scarlettina: (Madness)
One morning in 1985, I had a dream.

To put this dream into context, let me remind you that in 1985 I was a freshman in college and living on Long Island, Ronald Reagan was president, and his nuclear saber-rattling toward the Soviet Union was unprecedented. We were, as Freddie Mercury put it, living in the shadow of the mushroom cloud.

So one morning, I had a dream. I was standing in my elementary school cafeteria which had a wall of tall, broad windows. I was standing, facing that wall. All the lunch tables had been pushed up against the wall of windows, and through the glass I saw an angry gray-and-red mushroom cloud rising . . . rising . . . from a flat horizon. And then I felt the rumbling.

And then I woke up. Sat up. The bed was shaking. The house was shaking.

And I thought, "Oh my G-d. It's really happening."

The rumbling stopped. My bed stopped moving. But I didn't move for another minute or two.

I got out of bed and turned on the radio. It turned out that the tristate area had had an earthquake.

But here's the thing: I genuinely thought the end had come because the president had been promising it so frequently and so adamantly. For that moment, I was terrified, horrified, and sure I was about to die in a radioactive conflagration.

This morning, in the wake of Donald Trump's promise of fire and fury yesterday, I woke to a headline in the New York Times that says, "Trump Says Military Is ‘Locked and Loaded, Should North Korea Act Unwisely'". And I'm feeling the rumbling again.

This isn't 1985; it's 2017. We have an incompetent, spoiled narcissist with no political, military or diplomatic experience in the White House, making statements sure to increase international tensions. The secretary of state tells us that Americans should sleep well at night and that he has no concerns about the president's rhetoric. I have to wonder which reality he's living in.

This is a baby playing with matches and a powder keg. This is our country. This is our lives. I never thought that I'd wake up feeling the rumbling like I did that morning in 1985. And though there was no earthquake in Seattle this morning, as soon as I read the news, I felt, for one brief moment, the earth tremble.

The election

Wed, Nov. 9th, 2016 08:20 am
scarlettina: (DrWho: Welcome to Hell)
What the ever-loving f*ck? I went to bed reading the writing on the wall and yet still hoping that a last minute surge by Clinton in the states that hadn't yet been called would make a difference. It didn't happen. And so here we are. I'm still assimilating this reality. I'll post more coherent thoughts later. I think. Good G-d.


Sun, May. 8th, 2016 09:55 am
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
Last night on Facebook, I found myself entangled in a political “debate” with a Trump supporter. About halfway through the conversation, after I linked to articles that proved that Trump had called Mexicans rapists and saying that women should be punished for having abortions, my opponent said that I was engaging in “gotcha” tactics that had no meaning for him. When I finally quit the argument (because it’s pointless arguing with an unarmed opponent), I went to bed, and found myself staring at the ceiling considering this idea of the “gotcha.” I went through the conversation in my head again and have come to a couple of conclusions that I must bear in mind going forward—because the election season is going to be interminable and full of this sort of hyperbole and zero-content argument.

What does it mean to make a “gotcha” argument? Apparently, for a certain segment of the population, a “gotcha” argument means that one has presented proof of one’s position in debate. Proof that your point is actually valid and has weight. They don’t like it. It’s inconvenient. I realized that those who accuse one of making a “gotcha” argument or asking a “gotcha” question, don’t actually expect that the words of the people they support will be used against them or that the listener has taken their words seriously. “So Trump said Mexicans are rapists. You really believe him? He was just, you know, saying that. I know he didn’t mean it.” It’s the only thing that can explain, from my perspective, this idea of the “gotcha.” No one expects that the truth or the record will matter in the end. We couldn’t actually expect Sarah Palin to list the periodicals she reads; it was a “gotcha” question, intended to make her look bad. The fact that she never actually mentioned anything she reads regularly doesn’t matter. It was the journalist asking the question who was at fault, not the target of the question. No one cares if she’s actually literate.

My opponent kept saying that it didn’t matter that Trump had said any of the things being reported because people liked him. I replied that someone being likeable didn’t make them competent to run a country. His response was to talk about what a criminal Hillary Clinton is. This kind of diversion is another tactic I see Trump supporters use—distract, don’t debate. When I tried to pull the discussion back to Trump, I was called a sky-is-falling liberal and told that I’d be disappointed when Trump is elected and the sky doesn’t fall.

Obviously, Trump won’t be getting my vote. I’m going to start speaking out more about what a danger this man is to our country. It doesn’t matter that the Constitution draws boundaries around the things he can actually do should he be elected; people will expect him to do what he says he’ll do, and their bigotry and ignorance have already been validated by his own. That’s why we see things like the bathroom laws in North Carolina. Such forces must be pushed back against. If Trump is elected, I will pull on my boots and start protesting as soon as I can.

Because here’s the thing: I have to take a man at his word. If a man says he’s going to build a wall or expel millions of people based on their religion I have to fight back. I have to behave as if he means it; I have no evidence that he doesn’t. This is a man who says that he’ll do what he says he’ll do. I have to believe him. Words do matter. And to behave in any other way is not only irresponsible, it’s reckless. It’s poor citizenship. And that’s a responsibility I won’t abrogate.

On dog whistles

Mon, Jan. 18th, 2016 08:03 am
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
It seems like more and more this year, the Republican presidential candidates are communicating in dog whistles. It's usually Donald Trump, who seems to think that any religion other than his own is weird and un-American. I've heard him talk; it's consistent and it's remarkable that a New Yorker would talk this way--except for Trump, who oversimplifies everything, diverts the conversation when he's out of his depth, and regularly speaks fluent Hyperbole. And then there was his speech to the Republican Jewish donors: "I'm a negotiator like you folks, we're negotiators. Is there anybody that doesn't renegotiate deals in this room? This room negotiates them -- perhaps more than any other room I've ever spoken in."

And then there was Ted Cruz's "New York values" remark. West Wing fans recognized it at once for what it was, even though Cruz, in the same sentence, went on to insist he was talking about positions that are "socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro gay marriage." But then he went on to talk about money and the media (because according to a certain stripe, Jews own the media and have all the money).

