Friday, July 13, 2018

What I'm Reading

I'm done with teaching until August 20, so I'm writing a ton. Also reading more fiction than usual. (Whaaat!)

Some of it is re-reading old favorites. I'm not going to list those. I'm also not going to list the books I've started and tossed aside after 10 or 20 pages. There were a number of these, by the way. I'm just not interested in reading another book about another rich straight white guy (rich straight white woman) who is bored with their life or marriage or having a midlife crisis or whatever and in which nothing happens except we hear about their feelings. Oh, and they have sex with people. Author-insert sex, usually. Author-insert-creepy sex.

This is why most new fiction in the Literary genre is so bad. Young writers have stopped using plot. When you get rid of plot, what's left? Just your characters, mooning about feeling moody about their dull lives. And it's not that their lives are inherently dull -- it's just that you left out the plot.

I mean, take two of the best books written in the past 20 years: Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool and Kate Atkinson's Life After Life. Both of these are centered on mundane existence and on straight white people. Russo's Donald Sullivan is a 60 year old day-laborer in a small, dying town in upstate New York. Atkinson's Ursula Todd is the third child in an upper-middle-class family in pre-WWII and post-WWII England. Both books deal with the minutia of their lives. Both books are wonderful for two reasons: excellent writing, and a compelling plot.

Atkinson's plot is slightly speculative -- she imagines a world in which reincarnation is real, and then shows us Ursula's life, over and over (life after life). The plot bit is that it's the same life. That is, Ursula is always Ursula Todd, born on February 11, 1920, to this family, in this house, during this snowstorm. But after that, changes can and do occur. What happens when Ursula-the-soul begins to remember previous reincarnations? Especially with WWII hitting her and her family and her country square in the middle of her life?

Russo's plot is straight literary fiction. Sullivan is trying to make it through another year. He's damaged, both physically and psychically, and he's inflicted damage on those around him. But he lives in a community of people he cares about, and people who care about it. And we, the reader, come to care about him. We want him to make it through another year also. That's the plot. That's the entire plot. Can Sully make his life work? Can he help his son and grandson? Can the other main character, Miss Beryl, help Jane and Tina (shadow figures to Sully's son and grandson, the child and grandchild Sully won't claim)? Will the community of North Bath survive another year?

Just as George Eliot makes us care about Middlemarch and those who live in that community, Russo makes us care about North Bath and the fate of those who live in this community. That's his plot -- can they make it? We want to know, and so we read on.

I think this is why I like genre fiction more than what is being published in the genre called literary fiction these days. Those who write genre fiction know they're supposed to have a plot. Too many people writing "literary" fiction think they can just write "lush" or "intricate" prose and substitute that for plot. Bah.

Where was I?

Oh, right. What have I been reading?

Mary Robinette Kowal, The Calculating Stars

I almost skipped this one because our library didn't have a copy and I'm trying not to buy books because we need to buy new tires for the car soon. But then Amazon had it cheap on Kindle, and I went for it.

Very much worth it! This is an alternative history in which an asteroid hits Earth in 1952, just off the coast of Maryland, obliterating Washington, D.C., where both Houses were in session, and President Dewey and most of his entire cabinet were present. The highest ranking survivor is the Secretary of Agriculture -- which turns out to be a good thing, since having a President who understands the effect of weather on crops and thus on humanity becomes key to the survival of humanity.

This is definitely genre fiction, and the plot is central: the asteroid strike creates a crisis, and our main character (a "computer" for NACA, this time-line's version of NASA) is central to solving that crisis. She and her husband and their community of colleagues and friends work desperately to get the space program kicked into high gear in time to save the human race from the disaster the asteroid strike has caused.

Lots of math in this one, and lots of science. Very readable, though! And the characters are great.

Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

Also definitely genre fiction, this one is fantasy. I don't usually like fantasy much, but the Kid gave me this one and ordered me to read it. And the Kid is right! It's really good. I'm going to try not to give spoilers.

It's told from the point of view of a child, Jude, whose mother was romanced off into the land of the Fae. Fast-forward 17 years. The child is now on the cusp of adulthood, and the kingdom of the Fairies is having political issues.

I love books with political issues.

Jude wants to be a knight, which is something mortals can be but usually aren't. Her Faerie father can make this happen, if he wants to. He gives Jude ambiguous answers. Meanwhile, Jude and her two sisters (one is half-fae, the other mortal like Jude) are having trouble with their fae coevals, most of whom are royalty.

Plot abounds. Who is to be trusted and who is not? It's like a Tudor drama. Very much worth reading. But fair warning -- this is the first of a trilogy, and the next isn't out until January. Also, just as with Tudor England, we've got blood and abuse and intrigue everywhere in this one, so if you like your books without violence, maybe skip this one.

Ian Mortimer, The Time-Traveler's Guide to Restoration England 
Charlotte Gordon, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley

I blogged about one of these already. They're both really good. Both of them I'm reading for research on this one tiny story I'm writing. But worth reading if you're interested in the period even if you're not writing a story about trickster time-travelers! Mortimer is good for his period details -- he's written several of these books -- and Gordon's analysis is excellent.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


So I had this terrible nightmare last night in which I'd had two children and I had both forgotten to love them and lost them.

These were very real children. I could draw you their pictures now, and in the dream they had names, though I can't remember their names now. I was very upset in the dream because I didn't love them -- I'd forgotten the part of parenting where I was supposed to bond with and fall in love with my children.

And then I realized I had no idea where they were. I couldn't remember if they were at a friend's house, or at school, or if they were visiting their grandparents, or what I had done with them.

Then I woke up in sheer terror and lay there for maybe a full minute, trying to remember where my children were, before I remembered I had one kid,who was in the very next room, sound asleep.

I think this is my new version of my anxiety dream. I used to have anxiety dreams in which I'd forgotten to attend a class all semester, and now it was time for the final, and once I became a professor, for awhile I was having dreams in which I'd forgotten to teach a class all semester and now it was time for the final. Now that the kid's 20, apparently I'm going to have dreams in which I've forgotten to raise kids all their lives and now it's time for the final.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Dinner the way, was chicken piccata, a broccoli and cheese casserole, French bread, and a nice Sauvignon blanc.

No pics today, sadly.

Conversation at the delagar Household

Me: Hey, dadzo is making dinner tonight

The Kid: He better.

Me: Yeah, I told him how sad you were he didn't last night.

The Kid: Yeah.

Me: He's gonna make that broccoli cheese casserole.

The Kid: Oh, worm?

Me: ... ... ...

The Kid: You know what that means, right? Oh, worm?

Me: Yeah, no.

The Kid: (Big sigh)

We need a Duolingo for 21st Century English, y'all.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Reading for Research

For some time I've been thinking up a story about a family of time-travelers, and last week I finally started to write it. For reasons I won't get into here, part of the story involves an encounter with Mary Wollstonecraft.

When I reached that point in the story, I realized I needed to know more specifics about Wollstonecraft's life -- details, facts, how she would react to things my characters said.

No problem, I said. The library has a biography, and look here, Amazon has another that is cheap on Kindle. Couple of hours of quick reading, and back to work.

Three days later, I'm still reading. This is not so much because I need to learn more as because Wollstonecraft is fascinating. Also, one of the books, Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley, by Charlotte Gordon, is excellent. I knew a little about Mary Shelley and her life with Percy; and I knew a very little about Wollstonecraft's life (that she had written Vindication of the Rights of Women, and that she had died giving birth to Mary Shelley); but this book is a revelation.

What Gordon does is, via alternating chapters, contrast Wollstonecraft's life and writing careers with that of her daughter's, detailing the events that shape them, and how they react to and resist these events.

This is a long but excellent book. Unless you're an English professor, or interested in the Romantics or feminism, it might not be for you. If that's your jam, though, snap this one up.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy 4th

Happy 4th from mine to yours:

From left to right, the Kid, me, and Uncle Charger. Not pictured: Dr. Skull, who is taking the photograph.

Le Menu: smoked lamb, chicken cacciatore, grilled asparagus, peach ice cream, and French bread with butter or sauce. Choice of Ginger ale or regular ale. Peach ice cream with homemade Maraschino cherries (bottled with last year's cherry crop) for dessert.


The Year's Best Science Fiction: 35th Annual Collection is now available, with a certain story from our favorite author in the TOC.

(You can Look Inside to see me. I'm on page iv of the TOC.)

ETA: Watch out, apparently there's a glitch when you try to buy the Kindle version. You get the 5th Annual Collection instead. Maybe wait a few days?

Links for Your 4th

If you haven't seen this, you HAVE to see this

Grandmothers matter

Ortberg translates Sappho


Fact v Opinion (I scored 100%, but then I better have)

It me

I know we're sick of Jordan Peterson, but...

Yes, we do have alternatives


Sunday, July 01, 2018

My Guilty Secret

I know I'm an English professor, but the minute I read in a review that someone's prose is "lush" or "ornate," I roll my eyes and cross that sucker off my list forever.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Cats Love Fault Lines

Cats love Fault Lines.

H/T to Heebie-Jeebie

Also to File 770, where Cats Sleep on SFF is a Thing.

This, on the other hand...

I don't even know what to say about this

UNACCOMPANIED:  Alone in America from Linda Freedman on Vimeo.

Something to Cheer Us Up

This is pretty wonderful:

(H/t )

This Happens Literally All The Time

And it happened again today.

It usually happens on social media, but sometimes IRL as well.

We'll be talking, some man and I. It is (almost*) always a man, and always a white man, and always a straight white man. Not always a conservative man, either. Often enough, this is a progressive man, or at least he calls himself progressive.

