Wednesday, June 12, 2024

How I Will Spend my Summer Without Teaching

I'm not teaching this summer, which is such a relief. I have 12 weeks in front of me with -- shit, what? Oh, okay. It's down to nine weeks now. What the absolute fuck, where did my three weeks go?

I drove to New Orleans for my father's memorial and then I drove home again and then my dog died, and then today I didn't do a gotdamn thing but drink tea and read SF novels.

Right, okay. What will I did with my almost nine weeks that remain?

I'm going to read more SF novels (big surprise) and write reviews for some of them, and I will also work on what might be (knock wood, touch silver, spit) a new novel. Or maybe just a novella. WE WILL SEE.

I will also continue exercising. And I'll visit my kid and the rest of my family up the mountain once a week or so, which is easier now that we have the Subaru. Oh, and I promised Dr. Skull a trip to visit Glen Campbell's grave. (Why? I do not know.)

Speaking of Dr. Skull, Dr. Skull wants to get a new dog. I am against that for the time being, though a pet search program keeps throwing up cute puppies for my perusal. I'm just not ready.

A black mouth cur that Petfinder says I should get

Saturday, June 08, 2024

R.I.P. Heywood Floyd, 2010-2024

My little dog started having seizures and trouble walking yesterday, and today he had a seizure that wouldn't stop. After running tests the emergency vet and I decided it was time.

It never gets any easier to let them go.

In Case You're Confused

The American College of Pediatricians is not a credible organization. And they are not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatricians, though they would like you to conflate the two.

See here:

And also here:

(Blogspot has suddenly stopped allowing me to embed links, I do not know why.)

This is what the Mediabias/Fact check site says about them:

Reasoning: Hate Group, Poor Sourcing, Pseudoscience, Failed Fact Checks
Bias Rating: FAR-RIGHT
Factual Reporting: LOW

Among other things, the American College of Pediatricians spread the lie that the vaccine for HPV causes infertility.

And the group was specifically founded by sixty doctors who wanted to oppose marriage equality. They exist to spread lies and bigotry about LGBTQ people. They're also a very tiny organization -- there are more than sixty of them now, but not much more. (700, in 2002, as opposed to over 70,000 in the AAP.) 

Anyway, if they're braying about trans kids now, it's (a) not a surprise and (2) lies and bullshit.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Down in New Orleans

Day One: We drove ten hours, through intermittent torrential downpours, reaching New Orleans in time to eat at the Kosher Cajun before it closed. The storms were blinding -- my windshield wipers couldn't keep up with them -- but brief. Driving through Memphis without being able to see more than a few feet ahead of the Subaru was a real treat. However, we survived. 

I had a lovely tongue sandwich at the Kosher Cajun, highly recommend. We're staying at a hotel about three minutes from a very small Trader Joe's, which we visited after dinner.

It is so hot here. SO HOT. The temperature is only 90 degrees, but the air is thick as soup. I did not miss the weather in New Orleans, city of my dreams.

Day Two: We had breakfast at the hotel -- Residence Inn does a nice free breakfast -- and then drove Uncle Charger to the French Quarter. Then Dr. Skull and I drove around visiting places either he or I wanted to visit  while we were in town. This included Trader Joe's and the giant Barnes & Noble. I finally burned through all my Barnes & Noble gift cards. We visited Zuppardo's (Zuppardos,com), which is the grocery store my mother always shopped at, and where my brother Mike worked as an adolescent. It has been rebuilt and is not the tiny crowded grocery of my childhood.

The Zupppardo's of my Childhood

Current Zuppardo's

In the evening we met my sole surviving brother and his wife for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. A big gusty thunderstorm hit as we were driving home. 0/10 do not recommend. Driving in New Orleans is a real treat, by the way. And I mean that with ever ounce of sarcasm in my bones.

Day Three: The ceremony was at three, so in the morning we went to a used bookstore, but it was closed, and then back to the Barnes & Noble instead, and also the Kosher Cajun one more time. Then we came back to the hotel to dress, and went on to the ceremony. Lots of my father's friend and co-workers showed up, none of whom I knew, but it was a nice ceremony. Dr. Skull told his favorite stories about my father, including the time he blew up part of a building testing an O-ring, and how he and my father would go buy ice together. Afterwards, we all went to a very loud and smoky bar and grill, the River Shack, which was one of the places my father liked to hang out. (They had Dixie on tap.)

We came back to the hotel and I fell asleep at 8:30.

Day Four: Since I had gone to bed so early, I woke at 4:00 in the morning. We ate the free breakfast at the hotel, and got on the road by 8:00. Aside from a torrential downpour while we were on the twin span crossing the spillway, and a very exciting roadkill (a giant alligator), our trip home was uneventful. We came back via I-49 because Dr. Skull wanted to visit Glen Campbell's grave ("Who?" the kid said), but in the end we were too tired and just came on into town.

the Twin Span

Upon arrival, we found the house had lost power during the big storm on Monday, but was otherwise okay. Now we are waiting for the AC to cool the house down to a bearable level.

We boarded the dog and the cats, but we can't pick them up until tomorrow. I am going to spend the evening reading novels and eating ice cream.

Friday, May 31, 2024

It isn't Easy Being Green

 Typewriter Monkey makes comics:

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Guilty on All Counts

Trump is now a convicted felon

Will this stop conservatives from voting for him? The hell it will. I've already seen radical right wing sites declaring this makes him a martyr, though to what God I cannot imagine. The Great Golden Trump Idol, I suppose.

My kid asked me how Trump could continue to run for president even if he's a convicted felon. "I thought you couldn't vote if you were a felon. Or is that just to suppress the black vote?"

Famously, Eugene Debs ran for president from actual prison in 1920 -- he'd been convicted of "sedition." So a little thing like a conviction on 34 counts of fraud won't stop Trump.

Here's what Trump had to say: 

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” he said. “The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people, and they know what happened here.”


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Summer in May

 It is still May here -- though, to be fair, almost June -- and we already have summer weather. In the 90s every day, damp and sunny at the same time. It's like living in a swamp.

However! I had purchased a fig tree and it has figs on it. It seems to like this horrific weather.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope's The Choir has long been a favorite of mine, but back when I first read it, the public library I had access to did not have many books by Trollope, and the other one I read by her (was it The Men and the Girls? I don't really remember) I didn't like, so I never went on to find her other books.

A few days ago, while I was wandering the aisle of my current public library, I found a bunch of books by Joanna Trollope, and took out The Rector's Wife, thinking it probably was in conversation with Orwell's A Clergyman's Daughter, and it kind of is. (Trollope, being the great-grand-niece of Anthony Trollope, is almost certainly up on her English novels.) 

Orwell's book, you'll remember, was a weirdly constructed episodic look at a few years in the life of the daughter of an impoverished clergyman, who Orwell posited was as stunted and miserable as she was because she was terrified of sex. 

Trollope's book is a look at about a year in the life of the wife of an impoverished clergyman -- a rector, who looks after 12 parishes for nine thousand pounds a year. This is 9000 pounds in 1988 pounds, and I have no idea how much that would be in 2024 dollars*. There is very little love remaining between the rector and his wife; and due to the social norms of their parish, she has not been allowed to have a job, outside of doing the work a rector's wife is expected to do. Basically, the story is about how the rector's wife breaks free from this parish and this loveless marriage, and how her kids grow up.

I've read a couple more of her novels since then, including a re-read of The Choir, which is excellent. They are hit and miss -- some of them are very good, and others not so much. There's almost always a romance happening as part of the novel, but -- like Angela Thirkell and D. E. Stevenson -- they are books about people in a community, and what happens during a given period of time. If you like Thirkell and Stevenson, you'll probably like (some) of these.

Start with The Choir!

*Having done the math, that would be around $15,000 in 1988 dollars, and so about $40,000 in 2024 money. Lower class money, especially since the rector and his wife have 3 kids.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Free Speech, But Only if You Say Things I Agree with

 Pharyngula posted this Pharyngula posted this today:

The outrage over "riots" at or near universities is very much like the outrage over Black Lives Matter, and the subsequent lies and excuses over the attack on the capitol on January 6.

Or, as Francis Wilhoit put it,

Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Traveling to New Orleans

We're getting ready to drive down to New Orleans (a ten hour trip) for my father's memorial service. We'll hang out with the family while we're there, and I'm looking forward to that part of it.

I'm very much less looking forward to the actual trip. Remembering to take everything we need. (Medications, electronics, charging cords, the CPAP for Dr. Skull, all my various pairs of glasses, clothing for the service, shoes for the service....) The driving. The traffic. Finding the hotel. Honestly, leaving home, which is where all my stuff is and I can pretty much control the environment.

I used to love to travel. I guess, looking back though, that was mostly when I did not control my environment. Getting out of my parents' house (TVs always on, the AC set at 80 degrees, endless racket) in order to camp at state parks, even ones without plumbing, I guess that was an improvement?

Or maybe it's no longer being 22? Remember how bored we were in our early 20s? I haven't been bored for decades.

My trip checklist (so far):

Animals to vet 

  • insulin 
  • food 
  • blankets
Stop mail (this can be done online! So cool!)

In luggage
  • meds (mine, Dr. Skull's)
  • glasses (all five pairs)
  • CPAP and CPAP cord
  • Phone and phone chargers
  • Earbuds, headphones, chargers for both
  • Laptop and charger
  • wallets (both)
  • spare fob for car
  • Checkbook (jic)
  • Toiletries, including toothbrushes & floss
  • Clothing, including underwear and socks
  • Clothing for service, including fancy shoes
  • Pajamas 
  • Dr. Skull's nuclear socks
In Subaru
  • sunglasses
  • ice chest
  • trip folder with route and reservations
  • Pillows

What am I forgetting about? I know I'm forgetting something.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Science Fiction from the 1970s

I'm reading a paperback SF novel from the 1970s, and oh my god y'all.

Within the first 10 pages, we have a white guy setting a black guy straight about racism -- you'll be glad to know it doesn't actually exist, it's just that black people are too touchy.

Within the first fifty pages, we have a earnest explanation about eugenics and why this Utopian society had leaned into it -- they don't want people whose IQ is less than 130, see, or people with "physical defects," since those people would have to be "second class citizens."

Within the first sixty pages, one character explains to another that the great thing about this Utopian world is they have such delicious foods as corn on the cob and wild strawberries. Also, there is plenty of goat milk for the kids. And there is fishing and hunting!

Also, everyone has a lot of kids. Also, there is no such thing as marriage, so the women are delighted to sleep with anyone who asks. 

Also, we learn that this Utopian world "screens out" male homosexuality. Nothing about female homosexuality, so I guess that's cool.

Within the first 80 pages, we have yet another white character racesplaining to the (same) black character that this Utopian society is not, after all, actually racist. It is just that white people turn out to be better qualified for this Utopian world.

The 1970s, you will remember, is the same era that produced Le Guin, Butler, Joanna Russ, John Varley (at his peak, not the later John Varley), and Joe Haldeman. So writing good SF was possible. I don't know what the hell this is.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

J.D. Vance and Our Current Conservative Turnips

As this piece in the Washington Post notes, J. D. Vance is really all you need to know about modern conservatives. (That's a gift link, or it should be.)

I remember when Rod Dreher and the rest of the "deep thinkers" of the conservative pack discovered Vance's ridiculous book. They were so happy they were peeing themselves. Why? Not because the book tells the truth about people in Appalachia. It doesn't -- there have been by now literally dozens of take-downs of Vance's nonsense. 

These refutations of Vance's book were, of course, dismissed or ignored by the Right. Of course they were. Our current crop of conservatives could not possibly care less about the truth, or evidence, or facts. What they like is anything that "feels" right to them. And by "feels right" they mean anything that justifies their bigotry; or anything that justifies the status quo.

To be clear, Vance doesn't believe anything he's saying anymore than Trump believes the nonsense he spews. They both wants applause and fame, and don't care what they do to get it. Today's conservatives want to feel vindicated, and don't care what lies they have to swallow to get that feeling. 

True fact: More than once when I have provided evidence to a conservative that a given piece of information is false, or untrue, they have responded, "I don't care."  That's the crux of it. They don't care what is true. They care that they are being affirmed.

Why is this a danger? Well, that "doesn't care what he does to get it" bit. Neither Trump nor Vance is a true believer. But they will do whatever they need to do to get that applause, that fame, those $$$. Today's conservatives will do whatever needs to be done to get that affirmation, so that they can continue to believe in the lies* that build their world. 

It's practically the American way, so I don't know why we're surprised. But as Matt Bai notes in his opinion piece

History tells us that repressive movements enabled by cowards and hucksters are just as bad, if not worse, than those perpetrated by the legitimately hateful. You can wreck a country with cosplaying careerists just as easily as you can with bloodthirsty revolutionaries.

That's the sad truth.

*This is why Rod Dreher's book, Live Not by Lies, is so ridiculous. Every "truth" he lives by is a lie.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Kill (certain kinds) of People, Go on Fox News, Get a Pardon

Apparently in Texas it's okay to murder people at protests if they're the sort of people "conservatives" think should be killed. 

Daniel Perry "developed a hatred of Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020 and wrote to friends about how he planned to kill a few of them. Eventually he did. He deliberately drove his car into a crowd of BLM protesters, claimed that one of them had maybe raised a rifle in his direction, and then gunned him down before plowing through the rest of the crowd to make his escape."

The governor of Texas pardoned him today.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The GOP Platform

GOP candidate promises to burn books, and exhorts Americans not to be gay.

Stir in some anti-abortion and anti-trans rhetoric, and you've got the GOP platform.

Like many other short videos Gomez has made, the ad featuring her running included an image of her holding a large gun. Others show her firing guns, including at an inflatable Star Wars stormtrooper.

In February, Gomez posted a video in which she used a flamethrower to burn books with LGBTQ+ themes.

“This is what I will do to the grooming books when I become secretary of state,” she said. “These books come from a Missouri public library. When I’m in office, they will burn.”

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Trump's Solution for Immigration

Trump, apparently, thinks we should have immigrants for dinner:

“‘Silence of the Lamb,’” Trump said. “Has anyone ever seen ‘The Silence of the Lambs’?”

And here we go.

“The late, great Hannibal Lecter is a wonderful man,” Trump continued. “He oftentimes would have a friend for dinner. Remember the last scene? ‘Excuse me, I’m about to have a friend for dinner’ as this poor doctor walked by. ‘I’m about to have a friend for dinner.’ But Hannibal Lecter, congratulations. The late, great Hannibal Lecter.”

I look forward to turnip-headed conservatives explaining to me that that is not really what he said, and if he did say it, he was taken out of context, and if he wasn't taken out of context, everyone normal believes that anyway.