I'm also wishing I had something delicious to eat for dinner tonight. What's some comfort food which won't take very long to make?
ETA: The cat is really enjoying the cooler weather, which allows me to leave the doors open.
I'm also wishing I had something delicious to eat for dinner tonight. What's some comfort food which won't take very long to make?
ETA: The cat is really enjoying the cooler weather, which allows me to leave the doors open.
The funeral was yesterday. One of Scott's sons and my little brother (who is for fuck's sake 48 now) gave the eulogy, and then we all had BBQ in the church's community room. I saw my nieces, whom I hadn't seen since they were very tiny. Now they are very tall, ages 14 and 12.
Fall has arrived. It's 60 degrees here now, and the forecast has highs in the 80s and lows in the 40s and 50s for the next ten day.
I got very behind in all my work over the past week, for obvious reasons. Going into overdrive to catch up -- a review for Asimov's is due, plus all my grading. I finished the reviews for Strange Horizons, and am about halfway through the next one for Interzone.
I've been having a lot of nightmares, again for obvious reasons. Last night I dreamed our house was full of junk and trash, and the more I tried to clean up, the worse it got. Then a big storm hit and the roof was leaking and all the junk in the house got soaked. This is probably some sort of Freudian dream, what with house = family or self, and so on.
We also haven't exercised in a week. Maybe tomorrow.
Now that the heat is broken, I might make some bagels. Bagels and lox would cheer me up.
Scott was born fourteen months before I was, both of us in Renton, Washington, where my father worked for Boeing and my mother stayed home in our little pink trailer with (soon) three children under the age of four.
My earliest memories are of Scott, who must have been three years old then, making breakfast for me. He would take slices of white bread from the wrapper and make smiley faces with ketchup, and then we would eat them while we watched cartoons on the little B&W television that was all our family owned. (My mother, already pregnant with my brother Michael, went back to bed after she got my father off to work.)
Later he and I roamed the little trailer park -- people let small children out on their own back then -- and I would be remiss if I didn't tell the famous story of how he pushed me into a red ant pile when I was four. On purpose, I always swore, and my mother would swear he had done it on accident. I remember we were balancing along a brick flower garden border. Red ants means it must have been in New Orleans -- we moved there when I was three and Scott was four.
Later we moved into an actual house in an actual subdivision. You could buy houses on one salary back then. Soon after we moved down, five year old Scott took a machete from the garage and chopped down all the bushes in the hedge out front. He was gardening, as he ingenuously explained to my mother. I think he just liked wielding the machete, myself.
When he started school, later that year, the local schools were still overwhelmed by all the children moving into the subdivisions that were springing up in the area, to handle the people transferred in by Boeing, which was handling contracts from NASA at that point. Scott had to go half days, and the next year so would I. We went afternoons. It was a big shock to me, about halfway through the year, when the new elementary school opened, and we had to attend school from 9:00 to 3:00.
Around that time, my father sold our old car (a Dodge Rambler, I think? He would know, but I don't remember). Scott loved that car, and for years would, ever now and then, complain about my father selling it.
My mother ran a cub scout pack for Scott and my younger brother Michael; later he would be a boy scout. He joined the local baseball and football teams that sprang up. His dream then was to be a famous quarterback, but when he was eight, he was diagnosed with diabetes, just a few months after my grandfather, my mother's father, died of it.
After that, his life veered into a new path. In junior high, the football coach refused to let him play on the team, saying his diabetes made him too much of a risk. Honestly, my parents should have fought that. But they did not. After that, Scott focused more on board games -- chess, for instance, was a favorite. I remember him coaxing me to play him, even though I was absolutely terrible at chess.
And as he grew up, he played with city teams and coached his sons on their teams. Sports remained one of his interests throughout his life, as did all games. He was a lifelong Saints fan, for instance. He also loved Star Trek novels, and had shelves and shelves of them.
He married my best friend, Toni, when he was 22 and she was 21, and after finishing college -- him with a degree in math education and her with a degree as a medical technician -- they moved a few blocks from my parents' house and had two sons, one in 1987 and one in 1988. He taught in the New Orleans school district for years, some of it at my old high school, before he retired due to his failing health.
After he left teaching to work a series of less stressful jobs before retiring on disability. He and my sister-in-law planned to move to Fayetteville as soon as she retired, which she did this past spring. They moved up right away, since their second son and his wife were having a baby. Scott was looking forward to his first grandchild, so much. When I rode home from the hospital in their car, there was already a car seat installed in the back.
People with Type I diabetes are living longer these days -- my grandfather died at 57 -- but they still die younger than non-diabetics. When he was in his 20s, he would say he wasn't going to live to 50, and then after he turned fifty he would say, every year, that this would be his last Christmas. It got to be a family joke, though it doesn't seem so funny now. He said it a couple months ago, one of the last times I saw him -- "This is going to be my last Christmas."
We all laughed.
His wife and sons are asking people to donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in his memory.
The EEG showed very little to no brain activity, so my SIL and her sons decided to take him off life support, and he passed away quietly a few minutes later, with her and my oldest nephew there with him.
I've sort of known this was coming for the past few days, but it still feels like a shock.
ETA: Some photos
|My brother Scott|
|From left to right, my father, my oldest nephew, Scott, and my youngest nephew|
Okay, they've got his temperature back up to 98.6 now (37 Celsius, which is how they actually do it), and they've begun weaning him off the sedative/paralytic which they have to use with hypothermia therapy. Apparently that's going to take most of the night. In the morning, if he's not responding, they'll bring in the neurologists.
My SIL is having trouble sleeping. "Do you have any Xanax?" I asked.