We'll disagree about something.

Now according to the rules, you see, the rules of how woman and men discuss things, I am allowed to disagree with him. But I should tinkle with deferential laughter and cringe and duck my head and hedge everything I say with sweet little girl phrases like "don't you think" and "well, maybe" and "I don't know, I just wonder if" and "I'm just a ignorant little nuffin, but don't you think" and essentially make him feel like a big strong man who is graciously allowing me to be in this big boy intellectual conversation at all.

I stopped doing that particular dance when I was about 25, when I became a feminist. Now I just say what I mean, backing up what I mean with facts and evidence, as if I were a human being in the same way he is a human being.

Not all men by any means, but some men* interpret this as an attack.

These men interpret it as an attack on their manhood. "You're not doing your cause any favors by being such a bitch," one of them said.

Or, "It's women like you who cause men to hate feminists," another said.

I've always blogged under delagar, as all y'all know, and for years many people thought "delagar" was a man. Some people still do. Interestingly, I never got (and never get) reactions like this on those occasions.

I didn't used to believe in fragile masculinity. But these guys have been making such a case for it, it's hard to not to these days.

*Some women interpret it as an attack as well. These are women who think any sort of discussion is "arguing." They also think everything is an "opinion." So when someone points out that what they're saying is factually incorrect, well, that's me imposing my "opinion" over their "opinion" which is just rude.  How dare I claim that Trump has put children in cages? Their opinion is that he has not! My "opinion" that he has is no more valid than theirs! It's rude to say they're wrong!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Hot and Horrible

It's been miserably hot here over the past week -- close to 100 degrees every day, with a heat index of 107 or 108 each day -- and also I picked up some virus at school. Vomiting and aching while being hot and cranky is not a good mix.

The virus is gone, at least, though the heat is not. Weather guy says temperatures will stay near 100 for the foreseeable future. Bah.

Plus the political news continues awful. It's almost funny, in the bleakest, most horrific way, how one horrific thing after the next happens.

It's like slapstick disaster theater, if you see what I mean.

Or, you know, it would be funny, if it weren't happening to the country I live in and want to be proud of.

As it is, sweet Jesus. No wonder I projectile vomited for 12 hours straight. The wonder is we aren't all doing so.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

What I'm Reading

I've been teaching two summer classes, as I noted in the previous post, plus actually writing again (two short stories and I've started another Velocity novel) so my time for reading is limited; but nevertheless I persist!

Here's what I've read over the past month and half or so:

Jodi Taylor, The Chronicles of St. Mary's

I read a review of the first book in this series, Just One Damn Thing After Another, by James Nicholls over on his review site, which I recommend highly if you like SFF, by the way. It sounded like exactly my jam, a time travel series in an academic setting, with a woman main character. I bought the first one, and I was hooked.

These are indeed time travel novels, but also historical romances, but also comic novels, and also delightful. Hard to describe without spoilers, but if you want fiction that's not too stressful and also extremely addictive, this is for you. Also there are lots of them -- nine, with another due out soon, plus a book of short stories. Oh, boy!

Barry Unsworth, Mortality Play, The Quality of Mercy

These I read on the recommendation of Athena Andreadis, who mentioned them on Twitter on day -- or mentioned one of them. They're historical fiction, and very well done. The first is about a group of players who stumble into a murder mystery in a small town during the years after the Black Death; the second is about the men and women working to preserve and to fight against slavery in England.

Mortality Play also won the Booker Prize.

Books about complex moral questions are also totally my jam, and these are very well written. Highly recommended. My library only has these two, but I'm thinking of buying the others.

Charles Stross, Saturn's Children

For some reason, I never got around to reading Charles Stross. As I recall, I picked up one of his books (I forget which one) which was in the middle of a series, and couldn't really understand what was going on, put it down, and never picked up any of his books again.

This one, Saturn's Children, seems to be a stand alone, and is pretty good. It's far-future, in a universe in which all humanity has died out. Only the robots survive. They miss humans, who they were built to serve, but are carrying on.

The worldbuilding is great, and the robot characters are wonderful. This one is a lot of fun and also filled with ideas -- what science fiction was built to be. Highly recommended.

I might even give Stross's other work another chance. :D

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Teaching Post

I've been teaching a "transitional" class this summer. Transitional is what we used to call remedial English back when I started this gig.

I've been teaching Comp pretty much non-stop for well over 25 years (I just did the math, and yes, well over), but I haven't taught remedial English since I was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Idaho. The university I taught at in North Carolina just didn't offer it -- though it needed it badly -- and when I started here in the Fort, all the remedial classes, which were called something else then (I can't remember what), were in separate department.

But a couple semesters go, that department was dissolved, and the Transitional classes became part of their departments -- transitional math with the math department, in other words, and Transitional College Writing with the English department.

All of which is a long way of saying that I am teaching remedial English for the first time in nearly 20 years, and liking it a great deal.

