7 hours ago
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
I had the worst dream last night -- first, I was teaching a math class, which is enough, frankly.
But then it was also final exam week and I had not made enough exams for the students in the class. I couldn't find my laptop so I could print more, and I couldn't find a blank copy of the exam to make copies.
All the students were in the classroom, exasperated and angry. Twenty-seven students without exams!
So I decided I would go upstairs to the 10th floor (no, our building does not have ten floors) to see if I had left my laptop in the office there (my office is on the first floor of our two-story building). But the elevators were filled with students leaving, because it was five o'clock on the last day of exams. I couldn't get into an elevator. When I did get into one, it wouldn't stop on the 10th floor.
Then when I finally reached my office, my office was gone. It had been replaced with an office for adjuncts. All my stuff was gone. No one in the office knew were it had gone.
I woke up from this dream twice, extremely agitated both time, though the second time I woke up enough to remember (a) I don't teach math and (2) the semester had been over for weeks. No one was waiting for their exam.
Anxiety dreams are the best.
Sunday, December 29, 2019
Caveat: This is a post about the books I liked best in 2019. So, not objective! Some of them may not have been written in 2019 either. These are just the books I read in 2019 that I liked a lot.
Naomi Kritzer, Catfishing on CatNet
Ann Patchett, The Dutch House
Bernadine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other
Emily Guendelsberger, On the Clock
M. R. Carey, Someone Like Me
Kameron Hurley, Light Brigade
Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot
Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire
Also April 2019
Ann Leckie, The Raven Tower
Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh
J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Margaret Atwood, The Testaments
I'm not a big fan of Atwood, on the whole; but since this one was a co-winner of the Booker prize, and was right there on the library shelf, I gave it a read. It's all right. Good writing, and I like what she did with Aunt Lydia -- an excellent picture of how one adapts and works within an evil system. I also like that we get a picture of the world outside Gilead, and the ways that world deals with the evil of the country.
As Atwood has noted, nothing in these books is really fiction -- everything she uses is something actually being done to (and often by) women in our very time. That's useful to keep in mind as you read them.
The ending is a bit of a stretch, and nothing is in this book that hasn't been written (better, in my opinion) in actual science fiction novels. But it's worth reading if you're an Atwood fan, or just want to see what happens with the characters from a different point of view.
Seanan McGuire, Middlegame
Seanan McGuire is probably the most prolific writer of YA SFF working right now. Her Wayward Children series is probably her most popular. It's a twist on portal stories, like C.S. Lewis's Narnia or Alice in Wonderland. Basically, McGuire writes about what happens when the children come back through the portal.
Middlegame is a different pile of fish entirely. Here, we have a secret cabal of alchemists, one of whom -- Reed, a Frankenstein-like creation -- is attempting to get the universe into his (magical) control. He and his Igor-character, another alchemist named Leigh, create a series of (cloned, I think?) twins. Through these twins they hope to take control of time and space, and thus the world.
The main twins are named Roger and Dodger. The previous sets of twins, all raised in the lab, have not worked out, so Reed and Leigh place this "run" (five sets of twins) out as foster children. Much of the book concerns Roger and Dodger, one of whom is being raised in California and the other in Boston. They are linked mentally, which is one of the signs, for Reed, that their magical nature is proving out. So far, so good.
On the other hand, since they're not being raised in the lab, under Reed and Leigh's warping influence, they're also developing into human children. When they begin to "manifest," to come into their power, this becomes a problem for Reed.
Lots of good stuff here, and very readable. Some gore and violence, too, though that's mostly off-stage.
Kevin Wilson, Nothing to See Here
This book I picked up from the library shelf and put down again three weeks in a row. The premise was just too ridiculous. A pair of twins that burst into fire when they're upset? Please. (Not a fan of magical realism, here, for the most part.)
But then I read the first few pages, and decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. It does have the bizarre twins, but once you accept that as a metaphor (that's what I did, anyway), this is a very good book. The twins are not the main point, though the twins are also very engaging and well-done.
