Kitten/Puppy Dialogues (on Pizza)

In the comments to the last Wednesday’s post titled Answering Peter Grant, a Puppy supporter called Xephon has been vocally criticizing me for several things I’ve said. The arguments in his/her first few short comments made little sense to me, so I thought the discussion was going nowhere, but then this lengthy account landed on the comment section.

I’m still unconvinced, but Xephon brings up some points I want to respond to, and because this is going to take up some space, I’ll rather do it in a new post.

puppybite

What I’m complaining about is that I made it clear in my first comment that I neither support Beale nor would consider any criticism directed against him to be excessive, and yet you mention him in every comment, insistent on drawing connections between him and everyone who is on the SP slate or supports what they are doing. He is nothing more than a bandwagon-jumper who has seized the reins for his own gain.

I can’t argue with your assessment of Beale, there. However, the reason he is mentioned when discussing Gallogate and Tor boycott is very simple: he orchestrated it (for his own gain, of course). He released the screen capture of Gallo’s comment a month after it was posted, manufactured the outrage and managed to get Peter Grant and others on board. That was his scheme and — if his goal was to get more visibility in the Puppy movement — it worked.

The sickening truth is that the anti-Puppies need Beale more than the Puppies do. He’s done nothing for my side except stir an increasingly rancid pot. Those of us who have distanced ourselves have learned that we are wasting our time, because all we hear from the other side is, “because Vox Day”. You need him to be your bogeyman, the focal point for your opposition. If he didn’t exist, someone would have invented him.

One of the funnies recent developments in the discussion around Hugos is that the second you mention Theodore Beale/Vox Day, somebody charges in and accuses you of “because Vox Day” fallacy. It sure is an interesting variant of “playing the ‘Playing the Hitler Card’ card”. Let me state once again that Beale’s Rabid Puppies slate swept the Hugo ballot. Your demand that everything related to him should be removed from the Hugo discussions does feel a bit odd — especially when we’re talking about his boycotts and other schemes.

Another thing I’d like to state again is that all Sad Puppies don’t buy into Day’s bigoted lunacy and I’ve never suggested that they do. Many other people have said exactly the same thing, but all I’m seeing is the sea of “Playing the Hitler Vox Day Card” cards.

A week before the Hugo nominations were announced, a pizza parlor in Indiana came under attack when the 62-year-old wife of the owner told a reporter her husband’s business wouldn’t cater a gay wedding.

Glossing over the absurdity of having a pizza parlor cater a wedding, the wave of hatred directed against this business was horrific. Its website was hacked and filled with porn. The owner and employees were harassed by phone, mail and in person to the point where they had to close the business. A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER tried to mobilize a mob to burn the place down – fortunately the school board she worked for found out about before she got too far. The owners and several employees had to move out of their homes. A family lost its livelihood and twelve people lost their jobs.

All that over one comment.

One. Comment.

That’s a disheartening story. Too bad you missed the happy ending: they raised nearly a million dollars and re-opened. Nobody lost their livelihood over one comment.

What’s this story’s relevance to the Hugos, then? Irene Gallo made one single comment on Facebook (as the pizza parlor people did) and Beale gets his minions as well as many onlookers calling for a Tor Books boycott (as the anti-pizza people did). In the end, luckily, that amounts to nothing. Tor Books gets overwhelming support and can keep on serving their tasty pizzas.

(To be fair, I can’t say that I support a law that allows discrimination based of religious beliefs, but I don’t live in Indiana, so my support doesn’t matter one way or the other.)

When the Hugo nominees were announced and the first wave of hatred against the Sad Puppies started, it all seemed like deja vu to me. I’d bet money Beale noted it too, realized how easily enraged people of a certain political persuasion could be, and exploited it. He wanted to strike back as WSFS for kicking him out and the people who hated him happily played along and continue to do so. They actually managed to make a vile, toxic egomaniac look like a victim.

I can’t say that I agree with you. Calling vile, toxic egomaniacs on their vile toxicity is a reasonable thing to do, and everybody who really mistakes this particular egomaniac for a victim has some serious issues with reading comprehension.

