avram: (Post-It Portrait)

I see that, in the comments under Tom Doherty’s recent message on Tor.com, there is one from John C Wright, in which he makes the following claim:

I am not unrepentantly homophobic. I am nothing of the kind. It is a lie.

I follow the Catholic teaching on same sex attraction and how one deals with it. In public, I have heaped scorn on those who use a children’s cartoon, one I loved, to insinuate their pro-perversion propaganda in a cowardly and craven way.

I have no hate, no fear, nothing but respect for homosexuals.

In response to this, I remind everyone of his recent hastily-deleted comment (archived for posterity at the Obsidian Wings blog):

Men abhor homosexuals on a visceral level. […] I have never heard of a group of women descended on a lesbian couple and beating them to death with axhandles and tire-irons, but that is the instinctive reaction of men towards fags.

While Wright implies that his opinions about homosexuals derive from his beliefs as a Catholic (and leaving aside that most of the Catholics I know do not share those particular beliefs), I note that his conversion experience appears to have happened towards the end of 2003, while his ugly beliefs about homosexuality pre-date that conversion by at least a year:

I remember the day and hour when I, a perfectly tolerant libertarian, rejected (with revulsion) the notion of gay marriage, and, in so doing, was logically required to reject toleration for homosexuality. It was March 05, 2002, at 10:00 in the evening. I was watching a television show where two lesbians were helping a bride get ready for her wedding. The bride spoke in the most glowing and romantic terms about the nature of true love: the two lesbians started making bedroom eyes at each other and smiling, for it was the intent of the writer to put across the idea that two lesbians having “sex” (i.e. masturbating with each other) was morally and logically the same as a bride and bridegroom having “sex” (i.e. consummating their wedding, and generating progeny and creating a family).

While I was (hitherto) willing to accept the libertarian argument that perverts should be left alone to practice their perversions, so long as they harm none but themselves, the liberal argument that true love is perversion and perversion is true love was so shocking to me that I was thunderstruck to the core of my being.

Furthermore, I notice that in Wright’s account of his spiritual journey, it was his “philosophical inquiries” that led him to Christianity, as early as two years before the heart attack that resulted in his vision. It seems to me more likely that it was antipathy towards homosexuality that turned Wright towards his faith, than the other way around.

MoCCA 2015

Apr. 13th, 2015 05:00 am
avram: (Post-It Portrait)

I haven’t done one of these in ages. Still been going to MoCCA every year, but I’ve been forgetting to record my hauls.

This year the festival was held at Center 548, way over (way, way, way the fuck over) on West 22nd St, near 11th Ave. The festival was held on the second through 4th floors of the building, with a tiny elevator and treacherously narrow and steep stairs. My least favorite MoCCA venue so far.

Programming was held at the nearby High Line Hotel. I got to see Scott McCloud’s presentation on his new book, The Sculptor, thanks to his tweeting about how people should show up anyway, even though the room was “sold out.” As it happened, this was a good idea; there were empty seats, and I had no problem getting in.

I later got Scott McCloud to sign my copy of The Sculptor (not purchased at the show, so not listed below). When I told him my name, he said “The only Avram I’ve ever run into had the last name Grumer…” and I reminded him of the previous time we’d had the conversation.

Books

  • Towerkind by Kat Verhoeven. Conundrum Press.
  • Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince. Top Shelf Productions.
  • AltCom 2012 and 2014, anthologies published by a Swedish comics festival. I paid $5 for the two of them, but now I see, on the back, they’re supposed to be free. I guess they’re free at the festival, but someone had to pay to get them here from Sweden. Anyway, I also got to try a piece of that salty Swedish licorice, so maybe that makes it all OK. Here’s a link to their Facebook page, since their website is down.
  • Terrestrial, an anthology, edited by Amanda Scurti.
  • Horizon Anthology, Volume One, edited and designed by Jeremy Lawson.

Floppies & Minis

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Treasures uncovered while looking for the gesso:

  • A pack of a dozen 4×5-inch canvas panels, pre-primed, ready for painting.
  • A small desktop easel.
  • An old AOL bisk tin, filled with colored glass aquarium stones, of the type gamers use to track various game resources (hit points, Fate points, etc).
  • My copies of four games from Cheapass Games’ “Hip Pocket” series: Light Speed, Agora, Nexus, and Steam Tunnel.
  • The power supply for my old Belkin seven-port USB hub. I now have all of its pieces in one place! And no strong need of it.
  • My copy of Asterios Polyp, which I still haven’t read.

Treasure still to be found:

  • The gesso.
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I noticed, rereading Samuel Delany’s Nova a couple of weeks ago, that Delany doesn’t spend as many words as most male writers do talking about how hawt his female characters are, but he does quite often point out when his male characters have broad fingers, bitten nails, or work-roughened hands. The reasons are obvious if you know anything about Delany.

