Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Broken Slate

...my novel, begins!

Or here!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Why, it's my novel!  About to start running at Crossed Genres!  Any moment here!

Stayed tuned for further details!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Glenn Beck is about to find out what it means to live in that America he's been trying so hard to build.

Big shock: It's not just Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Liberals, Gays, Democrats, Mexicans, and Feminists they hate, Glenn.

It's Mormons, too!

Guess you missed that bit of the Klan rally, huh?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Terror Bird!

As part of her home-schooling, I'm making the kid do a research project on biospheres.  (Science in my Fiction, among other sites, was extremely useful for this project!) We linked it with her creative writing project, which was to create five possible alien life-forms, and to describe, as if she were a xenobiologist, their habitats, ways of making a living, childcare arrangements, governing rituals, etc.

Anyway, one of her invented lifeforms, the kerata, had evolved from birds, and, alors! looked sort of like these giant terror birds I found at i09 this morning.

She was very pleased.

Although, sadly, it doesn't look like these prehistoric terror birds were intelligent.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Charming, charming, charming...

I've been reading about the Haitian Revolution lately.  It's mighty depressing, as most things historical tend to be.

Here, as an example: From the Code Noir: 

We desire that if a male slave has married a free woman, their children, either male or female, shall be free as is their mother, regardless of their father's condition of slavery. And if the father is free and the mother a slave, the children shall also be slaves. . . .

Please, someone, cheer me up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Being The Kid's Literature Teacher

Well, it's interesting, that's all.

I started out with a nice simple book, The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman.  She read it -- not to my surprise, she loved it -- we discussed it, with me luring out the main metaphors and themes -- she wrote a paper, she did a presentation.  

Now we're reading The Hunger Games, by Susan Collins.  Why did I choose this text?  Obviously I was INSANE.

I had read it myself, over the summer, both it and its sequel, Catching Fire, and I knew it was an engrossing book, right up the kid's alley so far plot and such.  She'll love this, I thought.

And man, does she.

But OTOH -- wails of grief, demands that I come comfort her when something wretched is happening to the characters (but I can't tell her that things are going to get better -- "No!  Ma!  No SPOILERS!"), sobbing fits when something awful has happened.

If you're thinking of giving this book to your sensitive twelve year old?  Maybe not.

That Obama, He Hates The Little Guys...

This sort of thing has been happening  here in Arkansas too.

I had a student during one of my summer sessions bring me her TAA form to sign, and say, shaking her head, "I don't know why I'm bothering, though.  The folks down at the Unemployment Office told me Obama's cutting off my unemployment benefits."

I held back my pen briefly to give her a long look, because, you will remember I am certain, this was right during that period when it was the Republicans who were refusing to vote to extend unemployment benefits.  "Obama," I said.  "Really.  You do know it's the Republicans who are refusing to vote to extend your benefits?"

She smirked and shook her head.  "No, it's Obama.  That's what they're telling me down there."

"I can send you some links," I said, "or you can read the paper.  It's actually your Republican Congress and Senators.  They're voting against the extensions."

"Well, Obama's the man in charge, isn't he?"

Review of Arnason

Look here, my review of Eleanor Arnason's new work is up at Strange Horizon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I'm drinking coffee and trying to wake up.

Wait...this should be a facebook post.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rand Paul, Ayn Rand, Now What Now?

Every so often I get a student who read Atlas Shrugged when he (somehow it nearly always is a male student) was fifteen or sixteen.

He's nearly always an otherwise bright student, a kid I want to like, and try hard to teach.  But his critical acumen has been blunted -- well, destroyed -- by his encounter with this philosophy.  I supposed we can call it a philosophy?  With this crack-pipe of a book.  

In any case, I sometimes try, mildly, to point out the errors of the Randian position (If a fast food company poisoned its customers, who would eat at that restaurant?  If Wal-Mart treats its workers unfairly, surely they would all quit?  If people are injured at the steel mill due to its unsafe working conditions, why, they can always sue!  In civil court, of course.  Or, I suppose, their survivors can...and if enough people sue...and their lawyers are better than the steel mill's lawyers...and the steel mill has not happened to have bought the judge, being vastly richer than the mill worker who is making two dollars a day, why then...) --- it's like arguing with a Pentecostal, though.  Nowadays I mainly smile and say, Ah, Rand.  And move on.

Here, though, at the Washington Monthly, they're still fighting the good fight.  Which pleases me.  Someone needs to.

As Paul envisions the system working, just so long as everyone honors the free market above all, "no one will apply for those jobs" if a mine's operators don't do a good job protecting worker safety.

Tony Oppegard, a Kentucky attorney and mine-safety advocate, called Paul's statement "idiotic." He added that underground mines are already offer dangerous working conditions, and if Paul successfully eliminated safety mandates, "there would be a bloodbath," he said.

As for the notion that coal-mine workers would just get jobs somewhere else if they weren't satisfied with the safety precautions, Oppegard concluded, "There's no other job opportunities."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's The Money That Matters

I've been reading The Black Jacobins, by C.L.R. James, over the past week, a fine socialist history of the Haitian slave rebellion; among other interesting details, he gives a reading of the British abolitionist movement which makes much more sense than any other I have every heard put forth before, which is that it is spurred not (or not entirely) by Xtian charity (which always struck me as odd, b/c where had all that Xtian charity been for the past several hundred years?) but by flat economics.  

James points out that, having lost their American colonies to the American Revolution, Britain is no longer getting rich (or as rich) from the Americas.  They still have a few islands; but whereas they used to be able to market slaves by the thousands in the Americas, and get cotton, sugar, and rum in exchange, now they have to pay steep tariffs for the the same privilege, and the U.S. is getting most of the profit.

Meanwhile:  they have colonies in India that are capable of growing cotton and sugar, and they do not require slaves to do so.  Indian workers will work, says James, for pennies a day, and don't have to be enslaved to do so.  Voila!  Ending slavery begins to seem like a fine idea, particularly if England can cause trouble to America and France (now embroiled in its own Revolution and at war with England) by doing so.

My point, and I do have one:

Why this sudden desire for immigration reform, when our immigration troubles are actually in decline, and have been for years?

Well, as always:  check the money.  Who profits?

With conservative politicians, even more than most politicians, you can tell they're lying when their lips are moving.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

My President

Well, yeah.

I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Don't Be So Touchy

Dr. Laura Schlessinger tells Black Woman.

B/c when you're a rich white Republican woman you know The Rules, including who is allowed to use what language with whom.

I think what irks me about this most is that everything Dr. White Woman lectures her caller about is exactly the problem with her slice of our country -- they're convinced people, especially black people, voted for Obama only because he was black (yet clearly none of them voted for Bush or Reagan or were going to vote for Palin simply because they were white, oh no); they claim to see no difference between language being used by people in power and people who are disempowered, yet they would be the first to get all pissy if someone spoke disrespectfully to a judge or a police officer or a teacher, or, fuck knows, to them (note how Dr. Schlessinger jumps all over the caller for interrupting her); and they pull that "no sense of humor" like a fucking knife.

Yeah.  Because it's funny when people continually attack your race or your sex or your disempowerment.  I know it always cracks me up.

More on the good doctor, if you can take it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Just the Taxes They Don't Like...

...Brown people are fine.

Study shows that Tea Baggers are twice as racist as your general Republican, which, wow.

(Amanda at Pandagon has started calling them Tea Crackers, which kinda cracks me up, I gotta say.)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Home Schooling

Well, I might as well break the news to you.  You're my friends! You won't think I'm a loon!

We're home-schooling the kid this year.  But not for religious reasons!

Well.  Kind of for religious reasons.  A tiny bit.  It's rough being an atheist Jew in the Bible belt, especially when you're only twelve.  She was getting a little weary of constantly having to defend not just herself, but Charles Darwin, James Hutton, and the entire spectrum of Enlightenment Thinkers, throughout not just science class, but literature, geography, history, and music class as well, not to mention recess.

Also, she was bored numb.  It was a good school, but it's a school.  Even at a Montessori school, it develops, there's a lot of you-have-to-do-this-because-the-class-has-to, or -because-the-curriculum-says-you-have-to, rather than because it's actually necessary.

Well, the kid is like HDD and me.  If she's not interested in the work, she won't do the work.  We met with the head of the school several times, since at Montessori the deal is, if the kid's not interested, the curriculum is supposed to shift toward the kid; but we couldn't get the school to shift, or at least not enough.  The kid started to feel like a loser, started hating school, started begging to stay home every day.

So now we're going to teach her. We know nearly everything she needs to know at this age.  (Pre-algebra and biology look a little scary, I admit.)  We filed the papers last week, and actually started teaching her in July.  She's studying Latin, World History, World Geography, Writing (creative and comp I), Literature, Biology, music, Aikido, and Art.

We're not teaching the last two -- Aikido she has at the dojo, and a friend of ours is giving her private lessons twice a week with the art.

Year-round schooling.  That's my favorite part so far.  No more spending her entire summer playing Sims.

Sadly, Yes

Don't I wish I'd never heard crap like this before:

[T]hey said on the back of your Social Security card, there's a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life's earnings' -- I'm gonna try and not laugh here -- 'and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, 'What the heck are you talking about?' I'm trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, 'You don't know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don't know this?!'"

Frequently I'll get some student who wants to write on a topic nearly as, ah, interesting as this one.  Luckily, I'm also teaching the art of evaluating sources and the necessity of citing sources, so I can put on my serious face and say, well, you can certainly choose that topic if you like, but bear in mind...

Sadly, however, most people in this country are not being made to investigate or evaluate their sources.  Which totally explains the Tea Party.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Back to the Dark Ages




Who needs all that, as long as the richest .o1% can continue to get even fucking richer?

It's the American way!

Who Asked For This Weather?

It's been over a 100 here for nearly a week straight, with several days where we hit the 103-105 range. According to the weather guy, all next week is more of the same.

You know who I blame.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

My Students Show Me Things!

I bet all y'all knew about this already.

We're living in the future!

Sunday, August 01, 2010


I suppose I can see why social services decided they needed to investigate in this case -- an infant born to two blind parents; maybe I can sort of see that, if I squint and hold my lens at the right angle -- but the way this was handled was just wrong.

Because, you know, investigating is one thing. Yanking custody and refusing to allow the parents to see their newborn for more than a few hours a day a few times a week -- and then only under supervision -- because they're disabled?

Because disabled is what? A crime?
(Edited because, ah! Typos! I should not blog late at night.)


New issue of Crossed Genres is up.  Invasion month!  We've got Cat Rambo this issue, among other great writers.