A New Euphemism For You

A sphincto-cranial event in progress.

Here’s a fun new euphemism for you to learn and share. When you want to suggest someone has their head well up their own ass, but are in a place and time where such a comment would be inappropriate (say, a church service or in conversation with a cherubic group of kindergarteners), use this phrase instead:

A Sphincto-Cranial Event.

As in:

“You’re engaged in a sphincto-cranial event,” or

“Jill’s x-rays showed an intense sphincto-cranial event,” or even

“Come quick! Bob is having a sphincto-cranial event of monumental proportions!”

Try it now! Write your own “Sphincto-Cranial Event” comment for the enjoyment of all! Feel free also to suggest your own variations (i.e., “A Sphincto-Cranial Excursion,” “A Festival of Sphincto-Cranialism,” “She’s Represented by the Law Offices of Sphincto and Cranial,” etc.)

(in case you’re wondering what precipitated this new euphemism, it was this comment thread over at Electrolite, in which someone who wrote the rather sphincto-cranial comment “Women do not write hard science fiction today because so few can hack the physics,” showed up to defend the comment to an audience of science fiction writers (some of whom were women who write Hard SF) and succeeded only in making his sphincto-cranial event even more intense. By the time he was done he was halfway up his own alimentary canal. A good time was had by all, except possibly this fellow’s rectum.)

59 thoughts on “A New Euphemism For You

  1. Well there’s always the classic sphinctocranial inversion, but that doesn’t work as well as the original.

    I personally like “He was neck deep in his experiments in sphincto-cranial encapsulation”

  2. That thread was amazingly fun to read. The magnitude of that sphincto-cranial confluence in question was staggering. I nearly cheered when i finally reached the point at which your new euphemism was put into play.
    On a side note, as a former fantasy reader and someone who’s recently been devouring the works of Mahfouz, I was definitely left wondering if I was the only person who noticed how ridiculous Vox Day’s comment [at 05 Mar 7:18pm] towards the end was. Since it was so far removed from the central argument, no one called him on it. Religious characters in fantasy aren’t as realistic as Mahfouz’s characters? Why? Because they don’t pray five times a day and feel bad about drinking alcohol? Not sure Vox knows this, but most fantasy characters aren’t Muslim. I’m just not really sure how he wants relligious characters in fantasy to act. And… end tangent.

  3. Two instincts: Well, near the end of it, he was saying a lot of things that didn’t make sense.

  4. Okay, now halfway through, right where Mr. Day (or whatever his real name is) shows up. His first paragraphs are not inclined to make me think that he is capable of anything other than asserting hasty generalisations right and left.

    As usual, one finds oneself swooning in awed wonder at the famously open minds of the liberal literati!

    Christian? Yes. Conservative? No. I note with amusement that no one has bothered disputing my actual statements, as the two examples given would amount to a “few”, wouldn’t they? There’s no shame in not wishing to wrestle with arcane mathematics when one can simply wave a wizard’s wand instead; four extensive pages of critical notes from Pat Wrede was all it took to convince me to switch from writing mediocre science fiction to marginally less mediocre fantasy.

    Anything else? Ah yes, the name. I’m surprised that despite at least one conspicuous mention of Classics, no one was able to follow the Latin into Greek. Perhaps the one gentleman can ask his wife to explain it to everyone….

    What does he think that thread is about? And just two examples of women using hard physics? Did he read the thread? How hard does our science have to be to qualify as a serious, non-brain-washed woman in his mind? I mean, I thought my life choices in career and reading matter were a matter of personal taste and aptitude….rather like preferring scrambled eggs or omelets to sunny-side, or over-easy. I like my science fiction slightly less hard than I like my eggs only sometimes.

    (And why is it always about physics? I personally love anatomy and botany. Are those not hard enough for him?)

    I particularly like how since only one person bothered to explicate on his name, that he feels none of the rest of you got it. *rolls eyes* I dunno. I guess I thought that sort of literary pun was cute, but obvious, and not particularly worthy of comment, considering that the thread is about whether or not he’s guilty of stereotyping women.

    Oh. I like the point that you made about the standards of the SFWA–that it requires the three sales to professional markets, or a full-length novel sale. That’s the only hallmark for a writing organisation I hope to enter soon. The other weird sociological hangups and prejudices tend to police themselves–as evidenced by this post and others like it. I may dislike Mr. Day’s point of view, but if it were up to me, I wouldn’t see it as a bar to membership in what is already a diverse group of people. It’s not like his presence will tip the SF community into a moral abyss or anything. (Whereas deliberate exclusion because of his weird views would probably scootch us all a little closer to said abyss.)

