Browsing Tag

oh for fuck’s sake

The Internet

Heads up: Paypal is launching an infuriating new user agreement

Do you use Paypal? If you do, you should go over to the Crime and the Forces of Evil blog RIGHT NOW and read up on Dara’s report on what they just tried to pull on her: making her choose between providing a phone number that they are then ready, willing, and able to robospam, or letting them datamine her by validating data on her that SHE NEVER GAVE THEM.

Of particular importance here is the link brought up by one of her commenters, in which the Washington Post reports that the new Paypal TOS, which kicks in on July 1st, gives them the right to robocall you on your cell phone. It also gives their affiliates and partners the right to robocall you. On your dime, of course, but screw that. Also screw giving you, the Paypal user, any ability to opt out of this.

There’s a word for this, and that word is bullshit.

Other links I’ve found that are pertinent to this:

Relatedly, I also note that both BGR and Gizmodo are reporting that Paypal has just been dinged for $25 million in fines for deceptive business practices. And this is hardly the first time I’ve heard about Paypal doing something shady, either; in 2012, they tried to make Smashwords remove certain types of fiction they considered objectionable, and threatened them with shutting down the Smashwords Paypal account if they didn’t comply. And if you go look at Paypal’s Wikipedia page, the Criticism section calls out a whole thorny tangle of other issues it’s been involved in.

All in all there’s plenty of basis to say that yes, Paypal is sketchy at best, if not outright reprehensible. This robocall feature in their new user agreement is just the latest in a chain.

And it is, frankly, infuriating. Enough so that both Dara and I are now seriously evaluating whether we can minimize if not outright remove our Paypal dependence. Frustratingly, Dara can’t–Paypal is the mechanism through which Bandcamp pays her for any sales there, and she doesn’t have an option to set up anything else there. And she can’t bail on Bandcamp.

Me, my main Paypal dependency is that it’s the primary means through which Smashwords pays its authors–ironic, given the aforementioned 2012 controversy. I could switch Smashwords over to paper check as my payment method, but if I did that, I wouldn’t see any payment out of them until I broke $75 balance. And right now, honestly, my sales there don’t warrant that.

So right now I’m going to have to seriously consider whether I’m going to have to bail on Smashwords, maybe in favor of Draft2Digital, which I’ve heard about via some of the other authors I know. D2D, at least, will let me hit several of the same vendor channels as Smashwords–and let me be paid directly to my savings account.

There’s one possible light at the end of this tunnel, at least. The Washington Post also reports that the FCC is looking at new legislation which might well cut Paypal and other companies off at the knees before they have a chance to pull any further egregious robocalling bullshit. I’d like to hope that this legislation is a thing that will happen.

But I ain’t going to count those chickens till they’ve hatched. And meanwhile, I have some serious evaluating to do. If you’re a Paypal customer, you should start doing that evaluating too. We have until July 1st to decide.

ETA: I have been directed to this report of PC World’s which suggests that Paypal may not actually go through with this. However, so far I do not find this to alleviate my concerns in the slightest. What I’m seeing here is Paypal going “OH SHIT THE INTERNET IS GOING TO FALL ON OUR HEADS”.

What I need to see out of them at this point is a clear public statement that says “no, we’re not going to do this,” including revisions to the forthcoming user agreement that call out how users may opt out of this robocalling and autotexting bullshit. Until that happens, I fully endorse the Internet falling on their heads over this.

Also, this doesn’t address Dara’s experience with them trying to process a transaction tonight. Let me be clear about this: they tried to get her to confirm data she had not given them, specifically, an old address of ours in Kentucky. Which Paypal had NO BUSINESS KNOWING.


Meanwhile, over in the Puppy pound

Dara’s been keeping a sharp eye on the Hugos brouhaha the past few days. This past Saturday, she put up this report on how certain individuals apparently took it personally that they were being criticized for the behavior of certain other persons in their little coterie. Dara rightly calls this bullshit, because it is–because the Puppies recruited Day into their ranks. And they recruited the GamerGate crowd. And now they’re complaining and claiming that they have no control over the behavior of the “wild wolf” Day.

Sorry, but no. You don’t get to recruit the likes of Day into your ranks and then complain when people call you out on it. It is not only disingenuous, it’s also cowardly.

