Thursday, June 29, 2023

Bad News Round Up

The Supreme Court just ended affirmative action in college admissions because, according to one justice, America doesn't decide things based on the color of people's skin. This is news to many of us, but okay. Many, many people on Twitter have pointed out that white women are the ones who gained the most by affirmative action, which is true, and so probably white cis women will be the ones hurt most by overturning the practice. But don't worry! Plenty of other groups will also be hurt. Rich white cis guys have finally been returned to their supremacy.

And don't worry -- affirmative action that favors rich white guys will continue. Legacy admissions are still fine!

Both Ursula Vernon and Hank Green have cancer. Both have a good chance of survival, but I'm still sad.

My rent was raised. Not by much, but still.

Dr. Skull needs an expensive medication, and so far the insurance company is doing everything they can not to pay for it. Which is, after all, the function of insurance companies. They make rich men richer by denying sick people the medical help they need.

A guy in Canada stabbed a professor and students for the heinous crime of studying gender. Luckily it was Canada, since if this was the US, he'd have had an assault rifle, and instead of three injured, we'd have 40+ dead.

It's going to be 103 here today and a 104 tomorrow. Eleven more weeks of summer.

Here's the problem -- it looks like you're paying attention to what's going on

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Pride Month Continues you still have a four days left to buy the Pride StoryBundle! 17 books by and about LGBTQ+ people, including my own In the Deep, as well as several books by winners of the Locus Awards.

Go here for more!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Ugh, Y'all

It's going to be SO HOT here this week. Highs in the triple digits and high 90s.

Honestly, can't I move to Iceland?

12 more weeks of summer.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Arkansas Ban Overturned

The ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans kids was blocked yesterday by a federal judge -- to be specifically, the state is permanently enjoined from enforcing the bill. (Donate to the ACLU, who brought the case.) In celebration of that, I thought I would do my best to educate people who have been fed a stream of bigoted lies by Fox News and others.

You may go here to access the 80 page brief, outlining in detail how difficult it is -- and this is without a ban -- for any trans kid to access any gender affirming medical care:

People are constantly being lied to, told that six year olds get surgery that sterilizes them for life, or that parents notice their child playing with dolls or blocks and force them to become trans, and other similar ludicrous bullshit. As the parent of a trans kid, I can tell you, that is not how it happens. Not even fucking remotely.

And honestly, do you want the state deciding what kind of health care your child can access? Is that the country you want to live in? 

Oh, sure, I know it's the country (some) conservatives want to live in, so long as it's not their child the state is making decisions about. Their child is their property. But those other people? Sure, let the state control those people and their kids, that's absolutely fine.

 ETA: Especially, y'all should look at the testimony of the so-called experts who supported the ban on medical care for trans kids. Those start on page 56 of the transcript.

Spoilers: It's laughable bullshit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Power Bill Savings

I signed up for this "Smart Hours" deal that my power company offers. Basically you do your best not to use much electricity between 2:00 and 7:00 p.m., and they charge you lower rates the rest of the day. They also charge you REALLY HIGH rates between 2:00 and 7:00, so there's an incentive to not use any power you don't have to.

Obviously I can't stop using the refrigerator, but I do things like shut off the AC in rooms we aren't using (because we have window units this is easy) and unplug my laptop so it will run on battery, and so on. So far this is lowering our power bill by about $75/month. 

Nice if true! We'll see at the end of the month when the bill comes.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

What I'm Reading Now

Richard Russo, Nobody's Fool, Everybody's Fool

Russo's Nobody's Fool has been one of my favorite books for years. I re-read it and its sequel because the third book in the trilogy is coming out in July, and I can't wait. Nobody's Fool is a masterpiece, and it's no real surprise that Everybody's Fool isn't as good. It's still a readable book, though. Nobody's Fool is set at the end of 1984 and the start of 1985, so reading it now is like traveling back in time. Remember those days before the internet, or streaming, or cellphones? Like Jane Austen and George Eliot, Russo follows a cast of characters through their mundane lives for a little while. Sixty year old Sully, or Donald Sullivan, is the main character; his landlady, Mrs. Peoples, is another. It's winter in North Bath and Sully, a day laborer, has to try to keep himself alive and solvent while crashing through one of his famous "stupid streaks. Much of Sully's problems come from (a) his abusive childhood and his anger toward his father and (b) having gone from Normandy to Berlin as an infantry man during the Second World War. Russo makes this wok by having Sully be entirely without self-pity (or honestly any sort of pity). It's a delightful, comic, look at life's horrific toll. A pretty good movie was made of this, starring Paul Newman; but read the book, it's better.

Everybody's Fool, written in 2015, is set ten years after Nobody's Fool, which would make it about 1995. People are staring to get cellphones, but there's still no real knowledge of the internet. (This is accurate -- I started my first real assistant professor job in 1995, and I did not have a computer in my office, and did not know what email or the internet really was. I had started writing on a laptop, though.) Sully is a character in this book, but the main character is Douglas Raymer, the chief of police, who has just lost his wife and found out she was in love with someone else, all on the same day. This book, more than Everybody's Fool, is about the need to let go of the harm people have done to you. It's also funny, but feels a lot more shallow than the first book. We'll see how the third book works.

Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity

People had been recommending this one to me for years, and I finally read it. They're right, it's pretty good! Two women who are best friends (maybe in love with each other, though that's not specific) meet when both are working on and with airplanes during WWII. One is flying planes, doing errands over England -- taking people from one place to another -- while the other is doing intelligence work. They're both in their late teens/earl 20s. On one mission, the pilot takes the spy over to France, and after she drops her, gets shot down. She manages to land the plane, but its totaled, and she hooks up with a resistance group. The rest of the novel is her trying to (1) find Verity and (2) get out of France alive.

Not light reading, even if it does seem to be a YA book -- part of the book is from the captured spy's POV and there's torture, so avoid this is that's going to trigger anything. I skimmed a few places, I'll admit. Still, very well done.

Claire North, Ithaca

I like Claire North See here and here), and I love the Odyssey, plus I love books that tell other books but from a different perspective, so this one was made for me.

It's really about the three or four months before the Odyssey begins, and it's told by Hera, who is hanging around watching Penelope most of the time. Clytemnestra shows up too, as do Orestes and Electra. Telemachus has some chapters. Hera is annoyed that "the poets" never sing about the things women do and are doing -- their heroism, in keeping their worlds intact. Penelope, of course, according to the Odyssey, just sat weaving and crying for 20 years while Odysseus was off fighting the war and then getting captured by Polyphemus and Calypso. This book shows us how carefully and subtly she works to keeps Ithaca (the ruler of the Western Islands) intact and in power. 

Nice writing, good pacing and pull. If you liked the Odyssey, you'll like this one.

Evie Green, We Hear Voices

I got this one because it was supposed to be about a pandemic, but instead it's about an alien invasion, more or less. The aliens are bodiless, and when they enter someone's consciousness, the effect is like a terrible flu. Most adults who are invaded die; some kids manage to survive. The alien is all one big alien, a hive mind, sort of, and it starts making the kids do horrific things. A psychiatrist who deals with the kids is trying to figure out what's going on, but eventually the alien tells him.

This is readable, and I love the parts about near-future economy and the near-future world. The science part is not very accurate, though, which hurts the book for me a bit. For instance, even though we have hundreds of kids suddenly becoming sociopaths after having survived the flu, only one psychiatrist in the entire world has noticed, and he's the only one doing research? Also, he doesn't TELL anyone else? I mean, I realize he's planning to write a paper, but that's not how research works.

Anyway, readable, but not so much science fiction as science-y fiction.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Hanging out with the Kid

We drove up the mountain yesterday to hang out with the kid and his fiancé. Aside from the fact that it was murderously hot, we had a great time, though we did not find the envelopes the kid wants (a special size so he can mail commissions to people). I did find a new book at the bookstore, which is excellent, since I am once again running out of books. Whyyyy can't the authors I like write more quickly?

On the way back, we detoured to avoid bridge construction* and ended up getting lost in Van Buren, Arkansas, which I didn't think was a possible thing to do. The town is about two miles long and a mile wide. But we managed. Partly this was because I missed a turn and partly because the signage for streets in the town is, what shall we call it, whimsical? Like a street will be called something in one direction and then when you turn around and drive back, it's got a different name going in that direction. Plus streets just switch to a different name, apparently midblock? Ugh. This is common for Arkansas towns, however. Once before GPS was invented we were lost in Little Rock for hours. 

The weather channel just alerted me with a SPECIAL WEATHER NOTICE, which is that it's going to be hot next week. No! Really?

Last night we had a violently windy storm, which broke about six hundred branches and clumps of leaves off the trees in my acre of land. I've been picking them up all day.

Thirteen more weeks of summer.

*There are only two real bridges out of Fort Smith going north across the Arkansas River, unless you want to cross over into Oklahoma and drive thirty miles out of your way. The main bridge, the one almost everyone uses all the times, is being repaired, which means it's one lane either way, and often the traffic backs up for miles. This will continue until mid-July, if the repair doesn't suffer any delays. Everyone in Fort Smith is very snippy around it too.

Thursday, June 15, 2023


It's not even technically summer yet and already it is so hot here. According to the weather guys, we're looking at 10 straight days of highs in the high 90s. UGH.

Up the hill in Fayetteville it is only in the 80s. I should move up there. Or else be willing to pay $300 electric bills.

Three more months of summer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

You Can Still

 You can still buy the Pride Storybundle! Among other people, it has novels by Melissa Scott, Nisi Shawl, and ME:

Monday, June 12, 2023

Cat Picture

The cat conveys her opinion of my writing by sitting on my laptop:

Mainly she objects to the laptop's usual position, on my lap, which is where she should be.

Friday, June 09, 2023

Good News for my Kid

Maryland has joined 12 other states in declaring itself a sanctuary state for trans people. This is good news for my kid because he has a friend in Maryland he can crash with if he has to flee our benighted state.

In other news, how appalling is it that we have to think this way? That my kid and his fiancé might need to flee their jobs and life because the state will use its power to strip them of necessary medical care? Or worse?

I saw a post somewhere, noting that in ten years conservatives will be lying and claiming they always supported trans people - same as they now lie and claim they have always supported gay people, or marriage equality, or immigration, or interracial marriage. On the one hand, true. On the other hand, from your mouth to God's ear.

Of course, in ten years, if they've stopped being bigots about trans people, they'll have chosen something to be bigots about. Can't live if they don't have some group to hate, after all.

 In other news, if you buy the Pride Storybundle, you can also donate -- at no extra cost! -- to Rainbow Railroad, and help people endangered by state-sponsored violence.

Sanctuary States for Trans People

Tuesday, June 06, 2023


Who knew Hank Green was bi? Also, why didn't you tell me?

But also this: 

Sunday, June 04, 2023

What I'm Reading Now

Jon Spence, Becoming Jane Austen

This is non-fiction, a kind of mixed historical and biography of Austen's family, her time, and her literary development. I love Austen, so I don't know how I missed this one. It was published in 2003 and apparently they've made a movie of it, though I can't see how. (Google tells me it's only about one specific year of Austen's life.) Anyway, it's very well written and a wonderful read for any of you, like me, who's a sucker for anything Austen. Spence's sources are the Austen family letters and papers, as well as some standard reference books.  

Jane, Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramon K. Perez

Not about Jane Austen! This is a graphic novel which retells Jane Eyre, moving it to contemporary New York City. It leaves out much of the novel, as it would have to, and recasts the rest. The center of the story is the romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester. The wife in the attic is made more benign, and the racism is eliminated. The art is beautiful. I liked it, but if you want Jane Eyre, read Jane Eyre.

Hayao Miyazaki, Shuna's Journey

Miyazaki you will already know, as the founder of Studio Ghibli and the genius behind such works as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. This is, I think, his first manga. It has his trademark mythic nature, and lovely art. Shuna is the prince of a remote city, deep in a mountain canyon, where there is not quite enough food for his people and their work animals to survive. When he rescues a dying man lost in the mountains, the man tells him of a golden grain (barley, as it turns out) which will grow and feed everyone. Shuna sets out to find this grain, traveling through a depopulated world filled with wonders and monsters, war and slavers. This is aimed, I think, at young adolescents, but I enjoyed it.

Susanna Moore, The Lost Wife

This is a very short novel about a woman, Sarah, who runs away from an abusive husband and ends up married to a doctor in Minnesota, before and during the Sioux uprising there. If you're not familiar with the uprising, the Sioux people made peace with the US just before the Civil War, and were given a small reservation to live on. They were also promised a yearly payment, with which they could buy food and clothing. In 1862, with so much of the US budget going to fight the war against traitors defending slavery, the US did not make this payment. There had been a bad winter, and overhunting by settlers, so that at this point the Sioux were starving. They asked the paymaster to give them food from his stores on credit, and he told them to eat shit if they were hungry. Some of the young men rose up and began slaughtering settlers and raiding their farms. The US government, which could not pay the annuities due to the starving Sioux and Dakota peoples, could and did send an army to put them down. 2000 Sioux were captured, 303 were condemned to death, and 38 were actually executed -- the largest mass execution in US history.

This novel gives us the uprising from the point of view of Sarah, a white woman, who is sympathetic to the Sioux, many of whom she has befriended; but also terrified for herself and her two children. The novel is well written, though possibly misfocused? About half of it dwells on Sarah's early life and her escape from the abusive husband, and it's a really short novel. The uprising and its events overpower the first half of the book. I liked it, but I would have liked it better if it had all been about Sarah's life with her doctor husband after she moves with him to the reservation and what happens during the uprising.

Roger Zelazny, Doorways in the Sand

This is a re-read. A perpetual student (he's been left a generous endowment from an uncle, but only so long as he remains a full-time student, so he's been an undergraduate for 13 years) runs into trouble when a friend of his steals what he thinks is a copy of an intergalactic artifact, only to have to turn out to be the real thing. 

I first read this when I was about fifteen, and re-read it a couple of times after that. So it's been decades since I read it. It holds up okay, though the sexism is pretty appalling. I still love the aliens who disguise themselves as kangaroos and wombats, and the alien that looks like an artifact but is actually a virus. Zelazny likes to get poetic, but the writing is generally good nonetheless. Read this one only if you like 1970s era science fiction.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Robots and Mean Teenagers

This is probably the best description of my book ever:

You can get your copy of my book and 16 other books by and about queer characters and help LGBTQIA kids get out of dangerous situations -- go here for more!

Please feel free to share the link on whatever social media platform you like best!