Wil Wheaton at Comic-Con 2014 - his wife, Anne, has been barraged with abuse on Twitter this week. Photo: Getty Images
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PSA: G*m*rG*t* is still a thing; online hate mobs still target women with distressing regularity

This started in August, and it's still happening. Games culture - and geek culture in general - is a wounded monster, lashing out at the skyscrapers around it as it falls to the ground.

It's been roughly ten months since GamerGate was birthed to this world by a pathetic man lashing out at his ex in a tedious, hateful blog, and sadly - oh god, so much sadness - it's still A Thing. It may have fewer members than before, but that has just made the core that remains denser, more concentrated, more loathsome.

This week's target is Anne Wheaton, wife of former Star Trek actor (and all-round polymath and geek hero) Wil Wheaton. Her crime? After going to the Calgary Expo earlier this month she wrote a blog post talking about how much she enjoyed it, and how touched she was by people telling her that they'd found her writing to be a source of comfort in bad times. Oh, and she briefly mentioned that there were some "angry and unhappy people" there who were looking to be "hurtful and harmful", but that it was OK, because the convention organisers "handled the situation immediately" and everything turned out great.

Turns out, those "angry and unhappy people" really are angry and unhappy - she was referring to Honey Badger Radio, a GamerGate-affiliated men's rights activism group who were planning to run a stall at the expo, sell some merchandise and put forward their views at some of the discussion panels. However, since they didn't actually apply for exhibitor/vendor status - plus a bunch of other stuff, below - they were in violation of the expo's rules, and were subsequently expelled on the second day. Click over to The Mary Sue or to Comics Alliance for comprehensive breakdowns of what happened and why, but the short version is: it made some people angry.

Wheaton's blog post, then, attracted some of these angry people:

Feminist Frequency is, of course, the feminist media criticism website founded and run by Anita Sarkeesian, one of GamerGate's most ancient and venerable enemies. Supporting her - especially financially - is brave, and should be applauded:

Unfortunately, not everyone can handle being this defiant. It's incumbent on the rest of us - especially those of us who know we aren't the main targets of GamerGate - to support those who do come under fire, and to promote and share exactly the games, writing and creativity that this hate group so passionately fights against.

Someday, this bullshit must end.

Ian Steadman is a staff science and technology writer at the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @iansteadman.

Photo: Tashphotography / Stockimo / Alamy
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The Negroni fools no one – it’s easy to make and contains nothing but booze

It is the colour of danger, a red rag to anyone jaded by cocktail-world bull.

The cocktail is designed to lie about its origins; no wonder it reached its apogee during Prohibition, which forced everyone with an unrepentant thirst to lie about their cravings. Even today, when only extreme youth, religious belief or personal inclination prevents a person from draining the bar dry, the cocktail continues its career of dishonesty. It hides ingredients or methods. It provides a front for poor-quality booze. And it often dissolves, within its inscrutable depths, mountains of sugar, enabling drinkers to pose as sophisticates while downing something that tastes like a soft drink – to get drunk without leaving the playpen.

This is why I love the Negroni, which fools no one. It is easy to make and contains nothing but pure booze. Despite being a third sweet vermouth, it isn’t saccharine: the other two thirds, equal measures of gin and Campari, may have something to do with this. And it is the colour of danger, a red rag to anyone jaded by cocktail-world bull.

They say it was invented in Florence at the request of a Count Negroni, who wanted a drink unsullied by club soda – a drink stiff enough to get a man back on a bucking horse, perhaps, since this Count may have been a rodeo rider. I prefer to believe that the Count, if Count he was, came in, tossed down enough strong liquor to start telling stories about his American adventures, and, when he finally staggered out into the night, the exasperated bartender poured three straight shots into a single glass and baptised this wondrous reviver in grateful homage to the fabulist who had inspired it.

In a former glue factory a very long way from Florence or America, the East London Liquor Company now makes very good gin – Batches One and Two, the former tannic with Darjeeling as well as cassia bark, pink grapefruit peel, and coriander seeds; the latter redolent of savoury, bay, thyme and lavender. Transforming these plants into excellent alcohol seems an improvement on boiling down horses for adhesive, and the company also makes superb Negronis from Batch Two.

We sit outside, in a carpark made marginally more glamorous by border boxes of Batch Two botanicals, and marvel at the transformation of this grimy part of East London, next door to a park intended to give Victorian working men brief respite from lives all too lacking in myth or fantasy. It is a reincarnation at least as miraculous as the transformation of three strong and entirely unalike spirits into the delectable harmony of the Negroni. The sun shines; a fountain plashes. Nuts and charcuterie arrive. All is right with the world.

I leave my herbaceous bower and dangerously pleasing drink for a peek at the large copper distillery behind the bar, walking in past the fountain, a whimsical stone construction that pours vermilion liquid into two, tiered basins topped by a chubby putto clutching a rather reluctant fish.

And then I stop. And double back. Vermilion liquid? It is, indeed, a Negroni fountain. There are even slices of orange floating in the basin. I dip a finger: the taste is slightly metallic but still undeniably that potent mixture of booze, botanicals, bitterness, and just a hint of sweetness. A streak of citrus from the orange slices. It turns out that the world’s most straightforward cocktail lends itself to a decadent neo-Renaissance fantasy. There’s a message here, one forthright as a temperance tract: without imagination, we would have no lies – but no Negronis, either.

Nina Caplan is the 2014 Fortnum & Mason Drink Writer of the Year and 2014 Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year for her columns on drink in the New Statesman. She tweets as @NinaCaplan.

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder