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October 09, 2006

Tidbitty Goodness, 10/9/06

Other things I'm thinking about:

* First, hi, I'm back in Ohio, and never more shall I roam, at least not until mid-November, at which point I'll be going to Philcon. My flight back from California was a great deal less dramatic than my flight in, and driving on the way home I did the speed limit all the way there, because this time I could.

My Saturday was very pleasant indeed; my signing went well -- we ran out of books just as my autograph period ended, which was lovely timing, and just before the signing I got spend a couple of moments chatting with Alan Beatts, the owner of Borderlands Books, who was on the board of directors for the Northern California Independent Bookstores Association, which is the group that ran the tradeshow. After that, I went and had coffee with my friends Quinn and Danny, and then headed off to dinner with Spider and Jeannie Robinson, and Tor reps Patty Garica and Kevin Peters, and there was much good conversation to be had. Spider and Jeannie and I talked quite a bit about Robert Heinlein -- who'da thunk? -- but we talked about many other interesting topics as well. You wish you could have been there. As it happens the Robinsons and I will be participating in the Heinlein Centennial next year, so that should be interesting.

So, in all, a very nice time. And when I got back, there was a new alarm clock waiting for me. Perfect.

* Speaking of Alan Beatts and Borderland Books, there's an article about niche bookstores that features some information on him and the store. Here's a version with a good picture of Alan.

* This religious group thinks that good church-going teenagers shouldn't blog. Actually, that's too limited: "Let me emphasize that no one—including adults—should have a blog or personal website (unless it is for legitimate business purposes)." I'm glad I don't go to that church, as its rationales for not having a blog seem a bit thoughtcrimey to me, but more than that it seems counter to the words of Jesus in Matthew 28, 18-20, in which Jesus preached outreach to all nations. I suspect Jesus would be down with preaching to the online nation as well. But this article correctly notes that this inhibition is about the particular church ("blogging is simply not to be done in the Church"), and I suspect this says more about the church in question than it does about the words and intent of Jesus Christ.

* Whoops: Foley warned about his online communication in teens back in 2000. He's been hitting on page boys in two separate millenia! You know, every time the GOP says they've gotten this behind them, out comes another tidbit like this. At this point, the scandal is less about Foley and his taste for one-handed IMing than it is about the persistently incompetent response from the GOP about it. This is like the millipede scandal: the shoes just keep on dropping.

* This woman is going to Hell (warning: If you're a parent, you're probably not going to want to click through).

* Just a reminder that today is the last day to bid in for the super-exclusive pre-release version of The Last Colony, with the proceeds to benefit the John M. Ford Book Endowment for the Minneapolis Public Library. The bidding now stands at $5,000. You know you want to bid more. Here's the thread to make the bid.

And remember, even if you don't make a bid, you can still donate to the John M. Ford Book Endowment. Here's the link to do it.

Posted by john at October 9, 2006 11:11 AM

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Jon | October 9, 2006 12:25 PM

Two comments, actually.

If that preacher would limit himself to the warning that there are dangerous people in cyberspace, so you need to be careful, that would be fine. As soon as he goes past that to "there is danger there, so going there is evil and must not be done" he may as well be talking to rocks. Nobody will pay attention.

I agree with you that a woman who uses her baby as a weapon deserves hellfire. And yet in nearly all states, she would be the preferred custodial parent because "everybody knows" that women are much better parents than men.


Rich | October 9, 2006 12:46 PM

There is a special place in hell for that woman, but i am sure she considers herself a "good christian". Probably does not have a blog either.

Jon | October 9, 2006 12:53 PM

For whatever it's worth, that religious group is one of the groups that considers all other variants of Christianity to be heretical. They reject commonly-held Christian beliefs, and blogging isn't the only common thing they disapprove of. A member of that group is also expected not to celebrate his birthday and to avoid surgery and blood transfusions.

John Scalzi | October 9, 2006 12:57 PM

Yeah, I got the feeling that it wasn't your typical Christian offshoot.

Andrew Cory | October 9, 2006 01:09 PM

So, here I was, bemoaning the lack of good bookstores in my neighborhood. Then you go and find one more me. I think I'll hit it on my way to see Spider tonight...

Byron | October 9, 2006 01:11 PM

Ironically, despite the lack of syndication, the main site clearly has a blog-like structure. Ah, well, at least if they won't have blogs they won't be around to annoy me.

