Regarding Marna Nightingale, Sexual Assault, and Me

I’ve been accused of raping an ex. This puts me in a difficult spot, because I didn’t do it, and there is nothing I can say which will prove it didn’t happen. I can’t say “this is what happened, and I know better now”, because it didn’t happen.

Marna Nightingale ([personal profile] commodorified on Live Journal and Dreamwidth in her allegation here) says that in the autumn of 2009, I chose, without asking her, to have sex without a condom. It’s not true.

We went out. We were very serious, from summer 2008, until the end of 2010. She says she chose to ignore my violation of trust because I was going through a rough time in the autumn of 2009.

When we were getting ready to meet each other, for the first time, she was very up front about things. She told me she used condoms for preventing pregnancy, and no other form of birth control. If something should go wrong, and she got pregnant, she was not going to get an abortion; that her family could afford a child, wanted a child and would keep the child. If I wanted to be involved, I could be as involved as I liked, or not; but if I were involved, it would have to be a commitment; no coming and going, and I would have to come to Ottawa on a regular basis, because that was where they lived (at the time I was living in California).

So when she says I just decided I didn’t feel like using a condom, that’s the framework in which I was supposed to be making the decision: that I was choosing to risk getting her pregnant, because I “just didn’t feel like it”.

Looking at my chat logs, and e-mails, the only part of autumn 2009 in which it could have taken place is the very beginning of September, when she and (Cat Meier/[personal profile] fairestcat) were moving Cat’s belongings from the States to Canada prior to their marriage. I met them in Pasadena, where we saw friends, and I drove them to the Bay Area. We stopped in San Luis Obispo, and then went to my home in East Palo Alto.

They were with me, and my then housemate, for about four days. Marna is alleging the incident took place in that time frame. I did not see her again until Nov 13th 2009.

I have a chat log from April of 2010, where Marna wanted to me to agree to not using condoms, specifically with the intent of getting pregnant; where I expressed my reluctance, not because of the possibility of children, but because she has fibro, and getting pregnant might have been damaging to her health.

It’s not proof I didn’t do what she claims. She says I didn’t feel like using a condom in September of the previous year, despite the risks to her health, and of unplanned pregnancy. But in early 2010 she was negotiating with me about getting pregnant; and I was still reluctant to forgo condoms, out of concern for her physical health. We didn’t resolve that question until the end of July 2010, with me insisting she could not force me to stop using them.

There were occasions, prior to our agreement, when she tried to get me to not use a condom; because she found them painful and she very much wanted a child.

She says she is not being petty or vindictive; Yet she, and one of her partners, are boasting that they have been conducting a whisper campaign for about a year.

In the comments on that public post her commentariat has a nickname for me, decrying that Marna has to keep encountering “That Asshole”, despite my having blocked her on social media and refraining from comment about her; or the circumstances of our breakup. I have striven to avoid reference to her, and have not gone to conventions I knew she, or Cat, would be attending because I didn’t want the hostility. In the interim she has been speaking ill of me. I am told I was being referred to as “Gaslighting Ex No. 2” more than a year ago.

Which brings me to the reason I broke up with her. I did it because she attempted to break up my fiancée’s longer term relationship, saying my (now wife) and I were going to take advantage of him, and abandon him. She took advantage of his insecurities and emotional vulnerabilities to damage our relationships, because she was mad at me for getting engaged. She spent the best part of day telling him that his partner of more than ten years and I were going to exploit him, abandon him, and break him.

She said she resented that she was not given a veto over my right to marry; and felt my leaving California was a betrayal of some promise I had made to her.

She and I started seeing each other near the tail end of a long term (almost ten years) relationship, a very good relationship, which for all sorts of reasons, failed. She advised my ex that she should physically separate from me, and then see how things developed. I cannot say now if that advice was given in good faith.

In early 2009, she said she wanted to have children with me, and we started talking about it. On April 27th, 2009, she said we should start. I expressed reluctance, for the reasons stated above. In July 2010 I finally agreed. After that her behavior changed. She became much more aggressive about sex; and less willing to accept my not being in the mood.

My wife and I have the chat logs. I have all the letters she sent me. I have the emails. None of it, of course makes it impossible for me to have done it.