It may be because this is a summer class. All my students are either older students or immigrants. None of them are here because their parents signed them up for the class, in other words. They show up with the assignments done, ready to work. That's just so pleasant.

Also, despite the class, they are both engaged and fairly literate, if not uniformly well-read.

Mind you, some of them are also well-read. One of them quoted Plato at me today! It was great. We had a sidebar about The Republic together before returning to the less-engaging question of how to build an essay map.

Beyond all this, however, almost all of them are here to learn. When I told them that the arguments in their essays had to be supported with sources, and that those sources had to be valid sources, they took notes on what a valid source was. Not one of them turned in an essay with anything other than valid sources supporting their claims.

One of them explained to me that they'd had to change their topic. "I thought this," they said, "but when I tried to find valid sources to support it, I couldn't. So I knew it couldn't be supported. So I changed my thesis to this."

I just nodded seriously and told them they'd done a good job. But in my head?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pride Parade in NWA

We spent yesterday up in Fayetteville, at the Pride Parade (if you're LGBTQ in Arkansas, Fayetteville is your oasis).

It was the Kid's first Pride parade -- mine too. "Whaat?" the Kid said.

"Well, they're always in June," I said. "Obviously. And you know how I feel about summer."

"Oh, right." The Kid thought this over. "You must really love me."

But it was a wonderful parade. The Kid said they might happy-cry. I don't know if they did, but I'll admit I did, once or twice.

Before the parade, we walked up and down Dickson Street, admiring the crowd: sassy girls wearing rainbow flags like capes, lovely shirtless boys holding hands, tiny toddlers in rainbow tutus running through the crowd, stately grandmothers with canes and rainbow flowers in their hair, and so many dogs. The sole sour note was an Evangelical standing on wall with a bullhorn telling all these wonderful, happy, celebrating people they would burn in the fires of hell. The Kid flipped him off as we went past.

We stopped at the little grocery store where the Kid shops when school is in session, to buy bottles of water, and stayed inside there in the AC to drink them.

Then we went out again, and down the street to sit on the curb in the shade of a big tree and wait for the parade. Some of our friends and their kids found us there -- I'd been looking for them, sort of hopelessly, because the crowd was huge -- and we spent the ten or fifteen minutes before the parade started catching up.

Also still enjoying the crowd.  More dogs! More trans and gay and genderqueer and Lesbian people! A set of tiny redheaded twins in fairy-princess costumes! A tiny poodle in a rainbow tutu! A large man with an impressive beard wearing a shirt that said: TRUMP IS THE ONLY DICK I CANNOT HANDLE.

The parade itself began right on time. It was pretty wonderful.

The best parts, I think, were the UA-Pride organization, which the Kid has not yet been able to join, because their studio art class conflicted with it all last year; and the Socialists For LGBT Rights (there was a guy from the IWW there -- Dr. Skull shouted out to him something about Joe Hill, and made his day); and the local Jewish temple, Temple Shalom, marching in the parade.

Lots of religious groups marched, by the way -- not just the Jews! But obviously we were very pleased to see the temple there.

Also the atheists marched. That was nice too!

Also, two of my ex-students were in the parade. (That's not them above!)

All in all, a wonderful experience.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review of The Enclave

My latest review is live at Strange Horizons.

This one is of Anne Charnock's award-winning novella, The Enclave, which is set in the same world as her novel, A Calculated Life, which I highly recommend.

Monday, June 11, 2018


More on Fault Lines from my publisher!

Fault Lines received terrific reviews in Publishers WeeklyBooklist, and from SF legend Gwyneth Jones and Ditmar award winner Tansy Rayner Roberts (and nabbed today’s spot at Scalzi’s Big Idea). Review excerpts:
In this fun, intrigue-laden space opera, // Jennings gives an intriguing glimpse of a much larger setting. // Fans of found family will love the portrayal of Velocity and her crew of scrappy underdogs. — Publishers Weekly
Kelly [Jennings] has been compared with C. J. Cherryh, and I think deservedly. Fault Lines isn’t burdened with the awful angst of Cherryh’s [] Cyteen, but it has the same intensity and conviction. — Gwyneth Jones, author of the Aleutian trilogy, winner of the World Fantasy, Clarke, Dick, and Tiptree awards
More political intrigue and gamesmanship than a standard space-battle story… // Solid world building, likable characters…nifty plot twists… — Craig Clark, Booklist 
A sharp, character-rich space opera packed with angry, capable women and attractive, vulnerable men. Jennings builds a large, politically complex world // but expresses this through an intimate slice… — Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of the Creature Court trilogy, winner of multiple Ditmar and WSFA Small Press awards
Fault Lines is available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo – and of course on our website, where buying the lovingly prepared trade paperback also brings along the full digital bundle (PDF, Epub and Mobi) . All C&G ebooks are DRM-free. As a reminder, it may take a couple of days post-launch for full linkage between print and digital versions on Amazon and B&N.
Come explore Fault Lines with us; sail the perilous skies of the Pirian/Combine ‘verse with genetic outlaws and hierarchy subverters!