But of course that wasn’t all, either. Dara’s got another report up this morning, following up on the previous–in which it is declared that people who would vote NO AWARD rather than the Sad Puppies slate are not only assholes, they are also Leninist Communists. (Or Nazis, according to another commenter! So the people the Puppies don’t like are Nazis AND Communists!) Phrases like “cuddly pink fluffy cudgel of political correctness” and “flaming rage nozzles of tolerance” get thrown around. (Because apparently “tolerance” is a dirty word.)

Mr. Torgersen apparently also feels that people who support Chick-Fil-A are “heroes”, and that supporting a corporation known for blatant homophobia is the act of “free people”.

I’ve seen other posts in which larger names in the genre are calling for civility. George R.R. Martin and Mary Robinette Kowal are trying to do their part to fight the fires. Noble efforts on both their parts, and I particularly applaud Kowal for not only being willing to provide people supporting memberships to Worldcon, but specifically also recusing herself from any Hugo nominations next year. Likewise, I applaud those who are matching Kowal’s efforts and trying to broaden the pool of supporting memberships being offered to fans on tight budgets.

I’m all for civility. I’m for the ideal of SFdom being welcoming to all within its ranks. We are supposed to be the literature of ideas, after all, and ideas cannot thrive in an atmosphere of stagnation. We need to have our ideas challenged, and in order to do that, we need diversity in the ranks.

But here’s the thing–when some of those ranks are on record as not wanting women, people of color, or people of alternative sexualities in the clubhouse, when they specifically go out of their way to fight against such persons being included, and when they shriek that all who would stand in their way are Nazis and Communists and “Social Justice Warriors” and “CHORFs” and whatever other derogatory terms they dream up… my civility is spent. So are my tolerance and sympathy.

Politically disagreeing with me is one thing. Going out of your way to fight against my existence is another thing entirely.

Tolerance goes only so far. It presumes that all parties are at least willing to accept each other’s presence in the clubhouse. But this? This is spiteful little boys throwing tantrums that the girls and the black kids and the queer kids are in the clubhouse now too, and they want some of the punch and pie.

And hey. Pie is tasty. But we don’t have to fight over the pie. There is enough for all, people.

But if you want a slice of the pie, stop throwing tantrums. And stop trying to push the other kids back out of the clubhouse. It’s unworthy of children above the age of six, never mind grown men. It’s unworthy of the literature of ideas.

And it needs to stop.

In closing, here, instead of a Sad Puppy, I offer this Happy Kitten instead.

So Happy!

So Happy!


SF/F genre drama, May 2014 edition

So there have been a couple more rounds of SF/F genre drama going around, which I’ve mostly missed due to the recent round of medical annoyance that I have, at this point, mostly fought off. I am therefore coming in late to this round, but will note in passing nonetheless that:

One, the drama surrounding this year’s slate of Hugo nominations, and how certain infamous personages got into the list of nominations. I’ve basically seen two overall camps of response to this: 1) OHNOEZ THEY MUST HAVE RIGGED THE NOMINATIONS (mostly from the left-leaning SF/F genre crowd), and 2) HOW DARE PEOPLE SAY THEY WILL VOTE ‘NO AWARD’ RATHER THAN GIVE THE WORKS A FAIR SHAKE (mostly from the right-leaning SF/F genre crowd).

Two, a particular individual has recently flounced his way out of SFWA, with attendant cane-shakery about the “lunatic left” and “thoughtpolice”. And, apparently, a lot of attempt at revisionism about prior rounds of drama, thoroughly debunked over on Radish Reviews and also by Foz Meadows.

Three, as a corollary to these two particular rounds of drama, I’ve seen a resurgence in people insisting that if you don’t adore the works of Robert Heinlein, you cannot possibly be a true science fiction fan.

I’ve been too wearied by the aforementioned medical annoyance to give more than a token facepalm to either of these rounds of drama. But I think it’s worth saying yet again that:

One, if it bothers you when people call you a bigot, there’s an easy solution to this problem. Which is, don’t be a bigot. I.e., don’t spew bigoted bullshit, and don’t do screamingly bigoted things. This is not rocket science, but it is apparently difficult for some folks who love them some rocket science in their fiction.

Two, you are not being censored or oppressed if you spew bigoted bullshit and other people then call you a bigot. If you insist you are being censored or oppressed, and you cannot in fact provide proof that your civil rights are being impinged upon, you’re not only being a bigot, you’re also being an asshole.

Three, if you’re going around claiming that “only people who like the same exact stuff I like are true science fiction fans” or “only people who write a narrow and specific set of stories that happen to line up exactly with my personal political and/or religious beliefs are true science fiction writers”–really, in general, if you’re yelling about how “these other people over here are DOING THEIR FANDOM WRONG”–you know what you’re being? If you said “an asshole”, then DING DING DING WINNAH.

There’s been way too much divisiveness like this in SF/Fdom lately, and I’m really, really sick of it. The whole Fake Geek Girl thing, for example. Or “my subgenre is better than your subgenre”. Or the ongoing LALALALALA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU every time women, or people of color, or queer people of any stripe, or people of non-Christian religions or lack thereof, etc., etc., etc.,–every time anyone in those groups tries to say “Hey! We’d like to join in, too!” And they keep getting shut down.

And then as a bonus, now we get told that if you don’t adore one specific Dead White Male Author you’re not a real SF/F fan? Seriously?

Nope. Sorry. You don’t get to tell me which authors I get to adore and which ones I don’t. You don’t get to appoint yourselves the gatekeepers of my SF/F fandom, and you don’t get to judge the validity of my affection for the genre.

Though I’m tellin’ ya, Internets, with how this kind of drama keeps going around and around and around and around ad infinitum, it makes me want to go read a good mystery novel instead.


Open letter to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dear cast and crew of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,

After seeing this interview linked to by userinfojames_nicoll, I’ve got to ask: seriously? Seriously? Did your lead actor just call those of us who’ve bailed on watching your show “not geeks”? And “losers”?

If so, I’d like to note that just in case you were wondering, this is not an effective strategy to get those of us who tried your show and bailed to come back and check you out again. I’M JUST SAYIN’.

Because look. I get the whole idea of “not all heroes are super”. I really do. I am coming at this out of general love for the universe that Marvel’s set up in the movies; I don’t have any particular history with Marvel comics outside a few years in my adolescence reading the X-Men, so I have no particular investment in whether specific characters out of the comics show up in your show. But specifically because of the affection I’ve built up for the portrayed universe in the movies, I wanted to like your show. I really did. I swear.

I didn’t bail because you had no superheros in your cast. I bailed because with the exception of Coulson and maybe Agent May, I didn’t like any of your main characters. And for the most part, I’m sorry to say, your stories just were not engaging me, and that’s not accounting for the parts where they were actively pissing me off.

This isn’t a question of me being impatient for stuff to happen, either. I also understand the notion of a show sometimes needing several episodes to get its feet under it. I gave Torchwood a good season and a half before I finally bailed on it–again with the primary reason being “not liking any of the characters”.

And I’m sorry, if I just don’t like your main cast, I don’t see much reason to be spending time hanging around hoping they’ll change my mind. What incidental other characters you bring in to drive the plots means very little to me if I’m not invested in your central cast and what happens to them.

Before you tell me I’m not patient enough either, I’ll point out that I hung in there through Babylon 5’s first season as it got its act together–because even though it was rough out of the gate, I was nonetheless engaged by the characters and the plots. Likewise with Castle. Castle was REALLY rough in its first short season, and Castle as a character had all SORTS of flaws. But he was engagingly flawed, enough to keep me watching.

I’m just not getting that with S.H.I.E.L.D.

I’d say I’m sorry if you think this makes me “not a real geek”, except I’m less sorry and more pissed off by that, too. If any of you have awareness of geek culture at all, you’ll be aware that geek women have been fighting against accusations of not being real geeks for too damn long as it is.

For the record, cracks like “those aren’t geeks, those are losers”?



Edited to add:

Other places reporting on this. I’m seeing in particular in those articles that Mr. Gregg appears to have realized that shooting his mouth off in this particular fashion is, shall we say, unwise. I’m glad he’s realized this, but still, I’m not pleased at the waffly tone of “I guess I don’t mean to say that people who have been frustrated by that discovery period are necessarily losers. I just think they should be, perhaps, a little more patient.”