There is a lot of bad blood here. This is, of course, a case of conflicting accounts. Neither of us can prove the case. That she wrote about my virtues, and integrity, in multiple fora, right up to the point I broke up with her doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done it. That I have been very public about condemning accusations such as the one she is making (though I am not, and never have been on the ConCom, nor the board, of Arisia; which she says is why she chose to come forward with it now) doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done it.

That she says she has no reason to doubt my sincerity, and that it was at a bad time in my life, and implies it was a one-time thing makes it even harder to deny; because it very deftly puts the tone of “maybe it was a mistake, an emotionally driven error in judgement” into the mix.

If I had done it, that would be the thing to say.

I could repeat the details of my first girlfriend’s abusive behaviors around consent (which, was in the middle-80s, when I was 19, and the expectations about what a young man would want were different.)

Which doesn’t change what happened. I had explicitly talked about this part of my history. Marna was one of the people who helped see it for what it was, and she still pushed for sex when I wasn’t enthusiastic.

Given the givens, I could ask people to accept that I screwed up, learned from it, and grant me some mercy.

But I can’t do that, because, no matter what she thinks now, the idea that I said, “I felt like it” as an excuse for violating the terms of our relationship, and her trust, is something I wouldn’t do.

Is it possible that we had sex without a condom, prior to forgoeing them altogether? I don’t think so; for all the reasons I mentioned above. Is it possible we had some form of condom failure? Sure. I can recall half a dozen, or so, in the past 35 years. But that’s a far cry from casually, and callously, risking a total change in my partner’s life, as well as threatening her health.

I know some people will say “I believe her” and that’s fine. Given the givens, I understand. Our society has too long casually dismissed women when they say they have been abused, assaulted, or raped, and that needs to change.

I also know that I didn’t do this. All I can do is state that, present the evidence I have, and hope it’s persuasive. If you feel you need to disavow me, I understand. I can’t say that won’t hurt, but you have to follow the dictates of your conscience, and no one else’s.

(I am not going to restrict comment. I am not going to argue details; I have said what I need to say about this. I have a commitment which takes me out of town for the weekend, and could not reply until Tuesday, even if I were so inclined.

No matter what you think of me, be kind to each other)
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My Arisia

Was busy.

Last year londo asked me to help/be Quartermaster. This year I was Quartermaster. This means keeping four venues, on different floors; in supply, for four days, so they can feed 3,600 of my most intimate friends.

That tends to change/limit what one sees of a convention. I spent a fair chunk of the days in the Volunteer lounge, so that I'd not be distracted/distracting, if my phone went off (and no, I don't think I could do that job without a smartphone. The actuality of having comms makes it possible to do this as an on the fly operation. That it replicates some of the better aspects of Army logistics is part of the reason I didn't ever (even last year when I was chucked [willing, if a bit ignorantly] into the deep end of a big pool) have any moments of panic.

From the get-go (on Weds night, when I got into Boston, and did some confab admin stuff with londo [btw, if you want to add 30 minutes to my timesheet, for purposes of estimating needed time, feel free]) there was some intimation of where this year's drama was going to lie. One of the service areas had a staff who may have been competent, but seemed to misunderstand just what was needed, and how their ideas of what was critical didn't reflect what was critical.

So I filed that, and moved on. Thus. was the first "semper gumby" moment. 1: We didn't have the vehicle we wanted for doing the first run: that meant looking at the needs of the con, and stripping a 14' panel van's capacity down to what could be squeezed into a hatchback.

2: What ought to have been a timesaving measure to get the tally-sheets of requests (so as to make the picking of essentials easier) didn't work as planned.

3: The critical supplies for the area which needed them most weren't well organised on the list (this was, in part a failure of analysis on my part from last year, married to the lack of space in the vehicle), so they weren't happy. They also mis-identified one of their staples. Helped them figure out how to cope with the non-expected supplies, and smoothed feathers. The other dedicated QM made a second run, and fleshed out their needs.

Friday, I spent offsite. We had the van, so I grabbed assistance, and off to get fill the vehicle. Took longer than I wanted, but no one was out of supply, so call that a win.

On the social side there was a problem. Someone who wants to become a BNF had managed to make the acquaintance of people who could help him, and (absent experience with him) couldn't know he was more on the hustle, than he was on the level, and so was working in a couple of areas. When we'd met he seemed a bit abrasive, but I put that up to cultural differences (he not being from the states), and a bit of the socially awkward. In action he seemed to be a bit clueless; in that he was creating work that didn't really need to be done, as well as presenting it in ways which implied the Arisia Staff was, if not incompetent, clueless; though he did spot one problem (which also needed fixing the year before) ahead of anyone else; which I was able to fix (more directly than I was able to fix it last year; because this year I knew better how Arisia is run).

But everywhere I saw him (hereinafter referred to as O)I saw the intimations of people being unhappy.

Other than a very late breakfast (2000, or so) with foms (whom, perforce, I don't get to see often enough), the rest of the evening is a blur, and I turned in fairly early.

Saturday was iffy weather. The Van was a bad idea, so the Mazda was the vehicle to use, and I did co-ordination stuff. Again it was the sort of thing where I was standing by, and managing the onsite needs, so as to make sure offsite gains were in synch. With one thing and another I got myself limboed and didn't see londo's performance in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). This will have to be corrected in the future.

I did manage to take in the second half of the belly-dance show, cruise a few parties and do some filking (even accepting a request to perform on pennywhistle [I am less than confident, and so tend to join in, not lead], when I did "The Hills of Connemarra, two sets of variations on the verses, and the chorus played straight). Later ladymondegreen and I led on "The Canadian Railroad Trilogy" because there were three members of Today's Lucky 10,000.

In the midst of all that O asked for help with a personal emergency and that got bounced to ladymondegreen. That took up hours, and was emotionally draining to all involved. It seemed he was concealing things, and more than the sorts of reticence which might be accounted for by trying to take someone else's privacy into account.

After the singing, to bed.

The morning run was covered, so I slept in. As I was getting up my phone went off. The folks who had been less-than clueful on how to run their area, had stepped in it; to the point they needed to be fired. So I headed up. Heard what was happening, offered to do what I could, and stayed out of the splash zone as much as I could (mostly so I'd not be seen as confrontational, should things get unpleasant, in addition to ugly). That was handled, afternoon shopping taken care of, and (barring more disaster) the hard part of my con was done. From Sunday morning the QM ought to be on autopilot, and pretty much was.

All I had to do for the rest of the con was pay attention to what food was moving here, and there, and lend a hand so that disruptions didn't happen. I wasn't needed, per se.

So I went to the filking. At some point I headed down to grab a drink, and got into a conversation with someone about yarn (I'd had several conversations, including one with a lovely person who was respinning some acrylic onto her drop-spindle. I think I have to do some, so as to make crochet yarn for people). She bought a couple of skeins from me (I sold three, and may get some commissions/later purchases from other people; I think I broke even on purchased food vs. sold yarn), when O buttonholed me, and started to SMOF about his desires for the Kansas City 2016 bid.

And my alarm bells went off like a the station houses in a three-alarm fire.

Because he told me his agenda for working Arisia. He wanted to collect enough references to obtain something on the order of a committee head position on the bid, with which he isn't, (at present) officially affiliated. I tried, as best I could, to give him honest advice (based on what I'd seen of his capacities in action). He didn't like it. He wants to be a "roving troubleshooter. I told him that to do that he needs to know the nuts and bolts of running a con, from the ground up. That spending some time working a number of conventions (in more than one region) in either Ops, or Volunteers, was the best way to do that.

His response was to tell me he was good at ideas (debatable) and ought to be able to handle it based on that. I told him that, even if this were true, he needed people to know he was competent. That he needed to gain a reputation for being a skilled worker.

"That's why I came to Arisia".

So I begged my leave (which was hard as fuck; he's an emotional leech, and even knowing the manipulative tricks he was using... well they get used because they are effective) and went back to the filking. It wasn't moving all that well, and we made our leave. On the way out, there was a nascent hallway jam. I stood in, and spent the next three hours singing, and whistling, and rattling bones, with a guitar, a harp, three fiddles (one of whom was told "yeah, if you go get it, we'll still be here"), and a dozen voices, until something close to 0330, at which point the guitar left, and we had a smaller circle of talk, and quiet singing, and musical noodling. About 0430 I went to bed.

Got up, packed my bags, and got them to the car. Went to make sure there were no fires.

Having done that got tugged on the sleeve by O who was upset/seething with some moral indignation, "I need you to help me with a sanity check".

It seems that sometime in the night (while he was walking with a couple of women; whom he made point to note were, "attractive") Security had asked to speak with him. He took offense at this. They told him they would like him to stay until someone could come and speak with him. He refused. He told them he was going to the con-suite, and would be back at some specific time, when he would wait for three minutes, after which, if no one was there to speak with him, he was going to consider the issue closed.

