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March 24, 2007

Apologizing for Idiotic Smackfights

Yeah, I got into a stupid smack-around on the SFWA ElectionBlog (actually a newsgroup) with one of the SFWA VP candidates, thus showing I have the maturity to lead a major writer's organization. This is the post where I admit I was a moron for having done it, and make various apologies.

Sigh. Being a grown-up is hard.

Check out other conversations too -- lots of interesting topics relating to SFWA, plus a few flamewars to add a special kick.

Posted by john at March 24, 2007 01:50 PM

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KevinQ | March 24, 2007 02:21 PM

Very well said. A more suspicious person might suspect that you acted poorly so that you would have an opportunity to write such an eloquent and sincere apology. Thankfully, I'm not a very suspicious person.

On a (completely un)related note, where can I send money to start work on those coal-burning Pournellemobiles?


TCO | March 24, 2007 02:32 PM

I accept your apology for banning me.

John Scalzi | March 24, 2007 02:38 PM

Shhhh. They're supposed to be a surprise!

Tim | March 24, 2007 02:41 PM

Everyone gets a case of the dumbass now and again. Not everyone can diagnose their own case and treat it promptly and appropriately as you did.

Christopher | March 24, 2007 02:48 PM

Y'all are drifting off message. There will be no Pournellemobiles unless they are powered by clean-burning Kentucky coal! The important part of this whole debate is that my particular ideas, as supported by anecdotal evidence provided by me, be acknowledged and, yes, priviliged.

Scalzi, you'd think you're letting just anybody comment in here. Damned blogs and their damned blog interfaces and their damned blog commentating. Didn't you get the mimeographed NNTP tutorial I mailed you?

John Scalzi | March 24, 2007 02:51 PM


I did, but I guess the printing fumes must have got to me.

I agree, a Pournellemobile without clean-burning Kentucky coal is not a Pournellemobile worth having. Death to all other Pournellemobiles!

Kami | March 24, 2007 02:54 PM

You might want to let the webelves on sff know that the top level threads view has a bug. Whatever thread is last on a given page, such as http://webnews.sff.net/read?cmd=outline&group=sff.sfwa.electionblog&thread=15&page=1
which has your "On Being Dumb" thread at the end, has a misdirected link, which loads the next page.

TCO | March 24, 2007 03:03 PM

1. Gag. Could you be any less self-congratulatory within an apology? Why not just man up and state it siumple. No self-pat on the back as you do it. This is weak.

2. Give a link to where you fucked up as well.

Nick Stump | March 24, 2007 03:56 PM

Best part of that clean-burning is wonderful lunar landscapes...er...moonscapes it leaves for all my brothers and sisters in Eastern Kentucky. Those mountains were just in the way, and with the soon coming tourism to see the great green pyramids, I'm sure there's gonna be more to do back home than join the Army. Clean coal--get it while you can.

By the way, young Christopher, kudos on your nominations. Always good to see a Kentucky boy do well.

FS | March 24, 2007 05:12 PM

2. Give a link to where you fucked up as well.

At least some of the discussion was on a member-only board, so it's not linkable.

Chang, for rizzle. | March 24, 2007 05:55 PM

Good work. Takes a big man to admit a medium sized mistake.

Marna Nightingale | March 24, 2007 07:02 PM

I like you. I mean, I thought I did, but now I'm sure.

TCO | March 24, 2007 07:08 PM

1. So was the argument on a hidden area, or not? If not, let's see it. (That's what the internet is for!)

2. If it was in a hidden area, why was the apology made in a different area than the argument?

Steve Buchheit | March 24, 2007 07:21 PM

I don't know, John. From the outside it looked to me as if someone else in the conversation paved the road, you just walked down it. But, yeah, it was time for someone to be the grown-up.

Just looking at this slice of the SFWA pie, it appears like there needs to be some antiseptic sunshine applied.

John Scalzi | March 24, 2007 07:52 PM

One of the reasons why I wanted "ElectionBlog" (actually a newsgroup) publicly accessible.

John Scalzi | March 24, 2007 09:21 PM


Some of the discussion is in that newsgroup, some of it in private newsgroups. The private newsgroup discussions are private and anyone leaking them is subject to getting his/her ass kicked out of SFWA, so it's not likely anyone's going to perform that service for you. As for the where the contentious posts are in the public newsgroup, find them yourself; your fingers ain't broken, as far as I can tell.

TCO | March 24, 2007 10:01 PM

I'm looking. I still think if you are going to apologize (and pat yourself on the back while you do it) that you ought to show where you went wrong.