  5. Okay, now halfway through, right where Mr. Day (or whatever his real name is) shows up. His first paragraphs are not inclined to make me think that he is capable of anything other than asserting hasty generalisations right and left.

    As usual, one finds oneself swooning in awed wonder at the famously open minds of the liberal literati!

    Christian? Yes. Conservative? No. I note with amusement that no one has bothered disputing my actual statements, as the two examples given would amount to a “few”, wouldn’t they? There’s no shame in not wishing to wrestle with arcane mathematics when one can simply wave a wizard’s wand instead; four extensive pages of critical notes from Pat Wrede was all it took to convince me to switch from writing mediocre science fiction to marginally less mediocre fantasy.

    Anything else? Ah yes, the name. I’m surprised that despite at least one conspicuous mention of Classics, no one was able to follow the Latin into Greek. Perhaps the one gentleman can ask his wife to explain it to everyone….

    What does he think that thread is about? And just two examples of women using hard physics? Did he read the thread? How hard does our science have to be to qualify as a serious, non-brain-washed woman in his mind? I mean, I thought my life choices in career and reading matter were a matter of personal taste and aptitude….rather like preferring scrambled eggs or omelets to sunny-side, or over-easy. I like my science fiction slightly less hard than I like my eggs only sometimes.

    (And why is it always about physics? I personally love anatomy and botany. Are those not hard enough for him?)

    I particularly like how since only one person bothered to explicate on his name, that he feels none of the rest of you got it. *rolls eyes* I dunno. I guess I thought that sort of literary pun was cute, but obvious, and not particularly worthy of comment, considering that the thread is about whether or not he’s guilty of stereotyping women.

    Oh. I like the point that you made about the standards of the SFWA–that it requires the three sales to professional markets, or a full-length novel sale. That’s the only hallmark for a writing organisation I hope to enter soon. The other weird sociological hangups and prejudices tend to police themselves–as evidenced by this post and others like it. I may dislike Mr. Day’s point of view, but if it were up to me, I wouldn’t see it as a bar to membership in what is already a diverse group of people. It’s not like his presence will tip the SF community into a moral abyss or anything. (Whereas deliberate exclusion because of his weird views would probably scootch us all a little closer to said abyss.)

  6. And now…an hour later, I curse you, John Scalzi, for bringing this to my attention. I spent an hour trying to come up with ways to logically explain to Meester Vox why his assumptions were grossly broad, but then, right before I hit the submit button on PNH’s board, I came to the conclusion that Vox doesn’t want discussion on this point, that he has already concluded that women are incapable of certain things or inclined to others. I’m surprised it took me an hour to come to that conclusion, as I’m sure several of you reached it well in advance of such a time limit, but it must be because my female brain is weebling with the effect of logical thinking.

  7. (I promise this will be my last comment on this thread this morning, before I skibble off to kill monsters in WoW, but….)

    The but is a recent statement by Orson Scott Card whose writing I love, but who occasionally makes me squeamish with his personal politics. The man had good intentions, I am sure, as he was attempting to highlight the state of the video game industry and a lot of the inherent misogyny and unfriendly-to-women aspects it perpetuates. But it set me off almost as much as this statement by Mr. Vox did.

    The statement can be found here:

    http://hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2005-02-20.shtml

    And my personal dissection along with the full commentery here:

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/pixelfish/361198.html

    Basically, Orson said this:

    Almost twenty years ago, I did a consulting gig with LucasFilm Games. One of the things I urged was that they develop computer games for girls.

    In those days, there was nothing aimed at kids who wanted no-conflict games. “Girls want games where nobody dies,” I said. Games where you can build something or accomplish something, but in a cooperative way.

    My older daughter was then quite young, but she was repelled by most of the solve-the-puzzle-or-die games that were available on the PC. I suggested that they license the Sweet Valley Twins for adaptation as a computer game, or create a game about baby-sitting.

    “That’s just task-management,” I was told — and by the dismissive tone, I gathered that task-management games were considered sub-par.

    But then, it was a guy telling me that.

    You can see the results at my journal–they weren’t pretty. I think I frothed at the mouth for about an hour, which was pretty entertaining for my co-workers.