Look, if you’re opposed to slate voting, Sasquan’s website had documented a proposal to change the nomination process. A nominating voter can only nominate four choices per category and the shortlist will have six nominees per category. This sounds to me like a sensible method to prevent a sweep in any category. Forget Beale and put your support behind that. But I guarantee, human nature being what it is, if the SP/RP nominees have any success in this year’s Hugos, then next year, EVERYBODY will be using slates – including a lot of people who have spent the last two months working themselves into a froth about how they “ruined” the Hugos. I’m working on getting more people involved in nominating and voting. The larger the voting pool, the more difficult it will be to “game”. That is the part of the Sad Puppies’ goal that I support.

I am opposed to slate voting and there is indeed a rule change proposal I’m supporting — E Pluribus Hugo. That makes sure everybody’s nominations are taken into account and small minorities (whether they’re Puppies or somebody else) can’t make sweeps by voting tactically anymore. The thing I’d really like to see is some more reasonable Puppies supporting that, too, so how about helping us out a little here? It’s a fair system, after all, and I thought fairness was what you wanted.

The “4 and 6” proposal would simply mean that a small but organized bloc of tactical voters could take two thirds of the slate instead of 100%, and I’m afraid that’s not enough for me. Furthermore, in that system, two competing slates of, say, 20% of voters each would easily take the whole ballot, leaving 60% with nothing, because the votes are distributed among such a vast number of works. E Pluribus Hugo is clearly the best way to go.

puppybite2Given the outrage that gaming the system caused this year, I think it’s very unlikely that there will be any Happy Kittens slates in 2016. If there were, very few authors would allow their works to be on a slate, in case they’re given the chance to refuse. Hopefully, Sad Puppies 4 will run into the same sort of problems and the slatemakers are forced to abandon it or feature only the most militant right-wingers.

Reaching out to more voters, decreasing the supporting membership fee and making the system less byzantine with confusing categories are things I think WSFS and Worldcons should be doing, so we’re in agreement there.

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14 thoughts on “Kitten/Puppy Dialogues (on Pizza)

  1. Xephon

    I didn’t “miss” the “happy ending” to the Memories Pizza story. It is irrelevant and doesn’t mitigate in the slightest the vicious campaign of hatred directed against a family business whose only real crime was letting a muckracking reporter sucker them into making targets of themselves.

    And the E Pluribus Hugo proposal is not “the best way to go”. It turns the Hugo Awards into Animal Farm, with the “more equal” animals counting the votes.
    Under the proposed “point system” in E Pluribus Hugo, an author who votes for his own novel and nothing else will see that novel get five times the point value of any work on the ballot of a voter with five nominations.
    In what universe is that considered “fair”?
    In what universe does that stop people from “gaming” the system?
    A process that was once straightforward and completely transparent will be complicated to the point where you’d need a degree in statistical analysis to understand it.
    In what universe is that “the best way to go”?

    E Pluribus Hugo shifts the advantage to the pros: the authors, the editors, the publishers. The people with Facebook pages and Twitter feeds with thousands of followers. The people with the resources to actually pay to publicize their company’s product. They can promote a small number of nominees and see them unfairly weighted in the nominations process. After all, only one novel can win, and the publisher of that novel only cares that their company’s logo is on the cover alongside the “Hugo Award Winner” sticker. The title and author’s name is irrelevant to them.
    Is anybody surprised that the Neilsen-Haydens are promoting the hell out of this idea? Nothin’ suspicious about that, right?

    New fans who don’t have those connections, fans who have broad interests and people who just want to stick up for what they like will be increasingly marginalized and find the chances of getting their favorites on a final ballot have literally gotten five times harder than they were before.

    If people want to get rid of slates, then GET RID OF SLATES. Forbid electioneering by anyone who has a financial or professional interest in the outcome. Render ineligible any work that appears on a slate promoted by any author, editor, or publisher.

