Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best posts of 2017

Or at least twelve posts from 2017:

January 2017:

January was a terrible month. Trump had just been sworn into office. Everything was awful, and we knew it was going to get worse. (Spoilers: it did!).

But here was one bright moment! On the OTHER hand....

February 2017:

Almost as grim as January. But this post was nice: A Fun Survey for These Dark Times

March 2017:

In March, TrumpCare was defeated for the first time, which cheered us up slightly. Also, I had this conversation with my cat: The Future the Liberals Want.

April 2017:

In April, I got the advanced copies of the F&SF issue with my story in it, which was pretty sweet. Also, I like the links I shared here.

May 2017:

In May, the kid finished high school -- go, kid! (Also some links in that post)

June 2017:

In June, I sold my novel (now called Fault Lines) to Candlemark & Gleam.

July 2017:

Trump went after trans people, to the shock of exactly no one: Trump's America

August 2017:

The kid goes off to college

September 2017:

The Kid has a health scare. Everything turned out okay, except for what it did to our debt load.

October 2017:

In October I had a good time running a sort of informal poll on FB, looking at English grammar among my friends group: Changing Standards in American English.  Part Two is here.

November 2017:

In November I got some Good News

December 2017:

Not much happened in December -- I was finishing the edits on Fault Lines. But I like this post on the income range of the middle class -- What's Middle-class? 

And that's my year!  How about your year?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Links for Your Frozen Saturday

Here in Arkansas we have a projected high of 38 for today, and 30 for tomorrow. Still, we're warmer than many parts of North America! Keep warm, y'all!

Have some links.

In my classes and in the papers my students write for me, my conservative students insist that white men can't get jobs -- that it's easier for women (and of course black men) to get jobs than for your discriminated against white man to find any sort of work, that poor fella. Where do they get this idea? It's just another persecution narrative being pushed endlessly on the Right.

All y'all have all seen the Milo manuscript tweets, but I do like this thread, which points out the editor's complicity.

Here's another, which is funnier.

Are single mothers responsible for the rise in crime? Not so much.

Another excellent thread, this one on the post office

Here are 99 reasons this was a good year

Why, look at this!

Monday, December 25, 2017

What I'm Reading

Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires

Long-time readers of the blog will remember that back in 2014 I taught a class on Laura Ingalls Wilder as a Major Author, after reading a number of critical books on her. I wish this book by Fraser had been written then. (Fraser had put out the two volume Library of America edition of Ingalls' books by then, and that's the edition I used for the class.)

I loved Anita Clair Fellman's Little House, Long Shadow, and I loved Ann Romines' Constructing the Little House. Wendy McClure's The Wilder Life was a delight.

Prairie Fires outpaces all of these. Starting her text with the Dakota War of 1862, and continuing on through the panic of 1898, the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and World War II, and finally Roger MacBride's 1972 faithless electoral vote, Fraser deftly reveals the complex historical, environmental, and political events that shaped the lives of the Ingalls and Wilder families. Through use of primary sources, she shows how Wilder and her daughter Lane worked to create a "truthy" version of Wilder's life in the Little House books, one that endorsed their political philosophy -- or rather, their desire for how the world should work.

This is an excellent, and very readable, book. If you're an Little House fan, you'll definitely want to read it. If you're interested in politics, you'll probably like it too. What was happening in the 1930s in America, while Wilder was writing her Little House books has much in common with what is happening in America today, and the xenophobia, racism, and contempt for the poor that Lane (and to some extent) Wilder expressed are the same xenophobia, racism, and contempt we hear today.

From Fraser's book:

[This hatred] was no mystery to Wilder. As she knew too well, people who are poor are ashamed. It's easier to blame the government than yourself. Wrestling with shame was one reason she wrote her books...but she also labored to lift that feeling out of her stories, and out of her past, setting aside her father's debts and her own grubby days working for the Masterses. She said she made the changes for the children, but she did it for herself too. (511).
An excellent book. 10/10 would read again.

MacKenzi Lee, A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

This is a sort of a YA novel, and sort of an historical novel, and sort of a regency romance. Also sort of a fantasy novel. The writing is brisk, though about halfway through what has started out to be a romance novel set on a Grand Tour through Europe -- kind of what I signed up for, and was looking forward to -- turns into this kind of bizarre quest-for-a-ensourcelled heart story, which I never really did buy into.

Though I did enjoy the pirates.

It was like we had three novels patches together, I guess is what I'm saying, and though I did like two of them -- the pirate novel, and the traveling through Europe with my boyfriend and my nerd younger sister novel -- I think I would have liked them better as separate novels.

Still, nice writing, and the three main characters -- which is to say Henry Montague, point of view character and the son of a Lord who does not approve of his proclivities; Percy, the neighbor boy, who is the African/English nephew of Henry's neighbor; and Felicity, Henry's sister, who wants to be a doctor, and is instead being sent off to a finishing school -- are all fully realized and people we want to spend more time with. (Henry is annoying at first, but he grows on you.)

A lovely romp, in other words.

Jo Walton, Among Others, Farthing

Apparently I am re-reading all the works of Jo Walton once again. What am I to say? Walton is wonderful. Who can blame me?

Among Others is one of my favorites. It's the story of Mor Phelps, who in a battle with her mother has lost her twin sister and her mobility -- one leg was badly damaged, so that now she can walk only with a cane, and lives in constant pain. The battle itself is not described, nor exactly what they battled over. Mor tells another character that if her mother wanted to control the world, hinting that the stakes were that high.

This book is fantasy -- Mor sees fairies (though not the usual fairies) and can do magic (though not the usual magic). But it is mostly neither about magic nor about fairies, though it is about those things.

What it is mostly about is Mor's relationship with books, and her relationship with the people in her life who love books as much as she does.