I'm glad social media recognized Cruz's talk for exactly what it was. Given how Republicans talk about Muslims, it seemed only a matter of time for one of them to get around to the anti-Semitism. The best thing about the whole affair is that Cruz hasn't addressed the accusation because he knows that doing so is a losing proposition. Either he or his advisors are aware that saying, "That wasn't an anti-Semitic remark!" is, at this point, like trying to answer the question, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Of course, the comment--being as broad as it was--got the whole city's back up, as it should have. On Twitter, Justin Guarini put it beautifully:

What else can one say? These people are showing their true colors.

There was little doubt that my vote will be for whichever Democrat wins the nomination. I'm glad others are beginning to see what's behind the Republican curtain. I hope more do, and soon.
scarlettina: (Angel)
When three out of five of your first LJ posts for the year are cranky posts, you realize that you're getting old and cranky. But, damn it, I've earned it. Here are the things I'm cranky about today.

My niece's cousin is on Facebook. She's 17, entering college early, so she's got brains. She seems to think I'm cool. But over the last two days, she's posted two memes so irretrievably offensive, so intrinsically misogynistic that I had to challenge her. I've actually been challenging her misogyny since the first time I encountered it. That time, she called another girl a cunt. I told her I'd never refer to another woman that way, no matter how much I disliked her. Yesterday, she posted a meme saying that women who falsely accuse men of rape should be jailed. I asked her how she'd ever prove it, and then reminded her that men have been accusing women of lying about rape for centuries and that maybe she shouldn't be so quick to judge. Today, she posted a meme--pictures of Bill Clinton with big-breasted women--that said, "Bill Clinton always chooses other women over Hillary. Shouldn't you?" I asked her what exactly the meme was trying to say, what she was trying to say--that Hillary Clinton isn't sexy enough to be president? Then I observed that if she was going to challenge a candidate, she should challenge them on the basis of their policies and philosophies and that she does women no favors by objectifying them this way.

It makes me crazy that she posts this crap so unthinkingly. I know that she's 17. I also know that she finished high school early and that her grades have been excellent. She's no intellectual slouch. But she hasn't been taught to think critically or to engage the culture in a substantive way. I'll be damned if anyone even remotely related to me doesn't give more thought to the stuff they post. I'm not perfect, but if I can help her avoid some of the thoughtlessness I've engaged in over the years, I'm sure as hell going to do it. She may not like me for it, but . . . tough. :: grumble ::

If I could say anything to her, I think the most important thing I could do is quote Marmie from "Little Women":

"If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that’s all that you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind: Your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage."

Give her something to really think about.

A writer acquaintance of mine posted a video from Ben Carson about how he was going to make America great again, that we didn't need another politician in the White House. In response, I posted three quotes from Carson: the one about the pyramids, the one about how the framers of the Constitution had no political experience (they did) and the one about how if the people had been armed, Hitler wouldn't have reached power. I then asked if this was really the man she wanted in the presidency.

Apparently, I've started the day as a culture warrior. If this is what I'm like at 7 AM, the world better watch out today. I'm in fighting form.
scarlettina: (I've been reading)
I had all these ambitions, after WorldCon, to write a complete trip report, to write about the possible crime I was a witness to (about which I may still write) and to write here more frequently in general. Instead, what's happened is that I haven't finished my trip report and I haven't written anything since then, even though I continue to read LJ every day faithfully. :: sigh :: Best intentions and all that. So, in lieu of all the stuff I haven't written about, I want to make some brief observations, and then I need to get started with my day.

1) The Congressional vote to defund Planned Parenthood, while unlikely to get past the Senate, is one more demonstration that the Republican party isn't about conservatism. It's about control--controlling anyone and anything they feel is a threat. In this case, it's women and lower-income people. The insecurity it betrays would be laughable if it weren't so sinister and driven by so much money.

2) My desk is clean and usable for the first time in a couple of years. I'm using it at we speak. Keep an eye out for winged pigs flinging themselves skyward.

3) The new season of Doctor Who has begun on BBCA. I watched the premier and, though I liked Peter Capaldi's portrayal, I was less than impressed with the episode as a whole. The channel ran a Doctor Who marathon yesterday including a couple of episodes that are particular favorites of mine. I miss Tennant as the Doctor, and I adore the episode "Vincent and the Doctor."

4) I have read a number of books since the last time I wrote about reading at all, including
--"The Philosopher Kings" by Jo Walton ([ profile] papersky, which I enjoyed more than "The Just City," the first book in what is apparently a duology. "Philosopher Kings" moved at a quicker pace than its prequel, exploring the wider world in which her characters live, but it had its difficult-to-read moments. I had less of a sense of the project being a thought experiment than I did the first. I was more involved overall. Walton's asked some interesting questions in these books and they bear thought. They are not my favorite of her work, but they were worth reading and considering
--"The Goblin Emperor" by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) which, while I enjoyed it, I was kind of baffled by in that while it's certainly set in a fantasy world with fantasy races at its center, it's really just an engaging court intrigue novel. The plot did not turn on any of the fantastic elements. It might have easily been told about a human court and nothing would have been lost. Rather disappointed by that. It did not get my first vote in the Best Hugo category this year.
--"The Ghost Brigades" and "The Last Colony" by John Scalzi, both set in his "Old Man's War" universe, both excellent fun and enjoyable space opera. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if the Sad Puppies didn't dislike him so much, they'd enjoy the hell out of his work.

5) Autumn is a beautiful season, but it is proving a tough one this year. And I'm so not ready for winter.

6) I'm currently reading "The Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell (author of "Cloud Atlas"). It's delicious reading, brilliantly literary and yet clearly in-genre fantasy. I was about to write a whole separate post ranting about why no one is paying attention to David Mitchell as a writer of fantastic fiction and what an injustice it is. Before I got halfway through my screed, I went to check this year's World Fantasy Award nominees. And there's Mitchell, nominated for "The Bone Clocks" for best novel. OK, then.
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
I've been thinking about the following for a while. Independence Day seemed like the day to finally talk about it.

Recently on Facebook, I posted the clip of Jon Stewart's reaction to the Charleston killings. At the time, in agreement with Stewart I commented, "in America either we're outraged or we're apathetic--we all react--but what we won't be is mobilized to do something significant enough to change the situation. We don't act." A correspondent responded by saying, "I don't actually know what to do. I don't even know what to say other than 'it's horrible' and 'racism kills.'" I completely sympathize with this response. It's hard not to feel helpless in the face of such unreasonable, irrational hate. I felt that way, too. And then I learned about the Confederate flag being flown on state property. That's when I did something: I wrote to the Charleston mayor's office as follows in part.

I've seen on the news that government buildings in town are flying the Confederate flag in the wake of the shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It may be a complex cultural issue for the city, but to the rest of the nation it signals the kind of tone-deafness that led to the shootings in the first place. I won't be visiting or spending my tourist dollars there until I see an announcement from the city that it won't be flying the Confederate flag again. Will you be removing the flag? Will you make a commitment to not fly it again?

It doesn't change the fact that nine people were murdered in cold blood by a bigot and a terrorist. But it was an effort to change the culture in which such prejudice grew. And while I won't credit my one letter with getting the flag removed, it was a contribution to the chorus of voices calling for same. The pressure made a difference.

That's what I do. I write to state and federal officials and let them know what one citizen is thinking. I actually do it quite often. I've written to the president on a couple of occasions. If some special interest group--the Wilderness Society, for example--is lobbying on some issue I care about and provides a canned letter to send, I try to customize it so it represents my perspective on the issue rather than the organization's. But more often than not, it's just me, responding to an issue or a news story.

Here's the thing: our legislators are supposed to represent us. Whether or not they do that effectively is another argument for another time. But if we don't let them know what we're thinking, then we can't effect change. That's the point of our system: our representatives speak for us--but if we don't tell them what we want them to say, then change doesn't happen. We moan and complain that government sucks, that know-nothings and morons run the House of Representatives, that the country is going to hell in a handbasket. But we don't vote, we don't engage, we don't participate.

I never miss an election. Never. I write my representatives and senators. I speak up. If you don't like what's going on in our country, your greatest act of patriotism isn't to get outraged on Facebook or retweet a tweet on Twitter. It's to write and let officials know how you feel about the things you care about. You want to celebrate American independence and our way of life? Open your mouth. Today, before you go to your picnic, or tonight before you go out to see fireworks, write a letter.

Not sure who your representative is? Find out.

Want to know what committees they're on and how to contact them? There's a directory.

Want to contact your senator? There's a directory for them, too.

No excuses. Get to work.

And happy Independence Day!
scarlettina: (Blood love and rhetoric)
Wanted to note some things from this week, for the record.

SCOTUS rulings
The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Affordable Care Act as written, striking down a challenge to the law that would have deprived millions of Americans their health care coverage. The law isn't perfect, but it's still better than what we had before the ACA was enacted. Right on, SCOTUS!

The Supreme Court also held that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, a huge move forward for the civil rights of all Americans. The news came on Friday and I was so jubilant that I actually found it hard to focus on work. I know that for my LGTB friends the fight isn't over--for rights to equal housing, equal recognition at work, and even for this law to stand in especially conservative states. But the SCOTUS ruling makes it harder for conservatives to deny LGTB citizens a fundamental right, and that's something to truly celebrate.

This weekend, as happens annually, was the Locus Awards event. I hadn't been planning to go this year. But a couple of weeks back, I got a call from [ profile] the_child. Her mother got on the phone to tell me that [ profile] jaylake had been nominated for an award for his final collection of short stories, [ profile] the_child had been specifically invited to attend the awards ceremony in his place, and asked if [ profile] the_child could stay with me. The implication was a request for me to be her chaperone for the weekend. It wasn't a request I could deny. [ profile] the_child stayed with me, we attended the awards banquet together and [ profile] jaylake did, in fact, win the award posthumously. I videoed [ profile] the_child's acceptance; she did beautifully. There were some sniffles in the room. It was a great, if exhausting, visit.

At the day job, I have been nominated for an award for my work on creating a health literacy initiative intended to help make communications with our members easier to understand, and to make health care in general more accessible. I doubt I will win; the award is for work accomplished, not work merely planned. We haven't actually done anything that benefits our members yet; it's all been planning. But I'm delighted to be nominated.
scarlettina: (Angel)
The more I read about the Hugos and the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies and all the rest, the more upset and depressed I get. It has disturbed my sleep and been the background noise in my head for days now. I don't think I ever realized in how much esteem I held the Hugo Awards until this whole Sad Puppies thing happened. And now all I can think is that the Hugo Award process has been tainted. I don't think the prestige of past awards has been affected, but I know for sure that, like in baseball, this year's winners will probably have asterisks next to them, reminding us all that 2015 was that year. Which will be hard for anyone who wins a 2015 Hugo who esteems the award in any fashion; their awards will always be considered with some skepticism. It's a certainty that we'll be dealing with this for at least another couple of years. That depresses me, too.

George R.R. Martin has been writing extensively about the whole affair in pretty thoughtful ways, providing history, context, and what I think is a pretty fair-minded approach. (See below for links to each of the posts.) I've read Larry Correia's response to GRRM's posts; he sounds angry and frustrated to me but mostly, he sounds like a disappointed romantic and, as a result, burning down the house he thought he would live happily ever after in. I honestly don't mean to sound condescending here. In some respects, I sympathize with his disappointment. I don't sympathize with his solution. At all. But when a response is so deeply couched in emotion, dramatic actions almost always result, dramatic action that has broader impact and makes a deeper rent in the Earth than the perpetrator expected--and so we have the Sad Puppies, their actions, and the fallout.

Vox Day's threat to nuke the site from orbit should even one No Award win the day is malicious hostage-taking. I'm going to vote the way I damn well want to, thank you very much. If that means deciding, after due consideration, that none of the nominees are Hugo-worthy, then that's what I'll do. My vote won't be goose-stepped to Theodore Beale's drumbeat. I recognize that his work with the Rabid Puppies is a separate campaign from the Sad Puppies, vicious and damaging and mean-spirited, but it's clear that both campaigns share supporters and, in some minds, are conflated. It can't be escaped at this point. That's unfortunate for Correia and Brad Torgerson, who assert that they don't wish to be associated with Beale (Correia in his blog, Torgerson in an exchange with Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook). But if wishes were horses, we'd have a herd the size of the Great Midwest.

As a pro and as a fan, like I said in the beginning, I find it all upsetting and depressing. I want WorldCon to be fun. I want the Hugos to represent what the fans think is best in SF. I believe we can make the former happen. I am fairly certain the latter is pretty much doomed for this year.

It may just be me, but I think that today's XKCD quietly comments on the whole business without any explicit reference whatsoever.

George R.R. Martin's posts on the Sad Puppies Hugo situation:
scarlettina: (Book love)
So, all those who care know that the Hugo Awards nominees list for this year was released yesterday at noon Pacific time. Like the kraken, it has unleashed its power upon the fannish waves. I heard about the Sad Puppies campaign last year but didn't pay much attention as I wasn't registered for WorldCon and therefore couldn't vote. This year, I paid more attention since I'll be attending Sasquan and am eligible to vote. I surveyed a number of recommendation lists. I did not review the Sad or Rabid Puppies recommendation lists because, honestly, when I did searches online for rec lists, they never came up. I read a bunch of stuff. I got my Hugo ballot in to the concom at almost the last minute. As it turned out, almost none of the works I chose for my ballot aligned with those on the Sad or Rabid Puppies lists. (The single exception is the long-form dramatic presentation ballot, which I suspect is true for most of fandom. The pickins is what Hollywood gives us and the choice is much narrower than it is for fiction.) That had nothing to do with politics. It had to do with which works I thought merited recognition in the field.

I spent yesterday ghosting Norwescon and didn't get to see the list of nominees until I got home late last night. And then I went to bed. And I slept badly. I woke up every hour or two. It might have been that the cats were traversing the bed in pretty adamant bids for attention. It might have been my cold plaguing me for yet another night. One thing I'm sure of: a lot of it was because of what I recognized in the Hugo balloting.

I send my congratulations to the nominees. My plan was to do pretty much what Scalzi recommends, well before I read his post, which is to try to read the nominees and vote according to my evaluation of the quality of same, including casting a "No Award" vote if I don't think any of the works rises to Hugo caliber. That's what every good Hugo voter should do. My vote is my own and it's private.

I will also say that I know that people have campaigned for Hugo Awards over the decades, some shamelessly, others quietly. The Sad and Rabid Puppies have taken Hugo campaigning to a whole new level. Does that bother me? Yeah.

I think what really bothers me about this whole thing is two-fold.

First, the Sad and Rabid Puppies campaigns have taken the evaluation of art and turned it into the evaluation of political alignment. They've made it into a conservative versus progressive contest, rather than a quality-and-popularity race to the top. Part of their argument is that authors who represent their values have not been adequately represented in the Hugo lists. This sounds uncomfortably like the "Christians are being persecuted" argument that we hear in mainstream politics so much, and that rings hollow to people of color, LGTB people, Jews and people of other faiths, lower-income populations and so on.

Second, presenting and blindly voting for a curated slate of candidates removes the personal, peculiar nature of Hugo voting. Abi Sutherland wrote a really good post about this over on Making Light, and I tend to agree. There's a group-think element to the idea of a curated slate of Hugo nominees that, while I can't speak for other fans and pros, really rubs me the wrong way and feels antithetical to what the science fiction and fantasy community as a whole tends to strive for.

As I consider it, the Hugos are a reflection of the core of science fiction and fantasy fannish culture and community. It has always represented what we're thinking about, talking about, wrestling with. As such, it's also always been representative of what the larger culture in which we function is wrestling with as well. Given the Conservative backlash against things like the Affordable Care Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, and efforts to raise the minimum wage, the manifestation of a backlash against a more diverse Hugo ballot is not surprising. From my perspective, the explicitly-stated backlash against a more literary approach in the genre is representative of a resistance to more nuanced political thinking. And so the mundane invades the fannish with all the tentacles associated with a kraken.

As I said above, I'll do my best to read the nominees (I can't promise I'll finish them all; time is limited) and vote based on my evaluation of the works in question, including retaining the option to vote "No Award" if that seems appropriate. (I suspect there will be a lot of that, truth to tell.) And I'll hope that next year, I won't lose sleep over the Hugo nomination process. The trouble with tentacles is that they are many and have suckers that are hard to get free of. We'll see how it goes.

Post-script: Adam-Troy Castro's comment on the whole thing is instructive in its way. Over on Facebook, he says "In 1970, the Best novel Hugo was lost, lost, by Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. That was the year BUG JACK BARRON by Norman Spinrad was nominated. Which didn't win because Ursula le Guin won for LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS. I can offer no further commentary at this time." He links to Charlie Jane Anders' piece on i09 commenting on the Hugo balloting, which offers some history and context as well as her own, inimitable analysis.

Post post-script: It turns out that one of the nominees for Best Fan Writer has declined his nomination. He has written a surgically thorough explanation of his choice and an excruciatingly detailed analysis of the Hugos. It's long but it's fascinating reading.

Ender's Game

Sat, Nov. 2nd, 2013 11:49 pm
scarlettina: (Truth shall make you fret)
Tonight I went to see "Ender's Game." Because it's a movie based on a classic, and because I enjoyed the hell out of it when I read it years ago, I wanted to see how it was realized. It's about as good an adaptation of the novel as we're likely to get. And it was realized very, very well indeed. Asa Butterfield is terrific as Ender; Ben Kingsley rocks the house as Mazer Rackham. Harrison Ford is pretty one-note, and I wish they'd given Viola Davis more to do than be the Voice of Human Conscience. Nevertheless, I recommend this flick. I had a blast. I suspect that it will be nominated for a Hugo Award--it deserves it--but, for political reasons, I'd be surprised if it won. Very surprised.

I know that a lot of folks are boycotting the film because of Orson Scott Card's virulent homophobia and his support of an anti-gay agenda. I chose not to boycott the film. I have always been and always will be an ally of the gay community; this doesn't change that.

Does seeing this movie damage my ally cred? I don't think so. I hope it doesn't with my gay friends; I love and value them all. I'm not endorsing Card. I'm endorsing a work of art. And I kind of hate that seeing this film creates this automatic defensiveness in me because the author is an asshole and his politics have turned the movie into a political football and litmus test in some quarters.

Given the peculiarities of Hollywood accounting, it's unclear whether or not Card will get some percentage of the money I paid for my ticket (John Scalzi speculates on this matter pretty thoroughly over at Whatever); he absolutely did get a percentage of what I paid for my copy of the book years ago, and he's already been paid handsomely for the movie rights. He's already profited from the property's success to an uncountable degree. Whether or not I see the film has little effect in the end. There are millions of people who aren't engaged in the political discussions surrounding the film--in fact, they're probably unaware of the discussions at all; it will be successful whether or not I chose to boycott it.

David Gerrold, over on Facebook, talked about why there's been such a kerfuffle about the movie and whether or not to see it. He said, "The kerfuffle exists precisely because Card is one of our own. He's a member of the SF family. We respected and admired his work, we gave him awards. We saluted his successes. For him to make such abhorrible statements about LGBT people -- and there are a lot of LGBT people in fandom -- feels like a betrayal of an SF trope: respect for diversity. The SF community, to a large degree, feels betrayed by Orson Scott Card's anti-gay statements." And he's right.

My question is, do we separate the artist from his art? Is the message of the art reduced by the artist? In this case, the artist's politics have so overshadowed his work in this community that there's little way to separate them, which I rather think is a shame, because "Ender's Game" is a powerful work. My memory, frankly, sucks, and the fact that the book has stayed with me in the way that "Forever War" and "The Sparrow" and "Among Others" have says something to me about its effectiveness.

I saw the movie, I enjoyed it, and I recommend it. Does that make me a bad person? No. It makes me a science fiction fan. I think it should be nominated for a Hugo. I don't think we live in a world where it will win, but I think there are two arguments in favor of it:

1) It's one the best SF films released this year. One of the best. I don't know if it is the best, but it's one of the top five. It's rare that the movies get science fiction right, and I think this one really does. As a film, it deserves the honor.

2) If we recognize the film on its own merits, we are recognizing the work of everyone who participated in the film, from the writer who adapted it to the actors who performed in it, from the FX people who realized the vision to the director who shaped it. They all deserve that recognition. Depriving them of it because the author is an asshole just feels wrong to me.

Card's an asshole and a bigot and I abhor his politics.

"Ender's Game", the movie, is really good and I recommend it.
scarlettina: (Angel)
It's happened. It's done. The government is shut down. USAToday offers an excellent Q&A on the whens, whys and wherefores of the situation.

It has been proposed to me that I should think of the federal government shutdown as a little belt-tightening; after all, if we can live without these services for a few days, were they really essential? Here's what's shutting down, in case you're curious:

  • Federal occupational safety and health inspectors will stop workplace inspections except in cases of imminent danger.

  • No new applications for Social Security will be processed.

  • Research by Health and Human services stops.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to more serious incidents.

  • Food assistance for needy women, children and infants could shut down.

  • Veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board will not issue any decisions during the shutdown.

  • Head Start programs across the country will close or shut down, stopping educational support for needy kids.
  • All federal government websites will stop being maintained.

  • All National Parks and federally-funded museums, including Smithsonian and the National Zoo--national treasures all--are closed.

And that's not all. There's plenty more. This isn't about belt-tightening. This is about control. It looks more than a little like hostage-taking at the federal level, but who or what is the hostage here? Employee safety, women and children, veterans and seniors. And possibly the good faith and credit of the United States of America at the international level.

scarlettina: (Blue)
I am sick. It appears to be the head cold that everyone else in the office has had. I suppose the silver lining is that I have it now rather than coming down with it during the week, when I'm supposed to be traveling. The sooner it's out of my system, the better. Wow, my head hurts.

Missed the first half hour of the Oscars. My thoughts about it are disjointed so I will present them in a bulleted list to provide if not order then at least ease of ingestion.
--I still don't know who Seth McFarlane is, why I should care, or why he was chosen to host the show.
--Halle Barry's dress was awesome, possibly my favorite of the evening, though Anne Hathaway was, as usual, channeling Audrey Hepburn in the best way, and Naomi Watts' shoulder cutout was unique. Amanda Seyfried's dress was lovely, too.
--Happy for Anne Hathaway having won Best Supporting Actress, but I wish it had gone to Sally Field. I thought she gave a fierce, fearless performance.
--Delighted that Ang Lee won for best director for Life of Pi. It was a stunning achievement.
--Adele is pretty great, but her performance seemed tame to me, especially in the shadow of Jennifer Hudson's vocal pyrotechnics.
--Anyone who bitches about Catherine Zeta-Jones lip-synching "All That Jazz" has never tried to sing while bending herself in half and dancing across a stage. Trust me when I say that unless you're doing it on Broadway every day, you're not doing yourself or your performance any favors by trying.
--I'm OK with "Paperman" winning for best animated short, but I really think it should have gone to "Head Over Heels."
--Why does anyone anywhere think that they should put Kristin Stewart on a stage? I know it's for the younger viewers, but I've never seen her be anything but sullen and suck the energy right out of a theater. She doesn't like being in front of people, she looked like a mess tonight (why didn't someone give her a hairbrush?) and is kind of a brat about it. Daniel Radcliffe is a complete and utter professional and has more presence than it seems like he has any right to. He makes her look like what she is, a spoiled child.
--They brought out the Avengers--all of them except the woman. Talk about perpetuating stereotypes. Where was Scarlett Johansson?
--It's always great to see Barbra Streisand perform. Fun to see Shirley Bassey, even if she sounded a little rusty around the edges to me.
--I loved that the First Lady gave the Oscar for Best Picture--what a wonderful surprise! That she gave it to a film about service to our country made it seem that much more appropriate.

Someone on my Facebook feed tonight declared with complete certainty that President Obama has signed more executive orders than any president in the history of this country. When people do this sort of thing, it sends me right into research mode because someone is wrong on the internet! Truth is, for anyone who's interested, the record holder is Franklin D. Roosevelt, at 3,500. Obama hasn't even signed 200, which is less than, among others, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan individually, and he's done it because Congress can't get their thumbs out of their asses and get things done that need doing.

The Coming Week, Writing, and Existential Angst
I'm sick. I'm supposed to be going to Rainforest Writers Village on Wednesday. I'm wondering if I'm even a writer anymore. I still don't know what I'm going to do about having a car or not. Tomorrow is a pretty wretched anniversary. I'm not sure what the point of, well, anything is right now. I'm sure I'll be over most of this by the time I wake up in the morning. I'm just venting. I think what I need is to take some Nyquil and go to bed. ::sigh::
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
Made a last-minute decision to have people over last night to watch the election returns. It ended up being a small group, but was enough of a distraction to keep me from being too anxious about the results. I was happy to have good company, of course.

I'm pleased that President Obama has been reelected. (If you want to know why, see my last post. If you know me at all, this shouldn't come as a surprise.) I'm hoping that the final vote count will confirm that Democrat Jay Inslee is Washington's new governor; at this writing, the Seattle Times is reporting that Rob McKenna, his Republican opponent, hasn't yet conceded--and I understand that. With Washington's postmarked-by deadline for voting, we won't have all the votes counted for a few days. I've already groused about voting deadlines (again, see my last post), so I'm not going to say more about that. I'm gratified that Washington state took a progressive route by reaffirming the right to gay marriage and by legalizing marijuana in small amounts. I'm not so pleased about the charter schools thing (passed by less than 50,000 votes at this writing)--that's my tax dollars there not being spent responsibly--but the will of the people must be done.

I'm irritated as hell that Initiative 1185, requiring that "legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval." Thanks for nothing, Tim Eyman. For those of you who aren't familiar with this name, Eyman has continuously pushed some of the most egregious, financially conservative initiatives to vote in this state over the last ten years or so, getting things passed that have tied the state's finances up in knots. Citizens vote in favor of these things, not understanding that the services and facilities they lose are the direct result of this kind of legislation. It makes me crazy that the electorate makes such short-sighted choices. But, again, the will of the people must be done (and clearly I'm in the minority on this one)--even if it's ill-informed and ultimately self-defeating will.

Speaking of which, America still has a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. I can try to be optimistic and hope for a better performance from these two bodies than we've had the last two years, but it's a hard-fought optimism. This country has business that must be attended to--the economy, infrastructure, the environment--and I fear that we're going to have more stonewalling of all these issues given how things have turned out. While I don't want to believe that such is the will of the people, the vote bears it out. I'll keep doing what I do: writing letters and expressing my opinion. I don't know if it will make a difference, but a girl can hope.

While all this was going on, did anyone notice that Puerto Rico voted for statehood? Assuming the conservative portion of Congress approves, we could see a 51st state in our lifetimes! That's an exciting prospect. The debate about the issue should be interesting. I'm hoping it won't be disheartening but will, instead, confirm the values that we, as country, claim to espouse: equality, justice, and liberty. Here's hoping.

Lastly, I want to make a quick note about some of the language I'm seeing with regard to governance. I've seen any number of columnists talk about how under this one's "rule," X, Y, and Z will happen. In these United States, my friends, we don't have "rulers." Our leaders govern. That was the whole point of the American experiment in the first place: to oust rule and replace it with governance. These words have specific meanings. Use them thoughtfully please. Our founding fathers certainly did.

Have you voted?

Tue, Nov. 6th, 2012 07:59 am
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
First thing on your to-do list today: VOTE. Not voting means abrogating your civic responsibility, your hard-won right to express your feelings about the direction of this country, about how decisions are made, about the rights and responsibilities of the people and the government. One vote may not seem important, but in the aggregate, every vote matters, and that's how you make a contribution in this country. Even if it means voting for the lesser of two evils from your perspective, it still makes a difference; don't think for a moment that it doesn't. Vote.

I voted a couple of weeks back. Here in Washington state everyone votes by mail, which means we can vote in the privacy of our own homes, without the threat of "poll watchers," without voter ID laws--just us and our ballots. With only one or two exceptions down-ticket, I voted straight Democratic: Obama/Biden, Inslee, Cantwell, McDermott. I voted for gay marriage (because marriage is a civil right, not a religious issue or a "special" circumstance as its proponents would have you believe) and marijuana legalization (because once it's legal, it's less attractive to criminals and, oh, by the way, helps people with medical issues). I voted against charter schools (because they take money from public schools, they're not accountable for said money once it's in their hands, they're still unproven as a decidedly superior alternative, and they're too easily exploited by private and religious interests).

In case you're wondering why I voted for Obama )

Sophie inspected my ballot before it went into the mail to be sure that feline interests were covered. She was satisfied.

I still don't understand, however, why Washington state has a postmarked-by deadline rather than an 8PM-Election-Day deadline. With ballots by mail and a postmarked-by deadline, we're still counting votes days after the rest of the country has made its decision, at least in the presidential race. It ends up meaning that our votes don't really mean that much in said race, and that bothers me quite a bit. Last night, a friend of mine suggested that, given the amount of military and naval personnel in the state, the postmarked-by deadline may ensure that everyone can get their ballots in and have them counted. But other states have huge military presences, too, and it doesn't seem to be an issue for them. This thing, I don't get.

So my most important duty for the day has been done--was done a while ago. Now the counting and the watching begins.
scarlettina: (Blue)
On Sunday nights: I guess I don't like Sunday nights very much. I mean, they're just as good as other evenings for getting together with friends--and I did have a lovely afternoon and evening with EB--but I always get a little blue past about 8 PM on Sundays. The weekend is over, and once the sun rises on Monday, my time stops being my own in 8 hour chunks over the next week.

On the King Tut exhibit at Pacific Science Center: Nice exhibit, well put together. Some beautiful stuff is included and I'm glad EB and I went. It's not the really spectacular, big stuff from the excavation; it's beautiful smaller things that one doesn't often get to see. I spent quite a bit of time studying the inlaid canopic coffinnette and the beaded collars, reverse engineering the things and thinking about how I could recreate them with the bead-weaving techniques I've learned in the last couple of years. It can be done. It will be time-consuming, but it is certainly doable. The captions throughout the exhibit are quite fine. The hour we went--late in the day--meant that the exhibit wasn't dizzyingly crowded, which was a blessing. Overall it was a small exhibit but pretty satisfying, a nice way to spent a late afternoon. EB and I had Indian food together afterward, excellent time and I'm happy to have had it.

On Sophie and Ezekiel: Woke with them both on the bed this morning. Caught them sleeping under the ottoman together this afternoon. And lots of wrastlin' with each other. Ezekiel mews piteously when Sophie has him pinned, but then he extracts himself and provokes her again. It's classic little-brother-big-sister dynamics in action. YAY!

On the Europe trip pictures: I took 800+ pictures on the trip, only to discover that my lens was dirty. Every picture with a clear blue sky shows spots here and there, so I'm going through, one by one, and cleaning them up in Photoshop. It's taking more time than I would prefer, but I'm the kind of perfectionist that needs to do it . . . so I'm doing it. ::sigh::. It means the pix won't be showing up for a while. I'll post as they're up on Flickr and ready to go.

On the election: I voted within a week or so of receiving my ballot, so my part in the election is pretty much done. I'm worried for this country. The partisanship that has infected our way of doing government has gotten so vile that it's hard to be confident about our future no matter who is elected. I don't understand how the Republican party can do business the way it does; I don't understand how they can ascribe to the positions they espouse. I don't understand how a party can make, as its first order of business, a plan to prioritize the president's defeat over actually governing the country. It's a fundamental difference of philosophy and perspective, and it baffles me. I love my country, but I don't like it very much right now. I hope that the election brings about some positive change. We've got to get this nation moving in a positive direction with a little more velocity.

On books: I mentioned recently finishing reading "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl." I also recently finished the absolutely brilliant "John Adams," the biography by David McCullough, which I keep meaning to thoroughly review and failing to do so. It's wonderful; everyone with an interest in biographies, in history, or just in good nonfiction should read it. It's remarkable, every single page. I keep trying to start other books and just not having the concentration to do it, even though my "to read" pile by the bed continues to get taller with both fiction and nonfiction. Nothing is charming me right now. I don't know if it's that McCullough has spoiled me or if I'm just tired or what. I may need to take a little reading hiatus and try some other book in a couple of days--but only a couple. I need my reading time.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) Lighting a virtual candle in memory of Danny Lieberman, part of the Malibu clan, who left us yesterday for that Great Bike Trail in the Sky. I only knew Danny slightly, but for some reason, his passing hit me hard. Last time I saw him was at Renovation and it was all too fleeting a moment. He was healthy then, and robust, and I was running somewhere. ::sigh:: Godspeed, Danny. (As I wrote on Facebook, please don't leave condolence notes for me. Please leave them for those who knew him better and for whom the loss is greater: [ profile] suricattus, [ profile] kradical, [ profile] wrenn, and [ profile] quarkwiz. Or, ride your bike in his honor. I suspect that would have pleased him.)

2) I'm finally over the post-trip jet lag. I think that Wednesday night/Thursday morning was my first normal sleep/wake pattern, and I've been sleeping like a brick since then, for which I'm truly grateful.

3) I'm finally finishing emptying out my suitcase from the trip this morning. Does it take anyone else this long to completely unpack after a trip? Seems like it happens every time for me.

4) My election ballot arrived yesterday--or was it the day before? Anyway, it will be filled out before the weekend is over. I'm looking forward to it, actually.

5) Speaking of voting, Washington's voting on same-sex marriage. Here's another way to look at it: In Washington state, if you have a domestic partnership, you still can't make healthcare decisions on behalf of your partner when their lives are on the line. Domestic partnership doesn't allow it; marriage--civil marriage--does. It's not a religious issue. It's an equal rights issue. It's a humanitarian issue. Vote in support of gay marriage. Let people who love each other take care of each other. It's the civil thing to do.
scarlettina: (Sleepy)
Woke at 6:07 AM. Bleh.

1) I had a night full of hideous anxiety dreams. I'm still upset about missing the bus to the airport for my trip (and watching it pull away from the curb) because I forgot to pack something.

2) [ profile] rosefox has made a really thoughtful GenreVille blog post about harassment at conventions. Well worth the read.

3) [ profile] suricattus talks about the evolution of taste through changing one's diet and habits. Specifically she gets into her evolving distaste for poor-quality chocolate and for salty snack foods. I've experienced this. But I've also experienced the reversal of this effect, which is interesting. I don't put up with crappy chocolate nearly as much as I used to, but I still enjoy a Milky Way mini-bite candy every now and then. Doing a whole bar? God no! I guess my tolerance has changed: I can enjoy a bite but more than that is an offense to my senses. Ultimately, this is a good thing.

4) I haven't commented on the Democratic National Convention, partly because I've been too busy and partly because I didn't have much argument with anything I heard. I did come away with the following thoughts, though: Michelle Obama really knows how to write and deliver a speech. She's so smart; I'm so proud to have her as First Lady. Bill Clinton should be named Explainer-in-Chief and I'd vote for him again in a heartbeat. Barack Obama is the only candidate I'd even consider voting for in this election, and if we don't reelect him, this country is going to be in deep, deep trouble.

