even one year. That said, to anyone who does not live in the film and television world, i completely understand a sense of ‘sticker shock’ upon hearing that this YouTube show needs half a million dollars to produce fifteen episodes.

This week, I’m doing an episode of The Big Bang Theory, When it’s all finished and cut together, it’ll be about 22 minutes (approximately the same length as the average episode of TableTop), and it’ll cost several million dollars to produce. If you do a strict math problem, you’ll see that we do fifteen (or 20 if/when we get there) episodes of TableTop – 33 minutes, at least, that’s 660 minutes of TableTop – for less than the cost of a single 22 minute episode of network television.

We put everything we have into TableTop, because we love it, and we push our budget to its maximum limited so the show that we put out on YouTube can stand next to anything you see on Broadcast or Cable, and I’ll keep doing that as long as we can. I also want to make one thing really clear: we’re incredibly grateful – I am personally – incredibly grateful and honored by the contributions we’ve been given by the TableTop community. I know that you’re trusting us to keep doing what we’ve been doing, and I’m going to honor that trust by making the very best show we can possibly make.

Will TableTop still be free to watch? Do I have to donate to see it?

Wil: It will absolutely be free to watch. And now that we are completely independent, we aren’t limited to broadcasting on YouTube, so we’ll be able to make Tabletop available to even more people in even more ways, as we release season three.

Felicia: You do not have to donate, we appreciate it so much if you choose to do so, and understand if you don’t. It will still be free and watchable by you if we make our fundraising goal.

So there you have it. Tabletop Season Three is guaranteed at least 15 episodes, and we’re feeling pretty optimistic that we’ll get to 20. I think it’s a longer shot that we make it to the RPG show, but Tabletop fans keep surprising me, so maybe I’m more uncertain than I should be.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us, and PLAY MORE GAMES!

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(no subject) [Apr. 17th, 2014|10:00 am]

Birthday on the 28th.

My Wish List

Paypal is shingadinga (at)

I like things and money (mostly for things like bills and food but generally if I get enough on my birthday I actually do spend at least a bit on fun things).

As of right now I have no solid plans for my birthday outside of a scheduled massage that morning - birthday is on a Monday so I need to make an extra effort in making sure the day is not balls. ;)
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The Myth Of “Nobody Can Make You Feel Bad Without Your Permission” [Apr. 17th, 2014|09:31 am]


There’s a common sentiment that goes, “Nobody can make you feel bad without your permission” – generally trotted out when someone’s been hurt by a mean thing that someone said.

The idea, I believe, is that we are all rational, robot-like beings who can control our emotions – and thus if we get upset by someone’s assholic statements, we have chosen to be upset. We could have shrugged it off instead.

Problem is, people don’t work that way.

Now, first off, “shrugging off other people’s insults and accusations” is a learned skill. If you’ve ever raised a kid, you know most of them don’t come pre-baked with the “Eh, whatever” switch – if you yell at them, they cry. If other kids make fun of them, they get upset. Actually placing the “Okay, they’re mocking you, but do you respect their opinion?” switch in place is a process that takes years, requires a healthy ego on the kid’s part, and isn’t 100% successful.

So expecting everyone to have that skill is kinda jerky. Admittedly, it’s a vital skill that everyone should actively cultivate – without it, abusers can emotionally manipulate you into the most awful of situations by pressing your “guilt” button whenever you complain about valid stuff.

But not everyone had nice parents. Not everyone’s discovered how to interrupt their emotions with logic. And as such, sneering, “Well, you chose to feel bad”isn’t actually true. They have yet to develop a barrier between the onrush of primal feelings and the rationality to say, “Wait, no, that’s actually something I shouldn’t feel.”

You might want to start that long discussion of how to get to the point where they can shove off that tidal wave of sadness with a cold freeze of logic… but that’s not how this is used. Instead, the “Nobody can make you feel bad…” argument is generally wielded as a club to make it the victim’s fault when someone decided to be an asshole at them.

Yet hey! What about me? I’ve been on the Internets for years. I’ve received death threats. I’ve had hundreds of blog-entries devoted to what a jerk I am, entire forum-threads of vitriol. Some people loathe me personally, and they’ve never met me – and yet I’m still posting my opinions daily.

So as one of the most thick-skinned people I know, I clearly understand how nobody can make me feel bad without my permission, right? Otherwise I’d just be shivering in a closet.


What I know is that I can shut down those bad feelings that come when someone chucks a nastygram in my direction - but it takes me effort to do so.

I think of it as walking to the store. Under normal circumstances, I’ll get to where I’m going. But with the right insult, some asshole can drop a fifty-pound weight in my backpack. I’ll still get to the store, but thanks to their jerktasticness, it’s a fuck of a lot more effort.

And if I was low on energy that day? Or in a rush to get somewhere?

Lord, those insults can fuck up my day, whether I wanted them to or not.

And that’s not me saying that human interaction should be scrubbed of all potentially harmful content. Some people do get butthurt incredibly easily, and I think there’s a point at which you have to make the decision that this person’s rigid boundaries are going to hem in your speech to unacceptable levels, and blow them off.

(Some people don’t read me because they’re offended by my swearing. I support their right to unfriend me in order to protect their sanity, but stopping? Fuck that noise.)

But when you say, “Well, nobody can make you feel bad without your permission!”, that sets up a world where you have no responsibility for your speech. Were you digging for weak spots, mocking to make a point? Oh, hey, well, you were trying your damndest to make them feel bad, but if it worked it’s their fault for not having sufficient defenses. It’s not 100% correlation, but when I see “Nobody can make you feel bad!” I usually find a taunting dillweed nearby, taking potshots from the brush and then claiming no responsibility.

No. You may not be able to make someone feel bad, but you sure as fuck can make them burn strength they were planning to use for other projects that day. So speak carefully. Try to be kind. And don’t be a dick unless it’s your last choice.

It won’t hurt to be a little nicer, man. I promise.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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News: Pete is a Dummy [Apr. 11th, 2014|04:00 am]

I've been making so many mistakes with this Mohkdaun story that it's making me relatively angry with myself. I sometimes wonder if I just can't handle the breadth and scope of my creation. This here is one of them days.

So last Thursday (April 10th) I have Torg blurt out, in response to the unbelievable coincidence Wilcott was providing: "So you expect me to believe Riff is related to the Mohkadun God of Justice, my pet bunny is the Mohkadun God of Power, and we’re all called Sluggy Freelance? Seriously?"

I've established there is a connection between Torg, Riff, and Bun-bun, all three being somehow tied to the name 'Sluggy'. but I didn't reveal the origination of 'Freelance'.  You could read between the lines as Riff was a Freelancer H-C Scientist, and Torg was a Freelance webdesigner. But what of Bun-bun?
So that was my mistake. At this point of the story Torg should have only said 'Sluggy', not 'Sluggy Freelance', based on what he knows and what you all know. I know something different.

So the short version is I've already retconned the comic so now Torg only says "Sluggy." you'll understand why I wrote "Freelance" soon enough.

retconned comic

In other news, the awesome Clay Yount has started a new comic called Hamlet's Danish. This is great news, as, I miss Clay's sense of humor. In fact it makes me wish I could get out from under the trials and tribulations that Sluggy Freelance has been under since bROKEN, and get back to it's humor roots. And reaching the end of the Mohkadun storyline (with as few mistakes as possible in these last few weeks) I hope will open a door to that possibility!

For full disclosure, I should add that some days I do NOT find myself hating my mistakes during Mohkadun and dying to get back to the humor side of Sluggy Freelance. Somedays I'mma doin' jess fine.

