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March 24, 2005

Little Bits

Some quick notes before I abandon you all for the day (books don't write themselves, alas).

* I'll be out through Easter, and I hope yours is ressuriffic!

* I realize that some of you are frightened and confused that I've not posted anything self-congratulatory re: Old Man's War, in, like, a week, so: Rick Kleffel essays OMW and other books obviously inspired by past works in Prizing the Derivatives: The Perfected Pastiche, and also OMW appears to be #3 on the SFBC Bestseller list at the moment, behind Dragonsblood by Todd McCaffrey and Destroyer by C.J. Cherryh. Groovy. And here's a nice review from Fantastica Daily: "I absolutely adored this book from the first page." Wheee! I know of at least one fairly significant review of the book that's coming up, and some other interesting events have transpired with the book, but I'll chat about those at some future point.

* Despite noting that submissions for the Subterranean Magazine issue I'm guest-editing will not be accepted before 10/1/05, I am -- yes! -- already receiving submissions. So let me note now that e-mails sent to submissions@scalzi.com before 10/1/05 will get an auto-responder message, telling them to submit after 10/1/05 and that their current e-mail will likely be deleted unread. The good news here is that since I'm doing bulk deletions, I'm not noting who is sending early submissions, so there's going to be no penalty accrued if/when they re-submit on time. Still, luck favors those who follow directions. I'm just saying.

* If you had to choose between, say, a Sony PSP and a Mac Mini, what would you choose? I have no reason to ask; I'm merely curious.

* Just a question: What did Florida do to be so full of asshats?

Have a great weekend -- see you all on Monday.

Posted by john at March 24, 2005 09:20 AM

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Jas | March 24, 2005 10:50 AM

I'm fairly certain, even allowing for the fact that we've got three functional computers in a household of two persons, I'd opt for the Mac Mini. More flexible, methinks, and generaly in possession of a greater "wow" factor.

Fuzzy | March 24, 2005 11:28 AM

I'd get the PSP and wait for the next generation of Mac Minis -- purely ancedoctal, but my friend is having a lot of video card trouble with his Mac Mini.

katre | March 24, 2005 11:29 AM

Mini. Hands down. More flexible, looks nicer, I already have too many game consoles (according to my wife), and hey, Mac OS X.

Plus, if I really really want games, I'll install Linux and fire up whatever the emulator of the day is.

Anonymous | March 24, 2005 11:59 AM

Captain Kirk take your boots off the Amazon women from Mars are a'coming for you!

Brian | March 24, 2005 12:13 PM

Can we give Florida back to Spain?

John H | March 24, 2005 12:29 PM

The bill sets a statewide standard that students cannot be punished for professing beliefs with which their professors disagree. Professors would also be advised to teach alternative “serious academic theories” that may disagree with their personal views.

The first sentence of that paragraph sounds innocuous enough until you couple it with the last sentence. The only reason Republi-cons would introduce this kind of legislation is to force the universities to promote creationism as science.

Asshats, indeed...

Dawn B. | March 24, 2005 12:33 PM

I wondered if you would get subs. I find that amazing and more than a little frightening.

At least most of the early subs are following the guildelines so you can do bulk deletions?

Ian Mathers | March 24, 2005 12:36 PM

Definitely the Mac Mini. Video games are nice and all, but a computer that's 6x6x2? That's just cool.

And as a university student (for a few weeks longer, anyways), that law is terrifying. Maybe the "leftist academics" are worse down there, but up here plenty of students manage to deal with disagreeing with the prof without suing. Of course, you don't see the students at the vet college here trying to heal animals using Jesus...

Mark J Musante | March 24, 2005 12:39 PM

John -

Try putting 'http://www.scalzi.com/mt/' in the typekey configuration page (https://www.typekey.com/t/typekey) as the URL to your blog, instead of /whatever/. I think that will fix the problem you're having with users not being able to use their typekey identity.

The URLs that site is looking for are of where the *software* is installed.

Allen Holt | March 24, 2005 12:50 PM

John, Florida's always been filled with asshats (and by "always," of course, I mean "as long as I can remember," which only goes back to when my family moved there in '78). I grew up in Florida and can assure you that the passage of that bill, while incredibly disappointing, isn't particularly surprising. The guy sponsoring the bill is from Ocala, which is in the über-conservative northern part of the state (think Alabama/Georgia much more than Miami--several worlds' worth of difference), and I'm willing to bet the entire reason for the bill's existence is to ensure that creationism gets its time in the spotlight alongside evolution (or even hogs the spotlight altogether).

