Truth and Fiction

When I was a kid, I liked to make up fantastic stories. I liked making people believe things that I’d just made up out of whole cloth.

This went on at the same time as my writing, until my writing had readers (sometime in high school, my form mates caught on to what I was up to with the exercise books with a pink cover [they’d been given to me for free by my grandparents’ best friend who owned the general store across from grandma’s house, and who found a huge bin of composition books with a repulsive gingivitis-pink cover in his attic and didn’t know which ancestor stocked them, nor what to charge for them. I remember the conversation with grandma “So, I hear your youngest granddaughter likes to scribble.” You probably don’t know what a gift that was, because paper is cheap. It wasn’t for us. I was often told I couldn’t write for a while, till my parents could buy more paper.] They started reading my novels in instalments, as I wrote them, and appeared to like them. That’s when the lying for fun ended, because this was more fun. Lying to people who knew you were lying, but were willing to believe you if you did well enough.)

My last misdeed, I remember, was at 14 when I made up a boyfriend with such exquisite detail that I gave him an address in the US, got cancelled US stamps, disguised my handwriting, and faked an entire relationship including breakup. That his name was Dan Holtz was to cause me some problems later, when friends thought I’d lost my mind by announcing my engagement to Dan Hoyt, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, perhaps it is because of this past as fabulist that I’m very sensitive to matters of truth and try very hard not to tell lies. Or at least not to tell lies about anything relevant to anyone else. (If I told you I shaved my legs this morning, would it be relevant to you? Would you care if I waxed them instead, but didn’t want to admit to spending that much time on my legs? No? Right. BTW, I didn’t do either, but it’s an example. I do, for instance, “lie” to avoid tipping people on social media to where my kids will be at any given time. Because paranoid. I also don’t announce my visits to Pete’s in advance, because family time.)

Part of this is because I am aware of how much more believable lies are than the truth (too often.) They have internal consistency that the truth lacks.

It’s also because I know that to some extent, no mater how small, I have a “voice of authority” or at least a stompy pulpit.

Well, ya’ll aren’t the gullible sort. You’re likely to question me even about some things I am sure I know (and sometimes you’re right and I’m wrong!) and ask for links or it didn’t happen. Which makes my voice of authority much more whispery than otherwise.

However I understand other people have fans who don’t continuously push and prod and ask questions of everything they say. (Sounds boring to me too.)

I understand this because that ridiculous and retracted article from Publishers Entertainment Weekly [I had it right below, but notice my fingers are stupid.] keeps popping up all over. As in, colleagues of mine, with more “authority” than I have will uncritically assume that Sad Puppies are a reaction from an entrenched elite to newcomers of different color/orientation/gender.

To believe this requires ignoring the rich history of women in science fiction. It requires ignoring that the people behind Sad Puppies range from a bestseller, to midlisters, to newcomers, to people who indie published. Oh, also that sixty percent of us are women, even if a man very kindly agreed to take point this year, as my state of health made it unlikely I’d survive carrying the standard.

Then there is the other “big lie” put out by people in authority that this is all about political orientation and that the only people supporting or being supported by Sad Puppies are conservatives.

I’ve before expressed my amusement at the idea that someone like me, who is only held back from hanging aristos on the nearest lamppost by knowing how that revolution turned out, is called a “conservative” while the people fighting tooth and nail to keep the hundred-plus year old social-democrat shading to socialist establishment in place are called “progressives.”

But it goes beyond that. Yeah, this started by noticing that anyone who wasn’t parroting the mintruth’s line of the year had as much chance of winning awards (except for the Prometheus) as a snow ball of setting up residence in hell. As Dave freer noted, and file 770 figured, only 19 conservatives earned an award in the last 20 years (and that’s counting as conservative anyone who doesn’t think Stalin had some good ideas but was a bit eager.) This is far less than is statistically likely.

More than that, year after year we’ve seen apolitical writers being ignored, no matter how excellent their work.

It doesn’t bear repeating the tedious history, but last year Larry set out to prove that even the potential of a conservative being nominated was enough to outrage every one of the usual bien pensants. As he put it, he put VD on the ballot because Satan had no eligible works. If the award were for good works, (since he was careful to pick one of VD’s good stories) people might grumble about the writer, but there would be no drama.

Oh, boy, was there drama.

This year, Brad, who is a friend and also a much nicer person than I am, engaged to – instead of proving a point – call attention to some writers he thought had been neglected/no one would hear of since they weren’t establishment darlings.

The ensuing scream and shout has proven the problems with the awards the last few years better than anyone could have hoped. It has also disgusted me.

What has disgusted me, particularly, is people in authority, people who have a name and supposed bully pulpit repeating again and again the discredited narrative first fronted by Entertainment Weekly.

While Kris Rusch is right (and note what she said wasn’t anti-puppy.  She was just talking about the discrimination in SF/F.  We’ve discussed it before and we largely agree) that there has been discrimination against women and people of color in science fiction, that discrimination has mostly come from the publishing establishment trying to put such people in boxes. It appears they believe you’re only supposed to write according to what’s between your legs or your melanin content.

The supporters of Sad Puppies, frankly couldn’t care about either. They just want a good story.

Which brings us to the other “Big Lie” that we just want “pulp” or “adventure” or “old fashioned” stories.

This incredible nonsense doesn’t pass the smell test. None of us has said that. What’s more, as far as I can tell, none of us believes that. I have in the past advised fledglings not to try to write in the style of long-gone-by writers (except the occasional send up. I’ve been known to do Bradbury pastiche.)  Writing styles and tastes have changed.  No one wants to work that hard for their fiction.

Much as I love say Jane Austen, I’m aware styles of prose have changed completely since her day. You see, we are a lot more visual. Also omniscient narrator doesn’t seem to do as well as it once did, because competing with visual media forces writing to employ its one advantage: putting you in a character’s head for a while.

Also, frankly, with some exceptions, I have great trouble reading science fiction published before the sixties or so, because I’m sensitive to language shifts and also because some of the assumptions are risible. (You know the exceptions, Simak, Heinlein and half a dozen others.)

Yes, I just did a post exhorting us to recreate the Golden Age, which I note File 770 immediately echoed, even though it had clear nothing to do with the Hugos. They picked it up because they thought it supported their narrative. One despairs of trying to talk to whole-word-readers.

That post of course exhorted writers to write for their fans not the publishing establishment. And it exhorted the fans to support their writers. It also exhorted writers to be a little more daring with their science (because that’s why science fiction is getting its lunch eaten by fantasy.) In my opinion that’s what Golden Age IS. It was not about writing pulpy. Not that I expect anyone there would get it.

All three of these lies, however, have been picked up not just by general entertainment venues, which knowing nothing of our field can be excused for being dumb about it, but by prominent figures in my field, to whom the ill-informed then listen.

It got so bad that on a facebook group, one of the ill informed held on buckle and tongue to these lies, in the face of Brad and I telling her she was wrong.

It got so bad that people who try to believe those they consider voices of authority have tried to psychoanalyze us to “prove” that we’re deluded about our own motives and ideas. As in, someone actually accused me of subconsciously wishing to beat up paleontologists, because there was no possible other reason for me to hate a poorly-researched, insufficiently fleshed-out, contemptuous of working class prose-poem.

Because people will do anything to believe those they hold as “authorities.” Humans are, after all, for our sins, social animals.

However, this is going a little beyond that. It’s more like my grandma would say “I’ve seen them blind, but some of these people lack a place where the eyes go.”

A lot of these people do. Strange in a field that’s supposed to extrapolate from premises and keep logic throughout.

But people will always ditch logic for “But so and so said so.”

Hence the bad tendency to default to feudalism, no matter what it’s called.

Which is why it’s important to tell the truth. Particularly if it’s easily researched, if the people are your colleagues, and if you, yourself, work in a given field.

Because it is possibly less of a sin to murder a man than to slander him.

Because death is death and (with notable exceptions) everyone knows when it happens and often how (the first one to mention Emilia Earhart or Jim Morrison, or Elvis gets carped) and murder investigations happen as a matter of routine, assassination of a man’s character is almost impossible to counter, since some no-place-for-eyes people insist on believing lies spoken in authority, no matter how crazy or unlikely the story. And it goes on and on, often after the person is dead.

It is evil in the highest degree. And it is why one should strive to tell the truth, particularly when it’s easily investigated and understood with minimal effort. Sometimes in big and complex matters one can fall far short of the truth. But when you strive to obscure the truth by refusing to believe what the principals themselves tell you, you might want to consider that it is you who is at fault.

Professionals, particularly fiction professionals need to know the difference between their favored tale and the truth.

Otherwise both become rubbish.

410 responses to “Truth and Fiction

  1. Jeff Duntemann

    I hope I’m not being a living example here, but was it Entertainment Weekly instead of Publisher’s Weekly? I hadn’t heard of an attack posted on the PW site, and I was following the AP tantrums pretty closely.

    • yes. I’m being dyslexic.

      • Jeff Duntemann

        Nits are just nits. It’s a brilliant piece. Assumed authority is a tribal thing, and the SP – AP dustup is basically an exercise in tribalism, as Brad laid out pretty clearly a month or so ago. We see very much the same thing in the climate field, which has morphed from a science to a tribal shibboleth.

        • … with a huge, horrible backlash as the public will come to distrust any scientific pronouncement of disaster — and won’t make an exception for the well-founded ones. Ever read science-fictional disaster novels and wonder how the masses in the stories manage to miss the obvious? Maybe it’s because someone previously tried to sell them a heap of rotten fish.

          • lonejanitor

            I remember when I stopped reading someone-Stephen Baxter, maybe?- because his character always seemed to be living in solar-powered cardboard houses on hurricane-prone beachfronts in the middle of Global Warming Deathtime. Got irritating.

            • What was (maybe intentionally) hilarious was the one in which the Earth was engaged in a massive geoengineering project to re-freeze the Arctic Ocean. They were using gigantic refrigerator heat pumps with colossal, hundreds-mile-long coolant tubes, but not orbital sunshades for, as one character pointed out, that would be “science fiction.” The reason I think it may have been intentionally hilarious is that the character who said this was also noted for believing that lawsuits could be economically-productive because of all the people at the lawyers’ offices who got paid for them. I’m guessing Stephen Baxter comprehends economics a bit better than that … 😉

              • Did they consider what to do with the ‘heat’ those heat pumps were pumping? It has to go somewhere, and like all devices of man, they actually generate more heat than they pump.

                • It’s been a while since I’ve read the story, but I assume the heat was being transported away from the Arctic. The point was to get the Arctic albedo up so that this would catalyze further global cooling.

                  But yeah: sunshades are actually more practical than is turning the Arctic Ocean into the world’s biggest ice cube tray.

        • It is mindful of the old puzzler about the island on which lived two tribes, one whose members always lie and the other whose members never lie. Except in this instance we are talking about people believing only the members of their own tribe while disbelieving any member of any other tribe.

          Thus any statement can be refuted by denouncing its speaker as “not of our tribe.”

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Elvis? I just saw him leaving the building. [Very Big Grin While Flying Away Very Very Fast]

    • Everyone knows Elvis didn’t die but was exiled by his evil half broth Costello. We covered that two posts ago.

      • Sigh. Herb…. Have a carp.

      • My favorite stoned rock music conspiracy theory, dealing with my favorite band since 1965, was that Jim McGuinn didn’t change his name, he fled to Rio in 1968 and was replaced by his C&W-playing country cousin Roger.
        Jim Morrison’s death was a perfect example of how the one most important detail gets ignored: a member of the Doors (Manzarek, I think) said, ” I walked into the room with Jim’s casket. The lid wasn’t screwed in yet, I could have lifted the lid and looked, and been sure.” You can be sure. They would not have left that casket unsecured and unguarded if Morrison wasn’t in it.

      • I am SOOOOOOOOOO not thinking about your legs!
        EW was told that women were previously excluded/not-present, and in their ignorance, accepted it without questioning. Shortcut. Trusted their source. (FOOLS.) Your colleagues who believed it, though, what’s their excuse?


    • Randy Wilde

      That wasn’t Elvis, it was Jimmy Hoffa going to a gig as an Elvis impersonator.

    • Nonsense. I haven’t been any where near your…..
      Never mind, Move along nothing to see here.

    • Agent J: “Elvis is dead, you know.”
      Agent K: “No he’s not. He just went home.”


  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Seriously, as I grew up, I always heard “don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers” or “don’t believe everything you read”.

    I’ve taken that idea to heart even when reading things on-line.

    Oh, it seriously annoys me when somebody in a discussion quotes something from a *fictional* story as if it proves their point of view is correct.

