Sunday, September 29, 2019

Well, This Seems Fine

Bear in mind who the whistleblower needs protection from -- the crime boss who currently occupies the Oval Office.

But yeah, nothing to see here.

ETA: More detail here

Sounding a Little Desperate

Here's an article from the Guardian about the reactions from Trump's toadies to the on-going impeachment investigation.

  • Giuliani says he won't cooperate, unless of course Trump tells him he can
  • Jim Jordon repeats the talking point that the whistle-blower is "biased" and that anyway everything they said was based on "hearsay" (I've seen that one repeated about 500 times on FB over the past few days, almost always by people who have no idea what hearsay means, or how to spell it). And, as the Guardian notes, "In fact, the whistleblower cites numerous eyewitnesses in his or her account of Trump’s attempt to coerce Ukraine to dish up dirt on his political rival, former vice-president Joe Biden."
  • Stephen Miller, that vampiric bit of scum, claims that Trump is the "real whistleblower," apparently because he's drawing attention to the Hunter Biden faux-scandal, though that's not really clear.

As the article makes clear, there's nothing to the Biden scandal. 

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine, where the son was on the board of a gas company and where the then vice-president pushed for the firing of a senior prosecutor. Joe Biden is a frontrunner in the Democratic race to challenge Trump for the White House next year.
But of course that won't matter to Trump supporters. They're not interested in evidence, only in whatever lies and nonsense will allow them to keep supporting their vile joke of president.

The cartoonist's homepage,

Saturday, September 28, 2019

What Dog?

They forgot the most common response -- "Hey! Look over there! SQUIRREL!"

No photo description available.

Friday, September 27, 2019


What Americans think about impeachment

Here is the real violation of free speech on campus

An interesting list -- not sure I agree with it, but interesting

Despite Trump's claims, the economy ain't shit for most of us

Political cartoon by Daryl Cagle,

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Full Text of the Whistleblower Complaint

You can find the full text of the Whistleblower document here.

Some key points:

  • The whistleblower (we still don't know who they are) says they have received, over the past several months, information from "multiple" U.S. Government officials that Trump is using the power of his office to pressure a foreign country into interfering with the 2020 election.
  • The whistleblower notes that AG Barr and Trump's lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, are involved in this attempt as well.
  • The report details the phone call made by Trump to Zelensky and the specific requests and threats made during the call.
  • The report notes that the various White House officials who overhead the call, and White House lawyers, ditto, were deeply disturbed and spent some time discussing how to treat the call, since they had witness Trump using the office for his personal gain. A dozen such officials and lawyers heard the call (this is normal). None of them expected Trump to do what he did. This tells us that Trump did not plan this -- he is out of control, incompetent, and probably not aware of the scope of his actions.
  • After the call, the White House officials did everything they could to "lock down" all records relating to the call. They knew what had happened and how serious it was. This, by the way, is what we call a cover-up. The records of the phone call were classified in order to keep them secret. Trump knew, probably because his lawyers explained it to him in detail, exactly what he had just done, and he was hiding the evidence.
  • Giuliani admits that he was traveling to Ukraine on the behest of Trump to pressure the government there to pursue investigations that will help Trump in the 2020 elections.

The report also details the background to all of this, which is Trump's belief that Joe Biden had a Ukrainian Special Prosecutor fired in order to protect his son, Hunter Biden, who sits on the board of Burisma Holdings. Burisma Holdings and just what has been going on there is a big tangled mess

The simple version seems to be that Joe Biden was working with Ukraine during the Obama administration to reduce Ukraine's dependence on Russian fuel. Hunter Biden, who is a lawyer, went to work for Burisma to help them straighten out their international division, which seems to have been rife with corruption. Joe Biden, under Obama's directive, pressured the Ukrainian government to fire the government guy who was supposed to be rooting out the corruption and wasn't, a Prosecutor General named Shokin. 

This is at the root of the Big Conspiracy Claim -- Trump and the MAGA Americans, like the good puppets they are, claim that really Biden had Shokin removed because Shokin was going after Hunter Biden, who has been looting Ukraine for his own personal gain. (The new Prosecutor General has investigated Bursima thoroughly and Hunter Biden as well, and found no wrong-doing by Biden, but obviously that just proves Trump's point.)