I attended a couple of the universities in the state system, and I remember a situation in one of my classes at one of them that likely would have resulted in litigation if this law had been enabled back then (this was '92, I think). I was taking a class in Human Sexuality (one of those classes everybody takes to help fulfill their science requirement), and the professor was a genial older guy who'd been teaching the course for years. He knew that most of the students were taking the class as something of a joke and not because they seriously wanted to learn anything about human sexuality--that's what weekends were for, after all. So he tried to have fun with it. One of the ways he tried to do so was by handing out a list of both popular and historical euphemisms for sex. Again, been doing this for years with nary a problem.

One girl in my class took offense at the list, which included any number of words or phrases which would bring FCC fines if they popped up on the broadcast networks. She took her complaint to the school; they suspended him for the rest of the semester without pay. If that had happened now, she'd have had recourse to sue him because she felt offended, which is utterly ridiuculous to me.

While I certainly don't think students should have to put up with being offended or ridiculed by their professors, I can't see why that should lead to lawsuits--and it will lead to frivolous or unjustified lawsuits, which will ultimately have an effect on what the professors teach and how...which is, most likely, the goal of The Honorable Rep. Baxley in the first place.

Sorry for the long comment...just the kind of issue that gets under my skin, especially when it happens in my home state (yeah, I still consider Florida "home"). Oh, and Mac Mini, hands down.

John Scalzi | March 24, 2005 12:58 PM

Dawn B:

"At least most of the early subs are following the guildelines so you can do bulk deletions?"

I'm just deleting everything that comes into the mailbox.

Bowler | March 24, 2005 01:01 PM

I like the Florida law if it only said that students have the right to do something less litigious if they were singled out due to their religion or beliefs. Maybe appeal their grade, or have it "annulled" or something. But sue them? That's a bit extreme.

I don't much like the idea that professors can spout wacko left (or right) rants either, but then, I typically just didn't take their classes, and chose a more moderate professor instead.

Jim Winter | March 24, 2005 01:14 PM

"What did Florida do to be so full of asshats?"

Glad you asked that, John. First off, you live in Ohio. Notice how many asshats live here in the Buckeye State?

Guess where they all move when they get sick of winter. (The season, not the writer. I think only seven or eight people in Ohio know who the writer is.)

Douglas Fasching | March 24, 2005 01:16 PM

On the subject of submissions submitted well prior to the published submission date: I am curious.

For those of you willing to fess up, what's the thought process?

-Simply didn't see that item on the list in your zeel to get published and are glad it won't count against you?

-Saw the item, but didn't think it applied to you?

-Saw the item, but decided to play a subtle mind game where John would be too curious not to look and read your work. Upon deletetion, as noted, he would then have your story floating around in his subconscious till October when your 'official' submission arrived and he was compelled to pick yours for publication?

-Thought it WAS October?

What comes to mind for me is a warning once read on a lawnmower: "Do not lift lawnmower from ground to trim hedges."

If you HAVE to put that on a warning its because someone did.

trance music | March 24, 2005 01:18 PM

You have a great weekend too!

Joe Rybicki | March 24, 2005 01:21 PM

John, I can assure you: If you buy a PSP you will not regret it. Pictures are great and all, you can look at it and think, "Gee, that looks pretty swell!" but once you actually hold one in your hand and have some amazing-looking game (or movie) running on it, you will want one and you will want one now.

Plus, the next version of OSX is due in a few months--if you hold off on the Mini purchase 'til then (like I am!) you can get the double benefit of the possibility of having any bugs ironed out AND an effective $80 discount by getting the new OS.


Burns! | March 24, 2005 01:23 PM

Those asshats in FL are so F'ing ridiculous, I don't even know where to begin. For starters...no, I just don't know where to begin.

John H | March 24, 2005 03:11 PM

What comes to mind for me is a warning once read on a lawnmower: "Do not lift lawnmower from ground to trim hedges."

I like the one that tells you the can of peanuts you have in your hand may contain nuts. I realize that nut allergies can be deadly, but come on - what kind of friggin' moron would need to have that explained to them???

Dave | March 24, 2005 03:47 PM

So the point is... if you "believe" something: e.g. the earth is flat, or E=MC cubed, or whatever, then your teacher says you're wrong, you can sue?

Basically, if you learn anything at all in school, you can sue the teacher for showing you that your "beliefs" are wrong.

Fortunately this has only made it through one committee. Hopefully there aren't as many asshats in Florida as it seems....

fdtate | March 24, 2005 03:56 PM

Asshats??? In Florida??? Surely you jest!!!

Calnj | March 24, 2005 04:13 PM

Bowler said "... I typically just didn't take their classes, and chose a more moderate professor instead."

You hit the nail on the head. Such an easy solution. Maybe the issue here is common sense, which it doesn't seem the asshats in FL have at all.

David G | March 24, 2005 04:31 PM

Unfortunatly your comment about Florida only served to remind me that our home state of Ohio is no better. See here for more details. But the so called "Academic Bill of Rights" is certainly one of the worst things to happen in higher education other than budget cuts.

Mark Ensley | March 24, 2005 04:41 PM

Well, swords can cut both ways, so let's have liberal students with good legal connections harass conservative profs in Florida. Perhaps after a few lawsuits the legislature will reconsider.

John H | March 24, 2005 05:04 PM

You mean they're not all bleeding-heart liberals?

Yeah, right.

And I suppose next you're going to tell me the whole "media bias" thing is a myth... :)

Todd R | March 24, 2005 06:25 PM

From the Florida article: “Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue.

So what I see happening is lots of right-thinking young Floridians signing up for classes taught by controversial professors - maybe just one proto-con per class - and then attempting to monopolize the class time promoting intelligent design or whatever. After the professor makes a few attempts to get them to stop so that the rest of the class can hear the material they paid to learn, the disruptive student is just asked to leave. Instant lawsuit. By a trial lawyer. Oh, the irony.

And I love how use of the Socratic method is equated with public ridicule.

"Is our children learning?"

While I'm writing: make mine a Mini.

Scott Westerfeld | March 24, 2005 06:58 PM

Baxley later said he had a list of students who were discriminated against by professors, but refused to reveal names because he felt they would be persecuted.>

Note to Rep. Baxley: When claming not to be a McCarthyist, it's never wise to talk excessively of secret lists.

Dave | March 24, 2005 08:36 PM

Never, ever purchase a console of any kind (handheld or not) the first year they've been released. All that happens is you get gouged on the price, and get maybe one or two good games. Also I'd be leery of the mac mini until 10.4 comes out, the new graphics system they're pushing might choke on the 32 megs of video ram in that mac mini. I'm hoping not because it'd choke on ibooks as well then. But as they say patience is a virtue and it pays off with consoles and apple hardware.

Kevin Q | March 24, 2005 08:36 PM

I'd like to "second" two previous posts: Jim Winter is dead-on when it comes to Ohio=Asshatopia, and I say this as a nearly life-long Ohioan. Don't know if you've noticed, but a similar bill is floating around our own legislature. It's always conservative-lead legislation, because heaven forbid somebody should challenge your deeply held belief that the United States is the center of the Universe. Flat-Earth theory, here we come.

Also, got to agree with Joe Rybicki's vote for PSP over Mac mini, in the short term. The mini is awesome and I love OS X, as I think I've mentioned before, but wait for OS X 10.4, and enjoy the beauty of Ridge Racer or Wipeout in the palm of your hand right now.


Richard Jones | March 24, 2005 08:45 PM

Florida has always been full of asshats. I was born there and lived there a significant portion of my life and there have always been whackos running around the place pretending they know what they're doing.

Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't asshats everywhere. Take, for instance, Charlotte, NC, where I now live. The local science museum, let me repeat that, SCIENCE museum, has refused to show an IMAX movie about volcanos because some asshats objected to the portrayal of evolution in the movie. They were, you know, offended by something that, while it's the next closest thing to proved, violated their fragile belief system so they didn't want anyone to see it.

Since I'm not all that proficient with the clicky, here's the web address. You'll probably have to cut and paste to see the story.


John H | March 24, 2005 10:44 PM

It wasn't just Charlotte - IMAX theaters across the country (mostly in the south) are doing the same thing. The sad thing is, without the revenue from IMAX theaters many of these nature films will no longer get made.

DonBoy | March 25, 2005 12:39 AM

"Baxley later said he had a list of students who were discriminated against by professors, but refused to reveal names because he felt they would be persecuted."

Note to Rep. Baxley: When claming not to be a McCarthyist, it's never wise to talk excessively of secret lists.

Note that the reference to McCarthyism is immediately before the part you quoted; I take that to be the reporter making a point.

Now, this is that part I'm amazed by:

But [the bill's sponsor] Baxley brushed off Gelber’s concerns. “Freedom is a dangerous thing, and you might be exposed to things you don’t want to hear,” he said. “Being a businessman, I found out you can be sued for anything. Besides, if students are being persecuted and ridiculed for their beliefs, I think they should be given standing to sue."

The first few time I read it, I couldn't understand what the first sentence was doing there, as it seemed to be directly opposed to his point of view, and I figured that it was just total bullshit. Then I realized that I was reading it the only way that I could imagine meaning it, which is with a touch of irony -- hey, freedom's a dangerous (but powerful) thing, like fire, the boon to mankind; but no, he really means that freedom is dangerous because it might expose someone to something they don't want to hear, and we must take steps to make sure that doesn't happen.

mythago | March 25, 2005 12:48 AM

In California, when somebody gets a little too wacky, the comment "At least we're not Florida" can always be counted upon to make us feel better about living here.

DonBoy | March 25, 2005 01:08 AM

And another thing, of course, is the chutzpah of the appropriation of "Academic Freedom" to mean "We'll tell you what to teach, dammit". All together: Academic Freedom is a privilege of of teachers, not students. One of its bedrock documents can be seen here: note this passage:

The intent of this [earlier] statement is not to discourage what is "controversial." Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster. The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject.

[Note to John or tech support: for me, at least, Preview runs all my paragraphs together.]

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little | March 25, 2005 02:30 AM

On the subject of submission guidelines and lawn-mowers and jars of peanuts (and, of course, packets of toothpicks with instructions on), there is also that helpful little warning on the wrapping on a package of birth-control pills: "NOTE: Do not take if trying to become pregnant."

Dave Pittman | March 25, 2005 09:43 AM

PSP vs. Mini:

PSP, more software :) But seriously, I'm a gamer, what can I say? The PSP release reminds me of what Sega Gamegear looked like in comparison to a Gameboy.

John H | March 25, 2005 11:10 AM

DonBoy: I've taken to using the html tags for paragraphing - <p> and </p> at the start and end of the paragraph.

Using them is probably not necessary, but it does make the paragraphs look right in the preview...

Brian | March 25, 2005 11:26 AM

Also, if you want to set off a quote, you can use the <blockquote> and </blockquote> tags to start and end the quote section:

This is not actually a quote. This is me typing something that just looks like a quote. Thank you.

See? It's fun! :-P

John H | March 25, 2005 11:33 AM

Of course, you already know about the italics - <i> and </i>...

mythago | March 25, 2005 11:37 AM

Nicole, there are non-contraceptive reasons people take birth-control pills, such as control of really horrible menstrual periods.

John H | March 25, 2005 11:52 AM

Nicole, there are non-contraceptive reasons people take birth-control pills, such as control of really horrible menstrual periods.

Yes, but there's a reason they're called birth-control pills and not horrible-menstrual-period-relief pills...

DonBoy | March 25, 2005 01:14 PM

John H: Thanks for the advice. I know about blockquote in general, but I never try it in comments, because different comment systems accept different html subsets, so I just stick with the italics.

Kevin Q | March 25, 2005 10:26 PM

Regarding Florida=Asshatistan, and conservatives forcing college professors to pander to the willfully ignorant, I just saw this article, via fark.com, about anger surrounding "left-leaning" quotations on cups of Starbucks coffee. Apparently, 51% of the country feels like an oppressed minority.

But I have to ask: Do liberals ever whine about this? Yes, I know, liberals whine about lots of things. But would we whine because our Super-sized Coke has George Will quotes on the side? We whine when we don't get our way, but do we whine when others disagree with our world-views? Somebody tell me if we ever do that.


mythago | March 26, 2005 12:29 AM

John H, that doesn't mean the doctor is going to say "Okay, here are your BIRTH CONTROL PILLS for your MENSTRUAL CRAMPS." Lots of people know that Ortho-Novum pills, say, are birth control. Others don't.

Andrew Wade | March 26, 2005 01:37 AM

I like the one that tells you the can of peanuts you have in your hand may contain nuts. I realize that nut allergies can be deadly, but come on - what kind of friggin' moron would need to have that explained to them???

Peanuts are legumes not nuts.

quoth asshat Baxley:

Why is it so unheard of to say the professor shouldn’t be a dictator and control that room as their totalitarian niche?

Well, because the professor should be dictator and control the room. Yes professors should should "encourage intellectual honesty, civil debate, and critical analysis of ideas in the pursuit of knowledge and truth" (H837), but not necessarily in the classroom. (The bill implies otherwise). To teach the subject matter of a course thoroughly, critical analysis or debate sometimes has to be cut short or forstalled entirely. And the professor is the person to do that.

Brian | March 26, 2005 12:01 PM

Kevin Q.:

Apparently, 51% of the country feels like an oppressed minority.

100% of the country isn't in college. Only a relatively small fraction is (October 2002:U.S. College-enrolled, ~16.5M; total U.S. population (est'd.), ~289.0M; gives 5.7% college enrollment).  (Obviously this only represents current students and excludes alumni/alumnae, faculty, staff, etc. and so is an imprecise figure.)  At many universities, faculties are arguably liberal (Google search, "faculty liberal conservative," no quotes or comma):


A new study of the party affiliations of college professors proves a massive gulf between Right and Left. Liberal professors often outnumber conservatives by ten to one and sometimes by more than twenty to one on campus.

Note that even though the bulk of this article argues against the extent of university liberal bias as argued by many conservatives, it does concede that a liberal bias exists:

Now, you don't have to be conservative and paranoid to expect that a show of hands between liberals and conservatives among the nation's academics doesn't figure to be close. In politics, college towns are not generally found to be bastions of the right.

And a specific example:

A study made public today reveals a stunning lack of political diversity in the faculty of Ithaca College (IC), with 117 registered Democrats or Greens (93.6%) versus only 8 registered Republicans or Conservatives (6.4%).

All of this notwithstanding, the bill proposed in Florida (and apparently the one that was passed here in Ohio, also) is completely asshat. Bringing law and the courts into this is, well, asshat. (Whee! Adjectivizing nouns!) Although I can't say I have any good ideas for re-seeding intellectual diversity into academia, this is definitely not the way to go about it.

Kevin Q | March 26, 2005 10:41 PM

Brian, I agree with your final paragraph, but the "51%" quote was a reference to the article I linked to in my post, and a quote from a Starbucks customer, regarding liberal quotes on coffee cups:

Yvette Nunez, a 27-year-old Republican from Tampa, said she hadn't noticed the quotes on her weekly caramel machiattos. On "tall" cups, the text is obscured by a cardboard sleeve.
"There are a lot of great conservative quotes, but oh well," she said. "I'm not surprised. I'm used to being under-represented."

Unless she just moved from New York, and/or lived the last 6 years of her life in suspended animation, I'm not sure how she could feel under-represented.

But you're absolutely right about colleges being hotbeds of liberal thinking. I recently finished up at one of the largest state universities in the country, and I'd have to say that most of my professors were probably liberal. I say probably, actually, because the ones who made the biggest deal about politics actually tended to be conservative.

But I think it's just a current trend. I wasn't being educated in the 60s, but I'd be interested to hear whether professors in the 60s tended to be more liberal or conservative. After all, the liberal student culture of the 60s was the "counter-culture," so I've always assumed they were counter to the conservative university culture of the 60s. Which could mean that this legislation could turn around and bite conservatives in the backside in another 20 years when they're back on top of the universities. Ah, the joys of legislating to temporary problems.


Brian | March 27, 2005 12:20 AM

<wipes egg off face>

Sorry 'bout that, Kevin. 's a major problem with all of these quality commenters, often I don't have time to click through all of the links and still get everything. My bad. :-)

You raise a very interesting point about the political leanings of academia in the 60s... I'd definitely be curious to learn more on that. In terms of general trends, though, I don't think conservatism is really counter-culture today in the same manner that liberalism was then. I'm fairly conservative myself, and I'm not motivated by desires to "stick it to the man" or anything like that - conservative thinking just makes more sense to me most of the time. <shrug>

karyn | March 27, 2005 01:21 AM


mythago | March 27, 2005 05:15 PM

what kind of friggin' moron would need to have that explained to them???

It's easier for Food Conglomerate BigCo to have a policy that says, any of our products that contain nuts get this warning--instead of sitting down and saying "Well, it's pretty obvious, so why not leave the warning off this product?"

Brian | March 27, 2005 09:10 PM

I'd also assume that assumptions of stupidity are standard corporate policy. I think I read somewhere, "For every warning label, there's someone who's done it," or something to that effect. No product is immune to the cleverly stupid, and corporate legal departments know it.

mythago | March 27, 2005 11:20 PM

Also, because then it's a little hard to say "I didn't *know* there were peanuts in this can" or "No ordinary consume could be expected to know this stuff had peanuts in it" if it says so on the frickin' can.

peanutbutter | October 23, 2006 03:48 PM

why dont you post anything about yourself if you do where can i find it im trying to do a project about you!!!

John Scalzi | October 23, 2006 03:59 PM

There's a whole article on me on Wikipedia.

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