If, like Mor, you also live a life in which books are essentially all you care about*, you may well love this book as much as I do.

Otherwise, you'll likely be confused by it, just a bit. ("What is this book about? All this girl does is read.")

There's a lot to like in the book besides all the bits about reading and books, though. It's really good on what it's like to live with chronic pain, for instance. And there's a lovely bit where Mor is dismayed at finding her new school / town has no wilderness around it.

As someone who grew up with wilderness all around me, and had lived most of my life with wilderness near at hand, and who now lives in an area with no wilderness within walking distance, yes, yes, yes. Not being able to easily get to a place where I can walk and climb through trees and rocks is just soul-numbing. It's the worst part of living in this town. (I can drive to a number of parks, but that is not the same.)

The school is also well done, as is the grandfather. And, as always, Walton's writing is brilliant.

Farthing I have already written about, here.

*Once someone interviewed me, and asked what I did for fun. "I read books," I said. "Also I write them. That's what I do. That's all I do."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Best SF 2017 Table of Contents

Gardner Dozois just released the Table of Contents for the Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection. Look at me with all these amazing people:

Edited by

Edited by
VANGUARD 2.0, Carter Scholz
DEAR SARAH, Nancy Kress
NIGHT PASSAGE, Alastair Reynolds
ASSASSINS, Jack Skillingstead and Burt Courtier
THE WORDLESS, Indrapramit Das
ZIGEUNER, Harry Turtledove
CANOE, Nancy Kress


PRIME MEREDIAN, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
MINES, Eleanor Arnason
DEATH ON MARS, Madeline Ashby
NUMBER 39 SKINK, Suzanne Palmer
A SERIES OF STEAKS, Vina Jie-Min Prased
SIDEWALKS, Maureen F. McHugh
NEXUS, Michael F. Flynn

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Links and Stuart Davis

Pounding rain here today. Yesterday we drove up to Crystal Bridges to see the Stuart Davis exhibit before it closed. I didn't expect to like it, and only went because the Kid and Dr. Skull love abstract/expressionism.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

What I'm Reading

I have finished the edits for Fault Lines, which will be sent to my editor today. I've also finished grading (mostly -- I still have some fiction portfolios to read through and comment on). All of that has limited my reading time.

Though not stopped it! Here's what I've read (and finished) over the past week:

Katherine Heiny, Standard Deviation

This was one I thought I would not like, since from the blurb it's everything I hate in a book (white rich guy in NYC who might or might not have an affair, fap fap fap). But it kept showing up on ten-best-books of 2017 by people whose judgment I trust, and the library had a copy, so wth.

And they were right! This is really good. True, the "plot" is this guy in NYC who married to his second wife, and still half in love with his first wife, trying to decide whether he will have an affair with the first wife, or some other woman for that matter. But the book isn't the plot in this case. The book is these characters, and their lives.

Heiny's writing is wonderful. Her main character, Graham, is married to a woman, Audra, who is so incredibly annoying I would myself want to push her under a bus -- and Graham sees all her annoying habits clearly. But because he loves her so deeply, every irritating bit of her is transformed into something beautiful. I have no idea how Heiny manages this, but it is beautiful to read.

The same happens for their son, Matthew, who is a high-functioning Autistic child. Graham sees the flaws in his son, and yet.

And we see the flaws in Graham just as clearly, but because of his love, we come to love him, and he is transformed in this same way.

This is an amazing book. I really didn't want it to end. Highly recommended.

T. Kingfisher, The Raven and the Reindeer

T. Kingfisher, as long-time readers of the blog know, is a pen name for our incomparable Ursula Vernon. In this novella, she retells Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen."

Other writers, and other SF writers (including one of my favorite SF writers, Naomi Kritzer), have done this before, of course. But still, Kingfisher's version is not to be missed. Among other things, along the way her Gerta discovers just why kissing Kay was such an oddly disappointing experience. (This happens when she meets the bandit Janna, and kisses her. Why didn't anyone ever tell me falling in love with women was a thing that could happen? she thinks at one point.)

Along the way to rescue Kay, Gerta encounters a talking crow, Mousebones, who is one of my favorite characters ever, and talking otters, likewise, and Janna, same.

The Snow Queen is a lovely villain. And ending is perfect.

Highly recommended.

Fiona Barton, The Child

This is another book by the woman who wrote The Widow, which I read last week. As with that book, this one is readable -- I gulped it down in one evening -- but not much more than your standard mystery/thriller.

The main characters are still women, but this one has more men. For instance, the reoccurring character, Kate Waters, the reporter who solved the child-killing in The Widow, has taken on a young male apprentice; and we've added a second police officer, also male. Also, Kate's husband and two sons get a lot of page time.

But one of the main villains is a woman. And the big reveal was -- sort of -- interesting.

And, as I said, it's a page turner. So long as you don't want depth, this is worth reading.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Me at Hanukkah 2017

I am explaining everything

That is Dr. Skull listening attentively.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hanukkah 2017

We're going up to Fayetteville this afternoon to bring the kid home for Winter Break. We won't get home before sunset, sadly, since tonight is the first night of Hanukkah.

We're having the usual first night party tomorrow, on the second night. The kid's Uncle Charger is coming, as well as some of Dr. Skull's friends from work.  I'm making latkes, as well as bagels, which we'll have with lox, cream cheese, and onions. Dr. Skull is making a torte, because we're combining his birthday with the Hanukkah party this year.

Then Uncle Charger will come back for Christmas day as well.  We don't usually celebrate Christmas, but since he'll be all alone this year, we're going to celebrate it with him (a low-key celebration: Chinese food and Christmas lights and a movie).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What I'm Reading

I am mostly grading final portfolios and exams, as well as working on the edits for Fault Lines. But I am reading, because I'm always reading.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Cover Art

The artist has sent thumbnails for the cover for Fault Lines -- the near-final version of the cover is due in mid-January.