The focus of the book is the main character, Lillian Breaker, and her relationship with her erstwhile roommate, Madison Roberts. Their relationship is troubled, to say the least -- lovers in boarding school, and epistolary friends afterwards. Madison comes from the .01%, the billionaires who own and run the country. Lillian is the child of a junkie in Kentucky, who gets a scholarship to the boarding school and learns some hard home truths about the American meritocracy.
Most of the story takes places well after the boarding school section. Madison marries a senator, whose children from his previous marriage are these combustible twins. She begs Lillian to come be a governess for the twins, though really to keep them out of sight while the Senator is vetted for a powerful position on the current president's cabinet.
It's a fish-out-of-water story, but also a look at how the wealthy own and exploit the country. (Reed in Middlegame has nothing on these people.) Madison gets a redemption arc that I'm not sure I believe, but other than that, this is nice writing and very engaging. Wilson is on my read-more list.
Allen Eskers, Nothing More Dangerous
This was readable, but just barely. Eskers says, in the forward, that he wrote a draft of this book when he was younger, and wanted to write about racism. It reads like a first novel that should never have been revived, frankly. (Do we really need another novel whitesplaining racism to us?)
Basically, it's the story of a poor white kid who befriends a rich black kid in their racist town in the 1970s. The best part of the book is the relationship between the poor white kid and the owner of a local construction firm. This is a nice portrayal of how social structures in the small-town South function. The parts about how the local KKK (they have a different name) use and exploit these social structures is also good.
But the story itself is a little tedious. The good guys triumph, the racists are defeated, good white people are more powerful than racist white people -- comforting, I suppose, but not realistic.
Michael Francis Gilbert, The Country-House Burglar
I'm a big fan of British mystery novels written from about 1920 to 1940. This one is a little outside that range, being written in 1955, but I'd seen Gilbert recommended somewhere (Jo Walton's blog, maybe?) and this was one of the few Gilbert books my library has. So I gave it a look.
It's nice work, containing most of what I like in a British mystery from the 1930s (my sweet spot), which is to say details of British country life, well-done and fully developed characters, and a mystery that doesn't really intrude on my pleasure in those details. Since this is post-war England, there's also some good details about how soldiers from WWII were being re-integrated into village life.
Not Dorothy Sayers, but worth reading, if you're into this sort of thing.
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Sunday, December 22, 2019
I probably ought to wait a week or so to write this, given that I'm not yet out of the dark woods. But I'm so much better than I was.
Kidney stones, as I said earlier, started all this.
I have two massive stones, and they jammed up in my urethra, which just for the record I do not recommend. Not only does this cause pain beyond comprehension, it also will cause urine to back up into the kidney, causing it to swell (and also hurt amazingly) and sooner or later begin to die.
This is why when you go to the ER with kidney stones, they get you in right away, organ death being nothing to fuck with. (The people at the ER were great, by the way, even the second time, when I went in on Saturday night, when they were swamped.)
The first time, they kept me two days, putting in a stent (bypassing the stones, as they thought) while also giving me IV morphine and fluids. I went home and was better for maybe three days, though still very sick.
Then very rapidly I deteriorated, with non-stop vomiting, more pain, and a general feeling I can't even describe to you. I've never felt that bad. As it turned out, this was because my kidneys were, in fact, shutting down. (Again, do not recommend.)
Back to the ER, where they admitted me once again. The urologist guy I'd seen while I was out came by at four a.m. (everything in hospitals happens at night) to tell me the CT and ultrasound showed the stones jammed up against the top of the stent, blocking it. They had to put a new stent in.
"I thought they did lithotripsy," I said. "I thought they broke up the stones."
"Not yet," he said grimly. Apparently the entire state of Arkansas has one lithotripsy machine and it won't be at this hospital until December 27th (when I'm scheduled to have it done). Good thing we don't have socialized medicine, huh? Some people might have to risk their lives waiting for proper care.
Anyway, they gave me more morphine and fluids, put in a new stent, threading it past the stones this time, and sent me home to wait until the machine is available. Since the stent isn't blocked by the stones now, my kidney function is improving, and I'm feeling much better.
On the other hand, I spent the past two weeks either vomiting or queasy, unable to eat anything at all (literally -- I tried to eat a cracker and couldn't manage), so I'm down 12 pounds and so weak I can barely walk out to the mailbox.
Looking back (1) I should have gone to the ER much sooner, except I was still hoping I would pass the stone on my own and (B) I should have gone back to the ER much, much sooner.
But given how much all this is going to cost (the hospital $$$ person has nicely set us up with a payment plan, as they will), yeah.
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
This is my town
This is a professor at my school (the kid used to love going to his lectures)
For your holiday giving
Good for you, buddy
Like all his other tax scams, Trump's child tax credit helps exactly who it's supposed to help -- the upper class
Nothing new here -- and that's the point
(I'm so sick y'all. More posts when I'm better, I hope.)
Monday, December 09, 2019
This is wonderful
As is this -- especially great if, like me, you are always running short of new books to read
A free quality university education is indeed possible -- we just have to decide to do it
What could it be
This is nice, but won't make much difference, since Conservatives believe whatever lies Fox News feeds them
If unemployment is so low, why is everyone so broke? (An explanation.)
I've got your erased history right here
Making American Great Again
The RESPECTABLE White Nationalist Propaganda
0/10, would not recommend.
This time I had two of them, both so large the ER guy admitted me to the hospital. The urologist guy came in and did the procedure special on Sunday, so that my kidney wouldn't die. It's a wossname thing, a lithotripsy, where the doctors break up the stones with sound waves.
They also put a stent in, so that the stones can get out more easily, though I am here to tell you that "more easily" is a relative term. I have to go in next week and get the stent removed. No, you do not want to know where the stent is. (I bet you can guess.)
Also, thanks to the opioid crisis, they have not given me nearly enough hydrocodone. (To be fair, how would you fit infinity hydrocodone in one of those tiny translucent orange prescription vials?)
While I was actually in the hospital, however, they kept me topped up on very nice pain medications, including some that gave me lovely and very weird hallucinations.
How much will all this cost? Yeah, all the fucking money, that's how much.
At least I have insurance.
Friday, December 06, 2019
There's a new chapter of Triple Junction up at my Patreon!
For as little as $3.00/month you can have immediate access to 45 chapters, plus a new chapter every Friday. Here's an excerpt from today's chapter:
“You’re not lying,” Dallas said. “That was all true, what you said.”
“Fuck’s sake, Dallas.” Martin kicked a clot of frozen snow from their path. “You ain’t think this will work. This Revolution shit?” He ducked under an ice-crusted bally tree and slid down the slope to the river. Snow swirled into water running black over rocks. He scowled, thinking the best way to cross.
Dallas landed beside him. “What do you mean?”
“Nothing. Forget it.” He stomped the nearest rock, making certain it was solid footing, stepped from it to the next. A third got him across. Dallas followed his path. They climbed the bank on the other side, and Martin looked about them. Dallas pointed north. “That way, I thought,” Martin said, nodding more northwest. “That outcrop there, is it?”
“If it’s a rock involved, I trust you,” Dallas said, and they went northwest. “You really don’t think we’ll win?”
He shrugged up the collar of his jacket – a contract labor work jacket, heavy canvas fabric, metal buttons, quilted lining, better gear than ninety percent of the cots on this planet ever saw, shit better than those miners had been wearing – and bit on his tongue to keep from arguing.
But then he argued anyway. “Dallas. You know how much just one of us costs? Just one contract laborer? My tag’s eighty-nine thousand. I bet yours is close to that. You really think these holders will free five million of us because we ask nice?”
“We’re not asking nice.”
“They’ll shoot every pissing one of us, you fuckwit, before they give us up.”
Monday, December 02, 2019
The Kid is doing a presentation for his anthropology seminar, which is on extinction events. His is on detritivores, as I believe I've mentioned, and how they handle extinction events.
This is a cartoon he drew for the presentation:
(The joke rests on knowing that mammals and plants do badly during extinction events, but detritivores do extremely well.)
Sunday, December 01, 2019
Naomi Kritzer, Catfishing on Catnet
I'll be honest, I'll read anything Naomi Kritzer writes at this point. But this is a wonderful book. It's (sort of) the further adventures of the AI in her story "Cat Pictures, Please," which won the Hugo for the best short story in 2016.
Here, the AI is (among other things) running an online group called Catnet, where our main character, Stephania, hangs out with her friends. Steph and her mother are fleeing from -- have been fleeing from -- Steph's father for most of Steph's life, and most of the novel's plot concerns that.
But what's wonderful here is the characterization and the world-building. Kritzer captures perfectly what today's teens are like, and what their lives are like, living 80% online and only 20% in meatspace as they do. She captures too their ability to understand and to empathize and adapt, and how that is connected to their online lives -- to the fact that they know and experience reality beyond their small meatspace lives. This is good stuff.
The AI is also charming. I loved the AI in the short story, and the AI is wonderful here too.
Also the book is compulsively readable. I've read it twice now and both times I literally could not stop -- I read it straight through, even though it meant staying up far too late both times. I'll be very surprised if this one doesn't win a Hugo for Kritzer as well.
Ann Patchett, The Dutch House
This is a wonderful book. Ann Patchett is, at least for me, a hit-or-miss writer. I've liked some of her books (Bel Canto, The Patron Saint of Liars) very much, and others (Taft, Commonwealth) not at all. So I very nearly didn't even take this one down from the shelf at the library.
But it has a very pretty cover, and so I did. And the pages, which I read standing there by the New Fiction shelves, were very good. So I checked it out, and it was just a delight. Every page was delicious. It's one of those books I want to buy multiple copies of and force people to read.
Plot: a brother and his older sister, growing up in a wealthy but dysfunctional family, are ejected from their wonderful house and from that family by their father's second wife upon the death of their father. Their anger at this warps the next 30 years of their life.
But the plot is secondary. The rich eye for detail and characters, the wonderful grasp of the world of Philadelphia, New York, and their suburbs from 1940 through the 1990s, and the way families love and damage one another -- all wrapped up in this delight of a book. You must read it. No, really. You must.
Joe Hill, Full Throttle
Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. I haven't been impressed by his previous work, but this collection of short stories is not bad. A few duds -- I didn't much like the one about the haunted carousel, or the one about the tall grass that's been made into a movie (and also has an entirely unnecessary incest vibe, not to mention fetal cannibalism). But there's a wonderful story, "You are Released," in here, and a couple other very good ones.
I'd give it a B+.
W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage
I really liked Maugham's Cakes and Ale, which I discussed in my last set of What I'm Reading Now. So I requested this from the library. It's a big fat novel, which is usually my jam. The first half was pretty good, though it bore a certain similarity to bits of Cakes and Ale -- the main character was an orphaned boy raised by his aunt and uncle, a Vicar, in Blackstable in Kent, who grows up to be a doctor. The second half, though, after Philip meets Mildred is both unbelievable and boring.
Why would Philip fall in love with this women who is boring, stupid, ugly, and annoying? Why would he become obsessed with such a woman, to the extent that he destroys his life and livelihood? I know we're supposed to believe that his human passion overrules his intellect, but please. What about her has aroused his passion? Nothing about her seems at all attractive, he's not even having sex with her -- unless I missed it, he doesn't ever have sex with her -- and yet we're supposed to believe that he's so overwhelmed with love and I guess lust that he can't help destroying his life because of his passion for this entirely crap woman.
(a) I don't and (2) it makes for a very boring second half of the novel because I'm just not interested in watching Philip do stupid things for a stupid reason for 400 pages.
Don't waste your time.
