Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dennis Prager Gets Covid on Purpose

 At one time I used to write a lot about Prager's malicious and deliberate ignorance. Lately, what with so many other people on that schtick, he's dropped off my radar. (I have had to gently tell a few students that no, Prager U is not a reliable source.)

Anyway, yesterday the news broke that Prager deliberately contracted Covid-19, believing that "natural" immunity is better than a vaccine. (I did mention his deliberate ignorance?)

I know we're supposed to take the high road and wish ill on no one, but I know people who have died from this disease, or have being hospitalized with life-threatening cases. Prager's attitude is shameful and disgusting.

Since there is no God, and no justice (just us, as Pratchett notes) I am sure Prager will have a mild case and assert to the end of his smug, ignorant life that he was right, and not just lucky.

Other people he infects? Well, that's not his problem, is it.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Apropos my Previous Post

 From TYWKIWDBI, Covid-19 as "red Covid":






I'd point this out to the anti-vaxxers I know, but frankly it wouldn't make a difference. When you've decided to abjure evidence and reason, what do you care about data?

More at the original post.

ETA: See also this



Bad Days in the Fort

Despite the fact that fall has finally arrived -- we are sleeping with the windows open, and sometimes it is too cold in the house -- I am having a bad time lately.

A lot of things: the local public schools cancelled the mask mandate, even though a survey showed most people wanted to keep it in place. Dr. Skull has had both shots and a booster, so he should be okay. It's stressful all the same, and of course not everyone has or can get the vaccines.

I'm so sick of this pandemic, and so sick of the stupid fuckwits who insist on making it a political issue -- killing themselves and strangers so they can own the libs -- and frankly, so sick of this country, which seems determined to cater to the most hateful, the most willfully ignorant, and the most bigoted shits among us.


Further, my students are at the point in the semester where everything is too much for them. On top of that, several of them are having personal crises: parents dying, positive Covid tests, a wrecked car which is their only transportation. That sort of thing. There is not much I can do, but I do what I can.

I've been ill off and on, with migraines and stomach pain. Stress-related issues.

And my kid is having some problems.  This, of course, is the worst. My father-in-law, of blessed memory, used to say "Little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems." It's true. When they're little, nearly every problem they have is something you can handle, by the sheer power of being a parent. Once they're grown, your powers are no longer super-powers. You're just another adult, trying to help them figure things out.

It's rough.




Saturday, October 16, 2021

What I'm Reading Now


Rae Carson, Any Sign of Life

This is probably classified as YA, since the main characters are (were) seniors in HS, but I enjoyed it greatly -- stayed up late to finish it. 

It's the story of a pandemic with a near 100% mortality rate. Our main character, Paige, a high school basketball star, wakes up to find her entire family dead (and being eaten by crows), and slowly pieces together the truth: she has spent the past six days unconscious (her mother, a nurse, had hooked up up on IV fluids before herself succumbing to the disease) while a deadly flu killed everyone she knows and almost everyone worldwide. The cause of this disease turns out to be...unexpected.

Books about pandemics are my jam at the moment, for obvious reasons, and this one has both a great dog (don't worry, the dog lives) and a sweet romance (Paige is not the only survivor). It also has important things to say about strength, fear, and the imperfections of us all. Highly recommended.


Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, The War That Saved My Life

This is a kid's book, if you believe the classification. I'd have liked it when I was a kid, but I don't think I'd give to anyone younger than fourteen or fifteen: it's got some really grim content. The bit where the main character, Ada, helps with the soldiers being brought across from Dunkirk is the best portrayal of that I've seen, but very rough going. 

Set in the opening year of WWII in England, the novel is told from the point of view of Ada, who is a disabled ten year old (she has an untreated club foot) who is evacuated to Kent, along with her younger brother Jaimie. Both Jaimie and Ada have been neglected and abused by their mother, and both are vastly ignorant of what life is like outside their London street. They are assigned to live with Susan Smith, a woman in the coastal village. Susan has suffered the loss of her partner, and is deeply depressed. Watching the three of them, Susan, Ada, and Jaimie, forming a family is one of the chief pleasures of the book. 

There's also some good horse content. And a sequel.


Chibundu Onuzo, Sankofa

A woman, Anna Bain, whose mother has recently died finds a box while cleaning out her mother's house. Instead, she finds some documents and a diary written by the (African) father she never knew -- who left England not even knowing the woman's mother (white) was even pregnant.

Intrigued by the diary, and at loose ends (the dead mother, a recent separation from her husband, a daughter who is busy with her own life), Anna begins investigating her missing father and the people in the diary. These leads her to discover that her father, who she saw being radicalized in his diary, has returned to his own (fictional) country, started a revolutionary movement to free the country from British rule, and then become a sometime lauded, sometime reviled Prime Minister. He's no longer Prime Minister, but he is still alive.

Anna decides to travel to Bamana, her father's country, to meet him. 

Lucid, interesting prose. Chibundu Onuzo was born in Nigeria, though she moved to England when she was 14. This may be why the African section of the book seems a little over the top; or I may just be woefully ignorant of Africa, which is probably more likely. I enjoyed reading this, though.


Maggie Shipstead, Great Circle

I've read several novels over the past few months put together this way -- a narrative thread in the past, another in the present, and then a third in either the future or the deeper past, all tying together. In this case, they tie together in a great circle, hence the title.

In SF novels one of the strands is in the past, and the others will be in the future/far future, or deeper past.

Anyway, this is a non-genre (which is a way of saying it's in the genre "literary") novel, about a young woman who grows up in the early 20th century wanting to be and then becoming a pilot, following in the footstep (or flight paths, heh) of Amelia Earhart and others like her; and of the young actress in the early 21st century who ends up playing the pilot in a biopic of her life.

That's the general plot; there's tons more going on. I liked both the threads in Montana during the pilot's childhood, and the thread in LA during the actresses young adulthood. There are also really short threads about the lives of other characters.

Very nicely done, and a compelling read.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Plus ça Change

The way I run my Comp I classes (at least at present) is by giving them assignments that build to one giant research paper, drafts of which are due in early November. We then work on that draft, with the final draft being due on the day of the final.

Topics are suggested during the first few days of the semester. I tell them that the readings I will give them will cover X, Y, and Z, and that they can make their lives easier by choosing a topic that relates to one of those subjects.

Then all along, through the semester, along with instruction in how to do research, how to tell a credible source from propaganda, how to cite, and so on, I also give them readings in X, Y, and Z, usually but not always peer-reviewed papers from legitimate journals. (I also have to teach them, early in the semester, how to read a peer-reviewed paper. They're all, theoretically, able to read on a college level; but in fact for all their years in high school they've mostly only read high school textbooks and YA fiction. They have no idea how to read something that isn't instantly accessible. TBF, neither did I as a freshman.)

ANYWAY: All this to say that we are now working with this semester's Z, which is Pandemics and Epidemics of the past. Last week I assigned them this article. It's quite accessible, which was a relief to many of them, and deeply interesting (to me) in how reactions the plague hitting San Francisco in 1900 echoes reactions to Covid-19 now.

This paragraph is especially interesting:

Chinatown leaders denied the reports of plague—and, fearful of an epidemic’s economic repercussions, so did others in power. Mayor James D. Phelan sent telegrams to the mayors of dozens of other cities, assuring them that San Francisco had seen just a single, isolated case—nothing more. Governor Henry Gage told reporters that Kinyoun had caused San Francisco’s cases himself, by letting the plague germ escape his lab. Gage even proposed making it a felony for newspapers to publish “false” reports on the presence of plague in the state. 


In case the link doesn't work, the article is 

Conis, Elena and Daniel Roman, "Epizootic," Bay Nature Magazine, Sept 27, 2020, https://baynature.org/article/epizootic-infectious-disease-and-the-environment/


Saturday, October 09, 2021

High of 95 Today, October 9

 I swear all I do these days is fret about why fall refuses to arrive. Today, for instance, the high is projected to be 95 degrees. WTAF.

Weather guy is promising us fall in a few days. Fingers crossed.



Nothing to do with the weather, but I enjoyed this graphic:

Friday, October 08, 2021

What I'm Reading Now

 Naomi Novik, The Graduate

This is the second book in the series that started with A Deadly Education -- a magic school filled with monsters actively trying to kill the young sorcerers. Class politics and ethical question dealt with here. Is there ethical existence under capitalism, sort of thing.

These aren't exactly fun, but they're very much worth reading. I like that the main characters are three young women who are interested in their own lives, and their own work, rather than being focused like 110% on some guy.  The male characters are great, also. It's not like, an anti-male book. It's just realistic.(Just a tip in general, men who are trying to write women: women don't think about men nearly as much as you think we do. Or at all, some days.)

Also there's a great pet mouse.


T.L. Huchu, The Library of the Dead

A story about someone who can see ghosts -- which I'm a sucker for -- set in a near-future, dystopian Scotland. There's a mystery about missing children, which works as the spine of the book, but I am here for the magic library, the mouthy protagonist, and Scotland functioning without oil or jobs under an oppressive King.

This is clearly the first of a series, and I want more. Huchu had written some non-SF books, apparently. I will have to make due with those.


Tracy Kidder, Among School Children

TBH, I read this one because it was in large print and my library has almost no books in large print that I want to read. (Mostly westerns, romances, and inferior mystery novels.) Especially late at night these days my eyes get tired and it's hard for me to read regular print. Since my iPad died, I'm having to resort to large print or listening to the books available on YouTube.

But Tracy Kidder can certainly write. If you're interested in what public schools were like in Massachusetts in the 1980s, this is your source. Extremely readable, a deep five into a single classroom in a single school and the problems faced by both the teacher and the students.


Kit Whitfield, Benighted

This is a re-read. It's a werewolf book from 2006, which I haven't read since about 2009 (I think?). A quick check of Google shows me that Whitfield hasn't published anything since 2009. I remember she had a kid right about then.

Twitter tells me she has a book coming out soon! That's good news. 



Anyway, Benighted holds up -- it's sort of a mystery novel with werewolves. In this universe, 99% of those born are werewolves. Non-werewolves, or "nons," work for DORLA, which is a formerly religious and now secular organization that patrols during "the moon" to keep werewolves from killing anything, or anyone. The main character works for DORLA. When one of her fellow DORLA workers is murdered, she's involved in finding out who did it and why.

If you like heterosexual werewolf novels, this one is pretty good. (Most werewolf stories are heavily gay and trans coded, FYI.)



Thursday, October 07, 2021

I Don't Know Who Needs to Know This but

 Advice in general:

Don't get your information about Christians from people who hate Christians.

Don't get your information about feminists from people who hate feminists.

Don't get your information about liberals/conservatives from people who hate liberals/conservatives.

Don't get your information about trans people from people who hate trans people.

And so on.


Tuesday, October 05, 2021

False Fall

Today is the first day it's been cool enough to turn off the AC and open the doors and windows. I'm enjoying this brief bliss, since tomorrow the high is back in the 90s. UGH.

The cats are also very happy. They love being able to wander into and off of the screened porch entirely at their own will. (When it's not fall, Junti stands at the kitchen door and screams until I let her out on the porch. What about the cat door, you ask? There is indeed a cat door, but she refuses to make use of it. That is for peasants.)



Sunday, October 03, 2021

The Benefits of Living 800 Yards from Work

 Tomorrow Dr. Skull is driving up the mountain to take the kid to a medical appointment (he usually takes himself, but this one is not on the bus route). I'm teaching all day, so I'm staying here and walking to and from work.

I can do this because the new house is less than half a mile from campus. Highly recommend.

Also the high tomorrow is forecast to be 84 degrees. On October 4. Ugh. 


That's the weather for the next week, though -- highs in the 80s and 90s, lows in the 60s. Apparently winter will not appear in Arkansas this year.


Saturday, October 02, 2021

Review of In the Deep

Nerds of a Feather reviews In the Deep.

This is the same site, and the same reviewer, who looked at Fault Lines a few weeks ago.

My favorite graph:

The novel explores what those seeking profit or advantage will do to those under them to maintain those profits and advantage, up to the use of force. This is all the richer given both Velocity and Bronte's origins with wealth and privilege in the Combines, and that conflict and dichtomy absolutely does get addressed and called out here. In a time and age as I am writing this with the Pandemic, and workers seeking better ways of working and better compensation for same, the message of In the Deep is especially powerful, and relevant.



 

Friday, October 01, 2021

What I'm Watching


Ted Lasso

Of course. Who isn't? My kid sent me a PM asking, why is everyone losing their shit over Ted Lasso? Isn't it just a show about a soccer coach? I sent back, Ted Lasso saved my life.

