Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Oh, Dear

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.

Bigots Telling Lies? What a Shock

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?

And then it turned out to be lies and bullshit? And even so, the ignorant numpties on the Right continue to repeat this lie?

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.

Monday, August 29, 2022

What Does This Have to Do with Philosophy?

 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."

Sunday, August 28, 2022

End of Summer, Start of Fall Semester

I had forgotten how much I hated these last days of summer. Relentless heat + start of classes = not a good mix.

I need ice cream. Or like 12 hours of sleep/night.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Watching People Whine about Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Program

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. 

Weather Report

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.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fall Schedule

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. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Oh No

 A Republican politician is shocked to find out that actions have consequences.

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.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Post-First-Day Report

 I came home from teaching and took a three hour nap. Now I am drinking tea and thinking about sleeping some more.

Sisyphus was a Happy Man

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.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Story for your Sunday Afternoon

 I'm not crying, you're crying:

More Amity

 She has such BIG EARS

The better to hear you with!

Saturday, August 20, 2022

So Much Crime!

The crybabies on the Right keep wailing about rising crime rates, and meanwhile this is what the police are doing:

Harassing people for drawing chalk rainbows on a park sidewalk.


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.

Shamelessly Stolen from Nicole & Maggie

 Just a little tip here:

Friday, August 19, 2022

The Wholly Expected Consequences

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?

Thursday, August 18, 2022

True, Though

Every semester when I give my students the schedule of assignments, I warn them not to get attached to it, since I will never stick to it.

Faculty Training in the American Hellscape

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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

More Amity

The latest pictures of my grand-kitten. Here she is sleeping:

And here she is also sleeping:

She does other things besides sleep! I am reliably informed she caught and ate a fly yesterday. Mighty hunter!

Cold Snap!

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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Weather Report

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.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Fox News

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.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Alzheimer's and My Father

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. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Two Weeks to Lift-Off

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! 

Monday, August 08, 2022

What I'm Watching

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.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Cat Video

 Here's a short video of Amity:

Friday, August 05, 2022

Bigotry Playbook

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. 

And in 1960 in Virginia, public libraries were shut down to avoid allowing black people to use them. This happened in other places as well.

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.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Help an Arkansas Teacher

 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 don't hate GAY People but

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.

Books and Movies I have No Interest In

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.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Is That a Vampire or...?

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.

Dealing with Modern Conservatives

 This is the clearest example I've seen lately of the problem we're having dealing with modern-day/MAGA conservatives.

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?


Cat Pictures!

 Amity in the window:

Amity getting scrumbles:

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Weather Report

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. 

Monday, August 01, 2022

More Cat Pictures

 Amity looks out windows: