From the Twitter feed of the awesome @CharlieJane:
Most really important propositions are not provable using data. It's just that you're an asshole if you don't accept them as true. Like "all humans have equal worth" or "women should control their own bodies" or "LGBT people shouldn't need to earn your acceptance."
90 Days, 90 Reasons - Some of these are my reasons, too. And some of the essays are worth a read.
In other news, I seem to have finally, after 22 years, contracted one of Austin's allergies. ugh. snot. cough; writing is slow because dayjob has been hella busy & annoyingly demanding (I don't get paid enough, seriously); lots of good books read lately, in brief stints before sleeps, among the most enjoyed: Gwenda Bond's BLACKWOOD, Ben Aaronovitch's WHISPERS UNDERGROUND, the latest Laurie R. King Mary Russell mystery, and Leigh Bardugo's SHADOW AND BONE.
Also, I gave the first two of the FLORA SEGUNDA books to a newly minted 13-yr-old girl and definitely hit the spot.
In case you read my blog but otherwise have nothing to do with SF or nerd culture, you should read John Scalzi's Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is, and then maybe Meghan McCarron's follow-up commentary, Game of Privelege. What I appreciate about what Meghan says is that it takes the issue to a wider application, that is, people like Mitt Romney, who have no earthly clue in the world that being rich doesn't make you more virtuous or deserving than people who work twice as hard as you for far less reward. The paragraph in Meghan's little essay that really says it for me:
All too often, Straight White Men do not see that their setting is easier, and they assume that those struggling against bigger challenges are simply poorer players. At first this is innocent - the Straight White Men are focused on surviving the game themselves, after all. They didn’t design it. But the “easy” setting’s invisibility breeds arrogance, not the humility necessary to acknowledge that you’re “winning” the game because a. the game is easier for you and b. the game itself is designed to benefit you most. The fact that privilege robs us of empathy and humility is nearly as poisonous as the advantages it brings, because humble, empathetic people would not gleefully skip through difficulty while leaving others to suffer.
And I'm just going to say it again: trickle down economics DOES NOT WORK. Giving rich people and corporations a pass and the keys to the kingdom has not and will not help anyone but the rich people and corporations themselves. As far they're concerned, the rest of us can go hang.
The only 'personal freedom' it's about for them, is the personal freedom to (both metaphorically and literally) rape, pillage, detroy, and take every good that they can for themselves, the rest of us be screwed. These are not the people I want running this country or any other. They are not people who deserve or earn my respect. They put nothing good into the world and are, manifestly, only set on their own gain. That is not okay or good or admirable.
(I considered, a little while ago, not putting anything political on any of my social media outlets anymore, but I feel injustice too strongly and I just can't shut up about it.)
Lovecraft’s racism & The World Fantasy Award statuette, with comments from China Miéville from Nnedi Okorafor. And a very thoughtful continuation of the conversation from Theodora Goss.
My own feeling is that this is a fine opportunity to change the physical award to something both more appropriate and more fun, like a sculpture designed by a different artist each year, or an Yggdrasil, or something. Fantasy is so rich and has so much in the way of roots and history...
My values. What do I value? I value, first, compassion, kindness, and love. These, I believe strongly, are the most valuable and highly evolved of humanity's ways of being. Second, I value creative productivity of any kind--meaning the arts, yes, but also other creative endeavors from city planning, architecture, and community organizing to cooking, farming organically, and creating a good restaurant--that deepens, enriches, betters and/or makes more enjoyable the lives of those it touches.
What I don't understand is how compassion and kindness are not everyone's values.
But recently I've been feeling...I don't know...guilty, I guess...about this lack, like I'm not putting enough back into the community in this respect. So I'm going to try to do short but hopefully not useless little reviews on a more regular basis.