I'm not saying it will save your life. I was extremely depressed and feeling generally hopeless, and this show is about persevering in the face of that hopelessness (and about a soccer coach), as well as being about people who do the right thing. Also it's funny. Also, the actor who plays Roy Kent is extremely hot. Also, lots of accents. You know I love dialectical English.

Season Two has started to deal with some darker issues, but I'm still watching. Free on Apple TV if you have a Apple device, or you can buy the season on YouTube.


Lupin

This is a French series, in French. I heard good things about it, but mainly I am watching it to practice my French. I am up to 524 days on Duolingo, and can understand about half of what's being said on screen. (I keep the subtitles on, but only check them when I get stuck.

It's also a pretty good show, at least so far, about the son of a Senegalese immigrant whose father was wrongly convicted of theft and who is trying to clear his father's name while being himself hunted by the French police, because he also makes his living as a 'gentleman thief.' His name isn't actually Lupin; apparently that's a name he takes from a book series he read as a kid. (I'm only on episode two.)

On Netflix.



The Darkest Hour

Not the one about Churchill. This is about two young software engineers who go to Russia to pitch an app to some business there and while they are in Russia aliens made of wave-form energy invade. Basically a horror-SF movie, but I enjoyed it. Very few Russian characters for a show set in Russia, but I did like the guy living in a Faraday cage with his cat in Faraday armor, that was fun.

On Netflix.


Law & Order: UK

Copaganda. Don't waste your time unless you're really interested in English dialects.

Free on Amazon if you have Amazon Prime.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

I still contend

 ...that this here video was why the internet was created:


"Just a unicorn, innit?"

Sunday, September 26, 2021

What I'm Reading Now

Natasha Pulley, The Watchmaker of Filgree Street, The Bedlam Stacks, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

These are wonderful books, sort of steampunk, all sharing the same universe, in which a Japanese man, Keita Mori, can "remember" the future, or rather futures, and -- at certain junctures -- intervene to make sure one specific future occurs. When that happens, he can't remember any of the other futures, or the things he would have known in those futures. In the Watchmaker, a young British civil servant, Nathaniel Steepleton, meets him and falls in love with him. It's the 1880s, though, so homosexual love is a problem. Also, Mori is suspected of being a terrorist, since a recent bomb was set off using his specific sort of clockwork. 

There is also a mechanical octopus which runs on quantum programming, and a workhouse child named Six. I love these books and I wish Pulley would write more of them very, very quickly.


Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm

I liked this a lot, though I didn't think I would, at first. It reads at first like it's going to be one of those books that labors heavily to mock people. But as we move further into the story, it stops being quite so twee in its mockery, and the book improves immensely. If you can wince your way through the opening 20 pages or so, it's worth reading. Also a good look at what people in the 1930s thought the near future would look like.


Lemony Snicket, Poison for Breakfast

My kid read all the Lemony Snicket books when he was about ten, and loved them to bits. This is the first one I have read all the way through. (I read bits to him when he was little.) It's an adult novel -- novella, really -- and has the same tone and feel as the kids' books, but is definitely aimed at adults. It's about what it says on the tin: the narrator, Lemony Snicket, finds a note saying that he's eaten poison for breakfast, and he investigates the crime. It's really, as Snicket notes about halfway through, more of a philosophical muse than a crime novel. Wonderful writing, though, and short enough that you can read it in an hour or so. Recommended for those who like this sort of thing. (I like this sort of thing.)


Friday, September 24, 2021

Baby Junti

Looking through old photos I found this one of baby Junti:


Taken right after we got her, I think.


And older Junti, for comparison:



Why You Not Reading?

 I've signed up to do another Guest Review for Asimov's, which is why my "What I'm Reading Now" posts have been scarce -- pretty much everything I'm reading is aimed at that review.

But I am doing some non-SFF reading, so there should be another post eventually.

Previous to that post, I highly recommend Natasha Pulley's The Bedlam Stacks. Also everything else she writes. Great stuff.


Thursday, September 23, 2021

55 Degrees Here This Morning

 ...but in two days we'll be back in the 90s.

Please no more summer.

My new book has five stars on Amazon -- yay! -- but only one reviewer so far. All y'all who are reading it, you should go over there and leave a review.



Tuesday, September 21, 2021

It's 70 degrees here today

 ...and almost cool.

Next week, we're back in the low 90s and high 80s, though.

I have hopes that we may achieve fall at some point before November.


Monday, September 20, 2021

High of 95 Today, Sept 20

 Honest to God, if it could be less hot, I could be more happy.


Tomorrow it's supposed to be cooler. I will believe it when I see it.



Saturday, September 18, 2021

Review of Fault Lines

Paul Weimer, over at Birds of a Feather, (nominated for a Hugo for Best Fanzine several times), has written a review of the first novel in my Escape Velocity series. You can read it here!

It's a wonderful and very insightful review. My favorite bit: 

...this is not a space opera with a ton of action scenes in it. This is a novel far more interested in the political machinations, maneuvers, conversations, revelations and negotiations than in straight up conflicts. If you prefer your space opera with more laser guns and less wrangling, this is not quite the space opera you are looking for. On the other hand, if you want deadly dances of interstellar politics, this novel, this universe, has all you could want, in spades, and will eat up what is offered here with as poon.





Saturday, September 11, 2021

Stolen from Twitter

 This is a question someone asked on Twitter. I posted it on my FB page, and the answers were interesting.

1. What did your father's father do for a living?

2. What did your father do?

3. What did your mother's mother do?

4. What did your mother do?

5. What do you do?


My answers:

1. Sold used cars

2. Chemical engineer

3. Worked in a furniture factory

4. School librarian

5. Professor 


What are your answers?



Thursday, September 09, 2021

Safe Delivery!

 My copies of my book just arrived!


It's absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Monday, September 06, 2021

Labor Day Release

 This is true!

Now Live!

Happy birthday to my book!

Lift-off page is here.

You can buy it at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and direct from the publisher!

It's the sequel to Fault Lines. This time Velocity and her crew are working for the Pirians. They accept a mission to a planet in the seldom-patrolled area of Republic space known as the Deep, where they hope to rescue some Pirians impressed into contract labor, and to foment a revolution.

Meanwhile, Brontë and Adder have been left behind on the Pirian ship the Sungai, to keep them safe. Will they stay where they were put? LOL.

The e-copy can be had for as little as $6.00. 

Appearing soon on John Scalzi's Big Idea!





Sunday, September 05, 2021

Coming Soon!

 One more day until my book's birthday!


Also, guess whose book is going to appear on John Scalzi's Whatever Big Idea series?