Just today I realized: He does do some of the usual excited description about one of the women — Ruby Red, when describing her in the part of the book that focuses on Lorq Von Ray. Tyÿ, the other major female character, doesn’t get nearly the same level of attention, but she’s only in the parts of the book that focus on Mouse’s point of view.

If all of the male rough-hand descriptions occur in the Mouse sections, that could be saying something about Mouse’s sexuality.

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<sigh> Y’all are conspiring to make me read the Harry Dresden books, aren’t’cha?

At least I ought to be able to get ’em out of the library.

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Google Books has confirmed for me something I recall noticing — that Orson Scott Card’s 1995 novel Alvin Journeyman takes place in a world populated by owls:

  • Page 35: Becca hooted.
  • Page 38: The boy hooted.
  • Page 57: Alvin hooted derisively.
  • Page 138: […] but Horace hooted […] It was Vilante’s turn to hoot with laughter.
  • Page 192: The lanky one hooted and several others chuckled.
  • Page 195: Measure hooted with laughter.
  • Page 199: Marty Laws, the county attorney, hooted at the joke.
  • Page 210 Alvin hooted.
  • Page 215 “Only so’s you can lick it out after!” hooted Mike Fink.
  • Page 218: He hooted twice, high, as if he were some kind of steam whistle, and Holly hooted back and laughed.
  • Page 316: The bailiff rummaged through the handbag, then suddenly hooted and jumped back.
  • Page 360: Measure hooted once — after the door was closed.
  • Page 366: He looked at Margaret with all the meaning he could put in his face, and everybody hooted and clapped.

There are also a couple of people not giving hoots, on pages 73 and 337.

This was the book that put me off Card’s writing permanently. I’m not the only one; this was also the first Alvin Maker book not to get a Hugo nomination (and it’s not as if the competition was particularly strong that year), and none have gotten one since. In fact, as far as I can tell by skimming through Locus’s records with bleary eyes at 2 AM, Card’s last Hugo nomination in any category was in in 1992, around the same time that news of his anti-gay bigotry was starting to spread through the SF fan community (I first saw photocopies of the linked essay handed around as photocopies at the 1991 Worldcon in Chicago).

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First foreshadowing: Yesterday, on the way to a NYRSF meeting, discovering that I neglected to put my current book (A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham) in my shoulder bag. I make do on the subway trip with a copy of The Onion from a sidewalk stand.

Second foreshadowing: Just a few minutes ago, realizing that actually A Betrayal in Winter has been sitting in the pocket of my cargo shorts, where a sketchbook usually rides, since Tuesday night.

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I started An Evil Guest, Gene Wolfe’s latest, on the way to Games Club yesterday. (Oh, lost a lot of games of Race for the Galaxy and Dominion.) Here are things I’m noticing as I go; page references are from the first Tor hardcover:

Here's your spoiler-cover )
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Via [livejournal.com profile] jimhenley, here's the table of contents of Green Ronin's book Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Titles I own (or have owned) are in bold, titles I've played are in italic, titles I've both are both:

Big long list )
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Has anyone else considered this?

LionDzur
Lamb???
Polar bearTsalmoth?
Walrus???
Salt marsh harvest mouseTeckla
Wildebeest???
Ant???
Worm-eating fernbirdHawk? Phoenix? Athyra?
Sea otterOrca?
Giant anacondaDragon? Yendi?
Kangaroo???
Sort of a cross between a frilled
lizard and a common house cat
Tiassa
Wild dingo???
EmuIssola?
Tapir???
FrogJhegaala
Golden retrieverLyorn

Here, some context for people too young to remember the first season of Saturday Night Live. (Scroll down to the third comment.) He names seventeen animals!

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This is a list of the 106 books most often noted as unread by users of Library Thing. Bold for books you’ve read, italics for books you’ve started but haven’t finished, strikethrough for books you found unreadable. Via [livejournal.com profile] camwyn.

The list! )
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You know the Bible 87%!
 

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes


I'd have done better if there'd been fewer New Testament questions.

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A few weeks back, when I was going through my books looking for stuff to toss out, I found some old copies of this British kid’s fantasy series — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, etc. And I was wondering, what ever happened with that? Did it ever get finished?

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I read the first few chapters of CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity today, and I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off on behalf of everyone who’s ever been taken in by this dishonest piece of propaganda. Check this shit out, from Book 1, chapter 4, “What Lies Behind the Law”:

Ever since men were able to think, they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be there. And, very roughly, two views have been held. First, there is what is called the materialist view. People who take that view think that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed, nobody knows why; […] The other view is the religious view. According to it, what is behind the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. […] Please do not think that one of these views was held a long time ago and that the other has gradually taken its place. Wherever there have been thinking men both views turn up.

