the second turntable video: the burke-gilman troll on gramophone

We’re uploading a set of videos, about one a month, of various tracks off of Bone Walker, all being played on different players, since that seems to be a thing with turntables. This one’s “The Burke-Gilman Troll,” on a gramophone!

Video provided by The Hand of the Wolf, a fellow supervillain and fan. Thanks, Hand! The location of your secret lair is safe with us.

on buying some hugo awards, and voting NO AWARD


A lot of people reading this won’t know: there is an award called the Hugo, for science fiction and fantasy literature and fannish activities. There are also awards for movies and film, but the big ones are for the written word. It’s shaped like a rocket, with a base that changes every year.

These awards are nominated and chosen via vote, by members of the World Science Fiction Society, which mostly means Worldcon members. Voting is entirely optional. It’s also possible to join the society (via a “supporting membership”) without attending the Worldcon. That’s pretty cheap, which is important here.

The voting system is reasonably sound, overall, but it has a major vulnerability to gaming. And that vulnerability is: anyone can join the WSFS. It costs $40. If enough people do this and all nominate the same things in lockstep, then they will have all of their choices nominated.

This hasn’t been done before. Oh, there was a case in the late 1980s when the Church of Scientology had a bunch of well-scattered members all acquire memberships in order to buy L. Ron Hubbard’s Mission Earth: Volume 1 a nomination for Best Novel, but it finished behind “NO AWARD.” That’s important, and we’ll talk more about that below.

But as you can see, this is a known vulnerability. In part as a result, and in part in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the award, there has been a long-standing social agreement that people would not campaign, much less exploit the process via slates and bloc voting. This agreement has not even been implicit, but discussed and debated and regularly brought up. People brush up against it pretty regularly; there has been a lot of debate about writers such as John Scalzi and Seanan McGuire posting to their blogs about what works of theirs are eligible, and a lot of argument over whether this constitutes campaigning.

But all of that aside, it’s held up acceptably well. And the only reason it’s worked – the only reason publishing houses haven’t been breaking the system for decades – is that gaming the system isn’t economically effective. The cost needed to buy enough voting rights to capture an award’s nominations via slate voting is much greater than the added economic value of the Hugo Award(tm) label being stuck onto anything.

But political spite-voting has no interest in cost vs. reward; it’s about anger and retaliation, and people will spend anything on that. Anything.

There is a wide rightist/racist/misogynist swath within fandom. It’s led by people like Vox Day, who is, as I have discussed before, an avowed white supremacist. You might recall he was booted out of the Science Fiction Writers of America, for using SWFA resources to promulgate a racist screed against another SFWA member a couple of years ago.

These fans have become increasingly angry over the last few years as women and queers and people of colour – and works about the same – have been nominated, so they started a campaign last year to nominate a slate of acceptably-rightist and rightist-compatible works. Their justification for throwing out the social agreement has been that the wrong people are winning, therefore it’s obviously already rigged by bloc voting, despite the lack of any such evidence, by “social justice warriors”; therefore all rules are off and they can do whatever they want.

Last year, they failed. Some hoped that would be the end of it, but those hopeful people underestimated the power of spite, and this year, the same group succeeded. The “sad puppies” (or “rabid puppies”) slate captured most nominations, including two nominations for Christian supremacist and white supremacist Vox Day himself. Baen Books’s complicity in this – because hey, if you don’t have to pay for it, suddenly vote-buying does make sense – have led some to boycott the imprint.

In order to achieve their result, the Puppies engaged in a massive “voter registration campaign,” mass slate voting, and overt campaigning which included reaching out to the misogynist harassment and hate-group #GamerGate, trying to get more votes from anyone willing to “humble” and “hurt” the “social-justice warriors.” As some of the Sad Puppies have been willing to admit in great detail, it’s about the “wrong” kind of stories winning – or, even, existing.

As with GamerGate, they are now attempting to pretend this had something to do with quality of work and types of work – anything but the real issue. But with samples of now-Hugo-nominated works like this being only the beginning, few people are taking that argument seriously. They’ve also claimed that the works nominated as of late aren’t enough about SF, but that’s pretty hard to sustain when one of their fan-writing slate favourites is mostly a rightist political blog.

They also talk about reaching out to “new voters” within fandom; I’m sure those GamerGate guys are serious science-fiction readers. Totally into it.

Some fans are considering counter-slates for future years. I cannot state strongly enough: This would be a disaster. And not just because it would insure the Puppies more slate victories. To reply with counter-slates would be to enter what in foreign affairs is called a Red Queen’s Race – a continuing escalation of resource expenditure to less and less effect resulting eventually in structural collapse. (See also: wars of terrorism, current case study: Syria. But I digress.)

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Remember, above, how I mentioned that Mission Earth: Volume 1 finished behind NO AWARD?

If NO AWARD wins, no Hugo in that category is awarded. This has happened before – not since 1976, I think, but it has happened.

NO AWARD short-circuits the Red Queen’s Race. It makes all slate efforts null and void, as long as fans collectively decide not to award any award in slate-controlled categories. It burns most of one year, to save the rest. Compared to the alternative of competing political slates that reduce the value and meaning of the award to absolutely nothing on any axis – other than spite – it’s a dramatically better option.

NO AWARD is an available tool, requiring no rules changes. It’s a tool that has been used before. And it is the only answer to this situation. If the only way to win is not to play, NO AWARD is not playing.

Fortunately, you don’t have to vote NO AWARD in all categories this year. A few categories have one or more nominees which are not on the Sad Puppies slates; one is entirely Puppies-free, since they did not nominate in that category. This means no best novella; no best novelette; no best short story; no best related work; no best editor, short or long form. It’s a heavy price, but it’s the only alternative to political voting as far as the eye can see.

This is a list of nominees which did not appear in any form on the Puppies slate. When voting, vote for any of them, in whatever order you prefer. And then beneath that, vote NO AWARD, and do not put any Puppy-nominee on any ballot at all.

It’s an unfortunate thing to have to do, particularly for anyone who might have no role in this other than having been picked for the Puppy slate without cooperation. But if you want to stop this political slate-voting while it can be stopped, NO AWARD is the only option that could work. Do the math; nothing else available under current rules stops this from happening continually. To prevent slates (of any kind) from occurring, the act of slate-voting has to become utterly futile. And this is the only way to achieve that.

So to save the Hugo, WSFS members must vote, must not include any Puppies nominees, and must include NO AWARD.

I urge everyone to do so. Vote, and vote NO AWARD.

ps: You want to know the really pathetic thing? One of the Sad Puppy rallying points is their assertion that Heinlein couldn’t win a Hugo these days. They didn’t even include the new Heinlein biography in their slate, thus insuring it couldn’t win. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s hilarious.

eta: Scalzi has weighed in on the Secret Social Justice Warrior Cabal theory that the puppies use as an excuse for their slate. NO AWARD is still the only answer, but his commentary on their use of him as a scapegoat is amusing.

eta2: I missed Jim Hines’s post on this, wherein he takes apart some of the arguments made about NO AWARD somehow being cheating… while slates are just fine. Apparently. Does that make sense? No, but it doesn’t have to.

eta3: George R. R. Martin has been promising to weigh in for a while, and has; his post is worth reading, I think.

eta4: I have a follow-up post with additional thoughts regarding Vox Day’s threat to end the Hugo Awards entirely over here.

back from norwescon with a big announcement

Back from Norwescon! Here’s what opening ceremonies looked like from the orchestra pit.

It’s All Bendy

And I ran into Aang and Kyoshi, who I thought I’D NEVER SEE AGAIN AAAAAAAAAAAAA or something:


The panels I was on were really well attended, the Leannan Sidhe show I was playing went really, really well, and PDX Broadsides and Bards of a Feather made great first-time Norwescon impressions, and Saturday night was standing-room-only, but the big news for me, personally, is:

I’m stepping down from running nwcMUSIC.

This is a big deal for me; it’s been my baby, but after six years running music at Norwescon and five years building nwcMUSIC as a festival, I need to hand it to other people. I’ve built a legitimate programme here, and I’m really excited that it has momentum and all the tools are in place and everything – but it’s time for me to step down.

The position I’ve created has been, frankly, too much for one person. Certainly for non-supervillains. So there will be several far-more-manageable positions created by my departure.

There will be opportunities like Concerts Lead, Daytime Programming Lead, Publicity and Communications Lead or whatever they end up calling it, possibly a Special Events/Filkcircle Lead. There will be non-lead positions, like Concerts Second (what I’ve called “Water Fairy,” ably managed by Anna in the past), Concert Sound Engineer (replacing the most excellent Jen and John after six years), possibly Videographer (if K decides to move on as well), and so on.

It’s been very hard work, and I’m glad they’re breaking it down into more positions moving forward. It needs to be; nwcMUSIC has been personality-driven this whole time, because really, that’s how a lot of these things get going. Supervillains got FORCE OF MIND, after all. But a lot of times, that’s how these things end, too, when that personality steps away, or is killed by James Bond, or whatever. Job hazards.

But I promise this: you will not be going in unaided. I will share everything I’ve done and learned. I won’t be on the convention committee next year, but I really, really, don’t want to see nwcMUSIC go away. It’s built up into a nice community (that I want to continue to be part of, as a musician), it’s a really good educational experience for the participants, it promotes participation in your own culture, and it’s a heck of a venue for nerdy and geeky artists.

So someone – several someones – need to take my place. If no one does, it really will go away, and I don’t know anyone who wants that. So please – even if you aren’t the right person for any of these positions, cast that net wide, and pass along the news to everyone you know.

And contact Norwescon Special Events – – to get involved. It’ll be a couple of months before much happens for 2016, but they’ll want a list of potential people as soon as possible. This is a big change for Norwescon, too.

I said this at the last show, but thank you again to everyone who has come and played; everyone who has come and participated; everyone who has come and been part of an audience; thanks to K Wiley, videographer, who has worked his ass off to get us livestreaming; and most of all, thanks to Jen Kilmer and John Seghers, who have been our amazing sound crew these past six years. Without them in particular, quite literally none of this could have happened.

We’ve got a hell of a thing here. Keep nwcMUSIC going. I’ll help. And contact to join in, today.

Home Recording 1 attendees, this is your handout.

Welcome nwcMUSIC and Norwescon “Home Recording 1: Kitting Out Cheap” participants! The four-page panel-notes handout you are looking for is right here.

For everyone who has seen this before (and there are several of you), this is actually a slightly new version 0.8, which revises the list of available DAWs and cleans up a couple of other bits. But it’s not a major revision.

Don’t forget that nwcMUSIC concerts WILL BE LIVESTREAMED courtesy FanSupported, so check that out here. Concerts start at 8pm Cascadian/Pacific on Thursday, 7pm on Friday, and 8pm on Saturday. I’m playing with Leannan Sidhe at 8pm on Friday, myself. Enjoy!

T minus one

One day to nwcMUSIC 2015 and Norwescon 38. As part of the big show, Anna and I are both offering discount on our arts, and I’ve been making miniflyers and stuff.

Those discount codes are already active, by the way

Also, Anna has some Bone Walker posters to give away; they’ll be on the freebie table or at the NIWA table in the Dealers’ Room. You should go visit her there during the day! And, as last year, we’ll be streaming concerts via the fine folks at FanSupported,

My big worry is that Cascadia’s Got Talent! is the masquerade halftime show. Getting acts has always been dodgy. We’ve always had enough for a good show in the end, but generally not until right before curtain, and that’s hair-raising at best. So please, if you have any kind of talent and want to have some fun showing it off? Sign up at the con. Paperwork will be at the Information Table.

It’s running at the same time as concerts, which means I don’t get to MC my own game show. Snif. Ah well, the marvellous and talented Shubzilla will do very well, I’m confident.

Also, in case I forgot – I’m playing on Friday, at 8pm, with Leannan Sidhe. We’re doing their material, and opening for PDX Broadsides, who are very funny. Come up to the Evergreens for that and say hi!

See you there, I hope!

a zillion more eccc photos

I posted a zillion more photos from Emerald City Comicon over here, on my Flickr account. I’m going to put a preview of a pose with the only Asami who made it to the Avatar/Korra Meetup on Saturday (nice costume I have to say); the complete set is like half Korra and half other-costumes, so it’s not all my particular fandom. ^_^

Earth Kingdom Korra (from the “Korra, Alone” arc), with Asami

pretty much the best eccc evar

I had a really good time at the one day I got to go to Emerald City Comicon this year, for a lot of reasons, but in no small part because I was going as Earth Kingdom Korra, which is a fourth-year two-episode costume associated with the “Korra Alone” mini-arc where she’s going around in Earth Kingdom clothing, which meant I got to be involved in this awesomesauce moment at the Korra/Avatar Fandom Meetup:

Poor, Poor Mako
(Photo by vandroid-helsing on Tumblr)

I’ve missed public cosplay. I really have. XD

And! Next weekend is nwcMUSIC 2015 at Norwescon 38, and we will have livestreaming of the nwcMUSIC concerts again! That URL is:

So be ready for that if you can’t come to the show in person.