When he came back someone (fairly high up) was there, spoke with him, and (if I infer correctly) told him there were people who were uncomfortable with the way he had been doing some of the things he was doing: which had the color of authority of the convention, and that he needed to avoid that sort of thing.

He wanted me to tell him if he'd been treated fairly. I told him he had. He looked at me as if I'd grown a third eye. He averred that perhaps he hadn't asked the question clearly. I made him restate it. And then I told him he'd been perfectly clear, and that, in light of what he'd told me he'd been treated more than fairly, and far more gently that he would have been had this happened at one of the conventions at which I was working/running Security.

That had I been setting policy he would have been allowed to leave, as he demanded, but that until such time as the convention had a chance to speak with him about it Security was going to hold his badge.

Part of what boggled me is that he'd been nearby when another incident (of a different sort, but also one concerning how people's actions in public spaces affected other people), had been initiated, and he wasn't given quite the same level of direct scrutiny (which is because there was no doubt about who he was: Arisia seems to be both definite, and circumspect in addressing Code of Conduct Violations). So his dudgeon seemed out of place, esp. because by the time he spoke to me the fear of some dramatic resolution seemed past.

So my Arisia was overbusy, a slight bit undersocial, in some ways (which is probably my fault, for being too concerned about failing to keep the trains running when they were on straight track, with no obstacles. That, however is how I made the acquaintance of several swell people in a more than passing manner; so color it in the win column, when all is said and done), and watching a parasite try to affix himself to NYC/Boston fandom. It was an enjoyable convention, even splendid; and all the "failings" were aspects of my personality, and I had a great deal of fun, even if it was quite different fun from my first Arisia, where I wasn't working. It was a lot more fun than last year, where I was afraid I was going to fail my trust. I never felt over my head this time, nor our of my groove.

Next year, I'll relax a little more, and budget my time a little better.

Who want's yarn?

I've gotten decent enough at spinning that I am willing to take commissions.

Commissions will cost less than buying yarn I've made, just for the sake of making it. This is to encourage people to make them. It's also easier for someone who wants to do a project.

The basic framework I'm using is send me twice as much fiber as you want me to spin, and postage for the return.

That way I get fiber to spin for myself, and you get the amount of yarn you want (more or less), spun into either a 2-ply, or a 3-ply woolen. Tell me how you plan to use it (knit, or crochet, American or Continental).

I tend to spinning fine yarns, not bulky ones.

If you have a special request (cables, sockyarn, spun worsted, etc.) let me know, and we can work it out.

It also makes nice gifts.

Pump up the Volume

Some guys, a few years back, found a treasure trove of date from the Lunar Program, specifically a lot of analog tapes from the Lunar Orbiter Missions of 1966-1967. Not only are they fragile, but the means to read them were practically non-existent. So they did what any technical types who could would do, they set up shop at Moffett Field, and went to work. They got NASA to contribute some, and they went to the drawing boards (literally) and reconstructed, rebuilt, and re-engineered the needed equipment (seriously, some of the equipment they devised from looking at the mathematics of the old systems).

But they need more money. NASA's contribution has run out. They have a rockethub crowdsourcing project.
We are looking for people to help us complete the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP). We call this technoarchaeology - mining the past to support science in the future. Between 1966 and 1967, NASA sent five Lunar Orbiter missions to the Moon. Their mission was to photograph the lunar surface to help identify future Apollo mission landing sites. The spacecraft carried 70mm photographic film which was developed automatically in lunar orbit aboard the spacecraft. The developed film was then scanned with a light beam and this modulated a signal which was sent back to Earth.

Each image was archived on analog data tape and printed out as photographs for use by the Lunar Orbiter analysis team. In addition to looking for landing sites, the Lunar Orbiters also produced several stunning photos unlike anything ever seen before. Of note are the "Earthrise" image taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 and the "Picture of the Century" - an oblique view inside the crater Copernicus, taken by Lunar Orbiter 2.

I think it's worth it. I certainly think spreading the word is worth it.


I'll be in SF for about two weeks at the beginning of March. There is a filk convention in Newark, and then I'll be a guest of FogCon, where something relating to interogation/torture/affiliated issues will be the subject of some discussion.

In between I'll have some time in Palo Alto.

If anyone wants to try and make plans, feel free to drop me a line.