All this is behind Trump's bizarre phone call. He's heard some silly Q-Anon claim, probably on Fox News, though who knows, he might have picked it up on Twitter, and now it's spinning around in his leaky, wonky head, and so during a phone call he's used the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to interfere in the US elections.

Should he be removed from office for Abuse of Power? Sure, yes.

Or he should be removed under the 25th Amendment. Whichever at this point, frankly.

Image result for Trump cartoon whistleblower

ETA: Yes, this:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Incompetent and Hilarious

Okay, this is kind of hilarious.

Apparently the White House sent this document of Talking Points to their boot-licking puppets at Fox News:

And then they also sent it to the House Democrats.

And then they realized what they did, and sent a follow-up email saying oops, send it back, plz.

It's both hilarious and horrifying. They've fucked up the country so much. Imagine what they could do if they were both evil and competent?

ETA: As a reminder, THIS is what Trump is trying to get is to pretend is no big deal:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A Helpful Graphic


Tweet of the Week

Sunday, September 22, 2019

WTH, Amazon?

Amazon's algorithms need work.

Here's what they recommended to me today.

I mean, not only is it utterly absurd, if I even had $1400, that's not what I would spend it on, not in this universe or any other. Jeez. (Do you know how many books you could but for $1400?)

Also, that this is available at all tells me some people have waaay too much money.

ETA: And notice that people are buying these. Here's one of the five-star comments:

Love this wine dispenser. Keeps two bottles at the perfect temperature, ready for a fresh pour at will. Perfect for entertaining, and easy to use. Bought another for our second home!

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Buying our courts

Abortion rates at a new low. Why? Obamacare. (Also the terrible economy, but)

A look at the future

Similarly with all those ever so touching stories about the tender feelings of Trump voters

Weird childhoods

Epistemic injustice, defined

This is very cool:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Retellings of the Inland Sea: TOC Reveal

This anthology, Retellings of the Inland Seas, is the third from Athena Andreadis; her first two each contained multiple award-winning stories.

The first, The Other Half of the Sky, had my story, "Velocity's Ghost," in which we met a certain ship's crew. I'm in this one, too, with my story, "Little Bird," set in the same universe but some years before the Velocity stories.

This one is an anthology of science fiction stories that mythic retellings from the Mediterranean area. Go here for more. The TOC is impressive -- I'm pleased to be in such a crowd.

Monday, September 16, 2019

If Only


You will probably not enjoy this thread as much as I did unless you are addicted to books.

The Corruption of the Trump Adminstration

Two F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez, telling her that they found her “credible.” But the Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the investigation. 
More here 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Teaching Criticial Thinking

In the spring, for the first time in a long time, I'm teaching Comp II, the second half of our year-long writing class which every student is required to take.

In the first half, Comp I, we teach students how to evaluate evidence, how to tell a good source from propaganda*, how to construct an argument, and how to support it with what they (now know) is reliable evidence.

In Comp II, we have them write longer papers, and we have them read a long work, and write a paper about that work. Usually it's a work of fiction, but it doesn't have to be. I'm thinking of using a nonfiction book, one that makes an argument, and having them write their longer paper in response to or in tangent to that argument.

One book I'm considering is one I reviewed here recently, On the Clock. Another is one I haven't read, but which I'm picking up from our library today, American Prison.  There's also Everybody Lies, but that might be a little too meta.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

*We give them the tools they can use to do that, I mean, and require them to use those tools in writing papers for our class. Whether it transfers to their outside life, yeah, well. I've had students come back after a semester or after six years to tell me that what they learned in that little first year class changed their lives; but I've also watched what I knew students could do slide off their backs like oil off waxed paper. I guess the lesson here is that you can give people all the tools you like, but you can't force them to use those tools.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

No Matter What Lies The GOP Tells You

...this remains the truth:


The system is broken.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Here's the Scariest Article You'll Read This Week

From Science Advances:

"Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made"

The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material. The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications—durability and resistance to degradation—make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate. Thus, without a well-designed and tailor-made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.

ETA: for some reason the site won't let me hot-link the article. But if you search for the title, it should come right up. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

We Don't Need Socialized Medicine, Everything is FINE

Dr. Skull lost his meds in the move -- he takes a non-generic medication for his blood pressure, which is hard to control. Of course the insurance will only pay for a refill every 30 days.

Luckily, we had some samples on hand, which our doctor had given us when we were arguing with the insurance company about whether they would pay for this medication at all. So he took those for awhile. But now they're running out -- he has only two days supply left, and we are five days away from the day on which the insurance company will refill the prescription.

So I called the pharmacy to find out how much it would cost for us to just buy three days worth of pills. Guess how much. Guess.

$58.00. For six blood pressure pills.

Buy them or risk him having a stroke. Hmm, which should we chose?

(Instead we called our PCP and asked for more samples -- she gave us enough to get us through. But what if we didn't have her? Or what if we didn't know to do that?)

Why I Wish There Was a God

Because then I could pray for it to stop being 95 degrees here every single fucking day, I mean sweet Jesus enough


Yet another dangerous immigrant deported

Why deregulation is a terrible idea

Sheer madness, I tell you!

I see this with many of my students

We cannot assume a win in 2020. Get out the vote, because the GOP certainly will. Almost will not be enough.

Socialized Medicine v. US Health care from people who have been there

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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Yet Another Moving Report

This one about the cats and dog:

The little dog adjusted right away. He loves it here. He especially loves all the many windows that run floor to ceiling that he can look out of, watching vigilantly for bunnies and birds and squirrels, but also leaves that blow across the yard. Each time, he barks wildly and demands to be let out to chase them.

The cats have finally emerged from hiding, but now they wander the house wailing. Once they find me (specifically me, mostly, but sometimes Dr. Skull) they are fine; but until then, they walk the halls and scream: I'm lost! I'm lost! What is this place! I'm lost!

This lead to us making chirping kitty noises and saying, "Kitty! Kitty! We're in here, kitty!" over and over and then, finally, exasperated, "In here, dumb ass! Here!"

As a last resort, I go and pick the cat in question up and fetch her to me. Dr. Skull just shuts his office door and plays his guitar louder.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Whining about the Weather

It's going to be right at 99 or 98 degrees here right through the middle of next week. Argh.

Even after that, the highs won't be below the 88 and 89.

I need fall.

At least this house has good tree cover, and good AC.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019


In case, like me, you're trying to figure out what's going on over there in Parliament, this might be helpful

The story we hear about Antifa from the Right is (and I know this will shock you) a big fat lie

Amy Wax, a Leading Intellectual of White Nationalism, Tells All (it's exactly as willfully ignorant as you'd expect)

Zero tolerance for dangerous freeloading immigrants


What are women for

Living in the future

Labor Day -- not about the sales and picnics

In my Working Class Lit class, I taught about the above, and also showed the great John Sayles film, Matewan -- it's well worth watching, and I see it's being released on BluRay soon

The inevitable American solution to everything comes for addiction

This almost killed me -- but remember, pregnancy isn't an illness, and it doesn't need medical treatment (the constant chant from the "pro-life" crowd)

Fifty years ago, her pastor would absolutely have found biblical "proof" that the bible didn't allow interracial marriage, just as solid as the "proof" Evangelicals are quoting against LGBTQ people now:

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

More about Moving

We're about 90% unpacked now, I guess. My phone has not revealed itself. I am guessing it is lost for real. 😕

But that seems to be the only casualty of the move, so I will take it. It was a fairly cheap phone, and served its purpose, which was to give me a phone while Dr. Skull was teaching at the Governor's School this past summer. I can have its service terminated and save that money, along with the savings in rent. Hurray!

Meanwhile! About the new house:

  • The window units, which I was worried wouldn't keep the house cool enough (as opposed to central air, I mean) keep the house extremely cold
  • The storage space, which I was worried would be insufficient, is more than sufficient (donating about 40% of our books and clothing and excess belongs probably helped)
  • The wooden floors are even more wonderful than I expected
  • The stove is a gas stove. I have missed cooking with gas so much
  • The immense back yard is full of bunnies and the trees are full of squirrels. The little dog is in paradise
  • The bath tub is an old one, original with the house, I suspect, which means it is huge (our previous house had a modern tub, very good for saving on the water bill, and no good for soaking blissfully
  • The cats are starting to adjust, though they spent the first several days hiding and the first several nights prowling the halls wailing in outrage
  • We no longer have a library, a lovely grocery, and a post-office within walking distance, which is a loss; but we've traded that for the university, which is half a mile away
  • And there's a grocery within a mile, and a post office and a library less than two miles away, so
Meanwhile, non-stop intensive packing and unpacking for the past -- what has it been? Ten days? Twelve days? -- has left us exhausted. We will be a month recovering, I suspect. But it is worth it.

Once again, thank you to everyone who made this move possible! Y'all are the best, and we literally could not have done it without you.

Monday, September 02, 2019


Or, well, at least one bunny.

Last night Dr. Skull took Heywood out for a walk at dusk in our immense backyard, and sure enough a bunny was browsing in the grass. It spotted Heywood well before Heywood spotted it and took off running.

Heywood gave chase, off into the bushes that encircle the yard. In and out of the bushes they ran, Heywood barking wildly and the bunny dodging expertly, always about twenty yards ahead, and never in any danger. It was very exciting, and Heywood returned at the end, extremely pleased with himself.

He's a Real Dog now!

Who's a Good Boy?
(Picture is from the old house, since I still can't find my phone)

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Now with Added Pictures

Dr. Skull took pictures for me:

The Window Where My Chair Currently is Stationed
Living Room with Unpacked Boxes

Dr. Skull has been a living saint through this process, by the way.

Unpacking -- No, LITERALLY

Since we moved in -- well, I lost count, but I think it was less than five days, we did a really terrible job of labeling boxes. So now we are unpacking like it's a treasure hunt. "I'm sure I didn't put the coffee maker in the box to be donated. I mean, I hope I didn't..."

"It's in one of these boxes." (Said bravely.)

The coffee maker has turned up. So has my checkbook. But not my phone. I still have hope! This has been a very lucky move. As I said in the comments to one of these posts, it really feels as though our luck has changed. Our movers were wonderful.

The fact of the movers was wonderful! I was filled with panic over how we were going to get everything moved out of the house in three days, including our refrigerator and our washer-dryer and two immense solid wooden bookcase, I saw a link on U-Haul that let us hire guys to load and unload the truck for you, for a ridiculously tiny sum.

This was a guy named Mike, who had started this business, We Move it Mike's. Other guys work for him. It is not a job I would like to do, let me tell you, but they were great at it. Despite the fact that they work by the hour, they were fast. We could not have done it without them. If you're moving in Fort Smith or anywhere around Fort Smith, I highly recommend.

Yesterday afternoon the internet was connected. Also, I discovered the dryer outlet did not work. So I facebooked my new landlord (yes, we are FB friends) and he sent someone over 20 minutes later and 20 minutes after that it was fixed.

In contrast, I would have had to call my old landlord, leave a message, call him again, have him call me back, have him interrogate me about what I did wrong to break the outlet, have him complain about everything I had willfully broken in the last six month, and then have him tell me he would "see" if he could find someone to come fix it. Then he would demand to know when I would be home. "You're never home," he would inform me. "I can't get anyone in there to fix things when you're not home."

"Mark and I both work," I would point out, for like the 600th time. "But I work at home on (whatever days it was that semester). If you can schedule it for --"

"I'll see what I can do."

Only he wouldn't. So a week later I'd have to call back.

Also. Also. Also. This house is so beautiful. It's true it's smaller, but it's just so lovely.

I promised you pictures, and as soon as I find my phone, you will have some! Right now, imagine me in my chair, drinking coffee, surrounded by stacks of books still in boxes, upturned chairs, and golden mid-morningsunlight pouring through tall many-paned windows. The cats love these windows, by the way -- they run floor to ceiling, so the cats can sit by them and stare out at the wide back yard, filled with trees and birds right now, though Darin (our landlord) promises deer and bunnies later on.

More later!

*three days, because once I told our landlord that we would not accept his 'terms,' which were frankly ludicrous, he said we had to 'vacate the property,' and while technically in Arkansas that means we are supposed to have five days, he was going to change us a ridiculous amount of rent for the other two days -- did I mention that I think this landlord is suffering from dementia?