Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Damage Done by Transphobes

My kid is an adult now, and safe from this, but that's not the case for thousands of kids.

When my kid was in his teens, he was terrified and miserable. We didn't know what was wrong. The therapists didn't know what was wrong. It was one of the scariest times of my life, and worse for him, I'm sure. 

If amidst all that, the state government had sent a social worker to investigate us, with the implied threat that my child could taken from our home, I honestly don't know if my kid would have survived that. 

My kid is so much better now. There's still residual trauma left from what he went through in those years, but once he -- and we -- understood that he was trans, things started getting better almost at once. We found a therapist that worked with trans kids. We started him on HRT. We got him top surgery. Each one of those things helped him immensely. 

Why is it the business of the state to stop families from getting the medical care they need for their children? I mean, these are the same people who don't want the state to compel them to vaccinate their children. So they're opposed to state control of them; but they are pro-state control of others?

I'm kidding. Of course I understand why the same people can be anti-vax, and yet for state control of trans kids. 

These are hierarchal people. Their entire worldview is built around the idea that some people should be in control of what happens, and other people should be controlled. 

Some people have power. Those people should not be restricted in any way. They should be allowed to do what they will. If they want to carry guns in grocery stores and university classrooms, if they want to occupy state land, if they want to storm the capitol, they should not be opposed, or even criticized. The slightest infringement on their actions is an outrage.

Other people exist to be acted upon, and those people should be closely watched and fenced about with restrictions. Any act they commit that is not 100% in compliance with the approval of those in power -- like, for instance, wearing a mask; or selling loose cigarettes; or calling their child by the name and pronouns the child prefers -- these acts must be harshly opposed, and harshly punished. 

That worldview is the very basis of conservative thought, and it's why conservativism today is such a poisonous force in the world.

“Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” -- Frank Wilhoit

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Gym Rat

According to this blog, we've been going to the gym since sometime in May. That's seven months now. I have actual muscles, which is nice; and we're up to an hour a day, three or four days a week (depending on how busy the week is -- we only went twice Thanksgiving week.

There are definitely days when I don't want to go work out. But I always feel better afterwards, so I remind myself of that, and off we go.

Being a member of a gym does help. It's partly that I've spent the money so I should use the gym, but also because all the exercise machines are there. It's somehow easier to exercise if I have machines available.

Monday, November 28, 2022

End of the Holidays

We took the kids back up the mountain today, and visited with my sister-in-law as well as my nephew, his wife, and the new baby. We ate some excellent gumbo, cooked by SIL.

Now we're home again. I have a ton of grading to do, and a final exam study sheet to write. All I want to do is read science fiction novels and write my own novel.

Soon it will be winter break, though. Counting the days.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Home for the Holidays

 The kid, his boyfriend, and their cat are all visiting us for Thanksgiving. This is them asleep and the cat staring wide-eyed out the window:

Their apartment has a window, but it looks out onto a kind of passage-way, so Amity (the cat) doesn't get much of view. She is enjoying all our windows.

Our cats hate her, and she herself is deeply confused by the little dog, who she thinks is the strangest cat she has ever seen. She keeps sneaking up on him (not difficult, since he's blind) and bapping him with her paw, trying to see what he's made out of, I think.

We stayed home mostly yesterday, in honor of Black Friday, and today will venture out to buy more food, and maybe have a walk. Tomorrow we drive them home again, and my SIL is going to feed us gumbo.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Prepping for TNX

I'm cleaning house and buying supplies for Thanksgiving -- the kid and his boyfriend and their cat are coming for the holiday and staying through the weekend. I'm also writing and grading student work, hoping to get all of the grading done by tonight. Meanwhile I have written and submitted a ghost story.

The thanksgiving menu as it now stands:

  • Roast turkey
  • cranberry sauce
  • mac and cheese
  • broccoli casserole
  • stuffing
  • mashed potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • rolls
  • crudités
  • deviled eggs
  • Superior Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream
I'm making the sweet potatoes and the whipped cream. The kid is making the mashed potatoes. The boyfriend is making deviled eggs. Dr. Skull is making everything else, all of it from scratch, of course. I offered to make a dump cake, but Dr. Skull threatened to divorce me.

Besides the kid and his boyfriend, Uncle Charger will be attending.

After this, and in rapid succession, we will have Uncle Charger's birthday, Dr. Skull's birthday and the boyfriend's birthday (they share the same birthday) and Hanukkah. It's the festive season!

Recipe for a dump cake, in case your spouse is more forbearing:

One can of pie filling
One can of crushed pineapples
One box of white or yellow cake mix
One stick of butter
One half cup of crushed salted nuts.

