Thursday, March 31, 2022


My library is currently buying a lot of books I don't want to read (i.e. mainstream romance novels, books about political conspiracy theories, so many books on Ukraine, mystery novels by 40 year old men in which the hot take is that women get murdered). I'm not exactly mad about this, since I know other people like to read this sort of book; but on the other hand, I am running woefully short of books to read.

I've been driven to rereading books on my shelves, as an emergency measure. Yesterday I finished The Last Samurai, which I liked a lot more on this second read; two days before that, I reread Doris Egan's Ivory series. Now I am rereading A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book.

What will I do after this? I have already reread all of Thirkell. I'm saving Kage Baker for the next time I'm sick. WHAT CAN I READ NEXT?

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What It is Like to Be a Bat

 Actually this is not about being a bat*. This is about getting old**. What is it like to be an absolute adult?

(1) You finally feel grown-up -- you're the one managing everything and making sure everything happens, and one day you realize, oh, okay, I'm an adult, cool.

(2) You don't get (as) upset about things anymore. Sure, everything sucks, and there's a disaster, but you've been through so many disasters now, you kind of know how everything is going to go. (You still fret. It's just not apocalyptical fretting.)

(3) Your feet hurt. Like, all the time. "This is what it was like for the little mermaid," you think sometimes.

(4) After just a normal fucking day, like teaching four classes and getting groceries and taking the dog for his walk, your entire body hurts like you've been doing day labor for weeks.

(5) You don't really like Hostess cupcakes or frozen pizza anymore.

(6) You get really picky about the books you read and the movies and television shows you watch. It's like the frozen pizza. You've eaten so much excellent pizza, the frozen ones taste terrible. You've read so many excellent books, you have a very low tolerance for non-excellent books. 

(7) You spent years being sure you would never retire -- why would you? You love your work!'re not so sure. Maybe you could be ready to stop doing this one day. 

(8) It's not such a big deal to do the dishes and take out the trash and clean the bathroom. Why did this ever upset and annoy me, you wonder. I mean, Jesus, it only takes like ten minutes.

(9) You spend a not insignificant amount of time wondering how your life went by so fast. Weren't you twenty-two just five minutes ago?

(10) On the other hand, you wouldn't go back and be 22 again for anything. Jesus, those were hard years. 

*Title taken from David Lodge's Thinks, which I highly recommend.

**This should really be more like, this is what it is like to be getting old for me. YMMV!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

More Games with Phone

 Here is a picture of my cat on the Way High Up:

Playing with my New Phone

We got me a phone so I could have one while the kid was getting his surgery.

Today I am figuring out what it can do. Here, for example, is a photo of my living room:

Monday, March 28, 2022

Oldie but Goodie

 This Scalzi post from March 2021 is well worth reading:

Definition nerds will quibble about whether America’s long-standing authoritarian, anti-democratic impulses qualify as true fascism, but two things here. One: If it quacks like a duck, etc. Two, let us recall that when actual no-shit fascists were looking at ways to codify their power and to demonize their enemies, including and specifically the Jews, where did they look for useful examples? 

A very thoughtful piece, as is usual with Scalzi.


ETA: This comment, early in the comment stream, is also good:

The first female president of the American Political Science Association said something similar in 1991, arguing “the American experiment” was actually two experiments simultaneously running on parallel tracks, one in democracy, the other in tyranny. Eventually democracy prevailed and banished tyranny, which has always proven the more brittle system due to its manifold injustices. But ideas don’t die, and circumstances change, bringing bad old ideas back to the surface refurbished in new packaging…

Saturday, March 26, 2022

A Thread

I wrote a post a few days ago about the uselessness of trying to reason with those on the Right. One point I made touched on how those on the Right continue to choose a boogeyman -- someone they can tell lies about to inflame their base, and rally them into a unified group.

Right now, those boogeymen include trans people, immigrants, and feminists. Twenty years ago, it was gay people, feminists, and immigrants. Before that, it was black people, feminists, and immigrants.

The target changes (sometimes -- I think the Right has been hating on feminists since 1900), but the tactics do not. Neither do the lies. Neither does the willingness of their base to believe those lies.

This is because those lies let the base believe that their bigotry and privilege are justified. We need to hate this group X, you see, because group X is dangerous, is corrupting our children, destroying our families, weakening our country. Actually, hating group X is actually love. (I wouldn't hit you if I didn't love you so much.)

Anyway, here's a thread that looks at some of that history.


Friday, March 25, 2022

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The New SCOTUS Nominee

I feel as though I should comment on the hearings to place Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court. On the other hand, what would be the point?

The Right uses lies to inflame their base. 

It works. 

What more is there to say? They used lies about black people in the 1950s and 1960s, lies about women in the 1970s and 1980s, lies about gay people in the 1990s and 2000s. Now they're using lies about trans people. Their lies -- this group wants to attack people in bathrooms, this group is corrupting our children, this group wants to destroy America -- have not changed. And we have learned over the past decade that the Right cannot be convinced by facts or evidence or reasoned argument. 