Kiki Speaks Truth ot Power
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Comic: 04/17/14 [Apr. 17th, 2014|04:00 am]

Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.
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Hi [Apr. 16th, 2014|09:38 pm]

I'm still alive, in case you were wondering.
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"The Drones Are Back" - Thu, 17 Apr 2014 [Apr. 17th, 2014|12:00 am]

The Drones Are Back
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DnDClassics New Releases [Apr. 15th, 2014|12:00 am]

This one-stop-shop for D&D content offers an easy way to access and download favorite classic titles electronically by computer, mobile phone, or tablet (including iPads). Coming to DnDClassics this week...
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The Novel Cupcakes [Apr. 16th, 2014|09:42 am]


These are Novel Cupcakes.


Because I sold my first novel, Gini bought me a dozen cupcakes from my favorite cupcake store and we get to eat them one by one to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

Only Gini gets to eat them with me.  Because I could not have done it without her.

And that’s what success tastes like.

You will hear of this no more; no cupcake reviews, no discussing what flavors each of those twelve delicious cupcakes turned out to be.

Because some things we do? They’re not meant to be shared with the Internet.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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I Don’t Feel Guilty About My Privilege. Here’s What I Do Feel. [Apr. 16th, 2014|09:20 am]


Yesterday, I wrote about all the hidden privileges that allowed me to sell my first novel.  I still had to put in years of effort, don’t get me wrong, but I had a lot of advantages – being healthy, being financially stable, having the right support group – that let me close the deal when others might not have.

And several conservative friends of mine said something along the lines of, “Yeah, I have those advantages, but I don’t feel guilty about them.”

Which is strange.  I don’t feel guilty, either.  I’m not sure why they’d think I would feel guilty.

I feel a deep duty.

See, when confronted with the idea of privilege, my conservative friends invariably bristle and go, “Well, hard work counts for something.  Real people suck it up and triumph whatever the odds.” To which I inevitably think, “Yes, but is that an excuse to keep handing people shitty odds if we can do something to level the playing field?”

Yes, the human spirit is lovely and noble and inspiring.  But if we can do something to, say, ensure that black kids have an equal chance to white kids, so that both children putting in the same effort will have the same odds of success, why not do that?  Chronically ill people have it hard enough in life without further raining hell down upon them with bills and paperwork – why not try to fix that?

Why are we saying that people should triumph over the odds when we have the power to adjust the odds?

Note that I don’t feel responsible.  Some poor people are poor because they’re lazy, and to heck with them.  I’ve known some chronically ill people who used their illness as an excuse to shirk every responsibility.  I am not, despite how my words may be twisted, feeling any sense of need to save everybody.

But I feel that if people work hard and clever, that work should be rewarded as consistently as possible.  And the simplistic conservative equation of “You work hard, you win” is not borne out anywhere in nature.  There are plenty of people who work their asses off and, thanks to luck or circumstance, fail and fail hard.  Working hard is your best shot at success, but to reduce that to “Work hard and win” is like telling someone if they play the odds they’ll always beat the casinos.

No.  For some very hard-working people, the odds are tilted against them, handed many difficulties that I do not experience and may not even be aware of… and I feel strongly that if those people wish to work their ass off just the way that I did, they should be rewarded proportionately.  Some of those things I can’t fix; not everyone can stay at home programming, like I do.  Some people gotta load cargo.  But there are other factors, such as the way society reacts to me being white, or the lessons I learned about working smart that I got only because I was born into an upper-middle-class family, that I can attempt to patch up.

I don’t feel a goddamned scrap of guilt over my privilege, because what I got I also worked hard for.  Rather, I feel a duty to erase the challenges that I didn’t face, so that everyone has an equal shot at success.

And yes, that’s a battle that I can never win; there will always be inequalities popping up somewhere.  But that’s the nature of any good fight; you’ll never extinguish evil in all its forms, but that’s no reason to never try.  We keep fighting because it’s worth it, and tossing generations of people into the meatgrinder with a shrug of “Hard work will triumph!” is callous.

If you really respect hard work, you want everyone to benefit from it.  And to do that, try to ensure that effort pays off as frequently as it possibly can.

At least that’s how it is to me.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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Comic: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Four [Apr. 16th, 2014|07:01 am]

New Comic: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Four
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News Post: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Four [Apr. 16th, 2014|07:01 am]

Tycho: The Night Of A Thousand Hours: Escape (It’s frankly a dangerous business in the DMing game to write as much as I did back then.  I don’t really do that anymore, which is a lie.  I lied right there.  I just like writing, and it’s hard to stop.  I would say the hardest part about writing the Lookouts book is that there are no breaks for players to interject.  I like to leave a lot of “room” and I’m trying to figure out how leaving room works when I have the tiller of the entire narrative.  Oh, by the way, the streets are full of…
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I swear to God, this is something that actually happened. [Apr. 16th, 2014|07:01 am]

I posted a few scans from my mini-comics works on the Twitters the other night, some of which I’ve probably featured on this site at one time or another and I will eventually track down and link to with my new “wood eye” category. (Wood-Eye being, of course, the name of the anthology comic most of my mini-comics appeared in.)

After doing Wood-Eye for a few years, in 1998 I put together a solo book reprinting my strips from that anthology along with new strips. That book was called Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin, which is where this website got its name. (You can read more about my mini-comic days, and see a wee tiny scan of the cover for that book, in my very first anniversary post.)

Anyway, one of those new strips was the following, which isn’t so much based on a true story as an exact transcription, and I don’t think I’ve posted it online before, but if so, here it is again:

I was between finals, walking from one building to another on the UC Santa Barbara campus, when that fella came up and said that very thing to me. I had about 40 cents in my pocket, which I handed over to him because you know, what the heck, and now, a couple of decades later, I’m posting a comic strip I drew about it on my website. 40 CENTS WELL SPENT, SEZ I.

Kinda wish I still had that little “Evils of Money” pamphlet. Wonder what happened to it?

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Comic: 04/16/14 [Apr. 16th, 2014|04:00 am]

Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.
Comic for 04/16/14

Well today was actually a Personal Day as I didn’t get any work done but I had no time to anyway! Sorry about that, hopefully something good to show tomorrow. And happy day-after-tax-day!

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(no subject) [Apr. 15th, 2014|11:16 pm]

[Current Mood |sleepysleepy]

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Ommurk's Sly Disaster [Apr. 16th, 2014|12:00 am]

Eels. What do they have to do with disasters and slyness? Perhaps you should find out in this week's Forging the Realms.
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Day 518: Wednesday 9 April 2014 by Lord Omlette [Apr. 16th, 2014|03:04 am]

After the End of the World

Work - meetings meeting meetings. No time to catch up on the blog. confused, embarrassed

For lunch, CEO took us + R to Tony Boloney's new Hoboken location. Last time R & I went, we weren't impressed, but the CEO told them "make some subs, chop it up", so we got to sample much more of the menu. Going in a large group is the only way to do it. victory!  love and peace!

More meetings. cry

For dinner, CEO took us to Ruth's Chris Steak House. I felt badly underdressed. In fact, the CEO walked to Weehawken (!!!) from our office while we were fucking around in our IDEs. When we realized how long he'd been gone, we raced over but he nearly beat us there. Food was great, coconut shrimp, spinach, mashed potatoes, and then steak. Steak served so hot they warn you not to touch the plate, and to give it a minute or so to not burn your tongue. We ordered a couple bottles of wine, and I snuck in an extra cocktail because I sure as fuck wasn't paying for it. victory!  love and peace!