Get a nine by ten pan. Drain the pineapple and dump it in. Dump in the pie filling. (I like cherry or blueberry). Mix it up a little. Dump the cake mix on top of this, and spread it evenly. Dice and scatter the butter on top of the cake mix. Scatter the nuts over it all.

Cook at 350 degrees for about thirty minutes, or until brown and bubbling. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. It's delicious! (And yes, I was born in a trailer.)

Monday, November 21, 2022

Plus ça change

I'm working on a short story about a pandemic, so I'm reading a lot of non-fiction books about various pandemics. One of them, written in the 1990s, is about the flu pandemic of 1918, and the author notes in wide-eyed wonder that if such a disease struck today, a million people would die in America, and six million worldwide.

Deaths from COVID-19 worldwide are currently at 6, 626, 455. Deaths in the US are 1,102, 688. (Source is here.)

Apparently people behaved equally badly during the 1918 pandemic, refusing to wear masks, wash their hands, or self-quarantine. There were also conspiracy theories -- for instance, that Bayer aspirin mixed the flu virus in with their aspirin tablets, in order to make more people sicker. Why am I not surprised. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Billionaire Incompetence

Honestly it's kind of funny watching Elon Musk destroy Twitter.  Also I'm having a lot of fun watching the retrospective tweets people are posting. It's not like Twitter is a net good in the universe, though I have gotten a number of professional gigs out of it -- book review jobs and editing work and so on. I'll miss that part of it. The funniest part is how so many people assumed Musk was competent just because he had a lot of money. As they say on the bird site, lol.

This song is about Elon, btw:


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

What is a Woman

Good thread here, though of course it won't matter for the bigots, since they actually don't care what a woman is; they just want an excuse to be bigots. Still, worth reading for the rest of us:

Monday, November 14, 2022

Winter Has Come

It's been in the 40s and 50s here all week, with lows in the twenties and thirties. I like this weather, but as usual our heat didn't work. It took until today for the guy to come fix it -- everyone's heat needs help at this point in the year. 

It's nice to have heat, even if we do have all these windows that just let cold air right back in. I do like winter.

I'm writing my novel and grading the first draft of my students' final papers. Also drinking a lot of coffee. This is my idea of paradise. Well, except for the papers.

Have a cat picture:

I took this one mainly because I love those trees across the street, but Jasper adds a certain touch.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Leftists Talk about the Election

I'm not actually seeing too much of this. Most leftists are relieved by the win, I suspect, and beyond that just really tired of having to fight for things that ought to be our by right -- ownership of our bodies, for instance, and the right to vote, and the right to say what we think is true, even if we are working as teachers in public schools.

Anyway, here's Scalzi's take

Likewise “your vote shouldn’t count if we don’t like it,” is also something of a non-starter for a lot of people! Having the GOP become the political face of US authoritarianism in a moment when authoritarianism, including sham elections for political advantage, is being actively (and popularly!) combatted in Europe is not a great look. I also think the political strategy of trying to separate out trans people for persecution, popular as it was and is with the intolerant, was not particularly smart. Trans folks really are a small sliver of the population, but everyone understood the point for the GOP was and is to start with trans folks, and then just keep going to gays and lesbians and then to other groups, including, inevitably, the Jews. 

And here's Pharyngula.

On Twitter, people are furiously pointing out to each other that yes, it still does matter if we take Georgia as well. Couldn't agree more with that one.

Crooked Timber makes a connect to Ukraine.

Saturday, November 12, 2022


 We won Nevada!

Red Wave my giant ass.

Holding the Senate

Mark Kelly, my favorite astronaut, won in Arizona. Cortez Masto is coming from behind in Nevada. I don't know what's going to happen in Georgia, but it's not impossible that Walker will be defeated. If we win either Nevada or Georgia, we hold the Senate. As Nicole and Maggie say, if you're in any of those states, make sure your vote counted. And if you're in Georgia, vote!

Meanwhile the MAGAs are melting down. Some are bailing from Trump like the sinking ship he is, transferring their (extremely changeable) allegiance to DeSantis, under the belief that he can win the country back for them --- that most of America wants to be led by a fascist who attacks women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community, while licking the boots of the wealthy. 

I know, I know, Trump won. So it's not impossible for 18% of the country to impose their bigoted views on the rest of us. A lot of young voters have grown up in the country Trump destroyed, though -- their schools closed because he was too inept to handle a pandemic; the economy tanking because he gave tax breaks to billionaires; mass shootings increasing because of his followers and their slavering love of guns. Those young voters swing hard for the Left, not being bigots or watchers of Fox News. 

The overturning of Roe v Wade has also brought out voters, and they aren't going Red.

I've also seen reports that COVID-19 is killing more people in Red States than in Blue, and thus more conservatives than liberals. I haven't seen any studies on that, though, so I don't know if it's true.

Others are just continuing to scream about the Democrats "frauding." These people are still repeating the same old lies from 2020. Rod Dreher insists it's because the GOP didn't attack trans people enough. If they had only pushed more hate, he says... And you know, he's not wrong. Today's conservative sure loves to hate.

Anyway, vote, and make sure your vote counts, especially if you live in a swing state.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Winter is Here at Last!

Highs in the 40s and 50s for the next ten days, and lows in the 20s and 30s. I'm so pleased.

We appear to have skipped fall, however. Yesterday had a high of 80, and everyone was in shorts and teeshirts.

Life in Arkansas.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Reactions from the Right

 Rod Dreher is very sad to learn that there was no Red Wave. Surely everyone hates trans people as much as he does? He takes comfort in DeSantis being re-elected, though. At least someone in America hates trans people and is willing to stand up to those militant leftists who think people should be able to control their own bodies!

Sarah Hoyt is sure that the election was frauded. (Yes, she uses fraud in this extremely odd way.) The Left, after all, is a CANCER and since good Right-Thinking (pun intended) Americans did not cut that cancer out (hanging leftists from light posts and throwing them from helicopters is a frequent fantasy among her commenters) well what did we expect?

Red State sounds almost sane in contrast: true, Leftists are eeeevil and corrupt, but the real problem is the terrible candidates put forth by the Right, as well as the fact that although Conservatives have no answers, no solutions, and no ideas. Oh, and the Leftist-controlled Global media (they're too polite to say the Jews openly over there) is lying about our (new) Lord and Savior, DeSantis.

(Almost everyone I'm looking at is waving DeSantis's victory like a bloody flag. Apparently the lesson they are learning from his victory is that because DeSantis attacked LGBTQ people and still won re-election, Americans want the Right to attack LGBTQ people. Correlation ain't causation, but you're not going to get people whose motto is "Scientists are a bunch of lying commies" to understand that point.)

Bradley Devin spouts the usual talking points -- the fact that all the votes aren't counted yet means the Left is FRAUDING; the victory of DeSantis and JD Vance means America is fine with persecuting trans and gay people; the loss of the Senate is a small price to pay for getting rid of Roe v Wade. Also, Conservatives need to swing hard toward Trumpism. A direct quotation: 

But isn’t that always part of the Democrat's electoral strategy? To call Republicans fascists, bigots, misogynists, and all the other dirty words in the liberal mind? 

Clearly, "fascist," "bigot," and "misogynist" are not dirty words to anyone except liberals, so if the Right wants to win over real Americans they need to go hard with their bigotry, fascism, and hatred of women. Because they haven't been going hard so far. I mean the real problem with Republicans is how nice they are.

Anyway, that was all I could take, so if you see some other Rightwing takes that you want to share, feel free in the comments.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Election Results

I woke up at 8:00 to find the news was better than I had been expecting -- we might hold onto the Senate, and though we have surely lost the House, it is by a trickle, rather than a wave.

Given that the party in power almost always loses control of Congress during the midterms, this is sort of good news. And it looks like people under 35 are coming out strongly for the Democratic party, which bodes well for 2024.

On the other hand, here in Arkansas we elected Sarah Huckleberry Sanders. I'm not in the least surprised by this, since (1) all the yards since in the richer parts of town sported her yard signs and (2) Chris Jones is an educated black man, and there is no way Arkansas in general is voting for a black man with an education.

We also voted against legalizing marijuana. By "we" I mean Arkansas, since I voted in favor of the bill. I think what hurt us here was a strong push by the Enemies Of Good. The bill wasn't perfect, so some of the people who do want legal marijuana voted against it. 

We've got a lot of that sort here, the ones who didn't vote for Clinton in 2016 because she wasn't a perfect candidate, the ones that say, "The lesser of two evils is still evil, so I'm going to vote for this candidate who has no chance of winning instead." The ones who put three fanatical conservatives on our Supreme Court. Yeah, them.

I'm still keeping an eye on the results, hoping Georgia goes blue, but all in all "coulda been worse" is my take here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Voting Accomplished

 I have voted. Jasper bears witness:

There was no one in the polling place but Dr. Skull and me. I voted as you would expected, except for one place where my choice was between a Republican and a Libertarian. I decided not to vote for either of them, since they were both terrible choices.