"Oh, [her sister] brought me some. I might take half a one. I've never taken it before, and I don't know how I'll react."
Me, stunned: "You've never taken Xanax?"
"I had to get drug-tested!" she protested. Then she admitted, "Once, when I had a prescription for it, I didn't even fill it."
"Wow, I hate you," I said. In the background I could hear her sister and my nephew mocking her unceasingly.
I mean, if I had my way, you'd be able to buy Xanax out of gum machines in the grocery store. It should be a major food group, that's all I'm saying.
He's still being warmed up -- apparently it takes awhile. My SIL says we'll know more around five today.
The doctors are talking about putting a pacemaker in, but that's only after he wakes up and responds, if he wakes up and responds. We're just waiting now.
My older brother had a "cardiac event" yesterday -- his heart stopped beating. This is the brother that just moved up here to NWA Arkansas to help out his kid whose wife is pregnant. (Baby is due in early October.)
My SIL got his heart started again, doing CPR, and the ambulance and fire truck showed up fast. He's in the ICU now. They're doing something called hypothermic treatment, which is when they lower your body temperature down to 89 degrees and hold it there for 24 hours. This helps your heart to heal and somehow (they're not sure how) helps avoid brain damage.
They got him down to the target temp last night at midnight. In 24 hours, they'll start warming him up again.
I spent yesterday afternoon in the hospital with my SIL (who was my friend first -- we were best friends in high school and then she married my brother, so we've been friends since we were fifteen). Got home last night at nine o'clock and went to bed almost at once and just woke up, maybe half an hour ago. I feel like I was rode hard and put away wet, as they say in these parts.
We'll know more tomorrow.
I'm teaching three sections of Comp I, for a total of 65 students, and wisely I made everyone's paper due on the same day. So I am having to read 65 Summary/Evaluations of scholarly articles (which in practice means reading 65 scholarly articles myself).
I am also working on reviews for Asimov's and for Interzone.
I would also like to write a little fiction, please. Also exercising four times a week. Dishes and laundry are piling up.
So blogging may be slow for the next couple weeks.
For you edification, however, Cocaine Hippos!
In the 1980s, the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar imported 4 hippos onto his estate in Colombia. Today, the hippos have escaped the estate and they number around 60 individual animals and continue to reproduce. To mitigate risk of harm to humans and curb hippo population growth, the government has begun an effort to castrate the males in order to control their numbers. How effective are these efforts?
(One of my students is doing their paper on hippos as an invasive species, and used this article for their Paper #1.)
Did you know that the Clintons were in the White House on 9/11? And they hate America, so that's why the terrorists could succeed, but also it was an inside job. (The comment section for this one is quite a ride.)
But I can top that: this guy thinks Obama should be held responsible.
We're erasing women!
This is kind of funny
A lot of what I'm reading now is books that I'm reviewing for various publications, so I don't want to review them here. I'm also doing a lot of rereading -- I just reread all of Chaim Potok, for instance, and most of Joe Haldeman. I won't bore you with those, either. Here's some of the rest of what I've been reading lately.
Claudia Gray, The Murder of Mr. Wickham
More Jane Austen fanfic. I can't get enough of it. This one pulls together all the characters from all the Austen novels (well, not Sanditon) and puts them in an English Country House murder mystery. Mr. Wickham gets murdered, as the title suggests; and Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth's son joins forces with the daughter of Catherine and Mr. Tilney to solve the murder.
Both Jonathan Darcy and Juliet Tilney are about seventeen, and young Mr. Darcy is neurodivergent, which works pretty well in the book. Further, Gray does a good job of capturing the characters of all the other Austen favs.
I don't know that I would read this one twice, but it was fun to read once.
R.F. Kuang, Babel: Or, the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution
In part this is an academic novel, about academic life in the 19th century. But that is just its cover. In fact, it is about colonialism, and the effect colonialism has on the colonized. At the start of the novel, a young Chinese boy is "rescued" from the cholera plague which has killed his mother, his grandparents, his tutor, and his entire neighborhood. As we read further in the novel, we come to realize that this "rescue" is not what it seems.
Robin Swift (the English name he takes at the request of his "rescuer") is raised on a Lord's estate, given excellent tutors, educated to take a place at Oxford, which -- in time -- he does. Only slowly do we realize that he has, in effect, been bred -- like a prize Corgi -- by the man who rescued him. This is a magic-infused Oxford. England runs on the ensorcelled silver bars produced by Babel, the tower of translators, who need to be fluent in several languages if they are to work the magic that creates the power that English trains, lights, water purification, and other necessities run on, including the English Navy. The magic is powered by the gap between an English word (say) and the Chinese word used to translate it, or v.v.
Set just before the Opium Wars begin, this is an engaging look at the evils of colonialism, and the way the colonized frequently lose their ability to see their own oppression. An important and wonderfully written book.
John Crowley, Flint & Mirror
Another historical fantasy. This one is about the British colonization of Ireland, and part of the reason I didn't like it more may be that I know very little about the colonization of Ireland. It's also mostly history with very little fantasy -- the main character, the leader of an Irish clan, is connected to and controlled by Elizabeth I through an ensorcelled bit of obsidian, cleft to produce a mirror-like surface. It wasn't very clear how Elizabeth controlled the chief of the clan. Maybe the connection was enough.
There's also a flint blade, given to him as a child by the Fey. That seems to connect him to his land? I'm not sure.
Most of the book was about historical events, though there's also a slight digression about a selkie (male) who comes ashore and impregnates a lord's daughter.
