The Sad Case of Lauren Hough

I don’t want to make this comment into a whole post but this has turned into another really fascinating facet of online and modern human communication culture. Also, I got blocked on Twitter!

I get it, blocking is damage control for a person who is clearly still dealing with trauma and has found herself being (in my opinion unfairly) slammed in the court of public opinion. I didn’t stand up in support enough, and agreed with her critics, so by all means, block me.

What am I talking about?

An author, Lauren Hough, just had her first book published. By all (fair and unbiased) reports it is excellent, although maybe a little harrowing for my tastes. Her life has been extraordinary and challenging, from a cultist beginning through a lot of other ups and downs. The essays are a testament to her experience.

So then she stoned-tweeted a bunch of complaints about people giving her 4-star reviews because they’re shitty nerds. And to prove her wrong and put her in her place, a massive online dogpile of shitty nerds bombed her Goodreads page with 1-star and Do Not Read blacklist reviews, putting her Goodreads score in the toilet.

Full disclosure, I think 4 stars is good. And I told her so. This is probably what got me blocked.

Fun side-fact, there is a really interesting conversation going on about whether reviews are for other readers or for authors. Now naturally I think they can be both, but of course when I look at reviews of my own books I see them as a message to me. And when I write reviews, I often pitch them in the same way, as though I am sending a fan letter to the author. But obviously other readers should be an implied audience too.

Also full disclosure, the way she was treated was bullshit. But she was not tagged in this conversation so I get that it didn’t reach her. Which is a shame.

Not mad, just disappointed. I think everyone lost in this case.

Now, though, Hough has quintupled down and linked her treatment to rape culture by saying the victim-blaming tone of her critics is similar to those cases where people say “she wouldn’t have been raped if she’d worn different clothes.” Which, okay, I get the comparison. Women are still disproportionately bullied and mistreated online, as offline. It’s a fact. I’ve seen male authors who do dumb things get dogpiled too (Goodkind anyone?), but not on their first publication and their first day as an author. And not this cruelly.

I also get the anger and frustration she must be feeling, although I can’t know it first hand. Her railing against trigger- and content-warning tags, her objectively amusing response to a millennial telling her to “touch grass”[1], all of it is coming from a place of reflexive rage – but the online mob is not easily pointed in the direction of the Old Mill to go get some cider, if I may create a rather dated metaphor.

[1] This is another amazing one, by the way. It means “get offline, go outside, get some fresh air and a bit of perspective.” I was vaguely aware of it but I hadn’t really appreciated it before. This is human interaction in the digital age, exemplified.

Hough, from what I have read about her, has been controlled and mistreated a lot in her life, that’s what the essays are about. She will recognise more of the same when she sees it. She may recognise more of the same when it isn’t there, either, but I think in this case it was there.

Anyway, long story short, if you filter out the “she was obnoxious on twitter so I bombed this review” crap, you end up with … well, you end up with her Amazon rating, which is holding nicely at 4.5 stars. Which she would probably not be happy with, but should be. Goodreads is kind of bullshit for a few reasons, as much as I like the place for other reasons. Goodreads plus twitter is … not ideal.

Still, it’s been an interesting journey. I wish Hough well, it doesn’t look like she needs my support but that’s fine. A little more goodwill and a little less hate is healthy, I think. Like touching grass.

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Ulkomaansplaining: Sima

Sima, or mead, is a classic sweet drink brewed for the 1st of May around these parts. In Finland they call the day Vappu, and it’s a day of general merriment and drunkenness (I may have talked about it beforeseveral times). Sima, however, is not really alcoholic. It’s just very lightly fermented sugar water and it’s delicious.

Having just decided that it will be funny to explain Finnish stuff from the perspective of a know-it-all foreigner, and having come up with a perfect bilingual title for it, I figured where better to start than with sima? This way, you can all get your batch started in the next week or so, and we can share Vappu pictures on May 1st!

Of course, in the spirit of true mansplaining, ulkomaansplaining hinges on me not really being an expert, and getting all the information from a source from whom I steal the credit. Since this is meant to be funny instead of gittish, though, it will come as no surprise that this information comes from Mrs. Hatboy, who has adapted a classic recipe. While I generally make the sima each year, I do so with her express instructions.

I hear it’s also traditional to preface a recipe with a lot of pointless self-serving jabber like this.

You will need:

  • 4 liters water
  • 300 grams plain sugar
  • 300 grams brown sugar
  • A bit more plain sugar for luck
  • 1/4 packet of raisins
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh yeast
  • A root of fresh ginger
  • A bunch of empty plastic bottles, screw-top coke bottles will do

Day 1

Step the first: Rinse the lemons and slice them thinly. Peel and slice the ginger even thinlier.

Step the second: Put the lemons, ginger and sugar into a big container (we make a double batch in a 10-litre bucket).

Step the third: Boil a bit of water and stir it into the bucket so the sugar all melts.

Step the fourth: Add the rest of the water, keeping an eye on the temperature. It should be 36°C. Either let it cool or add a bit of boiling water until you reach the right temperature. We use a baby bath thermometer.

Step the fifth: Take a bit of the warm water in a glass and mix in the yeast, then pour it in with the rest.

Step the sixth: Cover with cling wrap and leave in room temperature for a day.

Day 2

24 hours later, your brew should be a tad frothy and smell of … well, of yeast.

Step the seventh: Take your bottles and pour a spoonful of plain sugar (that’s additional sugar, yes) and a few raisins into each bottle.

Step the eighth: Strain the lemons and ginger from your liquid and ladle it into the bottles. Funnels are your friend.

Caution: Don’t fill the bottles all the way up, and use plastic bottles for safety. There have been stickysplosions.

Step the ninth: Put caps on the bottles and store them in the fridge.

4 or 5 days later, your sima is ready to drink. If it feels like the bottles are collecting too much pressure you can unscrew the caps a little now and then. When the sima goes psst and the raisins float to the surface like drowned students in a city fountain, you’re there.

Vappu!

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Saying Things On The Internet

I don’t think I ever talked about this directly, or made a blog post about this specific case. I know I’ve talked with a few of you about it to varying degrees of depth. But anyway, there’s this YouTuber who makes enjoyable videos about movies, TV shows, and assorted pop culture phenomena. Her name is Lindsay Ellis.

Oh yeah, this is happening.

Okay, so fair to say, while I was slow to become a fan of Ellis’s work, I inevitably did. Because she makes extremely long videos about things that interest me. I am all about human communication, the stories we tell each other, and the way advancing societies and cultures and technology change those things. The internet and social media are the change happening to this century’s crop of human beings. And at their best (in my opinion), Ellis’s videos exemplify the phenomenon of communication, culture and (yeah I’m gonna say it) discourse for which I am specifically educated and professionally trained.


The internet, to me, is the proverbial river that provides. I sit here, I live my life, every now and then I go and check my nets and … the internet provides.


Anyway, my point is, she does good stuff. Is she a perfect being with timeless and universally celebrated opinions? Uh, no. No, she’s a human.

It doesn’t even matter what she said to make the infinite monkeys of Twitter angry. She compared a TV series and a movie. Nobody had ever done that before so it made perfect sense for this reaction to happen.

Now, I am not a tolerant hippie, nor am I a woke-scold. The whole line of attack and criticism seemed disingenuous to me. But I have been Saying Things On The Internet for a long time, and I’m always interested in seeing things like this go down. Because sooner or later, everyone says something that’s going to upset someone. And the more people listen to you, the more likely it becomes – and the more likely it becomes that “someone” is actually going to be hundreds, maybe thousands of people.

Ellis deleted her Twitter and vanished for a little while. I was worried she was going to stop making YouTube videos, but she was just taking a break and preparing this response. Which was just … excellent in every way.

So I’m not expecting you to sit and watch an hour and forty minutes of painstaking right-of-internet-reply. I listened to it, and half-watched, while doing a long copy-paste job on my work computer. But here it is, anyway.

Quite a few Hatstanders can, I think, have a laugh at her comment about how (statistically speaking) she’s been on the internet longer than her viewers. Prepare to have your statistics skewed by a bunch of greying internet dinosaurs, young lady! But anyway, fair to say she’s paid her dues. And then some.

In this video response, she covers so much ground. So many subjects I find interesting. And a lot of what defines us as a communicating species of aggressive, conditionally reasoning non-sentient primates.

And she drinks a significant fraction of a bottle of Writer’s Tears, in my opinion the best whiskey ever made. Yeah I said it, cancel me.

The internet loses its mind on a regular basis. It’s one of the most amusing and fascinating things about the internet. People get criticised, and dog-piled, and someone tuts about cancel culture gone mad, and then nothing happens really. It happens all the time and sometimes I even make posts about it. I’ve pulled up shit like this in my nets before, and I will again. Maybe one day I’ll have a following so huge, I’ll have to start watching what I say!

I will never apologise for this Bechdel joke, though.

I’m going to be proven right about the lava drinkers, too. Maybe not in 2025, but one day.

Ultimately, this isn’t about the left eating itself. It isn’t about woke mobs becoming worse than the oppressors and hatemongers. It’s about normal everyday dumb people wanting to be able to say “I’m one of the good ones, and I can prove it because this is happening to her, not me.” And if we’re going to have robust and informed (I’m saying it again!) discourse, we need to be able to stand up and say “this is where I draw the line.”

That’s it for now. It somehow got to be 14:00 and I don’t understand it. Weekend fast approaching. Have a good one.

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The Final Fall of Man: The 499-Minute Configuration Edition

In the 39th Century, great men and women of the human race strode among the stars. And the crew of the Astro Tramp 400 were also there.

Six untrained civilians. Two seasoned officers and two radically unspaceworthy scientists.

One mad alien inventor.

And six hundred and twenty-eight clone crewmen with severe intelligence-formatting errors.

Eejit is the first tale of The Final Fall of Man, a science-fiction story about – among other things – the human race and how we either won or lost it, depending on your point of view.

This special 499-Minute Configuration Edition of the book is a re-release of the original story, with some minor text errors fixed and a smooth silky new hardcover, for collectors who definitely exist and are real.

Eejit does not have any of the stuff I was talking about in my last post, since this whole thing was a beta trial by Amazon and I was not allowed to talk about it, and I just went with a simple setup. There is no reason the rest of the books in the series can’t have any or even all of the special edition extras discussed previously. Or something else entirely!

Drop a comment, let me know.

I’m very excited to finally see hardcovers available that really work. Okay, sure, they might not be quite as schmancy as the dust-jacketed cloth-bound fuckers I nearly made with whatever site it was, but those were way too complex. And these, I have to say, look great.

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Let me just ask this

I don’t know if non-tweeters can see this poll, so I may have to hold it in two separate places:

 

Never tried this before, bear with me. Exciting!

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Quick catch-up, April 2021 edition

Today in random LOLs, I found out that a blog post called “George RR Martin Can Fuck Off Into The Sun” was a Hugo finalist. My vote would still go to Jenny Nicholson’s Last Bronycon video – that shit right there is a deep dive into weird waters, and as the father of a pair of (arguably) proper My Little Pony fans I found is fascinating – but it has hammered home to me just how I feel about the Hugos now. And that if I had a bigger following, I would have won Hugos for some of the fucking platinum-plated diamond-studded gold I’ve put on this blog over the past sixteen years.

Sixteen. This blog is sixteen. No wonder it’s so much gorram trouble.

Anyway, what else is going on? Nothing much. I’m getting good reports from readers about The Last Days of Earth, which is nice. No reviews yet but there’s no rush.

I’m close to finishing the first story of Anthology #4, which will be back to the usual anthology structure of four stories per book. I’ve read seven (or is it eight? No, it’s seven) parts of it on the podcast, and I hope both my listeners are enjoying it. The second story, which I have also started, I think I will post on the blog. It’s about time something goes up here again.

Otherwise, it’s just work and work and sleep and work and bills and work and that’s it. Does the Hugo come with a cash prize? I’ll use it for groceries.

The Wheel of Time fandom (young whippersnappers mostly) is heating up on Twitter, as the WoT on Prime series gets slowly closer to completion and everyone starts congregating on my damn lawn. Of course, not everyone met their spouse as a teenager on a fan group discussing these books, and had their entire lives changed by them. But it’s cute to see the new bright-eyed lovers of this big dumbfuck story, and hilarious to see the haters online too. I doubt we’ll get more than a season, and that’s a shame, but who knows? It’s Amazon. They produce all sorts of shit.

