This and That

My take on a few current events.

I’m still gnawing on those five things about the science fiction community that irritate me, so today I’ll just mention a few things that have come over the transom in the past week or so.

The Chi-Fi debacle is winding down a bit though there is still some debate going on on Jim C. Hines’ site. The thrust of those arguments is (still) an attempt to deflect some of the “blame” onto to the hotel for having asked about the conventions’ anti-harassment policy in any way, shape or form.

First, lets not forget that we don’t have the whole story and part of what is missing is what the question(s) was and how it was asked. On that basis, it is premature to assign blame.  The hotel has stated that “…it was not about… their anti-harassment policy, which we never objected to in any way only asked whether there was history of problems that necessitated it.”

The counter argument to that seems to be that any and every hotel in the United States has had more than enough time and opportunity to have learned all about anti-harassment policies; either this particular hotel/staff were unacceptably ignorant or being deliberately provocative.

The counter argument to that is:  1)  Conventions can have anti-harassment policies because A: they’ve had incidents that led to their adoption:  B: they have never had an incident (that they are aware of) but think it a good idea and C: they have one because right-thinking members of their organization pressured them into adopting one whether they need it or not.  It’s not unreasonable for the hotel to determine which class a convention falls into and 2) that the state of anti-harassment policies is not as robust and well-distributed as seems to be assumed; that the hotel may have been ignorant of such policies through lack of exposure (in which case asking about the reasons for the policy is legitimate and part of the hotel’s educational process).

I’ve been looking around in my spare time for some indication of how wide-spread the use of such policies are by business conventions. I’ve not uncovered anything definitive yet, but what I have learned is the following: talk about and usage of such policies is fairly well represented in the fannish, atheist/skeptic and some scientific/engineering communities (astronomy among them); I can find little to nothing from other industries that expressly discusses the need for or implementation of a convention anti-harassment policy – though there does seem to be some indication that they rely on the by-laws of their organization to handle such things because their professional association by-laws invoke various Federal mandates for equal opportunity and absence of bias.

And then of course there is the additionally complicating factor that early reports of the A-H issue between the hotel and Chi-Con seem to strongly suggest that Chi-Fi was trying to inform the hotel that its staff had to abide by the convention’s policy while the con was in operation.

I’ve read the policies offered by the different groups who have put together examples and samples – and the few others offered by organizations not affiliated with fandom. They all restrict their coverage to the convention staff, the convention attendees/members and third parties such as vendors who will be exhibiting at the convention.

My take-away regarding this aspect of fandom’s HotelGate is this: I think it likely, given the convention’s naivete and demonstrated inexperience in other matters, that they got into an argument over the A-H policy and whether or not it should apply to hotel staff and that the initial question may very well have been asked in earnest.

This other possibility is admittedly a bit weak (the hotel convention staff should have inevitably heard something about such policies by now) – unless one makes the not unreasonable assumption that inclusion of the hotel staff under the policy was in the mix when this was being discussed.  If the hotel was trying to ascertain whether or not there had been problems with hotel staff in the past that necessitated that the policy apply to hotel staff, the question itself takes on an entirely different character.

I’m not wedded to that conclusion, but that’s my take from what we currently and actually know.

I also think it unlikely that “every hotel in the US” has been exposed to anti-harassment policies and I think it unlikely that “every” convention organization in the US has such a policy in force. I think it is important to find out how extensive the hospitality industry’s knowledge of this kind of policy is (I’m looking into it, others should too) – and I’d like to hear from anyone who is a member of a professional organization/society/association that hosts a convention as to the presence or absence of a specific anti-harassment policy used by their conventions. It would be useful to gain a true picture of how widespread usage really is.

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I get a lot of spam emails to my Amazing Stories’ address: no big surprise as it is out there for anyone to scrape from the site and sell to anyone foolish enough to pay for it. Most times I unsubscribe when I am able, add them into my spam list and blacklist and move on. This morning I got no less than two emails from the same outfit – Tara the Psychic Medium.

If Tara was psychic, Tara would know that I have absolutely no interest in such ridiculous tripe and would be deleting her emails. If Tara was truly psychic, her brain would explode the moment it made contact with mine (well, maybe not explode like they do in Scanner’s, but it would liquify and run out her ears) once it encountered my true thoughts on the scammy nature of such offerings and the probable lower-than-whale-poop origins of the people who prey on the emotionally vulnerable in such a manner.

And yes, I am aware that “Tara” is probably many different people working off a script and there is no doubt in my mind that not a single one of them is “psychic”. Perhaps the lack of true psychic abilities is the reason there is so much spam…?

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Net Neutrality. Hoo Boy are we in trouble now. The US Court of Appeals for DC vacated the FCC’s over site of broadband services, potentially allowing service provides to charge fees based on some criteria other than “equality”.

Up till now, everyone paid the same rates to make their website available to the public. This is the fundamental principal that has allowed small start-ups to compete effectively with larger, well-established and well-funded competitors: access to the marketplace cost next to nothing.

There’s an article that describes the situation here and one that poo-poos the concern about it here.

It’s a complicated legal and regulatory history that has led to the current circumstance, but takes the form of business interests trying to eliminate and curtail as much regulation as they can. Without someone looking over their shoulder, does anyone seriously doubt that service providers will find ways to increase their profits? Does anyone seriously doubt that whatever form that takes, it will weigh more heavily on small businesses and individuals than it will on corporations?

Keep an eye on this developing fight. As many have suggested, it probably would be best if the FCC were able to regulate service providers in the same way they do other communications services.

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Egypt: I just watched The Square on Netflix, a documentary about the (ongoing) Egyptian revolution(s). It’s worth the watch and paints a much different picture than has been provided by our media coverage here in the states.

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Arisia just concluded and, if the online reports are any indication, it was a success. Boskone is coming up in just a few weeks. I’ll be in attendance, appearing on a couple of panels about SF and fandom and will be moderating a ‘panel’ all about this little project we’ve got going here. If you are going to be at Boskone, make sure to stop by, I’d love to talk with you.

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1 Comment

  1. Net neutrality topic….yes, service providers should be regulated. Or we could have an anti-internet day where as many people in the world as possible stop using the internet – that would show the greedy, money grabbing corporations that their users can have a say, too.

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