Thursday, November 28, 2019
It is cold here in Arkansas and also raining ferociously. Uncle Charger won't be with us this holiday because his older sister had a heart attack two weeks ago (he saved her life -- learn CPR, people!). The kid's roommate will drive down from Fayetteville after her shift at the Dollar General, because of course the Dollar General is open on Thanksgiving Day, because Capitalism.
For our first Thanksgiving in the new house, this will be our menu:
- Potatoes Dauphinoise
- Squash soup
- broccoli casserole
- grilled asparugus
- Dr. Skull's sourdough bread
- my sweet potatoes with Dr. Skull's home-made marshmallows
- pumpkin pie with whipped cream
- Wine or ginger ale, as preferred
Meanwhile, have a Thanksgiving quiz! (I scored 13 out of 15).
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Also, notice -- as Sonderland testified today -- Trump did not actually want an investigation of Biden, or Burisma. He only needed Zelensky to go on Fox News and say he was investigating Biden for corruption. Just as with Hilary's emails, he didn't need actual corruption or an actual crime. He just needed enough to get his Fox-News fan base howling.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Bernadine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other
This one won the Booker Prize this year, so when I saw it on my library's new books shelf, I picked it up. An excellent decision! This is one of the best books I've read in quite some time, although very different from the books I usually read.
The writing style is non-traditional, for one thing, which is not a thing I usually go for. Incomplete sentences stacked like poetry on the page, wandering about in demi-paragraphs, with unmarked dialogue -- this usually makes me slam a book shut and return it to the shelf posthaste. But Evaristo makes it work, I suppose because her control of the language is so effortless and complete.
It's also a non-traditional narrative, in that we don't have a plot. Instead, we have the interwoven, or maybe intertangled would be a better word, lives of twelve British women, ranging from Yazz, who is just finishing up at university, to Hatty, an octogenerian on a north country farm. They are all women of color, many of them immigrants, and are related by blood or circumstance.
The language here, as I've said, is wonderful; but Evaristo also, by showing us life from these twelve different points of view, creates an impressive depth of field. This works especially well because of the range of age and class of her characters, and because Evaristo herself clearly knows her stuff.
This is highly, highly recommended.
Emma Donoghue, Akin
You might remember Donoghue from another book she wrote, Room, which was made into a movie. That's the one where the woman was kidnapped and kept in a room for years, giving birth to a little boy there, and finally escaped?
This one is far less sensationalist, and a much better book. In this book, Noah Selvaggio, who is about to leave on a long-planned trip to Nice, in France, gets a phone call from DHS. His grand-nephew has been left homeless by the death of his grandmother. (His mother is in prison.) Noah is the only available relative who can house the child.
This set-up is somewhat unbelievable, as is the social worker's insistance that Noah take the nephew, Michael, to Nice with him. But once you get past all that, this is a very likable book, and very readable. Both Michael and Noah are well done as characters, and the stuff about Nice is interesting, as is the social commentary on the drug wars and America's prison system. Also, Noah has gone to Nice to investigate what his mother did during WWII, so there's a kind of mystery operating as a plot, and that works okay.
Plus a happy ending, so don't worry about that.
Cathleen Schine, The Grammarians
I'm just not sure what I think about this book. I mean, I liked it. It's about twins who grow up speaking a secret language and who are also obsessed with words and English grammar, and it's also very well written -- what's not to like?
But the pacing is so strange. We hop and skip through time, speeding up and slowing down, jumping past all the parts that seem really interesting and then -- right when the book seems to be reaching its climax -- zip off into fast forward and get the rest of the story in a brief summary.
I mean what the hell.
I still enjoyed it, and you might too, especially if you like books about the East Coast and books in which people take grammar seriously. (One of the twins is a prescriptivist grammarian and the other is a descriptivist. Feuds ensue!)
W. Somerset Maugham, Cakes and Ale
This book, a Modern Library edition, has been on our shelves forever -- it's one of the books Dr. Skull brought into our marriage -- but this is the first time I've read it. It's an interesting and odd little book. I see from reading reviews that it's apparently filled with inside-baseball jokes. The main character is Maugham himself, and the writer he's riffing on is probably Thomas Hardy, and so on. I don't know that we need to know that to follow the main point of the novel, which is a take down of conservative British culture before the war (before WWI, that is) with its stiff-neck class issues and prudish notions about what was and wasn't "done."
The book was published in 1930, and is from the point of view of an old(ish) man looking back on his youth, so it's a picture both of the 1920s and the 1880s in Britain. Maugham writes a lovely crisp prose, bringing these worlds to life at the same time he ripostes them.
Recommended if you like this sort of thing.
George Takei, They Called Us Enemy
This is a graphic novel about George Takei's childhood in the internment camps during World War II. It pairs well with Warren's Enemy Child (see the next book in this list) which gives a much more benign view of the internment camps. Takei grew up to play one of the crew in the original Star Trek series, and is now an activist, semi-famous on social media. This is a good introduction to the story of the Japanese camps, with beautiful drawings by Harmony Becker.
Andrea Warren, Enemy Child
While this is also a good and thorough introduction to what was done to our Japanese citizens during World War II, and also has wonderful pictures, it works a little too hard to justify the actions of the U.S. Government. To be fair, it is told from the position of Norman Mineta, the "enemy child" in question, and that seems to be his position as well: that the U.S. Government was justified in doing what they did to him and to his family and to the other Japanese citizens of the time. But I would definitely have my child read this book in conjunction with George Takei's book, since Takei gives information that Warren's book elides or leaves out entirely.
Sunday, November 17, 2019
And they're also the same exact arguments that were made about black people, and immigrants from the "wrong" parts of Europe, and Jews, and
Anyone who's transphobic is automatically also homophobic.— 🏳️⚧️ VƎX is Trans 🏳️⚧️ (@vexwerewolf) November 17, 2019
The arguments being made against trans people are the exact same arguments that were being made against gay and lesbian people back in the day.
I mean, let's face it: bigotry is bigotry. Their playbook ain't change.
Saturday, November 16, 2019
The thing is, we don't need evidence. Trump has admitted what he did, multiple times, on camera.
....the story behind the impeachment case is relatively simple: Congress approved military aid for Ukraine, but Trump withheld it as part of a sustained campaign to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of his political rival Joe Biden’s family. There’s a record of him doing it. There are multiple credible witnesses to the phone call and larger campaign. Several Trump allies and administration officials have admitted to it on camera. Trump himself admitted to it on the White House lawn. (Source)
Why would he do this?
Because he thinks he's above the law. Like the spoiled child he has always been, he believes there is one law for him, and another for all "those people." He sincerely believes he can do whatever he wants.
It doesn't help, of course, that Fox News, his main source of information these days, confirms this worldview 24/7.
These impeachment hearings are about whether he's right. Do we have a country that is based on laws, or do we have a country where men like Trump, and Kavanaugh, and Epstein, Jeff Bezos and Clint Lorance, can do whatever they want, and get away with it?
I know the world Fox News wants. What world do the rest of us want?
Everyone who has testified: Trump committed crimes
Everyone who is hiding out and refusing to testify: crickets
Trump: Everyone who is testifying is a a TRAITOR
Members of the GOP: Why are you here testifying against our Great President?
Members of the Democratic Party: Tell us more about these crimes, please.
Everyone who testifies: Here is more about the crimes.
Members of the GOP: Are you being funded by the DEEP STATE?
Trump: (on the White House lawn, to reporters): I did the crimes!
Members of the Democratic Party: (In the hearings) Tell us more about these crimes, please.
Everyone who testifies: Here is more about the crimes.
Members of the GOP: Maybe you just got your fee-fees hurt by our Great
Members of the Democratic Party: Tell us more about these crimes, please.
Everyone who testifies: Here is more about the crimes.
Trump: I did these crimes too! And they were PERFECT! But it's okay, because when you're the President, they let you do crimes!
Members of the GOP: Nothing to see here! Let's move along!
Early impact of impeachment inquiry:— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) November 16, 2019
68% of Americans watched, heard, or read about the impeachment hearings.
Of those, 41% became more supportive of impeachment. Only 25% less supportive.
Source: Reuters/Ipsos poll
Thursday, November 14, 2019
All of a sudden, now that the impeachment hearings have begun, Conservatives suddenly care about Epstein.
It's like when trans people began getting rights, all of a sudden Conservatives were so concerned about women and girls being assaulted.
Not when Kavanaugh was being confirmed to the highest court in the land; not when Brock Turner was being let off with a slap on the wrist; not when we were being told that women lie about being raped all the time, or that rape statistics are inflated, or that women bring rape upon themselves -- nah, Conservatives were fine with that.
But let someone who should have been hiding in a closet cowering with shame act like they were a human being with human rights? Here come Conservatives, brandishing "their" women and "their" girls like a club.
As if we're expected to believe that suddenly they give a shit about women or women's rights or women being assaulted or raped.
They're not fooling anybody.
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
...is working on his anthropology paper:
(It's on detritivores during the Permian Mass Extinction)
if you want to survive a mass extinction your best bet is to be small and eat garbage. great news for me and many of my twitter friends.— i have beastars disease 💖💛💙 (@jasperlizard) November 14, 2019
(It's on detritivores during the Permian Mass Extinction)
Like most of middle America, we're having a cold spell -- it was 22 degrees here last night. And we've discovered the downside to all the big windows in our wonderful house, which is that they leak heat non-stop. It's nearly impossible to keep the house warm, even with the furnace running non-stop. And we're too poor to run the furnace non-stop.
Back when I lived in my uninsulated shack in Fayetteville, when I was a graduate student, I used to shrink-wrap my windows. (Indoor window insulation is the proper name for it, I find.) We're off to the hardware store this evening to look for the kits. As I recall, they helped a lot.
Meanwhile, the cats have been very disapproving. This is no way to run a household, they sulk at me. Both of them and the dog have taken to piling up on me when I sit reading in my chair at night, under my down-filled duvet, with my scarf on and my hat pulled down around my ears. They do add body-heat, so I don't complain.
Monday, November 11, 2019
Saturday, November 09, 2019
Fox News does a lot of shrieking, but the real oppression -- as all of us who work on campuses know -- lands on the usual suspects: the poor, the brown, women, and the powerless.
The Right -- or rather, certain members of the Right, those with a lot of power -- are just good at playing the Refs; and at getting attention from the media.
For more see here.
You should especially notice this:
....four Republican-controlled state governments have set up new rules for political speech in public universities in response to concerns about free speech. At least seven other state legislatures are considering doing the same, efforts that the New York Times reports are “funded in part by big-money Republican donors” in a “growing and well-organized campaign that has put academia squarely in the crosshairs of the American right.”
Our state is one of those considering such a law. They have already disposed of our ability to create a designated a free speech forum -- we can no longer restrict the area of campus where people can make speeches.
Why would we want to restrict free speech to a specific area?
Well, imagine trying to teach grammar when some angry incel is standing outside your classroom with a megaphone shouting about how feminism is cancer and all these girls in short skirts are agents of Satan, and yes, this actually happened to me.
The thing is, when state legislatures start interfering with the governing of university campuses, they usually have no idea how campuses work or how they should be run. They have no idea why we want a designated free speech forum area, for instance; or why we don't want guns in our classroom. (They know quite well why they don't want guns in their workplace, but that is somehow different.) They make rules without understanding the situation, in other words.
So they will almost certainly make rules that don't work well for our campuses.
There is a reason university campuses have traditionally been self-governing. You need to leave the running of universities to those who know how universities work. And that's not some guy who hasn't been on one since he was twenty-two years old and who wasn't really paying attention even then.