    Almost any writer of fiction can make a falsehood *sound* real. [Sad Smile]

    • At least any competent writer, yes.

    • The elementary school books we had in 1960s California told us John Glenn was the first man in space, and that the Pilgrims discovered America.

      I learned better around the third grade, and never trusted anything presented after that.

    • Oh, it seriously annoys me when somebody in a discussion quotes something from a *fictional* story as if it proves their point of view is correct.

      Zomga, yes. “It WILL be this way, because (movie)!”

      And then they throw a fit about “nitpicking” when you point out why the path the story took to reach that ending is wrong…..

    • Nonsense on the on-line part. My favorite line is “I read it on the Internet, so it must be true.”

  4. darleenclick

    What is happening is Sci-Fi part of the larger societal push of Leftists/SJWs/Feminists/Progressives to control the language. Controlling the language, being the gatekeepers of what is “acceptable” discourse in public OR private is the way to control the populace.

    #GamerGate isn’t connected at all with SP, but what was happening in the Gamer World parallels SP parallels American universities, et al.

    It is illiberalism all the way down.

    • Or, as has been said many times before: Liberals read Orwell as a How-To manual.

    • Rob Crawford

      Hey, Darleen! Is there a convenient short guide to Jeff’s thoughts on the left and language?

    • It’s connected now. Tenuously, perhaps, but shrieking “Gamergate, Gamergate, Gamergate!” got their attention — and supporting memberships from the lot of them.

      • Indeed, GG started out with their realization that the game ‘publishing’ and review industry was giving out false awards and claims. They quickly saw the same dynamic in the Hugos. Unfortunately for Princess Tempest B-Cup and Nielsen Haydens and their orcish minions, to gamers a $40.00 entry fee is chump change to their monthly gaming budgets.

        • Well, those gamers that they were mostly battling.

          Some of us are older married folks who mostly dismiss them as nonsense idiots and have significantly lower funding…. 😀

  5. Christopher M. Chupik

    I suppose we do want “old-fashioned” stories in the sense that we want stories with characters we like doing things we find interesting.

    • yeah, but some of the old ones weren’t like that either 😉

    • I would settle for SF/F stories that didn’t leave me wanting to pluck out my eyeballs and dip them in bleach.

      If I want stories that leave me depressed and thinking the SMoD cannot arrive soon enough I have sources aplenty for those; why would I read SF/F for such? Would Holden Caulfield be less of an obnoxious git if his story had been set on Luna?

      • Yes, because he would have been spaced for being annoying less than halfway through.

      • What is SMoD?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Sweet Meteor Of Death. IE a giant Meteor hits Earth and put us all out of our misery.

          • Thank you.

          • Professor Badness

            And the further into insanity our world descends, the Sweeter that Meteor becomes.

            • Am I the only one here who cannot shake the ear-worm:

              Ah! Sweet Meteor of Death
              At last,You’ve found us.
              Ah! At last We know the secret of it all.
              For the longing, seeking, striving, waiting, yearning,
              The burning hopes,
              The joy and idle tears that fall.

              For ’tis death and death alone,
              The world is seeking.
              And ’tis death and death alone,
              That can put paid.
              ‘Tis the answer, ’tis the end and all of living,
              For it is death alone that rules for aye.

              And I’m not even a fan of Jeanette MacDonald (although she is delightful in Rouben Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight

              — one of the great triumphs of early sound cinema. I tremble to think what our modern defenders of women’s virtue would say about this.)

  6. Christopher M. Chupik

    And of course, this will end up being linked by File 770 where the anti-Puppies will gleefully tear it apart. I wish more of them would come here. They won’t be banned unless they break the (few) rules of the blog. They won’t be disemvowelled for disagreeing with the host like they would at Making Light. But they will be challenged, and I suspect that’s the reason we don’t get more. We don’t mind a debate here, but we don’t suffer fools.

    • They’d much rather make their comments over there, the digital version of talking behind our backs, and pretend their doing something important.

      But what do I know? I’m just the most offensive person in this entire affair. 😀

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Quite the achievement, considering you’re up against N K Jemisin, Aaron Pound, Nick Mamatas and Arthur Chu.

      • it also allows their favored leftoid tactic of either deleting any arguments well made against them or editing them to make good points become “bad”.
        Most just do the deletery. editing can bite one (but still there are those who are that stupid)

      • Wait, they stopped burning Daddy Warpig and GG in effigy?

        • Yeah, it seems they took the EPA and Clean Air stuff seriously. *shakes head* Too bad they haven’t figured out that their hot air alone contributes as much to “global warming” as do 2/3 of the cows in Texas and Wisconsin.

          • Too bad they haven’t figured out that their hot air alone contributes as much to “global warming” as do 2/3 of the cows in Texas and Wisconsin.


            Did you hear how those…those… unspeakable IDIOTS got their stats for cow farts?

            They tested feed lot animals that were being finished (relatively confined, very rich diet– idea is to get really yummy fat on the good meat) and extrapolated across the estimate for the entire population. (which would include all calves that aren’t even born for part of the year)

            This is like figuring out food waste stats by looking at high school cafeteria eating habits, when they won’t ALLOW you to not take stuff.

            • Bad Science. It’s an epidemic, and evidently all too easy to do. Did you hear about the guy who intentionally tried to fool the “journalists” into thinking that a scientific study had concluded that eating chocolate helps you lose weight? Of course it succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. And of course, it will change nothing.

              • It was linked here (twice, because I didn’t refresh the page before I did it) a couple of days ago.

              • That’s why I’ve got a blog rant pending about the separation of science and state (funding). For later this month.

                • Good Lord, woman! Don’t advocate that! If the imbeciles in charge actually accepted that premise they would believe that it meant that no mention of science or any facts derived from science could be permitted in any state entity.

                  On second thought, I’m not sure what the difference between that and the current state of affairs would be.

        • Nah, I think they’re branching out.

    • I would like to know how they picked up on my Eric Flint post. Not that I’m complaining, because the attention they got me was impressive and the fact that vox seems to have picked it up from them was even better, but how did they see it in the first place? I only posted it on my timeline and in dice. With no tags.

  7. Yes, I just did a post exhorting us to recreate the Golden Age, which I note File 770 immediately echoed, even though it had clear nothing to do with the Hugos. They picked it up because they thought it supported their narrative. One despairs of trying to talk to whole-word-readers.

    I’m both happy and sad to see that I’m not the only one who has gotten that treatment from them. I’m happy to know it’s not particularly personal, but sad to see someone else get that treatment.

    For me, they linked to a post where I fisked a woman who wanted men banned from book readings, but left out me smacking around men’s rights activists for protesting the new Mad Max movie before any of them had even seen it.

    I understand why. One makes me look like a sexist, while both makes me look like someone with a low tolerance for stupid. They can’t have that, so they pick posts that have nothing to do with the Hugos in an effort to feed the narrative. It’s frankly a little annoying.

  8. reddragonhawk

    Sometimes I think these people actually believe their lies. They hold on to them with such tenacity and defend them so vigorously it’s difficult to comprehend that they know what they are saying is a lie. It’s a bit frightening.

    As for “progressive”, yeah, that’s another lie too. They aren’t progressive, they aren’t liberal, they aren’t for the individual. We are all just cogs in a machine, and no single one of us counts for anything.

    • false “opinions” are not lies to them, as long as the opinion falls on the correct side of right-think, it is valid, no matter how false in reality it is.

      • I once had one of them tell me that a study was false because it could be used by her political opponents. That level of delusion cannot be reasoned with.

        • exactly. this is the same mentality that gives you “Be more civil, you misogynistic, theocratic, terroristic, tea bagging racist!” when your “incivility” was math and pointing out reality

    • As someone put it… “Modern liberalism and progressivism: Ideas so good, they have to be mandatory!”

    • No one is ever fanatically devoted to something they have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They *know* it is. Whenever someone is fanatically devoted to a set of beliefs or dogmas or goals, it is only because those beliefs or goals are in doubt.
      — Robert M. Pursig, _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_

      • reddragonhawk

        Never thought about it like that, but it seems to be true. The shouting and screaming is a panicked reaction to being challenged.

    • Which is why I love the term ‘libprog’ for them. It’s an ugly word, and vaguely newspeak-ish.

  9. Christopher M. Chupik

    Or maybe this “Dan Holtz” was merely your subconscious accidentally receiving data from the future, resulting in your confusion. 😉

  10. c4c

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Remember when Y2K was going to shut down civilization?

        Neither does anyone else, it seems.

        • the antique computer system at SWA in N.O. did show it was 1900 that New Years day, and iirc a cable co somewhere had the same issue.

          • Back near the dawn of personal computing, decades before Y2K, I saw an article by an old mainframe programmer talking about how he had run into date problems while writing software for hospitals. Specifically, about how some scheduling software insisted on lumping senior citizens and infants together.

            “There are people more than 100 years old, and many of them are in hospitals…”

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              I was involved in one of the Y2K fix projects and one of the older programmers commented about the source of the problem.

              When these 2-digit years (ages & dates) were first used computer memory (where you store the data) was expensive.

              So if you had files with thousands of records and each record had several “year/age” fields, it made financial sense to use two digit years.

              Later when memory wasn’t so expensive and programmers pointed out the problems (potential & otherwise), management did not want to pay the price of fixing hundreds of programs and thousands of files & records.

            • My uncle was a mainframe programmer. iirc his company had patched the system way ahead of Y2K so there was no panic there. I wonder if it was due to something like that.

          • Some places thought it was 19010.

            • Whoops! I meant 19100. Important slip, there.

            • The SWA scedule monitors were an old Dumb Terminal style system, and I think it still was used by ticketing but was in the process of being upgraded.
              I think it was a locally owned Calais Communications (Now called Vision) of Lafourche Parish that had their system to 1900 for the date or was it the Cox Cable system out in St Bernard Parish … too far back … egad, 15 years ago?

          • Unfortunately (well, fortunately, really, but unfortunate in the sense of people saying it wasn’t necessary), there was enough time and effort expended in the last half of the ’90s to keep Y2K from being a problem, so everyone thinks it was all nothing but fear-mongering.

        • We lost a system that did commision checks for a certain group of sales people that had slipped through analysis.

          And analysis for us (I was at a health insurance company) did identify a lot of systems that would fail including some claims related systems. So, while Y2K was overblown it wasn’t a complete non-problem. We did so well in no small part because we did our first test of fixes in late 1998.

        • Birthday girl

          I remember. But the company I worked for was doing date upgrades while I still worked for them … and I left in 1995. I think most companies were doing likewise.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Nod. It was a known problem for programmers for several years. The problem was convincing Management that it had to be fixed.

        • I remember that an aunt made a not too small fortune troubleshooting and “curing” Y2K problems before they occurred.

          Of course I know that as of a year or so ago at least one local store STILL was printing receipts that gave the date as in the 90’s, because they were still using a pre-Y2K system, that they had backdated.

          • I have a receipt from a local grocery store dated “Dec 32” saved somewhere in the Archeological Filing System.

            I brought it up for discussion in a programming group once, and received several explanations as to how that might have come about, but they all sounded like poor programming practice to me.

            • snelson134

              Oh, the single best Y2K story IMHO was the behavior of Microsoft Office. One of the fixes for dealing with two-digit year storage was to pick a “pivot year”: if the date is > say 30, we’ll assume the date is 1930, and anything less than that must be in say 2029. It handled 80% or so of the cases.

              Microsoft Office has 5 or 6 different products that have to store and manipulate dates: Excel, Access, Word, etc. In a masterpiece of project management and inter-project communication, each of the products picked a different pivot year.

              Yes, that meant that a date stored in Excel might show up as 2025, but when you imported the data into Access, it would transform into 1925… and vice versa. But the cutoff for Word was 20…..

              “Microsoft: the only way they’ll make a product that doesn’t suck is by going into the vacuum cleaner industry.”

              • Excel 97 had a date bug that I have never seen described on any tech site, but which we found while I was working on the helpdesk (but it happened to US, not our customers):

                We had a spreadsheet that we each had to fill out and send to our supervisors for reporting our time for the week. There was one date field which had to be filled in, but all the rest of the dates were filled in by formula from that one date. After we passed the Y2K barrier, all the dates changed to displaying integers instead of dates, and nothing we did could change it. But it appeared to have been somehow only ones that had been used prior to the new year, because when we created new copies and recreated the formulas, the problem was not there in the new spreadsheet.

                • I understand Oracle has a year 0 between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D.. I don’t know how many historians store their information in Oracle, and most dates that old certainly have some slop on when it really occurs; however, once we start time travel, it could be an issue.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I vaguely recall that some nut was even claiming airplane wings would fall off.

  11. I try to be as gracious as possible, but it’s hard. I think everyone can agree the SP/RP were overly successful at dominating the noms, which is both proof of how few TruFans were voting and led to the shrieking of the Con villagers as they imagine barbarians setting fire to their grass huts and pillaging their delicate feelings. More time has been spent on this than the Hugos are actually worth.

    I hope that the reasonable people are doing the work of understanding each other and learning that stories outside your familiar reading path can be creative and absorbing. Prejudice is ugly even when the Eloi are practicing it. Many of them see themselves as superior creatures in the vanguard of Progress, and are kinder to alien barbarians than our own.

  12. on one of the FB groups I’m a member of, someone posted a link where some person was actually treating “The Book of Nod” (Vampire: the Masquerade RPG backstory, created completely as fiction as the origin story of vampires in the setting) as if it was a legitimate scholarly translation of an Apocrypha of the same name. Teh stoopid, it burns….

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


    • Ye gads and little fishes.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I remember the vampire lady who used to come to the bookstore I worked at, looking for occult books that didn’t exist. It was very strange, and the highlight of many a boring evening.

      • At the New Age bookstore I ran for three years, a young man came in who had permanently mounted vampire fangs, a good job done by a very indulgent dentist.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Vampire Lady came in every few weeks, always at night, usually using a different alias. She had yellow contacts and pointy teeth. She was usually accompanied by a rather meek guy who wasn’t wearing a collar, but should have been. She was a legend among the bookstore staff.

        • Charles, I attended a con back in the 80s where someone had a booth installing those. One guy got a pair and was demonstrating how they allowed him to tap into Coke cans without pulling the tab.

          He realized the downside when he bit through his girlfriend’s tongue….

    • …did they just get confused, like that reporter who found a parody summary of Lord of the Rings and thought it was serious?

      • National Lampoon did one, titled “Bored Of The Rings”. In my basement

        • I tried to read that once. It was dumb, and it had no love for the source material. Kinda like reading Redshirts.

          • The difference between Redshirts and Bored of the Rings is the staff of National Lampoon never had any illusions about what they were, what they wrote, or where their talents lay.

            Probably why they garner respect and admiration even today for what they did while certain other authors can’t even while active.

          • Somewhere there may be someone else who thinks “The Lord of the Rings” is more interesting than reading the Federal Register. If so, there may be another who was delighted with “Bored of the Rings.”

    • Worse than burning, teh stupid is contagious. It is a dangerous virulent social disease (one which makes its victims believe that, on them, it looks good.)

    • Rob Crawford

      I once ran across a website written by a fellow who interpreted lines indicating the slope of a burial mound as individual ridges, turning the stretched conical mound into a “centipede effigy”.

    • On the other hand, I suppose that’s marginally better than treating it as a history of the villain group from the main “Command and Conquer” video games.

      Very “marginally”, however. 😛

  13. I’ve noticed that the more fiction and history I write, the more sensitive I’m becoming to fibs and falsehoods in the media. History only has a coherent narrative because we’re looking back and searching for a narrative. Current events just happen. They may be interconnected in certain ways, but (to use a recent example), if you were to write a political thriller and have the Sec State break his leg while riding a bike during a major international negotiation session and have to fly home so that a junior diplomat is left in charge, the editor is probably going to roll her eyes.

    The current political and cultural narrative coming from the wanna be Powers That Be is too smooth, too well polished and connected to be entirely “life.” That raises my eyebrows. (Although the SecState crashing his bike just makes me roll my eyes, sigh, and mumble about never using “gravitas” and “Obama Administration” in the same sentence, and why can’t our politicians act like grown-ups, and thanks be the photos of Kerry in his Spandex (TM) riding kit are all taken from the front.)

    • In the movie version, though, Marie Harf saves the world. Tweeting.

      • In the movie version, tweeting hashtag Bring Back Our Girls works* … just as clapping for Tinkerbell works.

        *Okay, it does work in the movie Retief Returns, but that is a special circumstance.

        • Is that the film that ends with Retief and the former president of FIFA’s former mistress disappear around the corner arm-in-arm as the screen fades to black?

    • > searching for a narrative

      Bingo. I found James Burke’s “Connections” delightful… but while he did a good job of showing how development of this was connected to development of that, the progress of technology wasn’t nearly as smooth as the shows make out. Which might not have been his fault; there’s only so much detail you can pack into a television show before you start losing viewers.

      • he kinda gave a wink and a nod to that in the first series that was one hour shows. The way he told the story always implied that to me. Though I loved them, the 2 and 3 were slightly disappointing to me because they skipped even harder to fit the American tv format (I was watching one a few weeks back and laughing at his CompuServe email and him talking to his old laptop like Dragon or Siri actually was working on it)

  14. A simple question on just what exactly was this Sad Puppy thing he’d seen reference to was all about over in Mad Mike’s cubby at Baen’s Bar turned into four (count em 4) blog pages with something like 127 posts. We even got our very own Alinsky trained troll who until his tactics got him banned was a perfect example of the true nature of the anti Puppies, notably lies, deception, misdirection, all those aforementioned Alinsky progressive tricks.
    If anyone has a half hour to kill I’d recommend a scroll through. There are also some very helpful links for anyone wishing to make their own minds up for themselves.
    I’ll offer here a single post of mine from the whole steaming mess:
    Sad Puppies I was simply an effort to demonstrate the existing bias in the Hugo process, something that Larry C. had accused them of and they had vehemently denied.
    Sad Puppies II was more, OK we can play at that non existent game as well.
    Sad Puppies III is pure and simple, so those are the rules, we’ll follow your rules, here’s our nominations.
    And the side benefit is an ever growing list of denials, deflections, ad hominem attacks, threats of the destruction of careers, and a host of butt hurt whiney crybabies claiming it just isn’t fair. The various iterations of Sad Puppies has played by the rules as presented. It’s the anti Puppies who seem to be digging themselves deeper and deeper into an indefensible web of lies and deception.

    • Sorry, the original question came from a fellow bar fly not Mad Mike as it would seem from my words. These fingers sometimes seem to have a life of their own and not always hard wired to the brain they are supposed to serve.

    • yes, but they still stomp their feet, bang their sippy cups and call us big meanies.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I noticed someone at File 770 claiming that Sad Puppies 4 would be less successful than 3. Well, perhaps, but I thought that 3 wouldn’t do quite as well as 2. I was very wrong. And there’s a lot more people involved now. All bets are off.

      • Jeff Duntemann

        Considering the boggling amount of attention that the APs drew to SP3, how could SP4 not do better? Nobody over there seems to be able to spell “Streisand.”

        • They can spell it. They just don’t understand the implications. They’ve been shooting themselves throughout this imbroglio and they don’t have a clue.

          • And they need to stop with the stupid petty threats, like the ones Mercedes Lackey was spouting on Eric’s blog:
            And we bad people are going to be blacklisted:
            As if all too many of us didn’t know that already.

            • My. How classy.

              They keep making me have to re-evaluate their sense and manners down, every time I run into ’em.

            • Sigh, I used to have a very favorable opinion of Eric Flint and a good opinion of Mercedes Lackey (and some sympathy for her parents naming her after a German car).

              That publishing houses will boycott an author is a minor issue compared to readers boycotting an author. Indie publishing and Baen proves the first one, but some of the Self righteous writers spewing on the issue might be in for a little shock.

            • It gets better. Walt Boyes, in the Mad Mike forum thread mentioned above, posted this little gem:

              “What I expect to happen is for Worldcon (and this will also have to be voted on in Kansas City next year) to grant the judges the right to determine at their discretion whether a particular ballot is voting a slate and disqualify it.”

              He later went on to predict that if there’s an SP4 (which there will be, plans are already afoot) that it would pass.

              But the SPs are the ones that are ruining the Hugos… *eyeroll*

              • Were that to come, there will be a thousand fake slates, and the judges would be forced to disqualify everything.

                • That’s the importance of allowing the judges discretion.

                  • Which would be fine if the Hugos were “us judges think these works are worthy”, but until relatively recently (when the SP crowd threw their own statements back in their face) they’ve always been advertised as the opinions of the SF/F readership about what works are best.

                    Given the other rank dishonesty peddled by the anti-SP crowd, I see no rational reason to believe that if the judges do get that power they will use it as a bludgeon against anyone they disagree with, regardless of the actual quality (or lack thereof) of a work. “Yeah, we’ve lied our butts off before and attacked people because we dislike their politics, but THIS time we’re going to be completely honest and objective about our decisions” is about as believable as “the check’s in the mail” or “I promise I’ll still respect you in the morning”.

                    TL;DR: As they say ’round where I live, that dog (proclamations of honesty) don’t hunt.

                    • “when the SP crowd threw their own statements back in their face”

                      I meant when the SP crowd threw the statements of the gatekeepers back in their face, in case it wasn’t clear about the “their” in question.

                    • On the bright side, the blatancy of it would help diminish the value of the brand. The Hugo being a tool to steer people to good books, if it does not work, it should be known not to work.

                  • Absent some form of review of the Judicial Discretion, they might as well just let the judges choose the nominees outright.

                    With review of that discretion, the reviewers effectively become the ones selecting winners — it becomes turtles all the way down.

            • Considering the fact that she is saying this to her editor and coauthor at Baen, is it erroneous to assume she never plans on writing for Baen again? Or does she think she is too speshul for the gander’s sauce to apply to her?

              After all, as she says, “editors don’t like trouble.”

            • Threats? What threats? (okay, being crated)? That’s not a threat; that’s a prediction, an opinion even. (Agreed, the language is more barracks than parlor.)

              Admittedly, I only skimmed Mr. Flint’s main post; but it includes the following:

              You want to know why Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen and many other authors they like don’t get nominated for Hugo awards or win them? It’s as simple as it gets, and it’s the same reason I never get nominated and Mercedes Lackey never gets nominated and Michael Stackpole never gets nominated. It’s because the subjects that interest us and the way we write about them aren’t either the subjects or the style of writing that most of the people who vote for Hugos either like or think is worthy of getting a Hugo award.

              Period. There’s nothing more to be said.

              • Mr Flint gets points for being factual and reasonable; however, the point he is still ignoring is:
                Who died and made *them* God?
                I mean, yes indeed the TOR crowd got in and gamed the Hugo’s, and for a while no one noticed. Now, the Sad Puppies have not only noticed, but they have agreed that the people who vote for Hugos determine who gets a Hugo award. SP3 looked at the same rules the SJWs have been gaming and gamed them ourselves, so that the Hugo award will be voted on by a more *diverse* group of fans. The rabid SJW fans are understandable, their *voice* is being diluted. The rabid publishers are a little different, they should be delighted to have the free publicity of the controversy, take the voting of the Hugos as a free survey of the interest of SF/F’s readers and use this information to go on to 3)Profit!!
                I don’t think they won the battle with Amazon, but they certainly should not be taking on another battle while they are still bloody and bruised.

              • Had Eric Flint stated as much two, three years ago I would find his argument more persuasive. Instead, Flint confirms Larry Correia’s original claim, one denied three years running by the Hugocrats: the Hugo Awards are given by a select few and are not representative of fandom as a whole.

                Of course, once the Sad Puppies Campaign revealed their lie they insisted that “Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia” the Hugos have always been awarded by a small group of con-goers..

                Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain, his pants are on fire.

              • Actually the Lackey comment was one of the mildest of the threats. I’ve seen some that were much more blatent over at File 770 and the “making Light crowd is frothing at the mouth in between their planning to rewrite the Hugo nomination process. To say nothing of Arthur Chu’s blatherings. The ugly stuff coming from the CHORFs is just incredible.

          • They understand it fine. It’s just that within their echo chamber, they don’t think it applies to them.

        • amazing what screaming, “Gamergate, Gamergate, Gamergate!” does.

          • Jeff Duntemann

            Shame it’s not the same thing that happens when you scream “Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!”

      • There’s no way we can repeat the unprecedented success from this year in the noms. However, we’ll still be a force.

        • Actually, there’s a pretty easy way to beat this year’s success (measured against the goals we set for this year). That is, if a significant percentage of the 9,000 memberships for WorldCon actually nominate stories they liked next year, then we will see a “slate” that draws from the popular fanbase, reflective of the diversity of all fandom.

          If enough people take the time to put forth things they loved that TNH’s log-rolling and whisper campaigns, AND the Sad Puppies Prevention suggestions are BOTH drowned out by the number of general nominations, then we will have won beyond our wildest imaginings, and the Hugos and Worldcon will have started to recover some of the standing that standing it has lost in these last decades.

      • That would depend on the definition of “success,” would it not? Expect their definition of success to a) differ from the stated goals of SP4 and b) be crafted after the balloting is revealed. Nothing guarantees a bulls-eye so much as drawing in the targets after the shooting is over.