*poker face*

It’s been a while since I reviewed any books, movies or TV shows, too. I’ve been reading a trilogy lately and am about 75% through the third book, and watching some stuff, but meh. What about you folks?

That’s it, that’s the blog post.

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Enh, what the heck, happy Easter

Could be worse. I’m planning on avoiding people as much as possible although we do have a couple of small-scale dinner parties planned. At the rate we’re going we’ll just keep spreading this thing around until the vaccines, which billions of people will not have taken anyway, become ineffective anyway.

Have a nice long weekend. I plan on sleeping.

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The Last Days of Earth … the bell tolls

Well, it’s been a while since my last update, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. I suppose the four or five main folks who read and comment on the blog have been in constant contact with me anyway, so you know that nothing much has been going on. Just a whole lot of day job stuff, and mad book-editing.

Anyway, you’ve definitely already scrolled down to the book cover reveal, so let’s just get to it. Behold, the third and final book of the Oræl Rides To War trilogy!

Yes, there’s Mell in denim short shorts. That’s technically not in the story, but I still like it. I did put my foot down about her having a gun, though, which is why she has a nifty knife holster instead. Glorious, and quite disturbing.

There we go. I love this cover. Fun note, I gave Gabriel a pretty open brief for the cover, specifically that a lot of the story takes place in an arid country in a world that is running down and falling apart in some strange ways so if he wanted to go surreal with the landscape, that would be cool. So he did!

I hadn’t actually written the Overfold into the story, at least in its final form, before I saw the draft cover. When I saw it, I immediately had to write it in. Very fun. I guess you’ll see what I’m talking about when you get the book.

When will that be? Well, the paperback is available now! The e-book is also available, here! My setup page and everything says it’s $5.49, same as the other two books in the trilogy, so I am not sure why it is selling for $6.04 on the kindle page but that’s Amazon for you.

In the meantime, this! Next up, Tales of the Final Fall #4, Always Night #2 … or maybe I’ll launch right into Phase Three, the high fantasy series is beginning to pull at me.

What else has been going on? Ugh, so much. All mostly fine, mostly dull. Busy at work, wrestling with Amazon to get print proofs and stuff shipped to Finland (they just randomly stopped), working on the Finnish translation of Eejit (Mäntti), recording episodes for the podcast and dying inside every time it mangles the sound files.

Spring is coming.

That’s about it. I have some other blog posts drafted but haven’t had a chance to flesh them out yet.

Posted in Astro Tramp 400, IACM, Oræl Rides To War | Tagged , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Bonus post: Dr. Seuss

I inspired myself with a throw-away Dr. Seuss comment in another post, so here is a little piece I just ill-advisedly dropped onto Twitter.

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The Strange Case of Gina Carano (A Hatboy’s Lukewarm Sociocultural Events™ Special)

(I added this as a podcast interlude, using the female (Remy) voice. It’s pretty fucking funny.)

Once upon a time, there was a martial artist turned actor named Gina Carano. She played an evil mutant in the first Deadpool movie.

She pioneered the Superhero Landing.

She also portrayed a tough, gritty Rebel shock trooper named Cara Dune in a Disney+ TV series called The Mandalorian. I may have mentioned it once or twice. Okay just once. Fine, twice. She was tough, a warrior, respected and admired by all. A veteran of the titular star war, and a survivor of the Alderaanian holocaust (that’s going to be important later, so remember that bit … also just keep in the back of your mind that I said titular), she was a pretty darn cool character.

There was a lot of crying about it. Like, a lotStar Wars is truly a tragic franchise, when you think about it. I don’t think anyone involved is happy anymore.

Who was crying?

Well, first it was incel fanboy neckbeards crying about how overpowered and “Mary Sue” the character was. Adding her into the story was gratuitous and just pandering to *checks notes* females, who make up a tiny *checks notes again* 49.6% of the human population.

Then, when Carano’s social media opinions revealed themselves as … let’s say “dodgy,” the libtard SJW brigade started to cry. There was a hashtag. Many a Fitbit was dropped into a smashed avocado toast. I don’t know, I told you this was lukewarm. What, did you think that was a Star Wars joke?