I also voted for legalizing recreational marijuana, though I don't expect it to pass.

And I voted against the Huckster's kid, and for the physicist, though -- again -- I don't expect it to matter. The citizens of Arkansas would far rather vote for a Mini-Trump than for a black physicist.


Though I am rapidly losing faith in democracy in America, and though I live in a red state where my vote is essentially meaningless, I am nevertheless going to vote this afternoon.

Join me if you can. 

Pharyngula on the subject.

I especially like his comic:

Monday, November 07, 2022


I've been having insomnia + non-specific free-floating anxiety for some time now. Probably the insomnia is caused by the anxiety? IDK.

Anyway, I would very much like this little bout to end. Exercise doesn't help. Maybe I should stop eating carbs. Dr. Skull claims if I stop eating carbs my entire life will be transformed, and I will no longer have anxiety, my joints won't hurt, I'll fall asleep in minutes and 

Also, I was checking the relative worth of money in 1913 (for something I'm writing) vs the same money today, and while I was there, I checked my annual salary in 2003 (when I started this current job) vs my salary now and BIG SHOCK, adjusted for inflation I was making more money as a brand-new assistant professor than I am now, as a full professor who has been nearly 20 years at this institution.

You too can play this game! Go here.

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Can We Not Have Normal Time?

I like when daylight savings time ends, because we get an extra hour of sleep; but then it will have to take up again, come the spring, and I hate that coming time with a passion.

If we could stick to normal time, we'd have nice early sunsets and sunny mornings here in November, and earlier dark come summer. That would be pleasant when the day already seems 20 hours long, and most of it blistering hot afternoons.

I've never gotten a good explanation for why we keep this odd custom. Apparently it was a pet dream of Benjamin Franklin, who thought longer hours of daylight in the summer would save on candles? And now people argue that it saves on power bills, but I don't see how. 

Or the argument goes that people want more time with daylight after they get off work in the summer, for, I don't know, sporting and cavorting?

None of it makes much sense, and everyone hates it. Why not stop?

Friday, November 04, 2022


This story at Uncanny is worth reading. Uncanny is doing excellent work lately.

Pharyngula reports on a couple of really bizarre stories from the Right -- JD Vance talks to Tucker Carlson 

I can sort of see his logic. His base hates foreigners, and also hates trans people, so combining the two into some hateful amalgam will win him votes, he thinks. Also, his base consists of some of the dumbest, most gullible people in the country, so maybe they’ll believe him.

and people who have no idea how evolution works talk about the future of human evolution.

This is interesting -- every time I teach Genesis, as I do in every single Global Lit class, I get some earnest local Evangelical fundamentalist who stays after class to explain to me that Noah's flood totally really actually did happen, there is evidence.

John Oliver:

Thursday, November 03, 2022

The Onion Weighs In

 The trouble with the Onion is that it hits too hard:

Tom Cotton: "This attack never would have happened if the hammer hadn't been allowed across the border."

Rick Scott: "I find it absolutely disgusting that Nancy Pelosi has a husband."

Erik Bolling: “How many innocent people have to die before we realize that words do matter? Crazy people act on the crazy things they hear from politicians and celebrities. Oh shit, wait that was what I said on Fox after Steve Scalise got shot. Fuck. What I meant is that there is no connection between words and violence. Shit, shit, shit. Forget I said anything.”

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Living by Lies

Conservatives in America keep telling obvious lies to support their ridiculous worldview:

Bolduc said: “Guess what? We have furries and fuzzies in classrooms. They lick themselves, they’re cats. When they don’t like something, they hiss – people walk down the hallway and jump out.

“And get this, get this. They’re putting litter boxes, right? … These are the same people that are concerned about spreading germs. Yet they let children lick themselves and then touch everything. And they’re starting to lick each other.”

Meanwhile, the obvious lie about Paul Pelosi being assaulted by his gay lover -- not someone who was radicalized by Right-Wing propaganda -- continues to be repeated.

I was compelled to watch Fox News in the waiting room of our eye doctor yesterday. Not only is it fact-free programming, it's unbearably tedious. The talking heads make a claim, and then they restate that claim in about sixteen different ways -- or even the same way -- without ever providing any evidence. 

What is the fascinating with such boring bullshit? Are bigots that desperate to have their lies validated?

(The giant TV blaring Fox News had a sign on it, forbidding anyone from lowering the volume or changing the channel. I would love to find a new eye doctor, but this is the only one in town who takes my insurance.)