Finished Catherynne Valente's Deathless last week. This is a book like a cut ruby, hard and filled with color, and deep, and you get to walk into its faceted depths where there is also incredible warmth and wonder. A number of very good reviews have been written about Deathless (A.M. Dellamonica's at Tor.com and this one from the Little Red Reviewer); I'm not going to reinvent the review wheel on this one. I'll just add that the characters and worlds of this book are, and will be for a long time, alive in my head, in my sense memory, and in the marrow of my bones, because they burrowed in there when I wasn't looking. This is a great good thing.
Over my long weekend just past, I also read Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making and, though it's supposedly YA and certainly wears less serious clothes than Deathless, I love this book more and rather gushingly. How can you not love a book with voleries of wild bicycles, a wyvern whose father was a library, talking leopard, panther, and tattooed Marid? A book that leavens alchemy-minded spriggans and wonderous fairyland feasts with quantum paradox theory? If you're me, you can't not love it, you will love it, it will make you laugh, fill you with deliciousness, and keep you highly engaged and entertained from beginning to end. (I guess if you hate intelligent whimsy and little girls with stubborn intelligence, it might not be for you, but too bad for you, then.) I'll be gifting this one here and there.
Both highly recommended.
Musing: So, a couple of weeks ago, a writer friend told me about another writer friend, who happens to be a woman over 50, who confided in her that she never tells people at conventions and the like how old she is, because when she does, they just dismiss her. I've been thinking about this off and on since. My immediate reaction, internally, was that I certainly won't do that (just a few more years and I'll be 50) because if every woman writer over 50 keeps it to herself, we remain invisible and dismissable, and because, really, fuck all the shitheads who dismiss women over 50 anyway.
However, I kept these thoughts to myself at the time, because I can totally understand why this woman does it. It's true--people, and men most especially--do dismiss women over 50 as people to pay attention to. Male writers over 50 get plenty of respect, but women? Only one or two, the token greats.
Of course I also feel like many (most) men already dismiss me; I'm no longer young and fresh and have never been particularly exotic, goth, or otherwise overtly sexay. I don't have that certain allure that seems to really help hold male attention. And so I'm not really worthy of attention--not just for my writing, ideas, vision, and intelligence, certainly. (Except to a few of the more intelligent, sensitive, and deeper sorts of men, to my experience.) And this will only get more so as the years accrue. I'm not upset about it for my own sake, particularly, but on a more global level? It's stupid and sucky and you know what? Men who are writers in a genre about possibility and vision should do better.
I know I'm generalizing madly, but really, that friend of a friend can't be the only woman writer over 50 who just hides her age and won't mention it, so clearly there's an issue there.
I quite liked Burton's Alice in Wonderland. I'm annoyed by and uninterested in the following two films, despite that they may in fact be good films, The Adjustment Bureau and Sucker Punch. What puts me off and is very much not good to me in the marketing and apparent content of these films is, for the former, a bunch of men in hats run our lives? And another man is the one who sees behind the curtain? Beh, not interesting at all. So freaking old hat. Men running things, men doing things, men seeing the truth. Beh. For the latter, oh come on, sexay sexay girls dress like male wet dreams in the imaginary world of one of the girls? Those aren't real characters of young women, no how, no way. Beh.
Whereas Alice, in Burton's film, is very much her own, quirky, a young woman who is the hero without being a man's wet dream. To me, that is a much greater good.
I think people really have trouble wrapping their heads around such female characters, however--they are not in most persons' internal library of media protagonists and, as such, present too much of a departure to be seen or enjoyed/grokked. Those of us who dreamed ourselves into being Arthurian knights and the like as little girls aren't so limited.
Mustard is much better with french fries than ketchup.
It makes no sense whatsoever to cut services to those most in need as the first line of attack when dealing with a budget shortfall, yet that is what happens, over and over. That is the opposite of good. I might even call it the opposite of objective good, but clearly not everyone agrees with me, or it wouldn't be such an issue.
Not regulating the places that breed dogs, and thereby allowing untold suffering in deplorable and entirely inhumane conditions, not a good. Bad, very bad--yet right this moment, Texas legislators are resisting a bill that would improve such regulation--regulation that has been very clearly shown to be sorely needed.
Like so much other regulation that has been very clearly shown to be sorely needed.
The needs and health of business above all? So very much not a good. Bad bad bad. Yet, clearly, for some, the needs and health of business is far more of a good than the needs and health of humans and other animals.
Religion is supposed to be about morality... oh, nevermind, I can't even go there.
Good: helping Japan. Bad: blaming Japan.
Donation information for organizations helping in Japan: http://www.interaction.org/crisis-list/
Five ways you can help people helping animals in Japan: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/5-ways-
It's because of this: the female hero, one not sexualized at all for the male gaze, not conceived of or presented as a male wet dream--as compared to, say, the upcoming film Sucker Punch, in which the young women all look like male wet dreams (it's a young woman's inner fantasy world and that's how she chooses to look? yeah, right), or, basically, almost any other major Hollywood film that even comes close to presenting us with a female hero at all.
It's because the idea that to be interesting and worth our time, a young woman character must be cast in a sexually attractive context is a crock of hooey that nevertheless underpins virtually all representations of heroic female characters. And women are just as prey as men to this expectation, because, hey, we all imbibe at the same media fount growing up.
And I contend that one reason (aside from the heavy twee-ness--arguably entirely appropriate to the subject matter--and the lamentable dancing bit at the end) a fair number of critics (especially from within the SF/F genre) didn't really appreciate Alice in Wonderland, is that this Alice is not presented as at all sexually provacative. Her clothing is either ridiculous, too big, too small (but not in a provacative way) or, toward the end, sober and serious, the lounging togs of a young hero, not a sex kitten ingenue. And, then, of course, armor. (Which, frankly, was swoon-inducing for me, so perhaps I undermine my whole argument...)
But, the point is, your lack of interest in her as a main character, and your lack of love for the film--yes you--is a serious failing, is a mistake, is not good.
Not good at all.
Because? We need more alternatives to the kind of female hero we are most often and generally presented with, when we are presented with her at all.
Banks should do everything they can to work with a person rather than putting them out on the street. If the response to that is "it's business," my response is, if that's business, business shouldn't exist.
If business, as a whole and as individual endeavors, can't evolve toward compassion and the long view, it's not fit to live. If corporations have the rights of people, with all the power they hold, they must be held to the highest standards of evolved and compassionate behavior.
Utopian views of future cities as one with nature.
I could use a little utopia right now.
Too much to do this weekend; I'm already worn out. Might need to take Monday off...but then I can't take next Friday, the day before my birthday, off. Plus, they actually really really start putting up the scaffolding around my building on Monday, which means it won't be particularly peaceful at home...
For the record, people who hurt, torture, and abuse animals, even in the name of science, are evil (there are now many options to animal research and testing which are more economically and scientfically valid) and I don't understand them and really wish they'd leave my planet and my genome. In my utopia, there would be no such persons.
Recently finished Richard Kadrey's Butcher Bird; there's a lot to like in it, and I did. It's wild, and passionate and terrible and the plot fits together like a very neat trick. But I was distracted in places by rough (and not in a good way) writing and continuity errors that, together with some purely typographical errors, made me wish there'd been a better editing job performed on the book.
It also made me gnash my teeth for a full day about being in a state office job with a lot of people in suits rather than, say, a happy alternative-living tattoo artist.
If this were the case, if government were what it should be, if the business mindset wasn’t asserting itself in places where it didn’t belong, acting as if it can run the world and that somehow that won’t make it a colder, crueler, more savage place, things like this--the Philippines ceasing to give samples of bird flue to the World Health Org, who would develop vaccines for everyone, so they can negotiate with a U.S. vaccine company to sell the samples to them instead--wouldn’t happen.
Speaking from the belly of a beast where business would like to charge the intestines for the privilege of processing shit, it’s just not the way it should be. Business has a place, and perhaps even some business practices have a place in government, but government cannot be run like a business, and everything government does, or tries to do, should not be privatized. That way lies even more madness, not less. Except for someone's pockets and bottom line, of course.