  15. > authorities

    A large number of people are wired to be followers. Nothing is hidden; all the original posts are just a few searches and clicks away.

    “Truth” runs a poor second (or fourth, or fifth) behind “authority.”

    It’s not just SF. Look at AGW…

    • Argh. Add “yet they blindly follow their chosen leaders when they could easily examine the evidence and judge for themselves.”

    • *waves hand* I’m a follower.

      There’s a difference between being a bad follower, and a good one, though. Think like in the Lord of the Rings with Samwise and the slimy, “helpful” Gollum personality.

      Bad followers are popular, though, because they tend to not recognize it’s a two-way relationship, and they put up with a lot of failure for the “leader” to hold up their side……

    • Yeah, but I’m the one who chooses who to follow.

  16. My last misdeed, I remember, was at 14 when I made up a boyfriend with such exquisite detail that I gave him an address in the US, got cancelled US stamps, disguised my handwriting, and faked an entire relationship including breakup. That his name was Dan Holtz was to cause me some problems later, when friends thought I’d lost my mind by announcing my engagement to Dan Hoyt, but that’s a story for another time.

    So, basically, they thought you’d decided to marry your former imaginary boyfriend? 😀

  17. Anyway, perhaps it is because of this past as fabulist that I’m very sensitive to matters of truth and try very hard not to tell lies. Or at least not to tell lies about anything relevant to anyone else. (If I told you I shaved my legs this morning, would it be relevant to you? … I do, for instance, “lie” to avoid tipping people on social media to where my kids will be at any given time. Because paranoid. I also don’t announce my visits to Pete’s in advance, because family time.)

    Interestingly enough, this is a long-running controversy– what exactly does it mean to “lie”?

    Some people have a hard-line “no you can not either say there are no Jews in the house to the Nazis, nor can you imply you enjoyed the horrible nasty cake your elderly neighbor baked for you” form, some go more towards “lying is willfully withholding a truth that someone is entitled to” (as with you crossing up where and what your kids are doing, or my using a pseudonym–these are not things people are entitled to by casual acquaintance) and some having variations of paying attention to what the likely results are to be, holding it to the same standard as actions where you are morally responsible for the foreseeable results of your actions.

    The amusing thing is, it’s seems like I’m more likely to have folks think I’m fibbing when I’m not even dancing around a harmful truth (mom got it through my thick head that no, it’s not OK to hurt people just because it’s true, you still have to have a good reason for the pain and harm…and I have a bad habit of saying the wrong factual thing and then needing to dance out of it) because I’m use to having reached a conclusion by an unusual route, and needing to fill in a lot of blanks, so I give too many details.

    • This might be one of those interpreting the Bible overly narrowly things, but it seems to me–and has for some time–that the commandment basically means “lying to get someone else in trouble.”
      Now, the commentary (aka, numerous citations in Proverbs and the Ananias) expands things a little to “lying for profit, either material or immaterial.”
      Lying to save someone else’s hide does not seem to be bad in and of itself.

      • The phrase I’ve heard most often is “sin against the truth.” Kind of…. *makes vague hand motions* Not so much “in trouble” as “cause harm.”
        False witness, rash judgement (assuming moral fault without @#$# good reason), harming reputation via falsehood, false encouragement in bad things…..

        Basically, holds words to the same standard as deeds.

        How are you going to profit by a lie unless it’s by causing harm to others? (I don’t mean like the silly “I write lies for a living” definition of fiction.)

        For that matter, telling the Nazis that there ARE Jews hiding in your house is encouraging them to sin, rather horrifically….

        • “How are you going to profit by a lie unless it’s by causing harm to others?”

          By claiming fictional achievement, mostly.

          • That does cause harm– because the only way you could benefit is if that fictional achievement makes people give you something they wouldn’t otherwise, AKA fraud. Theft-by-words.

        • The Bible’s stance on lying is very complicated, with multiple examples of “good” people lying for bad purposes (“Trim your Willies and we’ll forgive your rape of our sister.”) and telling truth to bad effect (“That guy, the one right over there — he’s Jesus, he’s the guy claiming to be King of the Jews.”) — such that any inference one draws regarding the general view of honesty is at best confused.

          The Creator, OTOH, cannot lie because what He says, is.

          • The orders are pretty clear, though.

          • But see Genesis 18:12–13, just after the angels deliver God’s message to Abraham that he and Sarah will have a child:

            Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have withered will I have smooth flesh [alt. my period] again? Even my lord is old.”
            The Lᴏʀᴅ said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Is it really true that I will give birth, although I am old?’ […]”

            Notice particularly what God leaves out of His quote of Sarah’s skepticism.

      • I once was at a board meeting and our mid-70 year old lady came in and I greeted her, “Audrey, you look more ravishing each time I see you.” Now, she was a very snappy dresser, and kept her hair dyed and arranged; however, she did not believe that I was telling the ‘truth’ any more than I did.
        My beloved Aunt is a Southern Baptist, those ‘King James edition is the infallible word of God’ types. Her default position was any untruth was evil. When we really pressured her, she did unbend a little, but not very far.
        I have always believed that there are certain exceptions that are always allowed. Asking about a Christmas present? The giver is authorized to lie through their teeth without censure. Asking me to go somewhere I don’t want to go… If I tell you ‘I’m doing my hair.’ I am being polite. Now, if you ask me a question and my response is ‘Do you want the honest answer or the polite answer?’, the choice is yours. The polite answer is a half truth if possible. If the honest answer is psychologically damaging, I will try a second time with, ‘You don’t want the honest answer.’ If you insist, I will give you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth with the usual caveat that I am not God, so the truth is my honest representation to the best of my memory and ability.
        One would assume that every married man goes straight to hell if, ‘Does this dress make my butt look fat?’ requires an honest answer.

        • Overheard in the dressing room area back in the days when larger floral prints were in:
          She: “Oh goodness, this dress makes me look fat!” [sound of curtains moving]
          He: “Yes, dear, I’m afraid it does. That is a very bad place to put peonies.”
          She [after coming out to look in the three-way mirrors]: “It really is. Well, let’s see how the other one works.”

          I leave it to your imagination as to where two very large flowers happened to appear on the skirt.

        • Free advice for married and otherwise interrogated men: first thing you do is check whether the thing can be changed back. She can’t uncut her hair, but she can undo the styling, for instance.

          If it can’t be put back, you can say, “I’m sure I will like it when I get used to it.”

          If it can, you can say, “I don’t think it does anything for you.”

          • Good advice, if impractical. The question will come out of thin air, or so it seem to a male. While trying to realign his thinking from whatever he thought the conversation was about, there is simply no time to logically survey the situation before creating a pause long enough that whatever the wrong answer is, becomes the assumed response.

          • Noticed at Jewish World Review this morning:

            No man can consider himself truly married until he understands every word his wife is not saying.
            — Lord Mancroft

      • Yes, but there are condemnation besides that one: “[The Devil] was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.”

    • There is a funny anecdote about the Dutch Anabaptist leader Menno Simons (after whom Mennonites are named). When he was on the run from the authorities who didn’t appreciate his preaching, the coach he was traveling in was stopped. They asked if Menno Simons was on board. He promptly stood up and asked the other passengers “Is Menno Simons sitting in this coach?” Everybody answered “no” in chorus, and they were let go.”

      To this day, making a statement that is literally true but amounts to misdirection is known in Dutch as a “mennistenleugen” (Mennonite lie).

      • Someone studied the classics… several saints had stories where people who wanted to kill them ran up and asked “so and so was here, did you see where he went?!?” and they responded something like “he is just ahead of you,” and they run off down the road…..

      • this reminds me … I need to go to my local mennonite country store, get a sandwich and some birch beer .. maybe some jerky too

      • 😀 NCT, I am going to borrow that for the next time I’m doing an overview of the Protestant Reformation.

  18. Well, ya’ll aren’t the gullible sort. You’re likely to question me even about some things I am sure I know (and sometimes you’re right and I’m wrong!) and ask for links or it didn’t happen. Which makes my voice of authority much more whispery than otherwise.

    There’s also the problem that we sometimes misunderstand things, and since you’re here to be asked and are trustworthy about not getting a pissy about your authority….

  19. Christopher M. Chupik

    Lest we forget, the Nielsen Haydens are still planning ways to change the Hugos:

    • Is this the equivalent of fiddling while the genre and the company burns? (Has anyone gotten confirmation of the rumors that Tor UK has, or is about to, close?)

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Haven’t heard that. I’d be a bit surprised, considering Tor just signed Scalzi to a 3 million dollar contract, though. That doesn’t *seem* be the act of a company in dire straits. Or is Tor UK separate?

        • Don’t know. The rumor came out on the Passive Voice blog in the same thread as Scalzi’s deal. I’ve seen about to and has from different comment threads, but nothing official about Macmillian closing that imprint.

        • 3 million dollar contracts aren’t REALLY three million dollar contracts. Anyone want me to explain, or does someone else want to do it?

          • An explanation would be nice, no matter who does it. Although I wouldn’t want to take too much time from Sarah.

            • First, you get at best 1/3 the money at signing (for everyone but Baen) BUT when contracts are over 1 mil, you get at least 10 payments, usually 20, and some of them are tagged to the book selling more than x copies. From what I understand from a friend who once got an advance of around 10 mil, it amounted to about 100k a year for ten years, with the rest as “stretch goals.”
              So if you think of it as 30k a year for ten years and the rest as stretch goals, you’re probably not far off the truth.
              The “Three Million!” is good publicity thought.

              • And then there are a few minor issues with the trad/pub accounting methodology which supposedly rivals that of both the music and movie industries. In plain english, every conditional, those stretch goals among others, is one more way for the publisher to screw the author out of more of the take.

          • 3 million for 13 books? Sounds like a heck of a lot of work.

      • Polishing the candlesticks while the house is on fire?

    • And the irony of all this attempt to change the Hugo, is that it doesn’t address the biggest reason Sad Puppies is having such an effect: up to this point, only a small number of people voted for the Hugos, and so it was susceptible to slate voting and manipulations of all sorts. The Sad Puppies decided to overcome this, by expanding the voter pool.

      To the extent that the primary goal of Sad Puppies is to continue to expand the voting pool, it doesn’t matter how you change the voting for the Hugos, because people are showing up to vote, who have never voted before!

      They’ve convinced themselves that the problem is “slate voting”, and because their “solutions” are based on this flawed belief, they will focus on the *wrong things* to prevent the Sad Puppies from having any power…unless they can put in place a voting system that excludes the Sad Puppies altogether, in which case, they will have succeeded in making the Hugo completely irrelevant. (And then puppies will be very sad indeed, at least, until the Heinleins become an award…)

      • I suspect that is exactly what they have in mind; they’ll simply throw out books they don’t approve of.

        • No, they will have an entire government agency devoted to ‘recycling’ them, and the agents will have some colorful euphemism like ‘recyclers’. They won’t burn them, of course, because that would cause evil carbon emissions.

  20. As Merlin said, when a man lies, he kills some part of the world.

    • I thought it was when you tell a lie, an Angel loses their wings.

      • Given that study that claimed 60% of people lie 3 times in ten minutes of conversation, there couldn’t be any wings left…

        • I think they are like lizard tails, they quickly grow back.

        • *mentally applies the “when someone assures you that everyone is doing something bad, they’re probably just telling you what THEY do” rule of thumb*

          • From the little I read of it, it seems like they were VERY picky on what to call “truth”.

            • “The truth, the whole truth, and if we can claim you misphrased or left anything out then you lied” type thing?

              Since that’s not what “lying” actually means, then they lied….

              Was pretty sure it was something like that, assuming that they actually SAID it was lying, rather than that being the spin put on it.

          • “He that accuses all mankind of corruption ought to remember that he is sure to convict only one.” — Edmund Burke

    • And “These are the pale deaths that men miscall their lives.” All metal heads know these two phrases from the Metallica semi-instrumental “To live is to die”. Considering metal songwriters’ love affair with movies, they probably took them from the movie.
      I’ve seem them attributed in numerous places to the 17th Century German Lutheran hymn writer Paul Gerhardt, but nobody seems to be able to cough up a source or an original German wording…

  21. It also exhorted writers to be a little more daring with their science (because that’s why science fiction is getting its lunch eaten by fantasy.)

    On a more serious note, thank you for putting into words what I haven’t been able to name. In the 70s as a kid and early teen I didn’t really read fantasy but scifi. What fantasy I did read well into the 80s was science fantasy, mostly Pern and Witch World.