    On one hand, we have Vox pretty much implying that women don’t write Hard SF because they can’t, because they are…WOMEN, and somehow, unlike men, totally slaves to the greater societal forces that hold them down. Then we have Orson telling us that women want X, because they are inclined that way. Either way, women have been pigeonholed without regard to individuality. If they conform to the suppositions, they are considered proof that these hypotheses, these blanket statements are right. If they diverge, buck the expectations, they are considered statistical aberrations. (God forbid that we have evidence that women themselves might be forming new societal trends and forces. Nope, slaves to biology!)

    Okay. I’m going before I get any more incoherent. Thanks for the enlightening morning though. :)

  8. “I came to the conclusion that Vox doesn’t want discussion on this point, that he has already concluded that women are incapable of certain things or inclined to others.”

    Yes, that’s pretty much the case. As I noted at one point in the thread, the point in beating on his position was not to convince him to change his mind — why would he, when he has a professional interest in being politically polarized — but to have on Googleable record why the position is ridiculous, and to make it clear the person holding the position is just as ridiculous for sticking with it.

  9. The thing I found humorous about the comments made about how critics with umpty-ump PhD’s will complain about things being wrong is the simple fact that no matter how carefully you spot-check your work some small incongruity of that sort will slip in. Someone will always write to tell you that you got the exact weight of a Panamanian wombat incorrect, or that everyone knows pad thai doesn’t have mint in it. The key is to write believable fiction, not get every detail bang on. That is what makes an author good, not a death grip on every fact.

    Obviously there are mistakes big enough that they will shatter suspension of disbelief, but most of the time those errors can be easily spotted by having a friend who is more knowledgeable about the subject read it.

    Also, it’s not allowing me to use my Typekey account in the comments- it says that feature hasn’t been enabled.

  10. The thing I found humorous about the comments made about how critics with umpty-ump PhD’s will complain about things being wrong is the simple fact that no matter how carefully you spot-check your work some small incongruity of that sort will slip in. Someone will always write to tell you that you got the exact weight of a Panamanian wombat incorrect, or that everyone knows pad thai doesn’t have mint in it. The key is to write believable fiction, not get every detail bang on. That is what makes an author good, not a death grip on every fact.

    Obviously there are mistakes big enough that they will shatter suspension of disbelief, but most of the time those errors can be easily spotted by having a friend who is more knowledgeable about the subject read it.

    Also, it’s not allowing me to use my Typekey account in the comments- it says that feature hasn’t been enabled.

  11. Oooh, my head hurts from reading that thread–and my gut, too. But the latter, fortunately, is from laughing:

    “But… there’s still more candy inside him!”

    You slay me.

    Best,
    I.

  12. There is still more candy inside him!

    I *particularly* like the way he’s ignoring the existence of myself, Dr. Stella, Leah, M’ris, and any other female science fiction writers who stand up and wave our little flags, as if we didn’t exist.

    Maybe we need to flash our tits at him to get his attention, or something.

  13. The great thing about trolls is that they allow such entertaining comebacks. I liked Scott L’s comment about having checked the weather channel, too.

    The idea that women’s suffrage is linked to fascism is a new one to me. I guess that’s what I get for studying biology in college and not poli-sci. Drat!

    I was pretty sure you knew about the TypeKey thing. It is a mysterious beast.

  14. Elizabeth Bear:

    “I *particularly* like the way he’s ignoring the existence of myself, Dr. Stella, Leah, M’ris, and any other female science fiction writers who stand up and wave our little flags, as if we didn’t exist.”

    Well, he’s not good with reality in general, it would seem.

  15. Vox Day is a bitter man. It’s obvious from his repeated postings about being dropped as an opinion journalist from some press service because his columns wouldn’t sell–he says he doesn’t care, and that other columnists (including his own colleagues) are “media whores”, and that it’s just because his writing so complex the ignorant masses can’t comprehend it. But given his need to go on and on about it, it certainly begins to seem that he is protesting too much.

    Then he bitches that for one to be a conservative columnist they have to be a woman or a Jew and that the if there were to be a *truly* conservative media it should consider whether Jews are truly conservative. Why he is threatened by those two groups specifically is best left to a psychiatrist, and hopefully some thorazine.

    The man is a loser who only has a column with that WorldNetDaily site because his criminal father is on the board. He won’t get attention aside from people noting what a whack-job he is, and so he’ll continue to talk about his own brilliance and his fighting abilities because he isn’t going to get accolades anywhere else.

  16. Vox Day is a bitter man. It’s obvious from his repeated postings about being dropped as an opinion journalist from some press service because his columns wouldn’t sell–he says he doesn’t care, and that other columnists (including his own colleagues) are “media whores”, and that it’s just because his writing so complex the ignorant masses can’t comprehend it. But given his need to go on and on about it, it certainly begins to seem that he is protesting too much.