This probably wasn't the book for me. It was readable, but I had the feeling I was missing the point most of the time. If you like historical novels, this might be your cup of tea.
Honestly, I have no feelings one way or another toward Elizabeth II, though I did enjoy the first few seasons of The Crown. (I lost interest somewhere halfway through the third season.) It's true Britain was a colonizing superpower that hurt a lot of people, and it's true that she did nothing about it, but on the other hand, at least according to what I saw on the Crown, there wasn't a lot she actually could do. The anger should be aimed at those members of Parliament who actually implemented the bad actions, I would think. But bear in mind I know almost nothing about how British government actually works.
What I'm really enjoying is watching people on Twitter clutching their pearls because other people on Twitter are saying mean things about the queen. The old "How dare you speak ill of the dead?" routine. As if Elizabeth, or her family, could give a toss about what people were saying on Twitter.
I do like the person who linked this video in response:
The new season of Call The Midwife is out on Netflix. I recently noticed that I had skipped the entire third season, somehow, so I had started a rewatch anyway.
If you want a mildly soap-opera-y historical series with eleven seasons so far, and lots of babies, this is the show for you.
It's rife with religion, since the midwifes are (some of them) nuns, but not screechy, hateful American conservative religion, so it doesn't really interfere with my enjoyment of the series.
I am having a lot of anxiety lately. This is odd, because everything is going pretty well. Usually when I'm anxious I can locate the reason for it, but there's no reason now. What's up?
I'm used to having depression for no reason. (The kid jokes that he got his depression from me and his anxiety from his father.) But free-floating anxiety is something new.
WebMD tells me I either have congestive heart failure or generalized anxiety disorder. GAD fits my symptoms better.
It could also be because of high blood pressure, interestingly, a condition I'm already being treated for.
Or a tumor on my adrenal glands. Something else to have anxiety about.
I used to be able to survive on five or six hours of sleep a night, while teaching 12 or thirteen hour days -- I went to work at seven and came home at 8:00.
Now I go to work at six a.m. and come home at noon, and need a three hour nap. Getting old is not for the weak.
When I wrote my post a few days ago about Rowling's transphobia, I had no idea she was about to publish yet another Galbraith book. Apparently so, and apparently it's all about how evil trans people are, and how evil "woke" people are, and how mean everyone is to bigots.
Especially bigots who hate trans people.
My local public library has ordered 4 copies of it. Poor, oppressed JK Rowling.
I'm tempted to check out a copy and do a read of it here, posting my reactions, but frankly from the bits that are being quoted on Twitter and in reviews it looks hideously boring. Maybe I'll just let this one go.
Remember when that video was posted which supposedly showed that Planned Parenthood was harvesting fetal body parts and making huge profits and every right-wing bigot lost their damned minds?
Yeah, the same thing recently happened with a clinic that (among other things) provides gender care for children. Some swindler conned someone into saying something that could be edited into looking like an atrocity story (castrating toddlers! Chopping the breasts off ten year olds!) and then released it through that notoriously reliable venue, TikTok.
And it turns out to be lies and bullshit, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
Will right-wing bigots keep repeating this lie for the next twenty years? Of course they will. Without lies and bullshit and hate, what else do they have to do with their lives? Bigotry isn't just a hobby for them. It's the core of their existence. If they can't hate someone -- used to be black people, then it was gay people, and now it's trans people -- they literally have no self. Bigotry is what they are.
I love the mouseover here.
I'll admit I enjoyed reading Rowling's mystery novels (published under the name Robert Galbraith), but it's in the same way that I enjoy reading Faulkner -- I have to wince my way past the bigotry.
Virginia Woolf wrote about how Jane Eyre was a flawed work because Bronte kept bringing feminism into the novel -- how she couldn't stop herself from inserting little rants about how women are people just like men are people. I disagree with Woolf, finding the bits about feminism in Jane Eyre both interesting and a legitimate part of Jane's character. They're also part of the plot -- throughout the novel, Jane searches for a way that she can live as a human being, rather than an object used by those around her for their own ends. (That's why she can't marry St. John Rivers, for instance -- he doesn't want a companion or a wife, he wants a tool he can use for his own ends, which he sees as God's ends.)
On the other hand, the bits of bigotry in Faulkner and in Rowling's Galbraith novels aren't interesting -- they're disgusting and disturbing; they may indeed have something to do with the characters, if you're interested in characters whose bigotry is meant to be admirable; and they're entirely extraneous to the plot. I've heard people defend Faulkner because that's "just how it was" back then, but there are plenty of writers (see Sinclair Lewis, for example) writing at the same time who manage not to be disgusting bigots.
Anyway, I still read Faulkner from time to time; and I read Bronte and Dorothy Sayers despite their anti-Semitism; but there's no denying I find it harder and harder to put up with bigotry in these works, and more and more often I reach, instead, for works which don't contain such bigotry, or those which interrogate it rather than expecting us to find it heroic or cute or "just how it is."
Them: "Why can't you just pay back your student loans? Try living within your means, like we do. We never got a handout, so why should you?"
Them: Making $150,000/year, went to school when the government (state and federal) paid 80% of their tuition costs and rent was $200/month. They didn't have student loans, because their daddy paid what remained of their college tuition. Also, they've gotten the benefit of Trump's tax give-away.
Today's students: Making $9,000/year, the government (state and federal) pays 25% of their tuition costs, and rent is $1200/month. Their parents can't pay much of their tuition, because they're mostly only making only $30,000/year themselves, and paying 29% of that (or more) in state, federal, and local taxes.
Yeah, it's a mystery why these kids today aren't paying back their loans.
I also like the people saying kids should just join the military if they don't want to take out loans.