    However, I read more fantasy (and detective) than sci-fi now and have for years. The last new sci-fi authors until I discovered you and through you indie that caught my imagination were Allen Steele and Allister Reynolds.

    Now you have helped me say why, because they were the only ones who caught my imagination.

  22. Christopher M. Chupik

    From the comments at Eric Flint:

    “I suspect that some of these sad and rabid folk will soon have to start writing under new pen names if they expect their work to survive the editorial sniff-test with most of today’s publishers.”

    • Un huh.
      “What ever became of Brad Torgerson?”

      “Haven’t you heard? After he won the Hugo for novel and short story, no publisher would touch his stuff. There’s a rumor that he’s writing for Harlequin with a deep pen name. The Hugo’s the kiss of death to a career.”

      • But seriously, what has most recently happened to Brad is that he’s just won his 3rd AnLab award from Analog magazine, for his novelette “Life Flight”. This is a Reader’s Choice award, which makes it very special to him.. Since SP began, I have found and read several great new writers. I’ve read both of Brad Torgersen’s collections, “Lights in the Deep”, and “Racers of the Night” (which contains “Life Flight”). I highly recommend both, and will get to “The Chaplain’s War” one day soon. Probably soon after I finish the Hugo packet, since the Anti’s PO’ed me enough to actually join up to vote for the first time ever (after reading SF/F on & off since the late 60’s).

        • But as I recall the AnLab awards are determined by the votes of Analog readers. Since they are not True Fans ™ but merely readers and subscribers to a single magazine just how much can they matter in this modern world of socially responsible SF&F?

    • Hmm. Looks like an open acknowledgement of the point that “most publishers” are judging by the author’s politics instead of writing quality to me!

      • Ayup. Translated, it is: We can’t win so we’ll fix the game.

        OTOH, this is likely on a par with threatened boycotts of Chick-Fil-A by people who never eat there anyway.

        • Was down by McChord and tried to swing by the CFA that opened at the mall over there a few weeks ago.

          It’s been at least a month, and after 2pm on a Saturday they had several people out controlling traffic because it went in their parking lot… up and around the furniture store next to them…. around the back… and piled up in the alley… before it could reach the drive-through. And that’s with people going along with nice little portable registers to take orders.

          They had all the inside registers filled, and people were still waiting in line all the way out the door.

          In spite of the heat and wait, almost everyone was smiling and laughing, at least as best I could tell when my husband jumped out the door to do our order and I went to park halfway to the mall. 😀

          So, yeah, a lot like that boycott!

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Obviously not someone familiar enough with either group to know that the major parties at least claim to have already burned their bridges behind them. Furthermore, Sad Puppies appear to be either Baen/indy or indy.

      Follow the money. The rest of publishing (“most of today’s publishers”) have shown little ability to dictate terms to Amazon or Baen.

      Some of the criticism of puppies seems to be driven by having been too close to a puppy, and needing to publicly disavow them to preserve working relationships in the rest of industry.

      One of them puzzled me for a bit, as I am unaware of them having any profitable enterprises set up outside of Baen. For that case alternative theories include not wanting to eat crow for leftism, or not wanting the workers they profit from to realize that there are alternatives to working for them. Or maybe simple friendship and loyalty.

      Motivations are the insides of other people’s heads, and I don’t really know about that.

    • Oh, yeah, because, you know, we were publishing with all these publishers before.
      Shakes head.

  23. In a somewhat related vein, the New York Post’s Kyle Smith reviews a book this morning demonstrating how falsehood and defamation replace historical fact. While I don’t expect many here of being Baseball fans, much less fans of the history of the game (for those few who might be, if you haven’t read Lawrence Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times you have missed one he?? of a good read, a collection of oral histories of the first few decades of MLB from the men who played it which is also a mighty fine social history of America in the first quarter of the 20th Century) I suspect that many with scarcely any interest in the sport recognize the name Ty Cobb and immediately associate it with “racist” — I have, for fifty some years. Except a fact widely known appears to be false. If such lies can afflict a man as prominent as Cobb for so long as they have (and will likely continue to do) then what truths will be known about the source of sadness in puppies?

    How Ty Cobb was framed as a racist
    By Kyle Smith
    The two things everyone knows about Ty Cobb are that he was a phenomenal baseball player and that he was the worst racist ever to play the game.

    But one of these things is mostly wrong.

    Cobb, the first player voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the holder of more than 90 records upon his retirement and still the pace-setter with a .366 lifetime batting average, could be rude, but not nearly as nasty as you think. And far from being the most notorious racist in baseball history, he was an early and vocal supporter of integrating the big leagues.

    In his new biography “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” (Simon & Schuster), Charles Leerhsen opens with a comedy routine that details some of the many myths about the Detroit Tigers superstar.


    Today’s Cobb hatred comes mainly from two sources: [1984 biographer Charles]Alexander’s mistakes and Al Stump, the ghostwriter of Cobb’s autobiography, who produced a fictionalized account so full of lies that Cobb was preparing to sue to stop its publication when he died in 1961.

    Stump was such a hack that he was banned from contributing to both TV Guide and The Saturday Evening Post. “One by one he alienated the kinds of magazines that had fact-checking departments,” said a writer of that era who knew him. “That’s because he produced fiction.”


    Why the determination to brand Cobb as the worst racist ever? Stump apparently believed a more sensational book would lead to more sales. But a large part of the story, Leerhsen notes, is simply that the accurate perception of Cobb as a hothead simply got mixed up with the fact that he was born in Georgia in 1886. Bad temper, southerner: Must have been a racist.

    That’s both too broadly damning — not only were southerners not necessarily racist, Cobb’s own father fought for better treatment of blacks — and it lets us off the hook too easily.

    Detecting sin in someone else is a way of announcing to the world, and to yourself, your own virtue.

    Emphasis added.

  24. Sarah, I know you follow Tom Smith (filker) on Facebook. Don’t know if you saw his status update a couple of days ago, but it was truly sad making. Here are people I have known for years, some of whom were at my engagement, and wedding. They genuinely believe that conservatives like me are evil because I don’t buy into things that I know are false.

    There’s no way to logically reason them out of the false beliefs; there’s no way they will ever leave me alone. If or when they have the power to do so, they will happily send my wife and me to the gulag. These people depress me.

  25. RealityObserver

    I have to agree with most that this is indeed tribalism.

    But I tend to define the tribes differently. There is the tribe that uncritically accepts the visions of the shamans (whatever those are) – and there is the tribe that keeps a jaundiced eye on the shamans; they probably are right (being wise people with a fairly good track record), but important things still *need* to be verified before we run out to implement their dictates.

    Just exhibited my own version of “tribalism” (which is the second kind) on two sites, where the same shoddy “journalism” was posted as an article on both sites. I was *not* nice about it, either.

    Brief summary – assertion being made that a new ATF overreach was about to deny firearms to convicted domestic abusers. Fifteen minutes of research showed that: 1) The “new” regulation proposed was to clarify the term “mental defective” to include the “not guilty by reason of insanity” and “incompetent to stand trial” categories; nothing whatsoever to do with domestic abusers, which had been excluded for *years* by the regulations. 2) The regulation simply repeated, *verbatim*, the language in the Gun Control Act passed in *1968* – absolutely nothing “new” about it, and 100% Constitutional (insofar as it was passed by Congress and signed by POTUS – I would like to see it challenged as an unreasonable “blanket” ban).

    • RealityObserver

      I need to add to that definition of “my” tribe – they learn when they are (successfully) contradicted. Writing this post, I had a weird feeling that I’d read it before; thank goodness that nothing really ever dies on the Web.

      *I* was “schooled” by someone else several years ago when an almost identical issue came up before. Obviously, I managed to learn from the uncomfortable experience.

  26. Not quite off-topic: at some point I downloaded the “trial pages” of “Flashback” by Dan Simmons, and I read it last night in bed. I was not surprised to see all sorts of hyper-negative Amazon reviews not just for THAT book but even (recent ones) for his most acclaimed work (the Hyperion cycle). I’m sure this comes as no surprise to any regular here, but being fairly new to the “inside baseball” of the speculative fiction world, it was an interesting… control experiment.

    • Rob Crawford

      Nothing new — Walt Disney’s films got rave reviews by the communist party organs until he resisted the attempt by the CPUSA to unionize his animators. After that, everything he did or had done was called trash. Much of the hatred for Disney from the left stems from him being anti-communist.

    • I read several negative reviews of Flashback in which the reviewer claimed to be long time Simmons fans who had their ability to enjoy his earlier works (Hyperion in most cases) destroyed by the act of reading the half chapter of Flashback they managed before hurling it aside as a work of the patriarchy.

  27. Richard Ristow

    “Which brings us to the other “Big Lie” that we just want “pulp” or “adventure” or “old fashioned” stories. This incredible nonsense doesn’t pass the smell test. None of us has said that.”

    Back in February, Brad Torgersen wrote,
    “A few decades ago, if you saw a lovely spaceship on a book cover, with a gorgeous planet in the background, you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds. If you saw a barbarian swinging an axe? You were going to get a rousing fantasy epic with broad-chested heroes who slay monsters, and run off with beautiful women. Battle-armored interstellar jump troops shooting up alien invaders? Yup. A gritty military SF war story, where the humans defeat the odds and save the Earth. ,,,”
    (SAD PUPPIES 3: The unraveling of an unreliable field, Posted on February 4, 2015)

    That reads as if he wanted exactly what you are saying. I was struck at the time: surely he doesn’t mean THAT? But he did say it; and if the impression got around that he, and the Puppies, meant it, your opponents can’t be blamed.

    • No, he didn’t mean that, and he has been all over every time you surface saying just that. He was talking about covers and how they should show what was inside.
      When you keep repeating the same thing despite his corrections, one is less than sure of your honesty. Or perhaps it is brain damage?

      • No, he didn’t mean that, and he has been all over every time you surface saying just that. He was talking about covers and how they should show what was inside.

        Hey-lo, Going To Maine from File 770 here.
        Actually, it seems like Brad has been explaining that no, he didn’t mean that covers were untrustworthy but rather that the field had a broader identity problem. In the comments on the“Nutty Nuggets” post, Brad explains:
        Snow, you’re taking [my “Nutty Nuggets” metaphor] a bit too literally. This isn’t about book covers, as much as it’s about the field as a whole having a brand label struggle. People got into SF/F in large numbers because of the adventure, the gosh-wow-gee-wiz worldbuilding, the broad-chested heroes and buxom heroines, the laser blasters, the starships zooming at warp speed to save the day, etc. Our genre still preserves a patina of swashbuckling, but it’s usually only that: a facade.

        • Good lord, your interpretation of that is even further off than Richard’s is. He’s saying it’s not about the covers themselves, but what those covers mean when it comes to the stories inside them. That the “diversity” and “social commentary” contingent have tried to redefine (by fiat) what the cover art means as to what is going to be found inside. That, if you’re going to write a social commentary, there should be some attempt to show that in your cover art.

    • You object to truth in packaging? Brad wasn’t decrying other types of SF/F, merely that the package accurately represent the contents.

      That this would be a near insurmountable challenge for SJW-approved SF/F is why they a) don’t adhere to the principle Torgerson endorsed and b) inverted the argument to one not actually made.

      Beyond that, so what if we do want “pulp” or “adventure” or “old fashioned” stories? None of the advocates of ending sadness in puppies are demanding only our preferred entertainments be published?

      While I enjoy a gourmet Chinese dinner I also occasionally buy a hot dog from a street vendor and eat it with just as much relish (and mustard, onions and other toppings.) Is there not room in the marketplace of SF/F for all tastes? A joyous call-back to the classic adventure novels of SF/F youth can be as deserving of literary recognition as the most dire warnings of Humanity’s innate thanotic principles; shouldn’t awards consider whether a work achieves the goals and standards it sets for itself? Do the Oscars go only to serious works of cinematic brilliance or can they also be awarded to laugh-filled romps?

      Isn’t SF/F ultimately about broadening the frontiers of human-experience? If so, why not have room for all generations of Trek?

    • Actually, they CAN be blamed, because anyone with a little sense could see that that was NOT the meaning of what Brad said. Rather, he was talking about how cover styles that once indicated adventure now were being used to dupe people into reading social commentary thinly veiled by a veneer of story, and usually bad story, at that.

    • That reads as if he wanted exactly what you are saying.

      …if you ignore the part about it being about the cover reflecting the contents.

      You know, “If cover X, then story Y.”

    • “A few decades ago”… this means what follows is an historical perspective of the way things were. No where does it imply it is the way things should be. Frankly, after the poor scientist with the comet landing shows, those old-style covers would certainly start flaming and rage storms on the Internet today, and probably require many universities to establish safe rooms where such book covers would not be allowed; libraries to have trigger warnings over book sections.
      While “you can’t tell a book by its cover” is one of those axioms of wisdom, sometimes the cover is enough to make you pick up the book (click on the link) to read the back cover and make your decision.

  28. Christopher M. Chupik

    Oh lordy, the comments at File 770 “Pug Jack Barron” where they discuss this post and others. Several people are skeptical of the idea that Requires Hate was a woman of color, while someone has to patiently explain that yes, sometimes women of color can behave badly too.

    Also, I learned that anti-Puppy Nick Mamatas was pals with Requires Hate and that Sarah’s use of the word “Marxist” raises Paul Weimer’s blood pressure.

  29. “how much more believable lies are than the truth (too often.) They have internal consistency that the truth lacks.”
    Interesting parallel with Mencken’s Law: “Every [human] problem has a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong”. Objective reality tends to be too complex and messy to fit simple narratives, so the temptation exists to instead believe oversimplified models or, as you pointed out, outright lies told convincingly.

  30. Rob Crawford

    On questionable deaths — will Ambrose Boerne merit a carp?

  31. Hello, File 770 migrant here.

    Folks have been talking about your post (since it was linked in today’s roundup), and people have been wondering about this portion of it:
    Which brings us to the other “Big Lie” that we just want “pulp” or “adventure” or “old fashioned” stories.

    This incredible nonsense doesn’t pass the smell test. None of us has said that. What’s more, as far as I can tell, none of us believes that. I have in the past advised fledglings not to try to write in the style of long-gone-by writers (except the occasional send up. I’ve been known to do Bradbury pastiche.) Writing styles and tastes have changed. No one wants to work that hard for their fiction.

    How does this align with Brad Torgersen’s “Nutty Nuggets” post, which seems to explicitly call for a return to old-fashioned 1960s/70s/80s sci-fi in a field that’s been “burning its audience since the 1990s”. To quote Torgersen:

    Yet SF/F literature seems almost permanently stuck on the subversive switcheroo. If we’re going to do a Tolkien-type fantasy, this time we’ll make the Orcs the heroes, and Gondor will be the bad guys. Space opera? Our plucky underdogs will be transgender socialists trying to fight the evil galactic corporations. War? The troops are fighting for evil, not good, and only realize it at the end. Planetary colonization? The humans are the invaders and the native aliens are the righteous victims. Yadda yadda yadda.

    Which is not to say you can’t make a good SF/F book about racism, or sexism, or gender issues, or sex, or whatever other close-to-home topic you want. But for Pete’s sake, why did we think it was a good idea to put these things so much on permanent display, that the stuff which originally made the field attractive in the first place — To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before! — is pushed to the side? Or even absent altogether?

    Since you are he are two of the key folks in the Sad Puppies campaign, it’d be nice for a clarification about this. Thanks!

    • Oh, man! My apologies. I totally didn’t notice Richard Ristow’s comment which addressed this same point. My bad.

      • You mean the same point Brad has answered about a hundred times? That point? Yeah.

        • You mean the same point Brad has answered about a hundred times? That point? Yeah.

          I’m sorry – I don’t get how this answers my question. You’re saying that no one called for a return to “old time SF”. I’m saying that it looks like Brad Torgersen did so, both in the “Nutty Nuggets” post and in his comments on it. (Note that he specifically rejects the notice that he was only complaining about book covers.) Since you’re both key players in SP3, how do you explain your post in light of this discrepancy

          • Oh, holy Jeez. Guys, can you take it? He can’t understand the difference between “Stop being stuck in defying a past that never existed and write good stuff” and “we want to go back to the past.”
            EFFING “whole word” readers.

            • Ok. I wouldn’t that Brad was saying that people are stuck in a past that never existed (since he’s explicitly calling for a return to the “Nutty Nuggets” of his youth. But I appreciate the clarification. Thanks!

              • Do you not think it more appropriate, if you truly seek clarification of what Brad Torgerson wrote, to ask Brad Torgerson?

                This seems more of a “Let’s you and him fight” than an honest desire for clarification.

                • Yep. Also, I’ve been on other blogs where Brad keeps coming out and explaint it to them. And they keep “forgetting” it and spreading the same lies. Which is PRECISELY what I awas talking about in my blog.

                  • Christopher M. Chupik

                    On Facebook today, several folks were parroting the “they want to take SF back to the 50s/70s” line during an arguments between Brad, Feder and Gerrold. Like clockwork, they were.

                • Do you not think it more appropriate, if you truly seek clarification of what Brad Torgerson wrote, to ask Brad Torgerson?

                  This seems more of a “Let’s you and him fight” than an honest desire for clarification.

                  Hoyt and Torgersen and friends and allies, and absolutely nothing I could post would change that. I don’t think it’s possible to make them fight, and I don’t want them to do so. However, as friends and allies, I think it’s reasonable to ask them about apparently contradictory statements about their movement.

                  I could ask Brad Torgersen about what he meant, but I think I understand it pretty well. As such, I was interested in how Hoyt interpreted his comments in that context.

              • Okay, you still aren’t getting this.
                There is a major difference between people being stuck in a past that never existed and people being stuck defying a past that never existed.
                The first type of people are the people who think that before the ’70s, all towns were Mayberry.
                The second type of people are the people who think that Bull Conner is still the Public Safety Commissioner of all Southern cities.
                Also, you seem to be having difficulty comprehending adverbs, so I’ll break it down for you in summary form.
                Brad Torgerson: Man, it’d be awesome if the currently marginalized themes of science fiction could get un-marginalized.
                Sarah Hoyt: Y’know, wanting to move something else into the limelight doesn’t mean moving what’s there out of it, it just means moving something else into it.

            • twilaprice

              What is a “whole word reader” and why is that a bad thing? I am puzzled.

              • Someone unable to understand the nuance in words because they learned as though our language were written in pictographs.
                No wonder you’re confused.

                • twilaprice

                  Um. I learned to read the winter I turned two, by just whole-wording my way through a pulp sf novel. I can still recall chunks of it, though not the title nor author (darn it!), and I was reading H. Rider Haggard’s Cleopatra the year I started kindergarten, when I was four. No one taught me, I just did it. And I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of not being able to access nuance, not in my time as an English major in college nor my graduate career, or my current career as a copy editor.

                  I see words as whole entities, as things with weight and shape and meaning, and correct spelling, instinctively.

                  I didn’t realize it was a shibboleth of yours — I just saw the discussion on File 770 and wondered why this was a bad thing.

                  (Now, phonics — they are my not-happy-things, because they make no sense to me. Why would you break up a whole to then build it again? It’s fine as it is!)

                  • Ignoring the impossibility of your claim – someone had to tell you how enough words were pronounced so that you had a basis for your learning on your own – it is likely that you learned a form of phonics based on word similarities which you then used in order to build the sounds for other words, but you do not recognize the process in the background of your thinking, since it came from such an early age.

                    Most people cannot do this, and they never develop the knack for figuring out how words are pronounced if they have never seen them before. Phonics can show the majority of people how to construct words based on subsets (phonemes) of the words, which they can then use in order to determine how most other words are pronounced, with the caveat that there are some words which are not pronounced in English the way they are spelled.

                    As for learning meanings based on context, most people can do that, depending on the strength of their reasoning skills,and the available contextual information.

                    • And often the meanings you deduce are the next-door neighbors of the real meaning. I was five when my dad found out I thought “native” meant “savage.” That was when he got me a dictionary and required me to show him ten new words with DICTIONARY meanings per week. Because he realized I was creating a weird parallel world vocabulary in my head by “guessing” from context. (I was reading Burroughs.)

                    • I still get that, sometimes. Then I’ll read something later on and go, “Wait – WHAT?”

                    • Frequently, when selecting a word to use, i will do a quick dictionary check; not to ensure it has the general meaning I think it carries but to confirm that its penumbras conform to what I intend. That is an effect that reading thirty years of Bill Safire’s “On Language” column will have on you.

                      Then I typically make a hash of the grammar because, these days, with so many whole word readers insensitive to such nuance, what difference does it make?

                    • yes, I do that periodically if not sure. And I was one of Bill Safire’s fans as well.

                    • twilaprice

                      Mr. Blackburn,

                      No one showed me anything that I am aware of. My mother never learned to read well (she did not graduate high school, due to severe learning disabilities) and my father wasn’t interested. In books or in me. I did spend a whole lot of time in the hospital before I was five, so maaaybe someone there did some tutoring, though I doubt that, given it was the late 1950s that we are talking about. I know I was reading in 1958. I recall whole bits of books and storylines. I can recall wondering what the heck library paste tasted like and why anyone would eat it. I have since gone back and reread books I know I read then, and I do recall them just fine. It’s kind of scary to realize you read a book about the brothels of New Orleans when you were a wee tot and could still quote whole passages when you discovered the book in the college library at age 40.

                      I do not say that I am every reader, but I am the reader I am. Other people have also learned to read early, and not all of them use phonics. I certainly don’t. They make no sense to me. I tend to read whole lines at a time, since I am also a very fast reader in my natural state. I was clocked in high school at 3000 words per minute, with full comprehension. I have slowed down since then, with my eyes degrading, but I still read approximately a book a day (sometimes more, though not on a regular basis, given that I am working with copy editing 8 hours a day on top of that).

                    • First, I want to make sure that you understand I’m not denigrating your accomplishment in learning to read in such a way, just pointing out that there has to be more to it than you remember. While it’s possible that a person could decipher a text without knowing something about the structure of the written language, it would take considerably longer than the short time you suggest.

                      I also have to admit to an error in the construction of my previous comment. Many people do not “hear” the words they are reading in their head (my older son is one of them, which I should have remembered), as it seems most people do, so there would have been no requirement for learning specifically how to pronounce words.

                      Those said, the main reason I responded to your comment was because your comment was structured as if it were a rebuttal of the larger question of the relative success rates and difficulties of “whole word” reading instruction vs phonics, and I wanted to point out that, as a general rule, phonics is a superior teaching method for reading than is Whole Word reading, because of the fact that few people are able to grow their vocabulary after learning to read using the Whole Word method. Apparently, from your follow-on comment, it was not intended that way.

                    • twilaprice

                      Mr. Blackburn,

                      No worries! I don’t actually have opinions on how people should learn to read, since I know I am such an outlier on the scale. I just want people TO READ.

                      I was mostly trying to parse why being a whole word reader was bad, as I don’t feel as if I am any worse a reader than any other person who reads voraciously and has for fifty six years. (Oh! Perhaps this will help you understand further about my precociousness — I have been reliably informed that one of my very first words was “hippopotamus”. I also learned to read before I walked. Maybe that’s just how my brain is wired. Who knows?)

              • A brilliant scheme to teach kids to read by recognizing words. This is because advanced readers learn to do that, so you can skip all that phoetics stuff.

                • but because it can’t be reverse engineered, they teach people to trust authority and to be unable to read any word not memorized before.
                  Since the people commenting from file 770 display an untoward love of authority and inability to process new information….

                  • Perhaps the file 770 people need to read on a Kindle where the dictionary is constantly available. If so, I can recommend a lot of *indie* publications for them.

                  • twilaprice

                    Maybe that’s true for new readers, but I never seemed to have any issues picking up new words by context. I have a huge vocabulary and while I won’t say I could pronounce every word perfectly, I can use them very well in a sentence. (When I was a freshman in college, the idea was to give all of us a vocabulary building course to get all the incoming freshmen on the same page. I took the beginning test and tested above where they hoped to get all of us in the end. I still had to do the coursework, but it was the easiest A I got.)

                    • If you taught yourself to read, you’re not in the demographic that functions that way. Still — I see your huge vocabulary and raise you.

                    • The problem is not the meaning. The problem is that they are not capable of breaking down words into letters and so building them up again. As for pronouncing them — no phonetics. It leaves them unable to sound out a word.

                    • twilaprice

                      Yes. I don’t feel like I *need* to break down words. Whyever would I? My way works for me.

                      It did make being the mom (and grandmother) of school-aged kids a bit frustrating, as I could *never* help them with their phonics homework. Just totally could not grok it. A word is a word is a word. It is a thing. It is not pieces parts. “Sound it out?” Why not just see the thing as it is and say it all at the same time? It’s normal. (And, yes, I do know I’m an outlier and a weirdo who does not stand for every other reader in the world, but sheesh. Just because I’m an outlier doesn’t mean I’m not real and my experiences aren’t true. Oh! And reading my way means that I never ended up sub-vocalizing as I read.)

                      English lit, grammar, composition, those I can work with. I can massage a sentence and make it look pretty and give it nuance with the best of ’em, once we’re at that stage. But phonics? Feh.

