I'm known for disagreeing with all parts of the political spectrum.  Sometimes, though, the majority IS right.

There's a current discussion of sexual harassment at SF cons going on in various fora.  This one has some disturbing specifics:


I believe it.

There's news of an editor at a major house getting released due to allegations of sexual harassment on his part, against convention attendees.

I believe that, too.

I haven't commented on any of these fora, because I don't really have anything to add to their comments.  Mine are here. 

Yes.  This crap happens.  This crap should not happen.  Demonstrate some manners, and take no for an answer.  It's not hard.

Back in my youth, there were a couple of times someone had to tell me no.  When they did, I understood what it meant, and left them alone.

I've been fortunate enough not to encounter much of this, partly because I wouldn't hang out with that kind of asshole.  I have seen rudeness and drunken silliness, but nothing that was apparent as sexual harassment, at a con in my presence.  Be assured if I do, I'll ask you to take the crap elsewhere.  Expect that quite a few of us will.

The only significant event I recall was some clown doctoring a woman's drink at one of our parties back in the early 90s.  We showed him the door (which is also an in-joke and worth telling), and invited him not to return.

But, I've seen someone try to "accidentally" feel my wife up at a concert.  He was drunk and "tripped" and fell over our seats, and put his hand out for "support" and "just happened" to catch one of her breasts.  He didn't try again, so there wasn't a lot we could do, but we made sure he was aware that he needed to moderate his intake and actions. (Which is code for saying she offered to settle the matter herself, and I backed her up.)

On the other end, my wife has also been on a field exercise featuring multiple agencies, where a female coworker told high ranking execs that, "She's here because she's a friend of [the male public affairs person]."  There are obvious inappropriate connotations to this.  And in fact, she was there as the only trained combat photographer.  That we've both been friends of that gentleman for two decades isn't relevant.

The annoying part of this incident was that most of the men present didn’t see why this statement was a problem.

Let's see: 

1:  it's untrue

B) it implies unprofessional and inappropriate romantic or sexual involvement between two people

Iii} it demeans the professional abilities and credibility of both parties.


Awareness is part of the solution.

If you see it, offer a polite reminder that the behavior is unacceptable, ungentlemanly and unladylike, and crass to all around.

If someone reminds you of this, be aware your behavior is reaching a level that others don't find acceptable, and moderate your actions.  Stop drinking would be first, followed by going to your room and re-assessing your interactive skills.  There is a line between free expression and asocial behavior. When others don't feel safe around you, you've crossed the line.

If the problem persists, either contact convention management to have them address it.  If this happens, be ready to support the victim as witnesses.  The staff can't do much without evidence.

If getting the staff to do anything is infeasible or impractical, acquire several allies, and deal with it diplomatically.  Accompany the culprit, and politely remind him his (or her) behavior is unacceptable and they should leave.  Repeat this reminder until they return to their room or leave the convention.  It generally takes less than 30 minutes and you can even work in shifts.

Also be aware that there are child predators at conventions. I know of one because at 22 I was just within his range of youthfulness for a doctored drink and a moderately forceful come-on. Fortunately, I am not small, nor weak.  I informed the two conventions he frequented as to his antics, as did at least two other people. I haven't seen him since.

We like a variety of politics, faiths, genres, costumes, presentations, hobbies and acts. 

As Wil Wheaton puts it: "Don't be a dick."

As I put it to younger troops in the military: Ask yourself, "Would I want my grandmother to see photos of this?"

Simple guideline, eh?

Based on several recent conversations with friends:

Rule 1:  Don't assume you know the background of the person you're talking to.  Judging someone by their appearance isn't fair, nor liberal.  Disabilities don't always show.  Culture, religion, background rarely show, nor does gender orientation. Pigeonholing people is not very tolerant, nor liberal.

Rule 2:  Anyone can discuss an issue.  They may not be correct, or they may not agree with you, or some of each or both.  Telling people they don't get to discuss an issue is not going to convince them you're right.  It's only going to convince them you're conceited.

Rule 3:  If it's a technical subject, such as firearms, reproductive biology or even a religious faith, the technical knowledge is a necessary part of the debate.  Don't claim to be "informed" if you can't answer basic technical questions on the subject.  In such cases, it would behoove you to acquire some technical knowledge, or to consult with someone who does.  Here's the tough part: You have to assume they know what they're talking about, and believe their statements, much as you would a professional in any field.  If the facts make your position uncomfortable, then perhaps your position needs to change.  You are entitled to your own informed opinion.  You are not entitled to your own facts.  And if your opinion is not informed, you're still entitled to it, but no one is obligated to take you seriously.  

3A: If you don't trust a person's technical opinion, why did you ask for it?  Getting a second opinion is fine. Asking other people who are ignorant of a subject to fact check the expert is not only insulting, it indicates you need to re-read this rule.  If most of the subject matter experts tell you you're wrong, maybe you are. This doesn't mean you have to like the conclusion. You only have to accept it.

Rule 4:  Once you've demonstrated bias through ignorance, your credibility on any other matter drops fast.  See Rules 1 and 3.

Rule 5:  It's entirely possible for someone to have the same or different sources, be informed, and come to a different conclusion.  This does not mean either you or they are wrong.  Few issues are binary in nature.  This offers an opportunity to debate, share information, and improve your position, even if you never fully agree with the other party.  And that's okay, because liberals are tolerant of dissent.