I am ridiculously excited (and pleased) by the prospective covers.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Saturday Links

I have finished Blackboard training! Go me!

(I whined to my kid about having to do Blackboard training, and they were entirely unsympathetic. "Mom. I use Blackboard all the time."  These kids today, I swear.)

Friday, December 01, 2017

What's Middle-Class?

On another blog, I saw a naive blogger making the claim that $160,000/year was "middle-class," and that she didn't understand this claim that "people like her" weren't middle class. After all, her family only took a few "very modest" vacations* a year, and only ate out a few times a week. The claim, she said, that people making $40,000/year were middle class had to be nonsense. That was abject poverty! (For the record, up until a few years ago, I made just over $50,000/year. Since I became a full professor I make somewhat more than that.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


I have succumbed, y'all.

I am finally allowing myself to be "trained" in the use of Blackboard.

I resisted this training for years, because I loathe online courses, think they are a terrible way to teach anything, think students do not and cannot learn well that way, and did not ever want to teach one.

But I have to teach what is called a "hybrid" class next spring, which is a class that meets one day a week in the classroom, and the rest of the time online; so I have to know how to use the system.

This is my Angry Face

Of course, this will leave me vulnerable to being assigned online courses in the future. Curses! I am foiled!

Monday, November 27, 2017

What I'm Reading

T. Kingfisher, Clockwork Boys

T. Kingfisher, as we all know, is the nom de plume of everyone's favorite, Ursula Vernon. This is the first installment of a serial adventure novel about a young forger/accountant, a demon-possessed knight, an assassin, and an even younger priest/scholar who are drafted into a suicide mission: they must stop the giant clockwork assault monsters that are coming to conquer their city.

Adventure ensues. This works because Vernon is such a wonderful writer. The characters are charming, the mileu is even better, and the dialogue is perfect.

The sole down check is that the next installment will not be out for at least two months. :(

Parenting Pro-Tip

Teach your kid to sew a simple seam and sew on a button BEFORE they leave for college.

Trying to explain that shit over FB is no fun at all.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

New Post at Cooking with delagar

Get yer sweet potatoes here

Sweet Potatoes cum Marshmallows

Thanksgiving at the delagar House

Dr. Skull and the Kid are currently making marshmallows, which I will use for my sweet potato casserole. This is the only thing I cook for our Thanksgiving dinner. Dr. Skull makes everything else.

What are we having?

Turkey smoked in the Big Green Egg, grilled asparagus, a cauliflower casserole, potatoes dauphinoise, sourdough bread, pumpkin pie, and French onion soup.

Also crudites. I am making the crudites.

Happy TNX to all y'all!

Monday, November 20, 2017

TNX Break

Tomorrow the Kid comes home for their Thanksgiving break, and also I teach my last classes before my TNX break.

I am very much looking forward to both the break and the Kid being home.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

What I've been Reading

I haven't done one of these posts in a long time, mainly because I've been focusing on writing.

This doesn't mean I've quit reading! Just that thinking about reading has been occupying less of my attention.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

No News

Not much happening here, which is good -- I need monotony in order to write effectively.

The Kid continues well, and is making excellent art.

I'm working on revisions of Fault Lines.

The weather is (finally) cooling off. This week we had highs near 80 again, but tonight the low is in the 30s. I work so much better in winter than summer.

Thanksgiving approaches. The Kid's uncle will be in town, and the Kid will be home as well.

After TNX, only a week and a half of semester left. I am really looking forward to the winter break.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Links for your Monday

Due to the good news about the Kid's health, we're spending far less time driving up to Fayetteville. We did go this past weekend, however, because the Kid missed their dog.

Heywood worshiping the Kid

Heywood got many, many walks -- we took him to Wilson Park, as well as Lake Fayetteville. It was an overcast, chilly, windy day. My favorite weather.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Good news

I received some excellent news today -- my story that was published in the May/June F&SF, "History of the Invasion Told in Five Dogs," will be republished in Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction: The Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection.

I am extremely pleased.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

My Weekend

I'm having a hectic weekend.

Normally my weekends are spent drinking coffee, writing fiction, and doing laundry. On Monday, I prep for my big teaching days -- Tuesday and Thursday.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Changing Standard American English II

So I have kept on running the informal polls I mention here in this post. As I noted in that post, I'm not certain of the validity of what I am learning, due to my biased sample. But I'm enjoying the discussions I'm generating, as well as seeing how people react to these examples of "bad" English.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Changing Standard American English

I've been running informal polls on FB over the past few days, asking people to self-report on which of these English sentences sound "correct" or "incorrect" to them.

I have often went to school late.
Once the park closed, we snuck into the children's playground.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Update on the Kid

Tentative good news.

Today we took the Kid for their follow up with the liver guy, the one who has been treating their possible autoimmune disease.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday Links

I overslept and missed a meeting this morning. I blame my insomnia.

Have some links!

Richard Wilbur died. Aside from Sharon Olds, he's my favorite modern poet, so I was sad, even if he was nearly 100 years old. Some of my favorites: Advice to a Prophet,  Boy at the Window, The Writer, The Beautiful Changes, Still, Citizen Sparrow, Year's End

Sunday, October 22, 2017


A big storm blew threw last night, causing the power to shut off here, briefly, and apparently for a much greater length of time elsewhere in the area. Lots of thunder and driving rain and high wind.

On its heels, fall has appeared. It's rainy and cold outside, with a heavy overcast; and more cold weather is forecast for the rest of the week.

Which, finally. It's almost November and we were still getting temperatures near 90 some days.