Outside the restaurant, pointed out Mars pretty damn close to opposition. Called Dad because I knew he'd forget. Walked the CEO halfway home and picked his brain on some stuff that was suspicious.

Starcraft 2
  • TvT - WTF PF rush? Except he rushed himself? Wouldn't have taken as long as I did if I'd been sober. confused, embarrassed
1 and 0.


How do black hole work? No one knows, but IT professionals need to figure it out pronto.

For the past 18 months, the black hole community has been up in arms over an idea known as the firewall paradox. A group led by Joseph Polchinski at the University of California, Santa Barbara, showed that information leaving a black hole would produce massive amounts of energy, creating a wall of fire at the event horizon that would consume anything falling in. This would break a rule of general relativity that says crossing a black hole's event horizon should be uneventful.

Firewalls mean that our current understanding of either relativity or quantum mechanics is wrong, so physicists have been scrambling to find a compromise. Now Hawking says the solution is to give up the very thing that makes black holes so intriguing - the event horizon. In his latest paper, he argues that black holes instead have "apparent horizons", surfaces that trap light but can also vary in shape because of quantum fluctuations, leaving the potential for some light to escape.

… Hawking's paper is just two pages of text with no calculations, making it difficult to draw any strong conclusions, but there is already scepticism. "It is not clear what he expects the in-falling observer to see," says Polchinski. "It almost sounds like he is replacing the firewall with a chaos-wall, which could be the same thing."

If black holes are as Hawking describes, it could lead to a better understanding of quantum mechanics and relativity, potentially opening the door to new physics. But he may be wrong. On his 70th birthday, Hawking told New Scientist that he regards his idea that information is destroyed by black holes, which later turned out to be wrong, as his "biggest blunder" in science.

Jacob Aron
Before the Inquisition purges New Scientist's website, check out this sick timeline on how little we know.

The rationale behind open source software is that with many eyes, all bugs are shallow.

Heartbleed is a catastrophic bug in OpenSSL … Basically, an attacker can grab 64K of memory from a server. The attack leaves no trace, and can be done multiple times to grab a different random 64K of memory. This means that anything in memory -- SSL private keys, user keys, anything -- is vulnerable. And you have to assume that it is all compromised. All of it. "Catastrophic" is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11. Half a million sites are vulnerable, including my own.

The bug has been patched. After you patch your systems, you have to get a new public/private key pair, update your SSL certificate, and then change every password that could potentially be affected. At this point, the probability is close to one that every target has had its private keys extracted by multiple intelligence agencies. The real question is whether or not someone deliberately inserted this bug into OpenSSL, and has had two years of unfettered access to everything. My guess is accident, but I have no proof.

Bruce Schneier

If you are a web user, the short answer is not much. You can check the list of sites affected on Github, or you could try a tool from developer Filippo Valsorda that checks sites to see if they are still vulnerable (although false positives have been reported), and you should probably change your passwords for those sites if you find any you use regularly.

As mentioned by commenter Philip Tellis below, you could also check this SSL tool from SSL Labs, which will give you a report on each server behind a specific DNS address. And users should make sure that their browser checks to see if a security certificate has been revoked before connecting -- Chrome has this disabled by default but it can be turned on in the settings.

If you are a network administrator or website manager, then you should already be applying the patch and/or recompiling your version of OpenSSL to remove the vulnerability -- and you should also be reissuing your SSL security certificates and getting users to create new passwords. The problem is that doing all of this on every server and for every user and service is going to take some time.

Matthew Ingram

No idea, of course, but it wouldn't surprise me if the NSA broke the internet in the name of saving it.

They seem to do what they do because they can, not because there's ever really any point.

2 fucking years, and the OpenSSL developers went out of their way to ensure a problem of this nature would remain undetected. It boggles the fucking mind. angry

Before the next Starcraft 2 LAN party, we need to internalize important strategies for victory.

A few years ago, researchers hit upon very unfortunate evidence that grilling meat could be bad for you. Specifically, they found that meat cooked at high temperatures produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), substances that have been linked to cancer. So much for the sweet smell of summer.

Now comes some better news. Scientists have found that marinating pork in beer--yes, beer--can reduce the level of carcinogens. According to this study, black ale has the most beneficial qualities, reducing eight types of PAHs by 53%, compared to meat that hadn't been soaked at all. Nonalcoholic Pilsner beer was also useful, showing a 25% reduction, followed by Pilsner (13%). Each piece of meat was marinated for four hours.

… No one knows exactly why beer would inhibit the formation of the PAHs (the paper speculates that the beer inhibits "free radical reaction pathways"). But for now, that's okay. We can have meat, beer, and barbecue again, and not worry quite as much about ingesting carcinogens.

Ben Schiller

I've been marinating and boiling steaks and bratwursts, respectively, in Shiner Black for years. I had no idea of the possible health benefits, and it's possible that the boiling process might make them moot anyway. But I can say from experience that the darker the beer, the better the meat will taste after grilling. Your mileage may vary, but I often find it disappointing now to eat non-barbecued beef or pork that isn't three sheets to the wind.

So, here's to our health!

Andrew Sullivan
Given that everything causes cancer, this is relatively surprising news. wide eyed

You may have heard that Chris Christie conducted an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by Chris Christie and found no wrongdoing. You may even have thought to yourself "wait, what?" You're not alone:

The legislative panel investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings said Tuesday that it would give the law firm that conducted an internal review of Gov. Chris Christie's office until the end of the week to turn over interviews that formed the basis of its 360-page report.

… Randy Mastro, the attorney who led the work of the Los Angeles-based law firm, said that it had "reached out to counsel for the committee over a week ago to discuss sharing voluntarily the interview memoranda" and that "in light of the committee's statements this afternoon, we will look forward to continuing that cooperative dialogue." However, Mastro did not say what types of records from the interviews even existed. Mastro has previously cited the U.S. attorney's investigation into the September lane closings, now believed by Democrats and others to have been politically motivated, as the reason the interviews had not been released. Tuesday, Wisniewski cast more doubt on the internal review, saying it was his "understanding" there were no recordings or verbatim transcripts from the interviews, but rather memos summarizing what was discussed. He also said the committee did not have a list of those interviewed. "I am operating under the assumption ... that they recorded in some form or fashion, a memo, notes, something that would have preserved what was said," Wisniewski said. "My understanding as we stand here now is that it's just interview memos."

Christopher Baxter

So it seems that the exhaustive and comprehensive Christie Report, featuring five -- count em! FIVE! -- former federal prosecutors gifted with complete and unfettered access to everyone, including Chris Christie, who had no connection whatsoever to the Great Fort Lee Clusterfk beyond their shared faith in traffic studies, well, it seems that the authors of the Christie Report, in the course of exonerating and vindicating the Governor, preferred not to record any of their interviews.

The co-chair of the New Jersey legislature's special investigative committee said yesterday that the Christie Report investigators made interview notes. That's it. That's the entire record: interview notes. Seventy witnesses, none under oath -- no stenographer, no recording device of any kind, and, of course, no transcripts. Forget about any Nixonian 17-minute gap in the tapes. There are no tapes, only the notes written up by the investigators themselves.

Sure, for $650 per hour, the New Jersey taxpayers who paid for the report deserve standard documentation, but you still have to gape at the size of the balls on these guys.

Scott Raab
It makes me want to stop speculating "they must think we're stupid" because, clearly, we are stupid if we let them get away with this. angry

A short followup to the carbon tax story from British Columbia the other day: the Canadian province made spectacular progress in lowering carbon emissions w/out wrecking their economy, and all it took was a tax of ~$0.25/gallon of gas. Tim Worstall, in an unrelated article, has examined different economic studies on carbon pricing and asks

As you can see from the names I've been dropping this idea of a carbon tax to deal with climate change is simply the mainstream, scientific consensus one, about how to do that dealing. There's amazingly little disagreement among the economists who study the point. Hell, even Exxon now applies a $60 a tonne tax to emissions in their internal modelling. There's also nothing new about this point, it's the same thing all those economists have been saying for the past decade. It's also nothing new for me to be saying it, I even wrote a book on the point three years back.

Yes, climate change is a problem we should do something about and that something is a carbon tax. What a very mainstream conclusion. But as I say, there's a sadness in the fact that just about everyone, from Republican politicians insisting upon no new taxes to green activists insisting that we need the destruction of globalised capitalism to deal with it refuses to actually listen to, or apply, that solution that really is the mainstream scientific opinion on what we ought to be doing about it all.

And what really gripes my goat is that it's such a cheap damn solution. If we use the (high) number from Stern then it's 60 cents on a gallon of gas. And that's it, we're done, we've entirely solved climate change from the transportation sector: or rather we will have done over time when that tax changes behaviour appropriately. There's nothing about climate change that says that government or tax revenues should get larger so we can and should reduce other taxes to compensate (or Hansen's dividend idea if you prefer). But seriously, 60 cents on a gallon? To save the planet?

Why aren't we simply doing this?

Tim Worstall
(Emphasis mine.) No one will ever confuse me for a mathematician, but I'm pretty sure $0.25 < $0.60. If we're not willing to accept such a small tax hike, then maybe we deserve to go extinct! dead

I wish CNN was an actual news channel that provided actual news, then maybe we wouldn't have shit like this:

WillyMakeIt: but..
WillyMakeIt: noone died
srsly: i hope he says 'i tried to get a gun but couldnt THANKS OBAMA'
WillyMakeIt: ROFL
WillyMakeIt: Rubino said he expects all the teens to live, noting that the strength of their youth gives them a greater chance of survival. But "I do want to stress the critical nature of their injuries," he cautioned.
WillyMakeIt: man
WillyMakeIt: why didn't anyone tell me that shit
WillyMakeIt: strength of my youth
WillyMakeIt: yo that's a 20 story fall
WillyMakeIt: .. yes, but the strenght of my youth will.
srsly: how young do i have to be to survive a gunshot
WillyMakeIt: i jsut had a mental
WillyMakeIt: of a baby taking a bullet
WillyMakeIt: ... now sperm cell
srsly: lol wtf
WillyMakeIt: and the funniest piece of all
WillyMakeIt: CNN first learned of the stabbings on Twitter.


If you wish to comment, please do so at the entry itself and not on LJ. Thanks for reading!
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"Abby's Home" - Wed, 16 Apr 2014 [Apr. 16th, 2014|12:00 am]

Abby's Home
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(no subject) [Apr. 15th, 2014|08:27 pm]

[Current Mood |pessimisticpessimistic]

It rained this weekend, we had a cold front come in, and I was doing pretty damn well pain-wise. Sure there was pain, but I managed it just fine and had a pretty damn good weekend.

But today can suck my angry crippled dick

Seriously fucking hell, what IS this?! The cold front already happened, there's only a small chance of rain in a couple of days, I should not be in full-body pain so much that I'm dragging my feet and falling asleep at the drop of a hat and unable to form coherent thoughts most of the time. THIS IS BULLSHIT.

And just this morning I was talking about how hopeful I was to dance again. Fuck you, body. Just... just fuck you.
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Tyranny of Dragons: T-Shirt Design Contest [Apr. 15th, 2014|12:00 am]

To help take part in the Tyranny of Dragons, Mighty Fine ("T-shirts designed by fans for fans") is hosting their next design contest. Use your T-shirt design skills to submit your most creative, artistic, adventurous D&D artwork—and you could win up to $1000.00 as the grand prize!
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two pictures from portland [Apr. 15th, 2014|06:39 pm]

I spent the weekend in Portland, visiting my sister and her family. I also saw some friends, and recorded an episode of Livewire Radio. It was a gorgeous weekend, with perfect weather, so we got to walk even more than we usually do when we visit.

We were walking downtown with my sister and her son when I spotted this in the street next to the crosswalk:


I got really excited, because it’s the first Toynbee tile I’ve ever seen that wasn’t just a picture on the Internet. While I was taking this picture, Anne was counting down the seconds on the crosswalk. Hearing “…4…3…2…1″ while I was taking the picture made the whole stupid thing a little more thrilling than it should have been, but I’m easily entertained.

One more picture (as promised in the title) before I get ready to go to the set:


Steel Bridge is one of my favorite bridges in the country, and this weekend was the first time we walked across it and up the opposite bank of the river. When we were about a quarter mile from it, heading toward a different bridge to cross back to downtown, a boat came up the river toward Steel Bridge. “Dude! If we hurry, we can get up to the bridge and stand right there when it goes up!” I said to Anne.

“You think we can make it?” She said.

“Yes. I know we can.”

“Are you sure it’s going to go past the bridge?”

“Unless it makes a U-turn in the middle of the river, it has to go past the bridge,” I said. “Come on! It’ll be cool!”

We turned around and walked quickly back toward Steel Bridge, the boat slowly gaining on us. When we were about 500 yards from the bridge, the boat blew its horn, presumably to alert the bridge person that it needed to go up … but when I looked at the boat to see how far it was from the bridge, I saw that it had blown its horn to alert nearby vessels that it was making a U-turn in the middle of the river.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” I said, laughing, as we walked onto the bridge and began to walk back across it. “Well, it would have been cool.”

Anne laughed with me, and held my hand.

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(no subject) [Apr. 15th, 2014|11:35 am]

[Current Mood |contentcontent]

If I could go back in time 10 years to tell my younger self almost anything about my life right now... she wouldn't believe me. Everything is so vastly different. She wouldn't believe the Army thing, the disability, the religion, the polyamory, the bisexuality (well okay she'd believe that), Head Trip... there's just so much I could tell her that would blow her mind.

But I wouldn't. If I were given the option, I'd keep things vague. Give some advice here and there maybe, but still vague.

But so much that's awesome about my life is awesome in part because of how unexpected it was. I never planned on so much of this, and yet here I am. A lot of really shitty things had to happen to get me here and if I told myself what had to happen... well... she wouldn't do it, and I wouldn't blame her. Who wants to hear "yeah you have to join the Army and get physically fucked up for life before some really cool shit happens, sorry about the PTSD btw"? I'd just... not join. And trust me, looking back? If I hadn't have joined... life would be a LOT different, and I think worse.

But that's hard to explain to some one. That so many scarring things are on their way, but how much amazing things follow it. I wouldn't have met the same people if these things never happened. I never would have been exposed to things that have changed my life for the better. I'd be a different person, so different... weaker in some ways. I'm sure I would have faced plenty of shit - hell I know I would have.

But the outcome, the good that came from it, might have been different. And I'd never take the chance that it would be better than this.
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If It’s Not Privilege, Then What Is It?: On Writer Privilege [Apr. 15th, 2014|09:44 am]


So yesterday, after twenty-four years of struggle, I sold a novel.  (Read about it here, pre-order it here, if you like.)