We still aren't getting enough rain, and the highs for the rest of this week will be in the low 90s.
BUT: Sunday night, rain is forecast, and in the ten days after that, highs will be in the mid to low 80s.
Three and a half more weeks of summer. I think I might make it.
So I'm teaching three classes on T-Th, back to back, starting at 8:00 and ending at 12:15.
To manage this, I have to get to school at 6:00 a.m. (I need a lot of prep time.)
So I get up at 5:00 a.m., and get home at 1:00 p.m. and immediately crash and sleep for three hours (four today). Today, after that, I had to come directly to school for my evening class.
Here's hoping that once I get used to it I won't need the long nap every day.
A Republican politician is shocked to find out that actions have consequences.
I’m haunted by this South Carolina Republican, Rep. Neal Collins, realizing that the anti-abortion bills he supported are now forcing women and girls to carry nonviable pregnancies at risk of sepsis, death, and loss of the uterus. All these outcomes were inevitable and predicted. pic.twitter.com/w9z3qbvTNI— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) August 23, 2022
Oh no, he says, do you mean to tell me when I took choice away from women I condemned some of them to horrible suffering, misery, death, and infertility? WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THIS MIGHT HAPPEN?
I honestly don't know what to do about people like this. Not only did we tell him it could happen, we screamed it at him, we waved signs, we sent emails and postcards and letters.
But I guess he thought we were lying? You know how bitches be.
Or else -- and this is what I suspect -- he didn't bother to listen. What could women and progressives have to say that would be worth listening to? Obviously he already knew what was right.
It's the first day of teaching. I have three classes back to back, starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 12:15. From long experience, I know this is going to be absolutely exhausting. This is my own fault, though, since I want a TR schedule so that I have a block of writing days (Friday through Monday) which will, theoretically, leave me undisturbed to write. (HA.)
I also have an online class, and a Thursday night class.
Yes, that's five classes. I have taken an overload so that, along with my research release, I will be teaching only two classes in Spring 2023. See above, undisturbed to write, etc.
One thing I like about teaching is that everything only lasts fourteen weeks. I can do anything for fourteen weeks. But right here at the start, it's daunting.
Tube on strike, I dawdled to Paddington on Friday. Passing the old wrought iron sign for Pizza Express, I was reminded of an event 30+ years ago, when I got caught up in a drama that resulted in a divorce, two marriages and many changed lives.— Electra Rhodes (@electra_rhodes) August 21, 2022
It began with a heart attack 🧵
The crybabies on the Right keep wailing about rising crime rates, and meanwhile this is what the police are doing:
Police in Sacramento detain a woman for drawing a rainbow on a sidewalk with chalk pic.twitter.com/XFjtRBlZa4— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) August 20, 2022
Harassing people for drawing chalk rainbows on a park sidewalk.
SO MUCH CRIME.
It's like when they try to gin up outrage about the increase in police deaths, while ignoring the fact that like 95% of this years death were due to Covid.
If the Right is saying it these days, you know it's bullshit.
Just a little tip here:
Unhappy with the abortion laws in your state? Here's a cool hack more people should know about! In about half the states, the entire legislature and the governor will be up for election on November 8, and if you put Democrats in those seats, they'll re-legalize abortion! pic.twitter.com/gNpDsTT1un— Naomi Kritzer 🦕🦖 (@NaomiKritzer) August 18, 2022
People whose kids lose in a sport are now demanding that the victors have their genitals inspected. You pass a law against trans athletes, that's what you get.
Pharyngula writes more here.
Hey, those kids should have looked more feminine, or been worse at sports, if they didn't want a mandatory genital inspection.
The big point in all the articles, though, is that this is a problem because now it's affecting cis kids.
Trans kids? Hey, fuck them kids. They shouldn't be trans if they didn't want to be oppressed, am I right?
We're having "training" today, by zoom, with all the hilarity which always accrues when non-tech people try to use technology.
My favorite so far (heavy sarcasm here) is the Active Shooter training. We're advised that we should follow ADD -- Avoid, Deny, Defend. So if someone comes on campus and starts shooting people, here's what we should do:
Avoid the shooter i.e. run away and hide. I'm okay with this one; it's what I would do.
Deny the shooter access to wherever you are hiding. So do stuff like lock doors, turn off lights, barricade any doors that don't lock...and here is where the instructions fall apart. If doors open outward and don't lock (this is most of the classrooms on campus), we should find some way to block the doors or keep them from opening. The "training" provided ways to do this, most of which look pretty useless, frankly.
Defend yourself, it's your legal right! This is for when your efforts to deny access fail. You can hit the shooter with a laptop, or a stapler! You're allowed to defend yourself! No mention of guns here, but since our legislature forced us to allow concealed carry on campus, maybe a couple of a students will be packing. We can only hope!
And a coda: When the police show up, do exactly as they tell you, because otherwise they will probably shoot you. (This last was not exactly stated openly.) Be sure you don't have weapons in your hands when the police show up, or they will probably shoot you. (Again, not stated.) Don't have anything that looks like a weapon in your hand when the police show up, or they will probably shoot you. (Again...)
How likely is it that our campus will have an active shooter? I don't know, but the fact that the GOP is ginning up outrage against universities and teachers makes me less sanguine about the possibility than I used to be.
Life in America in 2022.
It's eighty degrees here, and my house is too cold. I had to turn off the air conditioners! More of this, weather gods, please.
Other news: Note that I've added Pharyngula to the blog reading list, over there on the left. I forget why I stopped reading this blog -- I think his comment sections used to be a mess, and I couldn't take the drama -- but I've recently gone back to him. He's worth reading!
Also I am now writing reviews for Interzone, Strange Horizon, and Asimov's -- nearly all my free time is spent reading the books they send me and writing reviews of them. Free books! People paying me to read! It's my dream of paradise when I was twelve, now come true.
The weather guy says we can expect a high on 79 tomorrow.
79! Of course today we're having a high of 101. But then after tomorrow, highs in the 80s and 90s for the next ten days. A cold snap!
We're starting pre-school meetings this week, but luckily they're all going to be via zoom, so I can attend in my pajamas and work while the admins are talking. A week from today, my actual classes start -- I'm teaching T/R, with one wholly online class.
At the gym, the stationary bikes I ride sometimes instead of swimming are mounted with little televisions. Some of the bikes are old enough that the televisions don't work; on others, the TVs get stuck on one channel and can't be changed. Today mine was stuck on Fox News.
There's a jack where you can plug headphones in if you like, but I never do, so I couldn't hear what anyone was saying, but the closed captioning was on, so I could read it if I wanted to. I did so at first, interested in what the possible attraction could be -- why did people watch this show? What did they get out of it?
I still don't know. They were on about Trump and how corrupt the FBI was, but honestly I couldn't even hate-watch. It was as dull as listening to someone explain some complicated dream they had had, except they kept explaining it over and over again. In each retelling, they didn't add any new information -- they just kept repeating the same details over and over.
I suppose part of it is their audience -- not critical thinkers, not very educated, not very smart. Hearing the same story told fifteen times in a row in pretty much the same way each time might seem fascinating to them, the way toddlers like hearing the same book read over and over?
Because I wasn't listening, just reading, I probably missed the over-the-top outrage that keeps Fox viewers interested. But even so, I don't get the attraction.
Luckily it's only one bike stuck on that channel, and after a while I could switch to one that was stuck on the channel showing endless soccer games. Also not fascinating, at least to me, but at least not actively stupid.
It's been about a year and half since my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and he's been in serious decline ever since. Recently when I would call him, he didn't know who I was, or who he was, or where he was, or why.
Yesterday he lost the ability to speak. My youngest brother, thinking maybe it was a stroke, took him to the hospital. They did several tests there, and determined it wasn't a stroke. Now he can talk again, but he just repeats the same words or phrases over and over, though he is clearly trying to say other things.
This is all extremely depressing.
Fall classes start in two weeks. This means I am now building my classes. I'm teaching an overload this semester, in order to qualify to teach only two classes in Spring 2023, which will leave me time to finish the third novel in the Escape Velocity series. So: three Comp I classes, a Global Lit class, and Fiction workshop. About a 100 students, 75 of them writing several papers per class.
I'll just keep my eyes on the prize: Spring 2023, when I'll likely be teaching a single Comp II class and Fiction Workshop. Less than 50 students. Delicious.
I used to say I would never retire, that I would die in the classroom. Why would I quit teaching, when I love teaching so much? But I have to say retirement is looking more and more attractive with every passing semester. It's not that I've stopped loving teaching; it's that I love having long empty hours in which I can read and write and mess about instead.
I am looking forward to fall, though. Only another five weeks of summer!
Nothing. Every now and then I start a series -- most recently, The Alienist, which is about a psychiatrist in Brooklyn in what I guess from the tech level is about 1850, but by the middle of the second episode, usually, I have had enough.
What can I watch that isn't about women or children being murdered so that men can show how clever or brave or compassionate they are? Also which isn't about people trying to decide if they should have an affair. Any suggestions?
I will say I'm getting a lot more reading done. But most of it is for the various reviews I am writing (I am now writing reviews for Interzone as well as Strange Horizons and Asimov's), so I can't share that here.
In Michigan, bigots have voted to shut down their library rather than allow certain books to stay on the shelf.
In the college town up the hill, the public library has had to cancel an event aimed at providing LGBT students with information and resources, due to threats of violence from certain members of the community.
In 1960, in my current town, our citizens shut down the public swimming pools rather than allow black children to swim in them. Shut them down and filled them in. The same thing happened elsewhere.
State-wide, citizens shut down public schools for two years to avoid allowing black children to sit in a classroom with white children. (This did not harm the children of the wealthy, who were simply enrolled in private schools.) The same thing happened in other places.
As I said earlier, bigots just recycle the same playbook. Don't believe them when they claim this is about "protecting children." It's about bigotry and hate, and it always has been.
This is one of my ex-students -- he teaches in a local elementary school, one in a working-class neighborhood. Buy him some school supplies if you can.
Here's the link, in case you can't access FB.
ETA: The settings were messed up before, but they should work now!
I've seen more than one MAGA conservative insist they have nothing against gay people or Lesbians, but those transgenders, well!
Just your reminder that bigots gonna bigot, and how conservatives are treating trans people now is no different than how they treated gay people ten years ago, or black people thirty years ago, or women fifty years ago. They've got one playbook, and they always play from it.
Oh Noes! Gays In The Locker Rooms! Whatever Shall We Do? (thread)— The Implausible Girl 🔻 (@ImplausibleGrrl) February 27, 2019
This thread will contain examples of how modern transphobia recycles homophobia from years past
The Daily Utah Chronicle 1998-04-06
We Must Consider Who Works the Locker Room pic.twitter.com/jaHNyVG8l0
In 2022, why are we still pumping out stories which have as their basic plot some guy going on a rampage because "his" woman was raped/tortured/murdered?
There's also the arresting / startling new story about whether some guy is going to cheat on "his" woman, but first he has to think about it for 400 pages.