Meanwhile, I finished grading midterms. Still reading student papers.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall Break

We don't get one of these at our university, but the kid gets one. They came home last night, and will be here until Tuesday.

We're doing laundry, dealing with therapy appointments, and considering taking Heywood to the dog park, if the hideous heat would ever cut us a break. (High of 90 today, on October 13.)

Also, some cooking is planned. And they're going to a movie (It) with a high school friend.

Me? I'll be over here in this armchair, writing a new short story and reading student papers.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Links for you!

The power went out here last night at just past midnight. The entire neighborhood was dark and silent. I've never slept so well.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Kid Does Art

This is an exercise for their Studio I class:

Desk with water bottle, charcoal on paper

For the record, they hate working in charcoal with a fiery passion.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Your Semi-Frequent Reminder

...that if you're not reading the Kid's comic, what is wrong with you?

Today's page is excellent.

Friday, October 06, 2017

What's up?

My novel has been sent off to my publisher, my latest book review has been submitted, the committee that eats my life is on momentary hiatus, and the kid's health crisis has (for the moment) abated. (They've got another appointment at the end of the month, but everything is looking much better right now.) I hardly know what to do with myself, y'all.

I have started a new short story, and am thinking about my next novel. Also teaching and advising. Advising season has begun!

Also I am hoping that summer might one day end. It was 91 degrees here yesterday and we are expecting a high of 89 today. >:(

I've been reading a lot, but almost nothing worth reporting on. People need to write more good books. I was reduced to checking an F. Scott Fitzgerald book out of the library yesterday -- Tender is the Night -- which I had never read, and which so far I am entirely unimpressed by.

I did read Sam Miller's The Art of Starving. That one was good. It's sort of magical realism and sort of a realistic novel about being a working class kid in a Northeastern working class town -- a gay kid, in a town where the industry is failing, and whose mother is on the edge of losing her job. Very nice writing and excellent characters.

But otherwise I have been in a long drought.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

New Story

My latest story is up at Daily Science Fiction.

You can read it here: The Interrogation.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

On Time is Just Fine

I've sent off Fault Lines, just barely making my deadline -- but just barely still counts.

Meanwhile: the committee that eats my life is almost done with its meetings for this year, the vicious heat of summer is almost over, and we are almost sure the Kid is going to be fine (the last set of tests came back almost perfect, with just the ANA and iron panel still abnormal). We're waiting on one more test, plus we have a follow-up and probably another referral but the situation looks better now than it did a month ago.

On the other hand, holy hell our finances have crashed and burned. Medical care, even if it turns out your kid ain't dying, it ain't cheap.

So much for being out of debt.

Good thing I like rice and beans.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Life

Mostly I've been driving back and forth to Fayetteville, keeping medical appointments with my kid, and trying to keep up with my teaching and committee work.

The news on that front looks hopeful: the current set of tests were much better than the last.

Luckily I finished what I hope is the final draft of Fault Lines (except for copy editing) before this happened, so at least I don't have to worry about that. I need to read it through once more, to catch any glaring errors and stupid plot moves, and then get it sent off. That will happen this week.

Meanwhile, I am catching up on reading student work, and finishing a book review. Also the committee from hell, which eats my life every year this time, is eating my life again. Another few weeks and that will let up a bit though.

The Kid is loving college, by the way, as we knew they would. They were born to go to college.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

I Know, I Know

It's like shooting fish in a barrel, but really, Rod Dreher is just getting more and more hopeless.

(1) Notice how he doesn't even link to the original source (published in that extremely credible venue, The Daily Signal), in which Scott Yenor, apparently a tenured professor of political science, produces such insightful comments as these:

 [Radical feminists] seek to eliminate the different ways boys and girls are socialized, so that they will come to have very similar characters and temperaments.
Second, they seek to cultivate financial and emotional independence of women and children from the family.

Oh, no! Women who are financially independent! Not that! Boys and girls being socialized in equal ways! The horror!

I can't imagine why Dreher wouldn't link to such a credible and reasonable argument.

What does Dreher link to?  Why, this extremely credible venue, The National Review, where we get to hear about Yenor's Dean, who mildly notes that while he doesn't agree with Yenor, he nevertheless supports his academic right to free speech, and these terrible kids today, who have the nerve to use their First Amendment right to talk back to a conservative professor!!

(2) And then he makes his usual point, which is that gay people, liberals, and trans people are going to destroy American, blah blah blah.

Sweet Jesus.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A picture of me at my writing group

Here's an updated pic of my AND my writing group

The occasion, besides our monthly meeting, is the sixth birthday of the gentleman sitting next to me. From the left, that is Carrie, a fiction writer/poet; her son, age six; me; Jan, who makes puppets and performs puppetry; Ardith, who directs plays; Ron, a cartoonist and a SF writer, as well as Jan's husband; Don (seated), a poet/fiction writer; Dr. Skull; and behind Dr. Skull, Adam, a poet. Not pictured, because he is taking the picture, is Bill, a fiction writer, whose wonderful house this is.

As a side note, I am learning more about autoimmune diseases than I would have thought it was possible to know. (As an academic, my response to anxiety is, of course, research.)

The Kid Does Art

Meanwhile, the Kid's art class visits the university's natural history museum and they draw skeletons

The Kid and Single-Payer Heath Care

So over on Twitter, that place, some clever fiscal conservative made a crack about single-payer health care not being a workable solution because Americans are so fat and lazy.

Meanwhile, about ten days ago, the kid got what we thought was the flu. Well, at first we thought it was a cold. When they* tweeted me asking was it normal for their fingernails to be blue and their hands to be numb, I made them go to the clinic. At this point, I was mostly worried about it being a really bad flu or even pneumonia.

There, the PA ran tests, several of which came back with disquieting results. She sent the kid for a CT. The CT came back showing a "nodule" in the lower right lobe of the kid's lung.

More CT scan, a full chest this time. More blood tests. The kid's ANA is slightly off. Her liver readings are slightly off. Does she have an autoimmune disease? Is it something worse? Who knows?**

We're seeing an autoimmune guy next week.

Meanwhile, because we don't have single payer, and because the American healthcare system is useless and horrible, not only do we get to live through days and weeks of anxiety, we also get charged thousands of dollars. (Our deductible, before the insurance kicks in, is $3000 per person. This is after we pay on the order of $7000/year for health insurance, plus a $35/co-pay every time we visit our PCP -- God forbid we need to see a specialist.)

But yeah. Americans are fat and lazy. That's the problem with our healthcare system.

*The kid is, as many of your know, genderfluid, and has asked for they/them pronouns. I know y'all will support them!

**It may well be nothing at all. This is what we are hoping for, and my friends in the healthcare profession have given me good reason to hope for this outcome. But of course we must follow up on it -- and despite what these free market conservatives would have you believe, it is not like we can fucking shop around, looking for a clinic that will charge us just a little less for a CT scan, maybe over there in Oklahoma?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Kid Does Art

Homework for her Studio I class -- they had to do a still life of their dorm room

Charcoal and pencil on mixed-media paper

Links for You

Happy Sunday -- have some links!

The kids are alright

Aw, look here

And here (you gotta scroll down a bit)

Here is what happens when someone who can reason encounters someone who is spouting RW talking points. It's a video, but it's short, and absolutely worth listening to.

This, an article at the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is long, but also well worth reading: The First White President.  Every time I read Coates, it's like receiving a gift I didn't even know I needed.

These sorts of articles, on the other hand, are just so much infuriating bullshit. Oh, yes, thank you. That's exactly what I need to do. Quit spending money at Starbucks! Why didn't I think of that! Sweet Jesus. I should probably quit eating so much avocado toast while I'm at it.

You know what I need, in order not to be poor? To make more fucking money. And to have far less of my money going to medical bills and health insurance. That's what I need in order not to be poor. Shut the fuck up about how I'm spending too much money at Starbucks.

(Okay. Deep breath.)

This is definitely worth reading, especially for all y'all who have or know LGBT teens.

All over the internet -- and not just on the Right side of the net either -- people are clutching their pearls over a few students holding protests, passing around petitions, or otherwise being students. Meanwhile, people who have actual power, Conservative people, are doing shit like this, and oddly enough no one says a thing about it.

Meanwhile, the same people who clutch their pearls over the terrible, terrible fainting snowflakes on the left, are also clutching their pearls over the shocking behavior of this Leftist child.

Especially appropriate since I'm teaching Plato this week

Have a frog

Monday, September 04, 2017

Visiting the Kid

We went up to visit the kid yesterday, on a day trip. Since almost all the other students had gone home for the long weekend, the campus and the town were less crowded than usual.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New Story!

The Sockdolager has released its Summer Issue, with a new story by me!

Read it here -- The Taste of Grief.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


The weather has broken early here -- highs only in the mid-eighties this week, and less humidity. Here's hoping it last.

Have some links!

A post of mine from seven years ago explains why Trump got elected

Related: Spencer's Fallacy

But this article about  the men who vandalized one of our mosques here made me feel better about our country today (it's also one of the best articles about Fort Smith I've ever read: very accurate!)

Related, sort of, and also interesting

On the creation of gender

Socratic knowledge

Shadow syllabus

Socialism in America

My kid draws something:

Those are characters from her comic, Fragile

Also this:

And this:

Image may contain: text

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My semester far

Y'all, I took an overload. This means I have 82 Comp II students.

Also 17 fiction workshop students, and 26 Global Lit students.

And I'm working on the Fault Line edits.

So basically I'll see you in December.

Monday, August 21, 2017

File This Under

...things I feel terrible for laughing about.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Other News

There is a tiny, tiny Wal-Mart on the campus of the Kid's university -- smaller than a convenience store.

The students call it the Small-Mart.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Kid Finds Food

Classes don't start until Monday on the kid's campus, so today she's been dealing with problems and exploring.

Here's her first meal in the dining hall:

That's a grapefruit, raw carrots, tater tots and "some kind of meat," to quote the kid.  We were worried she would not be able to find food without corn syrup in the dining hall, but it looks like she can!

The Kid Departs

My kid has gone off to college -- we drove her up yesterday, helped her carry everything into her dorm room, took her to lunch, and then drove away.

It's an odd and somewhat scary feeling, I must say, to leave your child behind. But she's doing very well! She loves being there, and she's dealing with everything: meeting up with her RA, finding out where her classes will meet, buying the trash can we forgot she might need.

Here's a few views of her dorm room:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Racism in America

Here is one of my earliest memories, one I have never, ever admitted to anyone.

I was four years old. My family had just moved out of New Orleans proper -- in New Orleans, we lived in a trailer park in Gentilly, which was near the interstate overpass, and very close to the Community coffee factory. Every morning I would wake on the lower bunk of the bunkbed I shared with my older brother (my little brother had the crib) smelled roasting coffee. I still remember how wonderful that smell was.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Links for You

Tomorrow the kid goes off to college. Today we're packing and taking care of last minute details.

Have some links!

Nancy Kress on science and science fiction

Athena Andreadis on left-handness (the science and the social history)

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Review of Sisters of Tomorrow

My review of Lisa Yaszek and Patrick Sharp's Sisters of Tomorrow is live at Strange Horizons.