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  2. Pingback: The Hound and the Fury 6/22 | File 770

  3. yellowcake

    Xenophon, E Pluribus Hugo does not work the way you describe it. You are wrong (or rather, you are only right for voters with five nominations whose five works _all_ make it to the final round of eliminations. And even then you only consider the points part of the proposal.)
    Your misinformation is easily fixed, read the FAQ, ask questions. And maybe calm down, your series of increasingly dramatic rhetorical questions sounds a bit hysterical given that it’s based on a faulty understanding of the proposal.

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  4. JJ

    Xephon: I didn’t “miss” the “happy ending” to the Memories Pizza story. It is irrelevant

    As is the Memories Pizza story itself. It doesn’t apply here. It’s irrelevant. It has nothing to do with SFF fans.

    Your bringing it into this discussion is nothing more than trying to argue that the American Culture War is somehow part of the Hugos. It’s not. The Hugos are an international award, given by a group of people from all over the world. Memories Pizza has nothing to do with the Hugos.

    Also, you clearly have not bothered to educate yourself on how the E Pluribus Hugo nominations process works. If at any point in the future, you choose to do so, your comments on it might have some validity. But the ones you’ve posted in the comment above are untrue and therefore — oh, there’s that word again! irrelevant.

    The E Pluribus Hugo nominations process is no more complex than the current Hugo voting process. But as you’ve not bothered to educate yourself on that, either, you don’t know that.

    Your proposal to stop slates by “forbidding” them is quaint, but utterly unworkable. How would a slate be defined, for enforcement of such a ban? How would you enforce banning of them — ban all works on them? What if someone publishes a slate full of works they want to prevent from getting an award? How, exactly, would such a prohibition work correctly in the real world?

    You say you support the 4/6 proposal — no doubt, because you have realized that it is almost as susceptible to manipulation by slates as the current process. I see what you did there.

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  5. sfrazer2015

    “Glossing over the absurdity of having a pizza parlor cater a wedding…”

    http://www.shakesville.com/2015/04/pizza-and-progressives.html

    “So, one of the common responses I’m seeing—mostly on Twitter, although it came up in comments here, too—to the Indiana pizza place refusing service is: “Har har who even has pizza at a wedding?”

    Poor people.

    That’s who has pizza at a wedding.

    I mean, some people who have money to spend, but just want a casual wedding, have pizza at their wedding receptions, too.

    But.

    It’s not unusual around here to see weddings, or funerals, catered by a pizza place. Pizza is all that many people can afford.”

    Liked by 2 people

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  6. gregm91436

    Interesting the degree of opposition to “E Pluribus Hugo.” Almost as if people suspect it will work well and help prevent future slates.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. spacefaringkitten Post author

    Xephon:
    I didn’t “miss” the “happy ending” to the Memories Pizza story. It is irrelevant and doesn’t mitigate in the slightest the vicious campaign of hatred directed against a family business whose only real crime was letting a muckracking reporter sucker them into making targets of themselves.

    However you spin that, it’s a poor excuse for a vicious campaign against a science fiction publisher.

    And the E Pluribus Hugo proposal is not “the best way to go”. It turns the Hugo Awards into Animal Farm, with the “more equal” animals counting the votes.
    Under the proposed “point system” in E Pluribus Hugo, an author who votes for his own novel and nothing else will see that novel get five times the point value of any work on the ballot of a voter with five nominations.
    In what universe is that considered “fair”?

    That’s not how the point system works, as yellowcake and JJ have pointed out. I suggest you check the FAQ on the Sasquan site.

    Here’s the relevant part:

    6. Shouldn’t I just nominate one work if I want to give it the best chance to win?

    The system was crafted specifically to make most strategies irrelevant. For example, if you wanted to support a single nominee you feel strongly about, and there isn’t anything else you feel is Hugo-worthy, you can do that. On the other hand, if you nominate four other things that you feel might be Hugo-worthy, you aren’t hurting your favorite. This is because if your other nominees get eliminated, then your full support will go to the remaining nominee, just as if you had never nominated the others. If enough people agree with your other four, some of them might make it, too. If enough people don’t agree with your favorite, there’s nothing you can do to get it on the final ballot, because you will never have more than one point. In general, the best strategy is simple: nominate as many nominees as you feel are worthy.

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  8. Mark

    “Forbid electioneering by anyone who has a financial or professional interest in the outcome. Render ineligible any work that appears on a slate promoted by any author, editor, or publisher”

    A fan-created, volunteer-administrated award should scour the internet for any mention of the Hugos, interrogate the person involved, and demand their tax returns? That’ll work.

    The motive behind demanding that a practical and implementable solution to slating be dropped in favour of an impossible solution is rather transparent.

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  9. junego

    Xephon:
    Beale “wanted to strike back as WSFS for kicking him out and the people who hated him happily played along and continue to do so.”

    Just to clarify, Beale wasn’t kicked out of the WSFS, he was expelled from the SFWA which isn’t connected to the WSFS. Neither the WSFS nor the Hugos had had a previous run-in with Beale. He’s just a vicious sociopath who wants to destroy things.

    I also agree with those defending/clarifying E Pluribus Hugo. The claims you make about it are complete distortions. Go educate yourself about it and ask questions if you really want to reduce the power of slate voting.

    Your proposals to ban slates and anyone connected professionally with SFF may sound good, but none of them could, realistically, be implemented (and, in the case of banning writers or anyone connected to the publishing industry, would be counter to the principles of the WSFS where any fan is welcome to participate.)

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  10. Shaenon

    Beale isn’t the problem with the Puppies. The Puppies are the problem with the Puppies. Every vocal member of the group has said horrendous things, not just in their statements of personal politics but in their dull, self-centered idea of what SF should and shouldn’t (mostly shouldn’t) be.

    Even if I was cool with the various flavors of bigotry the Puppies champion, I still wouldn’t be interested in a version of SF literature in which military and hard SF, written as blandly as possible, represents the full range of what the genre can do. And this year’s embarrassing Hugo slate doesn’t even any good SF of the type the Puppies say they want more of. It looks suspiciously like work by friends of the guys who made up the two slates.

    This isn’t what I want to read or write. It’s boring, sorry.

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  11. Xephon

    To all:
    Here’s a hypothetical: a Big Name Publisher want to put a Hugo sticker on the cover of a novel by one of its “hot” writers. They convince 100 people to enter a single-nomination ballot for that novel and, because there are no other entries, that novel gets a point value of 1 on each ballot.
    Grassroots Fan want to see his favorite author win a Hugo, so he convinces 99 of his friends to read the book and put it on a ballot as one of their five nominees. But because he and all of his friends have varied interests, that one novel is the only one that appears on all ballots. For each ballot, it receives a point value of 0.2.
    After the votes are tallied:
    BNP’s nominee has 100 nominations and 100 points.
    GF’s nominee has 100 nominations and 20 points.
    “3.A.1(1) Calculation Phase: First, the total number of nominations (the number of ballots on which each nominee appears) from all eligible ballots shall be tallied for each remaining nominee. Next, a single “point” shall be assigned to each nomination ballot. That point shall be divided equally among all remaining nominees on that ballot. Finally, all points from all nomination ballots shall be totaled for each nominee in that category. These two numbers, point total and number of nominations, shall be used in the Selection and Elimination Phases.”

    Under the current system, these two novels have the same chance of becoming finalists. Either both would make the final ballot, or neither would.
    But then there’s this:
    3.A.1(2): (2) Selection Phase: The two nominees with the lowest point totals shall be selected for comparison in the Elimination Phase. (See 3.A.3 for ties.)
    So, GF’s nominee, with its significantly lower “point total” has a significantly HIGHER chance of being eliminated in the “Elimination Phase” despite having THE SAME AMOUNT OF SUPPORT AS ITS CLOSET COMPETITOR.
    Result: GF’s favorite will be much less likely to survive the cut because he used a system of nomination that was honest and straightforward, while BNP’s nominee has a manufactured, built-in immunity to “Elimination”.
    For those of you who insist this will prevent “slate” voting “gaming” the system, here’s an example of how a one-vote “slate” can “game” the system.
    For those of you who insist I don’t “understand” this process, tell me what I’m getting wrong.
    Then, tell me what’s “fair” about this.
    Hilariously, the anti-Puppies were screaming bloody murder over how the Puppies were trying to eliminate “diversity” in SF. Your preferred solution is a voting process that actively DISCOURAGES diversity and weights the process in favor of monolithic support for each year’s “Chosen One”.
    Looks like Requires Hate may win herself a Hugo after all.

    @ JJ

    “Your bringing it into this discussion is nothing more than trying to argue that the American Culture War is somehow part of the Hugos.”

    No, my bringing it into discussion was to explain why I had a visceral negative reaction to the verminous blanket characterization of the Sad Puppies as “unrepentant racist, misogynist, homophobe neo-nazis”.

    “Your proposal to stop slates by “forbidding” them is quaint, but utterly unworkable. How would a slate be defined, for enforcement of such a ban?”

    How is it defined now? What is the REAL difference between a “slate” and a “recommended reading list”?

    “What if someone publishes a slate full of works they want to prevent from getting an award?”

    Right….’cause that cunning ploy would fool EVERYONE, right? A publisher suddenly plugging his competition’s products at the expense of his own? An author recommending authors with whom he had been conducting a childish flame war for the last year? I’m sure no one would suspect a thing.

    @ spacefaringkitten

    “However you spin that, it’s a poor excuse for a vicious campaign against a science fiction publisher.”

    But a vicious campaign against fans BY an employee of that publisher who characterizes people she doesn’t know as “unrepentant racist, misogynist, homophobes and neo-nazis” is okay?
    And a vicious campaign to control the narrative by feeding similar misinformation to national magazines (Entertainment Weekly and Salon, to name just two) is acceptable?
    Your outrage against “vicious campaigns” is admirable but a little selective.

    @ junego

    “Just to clarify, Beale wasn’t kicked out of the WSFS, he was expelled from the SFWA which isn’t connected to the WSFS.”

    Correction noted. Thank you for setting me straight.

    “He’s just a vicious sociopath who wants to destroy things.”

    Agreed. Which makes me wonder why so many people who profess to hate his guts are dancing to his tune by reacting exactly the way he predicted they would.

    @ Shaenon

    “Every vocal member of the group has said horrendous things.”

    And the non-vocal members? And their fans? And the people who just support the goal of getting more fans involved in the Hugo Awards, broadening the field of nominees and sharing what we like with others? What did we do to get marked as collateral damage in this war?

    “I still wouldn’t be interested in a version of SF literature in which military and hard SF, written as blandly as possible, represents the full range of what the genre can do.”

    Well, you win some and you lose some. If it’s any consolation, outside of the Best Dramatic Presentation categories, I only see two of my nominations on the final ballot: Three Body Problem and Tea & Jeopardy. And that’s actually BETTER than average for me.

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  12. JJ

    Xephon: Your preferred solution is a voting process that actively DISCOURAGES diversity and weights the process in favor of monolithic support for each year’s “Chosen One”.

    No, it doesn’t. Take your example over to the discussion forum for the E Pluribus Hugo proposal and they will explain it to you.

    Xephon: my bringing [Memories Pizza] into discussion was to explain why I had a visceral negative reaction to the verminous blanket characterization of the Sad Puppies as “unrepentant racist, misogynist, homophobe neo-nazis”.

    Whatever irrational connections you may make in your mind, Memories Pizza is still irrelevant to this discussion.

    Xephon: How is [a slate] defined now? What is the REAL difference between a “slate” and a “recommended reading list”?

    You’re the one wanting to make an official WSFS rule banning all slates. You’re going to have to come up with an unambiguous definition for a slate.

    Xephon: Right….’cause that cunning ploy [someone publishes a slate full of works they want to prevent from getting an award] would fool EVERYONE, right? A publisher suddenly plugging his competition’s products at the expense of his own? An author recommending authors with whom he had been conducting a childish flame war for the last year? I’m sure no one would suspect a thing.

    It wouldn’t matter whether anyone recognized the cunning ploy. You’ve made a rule requiring that all slate entries be banned from the Hugo nominations process. Now you have to enforce that rule against all slate entries, whether they deserve it or not.

    Xephon: a vicious campaign against fans BY an employee of that publisher who characterizes people she doesn’t know as “unrepentant racist, misogynist, homophobes and neo-nazis” is okay?

    An off-the-cuff comment on a Facebook post does not constitute “a vicious campaign”. Melodramatic, much? Though the Puppy response certainly does constitute “a vicious campaign” — a totally disproportionate response.

    The people about whom she made the comments have provided ample first-person evidence to support her statement (there are collections of this evidence over at File770, as I’m sure you’re aware). If these people didn’t want to be characterized as “unrepentant racist, misogynist, homophobes and neo-nazis”, then they a) should not have said things that were unrepentantly racist, misogynistic, homophobic and resembling the views of neo-nazis, or b) offered very vocal, public support for the people making those statements.

    Xephon: Which makes me wonder why so many people who profess to hate [VD’s] guts are dancing to his tune by reacting exactly the way he predicted they would.

    The only ones dancing to VD’s tune are the Puppies. And it would be amusing that they are doing so — if all those Puppy sheep weren’t so sad and pathetic. Everyone else is going about their business, pointing out that he’s an asshole, then getting back to de-vulnerableizing the nomination process and talking about the books they’re reading.

    Xephon: And the non-vocal members? And their fans? And the people who just support the goal of getting more fans involved in the Hugo Awards, broadening the field of nominees and sharing what we like with others? What did we do to get marked as collateral damage in this war?

    What those people did “to get marked as collateral damage” was to claim Puppy status, and very publicly, vocally support the people making statements which are unrepentantly racist, misogynistic, homophobic and resembling the views of neo-nazis. You are personally accountable for the decisions you make. You made yourself “collateral damage” by choosing to support such people. The fact that you are upset about being associated with such people is your own fault.

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  13. yellowcake

    @ Xephon
    Your example:
    – The publisher would have to do so very discreetly. Unlikely with 100 people, someone always talks. Then the WSFS board would have to check whether there was vote buying. If the publisher genuinely convinced people there’d still be a huge uproar in fandom about this violation of ethics.

    – GF’s nominations lists only come up to 20 points if _all_ of the candidates on their 100 lists are still there. Case A: If everyone votes independently, there’ll be a huge spread of other nominations, some of which would be removed in prior elimination phases and GF’s nominee would end up with more than 20 points. Case B: GF put together a slate, all 100 ballots are identical. Then the works on the slate will eventually meet in the elimination phase and the victor will have more points for the following rounds.
    So, either way, GF’s nominee ends up with more points than you assume. And wins in the elimination phase make it stronger (more points, same number of nominations). If it is the consensus candidate among GF’s friends (i.e. the work with most overall support. This depends on other voters. Among GF’s friend’s I assume there is at least one work which only 99 of them support. Otherwise full slate, see above.) GF’s nominee will eventually have 100 points and 100 nominations from GF’s ballots if it’s still in the running.
    – It depends on the other voters which of the two will lose, should they meet in elimination.

    – Suppose the Publisher’s nominee wins. Surprise, that’s fine! Per the boards inquiry above, the people the publisher convinced genuinely wanted to vote that way and they are presumably a significant portion of the electorate. Depending on other voters, a larger fraction than the supporters of GF’s nominee. Why shouldn’t their work make the final ballot? The point of EPH isn’t to keep people who vote the same out, it’s to prevent them from dominating the final ballot.
    10% of voters bullet voting and getting one work on the final ballot is fine. They don’t get to control the other 4 candidates on the final ballot.

    That was the brief version and I’m not inclined to do that again. Please educate yourself, think things through more carefully.

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