Don't worry, I'll provide links!

Saturday, September 04, 2021

But Trans People Are Just a Tiny Minority, So

Elsewhere, and from Hilary Mantel of all people (I love her books), we get this argument:


 I have seen this argument a number of time from bigots on the right. It goes more or less like this: "Trans people are a tiny minority of the population, so why do we have to listen to what they say, or change the way we act, or treat them like fellow human beings?"

In case you're only ten years old, that's exactly the argument that was used against disabled people, including deaf people, blind people, and those in wheelchairs. Why do we need to change the way we make buildings, run schools, pave our roads, when "those people" are only a tiny minority of the population?

It's the same argument that was made against immigrant children coming into the public school system, and dyslexic children, and autistic children: they're such a tiny minority, why should we change the system for them?

It's the same argument that was made for centuries against Jews. Against black people. Against Catholics, in some places, and Protestants in others. 

Why should the majority change its ways so that the minority may be treated fairly? Why should the majority recognize the humanity of the minority?

Honestly, if that's a question you actually need help with, I don't know what to tell you.

I do note that Mantel was upset because she was misgendered -- someone used "they" pronouns with her when she prefers "she/her" pronouns. So clearly she understands that misgendering a person is a problem. 

But apparently only when she gets misgendered. Using the wrong name and wrong pronouns with "those" people, well, they're only a tiny minority, so what does it matter?



Update on Ida and my Family

Most of my family has left New Orleans in the aftermath of the storm -- one brother and his family are staying at a family member's house in Boone, NC (which they report is lovely, with a temperature yesterday of 66 degrees and low humidity); and my wonderful nephew is staying with his parents (my other brother and SIL) in Gulf Shores, AL. This nephew just heard that power has been restored to his apartment, and that his landlord is willing to wait for this month's rent, which is good news.

My father stayed in his assisted living facility. I spoke to him yesterday, and he seems in good spirits. Their power was out (the generator failed) but he said they were working on it. He sounded much more alert and aware than usual, though my brother tells me that when he spoke to him -- shortly before I did -- he was bewildered and confused, and kept asking why he couldn't get his Google Assistant to work. I suppose that's common with this disease -- the flashes of awareness, then the descent back to the dark.

I used to bike past this refinery back when I lived in New Orleans and was riding my bike 30 or 40 miles every day. One of my uncles worked there (the one who died of cancer in his early 50s). I've always suspected the toxins this place spills into the environment non-stop caused my cancer and the cancer of so many of those who went to my school. Cancer alley, we called this stretch of land.


Thursday, September 02, 2021

That Texas Law

 A twitter thread starting here explains in detail why the new Texas law about abortion is such a deliberate and intentional act of injustice.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Critical Race Theory Explained

 Clearly, being black in public is CRT


 

Summer and Fish

 It's going to be 100 degrees today, and according to the weather channel, all the way through Sept 15 we will have highs in the 90s.

Summer is hanging around TOO LONG.

I don't know if it's the ceaseless heat or my killing schedule which is making me so exhausted all the time -- I have 8:00 classes three days a week, and I'm teaching a class with a new prep, and I have a night class, and I'm TRYING to write a novel (insert more whining here). But anyway, I'm just exhausted 70% of the time.

I'll feel better when winter comes.



Monday, August 30, 2021

Ida and my Family II

 They came through without any flooding or damage. No power, which will be unpleasant in New Orleans at the end of August, but otherwise fine. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ida and my Family

 One of my brothers and his family, as well as my father, are all in New Orleans right now. They couldn't really evacuate -- my father, as all y'all know, has dementia and does not travel well, and my brother's family has four large dogs.

They're all in places that should be all right -- not in areas that usually flood, I mean -- but I am worrying anyway. The satellite pictures of Ida are not comforting.

My brother is updating his status frequently on FB. They have lost power at this point but still have cell services. Any magic or mojo any of you have would be appreciated.


Update: I've talked with my father, who is anxious and not at all sure what is going on. "We're having a really big storm," he tells me. "This is a big storm."

"Right, it's a hurricane. You're in a hurricane."

"What? What's happening?"

"It's a hurricane -- Hurricane Ida. You'll be okay."

"I don't know what's happening. I'm going downstairs to look. Can I call you back?"

"Yes, call me back."

"What?"

"Call me back."

"Okay. Okay. This is a bad storm."

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Teaching Octavia Butler

My chair just asked if I wanted to teach Major Authors: Octavia Butler in the spring.

You could hear my shrieks of joy from space.


Bonus information: There's a landing site on Mars named after her.



Review of Water Horse is live at Strange Horizons

My review of Melissa Scott's new novel Water Horse is now live at Strange Horizons.

Spoilers: I really liked it.

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Gift from a Student Who Knows Me Too Well

 She says I can use it for grading essays:



Summer's Lease

It was just so hot today -- 98 degrees at six p.m. when I finally finished teaching, oppressive humidity, scorching sun. Very unpleasant, but worse than that just exhausting. Being so hot, with such thick air, and such painful sunlight, wears me to the bone.

I grew up in New Orleans, which is likewise hot and humid. I remember running (literally running, as fast as I could go) down the streets of my neighborhood, and climbing trees, and playing kickball and tag and I don't remember even feeling the heat. Well, I remember the sidewalk being so hot it burned my feet (we all went barefoot all the time then) but other than that....

Do kids just have some magic feature of their metabolism which makes them impervious to heat?


First Day of Classes

 It's day one of the fall semester here and the predicted temperature is going to reach 100 degrees.

This usually wouldn't matter, but I have a class on the other end of the campus that starts at 10:00. UGH.

I finished watching The Chair last night -- it's a little depressing, but not at all "woke." The opposite, in fact -- the main plotline concerns how a Twitter mob ruins a professor's life (with a little help from the professor) and the way the admin rolls over to that mob.

What I think my FB critic meant by that is that it has people of color as main characters. It doesn't matter what the plotline is, or what happens in the show: if brown people, and women, are main characters, instead of just gazing adoringly at white men, then the show must, de facto, be woke. At least to white conservative Trump cultists.

Trump did get boo'd for advising his followers to get vaccinated yesterday. So apparently he can shoot a man on 5th Avenue, sexually assault women, and try to overturn the government, but contradicting militant ignorance about medical matters is RIGHT OUT.


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Whaaaat!

 I laughed too hard at this one:


Saturday, August 21, 2021

What I'm Reading Now in French

 I've been doing French on Duolingo for 489 straight days now and I can read the French bits in English novels (which is nice). Next goal: reading actual French novels.

I'm starting with this one, which I got from Thriftbooks. 


If you haven't discovered Thriftbooks yet, highly recommend: they have almost everything I'm looking for, and what they don't have they will let you add to your wishlist, and tell you when it comes in. Mostly you can get what you need for less than five dollars; occasional rare items can be very expensive, but I just don't buy those.

Also, their shipping is only a dollar per book, or absolutely free if you buy more than ten dollars worth at a time. I save up books (they'll hold them in your basket) until I have enough to get free shipping, and then buy them. Oh! And once you buy enough books, you get a free book! I think it's like $50 worth of books, though I'll admit I haven't really kept track of that part.

Anyway, I am pleased to find that I can read Le Petit Nicolas, which is a children's book, quite easily.

"Woke Garbage"

 I watched a couple episodes of The Chair on Netflix last night after someone on FB called it "woke garbage."

It's not the best TV I've ever seen -- Sandra Oh has just been named the chair of the English department in a small eastern college somewhere, where enrollment is falling and most of the faculty are white guys well over the age of sixty. It's her job to thin out the faculty, and her dean suggests she start with the oldest (two white guys and a white woman, all apparently in their late 70s) and the highest paid. But these faculty were her mentors, and at least one is a close friend, and so she's reluctant.

There's also a young black professor, and a fifty-year-old white guy professor whose wife has just died and who, though a brilliant teacher and scholar, is in a tailspin over her loss. At the end of episode two (which is where I stopped) he runs into trouble online after he (ironically) gives a Nazi salute in class and someone takes a video of it which goes viral.

That's it, that's the entire show. I watched it, frowning, looking for the "wokeness" which made it "garbage." There are no LGBT people (highly unlikely, at a university in the East); there are office politics but no other politics; there is no mention of immigration or global warming, or the pandemic;there are no enforced seminars to make people recognize that black people are people too....

Oh, wait. There it is. The show simply assumes that black people and Asian people and women are people. The show has an Asian person as its main character. Not only that, but she's a woman. And the show has two other women -- one of them black -- as professors in a university. There's the "woke garbage" my FB critic was complaining about.

It's honestly true. White conservatives think anything that's not about white men, entirely about white men, with women only as minor characters in the background, is liberal propaganda. That's the world they live in. Which explains a lot, when you think about it.

Anyway, so far as recommending it goes, it held my interest, and it's mostly realistic (unlike the usual fictional depictions of university life we get in movies and TV). The professors are clearly paid an unlikely amount (what English professor makes over $100,000 a year?) but this may be because they're at a famous (if fictional) private university? I probably won't keep watching, what with the semester starting up, but if you like campus fiction and Sandra Oh, this might be for you. 



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Jasper and me

 

Jasper very gently clawing my shoulder to make me pet her:



Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Virtual meetings

 My back-to-school meetings are all virtual this year. I'm highly in favor of this since (a) this means I can attend without putting on shoes or leaving the house and (2) I can crochet relentlessly during the meeting.

Also less of a chance of picking up the Delta variant, which is good, I guess.


Saturday, August 14, 2021

Adventures in Arkansas

 Don't worry, my kid made it home okay.


They just missed the exit in the storm. Do that, and you hit Dora, Oklahoma in about six minutes.


Friday, August 13, 2021

Please less heat

 


Hot Take

 "Marijuana is a slur for cannibis" -- yeah, okay, sweetie.



(Browsing her timeline -- oh, of course she's a TERF. And an anti-vaxxer.  God help us.)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

August in Arkansas

 It's so hot here. Near a 100 every day this week, with lows of 79 or 80, at four in the morning. Our air conditioner keeps the house near 80 during the day; it's two in the morning before I'm cool enough to sleep. God, I hate summer.

It's also too hot to exercise unless I wake up at six or wait until sunset (at 8:20, these days). Even then it's too hot to take the little dog out. I have to walk by myself. Poor little dog misses his walks.

Only six more weeks until I can start reasonably expecting fall to start, though. "Then this winter you'll be wishing for summer," Dr. Skull predicated. "You'll be wishing it was hot."

"You must be thinking of your other wife," I said, because I have never once wished for summer. Or heat.

My father seems to be doing a little better. He's gained twenty pounds -- he was down to 137 after my mother's death, which given he's six foot one and heavy boned was way too thin. Every time I talk to him, he weighs himself while I'm on the phone and reports his weight. This past Monday, he was up to 158.3.

"Food must be good there," I said.

"Oh, well, you know," he said. "There's plenty of it, at least."

It's being made to eat three times a day that's doing it, I suspect. Before, he ate a few bananas for breakfast, and drank skim milk, and then had salmon or something for dinner. This while running ten or fifteen miles a day.

I don't think he's running as much anymore either. My brothers have managed to convince him to stop driving, which means someone has to drive him anywhere he wants to go, so he can't go run on the levee as often, or go to his swim club as often either.

Every time I talk to him, he tells me how lonely he is, and how much he misses my mother. But he does seem to be making friends there, among the other "inmates," as he puts it.



Monday, August 09, 2021

Win a copy of In the Deep!

 Do you want to read my new book early? You know you do!

Enter here to win a free copy of In the Deep, the sequel to Fault Lines. For the low, low price of saying yes, please, you can be entered to win!

Velocity Wrachant and the crew of the Susan Calvin have been working in Pirian Space for three years, doing adjunct work for the Pirian fleet. When they are offered a mission in Republic Space, they know this is their chance to be taken in as full members of the fleet. And the job looks safe enough: they are to rescue some Pirian fleet members out of contract labor, while also learning what they can about local insurgencies.

More at the site!



Sunday, August 08, 2021

What I'm Reading: D. E. Stevenson

I recently began reading all the D. E. Stevenson in our library. Previously, I'd read her Mrs. Tim books, and liked them well enough. I assumed the rest were romance novels, since our library has them catalogued as such, and left them alone. Outside of Jane Austen, I mostly don't like romance novels.

But a few years ago, as loyal readers recall, I began reading Georgette Heyer, and found her novels entrancing, despite being romance novels; and also I'm having trouble with regular-sized print again (this happens every few years, as my eyesight steadily degrades), so I was rummaging in my library's miniscule Large Print section. I came across a row of Stevenson, and checked one out -- Winter and Rough Weather, which turned out to be the last book in a trilogy. 

