In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my new Locus column, "Jeannette Ng Was Right: John W. Campbell Was a Fascist,"which revisits Jeannette Ng's Campbell Awards speech from this summer's World Science Fiction convention.
As far as I know, I'm the only person to have won both awards named for Campbell, which, I think, gives me license to speak on the subject. I think that Ng was absolutely right about Campbell and his legacy, and I think that understanding that the good that people do doesn't erase the harms they cause (and vice-versa) is critical to navigating a world of flawed people.
Here’s the thing: neither one of those facets of Campbell cancels the other one out. Just as it’s not true that any amount of good deeds done for some people can repair the harms he visited on others, it’s also true that none of those harms cancel out the kindnesses he did for the people he was kind to.
Life is not a ledger. Your sins can’t be paid off through good deeds. Your good deeds are not cancelled by your sins. Your sins and your good deeds live alongside one another. They coexist in superposition.
You (and I) can (and should) atone for our misdeeds. We can (and should) apologize for them to the people we’ve wronged. We should do those things, not because they will erase our misdeeds, but because the only thing worse than being really wrong is not learning to be better.
People are flawed vessels. The circumstances around us – our social norms and institutions – can be structured to bring out our worst natures or our best. We can invite Isaac Asimov to our cons to deliver a lecture on “The Power of Posterior Pinching” in which he would literally advise men on how to grope the women in attendance, or we can create and enforce a Code of Conduct that would bounce anyone, up to and including the con chair and the guest of honor, who tried a stunt like that.
This week, I've been doing our family's annual charitable giving (here's a guide to some of the charities we support), a long process that involves using Charity Navigator to verify that the groups we support are still spending money effectively, figuring out how much to give, and then submitting the receipts to my wife's employer […]
BrickinNick created this LEGO model of the new Tesla Cybertruck. BrickinNick posted it to the LEGO Ideas site. If enough people like the design, it could become an actual LEGO product. From the LEGO Ideas specs: While its design may not be for everyone, many different elements and functions of the Cybertruck lend themselves well […]
Truth be told, I’m not the biggest Star Wars nerd on my home world. I’ve seen all of the films and played the Star Wars: X-Wing miniature game. That’s it. So, I don’t know much of deeper lore, like what the hell a Mandalorian is. The origins of Beskar? Forget about it. I ended up […]
Weighted blankets are officially a thing. And if you’ve ever tried one, you know there’s a reason for the fuss. Parents have known for generations that swaddling a baby has a profound calming effect, and the gentle pressure that blanket weights provide can have the same effect on restless sleepers. Pretty much all parts of […]
Walk through any office, and you will likely spot a few bobbleheads. These wobbly figurines are great fun to have around, although most celebrate people we will never meet. For something a little more personal, try Handmade Custom Bobbleheads. These mini caricatures are sculpted and painted by skilled artisans, based on any photo you provide. […]
In the early days of the web, everyone wanted a .com domain for their site. As a result, all the good ones got snapped up. But .com no longer has the cachet it once did. In fact, many new businesses and individuals are opting for other top-level domain extensions. One of the most memorable is […]