Friendlyquark | October 9, 2006 01:14 PM

"Jesus Christ and His Church have standards."

Wow. I didn't know that there was an admissions requirement to the church. Is there a velvet rope and a bouncer too? I say to thee blessed are the strong of arm, for they shall smite the intelligent of mind, maintaining the law of averages, yea verily and how.

Kevin Q | October 9, 2006 01:18 PM

Republicans keep treating the Foley situation like it's a sex scandal, but it's not - it's a coverup scandal. The "sex" is about the tamest thing you could have and still call it, possibly, sex. People are pissed because they think the Republicans knew ahead of time and covered it up.

In many ways, this is a fire-and-forget scandal. Republicans can't talk about it, because that pisses off their base, but they can't ignore it, either, because that pisses off their base. So it just sits there and burns into the Republicans. Democrats don't even need to tend the fire - after years of stoking conservative homophobia, Republicans are finding that the winds have shifted and now the handlers are getting burnt.


P.S. When I say that the sex is "tame," I don't mean that it's not serious. I mean that it's not serious for a political sex scandal. If a Democrat had been involved, he would have sodomized the page, and then lit him on fire. Democrats know how do have a good sex scandal.

Ted Lemon | October 9, 2006 01:28 PM

Honestly, compared to some of the drivel that I see passed off as Good Christian Advice, this article isn't that bad. I think they go too far in saying "no Christian should blog," but that's typical of a certain style of preaching - the idea that the shepherd thinks for the flock. I personally find that kind of preaching distasteful, but some people seem to like it. Who am I to judge?

But on the other hand, the article does raise some interesting points about blogging. It gives excellent reasons *not* to blog. The one about politicians seems pretty lame, mostly because I think politicians pay zero attention to small blogs, but the one about vanity is reasonable. So is the one about idle talk.

Speaking of which, aside from the gruesomeness of it, why is the fact that some mom swung her baby worthy of mention in your blog?

PixelFish | October 9, 2006 02:01 PM

As per your suggestion, I went to Borderlands Sunday evening with my boy. He proceeded to purchase The Ghost Brigades, and I joked that it was too bad that I didn't have that with me on Friday. But then we opened it up and it was one of your signed copies. :)

(Also, I pimped Old Man's War to a guy on the bus who was almost done with Ender's Game. He said he was into Heinlein, so I figured....hey, why not, and gave him a brief rundown on the CDF recruiting seniors. He wrote your name down on the back of his Ender's Game, so maybe he'll pick it up.)

RE: blogging Christians - When I was a wee Mormon child, I was told to keep a journal as a record for my posterity. (Almost an exact quote.) And I never could. Not until I started my first blog/online journal waaaay back in 1998. (Of course, not everything makes it to everybody's screen, and not all of it is for public consumption. It's still a journal, after all.) My posterity will probably have more journal than they ever wanted, what with the memes about which Transformer I would be.

Last, but not least: I donated yesterday to the John Ford memorial endowment, spurred on by both your and Jo Walton's excellent examples. Jo Walton mentioned that altogether there was probably enough money in the endowment to perpetually buy 20 books. Depending on the size of the bookcase, that's almost a shelf of books.

Nathan | October 9, 2006 02:13 PM

Strange how the bidding slowed down when the bid hit $5000. (BTW, I believe I guessed closest to the final bid having guessed that it would top $2000)
What were we playing for?

A dirty secret to admit: SF has never been less that 1/3 of my reading since I was about 14 and I have NEVER read Heinlein. I am now happily recitifying that appalling fact. Currently breaking my Heinlein cherry with Have Space Suit-Will Travel.

Also, thanks to whoever it was who pimped The Lost Fleet - Dauntless. Terrific.

JT | October 9, 2006 02:42 PM

Nathan, TLF - Dauntless was a pretty good read. It seemed a bit slow to me, as if approaching the point where too many details slow the action down too much, but it was pretty good. The author has the first chapter to the next book up on his website, too. I think it's due in January.

I have to admit I haven't read much Heinlein, either. I've seen bits and pieces of the Starship Troopers movie and just couldn't much care for the story, even though I'd been told the book was a good bit different (and it was). Our fine host Mister Scalzi is actually the one who prompted me to pick up Heinlein, with the mention of Friday, among other AP's and such, in TGB. Picked up both Friday and Starship Troopers the next time I was at Borders, and enjoyed both.

This is also the first I've heard of the Heinlein Centennial, which is kinda odd, seeing as how I live just across the state line (and a bit north) of Heinlein's hometown. Sounds like it should be pretty interesting, and I'm planning on making it there.

Jeff Hentosz | October 9, 2006 03:09 PM

If I may: One man's Heinlein recommendations, based on fond memories from 20 years ago...

Orphans of the Sky, my first (he admitted, blushing). Short, fun.

Time for the Stars. A juvie about telepathic twins who are part of a space program that uses them for communication. Now, class, what are some real-world consequences of light-speed travel?

Tunnel in the Sky. A juvie about a high school class marooned on a field trip. Which they took via wormhole.

Glory Road. Whoo, boy. Great, fun adventure soaked in 50s/early 60s sex romp attitudes. What the hero threatens to do to the heroine when she mouths off would get you slammed against a wall with an elbow in your throat today.

Short stories. Off the top of my head: "And He Built a Crooked House...," "The Green Hills of Earth," "Gentlemen, Be Seated."


Josh Jasper | October 9, 2006 03:15 PM

Allan is great people, and when (cross fingers) I ever open up an F&SF bookstore of my own, I'm modeling it on Borderlands.

Did they ahve the cafe open yet?

Also, much envy for hanging out with Spider, who I've always wanted to meet. If (sign to ward off evil eye) I ever get stuck running a con, he'd be my choice for a GOH.

Nathan | October 9, 2006 03:26 PM


Thanks for the recommends, but how is it that you're still walking around, a free man and all?

Or, did they install DSL in the pokey?

Jeff Hentosz | October 9, 2006 03:57 PM

Nathan: Whatever are you talking about? psst...be vewy quiet...look outside...see that upside-down trash can inching its way down the street all by itself...? That + Treo, and freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose...

Nathan | October 9, 2006 04:12 PM

Free at last, Free at last...Thank God almighty, I'm free at last.

(Nowhere to put garbage, but you take the good with the bad.)

Jim Hall | October 9, 2006 04:40 PM

This Foley Scandal is the last straw for me. I considered myself a non-religious republican. However, I can't defend George W, I can't deal with the pass the buck attitude of this administration, and I am done. I wish we as americans had a true 3rd party option. Because I agree with many of the Demoncratic party's philosophy, but not all. John what are your thoughts on a possible 3rd party? I know that I am not the only person that feels ignored by both parties.

Pete | October 9, 2006 04:57 PM

That article about blogging was entertaining.

Martyn Taylor | October 9, 2006 05:22 PM

Thou shalt listen only to your pastor and definitely not to that revolutionary Jesus Christ character. Love everyone? Whoever heard the like?

Not what I call rock'n'roll.

As for that mother, she can't go to hell. She's already there.

Jon | October 9, 2006 06:05 PM

When it comes to Heinlein, I recommend "Space Cadet". And that's all I recommend. ("Starman Jones" is close, but doesn't quite have what it takes to make the cut.)

Steve | October 9, 2006 06:25 PM

The first Heinlein I ever read was Double Star: it's been more than thirty years since I read it. I also liked Orphans of the Sky and Friday. (I have to admit that I've never been able to finish Stranger in a Strange Land.) My favorite, though, remains The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

Y'know...with all this Heinlein talk I'm thinking it may be time for a Heinlein Reading Revival around my house.

Gwen | October 9, 2006 07:32 PM

I've read Heinlein since before I knew to look at the authors when I read something good. Mostly short stories, though ("--All You Zombies--" is fabulous). And I read the Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon Hoag recently; it also had several short stories by him in it which were really good.
That article is pretty weird. It keeps listing *good* things about blogging, and every time it mentions something supposedly bad about it it's either a) untrue/exaggerated/easily remedied (danger of cyberstalking! your teen will be solicited for sex!) or b) another positive, as I see it. (It's entertaining and fun to do! And it gives you a voice! Oh noes!)
Basically the author seems to complain that *he* doesn't like the blogs he's read (and apparently only the bad-grammar/bad-spelling trash-talking ones no one reads anyway) and that blogging is a waste of time. And teenagers have poor moral judgment (including the ones raised as good Christians by overcontrolling parents). Oh, and the world is degenerate and evil. And...er...other people will think you're immoral if you blog, because...er...ads can be inappropriate! And commenters will be immoral on your blog! (Comment moderation, anyone?)
Some of the counterarguments don't make much sense, either. People say that blogs are therapeutic, but people say that drugs are therapeutic, too, soo...blogs are evil, like drugs! I don't know, these arguments aren't terribly persuasive. (I can easily see them applied against travelling, for instance, and if you can't even blog to spread the Good Word then I suppose travelling is even worse...too bad that Jesus was for it!) I guess not being Christian might have something to do with it, but...well, anyway, any good Christian will do just what Jesus would do when encountering holier-than-thou rule-makers who wave around the name of God to make them seem better than everyone else because *they* follow the rules of God that aren't even in the Bible: ignore them.

MWT | October 9, 2006 07:49 PM

The funny thing about "your teen will be solicited for cyber!" is that there's another half to that sentence that's missing: "by other teens!"

Yes, there are actual criminal adults out there too. But by and large, it's mostly the teens themselves, deep in hormone haze, who are busily "stalking" each other.

whump | October 9, 2006 07:54 PM

Borderlands is a gem, and Alan and his staff are great. And it's just a few block from one of the best coffeehouses on the West Coast.

I'll have to a agree with the other comments, given the number of Christians I know who blog, that pastor sounds more cult-like than church-like. Hopefully he's reconsidering his position.

jeff | October 9, 2006 09:09 PM

I grew up strict christian and wasn't allowed to watch tv then that was ok then movies and now it's the internet. To shelter closely is to keep control of your people. The other thing that was huge in my part of the christian world was to make a rule (like no blogging) and then come up with verses or some reasoning to back it up. Most people hearing the rule don't know enough (unlike some of you here) or are so gullible as to believe it. Anyway that's why the arguements that the christian leaders use for a lot of this petty legalism doesn't make sense to a critcal, logical thinker. But ask them and you get into faith and the lord's mysterious ways.

Josh Jasper | October 9, 2006 11:24 PM

Because I agree with many of the Demoncratic party's philosophy

Don't look now, your Freudian slip is showing.

Sean | October 9, 2006 11:50 PM

Hey John,

Spider and Jeanne okay? Any new Callahan's coming out from them?

JH | October 9, 2006 11:53 PM

Pixelfish: Did you used to do a web comic called "Pffft!"?

Ginny | October 10, 2006 12:54 AM

Use of Matthew to illustrate any point to some Christian sects is like whistling underwater.

Matthew 6:5-8, for example: Jesus taught that the best place to commune with God? By yourself, quietly, in your closet if you have to.

Basically, He calls those who loudly proclaim their faith and who try to lead others "heathens" and "false prophets" in Matthew 6 & 7, and says quite simply "they shall have their reward" (and I don't suspect it's a nice one, either).

So whenever I read things like that blogging article or other things from churches that attempt to tell me I'm a sinner, I just remember the words of Jesus Christ as told by Matthew, smile to myself and ignore them. (OK I also secretly wish they'd hole up in their closets, but THAT won't be happening any time soon.)

Aaron | October 10, 2006 01:09 AM

The notion of Scalzi having a conversation with Spider Robinson about Heinlein makes me giggle. I'm not sure which one more consciously imitates Heinlein in their writing. Probably Robinson, but still...

WizarDru | October 10, 2006 08:14 AM

Going to Philcon, eh? Almost makes me want to go.

Almost. If I hadn't grown away from written SF and certainly from PSFS in the last decade or so, anyways. Heck, the only SF author I've read in the last year or two (unless you count modern fantasy, such as say, Jim Butcher) is you, my dear Scalzi. And a short story by Cory Doctorow, maybe.

(well, and rereading a little James White, now that I think of it).

John Scalzi | October 10, 2006 08:21 AM


"I'm not sure which one more consciously imitates Heinlein in their writing."

Given that Spider just wrote a Heinlein novel, I suspect he wins that one pretty handily.

PixelFish | October 10, 2006 11:42 AM

JH: Wow. Yes, I did use to do a webcomic called PFFFT! I'm amazed anybody even remembers it. :) Occasionally Pfunk and I think about resurrecting it, but we have other projects of our own to concentrate on. (I think I accidently let the domain expire some time back, too.)

Smurf | October 10, 2006 04:02 PM

It's getting to the point where you can't trust your gay pedophile Congressman anymore.

Mark Leyner once wrote about a clan in Japan who, after the shogun banned them from owning weaponry, developed a fighting style based on swinging babies by the feet. He said that the guy who invented it had been inspired by his son's immunity to pain during one of those inevitable child/parent noggin-knockings.

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