AND! I’ll be playing! nwcMUSIC! again! for the first time since the first one, with Leannan Sidhe, on Friday night at 8pm. Show up in person or! watch at home. That’s an exclusive-or, please. Don’t show up and watch the livestream, at least not at the same time. Not even on headphones. I mean, honestly, there’s introversion, and then there’s just weird.

Anyway, more pictures maybe later today, or certainly by tomorrow. Depends upon how late rehearsal goes.

absolutely flat equalisation

I rebuilt and altered the crossover circuit on the worse of the two speakers. Check it, here’s the new crossover. I kept the original coils, but moved them so they’re out of plane with each other, which matters for clarity and prevention of crosstalk.

New Crossover

The numbers on the board are kind of wrong, those were what was there before, plus or minus 20%, except for the one that had pretty much completely failed from age. That’s okay, electrolytics do that. That’s why I went with film.

I made a phone recording, just using the built-in microphone. The last recording, of the other speaker, I was able to get it sounding reasonable through inappropriate use of EQ once I got the tweeter to come back online. Even that was a huge step up from where it had been.

This recording? Purely flat equalisation. Absolutely flat. Played off an iPod through my Sampson amp, into the speaker, recorded via phone mic.

Whaddya think, sirs?

none of this was expected

I got given a couple of terrible, terrible looking- and sounding- speakers, and a pretty good power amp that has been in storage for a while, as a set. I haven’t started working on the amp yet, but it’s supposedly actually just fine. Yay!

But these speakers, goddamn. I mean look at this. This is already cleaned up. The other one is not better.

Already Cleaned. No, really.

By the way, if anybody knows how to get this goddamn horn off this tweeter driver? I’d like to know. Is there a trick? I took off the bolts and NOPE NOT MOVING. But it had to have been assembled in place, because you can’t fit it into the cabinet face otherwise. If it unscrews (after bolt removal) I don’t see how – I put a lot of force into it with a strap wrench and got nowhere.


Honestly it’s like trying to fly the Constellation after the Doomsday Machine hit it. I got them wired up tho’ – it took some custom cabling and alligator clips, but I got them running. Limping along, anyway. But by that time I’d already discovered that despite their shitkicker exteriors, inside? All JBL pro gear. Really pretty high-end stuff. I don’t get it either.

If only we had some phasers…

Once I had them stable, I figured out the reason there was no high end was because hey, guess, what, neither of the tweeters were doing anything! The first one, I got back online by working around a bad connection. No idea how long that had been out. The second one…

The second one, I looked at, and tried to figure out what the hell they were doing with this weird circuit and this giant pot that like varied between 0 and 10 ohms maybe, and seemed to be in parallel with the speaker. Eventually I decided it was part of an inexplicably assymetrical Zobel circuit and realised that making it symmetrical would fix other problems too, so that’s fine, except…

…then I got the same circuit out of the now-working other speaker and discovered the one I’d been analysing had been misassembled since construction.

That’s as in at least 25 years. Probably 35 or so. SPEAKERS SURE DO SOUND DIFFERENT WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HOOK THE TWEETER UP, DON’T THEY? Or rather, hook it up so you haven’t filtered around it.

Which is what someone had done.

I am apparently the first to try to figure this out. I’m certainly the first to find it.

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about that.

it is so beautiful

I WANT THIS LAIR. Of any extant building I’ve seen actually, you know, extant? I WANT THIS ONE.

Seriously, it’s 50% the Venture Compound as built 10 years later, it’s 50% Fortress of Solitude, it’s 50% the Star Trek original-series set they could never hope to afford to build – it is a spaceship that has landed on a ridge for some reason and never left. I am convinced it is still spaceworthy.

Here is some video from a tour. I want it so bad. Sadly, it’s in North Carolina. I don’t want it in North Carolina, I want it in Cascadia.

I wonder if I can steal it. Hell, I’ll fly it here. I just need to find the engine room.

Someone has stripped out the bridge control consoles.
That’s okay. I’ll put new ones back. WE CAN DO THIS.

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