                      I may not always get the right pronunciation, though most of my major gaffes have been with names in other languages, because, well, yeah, I don’t speak French and Fourier just doesn’t look like it should be pronounced the way it is. And do not get me started on “Pharaoh”. That took me YEARS to figure out when I was three and four and five… grins. I knew what it meant, I just didn’t know about the “ph”= “f” thing.

                  • David K. M. Klaus

                    Since the people commenting from file 770 display an untoward love of authority and inability to process new information….

                    Uh, excuse me…!

                    [Friend of Mike Glyer since 1976 who is a chaotic good, left-libertarian, pro-space, constant reader since he was three, Heinlein fan, who left the Catholic Church by intellectual choice at fifteen due to its combination authoritarianism and sexism extends his hand straight up (making the Vulcan salute while he’s at it) to get the teacher’s attention.]

          • …how do you explain your post in light of this discrepancy

            There is no need for her to explain a discrepancy that doesn’t exist. I suggest you attend some logic classes until you can see what Brad actually meant. Unless, of course, you are deliberately misconstruing it in order to attack a strawman, in which case, you’re not convincing anyone here.

            • Oh, no, not at all. When I and others read Torgersen’s post, we see him expressing nostalgia for the sci-fi of days of old. As such, when Hoyt says that no one’s calling for a return to “old-fashioned” stories, this seems like a clear discrepancy.

              Frankly, her (and your) statements that Torgersen was talking about misrepresentation in book covers rings hollow when in his own comment section he explicitly explains that the book covers were a metaphor for bigger changes in the field. (It also seems vaguely insulting to imply that Torgersen was angry that a book cover didn’t match the contents.)

              At present, I understand Hoyt to be saying that Brad’s post was telling other writers to write good stories and not be nostalgic for a past that didn’t exist. Since the whole point of the Nutty Nuggets post was that the science fiction stories of today no longer resemble those of the old days, I find that hard to credit, but if that’s her take then that’s her take.

              That said, if you have a different take on what the Nutty Nuggets post is advocating I’d be glad to read it.

              • This is pointless. If we did, why would you have a problem with that? Do you have something against quality stories that real people actually like to read? Frankly I’m tired of reading corporate produced pablum from the likes of TOR and being told it’s the real stuff. So yes, I want the kind of stories I used to find on the shelves. The good stuff we don’t get anymore. No fancy gimmicks and overlaid PC politics. No destroying the earth because of the latest crap Prog fad. No kowtowing to any “community” because they are the current “darlings” Because if nothing changes, there won’t be anything to read at all. Then we all lose.

                • This is pointless. If we did, why would you have a problem with that? Do you have something against quality stories that real people actually like to read?

                  I have nothing against quality stories that people want to read, and I appreciate your frankness. Thanks for it.

                  If you’d like to follow up, I’d be interested to know why you think that slate voting -instead of just increasing the number of active voters- is a good way to increase the representation of quality works that folks actually read. Wouldn’t the increased voting pool get those works on the ballot?

                  • That slate voting stuff is crap. It always was. For that matter, what Locus and some of the others weren’t slates? Larry and Brad pushed some books and stories. They had book bombs all last year and said these are good stuff, buy them. Which we did. I wish that I could have bought more. In any case, by the time the noms came around, there was a pretty good consensus of which books we were likely to like. Which became the puppies noms. There was never a “slate” In any case, how is this different than Neslon Haydens and Scalzi. At least the puppies would not have a big crybaby fit and threaten to smash the Hugos if they lost. And all the evidence I’ve seen that the puppies have increased the voting pool, about doubled it in fact. The puppies have also made Worldcon supporting memberships something that is worth buying. That’s something the CHORFs never did in all the years I’ve been on the sidelines.

                  • Well, I certainly don’t pretend to speak for anyone else here, but I’m reading the Hugo packet, and deciding for myself which stories I like. Whether or not they fall on someone’s slate is not a concern.

                  • You are under a misapprehension if you think the Sad Puppies 3 campaign was about slate-voting. The “slate” was merely a recommendation of the types of works which were being under-valued by the WorldCon voters, with the expressed encouragement that

                    I would really like everybody who is a voting member of WorldCon to actually read the works in each category and vote based upon which ones they think are best.

                    It is a kafkatrap to demand a complainant about WorldCon voting bias produce a slate of meritorious works ignored by WorldCon and then use that slate of recommended works to disqualify the complainant on grounds of slate-voting.

                    If you cannot perceive the inherent contradictions of that I doubt any argument I provide would enlighten you.

                    • Thanks for the clarification about your views.

                      It is a kafkatrap to demand a complainant about WorldCon voting bias produce a slate of meritorious works ignored by WorldCon and then use that slate of recommended works to disqualify the complainant on grounds of slate-voting.

                      I think that everyone would absolutely welcome a list of works that can be proven to have been kept off the ballot in the past due to corruption or bias. Certainly I would do so.

                      Indeed, I think that one of the things that folks have missed are specific, defined examples of how the Hugo award process has been corrupted. Brad Torgersen has mentioned several works that he believes to have benefited from affirmative action (e.g. Ancillary Justice, Chicks Dig Time Lords), but has never provided any concrete evidence for this. That evidence -or other concrete evidence- would be GREAT.

                    • Proven? How do you think such a thing might be proven?

                      The closest we have is Correia’s original Sad Puppies test audits. What standard of proof do you require and what methodology would you deem able to provide it?

                      But you misrepresent the claim. It is not that bias has prevented certain past works from being on the ballot; it is that the WorldCon voting pool was an insular group whose biases were predictable. You might recall that as Eric Flint’s rebuttal of the SP3 arguments; curious, that a rebuttal should assert the very point being made.

                • twilaprice

                  Um. jccarlton said “Do you have something against quality stories that real people actually like to read? Frankly I’m tired of reading corporate produced pablum from the likes of TOR and being told it’s the real stuff. ”

                  I happen to be a real person (hey, I have a body and eyes and everything!) who has been reading sf since 1958 at the least, and who happens to like what’s being published now just as much as she loved reading Heinlein and Andre Norton and Asimov and Edgar Rice Burroughs and…. all of the classic sf novels. Heck, I can recall being jazzed because I had read the story the Gorn episode of Star Trek was based on a few years earlier and I recognized it. I do reread those authors, too. It’s not as though they aren’t available to read with all the new stuff being published. I like what is new and fresh and not the same-old same-old formula that I have read a hundred times before. If I want to read Heinlein, I go back and put some more eye-tracks on “Citizen of the Galaxy” or “Have Space Suit, Will Travel” or “The Star Beast” or or or… I do not want to read a pale imitation of Heinlein who is recycling those tropes. I want to read someone who has new stories, new worlds, new ideas. Your mileage may vary, but I do not get why I can’t love Heinlein and Andre Norton and Eric Frank Russell and Clifford Simak and *name your favorite golden age author and I’ve probably read him or her* and also love Elizabeth Bear and John Scalzi and Ann Leckie and Sarah Monette and Charles Stross and C J Cherryh and a hundred other authors who are writing right this minute.

              • When I and others read Torgersen’s post, we see him expressing nostalgia for the sci-fi of days of old. As such, when Hoyt says that no one’s calling for a return to “old-fashioned” stories, this seems like a clear discrepancy.

                Yeah, and I miss my Momma’s chocolate chip cookies, but that doesn’t mean they’re all I want to eat.

                You read too much into his words and take too little account of their plain meaning. Ms Hoyt’s comments were entirely clear had you read the entire post instead of picking out the chocolatey bits.

              • Why bother? It is clear from your posts here that anything you read will be twisted and distorted into your worldview. You would make a contortionist hurt in all their joints.

          • You’re saying that no one called for a return to “old time SF”.

            No, as you directly quoted:
            Which brings us to the other “Big Lie” that we just want “pulp” or “adventure” or “old fashioned” stories.

            These are not the same.


            I’m saying that it looks like Brad Torgersen did so, both in the “Nutty Nuggets” post and in his comments on it.

            And it was pointed out, several times– both in detail and simply, with big words and small– that you were misinterpreting “the cover should reflect the story.”


            Since you’re both key players in SP3, how do you explain your post in light of this discrepancy.

            Explaining it is easy– problem being, as the saying goes, one cannot make the horse drink.

            • “one cannot make the horse drink”

              Sure you can, tilt its head back, pour water down its throat, hold its mouth closed, and blow in its nose.

              Of course unless you are Paul Bunyan it is a lot easier to just shoot the horse and go buy one that isn’t quite so stupid.

            • The key to the phrase is to be found:
              “we just want ‘pulp’ or ‘adventure’ or ‘old fashioned’ stories.”

              Emphasis added. What do you think that word — “just” — means and why do you think it was there?

          • Just how have you determined that Sarah Hoyt is one of the “key players in SP3”???

            She didn’t nominate any works to the slate, after all, and has merely defended the right of the wrong people to vote in the Hugos.

            How do you justify your trollish behaviour in demanding Sarah Hoyt justify any other author’s statements? What next, must she explain John Scalzi’s self-promotion and begging for Hugo votes? (For the record, I believe that Sarah would earnestly endorse John Scalzi’s flogging of himself.)

            • Actually RES, I think this is AP projection. Readers here are independent and have opinions that often vary. Sarah and Brad are not *required* to not have discrepant ideas and statements because we do not *require* they follow some group think jurnolist of allowed ideas and concepts.
              Now, on the other side, conformity to group think is a requirement, and of course since ‘the lamentations of their women and John Scalzi’ is the natural outcome of this group think.

            • Just how have you determined that Sarah Hoyt is one of the “key players in SP3″???

              She didn’t nominate any works to the slate, after all, and has merely defended the right of the wrong people to vote in the Hugos.

              Actually, i’d disagree on this (though I’d love to get confirmation otherwise.) As Larry Correia wrote when making his own post about the Sad Puppies 3 slate, it’s made up of what “the Evil League of Evil authors came up with in discussion”, and Sarah Hoyt is a member of the ELoE. (I realize that Brad Torgersen has stated that SP3 was developed democratically; I believe that Naomi Kritzer’s analysis nicely explains why this is likely not the case; it seems like the views of readers of Torgersen’s blog were sorely underrepresented in the final slate.

              How do you justify your trollish behaviour in demanding Sarah Hoyt justify any other author’s statements?

              I am trying my best to avoid trolling or “just asking questions” by being honest about my intentions coming here. I don’t think that asking about the apparent contradiction in statements between two authors who have been aligned in supporting the puppies is particularly trollish – this seems like a real gap in an otherwise united front. My apologies for coming off as such. If you’d like to bring the Puppy perspective to File 770, we’d be glad to have it there as well.

              • As Larry Correia wrote when making his own post about the Sad Puppies 3 slate, it’s made up of what “the Evil League of Evil authors came up with in discussion”, and Sarah Hoyt is a member of the ELoE.

                Does being a member of a group render one a “key player”? It seems to me you’ve jumped to a conclusion and landed on something other than your feet.

                As one who observed the kerfuffle, I suggest that you be careful about sipping from Naomi Kritzer’s chalice. She makes several invalid assumptions and mistaken assertions. No, I am not going to fisk her analysis, any more than I am going to add File 770 to my black hole of time sinks. There isn’t time enough remaining in my life to engage in such pointless tasks; I’d rather clean the Augean Stables. I will offer this clue: there are more than four members of the ELoL and the group is very much a running joke, aimed at the kind of people who spend hours in talmudic analysis of groups such as the ELoL. The identify as members not for having joined such a group but because they all are outcasts, declared non-persons by the SJW. It is their way of singing Yankee Doodle and done for much the same purpose.

                As for Kritzer’s claim that Correia and Wright are invested in “minimizing the objections to VD,” that was made clear in their posts which Kritzer cherry-picked: the issue, for them, is not Day but Hugo (that’s a Right Stuff reference, kid — you seem to need help recognizing such things.) It served no useful purpose for them to engage in a discussion of Day.

                Vox Day does not matter to them, so why should they spend two words on his Rabid Puppies? It is not they declaring Vox Day “outside the bounds of civilized discourse” and the SP3 campaign was not advanced by arguments about Day. Arguments about Day could only serve as distraction from their real goal: opening up the Hugo Awards to a less insular fan base, one which worried whether an author wrote enjoyable stories, not whether said author might be “outside the bounds of civilized discourse.

                It seems to me that there is a great absence of critical thinking on the part of Ms Kritzer, bent on pursuit of a conspiracy rather than debating whether certain nominated works were good SF. In that she seems like unto Sidney “Grassy Knoll” Blumenthal and anybody citing her analysis as persuasive has self-nominated for the Gullible Traveler Award.