Let’s be honest: That took perseverance.  I wrote for hours a day, writing on vacation, writing on my birthday, writing when I was recovering from heart surgery.  I went to critique groups to get better feedback.  I networked online so I could find better people to give me feedback.  Out of any given day, you can point to at least an hour and say, “Ferrett put in his 10,000 hours.”


* I was lucky enough to be healthy, so I didn’t have to deal with days torpedoed by chronic pain issues or going to doctors or filling prescriptions.

* I was lucky enough to have a sedentary, work-at-home job.  Yes, some of that’s career choice, but I went to college for seven years on scholarships and my parents’ dime, and they were rich enough to buy a PC back when they were super-expensive so I got familiarized with computers about ten years before the curve.  I happened to be born male, so people just sort of assumed I could be good at computers.  Now, I work hard at being a programmer – but there’s also a lot in my background that enabled this career choice.  If I had to work an hour away lugging crates at a warehouse, my writing time would be cut into by exhaustion and commutes, rendering me less productive.

* I was lucky enough to be wealthy enough to go to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop after I got accepted, which costs thousands of dollars.   (As witness this less-fortunate soul raising the bare-bones $3,600 it’ll take him to attend this year.)  It cost me probably $4,500 after all was said and done, and that’s a lot of change to just plunk down.  (Viable Paradise is less expensive, as it’s shorter, but that’s still $1,100 plus travel.)

* I was lucky enough to have a good enough job that they gave me the leave to go away for six weeks, though I was so hot to trot that I would have quit if I’d had to.  Thankfully, they were gracious as they usually are.  Thankfully, I had the financial cushion to be able to walk away if I needed to, and a family supportive enough to deal with my absence for six weeks.

* I was lucky enough to have friends who told me about things like Clarion, and conventions, and what to expect from publishers.  I didn’t go hunting for writer-friends; I happened to have a few who I ran across in town.  If it wasn’t for a friend telling me about Clarion that year, I wouldn’t have heard of it, and you wouldn’t have heard of me.

* I was lucky enough to have wise parents who modeled secure, sane marriages for me, so when I found my wife – who has been wise, supportive, and a stanchion of my writing career – I was smart enough to not destroy the relationship.

Now, none of those gifts take away from my tremendous drive.  And they don’t mention things like, say, my chronic depression, which does in fact take away from my production time.  But those are all advantages that were, in some fundamental way, given to me.  Yeah, I had to work efficiently to keep my job, and yeah I had to be lovable enough to keep my friends, and yeah, I had to be talented enough to get to spend all that money on Clarion – but in all those issues, I had a huge boost from forces beyond my choosing.

It was hard enough getting this damn novel sold.

It would have been even harder if just a few circumstances had changed in my life.  Maybe impossible.  If I’d had young children and a wife with a job at 7-11, going to Clarion probably wouldn’t have happened.  If I’d been incapacitated by chronic back pain for three hours a day, my writing time would have been affected.  If I’d run with a different set of friends, that whole “Clarion” thing – the event that restarted my career – would have zipped on by.

I call those privileges.

And Brad Torgersen (he of the other first novel happydance) said that in the military, privileges are things you earn.  Which may be true.  But I don’t know a better word for those quiet advantages.  “Gifts” don’t seem right, because frankly, me walking around healthy isn’t really a gift, it’s just something I feel most people oughtta have in a sane world.

But whatever you call them, I acknowledge them.  Yes, I worked hard to break through.  Super-hard.  But despite all that effort I put in, it could have been harder.  And writing is such a challenge to get write, requiring such focus to hone, that I don’t think it’s a surprise that a lot of writers are white males who come from middle- to upper-class homes. They’ve got a whole societal structure geared around supporting them.

And again!  Like me, that doesn’t denigrate their effort.  There’s a zillion middle-class white guys, and the majority of them suck at writing because they either don’t care or didn’t put their time into the craft.  Anyone who hauls their ass across this finish line has done something significant.  But there are others who had additional hurdles in front of them on that track, and I think it’s intellectually dishonest to wave that aside.

I guess that’s why privilege is such a difficult concept to express: it feels contradictory, on some level.  It’s You did do something really difficult, but it could have been harder.  And nobody wants to hear that they had it easier than others… particularly when they fail.  Particularly when “privilege” is not a singular power-up that magically erases all difficulty, but a bunch of small factors that can often cascade into greater things.  Particularly when some people only have certain privileges (a decent income, good physical health) but lack others (like my depressive fugue-states chipping away at my mental health).

But that doesn’t erase the concept.  And when I look at my achievement?  I’m happy.  I wanted to publish a damn novel, and now I will have, and I put in my 10,000 hours to get here hard-core.

Yet when I look at society and all the things I’d like to fix, there’s a bunch of people who never got what I did.  I’d like to give it to them, if I can, or just plain make coping with those issues easier.  And I refuse to erase that reality by claiming I’m a self-made man or somesuch.

I had a lot of help.  I had a lot of advantages.  I did a lot of fucking work.

Those concepts are not mutually exclusive.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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Comic: 04/15/14 [Apr. 15th, 2014|04:00 am]

Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.
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DnDClassics New Releases [Apr. 15th, 2014|12:00 am]

This one-stop-shop for D&D content offers an easy way to access and download favorite classic titles electronically by computer, mobile phone, or tablet (including iPads). Coming to DnDClassics this week...
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Day 517: Tuesday 8 April 2014 by Lord Omlette [Apr. 15th, 2014|02:58 am]

After the End of the World

Not Work - Ordered a new laptop battery for Mom. I'm not sure how she destroys them so quickly. At least I'm just replacing the battery and not the whole damn thing.

Work - meetings → demos → hasty code update to fix a stupid UI bug.

Dinner @ Hoboken Biergarten, chicken paprikash (sp?) so damn tender. ^_____^

Walking up the 14th St. Viaduct, could see Jupiter (obv!), but also Sirius, Procyon, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Polaris. <3

Starcraft 2
  • TvZ - Stupid play on my part, if I'd been sneakier I'd've fucked him up.
  • TvT - So sloppy, ugh.
  • TvT - Can't believe I lost to a fucking bronze leaguer making nothing but marines, wtf.
  • TvZ - Finally sobered long enough to fire on all cylinders. Early scouting caught roaches, heavy D helped me survive the rest. victory!  love and peace! This guy was cool, we talked strategy afterwards.
1 and 3. confused, embarrassed


TIL geologists disagree over when the Grand Canyon formed.

The iconic Grand Canyon in Arizona is much younger than thought, having formed when four separate canyons joined up.

It may be famous, but nobody knows how old the Grand Canyon is. A 2012 study by Rebecca Flowers of the University of Colorado in Boulder suggested that it formed 70 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. That is far older than geologists had expected. But it now seems the youngest part of the canyon appeared just 5 or 6 million years ago. The new analysis relies on a technique called thermochronology. This reveals when hot rocks from deep underground first approached the surface, and then cooled down as overlying rock eroded away. Karl Karlstrom of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and colleagues took these measurements at the base and rim in four sections of the canyon. Then they calculated when each set of rocks rose to the surface.

One section of the Grand Canyon, the Music Mountain formation, became a canyon 50 to 70 million years ago - in line with Flowers' findings. But at that time, the other three segments were still deep underground. … The second section of canyon, the East Kaibab palaeocanyon, formed 15 to 25 million years ago. But the Grand Canyon as we know it today only came into existence 6 million years ago when the final two outer sections made it to the surface: the Eastern Grand Canyon and the western Marble Canyon. The previous canyons were all drained by different rivers, but once the last section had surfaced, the Colorado river was able to gouge a path along all four, uniting them on its way to the Gulf of California.

Andy Coghlan
Professionals can disagree w/out burning each other at the stake. sticking tongue out

Drone pilots generally see the civilians they murder for a brief flash before a fireball obliterates them. Out of sight, out of mind. Some of the survivors found a clever way to remind the pilots that their job is to go after terrorists, not children.

In a brilliant creative action, an art collective with the help of enthusiastic locals unfurled an enormous poster in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of a young girl who lost her parents and two younger siblings to a drone strike in August 2009.

The portrait is entitled #NotABugSplat, which is a reference to the term "bugsplat," used by drone operators to dehumanize victims of their missile strikes. Rather than seeing small, grainy figures comparable to insects on their computer screens, drone operators who happen to fly over this heavily-bombed, rural area near the border of Afghanistan, will now be confronted with the image of this innocent girl looking back at them.

Launched by a collective that includes Pakistanis, Americans and others involved with French artist JR's Inside Out Project -- in collaboration with Reprieve UK and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights -- the artists involved hope to create a dozen more of these installations around Pakistan.

Eric Stoner
It's not like the politicians who want these wars will ever see those faces, so all they can do is target the operators. glare

I'm still of the opinion that the Cuban Twitter was an elaborate April Fools joke. No one has ever accused me of having an appropriate sense of humor.

Presumably the US government had been studying Twitter's ability to supercharge its users with outrage vapors here in the Free World, where legions of credulous idiots spend their waking hours chasing the outrage dragon. It was only a matter of time before some DC spooks and Northern Virginia contractors would see the angles.

Of course, the ZunZuneo plan failed. ZunZuneo collapsed, a bunch of money went missing (likely into the coffers of the Castro regime's state-controlled telecoms firm, or so they say), and the Communist Cuban menace still threatens the Free World's slick underbelly.

What really seems to be weirding people out here is the shock realization that USAID -- the nice, humanitarian, democracy-promoting arm of American idealism -- also engages in sleazy regime-change and subversion. The sorts of nefarious covert activities folks normally associate with the CIA.

Not that this is news to PandoDaily readers, of course: Earlier this year, we broke the story about USAID co-investing with Omidyar Network in Ukraine NGOs that organized and led the Maidan revolution in Kiev, resulting in the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. That revolution hasn't turned out so well -- thanks to the "success" of the USAID-Omidyar-funded revolution, there's talk of the West going to war with nuclear-armed Russia, Ukraine is losing entire chunks of territory like the proverbial leper on a waterslide, Kiev is run by a coalition of costume-party fascists and a handful of billionaire Mafia dons--and Vladimir Putin has never been more popular, or more tyrannical.

Given USAID's "success" in Ukraine, perhaps we should be thankful that ZunZuneo failed as miserably and comically as it did.

The truth is, USAID's role in a covert ops and subversion should be common knowledge--it's not like the record is that hard to find. Either USAID has developed those Men In Black memory-zappers, or else--maybe we don't want to remember. This selective amnesia doesn't do anyone else any good however, so I figured it might be useful to offer a brief look back at some of USAID's darkest, ugliest moments. It's important to note that not everything USAID does is patently evil -- in fact, there are many programs that could even be described as good. But USAID, as with any agency of American power, is fully capable of and will continue to be an instrument of geopolitical and corporate force.

… I should warn you: some of what follows is horrifying.

Mark Ames

Quite apart from the rights or wrongs of the U.S. government using commercial social media for espionage or to organize political subversion in Cuba, the case presents another troubling issue: ZunZuneo was being run through a private operator, a firm called Mobile Accord, that had won a financial contract from the U.S. government. This is consistent with a growing pattern in recent years, in which implementation of the most sensitive aspects of American security policy is increasingly handed over to contractors who are working for money, not necessarily for philosophical or even patriotic reasons. The mercenary firm Blackwater, renamed XE and then Academi (after earning notoriety in the killing of seventeen Iraqis in Baghdad's Nisour Square, in 2007), has effectively become an action arm of the C.I.A., its personnel loading the missiles on the drones that are fired at presumed terrorists based on White House decisions. Clearly, there are risks to this ever-expanding outsourcing. That outraged patriot who divulged the N.S.A.'s secrets was first a C.I.A. contractor and then an N.S.A. contractor.

Jon Lee Anderson

In 2010 and 2011, the White House, the State Department--the entire apparatus of American diplomacy--pushed an Internet freedom agenda. American interests, they said, were advanced by the penetration of networked tech abroad.

Then the U.S. government got into being a tech client and discovered it wasn't everything it was cracked up to be. ZunZuneo's story is that of hundreds of other startups in 2011 and 2012--ZunZuneo just happened to be supported by the U.S. government. ZunZuneo's monetary supporters weren't the only ones who, in 2011, discovered that they'd backed a product with no clear monetization strategy, nor were they the first to panic and look for an exit.

(I also adore that ZunZuneo couldn't run text ads because ads mean very little in a state-run economy. Surveillance-based web ads don't work everywhere!)

… Who did ZunZuneo benefit most of all, eventually? Cubacel: The Cuban government's state-run mobile monopoly which owned the physical infrastructure through which ZunZuneo messages traveled. USAID, in trying to harass the Cuban government, wound up financially supporting it.

… If ZunZuneo looks ridiculous in retrospect, it's because 2011 is a different country. We now know U.S. security apparatus may threaten the "open Internet" as much as an oppressive government, if not more. Clinton's speeches as secretary of state dwell on freedom of expression but not freedom from surveillance, and now--following the NSA revelations--we have a good idea why. Beyond all this, as sociologist Zeynep Tufecki writes, it's likely that the failure of ZunZuneo will threaten online activism abroad, even if it's not associated with the U.S. government.

Robinson Meyer
Please read the whole thing, and remember: the dead don't find April Fools jokes funny. cry

If you wish to comment, please do so at the entry itself and not on LJ. Thanks for reading!
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"Wii Flying Guillotine" - Tue, 15 Apr 2014 [Apr. 15th, 2014|12:00 am]

Wii Flying Guillotine
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News Post: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Three [Apr. 14th, 2014|07:01 pm]

Tycho: The Night Of A Thousand Hours: The Mermaid Incident I’m glad to see Galahad again.  I have a lot of sympathy for young people who don’t understand what you have to do in order to get kisses.  The only thing that ever worked for me, admittedly the sample size is not large, was not caring so Goddamned much.  People can…  smell it.  And they don’t like the smell.  I’m not saying you can’t care, obviously you do.  But you have to know at some level that not getting this particular kiss at this particular time won’t cause the…
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Attention, World: I SOLD A NOVEL. [Apr. 14th, 2014|09:06 am]


When I was fifteen, my parents dragged me to a book release party.  Not that I knew it was a book release party; I was, like every fifteen-year-old kid, self-centered to the point that I wore my colon as a hat.  It was at the Goldsteins’ house, so I assumed it was another party celebrating the fact that brave Mrs. Goldstein had survived yet another round of brain surgery.

But no.  Mrs. Goldstein – a clear-eyed woman who walked with the help of a cane – pressed a hardcover book into my hand.

“I wrote this,” she told me.  “About my experiences, relearning how to walk and talk and write.  It’s a memoir.”  And though I’d read so many stories that I had ink permanently dotted on my nose from sticking it in books, it had never occurred to me that actual people wrote them.  Authors were Gods who lived in little editorial heavens, flinging down books from clouds up high.

But Mrs. Goldstein had written a book.  And taken it to the publishers in New York.  And gotten it published.  She told me all about how she wrote it, how you had to send it in a manila envelope to people, the letters of rejection you’d get, and slowly I came to understand that books – books! – were written by people like you and me.

When I was fifteen, I vowed to publish a novel.

When I was nineteen, I wrote my first novel: “Schemer and the Magician.”  It was about a nerdy college kid (basically me) and a wiseass college kid (also basically me) who got kidnapped by aliens and sucked into a galactic war OF INCONCIEVABLE CONSEQUENCES.

…It wasn’t very good.

I sent it to two agents, who wisely never responded.

When I was twenty-three, I wrote my second novel: “A Cup of Sirusian Coffee.”  It was a Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy-style riff on the afterlife, where for all eternity you were forced to do whatever you did in life.  Were you a plumber?  Look forward to spending the next five Pleistocene epochs fixing pipes.

I wrote the first three chapters, handed them around to my college buddies, who thought it was hysterical.  So every day I cranked out another chapter, handing out printed manuscripts to a small group of fans who demanded to know what happened next, until eventually I snowballed a slim plot into a musical Ragnarok that shut the universe down.

This one I sent out to three agents, two of whom dutifully informed me that I was not quite as clever as I thought.

When I was thirty, I wrote my third novel: “The Autonomist Agenda, Part I.”  Screw my own muse, I thought: this one would be commercial.  So I wrote the first book in a huge and complex fantasy series, complete with smoldering relationships guaranteed to appeal to the ‘shipper crowd, and prophecies that propelled a young boy on the inevitable journey to become a Big Damn Hero, and even a gay warrior because I was Just That Ahead Of The Curve.

(Not that it was revealed he was gay until Part II.  I had Plans, you see.  I’d sell all three books at once!)

I slipped a copy to my friend Catherynne Valente, who’d had some success at this writing gig.  She read part of it, then took me out to a sad lunch at Bob Evans to break the news.

“I guess you could get this published somewhere,” she told me.  “But is this really what you want your name on?”

I guess I didn’t.

But damn, I wanted my name on something.

When I was thirty-two, I wrote my fourth novel: “On The Losing Side Of The Dragon.”  Sure, the winning knight eventually kills the dragon, but what about all those poor wannabe schmucks who get devoured along the way?

I gave it to my wife.  She informed me she liked how it ended, really liked it, but the beginning was tedious.  She would never have gotten to the good stuff if she hadn’t been, you know, obligated to read my crap on account of our wedding vows consisting of the words “to love, honor, and beta-read.”

I locked myself in my room and cried all evening.  Thirteen years of effort, and I had not managed to write one single novel that anyone wanted to read.  I had not sold one story.

All I’d ever wanted to do was write novels, and I pretty much sucked at it.

When I was thirty-five, I wrote my fifth novel: “A Cup Of Sirusian Coffee.”  Wrote the whole goddamned thing from scratch.  It was a funny idea, and my college buddies still asked about it, so clearly I just needed to go back to the drawing board.

This was novel #5 – and that was the toughest one.  See, Stephen King, my favorite Unca Stephen, had written five novels before he sold his first one.  He’d famously wadded up Carrie and thrown it in the trash, and his wife had rescued it, put his ass back in the seat, told him to keep going.  He did.  Fame and fortune resulted.

That meant this was my lucky novel.  This was the one I was guaranteed to publish.  After all, how many novels did you have to write before you got good?

After sending the new manuscript far and wide, I heard back from a publisher two years later.  They told me the opening paragraphs were “interesting” but then it “fell apart quickly… if the author could capture the style of those first paragraphs again, it might be worth it.”

But by then, I’d pretty much given up trying.

When I was thirty-eight, Catherynne Valente yelled at me.  “Just send in the damn application,” she said.

“I’m not a good writer,” I told her.  “The Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop is for serious writers.  I’ve sold three stories in twenty years, for $15 total.  I’m never going to get in.”

She smiled.  “So send it in.  Just to shut me up.”

I did.

I got accepted.

I got scourged.

I got to learn that over the last twenty years, I’d accreted all kinds of bad habits – stiff plotting, flabby prose, a reliance on recreating stereotypes instead of actually writing about people I knew.  Clarion taught me that I wasn’t a bad writer, I’d just been too overconfident in my raw abilities… and now that I had finally been forced to acknowledge all my weak spots, I could fix those and reinvent myself for the better.

Over the next three years, I sold fourteen stories, five of them at professional rates.  For which I still thank Catherynne.

But I wasn’t quite ready to write a novel.  Not yet.

When I was forty-one, I finally got the courage back to work on my sixth novel: a sweeping science-fiction epic called “The Upterlife.”  I spent a year revising it, and – I shit you not – not two hours after I finished the final draft of that damn novel, Mary Robinette Kowal called me up to tell me that my novelette Sauerkraut Station had been nominated for the Nebula Award.

If that wasn’t a signal from God that I was ready to sell a damn novel, what was?  I sent that manuscript to all the best agents, with a killer query, telling them by way, I’m up for a Nebula this year and I just happen to have this novel for you.

They all rejected it.




When I was forty-three, I wrote my seventh novel.  It was Breaking Bad with magic, a desperate bureaucromancer turned to manufacturing enchanted drugs to save his burned daughter… and it was by far the best thing I’d ever written.  I polished that sucker until it shined.  It shined.

But I was two novels beyond Stephen King.  I’d been struggling to get a novel published for twenty-four years now, clawing at the walls of the Word Mines, and I had no hope of anything but oh God I couldn’t stop and I realized that I wasn’t going to stop, that the breath in my body would run out before I stopped writing tales and who the hell cared if I got published or not I was locked in.  I had to create.  I had to.

And I sold it.

Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz.  The story of Paul Tsabo, bureaucromancer, his daughter Aliyah, and the kinky videogamemancer Valentine DiGriz, who I’m pretty sure you’re gonna love.  Published by Angry Robot books – the very publisher of whom I said to my wife, “If I could have any publisher take my first book, it’d be Angry Robot.”

Coming to bookstores on September 30th.  (EDIT: And you can pre-order it now through Amazon. Lordy, that was fast.)

I don’t care what novel you’re on.

Do not give up.

(Cross-posted from Angry Robot’s blog.)

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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Twist vs. McFarlane, Part 1 [Apr. 14th, 2014|11:00 am]

digresssmlOriginally published August 4, 2000, in Comics Buyer’s Guide #1394

Must… control… fist of death…”


Several years back I got an angry phone call from John Byrne, and for a refreshing change of pace, he wasn’t angry at me.

“Did you read Spawn #30?” he asked.

In Spawn #30, there were two members of the Ku Klux Klan, and their names were Peter and Johnny. Byrne was convinced that Todd McFarlane, Spawn creator, writer and erstwhile penciler, had dubbed the characters thusly for the purpose of taking a direct swipe at us. After all, Byrne and I had not marched in the preferred lockstep of approval for all things Image that the founders seemed to desire of the comic pro community. Byrne felt that it was nothing less than character assassination, was contemplating taking direct legal action, and wanted to know if I would be interested in joining him in such an endeavor.

I demurred, citing the following reasons. First, since it was only our first names, it couldn’t be proven absolutely that it was intended to be us. Second, although associating us with the KKK was distasteful, there was nothing illegal about belonging to that notorious organization, and if you wanted to be rock solid for getting damages in a libel action, the person you were accusing had to have accused you of criminal activity. Third, there was no way we were going to prove damages, because there was no way we were going to get a witness on a stand who was going to state that Todd’s juvenile jab had cost Byrne or I employment. And fourth… it’s Todd McFarlane, fer cryin’ out loud. Who cares what he thinks?

It’s entirely possible that an attorney would have (or did, for that matter) tell John Byrne the same thing I did. In any event, the proposed lawsuit never went forward to my knowledge.

However, McFarlane was gracious enough, in a subsequent Spawn “tribute” issue published by Wizard, to attend to one of the weaknesses in going after him legally. There was a “cast list” for Spawn as part of the book, and one of them read: “Johnny and Peter. Real-life Persona: John Byrne and Peter David. Relation: Close friends and synchronized swimming partners (um, actually McFarlane has been feuding with these guys for quite some time.) These two, McFarlane says with a bit of sarcasm, are named for his two ‘good pals’ John Byrne and Peter David. McFarlane takes shots at them at any time he can, and this is one of those times where he can.”

In the same publication, there was another listing as well… one that Todd would, in later years, suddenly feel less than boastful or sarcastic about:

“Tony Twist. Real-life Persona: Tony Twist. Relation: NHL St. Louis Blues right winger. The Mafia don that has made life exceedingly rough for Al Simmons and his loved ones, in addition to putting out an ill-advised contract on the Violator, is named for former Quebec Nordiques hockey player Tony Twist, now a renowned enforcer (i.e., ‘goon’) for the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League.”

Apparently Todd felt that, as with Byrne and I, this was one of those times where he could do whatever he wanted.

It’s not entirely surprising, and certainly reflective of the mentality of a number of Image creators when the company first started up. There was much posturing and strutting, chest thumping and declaring—like so many James Camerons—that they were king of the world, like a bunch of eight hundred pound gorillas (no slight to the new imprint intended) who could do what they wanted, where they wanted, whenever they wanted (the “whenever” part apparently applying to shipping of books, a problem that—despite the nigh-heroic efforts of director and creative piston Jim Valentino, dogs them to this day and ties up retailer capital every single month as high-priced reprint volumes or early issues of series never hit the stands or are incessantly resolicited.)

Well… McFarlane learned otherwise.

At first I wasn’t even going to address the entire Tony Twist lawsuit that recently wrapped up, leaving Todd—manufacturer of a pretty sharp line of toys, and owner of home run baseballs—with a $24 million judgment over his head and his (base)balls in a sling. But damn, y’know, I started hearing from everybody. Phone calls, email. Just to make sure that I had all the info on hand, Mr. Mark R. Leonard, a CPA in Troy, Illinois, sent me the newspaper coverage of the trial with a cover letter. Leonard (a man with two first names, and let us remember the words of Steve Allen who said, you can never trust a man with two first names) said, that he would love to see me devote “a column (or two) to the thoughts which arise following the McFarlane/Twist lawsuit,” and went on to write:

I’ve followed this story with great interest, as it crossed over many of my interests. I am a comic fan, a hockey fan (St. Louis Blues in particular), and a May 2000 graduate of St. Louis University School of Law.

This case is interesting from many standpoints, not just what it does to writers and the care they must now take in their choosing of names, but also to the balancing of the First Amendment rights versus the rights an individual as in their name and reputation.

The size of the award is certainly interesting. No evidence was presented of any commercial damage to Twist (the hockey player) of any amount near this magnitude, so the award must be more for ‘public humiliation’ and personal suffering. Given the size of the award, it will also be interesting to see its effect upon McFarlane’s business operations and any chilling effect upon future publishing…

I also wonder how the reputation of Twist (the hockey player) in this community affected the jury’s deliberations. Twist is much loved in this town, not just for his spirited play on the ice, but maybe even more for his tireless efforts with underprivileged children and other similar charitable interests. While the jury probably was not aware of McFarlane’s possible ‘bad-boy’ image (no pun intended!), they were certainly aware of Twist’s outstanding reputation. I am sure the latter, when juxtaposed with the reputation of Twist the Spawn character created quite a contrast for the jury and weighed heavily in their decision.

Please do not misunderstand my motive in sending this. I know you have too much class to find satisfaction in McFarlane’s situation. I find this case to be interesting for the chilling effect it could have on that aspect of all literary endeavors, as I am sure you have probably similarly concluded. I concur with McFarlane’s prediction that this could wind up with the Supreme Court. I could even see them agreeing to hear the case, given its far-reaching implications.

Interesting implications indeed. Which we shall ponder, in our best uninformed layman’s style next week. Although I think we can take a brief moment to debate whether I, in fact, have too much class to find satisfaction with McFarlane’s situation. Hmm. Let me consider it a moment. I must consider the distasteful and unworthy notion of kicking a man when he’s down. I must… must consider Todd’s feelings. Must consider… the incredible irony… of a guy who boasted about comparing me to a KKK member… getting financially pantsed by a St. Louis jury… must… maintain personal integrity… must… think about… big picture… remember devotion to First Amendment absolutism… must… suppress… fit of giggles… must… must control… fist of death… must… must….


Whew. That was close. Okay. I’m better now…

(Peter David, writer of stuff, can be written to at Second Age, Inc., PO Box 239, Bayport, NY 11705.)


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E-Man #9 (First Comics, December 1983). [Apr. 14th, 2014|07:01 am]

So this here is one of those comic book series whose omission from my personal collection is almost nearly inexplicable. E-Man seems like it’s right up my alley; a mostly-lighthearted superhero adventure comic, veering into parody and satire, created and originally written by Nicola Cuti, and co-created and (I think) always drawn by Joe Staton, one of my favorite comic book artists. And it’s not like I didn’t have opportunity to buy the series…I was following several of the comics being published by First Comics in the 1980s, of which the E-Man revival series was one. Plus, at the shop I work at I am pretty sure we have all of those First issues and the original ’70s series available in the back issue bins. Even if we don’t, First Comics also reprinted those on what would almost have to be better paper than whatever castoff printing scraps that 1970s Charlton Comics usually ended up using.

Anyway, I didn’t buy these series at the time, and someday I should, because if it’s one thing I need in the house, it’s more comic books.

However, as you may have guessed, considering I have it pictured above, I did buy one issue, mostly because I was being a Phil Foglio completist, and he, along with his sci-fi character Buck Godot, make a one-page cameo appearance in one of the Hostess parody ads that E-Man would regularly run:

I like the looks of this fella:

So that’s the one issue of E-Man I own, and honestly, I should own more. At the very least, I should have the issue previous, since it has a Cutey Bunny parody ad, and I’ve mentioned before that I’m an easy mark for the work of Joshua Quagmire.

And wouldn’t you know it, I just did a little Googling trying to find a list of creators who did parody ads for E-Man and just discovered someone starting, mere days ago, his own retrospective on the First Comics run of E-Man. Not trying to jump someone else’s train here or anything…it was just a coincidence! Plus, it’s not like I really had anything specific to say about E-Man anyway, so please go read what he has to say to learn more about that particular property, and to see another creator’s take on the Hostess parody ads!

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Comic: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Three [Apr. 14th, 2014|07:01 am]

New Comic: The Dungeon Mistress, Part Three
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Comic: 04/14/14 [Apr. 14th, 2014|04:00 am]

Ads by Project Wonderful! Your ad could be here, right now.
Comic for 04/14/14

Ref: hook.

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"Calligraphy 45" - Mon, 14 Apr 2014 [Apr. 14th, 2014|12:00 am]

Calligraphy 45
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