5) I have a mountain of freelance work to do this weekend. I ought to get down to that. ::sigh::

BONUS! 6) [ profile] kateyule's post about the books she's been reading put me in mind of a story I heard on NPR recently. They did a piece on a study about the relative happiness expressed in popular music over the last sixty years and found that it has been decreasing steadily since . . . the mid-late 1960s. And all I could think about was how "Eleanor Rigby" (1966) would have struck a listener in 1955 as a really peculiar, possibly slightly repellent piece of music. But then everything seemed to change with Revolver, which included more complex orchestration than most pop music at the time, more complex subject matter, and less reliance on love songs. Fascinating stuff.
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
I watched the final night of the Republican National Convention on TV last night, and I have to say: I'm baffled and I'm scared.

I saw three speakers: Marco Rubio, Clint Eastwood, and Mitt Romney. I thought that Rubio was terrific. I agree with him about nothing, but he spoke well and passionately and I have no doubt we'll see more of him; his future as a star of the party is assured. (Interestingly, I found no one fact checking him. Does that mean he didn't need it, his speech didn't warrant it, or that he dazzled journalists so thoroughly that they didn't bother?) Eastwood was baffling and a bit pathetic (video), rambling on to an empty chair and not really making much sense. Who thought this was a good idea?

As for Romney, I'm not sure what the point of his speech was. He spent the first full 25 minutes reintroducing himself to the country. He bashed the President (expected), he praised women (apparently he thinks we can run businesses and govern, but can't make decisions about our own bodies), talked about his own life (most of which we'd heard before), and lauded the American Family (one man and one woman, of course). All I could think was, after 6 years of campaigning for this role, the country knows who he is; we couldn't escape him. Surely he didn't think any of this was new, did he?

But then he began to talk about his policies and his perspective. What I took away from this segment of his speech is that, as [ profile] jaylake put it so eloquently, he has an elastic relationship with the truth. President Obama started his first term with an apology tour? Russia is our biggest enemy? We should intervene in Syria? President Obama raised taxes on the middle class? Business is more important than the environment? Corporate regulations kill business? (Well, that canard, at least, is a familiar one.) (The Washington Post fact-checked the speech and found some pretty egregious stuff.)

But most astonishingly, Mitt Romney said that President Obama promised to stop the rising of the oceans--and the audience laughter swelled like the tides in Louisiana. There, as thousands fled the floodwaters of Hurricane Isaac, the Republican candidate made a climate change joke and the party laughed. If I needed any more evidence that this party lacks compassion, that was the defining proof for me. Beyond the fact that it's also evidence of a lack of connection with scientific reality, the fact that a candidate for leadership of our nation could mock the phenomenon that is drowning our coasts and our citizens tells me that this man isn't fit to serve. Well, that and the war mongering, the peculiar provocation of aggrieved resentment, and the mishmashed presentation of disconnected, weirdly disparate ideas.*

I don't understand this man. I don't understand this manifestation of the Republican party. I just . . . don't get it. But it scares the hell out of me.

* On the subject of aggrieved resentment, I think this quote says it all: “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” (Washington Post, 8/29/12)
scarlettina: (Independence Day)
It's been fascinating to watch the RNC broadcasts the last couple of nights. The calculus of national appeal has been obvious. The party that's trying to legislate away the rights of women to have sovereignty over their bodies has been pushing women to the fore. The party that constantly tries to cut unemployment, attacks welfare, and wants to dismantle Social Security tries to appeal to the unemployed, lower-wage workers, and seniors. I am gratified to see the press fact checking each major speech. Some outlets are reviewing each speech in one article. Some are doing it one talking point per article. It's all fascinating.

Here's a rundown of what I've seen on vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's speech so far:

One Point Per Article
From CNN:
Paul Ryan misleads on debt panel's spending cut plan
Did Ryan get Obama's GM speech right?
The Biggest Mistake In Paul Ryan's Factually Shaky Republican Convention Speech

One Article Per Speech:
From The New York Times:
In Ryan Critique of Obama, Omissions Help Make the Case
From Washington Post:
Fact checking the GOP convention’s second night
From Bostom Herald:
Fact Check: Paul Ryan Takes Factual Shortcuts in Speech
FactCheck.Org: Ryan's VP Spin

Of all the speakers I've seen so far, the most impressive has been Condoleeza Rice. Regardless of whether or not I agree with her politically, her speech (full transcript and video) reflected a larger overall perspective and a more thoughtful approach than anyone else who has spoken so far, and an awareness of the weight and implications of the business of presidential nomination. Of course, that's her role here: to bring that intellectual heft and broader point of view. What impresses me (and not in a good way) is that, besides Ann Romney, she's the only speaker thus far who isn't in or running for political office. All the other speakers have presented pretty narrow perspectives focusing on domestic issues, some of which a president has at most limited control over, and all of which may be overshadowed by foreign policy the moment the president--whoever is elected--takes office.

Tonight, the nominee himself takes center stage. I haven't talked much about Mitt Romney here--well, I haven't talked much about the election or politics here. But my impression of Romney is that he's a cipher: he is whatever his party wants him to be. In Massachusetts, he was a political moderate; now, he's an opportunist and a right-wing mouthpiece. He'll say whatever the party wants him to say, just so he'll have a shot at being called "President Romney." I find him paternalistic and condescending, and his performance overseas was a woeful series of provincial, tone deaf missteps that left me terrified of the possibility of his leadership. I can't imagine he could be worse than G.W. Bush in that regard, but there's really no telling. The most frightening thing about him is that, given his willingness to slip into whatever role the party requires of him, we have absolutely no way of knowing what kind of president he'd actually be, though one thing is certain: we'll never get the genuine Mitt; we'll always get a party puppet. That, to me, is his greatest liability--and the greatest threat our country has to face from him.


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