Why does this erasure matter? For two reasons, as Russ notes. First, when we are denied models, it’s much harder to believe that we can succeed. If it were possible for women to write science fiction, we ask as young writers, wouldn’t there be lots of science fiction written by women? Any writer needs to believe her task is possible if she is to make it through the many years of struggle. Second, if almost all women writers are erased—so that we’re left, for instance, with only a few names (Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Connie Willis), writers who seem to exist in isolation—then it’s much easier to believe that these very few women succeeded not because women can write science fiction, but because they were some sort of freak. (She wrote it, but she’s not really a woman.)

Sunday, August 13, 2017


...Dreher returns to the same old bullshit.

We can't hold White Nationalists responsible for their acts! It's those evil Leftists! If they didn't demand equal rights and a level playing field, why, those poor young white men wouldn't have to become Nazis!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What I'm Reading

Despite the piles of work that surround me, I am still reading obsessively. What else can I do, with our blowhard joke of a president threatening nuclear war, and the white supremacist fuckwads who support him marching in Virginia, shouting, "Jews will not replace us!"

Oddly, not a single Trump supporter has denounced this march, which devolved into the white supremacists beating counter-protesters, including members of the clergy, with flaming torches and spraying them with mace and other chemicals. Rather than mentioning this, one conservative asshat we all know and love is still screeching endlessly about the persecution of that dudebro at Google.

Update: Dreher, uncharacteristically, condemns the White Nationalist protesters, though he doesn't seem to grasp that Nazi = White Nationalist. And of course his comment stream is filled with those defending the Nazis.

But anyway! Here's what I'm reading lately:

Anthony Trollope, The Small House at Allington, Can You Forgive Her?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

End of Summer II

I've finished all my grading and entered the grades for my Summer II classes.

Here's my schedule for what is left of the summer:

Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Work on Fault Line edits.

Monday: Start packing with the Kid, noting everything we forget to buy

Tuesday: Packing with the Kid, buy last-minute objects

Wednesday: Drive the Kid to school, help her move into dorm. Buy her books with her.

Thursday: Pre-school conference at my university.

Friday: Ditto

Saturday, Sunday, Monday August 19-21: Work on Fault Line edits. Deal with last minute prep for Fall 2017. Fret about the Kid.

Tuesday, August 22: My first day of classes.

(The picture is the Kid, age 12, at Hanukkah. I share it for nostalgia's sake.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Well, Obviously

...there are DIFFERENT sorts of free speech* -- duh!

*For instance, there is free speech by white rich men. And then there is free speech by black upstarts who don't appreciate everything this country has done for them. When the first group speaks, we must be protected their right to say whatever like they like, at all costs, no matter what damage is done to others. When the second group speaks, we must vilify, condemn, and punish them until they shut up.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Fisking the Dreher

Andrew Johnston is doing a chapter by chapter read of Rod Dreher's pompous tome, The Benedict Option. All Johnston's posts are worth reading, but today's is especially good.

Today's youths are likely to grow up around some openly gay people and many of them have reached the same conclusions as me - queer folk are as boring as anyone else. Gay people aren't predators, they're just people. But let's not stop there - you could apply this to any of Dreher's other signs of sexual breakdown. Once you've known some women on birth control (or better still, once you've taken them yourself), you know that they aren't mindlessly fornicating animals. Once you've known some single mothers or divorcees, you know that they aren't stupid sluts. 

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Links for your Sunday

Summer II is almost over here -- I'm at the stage where all my students are resubmitting their revised drafts, which means I've got heaps of reading and editing to do. Combined with working on the edits for Fault Lines (which is going well!), well, I'm busy!

But! Not too busy to rummage the internets.  Here's some links:

This won't be quite as funny unless you saw the original

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

It's a Streak!

A very short streak, but still.

Last night right before I started getting ready for bed, I checked my email (as I always do) and found I had sold a story to Daily Science Fiction.

Much rejoicing followed, and then (about 40 minutes later), I really did start getting ready for bed, and checked my email (it's part of the bedtime ritual) to find I had sold a second story, this one to The Sockdolager.

Two stories in one hour! It is a record for me, beating out my previous record of two stories in one year.

Go me!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What's Up?

Here, it is just over two weeks before the kid goes off to her first year of college. (Wasn't it just yesterday she was starting her first year of high school? WTAH.) We're occupied with the incidentals of getting her prepped for college -- dealing with financial issues, buying her supplies, thinking about the gear she'll need.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump's America

Here's what Trump tweeted before the election:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


My editor has given me the next set of edits for my new novel, Fault Lines; so expect light posting for the next few months.

Meanwhile! Have some links!

Conservatives are weird

As Louie C.K. notes, the most dangerous person in a woman's life is the man she's in relationship with.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

I've sent my novel edits off (the first round), but I'm still teaching two sections of comp, with a different prep for each. So I'm busier than usual.

Nevertheless! I'm reading and reading.

These are the books I've finished lately:

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


I've been living on tabouli for the past few weeks. It's too hot here to actually cook, plus the tomatoes from my little garden are all coming ripe.

Here's the recipe I'm using now: Tabouli.

Also, a recipe for red sauce.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fault Lines

 From Candlemark & Gleam:

Velocity Wrachant, owner and captain of the merchant starship Susan Calvin, is broke and stranded on a Drift station, when she is offered what seems like a simple job: to escort young Brontë Ikeda into Republic space and help her retrieve several bonded-labor children.

While Velocity is tempted by the fee Brontë offers – which is enough to clear her debts – she also knows that Ikeda House, a powerful Combine, just had a major coup; and both she and her crew suspect the story they’re being told by the Combine child is not the whole story.

Velocity takes the gig, but it takes her into the heart of Combine territory, a place she fled almost twenty years earlier. What is the price she and her shipmates may end up paying for this job?
More here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July? Again?

There are only two things I like about July.