    Then he bitches that for one to be a conservative columnist they have to be a woman or a Jew and that the if there were to be a *truly* conservative media it should consider whether Jews are truly conservative. Why he is threatened by those two groups specifically is best left to a psychiatrist, and hopefully some thorazine.

    The man is a loser who only has a column with that WorldNetDaily site because his criminal father is on the board. He won’t get attention aside from people noting what a whack-job he is, and so he’ll continue to talk about his own brilliance and his fighting abilities because he isn’t going to get accolades anywhere else.

  17. Ah. Well, since two people beat me to the punch in reporting how many health levels relative to constitution points their keyboards have left after encountering the line “But… there’s still more candy inside him!” I should resist the urge to turn the metaphor into a piƱata itself by beating on it further…

    Oh. Too late? Crap.

    Anyway, on girls and gaming, I offer this: Games for Girls? Eeeeewwww! (You’ll have to register for a free login or employ BugMeNot to read it, but don’t let that deter you. It’s a damn fine article, in this gamer girl’s opinion.)

  18. “That’s just task-management,” I was told — and by the dismissive tone, I gathered that task-management games were considered sub-par.

    *cough* The Sims *cough*

    Or, for that matter, any MMORPG, where killing things is the means to the end of shopping, decorating your house, or putting a stylin’ outfit on your avatar. But you have to kill things to make money so, it’s, you know, not GIRLY.

  19. “That’s just task-management,” I was told — and by the dismissive tone, I gathered that task-management games were considered sub-par.

    *cough* The Sims *cough*

    Or, for that matter, any MMORPG, where killing things is the means to the end of shopping, decorating your house, or putting a stylin’ outfit on your avatar. But you have to kill things to make money so, it’s, you know, not GIRLY.

  20. You mean all I had to do to end the excruciating ordeal of being dragged through the mall for hours on end–was to open fire with a rail gun?

    Why didn’t anyone tell me this when I was twelve?

    I guess it’s just as well. The solution I came up with was to convince Mom to just drop me off in the bookstore. That was probably a better influence than indiscriminate mayhem.

  21. Excuse the double post, but I just realized mythago said “means to the end of shopping,” not, as I had misunderstood the sentence to read, “means to end shopping.” Oops. Did I let my freudian slip show again?

  22. As I noted at one point in the thread, the point in beating on his position was not to convince him to change his mind — why would he, when he has a professional interest in being politically polarized — but to have on Googleable record why the position is ridiculous, and to make it clear the person holding the position is just as ridiculous for sticking with it.

    This is approximately how I’ve approached all the arguments I get into on the internet for some time. I get into a lot of them, but most are with people like Vox Day who are spouting things that are obviously contrafactual and often grammatically unsound (because that sort of nonsense is usually the only thing I’ll stir my stumps for), and people like that don’t get into arguments on the internet because they’re interested in reasoned discussion; their minds can’t be changed. Trying to do so only frustrates me. These days I consider my purpose in that sort of argument to give everyone else reading it a giggle (hee hee hee ‘But… there’s still more candy inside him!’) and if the object of my attentions should chance to absorb some of the facts interleaved with the sarcasm, that’s just gravy.

    Also:

    Welcome to the daily Chris Vincent Spincto-Cranial Experience.

    Splork.

  23. As I noted at one point in the thread, the point in beating on his position was not to convince him to change his mind — why would he, when he has a professional interest in being politically polarized — but to have on Googleable record why the position is ridiculous, and to make it clear the person holding the position is just as ridiculous for sticking with it.

    This is approximately how I’ve approached all the arguments I get into on the internet for some time. I get into a lot of them, but most are with people like Vox Day who are spouting things that are obviously contrafactual and often grammatically unsound (because that sort of nonsense is usually the only thing I’ll stir my stumps for), and people like that don’t get into arguments on the internet because they’re interested in reasoned discussion; their minds can’t be changed. Trying to do so only frustrates me. These days I consider my purpose in that sort of argument to give everyone else reading it a giggle (hee hee hee ‘But… there’s still more candy inside him!’) and if the object of my attentions should chance to absorb some of the facts interleaved with the sarcasm, that’s just gravy.

    Also:

    Welcome to the daily Chris Vincent Spincto-Cranial Experience.

    Splork.

  24. Feel free also to suggest your own variations
    “Bob is looking at his tonsils from the wrong side.”
    That might be a bit obscure though.