Nothing against straight cisguys, but surely there are more interesting stories to tell about them.
At least add a dragon or a spaceship.
We've got a pair of foxes that live in the neighborhood, and this is the screech they make in the middle of the night:
ETA: This one is even better:
It's a terrifying sound when you're out with the dog at night, even when you know what it is. I've read descriptions that say a fox screaming sounds like a woman screaming, but yeah, no. That is definitely not any human sound. That is definitely an alien vampire coming to kill you sound.
It freaks the little dog out every time.
This is the clearest example I've seen lately of the problem we're having dealing with modern-day/MAGA conservatives.
A judge scolded right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Tuesday for lying under oath during his defamation trial in Travis County, Tex.— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 3, 2022
“You must tell the truth while you testify,” Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said. “This is not your show.”https://t.co/YzxxNm93Op pic.twitter.com/4sQ48lJEgU
They honestly believe that if they *believe* a thing is true, then it is true. Here, we have Alex Jones repeatedly lying under oath, and using as his excuse that he "believed" what he was saying. He said he never sent texts about Sandy Hook to anyone; when confronted with the evidence that he sent multiple such text, he says he "believed" he hadn't done it. He said he was bankrupt. Confronted with evidence that he was not -- well, you get it.
I've seen this same pattern all over the web. Rod Dreher "believes" that people are grooming children into become trans. He "believes" that people are performing gender-reassignment surgery on toddlers. He "believes" that demons infest women who talk back to their husbands. If he believes it's true, why then he's telling the truth! That's how truth works, isn't it?
MAGA Americans "believe" that trans people are evil or delusional. They "believe" that liberals have a nefarious plot to keep farmers from planting crops. They "believe" that the election was stolen in 2020. They "believe" that a zygote has a human soul. They "believe" that birth control is abortion, and that the COVID vaccine was made from aborted fetuses, that getting the vaccine causes women to miscarry their children 100% of the time, that COVID is just a bad cold and that the request by the government to wear masks was enforced by law and actually intended to -- I don't know, I can't follow their argument on this one, but somehow it's supposed to rob us of are freedums? Also child abuse because kids can't learn languages or emotional responses if everyone is wearing a mask. I mean, that's not true, but they "believe" it is so
Of course, they don't actually believe any of these things, anymore than Alex Jones believed he never sent text messages to anyone about Sandy Hook. That's not the point. If they SAY they believe them, then we have to accept that they DO believe them, and since what they "believe" is sacrosanct, we have to pretend their "belief" is reality or we're oppressing them.
How are we supposed to share a country with minds this twisted and corrupt?
We had rain for like three days in a row, and now forecast is for highs in the mid to high nineties, which is still hot, mind you, but so much better than highs of 109 and 110 that this feels like paradise.
Also my grass recovered from the drought in like one day. I have grass again! But the leaves are all still falling off the trees, so apparently trees handle drought worse than grass does. (Sample size: my yard.)
It was cool enough yesterday that I could leave the curtains open. The house is so much less depressing when it is full of sunlight.
Six more weeks of summer.
It is still raining! Over 40 days with no rain here -- the grass died, the trees were shedding their leaves -- and now it's going to rain for two days straight. With highs in the 80s both days!
After that we're back to highs in the 100s, but you can't have everything. (Where would you put it?)
The kid's boyfriend got an ear infection. After suffering for several days, he went to a local walk-in clinic. The kid's boyfriend has health insurance (through his parents -- he's 21). With the health insurance, this walk-in appointment cost him $116 dollars. The medication for his ears, of course, had a co-pay.
The kid's boyfriend has a minimum wage job. (He has not been able to afford college,) So that's well more than he makes in a day.
For an earache.
Health care in this country is not accessible for a huge portion of the population.
We're having a high of 109 here tomorrow (that's 43 degrees to anyone living in a sane country), and highs of 100+ through the end of the month. Plus it hasn't rained for nearly 30 days. The grass in my yard crunches under my feet like toast. Smells like toast, too.
"We're not forcing that many raped children to continue their pregnancies" is not the winning argument "Pro-life" turnips seem to think it is.
Only 10% of girls under 11 even get their period. Only 52 girls under the age of 14 got abortions in Ohio last year--and 10 is a long way from 14.— Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) July 16, 2022
But honestly this is the same argument they make about everything. There aren't that many trans people, so who cares if they have civil rights? There aren't that many disabled people, do we really need to build all these ramps? It's not like a lot of people practice vote fraud, so --
Oh, wait. Not that last one. EVEN ONE CASE of fraud means we have to destroy the entire system of democracy in order to save it.
The weather forecast for the foreseeable future is highs over 100. From now through the end of the month, 100+ weather. Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, the high will be 108 degrees.
We have air conditioning, but it can't handle this level of heat -- last night, when I went to bed at midnight, the temperature in the bedroom was 80 degrees. Also, my power bill this month was $361.00.
How hot is it? I'm stopped drinking hot coffee in the morning. Now I drink iced fizzy water.
K.J. Parker, Savages
This is a K.J. Parker that I somehow managed to overlook -- I've read all of Parker except the fencing trilogy (I read the first one in that) and his trilogy about the guy who wakes up with amnesia, which got way too dark for me. This one is a little dark, but very engaging. It follows some guys through ten or fifteen years of their lives, during which two "savage" nations tangle with a giant empire which has just bankrupted itself, in terms of both men and money, in fighting another giant empire. A lot here about logistics and the problems of fighting wars with mercenaries and the horrific behavior of soldiers and nations. Parker is terrible with women; this one has more women than usual, but they're just as bad as his women always are. It's like he's never met a woman? I don't know.