5A:  Don't assume that someone disagreeing with you must be ignorant of the subject.  Ask questions.  Learn why they have their position.

Rule 6:  If you are absolutely sure the other party is wrong by your interpretation, remember that you also don't know everything, and even matters of common knowledge change with time. This person may be comfortable in a previous or foreign culture, or they may be ahead of the curve and ready for a future society.  More likely, the answer lies somewhere between.   

Rule 7: Activists don't have to compromise.  They're expected to be extreme.  If this applies to you, remember it also applies to others.  They're entitled to the same focus and drive you are.

Rule 8:  Skin color only matters to people who care about skin color.  A person with dark skin may be from somewhere Africa, the Caribbean, or the US or anywhere else.  Each of these people will have a different background. Their skin color only affects how you treat them, and how you treat them affects how they respond as a person.  If you make assumptions about them based on their skin color, you're being presumptuous.  Likewise, a white skinned person may be from the US, from Europe, from Australia.  They're not going to all be the same, either.  In fact, even American geography matters.  However, it's likely that two Americans (or Canadians, Aussies, Greeks, Chinese), even of differing appearance, will have more in common with each other than with two people who look the same from different nations.  If this is a revelation to you, you may not be as unbiased as you like to think you are.

8A: If you're a middle class white American, lecturing people on how middle class white Americans shouldn't lecture people on race/color/culture, you may have run into a recursive logic failure.  Also, if you're assuming from visual cues that the person you're debating with is a middle class white American just like you...see Rule 1.

Rule 9:  Telling someone else how they think or feel is conceited, derogatory, and wrong.  Please don't do it.

Rule 10:  You know how the popular press always gets your subject wrong when they discuss it?  You know how the opposing press leaves out key facts through error or deceit and presents you in a bad light?  It's a good idea to assume the same thing happens with other subjects and to other groups.  See Rule 3.

Rule 11:  Epithets like "right winger" and "wingnut" and even "troll" don't encourage the other parties to continue discussion.  They're also neither liberal nor tolerant.  Unless you plan on exterminating or outbreeding the dissenters, you need to patiently try to persuade them.  Some won't be persuaded.  This is not your fault.  It may not be their fault, either.  All you can do is try.

Rule 12:  Selection bias doesn't help.  Seek out opposing viewpoints.  You may change your own.  You may strengthen yours.  You may change or strengthen theirs.  Worst case, you'll know how the opposition thinks and feels, and so will your allies.  Holding carefully monitored discussions with your friends isn't a bad thing and has its place.  But it's not an open discussion.  Keep private matters private, and allow public discourse to be open. And echo chamber is not very useful.

Rule 13:  If you're thinking of deleting, blocking, shutting down a dissenter or a thread because you don't like how the discussion is turning, you may not be as tolerant as you like to think you are.  Certainly there are absolute trolls who contribute nothing.  But a dissenter is useful under Rule 12.

Rule 14:  Shocking fact:  These same rules apply to conservatives.  You may in fact find fora where you're tolerated and treated with respect.  You also may find some where you're insulted and called a troll. You can complain about this...if you haven't committed the same act yourself.

Rule 15:  Nothing is binary. There are pro-gun gays and feminists.  There are anti-abortion atheists.  There are black racial separatists.  There are pro-gay Muslims and Pentecostal Christians.  There are polyamorous Republicans.  See Rule 1.

Rule 16:  Even among people of the same general background, individuals have different experiences and perspectives.  What's wrong for you may be right for them.  Or it may simply be they're a product of their experiences.

Rule 17:  If everyone agrees with you, you need to widen your circle.  If you're not angry at something at least once a day, you're probably not learning anything.

Rule 18:  Yes, it gets frustrating re-hashing the same material.  If you've adopted the mantle, you have to try to be patient.  Unfortunately, it's the only way.  See Rules 11 and 13.

Rule 19:  Some of your opponents will love you even though you're wrong.  Try to extend them the same courtesy.

Rule 20:  There is nothing morally wrong with apologizing.  If you were perceived as offensive, or lost your temper, or even just misunderstood, apologize and try again.  Often, that will make more progress than any number of graphs and charts.

If you put an M4 style accessory stock on your AK, you have this AR extension tube on the back, with nothing in it:

So, with a bit of lathe work, you can turn it into storage space.

I'm thinking of calling it the Butt Plug.

Take an appropriate food--eggs, chicken, steak, or pie, cake, fruit: X

Adding bacon, or chocolate, makes these food MORE AWESOME: X + Bacon = X(qty bacon) or X + Chocolate = X(qty Chocolate)

Eventually, 100% bacon or chocolate is achieved.  This is the maximum coefficient of awesome: MCx(W00t)

The problem comes upon reaching MCx(W00t), some people lose track of the asymptote.

"I should add something to bacon/chocolate to make it MORE AWESOME!"

Sorry, but this doesn't work.  Once maximum awesomeness has been achieved, adding anything else dilutes the awesomeness:  MCx(W00t)-W00t = MCx(W00t)/W00t

Nor does the combination.  In that case, MCx(W00t) X MCx(~W00t) = MCx(blah)

The math proves it.

Maintain your awesomeness.  Don't dilute it.