So what's the point continuing to argue with them?

It feels wrong, I admit, to read Rod Dreher claiming that KJB's refusal to be baited into a statement about trans people ("She can't define a woman!") is a sign of her corruption and dishonesty, and just let that pass. 

Or to watch without objection when Far-Right bloggers throw tantrums over KJB's nomination, because she was "only" nominated because she was black, or a woman. 

Or to watch and say nothing as they pretend they care about feminism or women's rights -- just not this woman, just not these rights.

But what is the point in writing a well-reasoned rebuttal to their lies? It's false, they know it's false, everyone in their base knows it's false, and none of them care.

We can't lose sight of that fact -- that they honestly do not care about evidence, facts, or reality. They will seize onto any lie that justifies their bigotry and their privilege. They do not care how ridiculous that lie is, or how transparent their own corruption becomes.

There is no point in arguing with, or attempting to reason with, such people.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Update on the Kid

 The kid has gone back to his apartment & his boyfriend. We have our next check-in with the surgeon on April 14, but the kid seems to be doing well. The surgery looks fantastic, and he's entirely off the pain medication. 

Now he's looking for a job. 

Eventually he may end up in graduate school. For now, he's hoping for a nice salaried job with benefits. Keep your fingers crossed that he can get one at the university and doesn't have to return to being a checker at the local grocery (his summer job).

Monday, March 21, 2022

What I'm Reading Now

Karen Joy Fowler, Booth

I like Fowler maybe 50% of the time -- I liked her book Sarah Canary, and her one about the Jane Austen reading club, but I haven't liked much else she's written. She's big in the SFF community even though most of her books are not fantasy or SF, because she was involved with the award formerly known as the Tiptree Award; and she's written some fantasy works, one of which won a Nebula.

Anyway, Booth is not fantasy or science fiction. It's a long look at the Booth family, focusing only somewhat on  the acts of their best known member, John Wilkes Booth. Abraham Lincoln's own life runs like a rivulet through the book, right up until John Wilkes Booth and he collide.

This is a really long and really well-done book. Even if you don't care about Lincoln or JWB, this one is worth reading, just for the depth of the writing and characterization. It's also a historical novel, and the look at the world of 1820-1880 is fascinating.

 An excellent novel. Highly recommend.

Elizabeth Strout, Oh, William

I'd never read any Strout, but I picked this one up while browsing the new book section at our library, and I enjoyed it enough that I checked out some of Strout's other books. I did not like them as much, but this one was pretty good. It's the story of a woman's relationship with her first husband, as well as their daughters and friends. William is about 70, as is Lucy Barton (the narrator), and Lucy reflects on him and on their life together. It's a very quiet and not very heavily plotted novel, short enough to read in one sitting.

If you like very calm novels this one is for you.

John Scalzi, Kaiju Preservation Society

A Scalzi novel -- so a lot of banter between a small group of friends, some of whom work together. Not much in the way of characterization, and the banter gets on my nerves after a while, but very readable. 

I did like the premise here, which is a "What if," (what if nuclear weapons create portals between different universes); and I really liked the first twenty or thirty pages. The ending I didn't like as much, mainly because I was losing interest by that point.

If you like light fiction filled with in-jokes and quips, this one might be for you.

Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, Gwendy's Button Box, Gwendy's Magic Feather, Gwendy's Final Task

Stephen King books, so compulsively readable and a bit icky. I re-read the first one because the last one just came out, and discovered there was a middle one as well, so I read that too. If you don't have anything else to read, these will kill some hours. The last one is the weakest, the first one the strongest. 

The premise is that a weird guy gives ten year old Gwendy custody of a magic box. She can fuck up the world with it, but it's better if she doesn't. The weird guy thinks she's morally strong enough not to fuck up the world. Meanwhile, the box also makes her life better in various magical ways. In the last two, those ways come at a cost; but in the first, not so much.

Readable, but not remarkable. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Things the Kid Said While Coming out of Anesthesia

Kid: Mom! I'm so happy!

Kid: This is the second best thing that has ever happened to me. (Pause) [Boyfriend] is the first.

Kid: The curtains. (Giggles wildly.) 

Kid: Everyone here is so nice.

Kid: This is the best day ever.

Kid: (To me, wistfully): Can I have the special juice?*

Kid: (very softly, after the nurse helped him into the wheelchair, which was indeed vaguely shaped like a throne): I'm a king.

*This is because when he was little, I would never buy him juice, since it's essentially sugar in a liquid form. I would also never buy him those terrible white doughy cookies with an inch of brightly colored icing on top. Because UGH.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Home Again

 We made it home -- the roads were excellent. The kid is snoozing away -- he's still on pain meds and muscle relaxants. But he's doing fine.

Meanwhile, because fate hates me, my little dog Heywood has wandered away. (I won't say run away, because he's too old to run.) I've looked all over the neighborhood, and no sign of him. I also left messages with animal control and our local animal shelter -- they open tomorrow at nine, so I can call them then. 

Update: Heywood is home! Warden Daniel Miller of Animal Control drove around on a Sunday (after being alerted by my many, many FB friends) until he found him.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Update #2 on the Kid

We couldn't get out of the hotel, but the kid is actually pleased about that, since he likes hotels. He is especially enjoying the complementary breakfast. Also, the kid's boyfriend is able to stay with us, so the kid has two of us catering to his every wish.

"Can you get me water?" the kid says pathetically.

"He's milking this," I tell the boyfriend.

"He is," the boyfriend agrees, but we get the water anyway. 

The kid is better today, but still having pain when he has to walk. They've given him the good drugs, though, which is helping.

The complementary breakfast: sausage patties, bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, honey, muffins, dry cereal, instant oatmeal, coffee, milk, and egg-and-ham breakfast sandwiches. Also oranges. I drank way too much coffee.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Update on the Kid

 The kid is out of surgery and back at the hotel with me -- the surgeon said he was "extremely happy" with how the procedure went.

While I was in the waiting room, it snowed a foot outside. But we made it back to the hotel okay, and might be able to travel back to the Fort tomorrow.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Parental Anxiety Never Stops

I mean, at least for me.

My kid is (finally) getting his top surgery tomorrow. It took forever to set this up. First, he had years of therapy and then years of being on T. 

Then we had to get the money together (because of course insurance doesn't cover this, or at least our insurance does not).

Then we had to schedule a consult.

Then we had to schedule the surgery itself.

Then we had to reschedule, because getting ANY kind of surgery is tough right now, and someone had to have the kid's slot, for really good reasons.

Now we're scheduled, for Friday at dawn, and a fucking snowstorm is bearing down on us.

Snow. On March 11. In Arkansas.

That's only one of the things I'm anxious about, but yeah, it doesn't help. I'm hoping the snow will be mild enough that the surgery can go forward.

Y'all keep good thoughts for us, okay?

Monday, March 07, 2022

A Good Point


Sunday, March 06, 2022

Games You Can Play

 A bunch of new internet games have appeared lately, all of which are helpful in helping us forget, at least for a few moments, that the world is fucked.

Here is a game called Wikitrivia. You get given historical events, and have to put them in the right order. Three strikes and you're out. My longest streak so far is 14.

I assume you know about Wordl, but here is Octordle, which is a lot more fun, imo.

If Octordle is too much of a commitment, here's Dordle, which is simpler.

Nerdle requires math, so I haven't tried it yet, but if you like math, go for it.

Feel free to add games I haven't yet discovered in the comments!

Friday, March 04, 2022

Evidence Show That Trans Healthcare Saves Lives

Down in Texas, parents are being fired and investigated for supporting the transition of their trans kids. (Note that "transitioning," for children, simply means clothing and hair styles. No one is "chopping off" anything, no matter what the Right Wing Noise Machine claims.) 

"It's science!" the "gender critical" bigots bleat.

But the science is clear. 

We conducted a systematic literature review of all peer-reviewed articles published in English between 1991 and June 2017 that assess the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being. We identified 55 studies that consist of primary research on this topic, of which 51 (93%) found that gender transition improves the overall well-being of transgender people, while 4 (7%) report mixed or null findings. We found no studies concluding that gender transition causes overall harm. As an added resource, we separately include 17 additional studies that consist of literature reviews and practitioner guidelines.

I fully expect bigots to ignore these findings, since -- for them -- the important thing is not to "protect the children," but to reinforce their hateful worldview.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Aid to Ukraine

TYWKIWDBI has a post pointing to ways to provide aid to Ukraine.

Charity Navigator now has a page devoted to the Humanitarian Response to the Ukrainian-Russian Crisis.  One of my cousins searched Charity Navigator and decided to donate to World Central Kitchen, which is providing food to the fleeing refugees [noninteractive screencap above].  World Central Kitchen's Charity Navigator score is a perfect 100.

Give if you can.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022


 I still don't know enough about Ukraine to comment intelligently, but I've been following Lawyers, Guns, and Money, which is providing helpful information.

Robert Farley here.

Campos here.

It's an interesting group blog in general, of course.

I note that Rod Dreher has doubled down on "pronouns made them do it!" That seems to be a main talking point on the Right. It's okay to be a fascist and an authoritarian so long as you're attacking trans people and progressives. Oh, and if you're a white Christian nationalist, so much the better.

I Guess the Panemic Is Officially Over?

Our school is lifting the mask mandate. We've already been f2f for the past three semesters. Never had a vaccine mandate. (Some of my students -- not many, but some -- brag about not getting the vaccine.)

Now no masks required, though my chancellor assures us we can wear the masks, if we like.