Parker does not write the sort of books I normally enjoy, but these seize hold of you and suck you in. He's the sort of writer it's hard to stop reading.
I also really like his Aram peoples ( one of the "savage" groups) and their culture.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
This is a re-read, technically. I read it in graduate school, one summer when I was reading all of Tolstoy. But that was over 20 years ago, and I remembered almost nothing about it. I did remember Kitty and Levin getting engaged by writing in "code" to each other with chalk on the green card table, but that's about it.
Anyway, this is an amazing book. Like Middlemarch, it captures an entire society and the world that created that society. It's hard to even pick out bits to talk about, because the whole thing is such a wonderfully constructed piece.
The main subject, as the famous first line hints, is family. Why are some families happy and others not? What makes a family "happy"?
We have three main families in the novel, though several other families do show up. First, Anna and her families -- first with her husband Karenin, and second with her lover Vronsky. With Karenin, she has a son; with Vronsky, a daughter.
The second family is Dolly and Stiva, and their billions of children. (I think it's actually six? But Dolly also has children who die, so.) Stiva also has a number of affairs, which Dolly decides she must just endure, since she's not able to support her kids on her own.
Finally, there is Kitty and Levin. They don't marry until halfway through the book, but much of the book concerns their prospective marriage -- for instance, Kitty's failure to accept Levin's initial proposal begins warping her life at once, and Tolstoy spends a great deal of time showing us what her life might be like if she fails to marry Levin. (Not terrible! But also very different.) Then, once they are married, we see what the first years of a successful marriage are like. This part of the book is very realistic.
Are these families happy or unhappy? That's kind of the joke, I think, if joke is the right word. Happy and unhappy, like everyone. But on the balance, Anna's families are more unhappy than happy, and the blame for this seems to lie, not with Anna, but with her cold and bitter first husband, Alexie Karenin. He is doing what his society tells him is "honorable" when he refuses to divorce Anna; and in his refusal to give her access to her son; but this results in misery not just for Anna but for him and his son as well.
Similarly, Dolly's family is mostly happy, and again, this is because of Dolly, who decides she must forgive her straying husband. And Kitty and Levin are mostly happy because they both work hard at not lying to each other, and not hurting one another on purpose (though they do hurt each other, that's just how relationships work).
One of my favorite parts of the novel is when Kitty accepts Levin's second proposal, and he's crazed with joy. He doesn't sleep and can't eat. At one point, we're told, he puts a piece of bun in his mouth, but his "mouth didn't know what to do with it," so he spat it out again.
I also like that Tolstoy gives us the point of view of Levin's dog, Laska, more than once. Her exasperation and tolerance of her stupid human is wonderful.
I didn't really like, but I found interesting, the discussions of whether women should be educated. Tolstoy clearly thinks not -- education will lead women away from their proper work, which is caring for their families -- but it's also clear, in the book, that education would have been the salvation of many of the women we meet.
Oh, and there's also a delightful bit where Anna explains to Dolly just how it is that Anna can make sure she has no more children. It's entirely off the page, but it's clear that Anna is talking about birth control. (I don't know what kind of birth control, because we get a series of asterisks instead of the actual dialogue.) Dolly is astonished, having clearly had no idea that such a thing was possible. So that's why some families only have one or two children! she thinks.
Anyway, a wonderful book. It's like a thousand pages long, but very much worth the time.
Seventy more days before we can start even thinking about fall weather. Not sure I can make it.
This is the French grammar book I bought from Thriftbooks:
I wrote this post in 2019, but as the situation has not only continued but grown even worse, I'm reposting it: Trans, Bi, Genderfluid, Cis, Gay, Lesbian
Interestingly, on Twitter recently a TERF insisted I had to be trans, after I pointed out her arguments about trans people were 100% incorrect. I said I wasn't trans, I just thought people should have equal rights. She said I was a man, and therefore I should shut up about this, since I had no idea what women were worried about. Then she blocked me.
Anyway, the above is a lengthy read, I know.
Here's an excerpt:
Why are TERFs and transphobes so bothered by the existence of trans people and LGB people? Why do they get so rage-filled and out of control when facts and evidence are presented to them?There's a certain sort of person, usually an authoritarian-raised person, who clings to boundaries and rules. (The authoritarian person "categorizes the world with the simplicity and rigidity of a five year old child.") Any violation of these rules, however minor, terrifies them. We see this with people who call for draconian punishments for minor crimes: if someone can run a stop sign with impunity, these people claim, or use illegal drugs and not suffer for it, then our culture (nay, our world) is doomed. (Thus the authoritarians who embrace of leaders such as Roberto Duerte, for instance, who summarily executes drug addicts on the street.)For these people, gender rules must be strictly enforced. If a young boy can wear nail polish with impunity, then our entire culture is at risk.
I have rearranged my living room so that my new writing station is directly under the heat pump (which despite its name is actually our main air conditioner). Now instead of being 77 degrees at three in the afternoon my space is 74 degrees at three in the afternoon.
|My new writing space|
Last night at midnight it was 89 degrees outside. And 77 degrees in our bedroom. We have a window unit in the bedroom, but it just can't keep up with the heat.
Sixty-eight days until we can reasonably expect the summer heat to ease, just a little. But who's counting?
|Where I used to write|
We're going up the hill for the 4th, to hang out with my brother and SIL and the kids. Usually on the 4th we do nothing. Having family in the area is nice!
Continues to be murderously hot, however, so there will be no cook-out. We'll eat inside, in the AC, like people living in the future.
Dr. Skull is making a fruit tart, and SIL (I need a pseudonym for her) is making baked ziti and her wonderful Greek salad. (SIL is Greek.)
