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My first job out of college was maintaining the software library for the DZero collaboration, one of two such groups directly observing what happens when you slam Tevatron strength beams into each other. Hundreds of physicists at scores of universities in 18 countries around the world, and my job was to make sure they all had the same software on their computers. Between D0 and CDF, we discovered a bunch of predicted particles, including the top quark. We brought physicists from as far away as Latin America, Russia, and China to the US to do physics -- during the cold war. The cryogenics, superconducting wire and magnet industries had to expand to meet our needs, creating hundreds if not thousands of skilled-labor jobs across America. Hundreds of world class (if I do say so myself) engineers, computer experts, physicists, and technicans now working in the private sector got our start on the TevaTron.

Today is it's last run, because certain people in government have rather poor fiscal priorities.

Hail and farewell.
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It's good to finally be back here doing this.

In past years, it would have also been an opportunity to see and get caught up with friends like [livejournal.com profile] docstrange, [livejournal.com profile] unclevlad, Gabe, Jayson, and so many more. Perhaps some are here, I am checking.
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[Not because they want cover to tell problematic jokes, but because they want to be able to lay it out for other people why they shouldn't.]

Question: Why are *ist jokes a problem?

Short answer: Because they hurt the feelings of people who have done nothing to merit such pain, whether you meant it to or not.

Longer answer: Because they are based on either validating or making light of something that’s been used for a very long time to hurt a whole lot of people. The ability to remove that thing from its real world context and treat it only as a source of humor is a privilege some people have, and exercising it hurts other people. Further, acting as if one’s audience is composed solely of people who have that privilege marginalizes those people who might be in one’s audience who don’t have that privilege, which compounds the harm being done.

Quibble: But I don’t actually mean it!

Retort 1: Yeah, you do. You’re just not honest enough to come right out and say it, so you leave yourself an out by calling it a joke. If you didn't mean it, the fact that it's hurtful would be sufficient reason for you to stop. You’ll have to figure out if you’re lying to yourself or only to everyone else.

Retort 2: So what? Your not meaning it doesn’t make it any less hurtful.

Retort 3: There’s a real good chance that someone in your audience does mean it. Why would you want that douchebag to think for a moment that you’ve got his back?

Quibble: But people say mean things about Dan Quayle/George Bush/etc…

Retort: Making fun of the powerful and making fun of the powerless are not equivalent acts.

Quibble: But Jackie Mason/Chris Rock/etc. said something similar about Jews/Blacks/etc.

Retort: Members of a community laughing at themselves and members of the community that oppresses laughing at the community that they oppress are not equivalent acts.

ETA:[1] Quibble: But there's no right not be offended!

Retort: This isn't about anyone's rights, it's about how to not be a douchebag. Choosing to hurt people for no good reason is douchebaggery even when no one's legal rights have been infringed.

I don’t have specific cites to point to for where I got these ideas, but I got them all through informal conversation between people working on learning to oppress less and with members of various oppressed communities. None of it is original, at most I've worded it a bit differently. If this piece is giving you any epiphanies, there’s a really good chance that a you heard it first from someone who is a woman, a person of color, LGBT, disabled, a religious minority, a combination of the foregoing, or somehow otherwise marginalized and oppressed in this society – only you didn’t have that epiphany when they told you.

It’s worth spending some time contemplating why that is.

[1] Thanks to [personal profile] marnanel for the quibble to add.
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Today we buried my Grandmother. We had a memorial project, in which her children, nieces, and nephews shared stories about her. I found that as a Grandson I had nothing to add, just variations on the same themes.

One of the stories has been kept secret for about 80 years. My Great Grandfather had a general store, back when Flushing, NY was still a farm town. Like most mobs, the one in Flushing had a protection racket, and like most shopkeepers, Great Grandpa felt he had no choice but to pay, even though he was going broke with this store[1]. Grandma -- then a teenager -- marched into the office of the mobster in charge and told him her father couldn't pay, her father wouldn't pay, and if he lifted a finger against her father she'd go straight to the police, and how'd he like them apples?[2]

The mobster backed the fuck down. The mobster cut Shiffee a deal: he'd stop collecting protection money from her father so long as she didn't breathe a word of this to anyone.[3]

Many years later, she told one of us, and now that one has told the rest of us.

Both of my Grandmothers were women with whom you did. not. fuck. Shiffie hid it better than Rose. I understand alot more about my whole family knowing this.

[1] Two of my Great Grandfathers completely missed all that Shrewd Businessman training we're supposed to get along with our Hebrew lessons and went broke running stores.

[2] "How do you like them apples?" is a phrase she'd reuse all her life.

[3] He kinda had to. A 15-year-old girl, even a Jewish one[4] vanishing or turning up dead would have brought down far more heat than any mobster wants to cope with.

[4] Remember, this was well before Ashkenazim became white.

Link Salad

Nov. 15th, 2010 08:31 pm
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Link Salad

Nov. 10th, 2010 12:30 pm
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  • [livejournal.com profile] silviamg has a Mexican Steampunk short story, Distant Deeps or Skies, in Expanded Horizons. Well worth a read.
  • Speaking of Stempunk in Expanded Horizons, check out James Ng's The Key Keeper. And on back to his site for more.
  • Yes, I'm a partisan in Professor Elemental's beef with Mr. B. Elemental is actually a rapper and a Steampunk. Elemental actually shows a social awareness in his work. Elemental is actually fun to listen to. Mr. B is a washed up Britpop reject who describes himself as "re-acquainting Hip-Hop with the Queen's English from whence it came." How much fail can be squeezed into a single sentence fragment?

Link salad

Nov. 9th, 2010 02:51 pm
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Link salad

Nov. 8th, 2010 03:11 pm
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Some days there's too much to give each its own post.

  • One can argue whether the jury that convicted Johannes Mehserle for manslaughter with a gun enhancement should have convicted him of murder instead, but that's kind of moot at this point. When the judge elected to overturn the gun enhancement and sentence Mehserle to a paltry 2 years, with double-credit for time served, there's a very clear message sent that the law doesn't think brown skinned people's lives matter and that it's not afraid of saying so. It's hard to count the number of ways that's bad message to send.
  • Hey geekboys! Stop harassing women at our events. Stop excusing the harassing of women by focusing on their behavior rather than the behavior of the harassers. It shouldn't be necessary to say any of that, but apparently it is. Here's some resources for those who have to deal with the folks who have chosen to disregard the memo -- no one hasn't gotten the memo.
  • Once upon a time, same sex marriage was a Christian rite.
  • Via [livejournal.com profile] delux_vivens, a history of lies told to make you afraid of Muslims, starting with the song of Roland.
  • I love having good authors for friends

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Over on Tor, [livejournal.com profile] fantasyecho has an excellent essay on how – indeed whether! – Steampunk costume alone can interrogate and deconstruct imperialism, or if additional performance is necessary. Unsurprisingly, it has spurred a discussion that has given rise both to fine insights and unfortunate displays of privilege.

I by no means wish this piece to draw anyone away from continued participation there, but by the same token I want to riff on some of our dialog there without derailing – and boosted signals are always good.
Read more... )
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There seems to be a trope going around that Steampunks are reacting negatively to people voicing the opinion that they don’t care for Steampunk. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read more... )
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via [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna on FB:

deviantArt apparently doesn't deviate so much that they care to stop pretending there are only two sexes, let alone genders.
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I was inspired to write this in reaction to reading Catherynne Valente's recent unfortunate[1] article on Steampunk -- to which I presently decline to link. The specific exchange arises from her defense of her comment that if something calls itself steampunk she is entirely justified in assuming it will suck, because 90% of it does.

I can already hear the groans of any surviving First or Second Fandom who actually read my e-scribblings.

Let me now take everyone back in time, courtesy of James Gunn, to the 1953 WorldCon, at which the great Theodore Sturgeon spoke about the poor quality of Science Fiction criticism:

"When people talk about the mystery novel ...they mention The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. When they talk about the western, they say there's The Way West and Shane. But when they talk about science fiction, they call it 'that Buck Rogers stuff,' and they say 'ninety percent of science fiction is crud.' Well, they're right. Ninety percent of science fiction is crud. But then ninety percent of everything is crud, and it's the ten percent that isn't crud that is important. and the ten percent of science fiction that isn't crud is as good as or better than anything being written anywhere."

Most people now refer to "Ninety percent of everything is crud" as "Sturgeon's Law," though he called it "Sturgeon's Revelation." In 1958, he expounded on it further:

I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud.

Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap. In other words, the claim (or fact) that 90% of science fiction is crap is ultimately uninformative, because science fiction conforms to the same trends of quality as all other artforms.
-- Venture Magazine, March 1958

I imagine the fact that SFF authors are saying "ninety percent of X is crap" to dismiss a subgenre of SFF has Mr. Sturgeon turning in his grave. Happily, he illustrated the bankruptcy of the critique and gave the proper rebuke: it's the other ten percent that matters.

[1] Stronger language did occur to me, but I will defer using to such time as I'm willing to devote the time and energy necessary to unpacking them.
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Hail and Fare Well Esther "Shiffie" Mirkin Holzman DiLiberto, 1915 - 2010.

Daughter of Samuel Mirkin and Anna Jaffe Mirkin
Sister of Abraham Mirkin and Diane Mirkin
Beloved wife of Stan Holzman and Charles DiLiberto
Mother of Richard and Robert Holzman
Grandmother of Daniel Holzman-Tweed and Diane Rebecca Holzman Tranum
Great Grandmother of Alexander Elias Tranum

At age 95, my Grandmother died of natural causes.

These are the mysteries: Love, Death, and Rebirth. None can be without the other two. My Grandmother is now reunited with those of our family who had gone before, and in time they will again dance across this stage together.

But right now I miss her.
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Shorter Charles Stross on Steampunk: Nothing says “deconstructing my white male privilege” like policing women's clothing choices and acting as if women and people of color using Steampunk as a way to deconstruct colonialism don’t exist. Where’s my cookie and pagehits?
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When people put together conferences to have discussions about chemistry, they don’t mean they want to argue about phlogiston.

When people put together conferences to have discussions about biology, they don’t mean they want to debate creationism.

When people put together conferences to have discussions about physics, they don’t mean they want to debate the Pons and Fleishmann “cold fusion” experiments.

When people put together conferences to have discussions about World War II, they don’t mean they want to argue whether the Holocaust was a hoax.

When people put together conferences to discuss gender, they don’t mean they want to debate whether women should be permitted to vote.

In each above case, there are topics that are considered not only settled, but settled so thoroughly that someone asserting to the contrary is rightly regarded as living somewhere in the triangle bounded by the points “ignorant,” “crackpot,” and “con artist.” There are some spaces that address such introductory questions, but they are no longer regarded as controversies worthy of discussion by serious people of good will.

When Wiscon says it encourages discussion, debate, and extrapolation of ideas relating to feminism, gender, race, and class, they do not mean they regard Elizabeth Moon’s virulently bigoted statements as worthy of debate.
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Steampunk for the Win: Being a Primer on Writing about the Steampunk Phenomenon while eschewing Assorted and Sundry Forms of Ill Mannered Fail


Gonna write about Multicultural Steampunk? Don't fail, son.

Read more... )
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Point the First: If you've heard of WisCon but don't know why SF3 rescinded Elizabeth Moon's Guest of Honor invitation to WisCon, you're either living in a shoebox, lying, or a troll.

Point the Second: Free speech is the right to say what you wish and be free from the government penalizing you for it.

If someone tells you they've decided not to honor you because you said some dumb shit? Your freedom of speech is intact.

If someone tells you they don't want to buy your books because you said some dumb shit? Your freedom of speech is intact.

Point the Third: If you think being dis-invited in reaction to saying some dumb shit is anything like book burning, hanging in effigy, witch-hunting, or speech suppressing? If you think Wicon is anything like a government or a Church? You're a dumbass.
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Author Elizabeth Moon wrote a particularly Islamophobic entry in her LiveJournal in which she spent considerable effort displaying her failures as a citizen of the United States. Quite a few people, including I, replied with a variety of reactions, mostly expressing our disappointment in her failure as a citizen.

For reasons she has not seen fit to share, Ms. Moon has deleted all these comments and locked the entry against further comment. There may be a way to view this action on her part that redounds to her credit, but for the life of me I can't imagine what it is.

As luck has it, I have a copy of my reply to her and I decline to be silenced. Thus I repost it here:


You have a number of good points to make about citizenship, though I suggest that the next time you enjoy a frankfuter, hamburger, pizza, taco, or gyro, that you reflect on the fact that the process of immigration and entry into American culture is not the one-way assimilation you describe. That list, after all, could be much longer and not confined to popular food options.

That said, I must respectfully bring to your attention that in this post you yourself are failing as a citizen.

You fail as a citizen when you describe, as you do, the bigotry with which Americans receive immigrants with the subtext that that's just how it is, or even that such bigotry has justification, rather than condemning it unequivocally as one of our great failings as a nation.

You fail as a citizen when you treat bigotry against Muslims, as you do, as having a reasonable basis to which Muslims should show a deference that you do not expect Christians, Jews, Atheists, or any other group to show.

You fail as a citizen when you treat, as you do, the entirely manufactured outrage as something with any rational basis whatsoever. A Muslim community that has lived in that neighborhood for years, that was a part of the economy created by the World Trade Center, that itself lived through and were victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks, is building a community center because they need a community center. They are building it where they are because that's where their community is and that's where they could find a building they could afford. Out of the kindness of their hearts, instead of building a mosque -- because the reason this all started is that their current mosques are so overcrowded people have to kneel in the street on cardboard boxes to pray -- they're building a community center that will serve the needs of people of all faiths.

Republicants created outrage out of nothing because they really don't want to head into November talking about the economy and how it got here. And you're carrying water for them by saying it's a reasonable reaction. It's not, and you fail as a citizen for being hoodwinked, for not calling bullshit.

But me no buts about how close it is to the World Trade Center site: if it was another 2 blocks or 20 miles away Republicants would have manufactured the same outrage. You should know this because if you bother to look, you will see them manufacturing this outrage all over the country, anywhere Muslims are trying to build Mosques.

I challenge you to stop failing as a citizen: Unequivocally endorse Park51 not only as something a patriotic Muslim American community has a right to do, but as being exactly the sort of thing a patriotic Muslim American community would and should be doing. Unequivocally condemn those who manufacture irrational outrage. Address that outrage in those who have been hoodwinked, or even in those few who sincerely can't yet think of any Muslim thing with the same compassion and firmness that you would a drunk friend asking you for their car keys. Become an active part of the growing dialog between actual Muslim and non-Muslim Americans, get past the big monolithic shadow Islamic stereotype you write about and pay lip service to denying.


Sep. 13th, 2010 12:02 pm
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Hail and fare well, cousin: husband, father, and patent collector Paul Karger
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Hours away from the anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9 September 2001, I join in remembering that day -- including the neighbors I did lose and the friends and family I didn't lose through blind, dumb chance.

I also remember some things that I don't see called out often enough:

  • The most successful rescue operation in history: over 20,000 people evacuated before the towers fell.
  • The first time in the history of history that hospitals had to turn blood donors away because they were booked solid taking blood for the next week.
  • People coming in from all over the country to participate in the rescue effort, only able to do so because they knew someone who could get them in to make coffee and food for the front line rescue workers.


Jul. 18th, 2009 07:18 pm
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I have my new computer, and Alienware M17X mobile. Wow. Just... wow.

I also now have a Skype account, danielholzman-tweed. Feel free to hook up.
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The Chinese government today officialy commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmin Square protest and massacre by blanketing the square with police officers.

For those who missed it, the intent of the protest twenty years go was to request that the Maoist revolution take the next step as outlined by Marx and move towards democracy.

"People should not be afraid of their government. Government should be afraid of its people."
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Mr. Onorato,

I have read with great distress that you intend to vote against ending legalized discrimination against same-sex couples in marriage. As your constituent, I want you to know that I find your position completely unacceptable.

Your appeal to your religious views regarding the religious institution of marriage are not an acceptable excuse for your decision to deny equal rights to all citizens. Marriage is a civil institution, and civil rights are granted or withheld on its basis. Further, the religious institution of marriage is in no way affected by a civil recognition of same-sex marriages. Your choice to harm your neighbor is as Unchristian as it is Unamerican.

I urge you to repent of this sin and embrace Christ's teaching that you are to love your neighbor as yourself. Further, I urge you to adhere to the Torahic admonition to have one law for all people, not this law for some and that law for others.

If you continue on this path, I promise you that you will never again receive a penny nor a vote from me. Instead, those resources as well as my volunteer time and voice as a citizen will go to any Democrat willing to unseat you.


Dan Holzman-Tweed
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Quoting from [profile] foc_u

"In the past few months, minorities have been denigrated by bigoted authors and publishers who have also asserted that Fen of Color are rare and piratically non-existent. Despite numerous discussions and attempts to enlighten on the fact that POCs are fans, writers, artists and just as integral to this genre as our white counterparts, we are continuously dismissed.

"On Monday May 18, 2009, we are asking anyone who identifies as a POC/non-white to post this banner, their speculative short stories, artwork, poetry or simply write a post on their favorite fandom on their blogs as an act of protest to show we will not be silent or invisible. The day of protest is entitled Fen Of Color United or more aptly, FOC_U.

"White allies can also show solidarity for this event by posting this banner and expressing the need for diversity and speaking out against the bigotry in the genre, through posts and/or their creative work as well.

My own thoughts:

People of Color have been a part of Fandom, writing, reading, gophering, SMOFing, attending cons, for longer than I've been alive. If you're in fandom today, you owe a debt to a number of People of Color for creating that fandom for you. Many more People of Color have been writing and reading without attending cons for a variety of reasons chronicled elsewhere but largely involving a disinterest in being surrounded by hordes of white fen who were and are far less slannish than we like to think we are.

The longest running comment thread in the history of this journal on DW or LJ was composed of white Fen falling all over themselves to tell me how wrong I was about there being racism in Fandom after 10 years of Barbara Hambly's work (historial fiction featuri a Free Man of Color) was ignored when she was goH at WorldCon. Perhaps this time around, we'll do better than that.
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Several purposes to this post. One is to see if crossposting from DreamWidth, where I'm [personal profile] holzman_tweed. (I'm seeing how this translates. If it's hard to read on LJ, I'm Holzman-Tweed.

I'm also posting to talk about skipping the X-Men and seeing Nightwish this weekend.


We cut because we care. )
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Dear President Obama,

Please don't make yourself an accessory to war crimes. Whether the CIA "acted in good faith" when it went to the corrupt Bush Administration's corrupt attorneys, or knew they'd get legal cover for their illegal actions is not a question for you to decide as President, but for a prosecutor and defense attorney to argue. Whether that fine distinction makes any difference to whether they should be convicted for under the War Crimes Act is not a question for you to decide as President, but for a jury. Whether it is a mitigating factor in sentencing is a question for a judge.

I've heard it said that we need to "move forward." Sweeping these things under the rug is not moving forward, Mr. President, it is leaving the question open. Underlying the notion that we must let war criminals go unpunished in order to move forward is the idea that we, the American People, can't take it.

Sir, that idea betrays every principle you espoused as a candidate. You should be ashamed of yourself for even contemplating it.

Charles Pierce put this better than I can hope to, so I will quote him here for your consideration:

I have now lived through three major episodes in my life where the political elite have told me quite plainly that neither I nor my fellow citizens are sufficiently mature to suffer the public prosecution of major crimes committed within my government. The first was when Gerry Ford told me I wasn't strong enough to handle the sight of Richard Nixon in the dock...

"The second time was when the entire government went into spasm over the crimes of the Iran-Contra gang and I was told that I wasn't strong enough to see Ronald Reagan impeached or his men packed off to Danbury...

"Now, Barack Obama, who won election by telling the country and its people that they were great because of all they'd done for him, has told me that I am not strong enough to handle the prosecution of pale and vicious bureaucrats... who have broken the law, disgraced their oaths, and manifestly belong in a one-room suite at the Hague. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm sick and goddamn tired of being told that, as a citizen, I am too fragile to bear the horrible burden of watching public criminals pay for their crimes and that, as a political entity, my fellow citizens and I are delicate flowers encased in candy-glass who must be kept away from the sight of men in fine suits weeping as they are ripped from the arms of their families and sent off to penal institutions...

"Put these barbarians on trial and watch me. I'll be the guy out in front of the courtroom with a lawn chair, some sandwiches, and a cooler of fine beer. I'll be the guy who hires the brass band to serenade these criminal bastards on their way off to the big house. I'll be the one who shows up at every one of their probation hearings with a copy of the Constitution, the way crime victims show up at the parole board when their attacker comes up for release. I'll declare a national holiday -- Victory Over Torture Day -- and lead the parade right up whatever gated street it is that Cheney lives on these days. Trust me, Mr. President. I can take it."

It's not too late, Mr. President. You can still make the right decision: prosecute these criminals.


Dan Holzman_Tweed
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Hey metalheads in NYC! Check this out!

The Vikingo's Dungeon club in Astoria does a Heavy Metal night every third Friday from 6 - 10 PM.

It's a friendly bunch, and includes [livejournal.com profile] jadegirl and I now. If enough people drink enough alcohol, perhaps we can make this a weekly thing. The Gods know we didn't leave a full club behind when it switched back to its normal format.

And, frankly, we need more of this in Queens. Perhaps it's time for the rebirth of the US metal scene? Maybe then bands like Kamelot won't have to go to Germany to get their records out.
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The brilliant [livejournal.com profile] stoneself has posted a number of essays in his LJ and on [livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite about the nature of privilege and oppression. He recently posted a summary of those points, and I thought they'd be a very useful thing to repost here both for my own reference and to build on in future posts I might make.

I repost it in full with permission, changing only the listing marks for my ease of reference.

1) what is privilege?

       A. the set of unearned advantages a person gets (you get) for some perceived trait a person possesses (you possess).

       B. the set of unwarranted disadvantages you don't suffer under, but other people suffer.

       C. there are "positive" advantages. "positive" meaning they are felt by their presence. not in the sense they are good. though "positive advantage" is a "proper" technical term, but in less technical writing i suggest using "present advantage" (or some other synonym). and then i still recommend explaining what you mean. i'll explain a little later.

       D. there are "negative" advantages. "negative" meaning they are felt by their absence. not in the sense they are bad. though "positive advantage" is a proper technical term, but in less technical i suggest using "absent advantage" (or some other synonym). and then i still recommend explaining what you mean. i'll explain.

       E. the difference between a "positive" advantage and a "negative" advantage is very important. you can more easily see a positive advantage, and thus these advantages are hard to refute. however, it's very hard to see "negative" advantages, and this makes it easy to ignore, deny, and erase these parts of privilege.

       F. it is in the denial of "negative" advantages that a lot of friction arises.

2) it is privilege that creates its corresponding oppression, and then there is a feedback loop.
       A. male privilege produces sexism, and then sexism feeds back into male privilege.

       B. white privilege produces racism, and then racism feeds back into white privilege.

       C. straight privilege produces homophobia[/heterosexism -- DBHT], and then homophobia[/heterosexism -- DBHT] feeds back into straight privilege.

       D. etc.

3) privilege (and it's corresponding oppression) are not marked by intention, they are marked by effect.

       A. privilege causes harm

       B. harm you don't see because a lot of it is "negative". more on this later.

4) partaking in your privilege is to participate in the corresponding oppression.

       A. if you have white privilege, you will be racist.

       B. if you have male privilege, you will do sexist things.

       C. if you have straight privilege, you will contribute to the atmosphere of homophobia

       D. if you are able-bodied, you will say things that exclude and other disabled people.

       E. this is true even if you are anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, etc. you can be against a thing, and still be/do that thing.

5) there is no escape from your privilege.

       A. you will never be clean of it, but you can always become a better person. you can work to minimize the effect of your privilege.

       B. the thing to understand about this is that there's no point in thinking that you're an irredeemable hopeless case wrt your privilege.

             i. this means dwelling on your own shame or guilt is not productive

             ii. and it means you shouldn't think people are calling you irredeemably evil for being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.

6) privilege is marked by absences.

       A. privilege is largely about what's not in a privileged person's head.

       B. those absences shape thinking, speech, and action as much what is present.

       C. unconscious and unintentional acts of privilege that arise from an absences truly mystify people with privilege.

       D. without the experience and history of the non-privileged person to inform a privileged person, the privilege person doesn't quite understand why the non-privileged person has been offended.

7) having privilege is rarely an intentional or conscious act.

       A. privilege is largely about how other people treat you. if they treat you in a privileged way, there's really no way to opt out of it - even if you notice and want to avoid it.

       B. there can be no intention about stuff that's not in your head. you can't plan about stuff you're not even thinking about.

       C. and yet you will act and think from a privileged place.

8) there are many kinds of privilege

       A. male privilege

       B. white privilege

       C. straight privilege

       D. able-bodied privilege

       E. cis-gender privilege

       F. class privilege

       G. and more

9) you can suffer under one set of privileges and benefit from another.

       A. just because you're poor doesn't erase your white privilege

       B. just because you're poc doesn't erase your male privilege

       C. just because you're queer doesn't erase your able-body cis-gender male white privilege.

10) ranking privileges is bad

       A. one privilege does not trump another privilege. that is to say that saying sexism is worse than racism or that racism is worse to sexism is wrong. if you want to understand this talk to people who live under two oppression - women of color (woc), queers of color, queers in wheelchairs, blind women, or etc.

       B. the systems that produces privileges and causes oppressions are interlocking. sexism supports homophobia supports racism supports etc. most of this mutual support exists as justifying othering people for being different.

       C. and attempts to rank privilege turns out to be way to divide and conquer. separating oppressed people from each other means it's hard to take apart the system of systems of oppression.

       D. there is some fruit to be gathered by comparing and contrasting privileges and oppressions, but much caution is needed because it tends to become a ranking system. if you're new to this all, just don't do it.

11) living with one kind of oppression doesn't give you automatic understanding of another oppression.

       A. one kind of privilege does not automagically inform you about another, there are many salient differences. you own oppression can help you understand a different oppression, but not as much as you think. trust me, i know this from my experiences as a queer poc. poc get queer issues wrong. and queers get poc issues wrong. and i still get all my other privileges (male, cis-gendered, able-bodied) wrong.
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[livejournal.com profile] verb_noire is a start-up publishng house that has undertaken to remedy long-standing deficiencies in Science Fiction and Fantasy regarding the representation of People of Color.
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I concur in full with [livejournal.com profile] rozk in her recent statement regarding RaceFail 2009, specifically in her criticism of specific bad behavior on the parts of Kathryn Cramer and Elizabeth Bear.

Also? This, from [livejournal.com profile] bossymarmalade (via [livejournal.com profile] stoneself on [livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite) is useful, instructive, and quite elegant.

I haven't participated in RaceFail 2009, largely because of time constraints, largely because of the number of people calling specifically to tell me not to even read it because I have enough trouble with high blood pressure as it is. That's an odd space for me to be in as part of the [livejournal.com profile] deadbrowalking modstaff.

But goodgoddam, I've lost alot of respect for alot of people I really thought were wiser than they have shown themselves in the last few weeks, and that's kinda painful no matter how many times I tell myself you can never guess where The Clue Ends for any given person. ([livejournal.com profile] rmjwell wrote an excellent piece on this a few years back, I think talking about Jimmy the Greek and what might be termed "RaceFail 1988."

For all of my adolescent and adult life, I've had two refuges from the crushing pressure of mundania: Heavy Metal and Fandom[1]. Gaming, Comics, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Filking, Costuming. Fannish parties, fannish friends, fannish lovers, fannish art, fannish music alongside the Metal[2], fannish this, fannish that, fannish the other.

In short, fen culture.

My current gaffiation from Cons does not change that.

Like [livejournal.com profile] truepenny says, I "do not want science fiction/fantasy/horror to be a white-only domain." I'll even go so far to say that to the extent that fandom is not welcoming of all fen, we fail as a community and as a culture. I've lived through us struggling to figure out what that means when the fen who don't feel included are female fen, LGBT fen, foreign fen, old fen, young fen, vanilla fen, kinky fen, Christian fen, Jewish fen, Pagan fen, Athiest fen, Liberal fen, Conservative fen, ad nauseum. I've lived through that same struggle when the fen who didn't feel included were Klingons, Furries, Media fen, Hall costumers, Trekkers, Gamers, LARPers, ad nauseum.

And I've lived through that on both sides amidst controversies great and small.[3]

Maybe the takeaway from Race Fail 2009 is that there's a bunch of fen that fandom is failing, and maybe we should be doing better about that? We write and dream of futures wherein we build better cultures than we have today. Those don't just happen, we build them.

[1] Don't get me started on how sad it is that we don't have more filk based on Metal.[4]
[2] And a great big shout-out to the fannish themes of bands like Hawkwind and Tarot!
[3] I still use "Boskone" as a verb akin to saying someone did a "heckuva job".
[4] And another shout-out to Barry and Sally Childs-Helton for "Stairway to Fandom."
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PSA: PoC in SF/F Special Edition: Interrogating the Text, De-colonizing the Mind

I'm pleased to announce the following:

PoC in SF/F Carnival Special Edition:

Interrogating the Text, De-Colonizing the Mind: An Intra-PoC Dialogue

This special edition of the PoC in SF/F carnival is once again dedicated to intra-PoC dialogue.

Separated by time and distance, joined by personal experience and on/offline interaction, our lives together are not always a bed of roses.

In the wake of recent events, what's next on the horizon for intra-PoC relations in the wake of recent events? How do I/You/Me/We go about creating those places where our own efforts shine while at the same time work through those things that divide us?

Contributors are invited to engage the theme as they choose. It's a jumping off point but not necessarily a cliff.

Caveat: Since People of Color (PoC) is not necessarily a universally used term, especially by fans living outside of the US, I encourage those who have other ways of defining themselves (for example, non-white, fen of pigment, chromatic) to step up and participate.

Feel free to post this notice far and wide.

Send your links to: ladyj dot 965 at gmail dot com
Deadline for submission: March 27, 2009
Host: ladyjax
Location: boom_tube (aka ladyjax's other not so used LiveJournal)

(big thanks to Willow for encouraging this latest intra-PoC dialogue to become a special edition of the Carnival).
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John Sims is my old lab/office partner from college. He's one of the finest mathematicians I've ever had leave me in the theoretical dust, only to catch me up right after. For the last several years, he's been making art.

Some of it is very specificaly political and controversial, such as "The Proper Way To Hang A Confederate Flag" and the Recolorization project. Some of it is more theoretical in it's explorations, such as "The Square Root Of A Tree." He's currently showing a series of quilts (and Jazz) based on Pi here in NYC. Alas, I didn't learn of this until this week, and this is the closing week.

If you've got some time, hie thee down to 2nd St between Ave B & C. There's only the one art gallery there, on the south side of the street, and check it out. I'd give you the name of the place, but in my excitement at seeing John after 22 years, I neglected to get the name of the place.
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...because he gets this:

"Equal pay is by no means just a women's issue -- it's a family issue. It's about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition and child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves; that's the difference between affording the mortgage -- or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor bills -- or not.

"Making out economy work means making sure it works for everybody..."

"...it's not just unfair and illegal, it's bad for business to pay somebody less because of their gender or their age or their race or their ethnicity, religion, or disability...

"...justice is not about some abstract legal theory, or a footnote in a casebook. It's about how our laws affect the daily lives and daily realities of people; their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

"Ulitmately, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for illions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are -- and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideals...with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.

"I sign this ill not just in [Lilly Ledbetter's] honor, but in honor of those who came before - women like my grandmother... for my daughters, and all those who will come after us, because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams and they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined."

"And now it's up to us to continue this work. This il is an important step... This is only the beginning."
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The good is that the grown-ups are back in charge.

The bad is that the Bush economy, almost like a parting love note from the Drunk, began affecting me directly and personally Monday. I am no longer a salaried employee of $employer, but a "Project Plus" employee. This means that I'm paid by the hour for billable tasks. The downside is that my income fortnight-to-fortnight is an uncertain thing. The upside is that I can look for projects from sources other than $employer to fill that time. That's not really that much of an upside, because it's additional hassle. I suppose the real upside is that I'm not laid off -- more than I can say for some of my colleagues. To say nothing of so many others.

Hey, need someone to do some security consulting? Drop me a line and let's talk -- my credentials and experience are impeccable, and my rates are reasonable. If you don't need some security consulting, maybe you know someone who does.


Nov. 27th, 2008 01:34 pm
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9/11/2001, the world spoke up when terrorists attacked my home. I apreciated that then, and I appreciate that now.

I want to reciprocate, to say something about or to the people of Mumbai, but "Today we are all X" has become trite; but I don't know what else to say. But I did want to put out there that you're in my thoughts.
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Hey, fellow geeks:  Soon it will be time for me to buy a new PC.  I'm looking at a number of things, from the HP Paviliaion d5100t to the Dell Studio XPS to the Falcon NW Fragbox.  I have two questions:

1) What's your favorite muscle box, that you'd recommend I look at?  I'm hoping to keep the whole thing under or not much over $3K.

2) Everyone's offering Vista, and I'm hearing I'll have to jump through hoops, spend extra money, and spend lots of time on the phone to downgrade from Vista to XP.  Has M$ fixed Vista to the point that it's safe to use, or should I gear up for the headaches?
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Today is the tenth annual Transgender Day of Rememberance.

A transgendered person is 1500 times more likely to be murdered than a cisgendered person. Today is a day for remembering them, particularly the people who have been murdered in the last year for no reason other than the fact that they're transgendered.

As [livejournal.com profile] shemale notes, it's not a day for celebration, it's not a fesitval, it's not a goddamn potluck, particularly if you're part of the transphobic problem that enables these murders. HRC, I'm looking at you, and in case you're wondering why you get no money from me you treat transfolk are treated has alot to do with it.

So take a moment and remember. And the renew your resolve to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, and do something about it.
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There's been a lot of stupidity flying around recently about who is to blame for Proposition 8 pasing. We're going to deal on that, because the stupid has gone beyond burning.

Some people, such as the once relevant Dan Savage, are singling out black Californians as the reason Prop 8 passed; and going on to use this as evidence of The Extreme Homophobia Of The Black Community[1] Apparently, someone doesn't remember 7th grade math, and it's time for a refresher.

According to The California Secretary of State, there were 17,304,876 registered voters in California. Shanikka @ DKos calculates that there were a maximum of 1,156,560 black registered voters, and probably fewer than that. If 70%[2] of them voted for Prop 8, that's 809,592 black Californians who voted for Prop 8.

OK, now that we've done some seventh grade math, we're going to drop down to third grade math:

There were 5,661,583 votes in favor of Prop 8. 5,661,581 – 809,592 = 4,851,991 votes for Prop 8 that weren't cast by black Californians.

Now that we're done with the grade-school math, let's get on with the political analysis.

It is perfectly legitimate to hold every single one of the 5,661,581 voters for Prop 8 accountable for their homophobia. Singling out ~800,000 black people for something that over 4 million white people[3] also did is racist bullshit. Proposition 8 failed because Americans are still homophobic, not because Black people are particularly homophobic.

There is also some blame to be laid at the No on 8 campaign's doorstep. Only some because it is the responsibility of every voter to educate themselves about the issues and vote for justice. However, it's hard to educate oneself if the information isn't readily available, and there was a well orchestrated and well funded campaign to specifically lie to people of color about Prop 8. To the extent that No on 8 did too little too late to counter the misinformation campaign, they must share the blame with those who were fooled, and they must take the lion's share of the blame.

I am not the least bit sympathetic to the idea that white LBGTs are to blame for people of color voting for the proposition because of white LBGT racism. That dynamic describes a deliberate choice to use heterosexual privilege to tactically oppress me, and that is an inexcusable thing to do. I find it very difficult to consider alliance with someone who considers such an act thinkable or excusable. However, I've yet to come across a single person who said that they voted for Prop 8 for that reason.

[1] Because white communities are all carebears and honey about LBGTs, right?
[2] Shanikka also points out that that the polling that lead to the 70% figure is highly suspect, but let's neglect that for now.
[3]I'm making an approximation here of how many people who are neither black nor white voted for Prop 8.
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I am listening now to John McCain conceeding the election.

Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked and sweated to make this evening possible. (Looking at you, [livejournal.com profile] yesthattom and [livejournal.com profile] voodoo_chile)

Congratulations to everyone who has bled, sweat, cried, and died to make this evening possible. Their names are legion, and most of them are your ancestors and mine.

The journey isn't over, not by a long stretch, but we're on our way.
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As it happens, my voting place is in the community room of my building, meaning I don't have to even go out doors in order to vote.
Usually, voting here is a sleepy thing. I vote in the morning when I can, the evening when I must. Because this is my parent's district also, my name is listed right next theirs in the registry.

Clare G. Holzman
Robert S. Holzman
Daniel B. Holzman-Tweed

Dad usually votes on his way to work and is voter #15 most years. This year, he's voter #35. I voted at 9 AM and am voter #120. Most years, I'm #120 when I vote in the evening.

Anyone who doesn't know for whom I voted, isn't paying attention.
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We live the mystery right to the end
To see if we've been outsmarted
Or if hope lies waiting on the other side
With the near dearly departed
-- Rawlins Cross

Samhain. Mundanely, it's the day that the press suddenly remembers that Witches exist and about whom it would be spiffy and spooky to have articles in their Isn't That Freaky? section before stuffing us back into the Broom Closet until next Samhain. It is immortality, of a sort.

In an older Wheel of the Year, Samhain is the Final Harvest – literally and figuratively. The first harvest was Lughnasadh, the second Mabon. It's the harvest after which one was literally supposed to stop harvesting. One has had one's three chances. What was left in the fields will shelter Spirits and Good Neighbors through the winter. (Likely they will also feed the unfortunate and the stranger. The Torah has similar laws governing how many times one may shake a tree to gather its fruit.)

As without, so within. The Green Man cut down, the willing sacrifice for our continued sustainance, traveled to the Underworld – just like everyone else who dies. This harvest is His. Since August he has journeyed and learned the ways of the Land of the Dead. He has Mastered its Mysteries. Tonight at dusk, he ascends the throne and rules as the Dark Lord, Lord of the Dead. Tonight is his coronation. The dead celebrate, and so do we.

And that's where it gets interesting.

Then they summoned me over to join in with them
To the dance of the dead
Into the circle of fire I followed them
Into the middle I was led

As if time had stopped still I was numb with fear
But still I wanted to go
And the blaze of the fire did no hurt upon me
As I walked onto the coals
-- Iron Maiden

Everything that lives dies, and everything that dies hopes for rebirth. The Dark Lord is the Opener of that Way, and we follow Him on that road as we embody Him. The barriers that keep us apart thin for the space of this night, and we celebrate together. In celebrating, we remember those who have gone before: those absent friends we toast in somber tones, friends and family for whom we weep. And in the space of this night we can miss them a little less, for they are with us. They remember us as we remember them and we can both look forward together to the day when we are reunited in the Underworld; and in Love and Rebirth after that.

And here's the thing: None of this happens without the others. You are born with one and only one promise to our name: You will die. Yet, no one is born except through an act of Love. Even when that act occurs in the most blasphemously hateful of circumstances, zygotes don't know about that. Death closes the circle – once and once only one might await birth without having died before, after that one awaits Rebirth. Death's triumph is the inevitability that even in Death, Life is assured.

Blessed Be this Samhain.
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Yes, I'm playing with Dragon Cave. I'd be obliged if you'd click on over and play with my eggs.
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Her: You look good, Dan -- like you're in your thirties, tops!
Me: Yesterday, I was in my thirties.

My thanks to all the well-wishers on my birthday.  I'm in Philly, going to Faeriecon in order to figure out how to spend a rather considerable birthday check my parents gave me.
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Many years ago, a fundamentalist Christian of my acquaintance asked me what I insisted on calling my religion "Wicca" or "witchcraft" or "Pagan" when I knew it was a term that many found inflammatory, and wouldn't it make me much more palatable to Christians if I called my religion something less threatening like "Earth-based spirituality" (which some people do) or some other name that didn't have the history of the word "Witch?"

I explained to him that my history as a Witch and as a Jew is that if you start giving ground on that front, there's no end to it. If today I back off the word "Witch," tomorrow someone will ask me why I don't choose something less challenging than "Earth-based spiritualist." And the day after they will be asking me why I don't choose something less challenging than whatever comes next. The process would never end until the thing I called myself was "Christian." Sooner or latr, I was either going to have to let myself be converted by "friendly" pressure unless I drew a line and said "this far, no farther." So I may as well draw it here and now, recognizing that people would either stand with me or against me, and those who stand against me here would never stand with me anywhere else.

It was a far less eloquent way of saying this, only this is so much more universal:

There's a war on. Either we succeed, and their world ends; or they succeed, and ours does. Does it matter that we want them to go on living in our world, that our world has room for them to build cities and parks and futures? Not really. The very act of not getting to define everything for the rest of us is the end, for them. The fact that none of them would actually die, that their children would be fine and their blood unshed, is irrelevant. We can abhor and condemn violence and torture, and this too is an act of war. We can love them depthlessly as people and wish them no harm, but we cannot avoid the implications. If we are considered equals, their world is over. Our lives are the explosives that end it.

So, okay.


I say let's call down the thunders, then. Let's stand and fight. Let's own that our love is a matter of artillery, and fire salvo after salvo. Let's hold hands and kiss and fuck and dance while all over, rock shears from the cliff-faces of their shuddering world and it frays at the seams. Let's defiantly exist, exist hard, right next to them, public, brazen, beautiful. Let's drill and march and right on their doorsteps let's have unacceptable bodies and loud music and food whose aromas they find foreign and offensive. Let's fucking sing.

We can call it jubilation. They can call it war.
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As I went for lunch today, I walked past a man standing in front of the Park Avenue office building in which $client has their offices. The man is white, middle aged, and wearing a business suit. He is holding up a sign that states he is an out of work Marketing Executive and asks people to contribute $20 so that he can pay his rent.

Privilege works on several levels here. The most obvious is the fact that the police haven't arrested him or at least told him he has to do his panhandling someplace else.

Privilege also work on the level where the man feels that he is sufficiently desperate straits that of all the options open to him, asking strangers on the street for $20 to make rent is his best option; let alone appropriate in a city where most people asking for money are asking for "anything you can spare" so that they can have dinner that night. Or a place to stay for that night.[1] It should not be hard to see how the only way this makes sense is if the fellow is counting on his presentation as as "one of you respectable folk" to get a pass.

Of course, the fellow may have been an artist engaging in some street theatre.

[1] And, yes, some ask for that money so that they can get drunk or high and guess what -- I'm OK with that, too. If that's the only thing someone can do in a situation to ease their pain for just a little while, it would be beyond mean-spirited of me to deny it to them.
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John McCain has lied for his entire political life.  Lots of people fell for it.  Some of you fell for it.  Somehow, one of the Keating Five got people to think he was against corruption.  Somehow, a man who calls himself "a Reagan Republican" got people to think he represented some sort of change in the Republican party.

Here's truth.

The truth is that if you're not a millionaire, John McCain wants to raise your taxes while continuing to give you less. The truth is that McCain doesn't care about truth, or honesty, or honor.

He cares about winning. And he counts the truth, his honor, and his name as nothing more than pawns to sacrifice in order to bring himself power. He counts your healthcare, your children's lives, the nation's economy, your rights, and anything else he can get his hands on the exact same way.

Some people on my friends list have expressed deep reservations about voting for Obama. I understand those reservations. It may be that Obama will not be able to deliver. It may be that part of his message is just talk.

But it's a settled question what we get if we have McCain. The math is not hard to do: Some chance is better than no chance. Vote for Obama.

But don't stop there. Once he's elected, keep his feet to the fire and don't let him back down from his promises. That's the mistake we made with Clinton: The Republicans fought him, we didn't, and he moved along the path of least resistance. That's what brought us Don't Ask Don't Tell instead of the justice Clinton promised; and the pattern repeated for eight years.
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<a href="http://www.wpix.com/pages/news">WPIX</a> interviewed <lj user="jadegirl"> and I regarding our reactions to the Large Hadron Collider and the "possibility" that the world will fall into a newly created black hole at 3 AM EST. As I told the reporter, most of what I had to say had to be edited out, but the words "Chocolate will be involved!" did get onto the broadcast.
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The concert rocked. Photos to follow, once I get them off the camera.
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By the time you read this, I'll likely be in Las Vegas for Black Hat. If you are too, and want to get together, drop me an e-mail.


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