Fault Lines? Big Idea?

Yes, you read that right -- my novel, Fault Lines, is today's Big Idea over on John Scalzi's blog, Whatever.

Go here to read all about it!

Also, you can buy my book!  AT LAST!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Pre-Order Fault Lines!

You can pre-order my new novel, Fault Lines, on Kindle, or in a print version.

You can also get it from B&N, or from Kobo!

Big announcement coming on Monday, by the way!

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

New Recipe up at Cooking With Delagar

I used to make this entirely non-authentic stir-fry all the time when I was a grad student. Lately I've been making it with the Kid, because it's quick and cheap and tasty.

Have the recipe!

Monday, June 04, 2018

Your Last Week to Win!

Sign up to win my book! The Give-Away is in its last week!

Go here for more details!

(The book will debut on June 11 -- you can order it then! And don't worry! I'll be posting ALL THE LINKS!)

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Summer I

Summer teaching starts tomorrow. My Comp I class made -- hurrah! -- but my fiction writing class did not. However, I picked up a transition writing class, which doesn't have quite full enrollment (and so I won't quite be getting full pay for it), which means we'll have almost enough money to make it through the summer.

Also, I won't have to teach Summer II. That's five weeks off to write.


Saturday, June 02, 2018

Take My Poll!

So I'm doing research -- I'm sorry, make that "research" on the interwebs, trying to find out what most people would wish for if they could have one wish granted...

Holy smokes*, y'all, you would not believe the number of people who would wish for unlimited weed.

Meanwhile, go take my highly scientific poll over on the Twitter.

*Pun definitely intended

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Booklist likes my Book!

Aw, look!

Booklist likes Fault Lines!

Though it's not my debut novel. But otherwise!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Twenty-Five Years

Dr. Skull and I have been married for 25 years, as difficult as that is to believe. As I often tell my students, we didn't live together before we got married -- in fact, we didn't live together after we got married. He was working in LA and Georgia both before and after our marriage.

But in fact this isn't entirely true. I was in graduate school in Fayetteville, and when he was in town, which was often, we lived together. So we've really been together somewhat longer than 25 years.

Anyway! Here's what he gave me for our anniversary:

 It's a stained glass window that you hang up in an actual window. When the sun shines through it, it's very lovely.

He also gave me this little guy:

because I write SF, get it?

I have the best husband.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Podcast Galactic Suburbia

Galactic Suburbia podcast discusses Fault Lines (at the very end! Skip ahead to like the last seven or eight minutes if you just want to hear about my book).

Friday, May 25, 2018

Summer School

As I noted in an earlier post, I'm teaching two classes (let's hope -- one hasn't made yet) this summer.

The Kid is also taking a class at my university this summer. This is for two reasons -- one, it's much cheaper to take a class here than up at the flagship U; and two, it's their math req, and taking it all by itself will allow them to focus just on math. They're much better at math than Dr. Skull and I are, but it's not their strongest subject.

Anyway! My point! Signing the Kid up for a class has let me see the mechanics of university life from the other side. While it's much easier than it was in our days, in that lots of it can be done sitting in your living room via your computer, rather than walking all over a miserably hot campus from building to building, it's still a heap of fiddle to collect and stick in the right slots -- transcripts, shot records, SS#, official # for high school, dates for same, official # for all universities attended, dates for same, ACT/SAT scores...

All to take a single summer class.

I can see why each bit of data is necessary, mind you. But I can also see why some prospective students, who don't understand the need for all this data, might give up and decide to work at the water park instead.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


It's two weeks until Summer I begins. I am probably teaching two classes in that semester -- madness! But (as always) we need the money.

Meanwhile I am writing and writing.

Here, have links!

Cool article on Homer and color words -- also touches on why translations are such a tangled web

Don't forget to sign up for the give-away of my novel!

Charles Murray is a terrible human being

Via TYWKIWDBI, why America is broken

NYTimes lets Jordan Peterson hang himself

Jessica Valenti on Peterson

For those of you who want to know even more about Jordan Peterson

See also this :

When the shooting stopped, Mr. Dixon said that friends told him that the gunman first entered an art classroom, said “Surprise!” and started shooting. The suspect’s ex-girlfriend was among the people shot in that classroom, he said.

Rod Dreher, of course, thinks school shootings are caused by access to the internet.

Also, Rod Dreher thinks you should get off his fucking lawn

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing -- the causes are worth looking at though. (Hint: It's probably not bc Gen Whatevs is so selfish.)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fault Lines Give-Away Promo

You know you've been waiting for it!

Now you can jump the line! Candlemark & Gleam is holding a May Giveaway of my new book, Fault Lines.

Go here for more details!

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I had the best dream last night.

First, I got a $20,000 raise. Also it was rainy and grey outside -- my favorite weather. Then as we were driving home, we heard that the Paris Accords were working. Then I started getting texts and emails from everyone telling me my book was a best-seller.

Then -- and this was the best part of the dream, I even thought, inside the dream, this is like the best dream ever -- then, Donald Trump got impeached.

Happy Mother's Day, y'all.

May all your dreams come true!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Donald Glover / Childish Gambino

To be honest, I had lost track of Donald Glover after I quit watching Community, a comedy about a community college which, for its first three seasons, was quite good. (After that, it became quite terrible.) Donald Glover played Trey Barnes on the show.

He was also, apparently, in the Martian, so I probably saw him in that. But the Martin was so boring I remember almost nothing about it.

Then, as I'm sure most of you know, his video "This is America" dropped last week.


I'm not caught up, but Glover has apparently become (or at least come out) as a genius while my back was turned. I've just started watching his series Atlanta (brilliant), and I'm listening almost non-stop to his music.

Here's the video, in case you missed it, and some commentary on it.

The video:


More commentary -- this one's pretty good

This one might be my fav -- from the article:

“This is the thoughtful discussion of the place of violence in the American landscape and how guns are a perpetual and tragically necessary part of living in America,” says Touré. “I think it’s critical when [Gambino] says ‘I got strap, I have to carry it.’ He’s not bragging about having a gun, he’s like ‘I have to, this is America, this is the way things go here.’ The fact that he has to is really important to the message.”

Thursday, May 10, 2018


We're driving up to Fayetteville to fetch the kid home for the summer.

Have some links!

The end of this editorial is the most compelling bit -- the start, meh. I think we've given Kevin Williamson enough attention. He's another overrated white guy, who's been surviving on Wingnut Welfare. Time to send him on the Hate-Wing Lecture circuit where he belongs.



Employment is up, wages ain't (at least for most of us)

At least one reason for the previous

Interesting, but I need more data

Trump supporter uses his free speech

Philosophy, man

For like all six of you who haven't seen this yet -- Donald Glover is a straight genius:

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

This is Why Internet

I'm learning French on Duolingo -- really just messing around, obviously. This is no way to really learn a language. Anyway, for the phrase "Comment vous appelez-vous?" I found these comments, which I had to share:
  • 16
  • 9
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2

Alexander Hamilton. Je m'appelle Alexander Hamilton.

ReplyGive Lingot1 year ago
  • 13
  • 9
  • 3

Je m'appelle Philip Je suis un poète J'ai écrit cette poème juste pour le montrer

ReplyGive Lingot5 months ago

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Thinking about Graduate School

"Ego-involved" was a big thing back in graduate school.

As in, "Wow, he's a little ego-involved in his work, isn't he?"

Or: "Yeah, she doesn't really take criticism of her poetry well. Too ego-involved."

I'm trying to remember where this came from. Maybe from reading the Bhagavad Gita?

Who knows. The 90s, man.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Holy Hell

If you ever want to start a Twitter storm, just tweet that food-woo (in this case, Pink Himalayan Salt) is bullshit.

I've STILL got people coming @ me

Thursday, May 03, 2018

You Can't Make This Shit Up, Y'all

See, even if I had known it was a lie, I still would have posted it, because it's okay to lie about gay people and other people I don't like.

How else is a good Christian conservative supposed to save this country from the liberals?

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Here is How Good People Act

You'll remember a few days ago I wrote about Rod Dreher and his silly pearl-clutching over parents discussing what they would like their children to call them. (Rod thinks civilization will be destroyed if every single parent doesn't parent in lockstep with every other parent.)

As an antidote to that toxic and fragile bullshit, I offer this wonderful story.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Y'all, if you haven't seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (available on Amazon Prime), go watch it now.

Only the first season is available so far, but the second season is filming as we speak.

(H/T Nicole and Maggie)

It's not the End, but You Can See it from Here

The end of the semester hoves near, y'all.

I'm only giving one exam, in English Grammar, which will be practically painless (at least for me). My other classes have portfolios, which will have to be read and commented on. That's more work, but it's also slower work.

Soon I will have almost a month off, in other words. I'm teaching Summer I, which starts in early June. So I've got almost all of May to write, and maybe sleep, if I got shake this pernicious insomnia.

The kid comes home on May 11. Then they're going to visit their sweetie for awhile, who lives in Pennsylvania.

Then they'll see about getting a job.

Yes, it's an exciting summer planned here at Chez delagar.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Why Are You So Angry?

Apropos of nothing in particular, my very favorite tactic of the passive-aggressive Far-Right is how they say, with such sad concern, that it really is a shame you're so angry about this issue.

You poor irrational girl-child, you.

(I hope you can hear my eyes rolling from clear over here.)


I am trying to make mushroom risotta at home.