I used to believe if we just presented the facts with enough clarity, we could make conservatives understand why they were wrong. Once they understood that what they were doing was wrong, I thought, they would stop what they were doing.
It was just a matter of explaining to them that what they believed was not in fact true. Show them that LGBT people aren't dangerous predators. Explain to them that no one has an abortion at 40 weeks just so they can fit into a prom dress. Give them the data to show that the "war on drugs," far from stopping drug abuse, is making the use of illegal drugs more common and more dangerous. Explain to them what a legitimate source is, and why Fox News and Steven Crowder and the Daily Mail are not legitimate sources.
Surely, once they understand, once they see that they're being lied to, once they know they're being conned, surely they will stop....
No. They won't. They are perfectly aware that they're being told lies. They like those lies. They don't even actually believe the lies. They just like the social and economic and psychological benefits they get from pretending those lies are true.
This is why arguing with conservatives does no good. They already *know* we're right. They already *know* what they're claiming is true is pure bullshit. They just don't care.
For someone who has staked her life on education, evidence-based knowledge, and the belief that people will do what is right if they know what the right thing to do is, this is a pretty depressing realization.
Because my Summer I class "made," which is to say it got the minimum number of students for me to get full pay for a summer class ($3700), my paycheck this month is very nearly like a real paycheck!
We get half the summer pay in June and half in July, minus various taxes, so next month will be a big check too.
What will I do with this bonanza? Pay medical bills! Go me!
I might also buy a few books. I've been reading T. Kingfisher's Paladin's series, which our library does not have. I could buy the next one of those.
When my mother was in high school, in small town in Indiana in the 1950s, one of her friends was impregnated by another of her friends.
(There were only ten or twelve people in her high school, so everyone was friends with everyone. This is how my mother told it, though you must remember my mother made friends everywhere she went.)
In 1955, of course, both birth control and abortion were illegal. A sixteen year old pregnant girl had few options. I've heard that the usual method was to send the child away for a year, after which she returned, without the child, and resumed her life. That's not what happened in this case.
In this case, the sixteen year old was not banished by her family. She stayed home (I suspect this was much more common than people now believe) and stayed pregnant.
The high school, however, expelled her. She was a bad influence, do you see, the evil, evil slut.
My mother never suffered injustice. She got all of her girlfriends (more than half of the high school) and stormed the principal's office. "You know who the father is," she said, and named him -- everyone did know, of course. I'll call him Fred here. "You're not expelling Fred. Why expel her?"
The principal could not expel Fred, who was one of the few college-bound students the high school had. (Everyone else was too poor to even think of higher education.) My mother staged a sit-in, though she didn't call it that. This was some years before sit-ins became common. She and her girlfriends refused to leave the principal's office until the expulsion was rescinded.
Which it was. The pregnant child married Fred, who ended up joining the military instead of going to college, since he had a family to support. Their marriage lasted decades, though it was never (I am reading between the lines here) all that happy, and ended, finally, in divorce.
That's the world the GOP wants for us and for our children. Our bodies, the criminal court has now made clear, do not belong to us. We are not citizens. We are property, and the state can use us as it pleases, quite against our will.
On the one hand, this is blackly amusing.
So glad media spent the last six months talking about the dangers trans women supposedly pose to women’s rights. Great job, y’all.— Brianna Wu (@BriannaWu) June 24, 2022
On the other hand, we want to remember that whatever conservatives are pretending to care about -- the "babies!!" previously, and now trans people -- that signals their next target.
The GOP can't fund-raise on how the evil liberals are killing precious ittle babies, though I expect they will continue to try to. (Vote for us, send us money, or else--!)
Now they will fund-raising on how the evil liberals are abusing babies by "chopping off" their breasts and forcing them to believe they're trans. Trans rights are their next targets, and the media is helping with that.
Trump, who never won a popular vote, and was and is an incompetent, dishonest, corrupt hack, put three Justices on the Supreme Court.
That Court is busily dismantling the Civil Rights of all Americans, not just those slutty, slutty women.
I'm in black despair at the moment. I don't see how we fix the damage Trump voters have done, and are still doing, to this country.
Also, I'll remind you, if you think the GOP is going to stop with stripping women of their rights, I've got news for you. Justice Thomas said it straight out in his opinion: Birth control, Marriage equality, and the right for adults to have whatever relationship they want, those are up next:
In a solo concurring opinion, Thomas says the court should reconsider rulings that protect contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage. pic.twitter.com/zcQNko6NVR— Matt Ford (@fordm) June 24, 2022
And if you think they're stopping there, think again. They're after trans rights, free speech, minimum wage, child labor, the right to a public education -- it's a long list. Look at what they're talking about on their blogs, in their podcasts, on FB. The end goal is stripping every American of any freedom to be anything except ignorant, desperate, impoverished wage slaves.
And giving them all guns, also, so that the rabble can think they have freedom.
I saw a survey not long ago that said 70% of Democrats wouldn't date a Trump supporter. Wouldn't date a Trump supporter. That's the shit conservatives are whining about. They can't get a date with someone whose rights they want to strip away.
Wait until they find out they too are living in this country, and their rights as well are going to be stripped away. They think waving that flag and having those ridiculous bumper stickers will save them. And my goodness will they be surprised when they find out otherwise.
Things that used to be unprotected rights not that long ago:
I know I've only hit on some of them. Apparently Trump supporters think they'll still have rights, no matter what happens to those dirty Democrats. Ha. You'll get all the rights your rulers will let you have, losers.
ETA add: See also this: