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Comment: Re:no (Score 1) 415

by west (#49540725) Attached to: We'll Be the Last PC Company Standing, Acer CEO Says

While they may change and mutate into tablet/desktop/laptop hybrids as they already have, the concept of a PC will live forever.

Indeed, the mainframe and the minicomputer both still exist. However, they're also largely irrelevant in the technological space. PC's will no doubt have millions working on them for a long time to come. The real question is whether they'll have HUNDREDS of millions working on them. And that's not nearly so clear.

Comment: Re:Holy misleading summary, Batman! (Score 1) 587

by west (#49426377) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

I mean, i don't know about you, but i'd be righteously pissed if I saw a book in a bookstore that said "hugo award-winning" and had absolutely nothing to do with sci-fi or fantasy...

Which work are you referring to? I know of no Hugo award winners that have nothing to do with SF or Fantasy. I know lots of Hugo awards that don't have much to do with the SF or F that I grew up reading 30 years ago, but it would be ridiculous to expect the community to stay as static as my reading tastes have.

Comment: Re:Holy misleading summary, Batman! (Score 1) 587

by west (#49425731) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

The SP guys are saying "be color-blind, and vote for works you like." I think for the most part people are doing that.

Um, that was last years tactic. I heartily approve of pushing people who have similar tastes to vote their favorite books. It's been pretty much the tactic used by everyone until now, and what helped Tor dominate.

The trouble is that that was *not* this years SP tactic. They recognized that the works that people like were all over the map. So, in the end, they were forced to use the "vote for *these* works" tactic. This had several advantages.

  • One, it reduces spread caused by people liking different books, and having none of them get nominated.
  • Two, and this is probably the most important, it means that voters didn't have to read works or care about the nominations. Because now voting wasn't about works, it was about making a statement. And it's a hell of a lot easier to find people willing to make a statement than it is to find people who read short stories and are willing to recommend. Perhaps 5% of Hugo voters actually read and care enough to make nominations based on the works. At least 50% will be willing to make a statement in the presence of a perceived enemy.

I think this shows that the fans were swayed by the SPs arguments.

I think several hundred fans were swayed by the SP statement. However, looking at the results from previous years and the lack of votes there, it's pretty clear that it was the statement that brought fans out, not an interest in the stories. As I said, it's far easier to get people to stand for an identity than it is to get them to read and recommend books.

It's exactly like party politics. I don't have to know *anything* about the candidate I'm voting into office. I don't have to do any research. I can simply vote a statement about my beliefs, and I'm done. Much easier. And, unfortunately, a total disaster if the only thing that really matters is the candidate, and not the nebulous statement associated with the slate.

Unless SP fails utterly, I suspect we'll get the Democrat vs. Republican Hugo next year (although probably by different names). There'll be 5 times as many votes, which some will say indicates success, and the books... well, it's not about books, is it?

And for the record, I don't think SP quite realized they were using the nuclear option. It's why I don't have any particular anger against the SP crew. But if the genie is not put back in the bottle, that's the end of the Hugo's as anything but a political litmus test.

And to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if 5 years down the line, the side that's consistently losing splits to have it's own WorldCon, with lawsuits over names flying everywhere. It's the sort of thing that happens when a symbol becomes publicly politicized. And if SP didn't intend to politicize it, it won't matter. Because a slate based on politics will mobilize far more voters than books. Just look how well the Rabid Puppies, a fringe group of fandom could dominate. Their message was even less about books, and they did even better.

Comment: Re:Holy misleading summary, Batman! (Score 1) 587

by west (#49420485) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

1. Is it your contention that the status quo ante was fine, and the Hugo awards were given out purely by merit?

The awards are basically a fan popularity contest of the work itself. I'd contend that they reasonably closely reflected that reality. I've no doubt that Tor 'campaigned' for a few works, but mostly to Tor fans who also probably had read the works. After all, Tor are the "cool kids" and fan favorites, who, no surprise, are actively involved in fandom.

2. Do you know anything about statistics? I don't know much, but these numbers do look kind of suspicous to me.

He doesn't provide enough data for me to see what he's calculating variance upon. My own perusal leads me to believe (no statistics) that Tor is popular, and uses its fan presence to promote Tor works, but I'd consider that politics as usual... Degree makes a difference.

3. The Sad Puppies guys say that they are striking back against a system where SF works were judged more by who wrote them and which politically correct buttons the works pushed, rather than on actual merit. The SP guys say that their slate includes works by conservatives, and liberals, and white males, and minorities and women...

I am not going to comment on the quality of the SP slate. I think some of it is good. *However*, my claim is that when success on the ballot has nothing to do with the works themselves, and everything about the statement that the slate stands for, the Hugos are suffering damage. Until this year, I think the awards and nominations were going to at least a close approximation of the fan favorites in each category.

Once we're voting for statements, we might as well have one Hugo: The Fan Statement. Now we can vote on "Women have ruined everything" vs. "Troglodyte men are the problem" vs. "I just watch TV" vs. "SF *is* literature!" and save actually having to read!

4. ..would you at least agree that if the claims of the SPs were all true, that their games would have been a legitimate response?

It depends on what you mean by their claims - they vary pretty wildly. I don't think self-promotion is out of line - this is a fan popularity contest after all. I don't think recommending works is out of line. I think the Tor secret cabal only exists to the extent it mobilizes people who like Tor works, of which there are a sizable number among fandom.

Do I think SP games were illegal? No. Do I think it's a legitimate response? No. Party politics work, sort of. American politics is a clear example that (1) once started, no one not practicing party politics can win and (2) it produces a toxic atmosphere that is utterly incompatible with an amateur organization.

Looking back on winners, no-one had a lock. Tor was heavily represented, but Tor *is* a fan favorite, and the only house that's deep. deep, deep into fandom. A look at the books themselves indicates (to me, anyway) that people nominated works they liked rather than a philosophical statement.

(I don't get the problem people have with Scalzi. He's tremendously popular, and his works are populist in nature. He's a natural fan favorite, and I'd expect him to dominate the Hugos in much the same way that Bujold did, and for similar reasons.)

Honestly (especially now that GamerGate is getting into the picture), this smells far more like a response to last year's winners (who showed a bit of the triumphalism that one would expect from a group that has finally made quite a showing for the first time) than deep concern about books.

5. Do you approve of the organized "No Award" campaign?

Reluctantly, yes. If voting slates is seen to be effective, then the Hugos are dead. Next year, we'll see 3-4 slates, and we'll all be told that voting for books is a waste, we *must* vote for a statement. That's a permanent enough problem that I'm willing to see worthy submissions not win this year.

To me, the quality of the books/editors are immaterial. The books I personally like no longer have a prayer. But that's not a cause for rage, it's simply that they aren't fan favorites anymore and tastes have changed. To decide that I'd rather see the Hugos destroyed than fans get to choose works I don't care for is more narcissism than I can muster.

Comment: Re:Holy misleading summary, Batman! (Score 1) 587

by west (#49418819) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

Bringing a water cannon is the reasonable response, and if it kills the event, they've lost nothing - they weren't getting anything from the event in the first place.

I think you may have explained US politics in one sentence.

If I'm not winning, then it's better destroyed.

Personally, I'm a bit old-school in my tastes, but if my tastes aren't dominating the Hugos, that's probably because I'm no longer as mainstream as I was 30 years ago. it seems rather childish to burn the toy room down because the toys I like aren't "cool" any more.

Comment: Re:Holy misleading summary, Batman! (Score 1) 587

by west (#49416357) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

They've been pushing individual works, sure. I have too when I really liked a work. In fact, I think SP2 was pretty much the same idea. All seems pretty much accepted in the general discourse.

But publicly organizing a complete slate, and then pushing the slate on the basis of what it represents rather than the body of works in the slate? That's changed the very nature of the awards, just like the introduction of parties changes politics forever.

> Sad Puppies is doing nothing wrong, nothing illegal.

Done nothing illegal - agreed. Done nothing wrong? I disagree. They've introduced full-on party politics of the ugliest kind to the awards. Do you really not see competing slates next Hugo? (Especially if a SP wins an award?) Are you really looking forward to Hugos turning into American politics writ tiny?

I don't think the awards will be better off in the long-term for their intervention. Also, if enough feelings get hurt and people go out of control, I can imagine that this could end up doing for the reputation of SF/Fantasy what GamerGate did for the reputation of gaming.

Comment: Re:Holy misleading summary, Batman! (Score 2) 587

by west (#49416209) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

So if you want to argue that it's okay when John Scalzi does it a little bit, but it's not okay when others do it more...

Actually, that's *exactly* what I'm suggesting. My neighborhood has a yearly water-gun fight. The day that someone decides to bring a full-power fire-hose, despite not being explicitly disallowed, will be the end of the tradition.

Did they break the rules ("only water-only weapons allowed")? No.

Had people upped-the-ante before ("Well, he introduced Super-Soakers, and I don't see him getting yelled at.")? Yes

But nonetheless, would he end up destroying the whole water-fight tradition? Yes.

Life is full of ways to game a system that will (1) win you a temporary victory and (2) destroy the over-all values of the system. It's why people who game a system are so despised. In the end, it's not rules, but ethics and morals that are what allow most human interaction to exist. Insisting that "we just need better rules" is a clear indication that the society is already pretty much mortally wounded.

Sad Puppies has gamed the system to its destruction. If the response turns out to be counter-slates, then they'll have (perhaps unintentionally) permanently destroyed what they sought to control.

And is the answer more rules? Not really. If enough people would rather destroy the system than "lose", then the award is already dead.

Comment: Re:Holy misleading summary, Batman! (Score 2, Informative) 587

by west (#49414327) Attached to: Hugo Awards Turn (Even More) Political

The backlash comes from a number of avenues, but a strong reason for this anger is that by the introduction of "slates", the Sad Puppy movement may have irretrievably damaged the Hugos. It is akin to introducing party politics into elections that were previously sets of independents. Once introduced, you can never go back, because that just lets another slate win.

What are the odds that everyone abandons parties and goes back to independents, when parties so evidently work?

Likewise, voting on what you feel is the best book becomes an exercise in futility as it will be swamped by one slate or another. (A best book slate, is of course, ridiculous, that's what the award was supposed to be in the first place.) Instead, as with parties, you end up with voting on what a slate represents.

And that is anathema to the whole point of the award.

Now, I'm fairly certain that the Sad Puppies slate has people who never agreed to be on it, or didn't quite understand what this was all about, so I'm not about punishing those on the slate. But the "Sad Puppies" movement has poisoned this years Hugos, and may well have killed them forever.

Note: any award with a small number of voters is vulnerable to this kind of take-over. The award really can only meaningfully exist only as a consensus in the community not to game them into oblivion exists.

Comment: Re: Not everyone (Score 2) 140

by west (#49367857) Attached to: NSA: We Mulled Ending Phone Program Before Edward Snowden Leaks

If they are operating outside of the scrutiny of the public eye, it is *guaranteed* that they are doing something nefarious. That is how power works. To believe otherwise is to misunderstand human nature.

Which is, of course, why every citizen must be constantly monitored. If we're outside the scrutiny of others, it is *guaranteed* that we are doing something nefarious.

Comment: Re:And on Slashdot? (Score 1) 269

by west (#49356025) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

Look, rooftop solar is a good thing. I'm not arguing with your facts, I'm arguing with your approach. The topic is irrelevant.

However, if it helps, let me put this out there. I'm cognizant of the fact that while my electrical bill is by use, the fairly obvious reality is that a connection to the utility and the maintenance of the utility has a very high fixed cost, which doesn't go away even if my net use is zero.

A cost-based scheme might be to bill every house $100/month for connection to the grid, and then substantially drop the price we pay (and are paid) for solar, but that hits the poor too heavily. Also, I think we can make a case that we *want* more solar than is optimal in an strictly economic sense.

In other words, there are arguments pro and con, and dismissing either pro or con means that society is denied the facts that it needs to make choices.

The dismissal of any recognition that rooftop solar, like almost *every single choice on the planet* has tradeoffs raised hackles. That any attempt to discuss such trade-offs was characterized as deceitful made them rise even further.

So, I apologize for the ad hominem nature of my post. But I stick with my basic claim: assuming bad faith on the part of your opponents harms society in general, and that unfairness towards any, individual or in the aggregate, is also harmful.

History is simply too full of examples of what can happen when people feel the rightness of their cause obviates their need for fairness.

Comment: Re:And on Slashdot? (Score 1) 269

by west (#49355083) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

Consider: Do you really care about being unfair to the huge corporate energy conglomerate? And do you think that they would be fair to you in return?

Actually, I want to be especially fair to those I oppose, and their behavior is irrelevant.

Otherwise it's just a bunch of Hatfield's vs. McCoy's, and why should anyone prefer my Hatfield to the opposing McCoy?

Sadly. you've made it clear in your post that
      (1) there can be no true information against your base premise
      (2) that anyone disseminating untrue information is an agent of the enemy
      (3) there is no obligation to treat enemy or enemy agents ethically
which puts you in the company of a lot of less-than-august characters.

Since I've indicated disagreement, does that mean I'm in the pay of the energy companies?

Comment: Re:This is interesting.... (Score 1) 573

by west (#49310129) Attached to: Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic

There's nothing stopping (and in fact, it seems almost a certainty) that Man-made Global Warming is real *and* is being used as a scare tactic by some people.

When billions are presented with the same crisis, you can expect there to be a multitude of different responses, including those who seek to capitalize upon it by denying its existence, and those seeking to capitalize upon it by promoting its existence.

In the last Ebola crisis, I'm certain there were people recruiting for their Church as a cure ("it's real, and every single person will die if you don't join our Church"), and those pretending it didn't exist so that quarantine wouldn't hurt their business. However, all of it was irrelevant to the fact that the disease was real and could potentially have been globally devastating. Luckily for us, there weren't large Western concerns that had a financial interest in the crisis being ignored.

Comment: Re:You'll need MS Office + *nix (Score 1) 385

by west (#49287167) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?

My father, a physics professor, refuses to buy MS Office, and he's constantly cursing the journals, government organizations, and university institutions that demand .DOC (or .DOCX) format. Also, if you are switching papers back and forth (and you're not using TeX) with others, you're likely stuck in MS formats. My experience in the faculty was less dramatic, but about the same. MS Office was the default.

It can be avoided, but unless you're religiously avoiding MS Office (like my Dad), it's not likely worth the pain. There's a reason that MS is the Borg. To be clear, I'm happy to have people strike out into the wilds and not surrender to the MS Office hegemony. But if the OP's daughter is like most people, the computer is not a statement, it's just about the easiest way of getting things done.

It's hard to escape Death, Taxes or MS Office. And they're all about equally fun.

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