So far I have not been at all happy with the results.

The recipe I used is the one in in Julia Child's cookbook, and sadly it was sort of meh.

Who has a wonderful risotta recipe they will share with me?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Oh My

I used to be in such better shape. I used to run five k races in under 35 minutes, regularly.

Now just mowing the lawn and bundling up a few bundles of sticks for the lawn removal guys wears me to a frazzle.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Conservative Art

Once upon a time, conservatives could create art. I mean, look at Milton. There was also Anthony Trollope.

But today, this is what we get:

Not to mention Dennis Miller, Roseanne Barr, and Ted Nugent.

Why can't Conservatives create art these days? What's gone wrong with their culture?

ETA: LGM posts about it as well

Friday, April 27, 2018

Seriously, WTAF is Wrong with These Fragile Flowers?

Over at Rod Dreher he says that a genderqueer couple having a baby and trying to decide what they want that kid to call them -- maybe "mather"? Maybe "abba"? -- will destroy society.

His exact words: "If it should catch on, society will unravel."

I cannot fathom being this terrified of any little difference in behavior among my fellow citizens. OH NO, this person practices sex differently than I do! OH NO, this person worships a different God than I do. OH NO, this person wants their kids to call them mather instead of mother!!1! OUR WORLD IS DOOMED.

I can't imagine that a culture or a belief system which is that fragile is actually worth saving.

What I'm Reading Now

I'm having the worst insomnia, which means although I have time to read -- all those extra hours when I could be sleeping -- I am in no shape to read anything even the slightest bit challenging.

Here's what I've been reading:

Ann Leckie, Provenance 

Leckie's one of my favorite writers, and my public library is apparently never going to buy this book, so I went ahead and bought a copy. It's more or less a mystery novel set in the universe of Leckie's Ancillary universe. We meet a different society than the Radch culture, however -- one in which no one has a gender until they choose one upon reaching adulthood (that's how they reach adulthood, in fact, by choosing their gender). And there are not only two genders -- there are males, females, non-binary people, and another gender which is not entirely clear. Further, families are constructed both by bearing children and by adopting children, and the latter is far more common.

The trouble arises when a set of (more or less) religious artifacts is stolen (or not stolen) and our main character gets involved, somewhat against her will, in untangling the guilt or innocence of the person believed to have stolen them. There's also a murder mystery.

As always with Leckie, this is a complex and interesting read, not in the least because of the interesting worldbuilding.

Georgette Heyer, False Colours, Beauvallet, The Corinthian, The Nonesuch.

Of these, I enjoyed both The Corinthian and The Nonesuch very much. The other two were okay, but not the best Heyers I've read. Still very readable, however!

Gail Godwin, Grief Cottage

I liked reading this one a lot, and the writing was lovely in places. But the ending is flat. It's like Godwin just got bored and quit. However, the novel is worth reading for the voice of the main character and the details of living on this barrier island.

Sarah Elizabeth Miller, Caroline: Little House Revisited

This is a novelization of the events of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie told from the point of view of Caroline Ingalls. There's some attention to historical accuracy (that is, events as they actually happened, rather than as they're told in the Wilder book), and as a lifelong fan of the Little House books, I enjoyed this a lot. If you're not a Little House junkie, this one probably isn't for you.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Publishers Weekly Likes My Book!

Here's what Publishers Weekly has to say about Fault Lines:

Jennings gives an intriguing glimpse of a much larger setting, hinting at a long-devastated Earth and humankind’s spread to the stars, but this initial offering remains tightly focused, almost claustrophobic, as it deals with high-level political and economic scheming. Fans of found family will love the portrayal of Velocity and her crew of scrappy underdogs.

More at the link! 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

100 Best Books

Someone asked me over on FB recently what my favorite book was. (Theirs was Farenheit 451.) This is a question that always sends me into a mild panic, since I don't have -- can't conceive of having -- a favorite book.

Instead, I have about 100 favorite books. And now I intend to list them for you.

Living in the Clouds

The Kid sent me another pic from their dorm room window -- today they woke up and found they were living in the clouds:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Kid and the Apartment

At the Kid's university, freshmen are required to live in dorms. So this year they lived on the 7th floor of one of the older (cheaper) dorms on campus. Which they liked well enough -- it was close to most buildings where they had classes, plus the room has an amazing view of the Arkansas hills and mountains. (Here's a photo from the window.)

But even the cheap dorm room is really pricey, plus there's almost no privacy. So next year, they're going to live in a tiny apartment just off-campus. This past week, we went up to Fayetteville to see what we could find.

We had a short list of things we needed -- not too pricey, that was (A).

(2) was "close to campus." Since the Kid doesn't have a car and won't have one any time soon, we needed a place within walking distance of campus. This one could be set aside if the apartment was on the bus route -- though that would make it more difficult for them to get to class on time.

(C) If possible, close to a grocery store

(D) Pets? The Kid really wanted to take the little dog with her.

(E) Furnished if possible.

Everything after that was in the box with "that's cool but not necessary."

We found, finally, a little one-room apartment which pays all utilities including internet, which is only about two blocks off campus, and is right by a walking / biking trail which leads down to Dickson Street.  There's a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer included, which is nice.

Floor plan

It's unfurnished and it doesn't allow pets. But other than that, we're happy.

I will say that rents have increased enormously since I lived in FV as a grad student. I had a comparable apartment back then (1990's) which rented for 1/4th of what the Kid will be paying.

Wages have not increased at that rate, obviously.  I'm just sayin.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Language and Change

Over on FB, on a closed thread, I wrote a light-hearted post about students who misuse "whom" when they write.

I suggested that it might be okay to ban students from using the word "whom." This is something, by the way, that I actually believe -- that we should tell students not to use the word whom, ever.

Why do I believe this?

Well, as a student of the English language, I have learned that all living languages evolve and change. For instance, once upon a time, people who spoke standard educated English would say "thee" and "thou" for the singular form of the 2nd person pronoun. But around 1250 or so, these forms began to fall out of use in Standard English. (This happened for complicated reasons having to do with the influence of Norman French on the language.)

For awhile, we had only the two plural forms of the pronoun, ye and you. Ye was the nominative (subject) form, and you was the accusative (object) form.

But in spoken English, all non-stressed vowels revert to the schwa sound, and so people increasingly had trouble telling ye from you, or distinguishing between the subject and the object forms of the word. Shakespeare -- for example -- almost never gets it right, and the translators of the King James Bible have similar problems.

Fast-forward to the 18th century and only you remains -- people have stopped using ye entirely.

Something of the same process is happening with who and whom in current standard English. In another fifty years, whom will be as dead as ye.

I did not make this lengthy argument on FB, of course. I was making a joke, not giving a lecture.

But you can guess what happened. It's the same thing that happens whenever I point out that Standard English is a living, changing language in a public forum; or even when I note that many varieties of English exist, and they are all different, and all equally valid*.

Someone with a substandard understanding of English grammar and linguistics began to lecture me on how my attitude would destroy the language; on how change in languages was "cancer"; and on how my fancy Ph.D didn't mean I knew more about the topic than they did.

My attempts to use evidence and data resulted -- as always -- in this person only getting more angry. This person pulled the "when you get to be my age, honey" card almost at once. (Because, as you know, I am a mere child.)

It's exasperating, frankly. Would anyone argue this way with an engineer? Would you tell a heart surgeon that your understanding of human anatomy and medicine was superior to theirs, no matter what their training? Hell, would you even argue with an auto mechanic in this fashion?

But it's perfectly okay to tell professors of a subject that they know nothing valid about the subject.

I blame the GOP**, who has told us -- endlessly -- that educators are idiots and should be treated with contempt.

*Pro-Tip: Don't try to convince conservatives that Black English is a legitimate dialect. It's both pointless and exasperating.

** Before anyone gets incensed about this, I'm also halfway joking here. I wish it were only Trump-supporters who had a Dunning-Kruger level of understanding when it comes to English grammar / the English language.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday Links

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah won the Pulitzer for this excellent story:

No one acknowledged that Dylann Roof had not once apologized, shown any remorse, or asked for this forgiveness. Or the fact that with 573 days to think about his crime, Dylann Roof stood in front of the jurors and, with that thick, slow tongue of his, said without any hesitation whatsoever, “I felt like I had to do it, and I still feel like I had to do it.”

Another long read, probably of interest only to writers and readers of SF

Your gender questions answered

Yet another problem with the high incarceration rate in the USA


Bias in the academy

Just a reminder

Monday, April 16, 2018

Jobs Meme

Over on twitter there's a meme going around, in which people list the jobs they've held throughout their lives. I'm game!

Age 9: distributor of leaflets ($4.00/month)

Age 11-14: babysitting (.50 cents/hour)

Age 15-22: Snackbar worker / snackbar manger (I know I started at $1.75/hour, but I don't remember how much I made as manager) -- this was just a summer job.

Age 16: McDonald ($2.40/hour)

Age 23: deli worker ($3.35/hour)

Age 23-26: Assistant librarian (started at $10,000/year; finished at $13,500/year)

Age 26-34: Teaching Assistant ($6000/year)

Age 35-38: Visiting Assistant Professor, Idaho State University (started at $25,000/year; ended at $28,500/year)

Age 38-41: Assistant Professor at Bad University ($30,000/year, though I made a little more by taking a ridiculous number of overloads)

Age 41 to Present: Assistant to Full Professor, UA-Fort Smith (started at $38,000, now making $64,000, plus extra for summer pay)

In between all of these, I did some editing work, roofed houses, and mowed lawns, but usually that was for no pay / very little pay.

What's your work history?