    PiscusFiche wrote:
    >And why is it always about physics?
    Since women can’t hack the good stuff (the conclusion), the good stuff has to be stuff women aren’t good at (the premise). And physics fits the bill if you are restrictive (and creative) in you definition of good and careless with your generalizations. Now Vox Day presented the logic (such as it is) the right way around, but I’m guessing that this is the source of his premises.
    Vox is right about one thing: women are underrepresented in physics. Now the cause of this probably isn’t (as Vox Day believes) that women can’t hack math. I took some pretty funky math classes in university, and my impression was that there were far more women there than in physics.

  25. How lambasted would he have been if he had made the generalization that the vast majority of SF readers are male and biologically prefer reading male authors? I don’t know that it is biological, but I know it is true. At twelve, I doubt I would have picked up Roberta Heinlein’s “Orphans of the Sky” assuming it was either about fairies or pegusi.

    Is reading (“hard”) SF a decidedly male hobby? I think so. Can only males enjoy it? No, but it is definitely marketed to men and favors male writers.

    If he had made the claim that ALL soap opera is written for a female audience because males don’t have the aptitude for drama and social interplay, would he have been attacked at all?

    He was haywired to make the statement that women can’t hack phyisics. I learned all I know about phyisics from a female professor. But then, she found SF,soft or otherwise, to be little more then romance novels for men that get hard-ons when reading about science in the future (as she said,”Hence the ‘fantasy’ aspect of the genre”).

  26. “How lambasted would he have been if he had made the generalization that the vast majority of SF readers are male and biologically prefer reading male authors? I don’t know that it is biological, but I know it is true. At twelve, I doubt I would have picked up Roberta Heinlein’s ‘Orphans of the Sky’ assuming it was either about fairies or pegusi.”

    Eh. I don’t remember having any problem whatsoever picking up Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” series or Madeliene L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time” books, nor do kids today have any problem with J.K. Rowling, so I don’t particularly agree there’s a natural bias toward men/SF in boys.

    That men gravitate toward hard SF, both in the reading and the writing, is non-controversial. That women don’t is again non-controversial. Where the crux of the issue lay was in the characterization of why women don’t write much hard SF (i.e., lack of aptitude in physics). As detailed in the thread, this proposition falls apart on examination.

    “If he had made the claim that ALL soap opera is written for a female audience because males don’t have the aptitude for drama and social interplay, would he have been attacked at all?”

    In fact, in the thread he put forward a suggestion somewhat like that as well. It didn’t gain much traction, although people were more focused on the original statement and not that.

  27. “How lambasted would he have been if he had made the generalization that the vast majority of SF readers are male and biologically prefer reading male authors? I don’t know that it is biological, but I know it is true. At twelve, I doubt I would have picked up Roberta Heinlein’s ‘Orphans of the Sky’ assuming it was either about fairies or pegusi.”

    Eh. I don’t remember having any problem whatsoever picking up Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” series or Madeliene L’Engle’s “Wrinkle in Time” books, nor do kids today have any problem with J.K. Rowling, so I don’t particularly agree there’s a natural bias toward men/SF in boys.

    That men gravitate toward hard SF, both in the reading and the writing, is non-controversial. That women don’t is again non-controversial. Where the crux of the issue lay was in the characterization of why women don’t write much hard SF (i.e., lack of aptitude in physics). As detailed in the thread, this proposition falls apart on examination.

    “If he had made the claim that ALL soap opera is written for a female audience because males don’t have the aptitude for drama and social interplay, would he have been attacked at all?”

    In fact, in the thread he put forward a suggestion somewhat like that as well. It didn’t gain much traction, although people were more focused on the original statement and not that.

  28. This reminds me of one erudite insult I like:

    Cephloplegic – someone paralyzed from the neck up.

    IIRC the first place I saw it was in one of L. Niel Smith’s SF novels.

  29. This reminds me of one erudite insult I like:

    Cephloplegic – someone paralyzed from the neck up.

    IIRC the first place I saw it was in one of L. Niel Smith’s SF novels.

  30. “He’s having a face-to-face internal meeting with lower management…”

    There’s my favorite.

  31. I didn’t find that line in the link…can you give more of it? Or give me a ballpark where in it can be found? Maybe I missed it.

  32. I didn’t find that line in the link…can you give more of it? Or give me a ballpark where in it can be found? Maybe I missed it.

  33. Ooh! I found a pack of Sweet Tarts!

    My husband’s comment: “It had to be Sweet Tarts. There were obviously no Smarties in there.”

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