Oh...and it's lame to say that the private stuff is hidden. You've already shown with the public stuff, that you won't link to it. Will make me look for it. Capisce?

Chris Pasley | March 25, 2007 02:02 AM

This whole debate has been fascinating. I have to admit, as an outsider, that watching the Burt/Scalzi catfight was entertaining in that Jerry Springer kind of way, but I'm glad it's over. I'm not eligible for the SFWA yet, but I'd always planned on joining when I was -- just because it seemed like an easy way to mark yourself as a pro. I'd never actually thought that it was supposed to _do_ anything.

The good part of this whole thing is that I now know a lot more about what the SFWA does and doesn't do. The bad part is that it's left me with a (hopefully) skewed impression on the effectiveness of the organization to the point that I'm not entirely sure I'd want to be a part of it. Still, John's platform looks like some promising first steps towards making the SFWA something I'd want to be involved with. (Who am I kidding? I'll probably join either way when I can.)

One thing that affects me as a wannabe "pro" is the discussion about which markets to let in, and from what I've seen it's great that this whole debate has stirred that up. I can't be the only writer who checks the market against the SWFA list to see if it's "pro" before submitting. I'm willing to bet that the SFWA list of pro markets drives at least 70% of submissions to those markets while the "non-pro" markets get the trickle-down. I'm not market-savvy enough to say if that's the way it should be or not, but it seems a bit amiss -- especially when many "non-pro" markets seem to warrant inclusion.

I'm just glad that sort of thing is getting talked about. Assuming I ever both become a member of the SFWA and build a time machine, I'll tell my future self to come back to now and vote for you. And, you know...kill John Connor.

Douglas Triggs | March 25, 2007 04:13 AM

Hey -- totally off topic, but from when we were talking earlier --

Turns out it was a 6.7, several injuries and one person dead in Ishikawa Prefecture, maybe fifty miles west of where I was in Matsumoto at the time. Totally wreaked havoc on the shinkansen schedules today, and it's all over the TV here (dunno if there's any coverage back stateside).

Just thought you might be interested. So, hi from Niigata! Send me your address and I'll send you a postcard if you want.

TCO | March 25, 2007 12:03 PM

I'm reading through your catfight now. Pretty funny. I actually agree with Burt's comments about you being a bit of a shoot from the hip, think something is new type (the comment where you talked about reading BOOT to learn about the military...sheesh).

But them, I start seeing this stuff about Burt not giving his b ibliographjy (and not having that much published) and having a loan from the org (WTF?).

Damn...what a mess.

Christian | March 25, 2007 01:04 PM

> you talked about reading BOOT to
> learn about the military.

I missed that. Is there a book called "Boot"? Sounds interesting. How do I find it? (Amazon and B&N don't seem to have a book by that title listed).

John Scalzi | March 25, 2007 01:21 PM


It's here.

TCO: I didn't need Boot to learn about the military; I have numerous relatives who have been in the military, including my brother, who was in the Gulf War in '91. I read it to learn some of the specifics of boot camp life. Any one who has read Boot and OMW will know that OMW's boot camp is not modeled extensively after the one that existed when Boot was written, but it was nice to have useful background.

TCO | March 25, 2007 05:14 PM

Dude: I'm still reading through the catfight. That Burt dude is wacked. I don't want you apologizing to him. What a goober. Mr. multi-millionaire. With a $12,000 loan (payment?) for some program for putting more copies of stuff on the web? And his publications suck. And worse than that. He's not phlegmatic and upfront, when asked a question. You're not perfect either. Mind you. But that dude is wacked.

Nick Stump | March 25, 2007 05:16 PM

John, I think you can take these guys. I'm pretty sure they're all armed with are plastic light sabers, and some very light-weight insults.

I'd say go with the big stick as your weapon of choice. With the stick as a threat, you move forward until to abandon their food supply. Once you have all the Doritos, it's only a matter of time until they assume a submissive position.

My only question would be--are you sure you want this gig? From the level of whining and backbiting I could access, the SFWA Presidency could very well be the worst job on this planet.

John Scalzi | March 25, 2007 05:22 PM

Nick Stump:

Well, as I've noted in my position and platform statement, it's not really a job I want at the moment, but I felt obliged to run because it needed more than a single candidate to run, and because I don't think Mr. Capobianco is the leader SFWA needs right now. I suspect SFWA has great potential to be aggravating (as also noted in the position/platform), but I do think most members also do want it to do useful things. I think I'll be able to get some stuff done.

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