On Ethics and Linking Policies (or, Yeah, DNL Doesn’t Work That Way)

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The Internet is a wonderful place. The Internet is a terrible place. The Internet is where dreams go to live and die in a messy conglomeration of joy, hate, madness, rage, love, sadness, and bewilderment. We want this Internet place to be safe for everyone.[note]OK, so that's not exactly true. We don't want the Internet to be safe for the truly awful among us. The murderers and rapists and scummy butt blisters who are the subject-adjacent of this post. Though, in fairness, the meaning of "safe" in this instance means "safe from physical harm" rather than the more universal safe implied in this post. At least, I think I have the right of it here...[/note] Yet, so often it is not. Given the right prompting, Internet detectives can hunt down your information, reveal your identity, and really ruin your day. Hell, in some cases, these folks have ruined entire lives, making people feel unsafe in their actual homes.[note]How these jackasses make people feel unsafe is rather varied: rude tweets, doxxing, mailing knives and letters full of threats, or even showing up at someone's house.[/note] It's an obvious problem, and one that thus far we don't really have a solution for -- at least, not one that doesn't involve putting your entire online identity behind a firewall of private accounts. Even then, it doesn't necessarily work, since your private accounts can be infiltrated by especially motivated people. Read More

Some Thoughts on the Battlefield 1 Beta

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The beta has ended.  B1 is now purchase only. For the past week, I've been playing the beta, learning as much about the ins and outs of the game as I can, and engaging in copious amounts of shenanigans.  Now, I'm asking myself the big question:  is the game worth its $60 price tag? This is a big thing for me.  I'm a huge fan of Battlefield 4.  It is one of the few games I play on a semi-regular basis while I'm doing this whole PhD thing.  The rounds are short, and the game, while extremely fun, doesn't suck me in the way other games do, leaving me with good feelings but no pressure to play for 9 hours in a row while putting off things I should be doing as an adult critter. So, you can imagine my excitement when DICE announced Battlefield 1, set in the First World War and featuring brand new gameplay, weapons, vehicles, etc.  Equally exciting:  getting access to the open beta! Let's dig into the pros and cons: Read More

On Colin Kaepernick, Free Speech, and Bad Arguments

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So, Colin Kaepernick. What's the deal? Over the past week, a lot of folks have had some pretty strong opinions about Colin Kaepernick's choice to refuse to stand for the national anthem -- and his reasons for doing so. If you don't know what's going on, I'll let you read a more detailed account here. My job, today, is to offer a few scattered thoughts about responses to Kaepernick's protest. Since I don't feel like writing a proper introduction, I'll just get right into it: 2. He has freedom of speech, duh! Read More

Gym Reads Poll #3 (Non-U.S. Edition): What should I read next?

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It's that time again!  Another Gym Reads Poll!  Thus far, you all have made me read the following:
  • The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (1978)(podcast forthcoming)
  • Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler (1991)
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1997)(almost done)
Now, I need something new to read while I'm at the gym.  This time, I'm mixing things up by providing a list of books by authors who are not originally from the United States.  The following list includes authors from England, Australia, India, Nigeria, Jamaica, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, and Germany! Read More

Gym Reads Poll: What should I read next?

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Fun fact:  I read when I'm at the gym.  In fact, I really like reading while cycling, since it distracts from the monotony of doing a repetitive motion and it lets me do some much needed "fun reading."  Recently, I decided to tweet a picture of a pile of random books to ask folks online what I should read.  I ended up reading The Book of the Dun Cow (1978) by Walter Wangerin, Jr.  And I've quite enjoyed it.  But now I need another book, and I like the idea of making that process random and fun. Read More

Negative Bookstore Experiences: Why Bookstores Should Be Like Libraries

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A few weeks ago, I flew out to California to visit family and friends, pursue some possible job opportunities, and get some much needed decompression from the stress of PhD life.  During that time, I stopped at a Barnes & Noble to pick up a book recommended to me by a friend.[note]a longer story that involves me actually writing fiction for once...[/note]  Unlike previous stops at one of the big chain stores -- whereat the cashier tries to sell me on their membership card, to which I always respond "no, thanks" -- I had a far less pleasant experience.  It went something like this:
Cashier:  Are you a Barnes & Noble member? Me:  No, but... Cashier:  *judgmentally* ...you know what the membership card gives you, right? Me:  I do, but... Cashier:  *dismissively* ...Alright then.  $15.
What I had meant to say was this:
I understand what the card provides, but Barnes & Noble closed down the only store within a 30-40 minute drive of my house, so I don't get the opportunity to browse there anymore.  And I don't like browsing for books online, which means I don't buy books all that often from any online bookstore.  Sorry.
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2016 WISB Awards: The Winners

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Now that awards season is in full swing, it's time to release the winners of the 2016 WISB Awards.  As with every year of the award, the winners are selected from my reading and viewing experiences throughout 2015 and during my annual Hugo Awards reading binge.  As such, the long list included works published decades ago. Unlike previous years, the 2016 WISB Awards included a long list, which you should check out to see all the great stuff I enjoyed.  You might also check out the 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List, which includes works from my original list and works suggested by readers. As with every year of the awards, these selections are based entirely on my own tastes, which are imperfect, narrow, and weird. The winners are below the fold.  Some of the categories include runners up; the categories that do not contained far fewer entries on the long list, and so including a short list would basically have included the long list anyway. Read More

Shaun’s Rambles 013: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (w/ Special Guest Mareen Kincaid Speller)

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Geek references + the Dominican Republic = instance classic.  In this episode, Maureen Kincaid Speller joins me to discuss the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.  We tackle the novel's treatment of geekery, its exploration of masculinity, romance, and the coming-of-age narrative, and much more! I hope you enjoy it! Read More

2016 WISB Awards Long List

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It's that time of year:  time for me to release some kind of list of things I loved in 2015.  This year is different, though.  This year, I'm releasing a long list for the WISB Awards, and it is from this list that I'll select the winners of my annual WISB awards, the jury-less, vote-less monstrosity of an award that is only of value to myself. Since I cannot include my own work on the following long list, I'll include those works here:
  • Best Fancast:  The Skiffy and Fanty Show (Shaun Duke, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, Mike Underwood, Rachael Acks, David Annandale, and Jen Zink); Totally Pretentious (Shaun Duke and David Annandale)
  • Best Non-Fiction Work:  Speculative Fiction 2014:  The Year's Best Online Reviews, Essays, and Commentary edited by Renee Williams and Shaun Duke (Book Smugglers Publishing)
If you feel there's a glaring ommission, let me know in the comments.  I haven't read everything there is to read (obviously), and it's likely I've missed a lot of really great work. Now here's the official 2016 WISB Awards Long List: Read More