A man walks into a cantina. The bartender asks, “what’ll it be?” The man replies, “can you make a Gungan Pullover?” The bartender says, “sure, it’s teaching the morons to drive that’s difficult.”
That’s a Star Wars joke.

Anyhoo, yeah. She had some shitty opinions about things. She was one of the tens of millions of people in the US who supported Donald Trump. She pushed a lot of anti-mask, anti-vaccine, Q-anon conspiracy theories. She was warned by Disney to stop saying dumbfuck things, in accordance with the right for humans to have opinions but the obligation for the human face of a corporation to have unfucked opinions.

There was some crying about her adoption of “bleep / boop / bop” as her personal pronouns. This is a particularly dumb one but here’s a quick recap:

Some people put the pronouns by which they prefer to identify (in my case, for example, it is “he / him / his”) into their social media profiles. This is handy in some rare cases where communication requires one to know whether one is addressing a male, a female, a non-binary person, and so on. Trans and non-binary folks use them in order to prevent misunderstandings and questions. Cis folks use them to show solidarity and to lessen the burden of explaining pronouns. I don’t know. It’s just a thing. Naturally, conservative vice signallers use the existence of pronouns in one’s bio to identify libcuck femboys or something. It makes things easier for trans and non-binary people, and it enrages certain conservatives so there’s no downside I can see.

Making a joke out of the pronoun game is a low-key transphobic signal, and so when Carano did that, more calls for her public flogging went around.

This is where it gets wild.

Carano had a chat with her costar, Pedro Pascal, whose twin had just come out as a trans woman. He explained the whole pronouns thing to Carano, who then walked back her joke. She wouldn’t do the pronoun thing herself, she said, but she would no longer make fun – and now she understood the practice, she was sorry for doing so. This is exactly what is meant to happen when someone is being intolerant. Someone educates them, and they become more tolerant and less antagonistic.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Carano was a fighter, and she’d been bullied and screeched at a fucking ton online. She’d had enough.

Okay, so she Instagrammed a picture of the Lviv Pogroms, and compared the atmosphere of hate and distrust that the Nazis encouraged to the current political climate. I told you the Alderaanian holocaust would come back into it. See, nobody knew she was a method actor.

But seriously, she wasn’t wrong. Of course, she was comparing the Jews to people with her political and social views, making herself out to be the victim. That’s questionable. But the ruling rich, be it corporate or political or social media or all three, is invested in polarising the populace. Minorities (actual, oppressed minorities, I mean) suffer the brunt of it, but both ends of the privileged spectrum can also claim to be the victim of hate crimes, because that shit happens.

It’s also just a feature of social media and ignorance and bias, of course.

So, Carano got fired. And I think that’s fine. She worked for Disney. They warned her. Then she put a fucking holocaust image on her public feed. Yeah, it’s fine. She deserved to get fired.

What she didn’t deserve, I think, was to be hounded and bullied all across the internet. Certainly not for transphobia. On that, she grew up. And yes, when you are a public face you have an obligation not to propagate dangerous falsehoods. And when you’re a fucking adult you should be expected to handle adversity without being a goddamn drama queen about it. But there’s a line between criticism and feeding frenzy. And when you cross that line with an MMA veteran who has been taking hits in a “man’s world” all her life, you can probably expect some push-back.

Don’t worry, though! Carano may not be appearing on Disney+ again anytime soon, but Ben Wapiro’s Daily Wire has allegedly agreed to hire her to star in a movie. I’m sure it will be great, as long as she sticks the landing.

This scene has been playing in my head a lot these past few weeks.

That would have been a nice line to close on, but there’s one more wrinkle so far. And that is the apparent attempted social media cancellation of Henry Cavill because he dated Carano … ten years ago!

That, I think I can safely file under “surreal shit that you’re gonna find six instances of on an internet containing billions and billions of scraps of information,” and give it no further credence. If anything, it smells like a false flag operation fabricated by the anti-PC, “cancel culture is bad” crowd. But I’m not that deep down the rabbit hole.

I am keeping a concerned eye on the whole “Cavill’s Superman” situation, though. Because he was a fine Superman and a fucking magnificent Geralt, and we need to look after him.

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