                As for not wanting to seem trollish, I recommend you not walk like a troll, talk like a troll nor act like a troll. Demanding one person justify the words of another is trolly whether or not you mean for it to be. Around this blog we eat trolls for tea as they don’t generally offer enough meat for a lunch, so if you come ’round you need to be very careful to avoid donning a slice of cucumber, much less crust-less bread.

                • I like cucumber, watercress and cream cheese on my High-tea sandwiches. Troll meat would definitely spoil the delicate taste and texture.

                • I will offer this clue: there are more than four members of the ELoL and the group is very much a running joke, aimed at the kind of people who spend hours in talmudic analysis of groups such as the ELoL

                  Ok – so If not the four public members of the ELoE, who do you believe were the people who chose the nominees on the sad puppies slate? This remains ambiguous, and it would help to validate the claims of SP3 having been an open, democratic process if their identities were revealed. (I realize that you probably don’t know this for certain, but as a member of this community I imagine you have a better grasp of this than I do.)

                  • Frankly, I neither know nor care — there was a list of suggested works which I took as mere endorsement as being worth reading and possibly of nomination. As I do not take “marching orders” from the SJWs, the ELoE or anyone else when it comes to my reading choices, the provenance of that list, whether of a single individual, a cabal of four or four hundred thousand was a matter of supreme indifference.

                    Ambiguousness of provenance was the least of concerns to me; why is it of any concern to others? Obsession over who endorsed a “slate” is to train at a gnat while swallowing a camel.

                    • Frankly, I neither know nor care — there was a list of suggested works which I took as mere endorsement as being worth reading and possibly of nomination.

                      Thanks for the clarification.

                      Ambiguousness of provenance was the least of concerns to me; why is it of any concern to others?

                      The ambiguous provenance of the list concerns folks because of the amount of stress that has been put on the notion that SP3 was “open” and “democratic”. If you have a different reading of that, that’s fine as well.

                    • I think you have erred — the claim was not, IIRC, that SP3 was “open” and “democratic” but rather that the goal was to make Hugo voting more open and democratic. If you have a different reading of that, well, that’s your geas.

                    • Not when the MOST important thing is the correct views of those who write or endorse the work, RES!

                    • Most important?? Not to me, not in my book and certainly not to my wallet.

                      Tsk, the things some people imagine important.

                      You wouldn’t know a diamond
                      If you held it in your hand
                      The things you think are precious
                      I can’t understand

                      Are you reelin’ in the years
                      Stowin’ away the time
                      Are you gatherin’ up the tears
                      Have you had enough of mine

                      You been tellin’ me you’re a genius
                      Since you were seventeen
                      In all the time I’ve known you
                      I still don’t know what you mean
                      The weekend at the college
                      Didn’t turn out like you planned
                      The things that pass for knowledge
                      I can’t understand

                    • I think you have erred — the claim was not, IIRC, that SP3 was “open” and “democratic” but rather that the goal was to make Hugo voting more open and democratic. If you have a different reading of that, well, that’s your geas.

                      To quote Torgersen in his “Musings, not necessarily sorted” post:
                      [SP3] was conducted 100% in the open, democratically, using a democratic process. There was nothing secret being done. Nothing underhanded. No hoodwinking was engaged in. All of it was above-board.

                      I think that this reads as saying the SP3 was democratically chosen, but it seems like there are plenty of different interpretations of things going on.

                    • You need to be more careful about your use of source material. The subject of the quote which you edited as “[SP3]” is actually “the shake-up” — which more probably refers to the campaign, since the basis of the SP3 complaint has been that the Hugo nominations have been controlled by an in-group. It was the encouragement of people to buy associate memberships and cast nominating ballots which Torgerson seems to be asserting was open and democratic.

                      As has been asserted elsewhere, the works on Torgerson’s “slate” were determined by commenters on his blog. You appear to have conflated separate activities to create a false narrative.

                    • i think, in addition to blog comments, there was some FB discussion, email,and various other means of communication

                  • Believe? there’s no need to believe anything. Candidates were thrashed out in the comments sections at Torgersen’s blog.

                    • One of the commenters at Naomi Kritzer’s blog made a spreadsheet breaking down the number of SP3 candidates mentioned by commenters on Brad’s blog – the number is surprisingly small. (Obviously, some may have gotten in touch through other means, but this would also give the lie to some of the claims of openness. It’s surprising to me, especially given how Torgersen wants to expand the tent.

                    • GTM — Have you considered reading today’s post?

                    • I think we may have discovered a new syndrome, the Sad Puppy Truther.

                    • One of the commenters at Naomi Kritzer’s blog made a spreadsheet …

                      Good grief, Maine — do you realize how much you sound like a conspiracy theorist? I can almost hear the steel ball bearings rattle.

      • Say ‘Brad Torgersen’ Pavlovian response: foam at mouth, twitch in fingers, lack of oxygen from failure to breathe results in tunnel vision only allowing a few words to penetrate consciousness. Fire off a rant, end of conditioned response.

    • Yeah. Clarification: if you’re stuck on permanent Pour Epater Les Bougeois it’s as boring as getting permanently stuck On “big white hero” which, btw, SF NEVER was. If you think it was, you’re buying rewritten history.
      I have walls to oppress with white paint, so I’ll leave it to the huns to explain to you in TINY little words.

      • Oppress those walls, Sarah! Paint them white, like the white-hot fury of a thousand suns!

        Wait, that was mixing metaphors, wasn’t it? Oh, well. I’ll just go off and oppress some women and minorities to make myself feel better. 🙂

      • Johnny Rico was Filipino. of course, they’d have to read the entirety of Starship Troopers to know that. Really, what race were *most* of the ST characters? It didn’t really matter, and I think that was a point.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Japanese, German (and this not long after WW2), Chinese, Turkish. Ironically, the cast would pass at least the racial diversity litmus tests the other side are so fond of.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Most of the characters in ST were members of the *human* race. [Wink]

          • Mary set up “The Stars my Destination” for goodreads. I remember it so well, I remembered that the lady so helpful to Gully Foyle was a ‘woman of color’. Amazing, it was published in 1957.
            You know, when they claim ‘only white males’ in old science fiction, a single case like this is sufficient. I suggest it because we all know SJWs despise RAH.

        • Hey, the fellow that made the Starship Troopers movie never read the book – from all reports he basically hired an intern to harvest some of the nouns from the book and paste them over a script he had already written about shiny faced sympathetic young kids growing up as Nazis.

          Fabulously well paid Hollywod junior royalty never read the book: Why should they?

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        File 770 tonight: “Sarah Hoyt ADMITTED to white oppression! And her followers just made jokes! OUTRAGE!!!”

      • In Ender’s Game, created by known Hatey McHaterson Orson Scott Card, Ender teams up with children who are Japanese (Shen), Filipino (Fly Molo), Quechua (Dumper), and even black African Muslim (Alai), among others. Plus, Mazer Rackham, who saved the world in the previous war, is half-Maori. That book is ridiculously diverse, as it should be, since it’s set in a school which aims to select the smartest (and otherwise most militarily talented) children from all over the world.

      • Shocking the bourgeoisie is a profoundly bourgeois ambition. You’ve already let them win.

        • Shocking the bourgeoisie is an adolescent ambition, enacted in by those lacking sufficient self-confidence or self-respect to choose an action or stance for its own virtue rather than because it upsets Mommy & Daddy.

      • Sarah, can you get Sherwin-Williams to mix you up a proprietary paint blend called Privilege White?

  32. David K. M. Klaus

    <a href="<File 770 is Mike Glyer at his computer (and before that, typewriter) all by himself, and has been so since he began it in 1978. There is no “they”.

    David Gerrold wrote in his book The World of STAR TREK that most fanzines had “the regularity of a spastic colon and the longevity of an Italian government.” That Mike has been doing this for (so far) 27 years, mimeograph, desktop publishing, and World Wide Web, is phenomenal.

    (Not trying to troll you, just wanted to let you know of your misunderstanding so Mike would get the credit he deserves for his sheer doggedness, pardon the pun given the context.)

    • I fail to see the relevance of your comment. Any discussion of “they” at File 770 is not merely referring to the creator, administrator,and any other positions, which you have said are all filled by one man. It is also referring to any of numerous commenters contributing to the discussion there.

      Unless you are claiming that the comments are made by Mike Glyer as well? In that case, perhaps there are some people who would be unhappy that he is writing things with their name on them?

      • David K. M. Klaus

        Sarah A. Hoyte:

        “Yes, I just did a post exhorting us to recreate the Golden Age, which I note File 770 immediately echoed, even though it had clear nothing to do with the Hugos. They picked it up because they thought it supported their narrative.”

        Wayne Blackburn:

        “Any discussion of ‘they’ at File 770 is not merely referring to the creator, administrator,and any other positions, which you have said are all filled by one man. It is also referring to any of numerous commenters contributing to the discussion there.”

        In the top quotation “echoed” combined with “picked it up” read to me as meaning about the same subject in both sentences. As I saw it, “echoed” and “picked it up” are synonymous. I see no indication of a change of subject. If Mrs. Hoyt was making the distinction between the Mike and his readership, that could have been indicated a bit more clearly, or so it seems to me.

        As I said, not trolling, just correcting what appeared to be a misunderstanding on her part. I have no ego invested here — if instead I was the one who misunderstood, my apology to her.

  33. David K. M. Klaus

    Oops — my finger slipped and I added an extra vowel to your name above. Sorry about that.

  34. Do you ever think before you post? The Golden Age was the heyday of the pulps and pulpiness. As for File 770, they don’t have any sort of narrative or editorial position. What are you, a Brad Torgersen type troll?

    • Do you? Brad Torgersen is not a troll. He is an iconoclast. Thank heavens.

    • Oh, and “Golden Age” has at least THREE distinct meanings.
      Also, kindly, go jump in a lake. Trolls belong under a bridge.

    • Define “the Golden Age” and please give specific examples of “pulps and pulpiness.”

      Having read extensively of SF published from 1930s through the 1970s I think there were very few periods when “pulps and pulpiness” were predominant in the genre. Even when such qualities were prevalent the underlying works were generally thoughtful and provocative, addressing significant social themes in the guise of pulps and pulpiness.

      Clearly, not thinking before posting is something with which you have great familiarity.

  35. @accordingtohoyt

    I hadn’t, since I was still in this thread, but will do so.

  36. @accordingtohoyt

    Your new post makes some vague allegations about lickspittles (I’m assuming this is folks who are anti-SP3), but as it avoids getting into any particular specifics, I don’t think I’d have much to add to the discussion. I hope it goes well.

    • Perhaps if you stopped assuming, and tried figuring out what people are actually saying– note, not to be confused with “what you expect them to say” or “what you already believe they are saying”– you’d have something to contribute to the conversation.

      As it is, you just keep trying to hammer things into the form you already believe they have taken.

  37. This comment from National Review Online gangblog The Corner seems appropriate here.

    Emphasis added.

    The Department of Education’s New Pre-K Report Ignores Its Own Research
    By Jason Richwine — June 3, 2015

    The Department of Education recently released a report calling for “significant new investments” in preschool — which spends just half a page on the evidence for preschool’s effectiveness. It paints a uniformly rosy picture, never mentioning that large-scale randomized experiments have failed to find lasting gains for the programs. The report even praises Head Start without any reference to the gold-standard Head Start Impact Study, which showed that effects faded out by first grade.

    At least the Head Start study was overseen by a different department, Health and Human Services. The Education Department itself has paid for major preschool experiments – Even Start, curriculum studies, Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K, etc. — which have shown little in the way of sustained effects. The department apparently considers its own preschool studies to be so irrelevant that they deserve no mention in a review of the evidence — perhaps they would have been considered more relevant if their outcomes were different?

    The larger problem here is that the government has again put its imprimatur on politicized science, and the public will be misled. It’s not unusual to see the mainstream press — especially the infamous fact checkers — cite a “government report” or “government data” as if the word government is a synonym of authoritative. That’s a big mistake. We should be especially wary of isolated data points and tendentious literature reviews that conveniently support the administration’s positions. It’s what I call “science-gilding” an issue – covering up an ideological position with the veneer of objectivity.

    There is no compelling evidence that universal preschool will be a good long-term investment, despite the Education Department’s report. And that’s just one small example in a parade of dubious government claims: The Export-Import Bank does impose a cost on taxpayers, even though the government’s budget does not reflect it. Amnesty for illegal immigrants will probably not reduce the long-run deficit, contra the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Public pensions are not magic economic stimulus, despite the claims of state retirement boards. The government’s “green energy” loans are profitable — as the Energy Department once announced to much fanfare – just so long as all of the borrowing costs are hidden!

    The list goes on and on.