(1) Homegrown tomatoes

(2) In less than 12 weeks, it will be fall

Today we have a temperature in the 90's and a humidity in the 60's and all I want to do is drink seltzer and mope.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

Since I had revisions of my novel and am teaching two classes in Summer II, my reading rate has dropped off just a bit. Also my physician gave me some Valium for my anxiety, which has helped so much.

But! Not much Valium -- just enough to use when the anxiety is the worst. So I'm still self-medicating with excessive novel reading.

Here's what I've read over the past week or so:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I've started teaching Summer II. One class meets at 8:00 a.m. and the other at 10.20. They're two different comp classes (Comp I and Comp II), which means I'm doing two different preps.

I'm busy, is what I'm saying, and also exhausted, since in order to teach at 8:00 I have to be awake by 6:00. And even though I mean to go to sleep at 10:00 p.m. like a sane person, every single night I look up from what I'm working on (usually writing fiction by then) to find that somehow we have skipped straight from 7:00 p.m. to midnight.

Friday, July 07, 2017

DIY Dryer Repair

Inspired by a post at Nicole & Maggie's blog, I took apart my dryer venting system yesterday, using a vacuum and leaf-blower to clear (what I hope is) all the lint out of both the internal and external venting line.

The W/D hookups in our current house are the worst ever. Originally, this house (built I think in the mid-1960s) had no hookups. At some point, one of the previous owners added a laundry space. But rather than locating it, sensibly, against an exterior wall, they located the laundry room (really a closet) in the middle of the house. Thus, our vent line has to travel about sixteen feet underground -- yes, they dug an underground line, under the house's slab -- to emerge in a dug-out hole exactly where the AC vents its water.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Here Comes the Dragon

In the kid's comic, Fragile, the dragon has arrived. (The dragon is the best.)

Remember, you can support our young artist on Patreon for as little as a dollar a month!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

I'm Not Blushing...

I swear I don't know Leslie Gornstein. OTOH, she obviously has excellent taste in short fiction:

Monday, July 03, 2017

Yes, This is the REAL Problem

Trump's EPA administrator is axing rules against dumping toxic chemicals in our environment, Trump's Secretary of Education is bent on destroying public schools, the GOP-dominated Congress is destroying Medicaid, and Trump himself has pulled us out of the Paris Accords -- but this is the real threat to America's children.

Seriously, how much of a wanker do you need to be to write a post like this?

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Saturday Links

Still working on the novel revisions. Have some links!

I like this LJ post on Being Jewish

What it would take to replace the government-backed social safety net with private charity

Friday, June 30, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

I'm working hard on the edits for my new novel (tentatively titled Fault Lines), so I'm getting less reading done than I was in the early months of the Trump Regime.

But still! Here's what I've read lately:

Josephine Tey, Daughter of Time

Organizing our books turned up a number of books I hadn't read in years. This is one of them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Kid Gets Orientated

We took the kid up to Fayetteville for her orientation session yesterday. Dropped her off at 8:00 a.m., picked her up at 3:00 p.m.

We saw lots of parents who were participating in orientation -- going through the sessions with their kids, in other words. Some kids had both parents with them. I was a little surprised. I don't think the kids at my university take their parents with them.

Also, why would you want to do orientation with your kid? First, your child is now (nominally, at least) an adult. Get your mitts off and let them do this (very simple) thing for themselves.

#2, holy hell, orientation is boring. Why submit yourself seven hours of mind-numbing lectures about technological opportunities on campus and how to find the library if you're not going to need the information? You're not the student! Why do this?

Maybe I'm missing something.

The kid did fine -- she didn't precisely enjoy the experience (because it was boring) but she said it went okay, and she met some other artists when they got divided up to be advised. Also, turns out her ACT score was high enough that she's exempted from having to take Comp I and Comp II. Which is excellent, because boy would she hate those classes.

So she's taking nine hours of studio arts, an honors-level anthropology class, and US History I. No classes on Friday, which she's very happy about.

Meanwhile, Dr. Skull and I talked to the treasurer about the tuition discount I get, and then hung out with Charger, Dr. Skull's BFF who lives in Fayetteville. I worked on my novel edits while they watched a movie. We also drove around visiting bookstores and looking at houses. I'd love to rent a house in FV. Oh, well, one day maybe.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Excellent News

So today I signed the contract -- Candlemark & Gleam is going to publish my new novel. (Title is still in progress.) This is one set in the same universe as my previous novel, but with different characters -- some of the characters appear in the short story I published with Candlemark & Gleam, "Velocity's Ghost."

It's tentatively scheduled to come out in Spring 2018. Between now and then, I'll probably be posting less, since I'll be working on the edits.

I'm so pleased!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Kid at the University

My kid has her orientation session at the university on Monday. She is very much ready to be out of this town and in the university, so this is good news.

Also, though, we got the tuition statement this week. Holy hell, y'all. Four years at this university -- which is a state university -- will run in the neighborhood of ninety thousand dollars.

She's got a scholarship for some of it, and I get a 40% discount on the tuition (due to working in the state university system), but how would anyone who didn't have these things afford a four year degree?

"Loans" seem to be the answer the university itself is pushing. Nearly a hundred thousand dollars in loans for an undergraduate degree? That's the answer?

When I was at university, back in the eighties, my tuition was less than five hundred dollars a semester at a state university.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


It's not too late to support our favorite artist on Patreon.

You can get previews and free drawings for as little as $2.00/month!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Links

Links for you:

A student on campus speaks about the situation at Evergreen. (Big shocker: The white male professor, one who believes we should do "honest research" into racial issues, is not the saint he portrays himself as; nor is the situation at all as the Far-Right blogs and Fox News have presented it. Once again, white fragility has a tantrum, and people of color get the blame.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

It's been interesting (and by interesting I mean entirely predictable) to watch the reaction of the Far-Right to the recent shooting of five members of the Republican party at a DC baseball practice. Somehow they have been able to shrug off all the other mass shootings and killings in our country over the past years. But this one! Oh, this goes too far!

See this thread by Sarah-from-here for more.

Meanwhile, here's what I've been reading:

Kaoru Mori, A Bride's Story 

This is a manga, translated into English (or anyway my version is). Set in various locations along the Silk Road in the 19th Century, it's beautifully drawn and a lot of fun. There are a number of plot lines, including arranged marriages, women who don't perform their gender correctly, family life, women's lives, and a visiting European anthropologist who runs into some trouble.

Interestingly, given the presence of that anthropologist, A Bride's Story is less plot-driven and more of an anthropological look at the lives and traditions of the characters and their families. One of my favorite sequences in Book One in which a carpenter explains his work to a small boy from one of the families. The art in this section is spectacular.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pew Research Center Makes My Point

Here's a post from Anna Brown at the Pew Research Center, "5 Key Findings about LGBT Americans" makes exactly the point I made in my post earlier today.

 63% of Americans said in 2016 that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared with 51% in 2006. LGBT adults recognize the change in attitudes: About nine-in-ten (92%) said in a 2013 Pew Research Center survey of adults identifying as LGBT that society had become more accepting of them in the previous decade.
Perhaps as a result of this growing acceptance, the number of people who identify as LGBT in surveys is also rising. 

Yeah, this isn't rocket science.

The rest of the post is well worth the read.

These Kids Today

Rod Dreher writes yet another ridiculous post. This unhealthy obsession with LGBT people is really damaging his ability to reason.

In "Born That Way," Dreher argues that the rising number of young LGBT people means that those people aren't "really" gay. (Apparently it's a fad, or a lie, or a conspiracy by us powerful SJWs.)

The comment section is even more ludicrous than the post --

Friday, June 09, 2017

Not Really Human

Depsite all the tantrums the Far-Right threw about Clinton mentioning that it was deplorable to be a racist and a bigot, the special snowflakes on the Right have no problem declaring that anyone who isn't just like them -- following their religious creed, believing their political theology -- is "not really human."

Here's Rod Dreher, insisting in another wall of text ranting screed that anyone who isn't Christian-like-him isn't "fully human."

For [LGBT people]. one’s full humanity requires being able to express sexual and psychosexual desires, because these things are part of their identity. For traditional Christians, being fully human (in the sense of fulfilling our nature) requires ordering those desires to the ideal God reveals to us in Scripture and in nature. Understand me clearly: I’m not saying that LGBT people are “less than human,” any more than I would say that someone who cheats on his wife is less than human. Rather, I’m saying that all of us realize our full humanity when we live by certain truths embedded within Creation. In this sense, sin can be seen as a failure to be fully human, i.e., to fulfill God’s will for ourselves.

Thursday, June 08, 2017


So how about that Comey hearing?

I'm no fan of the knobstick who got Trump elected -- he says he feels sad about what he did, but yeah, buddy, that cuts no ice with me. You're sad, and my country is being destroyed. You did a bad thing and you should feel bad.

But I think it's clear enough: Comey says yes, Trump obstructed justice. Yes, the Russians interfered with the election. Yes, Trump is involved.

Will this cause the GOP to do the right thing? Don't make me laugh.

Here, have some links:

Linguistic posts are my kink.

Existential Comics meets Mad Max.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Working Hard

I'm getting so much done during these weeks when I am off-campus -- I finished my novel; I proofed another novel (not mine, but really good and a lot of fun -- look for Unraveling Timelines, this fall); I have written about two-thirds of what I think is going to be a novella.

I've also planted a garden, made inroads on the dreadful wilderness that has been my yard for the past five or six years, sorted and alphabetized all my books, moved those we plan to donate or sell into storage, and reduced (some of) the chaos in the house.

All this, of course, while the USA fragments and collapses around our ears. (I'm not watching any news, though I now have subscriptions to both the NYTimes and the Washington Post.)

Nicole and Maggie asked, a few weeks ago, how people felt about their jobs -- whether they felt they needed to work in order to have purpose and structure in their lives, or whether (if, for instance, Universal Basic Income ever becomes a reality) they would be just as happy and productive without having to work for a living.

I seem to be much more productive when I don't have daily classes to teach, and papers to grade. I don't know if this is because it's only for these seven weeks; or if the effect would last.

I wouldn't mind finding out, though. (We can dream!)

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Hell?

I'm seriously befuddled by the Religious Right these days -- well, I suppose that means most Conservatives in the USA, since the GOP has been eaten alive by the Evangelicals it coaxed into the party in the hope of winning a few elections.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Friday Links!

All the books are in order. I am (almost) caught up on my laundry. The chimney is fixed (finally). Now all I have to do is vacuum and I'll have nothing to do but write. Is this my beautiful house? Is this my beautiful life?

Have some links!

This essay by Rebecca Solnit on Trump is brilliant. Longish, but well worth the read.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Books Done!

I have sorted and shelved all* the books!

Say WAH HOO for me!

*and by "all" I mean all except the books in Dr. Skull's office. Those are his problem.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

I'm working on finishing off my novel (it's finished, I'm just doing the final read through) before submitting it, as well as editing another novel (someone else's, I'm just doing the proofreading), and also writing what is turning out to be a novella (why, why, why do I write novellas, why?), so I'm busier than usual with writing these days.

But! I'm still reading heaps.

Justine Larbalestier, My Sister Rosa

This, like all of Larbalestier's novels, is compulsively readable. (Larbalestier wrote Liar, which is one of my favorite werewolf books.) It's YA, from the POV of an older brother, about his younger sister, who he is pretty sure is a sociopath. His parents are high-earning, high-status workaholics who have left him to raise the sister (six years younger than he is), and given him essentially no help in dealing with her psychological issues.