Wednesday, November 06, 2019
Sunday, November 03, 2019
As usual, the big outrageous story about those kids today being outrageous snowflakes turns out to be absolute bullshit
What Trump taught us about "Christians"
Speaking of which -- medical care should be based on science, not on whatever religious text a given doctor might be following, or how they choose to interpret that text this week
But here's some good news
When your child is a possession
Who do you write like? (According to this app, I write like William Gibson.)
Some good advice about writing the other
Trump continues to destroy America
Here's the world he's bringing us
And to cheer you up a little
Also this, which I already shared, but it's great:
Saturday, November 02, 2019
As all y'all know, we had to move out of our old house rapidly (in less than two weeks) because our landlord lost his rag. This meant we had to pack up everything in only a few days -- I think it was less than five days, total -- and that meant we ended up either donating or throwing away so much stuff. Some things toward the end we just shoveled things into boxes and donated them, without really paying attention; some we just abandoned in the yard for the local trash guys to haul away. (They will do this free of charge four times a year.)
Things we have now discovered we left behind or donated that we really wish we had not:
- The whisk broom we used to sweep crumbs off the table
- Dr. Skull's cleaver
- several small trash cans (I think I must have filled them with junk and donated them)
- My other jeans that fit (I accidentally kept the ones that don't fit)
- Two lamps
- The dog's leashes
- the rake
- the shovel
- the ladder
- the branch cutter (these last four I think I must have left out in the back yard -- luckily this new house came with its own ladder)
- my cast iron skillet (this must have been shoved to the back of the cupboard so that I didn't see it)
None of these are huge losses, aside from the jeans that fit, obviously. It is so hard to find jeans that fit right, or at least for me it is. I share this only under to prove that point that three moves equal one fire.
Also, I'm sure we'll find other things that didn't survive the move as we go along.
Also, have a poem!
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
You can read it here.
Key points: The decision to pressure Zelenskyy to "investigate" Burisma and Biden predated the call, and involved Trump and his team. Vindman and others knew it was inappropriate, advised Trump of it at the time, and reported the action and its inappropriate nature to the lead counsel of the National Security Committee.
Vindman heard the call, and he and others who heard the call were concerned about the nature of the call at the time:
I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications forthe U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security.
They reported it at the time, again to the lead counsel of the NSC.
Trump's team is smearing Vindman on Fox News, from what I understand, and certainly on Twitter. Apparently they're very worried about what his testimony will do to them.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Erik Loomis is a labor historian at the University of Rhode Island, famous for (among other things) his This Day in History Posts.
Here's a tweet thread version of one of those.
If you're in favor of deregulation, this is what you're in favor of. If you're pro-Trump, this is also what you're in favor of -- this is what Trump is taking America back to, just as fast as he can.
Incidentally, this is also why Libertarianism is a pipe dream, as is anarchism.
This Day in Labor History: October 27, 1948. An air inversion trapped the pollution spewed out by U.S. Steel-owned factories in Donora, Pennsylvania. The Donora Smog killed 20 people and sickened 6000 others. Let's talk about American industry poisoned workers and everyone else! pic.twitter.com/sgLcsYzWca— Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) October 27, 2019
Friday, October 25, 2019
...that everything Trump says is a lie.
President Trump Today: "WE ARE BRINGING OUR SOLDIERS BACK HOME"— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) October 25, 2019
President Trump Wednesday: "A small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area where they have the oil."
Pentagon Oct 11th: Since May, 14,000 additional U.S. troops have been sent to the Middle East
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Monday, October 21, 2019
Here is Heywood sitting on the windowsill, as is his wont:
You can see some of our yard outside.
Here is Jasper, sitting on the windowsill likewise:
Tonight, as I was coming home after workshop, I saw a fox in the yard. So, maybe we're more rural than I thought.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
Them: "I'm gender critical!"— OLIVIA ☭ HILL (@machineiv) October 20, 2019
Me: "Oh really? Cool. Let's talk about how the last few centuries has turned gender into a rigid, narrow construct that disallows variations and—"
Them: "No I like that part."
Me: "So what part are you critical about?"
Them: "Your human rights."