See what’s going on there? He’s aware of the vague notion most people have that religion is an old-fashioned belief and atheism a new, modern belief, and wants to break this association in his audience’s minds. And that’s fine — believing something because it’s new and exciting-sounding (or because it’s old and established-seeming) is a form of sloppy thinking that an honest person does well to argue against. But look here, at the start of Book 2:

If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. […] The first big division of humanity is into the majority, who believe in some kind of God or gods, and the minority who do not. On this point, Christianity lines up with the majority — lines up with ancient Greeks and Romans, modern savages, Stoics, Platonists, Hindus, Mohammedans, etc, against the modern Western European materialist.

What? Suddenly, instead of being a view that appears wherever there have been thinking people, materialism is just a little minority view from Western Europe. And not only is Lewis contradicting himself here, and not only is he trying to convince us that the religion that brought us the homoousios-vs-homoiousios flamewars is some kind of paragon of liberal toleration, but the very point that he spends his opening paragraphs making here is not logically tied to anything. He just goes on to another matter. He never says “Most people have believed in a God or gods, and therefore ….” As well he shouldn’t, because doing so would draw the reader’s attention to the logical fallacy he’s trying to get you to swallow unnoticed — that truth is a popularity contest.

I’m maybe a quarter of the way into the book, and that’s as far as I’ll go. I want to throw the damned thing across the room. I don’t think I’ll be able to read anything of Lewis’s again.

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MelornYeah, I’m trying to do one of those draw-something-every-day things.

Discovered today that the grayscale marker under-drawing really doesn’t work well with the Inktense over-painting. The shadows come out all desaturated — somehow the grayness of the ink overcomes the dissolved pigment on top of it. Weird. I had some inkling (yeah, yeah) of this after yesterday’s drawing, but today just confirms it.

Also realized that I just plain like inking. Laying down those blacks is just tactile joy.

And I had a minor realization about comics plotting — that of all the stuff going into a comic, plot is the least important, and it’s only my teenaged imprinting on strongly plotted SF stories that makes me think otherwise — but it hasn’t really come to anything.

Also finally listened to the legit release of Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, and yes, it is different from the leaked release. (Do Brits wince slightly at “different from” like I do at “different to”? Good.) Not only are there two tracks on the legit disk that weren’t on the leaked one (and one on the leak that isn’t on the legit), the actual arrangements are different. So even if you’ve got the leaked album, it’s worth getting the legit one, especially since it’s currently on sale for $10 at Virgin.

And speaking of sales, Barnes & Noble is having an online post-holiday sale. I’d been waiting for Jaime Hernandez’s Ghost of Hoppers to come out in paperback, but the hardcover was on sale for just $5!

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I just joined a Flickr group for faking up the covers of Nintendo DS movie and book tie-in games. (No, I wouldn’t actually want to play a DS games based on Lolita. But a Blazing Saddles game would be awesome.) Here are my mock-ups.
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This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk* beside the ones you loved.

Via [livejournal.com profile] bruceb.

List behind cut )
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Y’know that old saying attributed to Bismark? “To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.” I think maybe a similar principle applies to novelists and their non-fictional side-writing — blog entries, letters to the editor, and so on.
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Since I finished Moby-Dick I’ve been reading All The Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer. This is the story of how the CIA and MI6 overthrew Iran’s democratic government in 1953 to install a tyrannical monarchist government that wouldn’t oppose British control of Iran’s oil. Ever wonder why Iranians hate the US? That coup was why. Before that, they hated the Brits and the Russians, but they liked the US. Just the thing to read if you’re under the impression that fucking over Middle Eastern countries, and fucking ourselves over in the process, is something we just started doing recently.

(Best name in the book: Nader Batmanqelich, masked crimefighter Iranian general. Second-best: Kermit Roosevelt, the CIA agent in charge of the operation. Third place goes to Shaban the Brainless, mob organizer in the CIA’s pay.)

This has me in the mood to read more non-fiction for a while. Also to smack the hell out of anyone who thinks Americans know anything about running things in other countries. But I’m more likely to do the reading. So even though I’ve got copies of Ross Thomas’s Missionary Stew and James Tiptree Jr’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever sitting here waiting for me, I stopped off at Borders on the way home and picked up Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby.

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Moby-Dick may be the slashiest book ever written. Here, from Chapter 10, “A Bosom Friend”, in which our narrator has bedded down with Queequeg the savage:

[…] I drew my bench near him, and made some friendly signs and hints, doing my best to talk with him meanwhile. At first he little noticed these advances; but presently, upon my referring to his last night’s hospitalities, he made out to ask me whether we were again to be bedfellows. I told him yes; whereat I thought he looked pleased, perhaps a little complimented.

[…] If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me in the Pagan’s breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had, soon thawed it out, and left us cronies. He seemed to take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country’s phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be. In a countryman, this sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing to be much distrusted; but in this simple savage those old rules would not apply.

[…] How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg — a cosy, loving pair.

But that’s nothing next to Chapter 94, “A Squeeze of the Hand”:

Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say, — Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!

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