Since then I've been reading all of them owned by my library, which is only about half of the Stevenson books published. I thought I might pick some of the others up over on Thriftbooks, but while the site does have some of those not in my library, they're all priced out of my range -- like fifty dollars for a book. Ai.

The novels I've read so far remind me a great deal of Angela Thirkell's novels, in that they give close looks at a narrow segment of English society from the 1930s through the 1970s. Stevenson isn't as mean-spirited as Thirkell can be, though. She has occasional satirical turns, but these are almost always aimed up, rather than down -- that is, where Thirkell mocked and satirized the lower classes and the merchant classes (the new rich), Stevenson mainly mocks the upper classes: a wealthy lord who refuses to hear anything anyone says, a Lady who neglects her own children to care for the children of the poor, that sort of thing.

But even this sort of satire happens rarely. Mainly her novels are about life in Scottish villages and in the Scottish countryside. The Winter and Rough Weather trilogy, which starts with Vittoria Cottage, is about the entangled life of four sisters, now in their mid to late thirties, and all their families, and the families around them. It's also about living in England after WWII -- the books were published in 1949, 1950, and 1951.

In 1936, she wrote a science fiction novel (sort of) called The Empty World. It's set in her future -- the future from the perspective of 1936 -- and is charming to read for just that reason, to see what at least one writer thought the world of about 1950 might look like. (She got almost everything wrong.) The plot concerns a comet sweeping by the world and catching the world in its tail. This causes an electrical field which destroys everything with "life force," tearing apart the electricity in the bodies of everything from elephants to ants, including humans, and reducing them to handfuls of dust. (This is why I say it's only "sort of" science fiction: Stevenson clearly knows almost nothng about actual science.)

Only two groups of people survive this comet: one is on an "airline carrier" and happens to be above the comet's tail (what? don't ask me) and so they survive, by chance; the other is a carefully selected group of about fifty people who a mad scientist (the only one who understands what the comet means) takes up in giant dirgible/air balloons, along with certainly useful animals and insects. Like Noah's Ark, except with eugenics. 

This gives an interesting look at the world of 1936, when eugenics was a good idea, and television only a vague notion on the horizon; and when airplanes existed, but clearly no one flew passengers across the Atlantic. The opening scenes, in which our historical novelist is returning from a tour of America back to London (they end up in Scotland), take us aboard an "airliner," which is like a little ocean liner, but on a giant plane. It has private cabins, and two separate dining salons: one for the first class passengers, and the other for their servants. (The pilots eat first class, the engineers with the servants.) Also there are "televisors," which apparently beam live pictures non-stop, following a famous actress around and broadcasting the minutia of her daily life to her eager viewers. Like twitter, but with pictures.

This is definitely NOT Stevenson's best book, and I would not start here. Start with Amberwell, published in 1955. This is the story of landed gentry and their land, or specifically their estate, Amberwell. It focuses on five children in one generation: their lives from about 1930 to just after WWII -- that period in England when everything changed, in other words.

She does an excellent job with bringing characters to life, and not just upper class characters: her servants and working class characters are excellent.

I've still got plenty of Stevenson to read just in my public library; I've also lately discovered our library has Kanopy, which gives me access to heaps of e-books, and many of Stevenson's books which our library does not have in print I can get through Kanopy. So this should keep me occupied for a week or two.

Content Warning: Casual racism, though almost always by characters we are not supposed to admire; casual imperialism; and Stevenson is a conservative, though the referrents for that word in Scotland in 1950 bear no resemblence to what we mean by "conservative" in the USA in 2021. Less "Yay bigotry!" and more pro-church, God, and Duty.



Saturday, August 07, 2021

I Did the Things

 I had, literally, two things I had to get done this week.

(1) I had to submit a form so that I could keep getting my 9-month salary distributed over 12 months; and

(2) I had to submit several forms so that the kid could get his tuition waiver for his last semester of college.

Both had to be printed out and submitted hardcopy. However, it was literally ten minutes work.

Guess how long I spent whining and sulking and not doing it? Yeah, they went in this morning.

UGH. I just hate having anything planned. All I want is one day after the next with nothing planned. Why can't I have that?


Monday, August 02, 2021

OMG 2

OMG

 Is this true?

Please tell me it's not true. Please tell me even Fox News viewers aren't this gullible.


Sunday, August 01, 2021

What I'm Reading Now


Laurie Frankel, One, Two, Three 

Frankel is one of my favorite writers who has written fewer than five books. (This is a hint that I would like her to write more.) She wrote This is How it Always Is, which is a great book; this one, One, Two, Three, is also very good, though maybe not quite as excellent. Here, we have a set of triplets growing up in a doomed town, one which a chemical company contaminated nearly 20 years in the past, killing off huge swaths of the population and leaving many of those who remain broken.

It's told from the point of view of the three sisters, one of whom is disabled by the chemical pollutants, one of whom is on the spectrum, and one of who is as normal as anyone can be in such an environment. Among other things, this is about how unchecked and unfettered capitalism destroys (is destroying) the world. 

The ending is a bit weak, but up until then, this is an excellent book.


Rainbow Rowell, Any Way the Wind Blows 

Rowell wrote Fangirl, which is one of my favorite books about a young adult, Cath, in her first year of college. The girl also writes fan fiction, and after Fangirl was a big hit, Rowell wrote the fan-fic books that Cath was writing. This is the third in that trilogy. They're obviously Harry Potter fan-fic, but they're Harry Potter without the class-apologism, the misogyny, and the bigotry. 

The first two are Carry On and Wayward Son. These aren't serious literature, but they're fun. Like most fan-fic, they focus on relationships and drama rather than plot. And Rowell can write. If you're looking for well-written fun, these are your books.


Benjamin Rosenbaum, The Unraveling

I'm doing an actual review of this one, for Strange Horizons, so I won't say too much about this here, except that this one is indeed serious literature, and also a lot of fun. It's science fiction, about a far, far future planet rebuilt in the human diaspora. The worldbuilding is lovely, complex and complicated and delightful; the characters likewise. Very much worth reading. I read it straight through one day, and then immediately re-read it the next day. This book should win awards, and I hope it does.


John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

I re-read this one every three or four years. Among other things, it's a nice look at 1960 America. Steinbeck is also extremely readable, and the dog is great. The most interesting part, though, is how little America has changed since 1960. Everything everyone is losing their shit over today -- divisive politics, racism, white supremacists having tantrums -- Steinbeck encounters and discusses all of it. There's no mention of global climate change, but he does get depressed by the destruction of his home stretch in California, and the resultant droughts there.


Friday, July 30, 2021

Ooga-booga!

 Honestly, at this point it's like socialism. MAGA Americans have no idea what it is, but they've been told by Fox News they should hate and fear it, so 


I mean...


 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

One of My Favorite Poems

 

A Voice from Under the Table

Richard Wilbur

(From The Kenyon Review, Winter 1954, Vol. 16, No. 1)

 How shall the wine be drunk, or the woman known?

I take this world for better or for worse,
But seeing rose carafes conceive the sun
My thirst conceives a fierier universe:
And then I toast the birds in the burning trees
That chant their holy lucid drunkenness;
I swallowed all the phosphorus of the seas
Before I fell into this low distress.

You upright people all remember how
Love drove you first to the woods, and there you heard
The loose-mouthed wind complaining Thou and Thou;
My gawky limbs were shuddered by the word.
Most of it since was nothing but charades
To spell that hankering out and make an end,
But the softest hands against my shoulder-blades
Only increased the crying of the wind.

For this the goddess rose from the midland sea
And stood above the famous wine-dark wave,
To ease our drouth with clearer mystery
And be a South to all our flights of love.
And down by the selfsame water I have seen
A blazing girl with skin like polished stone
Splashing until a far-out breast of green
Arose and with a rose contagion shone.

“A myrtle-shoot in hand, she danced; her hair
Cast on her back and shoulders a moving shade.”
Was it some hovering light that showed her fair?
Was it of chafing dark that light was made?
Perhaps it was Archilochus’ fantasy,
Or that his saying sublimed the thing he said.
All true enough; and true as well that she
Was beautiful, and danced, and is now dead.

Helen was no such high discarnate thought
As men in dry symposia pursue,
But was as bitterly fugitive, not to be caught
By what men’s arms in love or fight could do.
Groan in your cell; rape Troy with sword and flame;
The end of thirst exceeds experience.
A devil told me it was all the same
Whether to fail by spirit or by sense.

God keep me a damned food, nor charitably
Receive me into his shapely resignations.
I am a sort of martyr, as you see,
A horizontal monument to patience.
The calves of waitresses parade about
My helpless head upon this sodden floor.
Well, I am down again, but not yet out.
O sweet frustrations, I shall be back for more.

(Source)

Yep

 

I mean, look at this bullshit.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

This One Trick!

 I'm working on my budget, trying to make sure we can get to the end of September (which is when I next get paid), and I had an epiphany: we just need to stop eating.

If we just quit eating, we'll have plenty of money.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Arkansas Covid -19

 I'm sure this is just fake news, though. Or all the people in the ICUs have comorbities. Or they're old and would have died anyway. Or whatever absolute batshit the MAGA crowd are spewing at the moment.

Meanwhile, our legislature, working to protect freedom or something, has made it illegal for any state-run facility to require masks. That includes schools. It's also made it illegal for any public place -- including hospitals -- to require their employees to get vaccines, or to penalize those who refuse.

If this was just killing these whining, ignorant losers who have swallowed every bit of propaganda put out by Fox News and QAnon -- if it was only their lives they were risking -- that would be one thing. But these heaps of garbage are also risking the lives of the immunocompromised, some of them my students, many of them children.

What is it that the Far-Right say about that? Well, those people are weak, and we should let them die.

Eugenicists at heart. Or they would be, if they had hearts.


ETA: Bet you can guess who this vile loser voted for:




Monday, July 26, 2021

UGH More July

Last night we had a nice thunderstorm, which dropped a ton of rain.

Today walking outside is like walking into a steambath. Except with blistering sunshine. 

Tomorrow, the high will be over 100 degrees, as will the next day, and the next.

Heat Dome over central US, which is to say over ME

Ugh.

I spend some time every day browsing my calander and counting down the days until summer is FINALLY OVER. Which means end of September, here. So nine more weeks as of today.

UGH UGH UGH.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Solid Truth

 

What I'm Watching

I finally watched On the Basis of Sex, as I noted a few posts ago. And Dr. Skull and I have been watching Rake, which is an Australian TV show about barrister, as well as life, politics, and sex in Sydney. (You can watch it on Netflix.) 

It's funny, and also appalling. The main character, Cleaver Greene, is an enormous jerk, who also happens to be brilliant in court. The supporting characters are great, though if I were any one of them I would have ditched him much, much, much sooner. Good writing and acting. Also, occasionally it gives us a look at the US through Australian eyes.

Shows/movies I have tried to watch and given up on after less than 20 minutes:

2012

The Lovely Bones

The I-Land

Awake

Some of them were too stupid, and some too boring. The Lovely Bones made me queasy. YMMV. We have finished watching Rake, and may try Ted Lasso next -- I hear good things about it.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Re My MAGA at the Lab

 Apparently this is a new bit of performance art from the Trumpists?



Imagine having a life this pathetic. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

RBG: The Film

 I finally got around to watching On the Basis of Sex, the biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsberg's early career. As a piece of biography, or a lecture on women's history, it's fine. As a bit of dramatic art, meh.

I mean, it's okay, and the final scene in the courtroom does what it's supposed to; also the history of how Ginsberg gets to her arguments in Moritz v. Commissionar is also (as far as I noticed) accurate. But frankly, it ends right where the most interesting part of the story begins.

It's also interesting that everything the State was arguing in Moritz  was not wrong -- making women and men equal under the law has, indeed, led to women having careers, an increase in divorce, and so on. A different world was, indeed, created. Our economic system has yet to catch up to that new reality, sadly.

I suppose it's worth watching for anyone who has no concept of what the status of women used to be, previous in 1970. 


I could have done with less focus on Mr. Ginsberg too. Just saying.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Arkansas July

 

Aw, jeez, it's going to be 100 degrees next week.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Trump's America

So this morning I had to go have blood work done. This is due to the cancer I had a billion years ago -- I'm on medication for it to this day, and every six months they need to draw blood to make sure my liver and kidneys are still happy and my thyroid levels are nominal. It's annoying, but better than being dead, at least so far.

ANYWAY. The mask order has been lifted here, which if you've had a look at new cases in Arkansas, that's pretty hilarious, and totally to be expected. Also our state legislature has just passed yet another ridiculous law, saying that no workplace in Arkansas, not even hospitals, can require its workers to be vaccinated. This has empowered our Trumpists, who see the law as evidence that their militant ignorance is justified.

ANYWAY. The medical building where the lab is located has a strict masking policy -- no one can come in without a mask. Most people seem fine with this. (I'm fine with it, even though I'm fully vaccinated, which means technically I shouldn't need a mask anymore.)

But about ten minutes after I arrived this morning, a Trumpist arrived, maskless. The lab tech pointed out the sign. The Trumpist argued, saying the masks do nothing, saying she didn't "have" to wear a mask, saying it was her body, her choice -- all the Trumpist arguments. The tech tried to explain that this was a medical building, that people came in here who had lowered immune systems, and that policy was --

"Shut up!" the Trumpist snapped at her. "You shut up and let me talk!"

The tech shut the door in her face and left.

"Rude bitch," the Trumpist said, and other unpleasant things, looking around at us as if waiting for agreement, or applause, or who know what. We all gave her stony stares, and she huffed and stomped away.

Meanwhile, did you see Trump's bizarre interview




Saturday, July 17, 2021

What I'm Reading Now

 

Nigh Vo, The Beautiful and the Chosen

Do you want to read the Great Gatsby told from Jordan's point of view? And with magic? Also gayness? This book is for you!

It's wonderfully written, as is the original, but Nick is bisexual, sleeping with both Gatsby and Jordan, and Jordan is an adopted Vietnamese sorcerer, and Gatsby has made a deal with the devil, which is how he got his immense wealth; he's also (like the original) not quite what he seems. I re-read the original recently, checking in as I do every few years to see if I hate it as much as I did in high school. (I do.) I recommend reading this one back to back with that one, so you can get all the Easter Eggs.

A lot of fun, and very much worth a read, even if you don't like fantasy.


Laurie King, Castle Shade

This is another in the Mary Russell series, about the adolescent Sherlock Holmes befriends in his old age and makes into his apprentice (and later marries). It's all right, though not the best in the series. Sherlock and Russell go to Roumania and deal with what might be vampires (but isn't) causing a ruckus around a castle owned by Marie of Roumania. I like these books a lot, but this one, I have to admit, feels like King is just going through the motions. Start with The Beekeeper's Apprentice


William Patterson, Robert Heinlein

This biography of Heinlein (the dean of science fiction) got mixed reviews when it debuted, back 2010 (first volume) and 2014 (second volume) and I can see why. It's not bad, exactly, but it's clearly an apology which ignores facts Patterson thinks might show Heinlein's feet of clay. 

It's also appallingly biased, not just toward Heinlein (who never makes a mistake or acts badly, at least according to Patterson), but against anyone to the left of Reagan -- I lost count of the number of times Patterson went off on rants against "Leftists" in America and their idiocy. This wasn't Patterson talking about what Heinlein had said; this was Patterson's own opinions, inserted into the text. This, for instance, in the second volume: 

...there had been imbedded in Roosevelt's New Deal the seeds of this current Leftist that was softening the brains of otherwise bright and well-intentioned people...(116).

Patterson also attacked Alexei Panshin, who dared to write critically about Heinlein, and accepts without blinking the weird conspiracy theory about Roosevelt conspiring to create the attack on Pearl Harbor. There's also a lot of slagging on other countries for not being as pure and perfect as (Patterson's imaginary) USA. And about fifty other things.

Not recommended unless you're a Heinlein completist.



Friday, July 16, 2021

Goldwater to Reagan to Trump

 I've been reading William Patterson's biography of Heinlein, which I'll talk about in an upcoming "What am I reading" post; but I've just gotten to the section where Heinlein campaigns for Barry Goldwater, apparently because Lyndon Johnson was an anathema to Heinlien's new political views.

I'm not precisely a fan of Johnson, though I'll note he did sign the Civil Rights Act in 1964, at great political cost to him due to angering the Southern Republicans (formerly the Dixiecrat Democrats, these legislators had switched parties in outrage over the support of the Democratic party for civil rights). 

Goldwater himself was pro-civil rights, but he was also very much a Republican. The Southern Republicans backed him, despite his pro-civil-rights record, mainly due to his opposition to FDR's New Deal, and his outspoken determination to do whatever necessary to take down the USSR -- and whatever necessary included nuclear attacks. Famously, he said in his speech accepting the nomination, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

I can see why Heinlein supported him, in other words: like many in those days, he was terrified that the USSR would attack the US with nuclear weapons. Many, many people then believed such a war would be survivable (spoilers: it would not), but Heinlien was convinced that the Russians would then invade and occupy the country. (What country? The nuclear slag that had been a country?) He was making plans, in fact, to become a guerilla fighter in this struggle against the Russian invaders. 

Goldwater's stated willingness to use nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union seemed, to Heinlein and some others, precisely the sort of saber-rattling the US needed to keep the USSR in check. To most of the US at that point in history, it seemed unhinged. We'd just come close to nuclear war in the Cuban Missle Crisis; no one wanted a repeat.

I have a personal memory of the Goldwater/Johnson campaign, just a short snippet. I would have been three years old, but I remember riding in the backseat of our car (a Dodge Lancer) listening to my father tease my mother, insisting he was going to vote for Goldwater, and her scoffing that he wasn't going to do any such thing.

Goldwater -- and this is another reason Heinlein probably supported him -- called for massive cuts in social spending, as well as shifting government programs to the private sector. The TVA, for instance, he wanted taken over by a private business.

But in most respects, he was what we would call a center-right liberal today: he opposed the war in Vietnam, for instance; he repudiated the KKK when they came out in support of him; he insisted on desegregating the Senate cafeteria, bringing his African American assistant in to dine with him.

But he also endorsing using nuclear weapons in Vietnam, opposed legeslatin to outlaw poll taxes, and argued for cutting government spending to the bone. He voted against the Civil Rights Act, because he didn't believe the Federal government should intervene in how states governed themselves (the "states rights"today's Republicans believe in, so long as the states are doing things they agree with); and he argued that government intervention in things like poverty were creating a "moral decay" which would destroy the country.

Goldwater was defeated in a landslide: in 1964, the American public repudiated and were revulsed by his center-right platform.

Sadly, his more extreme views lived on, and both infected and created the current American conservative movement.

Our nation has indeed changed since 1964 -- not to its benefit. In 1964, the American people rejected Goldwater as too extreme, and far too removed from factual reality. In 2016, the American people elected Donald Trump, whose entire unhinged brand was an extremism entirely removed from factual reality.

That's not a change for the better, to put it mildly.


(The famous anti-Goldwater commercial:

(