Here's a sketch of a critter from Blackthorne. I won't say how it pertains to anything. Because. [toothy grin] And it has a whale's tail, a plisiosaur's mouth, cuttlefish tentacles for a tongue, and cuttlefish eyes. Not the best sketch I've ever done but I didn't want to spend the whole day on it. I have to wedge some writing in.


Politics and Economy

The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.
-- George Carlin

I hear Ted Cruiz won the GOP debates, and while I'm relieved it wasn't the orange gas bag (Trump) I'm still worried. Frankly, any Republican is going to frighten me at this point. They've all gone around the bend into extremism. And while I'll support any Democrat that gets nominated, I have concerns about Clinton. I do want a woman for president. We're long overdue. I'm just not confident that Hillary is enough of a step back from the political abyss. She is capable of leadership and diplomacy--unlike most of the entire Republican party. I don't believe she'll set herself up as a religious dictator like Ted Cruiz, either. I just don't like her corporate ties. I feel we need another leader who at least is willing to talk about radical change for the better. Someone like Obama. Still...I'll vote for her. Bernie Sanders is interesting. (Not that I'm impressed with some of his supporters.) My biggest concern for him is that he's uttered the word 'socialism,' and I've seen the reaction certain circles have to that word. Mind you, I don't think that most Americans are actually aware of what that word means. Still, I don't know. While I'm glad to that more and more Americans are willing to give the idea of unrestricted capitalism the side-eye--thank the gods Libertarianism is finally moving out of fashion, I'm not sure anyone has given much thought to alternatives. They do exist, and in certain cases, they're doing far, far better economically than we, in the US, are.

Read this first: After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Here’s Why. From the article, "The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual report on international well-being, for example, measures 11 factors, ranging from material conditions such as affordable housing and employment to quality-of-life matters like education, health, life expectancy, voter participation, and overall citizen satisfaction. Year after year, all the Nordic countries cluster at the top, while the United States lags far behind. In addition, Norway has ranked first on the UN Development Program’s Human Development Index for 12 of the last 15 years, and it consistently tops international comparisons in such areas as democracy, civil and political rights, and freedom of expression and the press." Having been to the UK recently, I'm not shocked. Back in 1995 when I visited England for the first time, I instantly felt I'd been transported to place that existed several decades behind the US. It was like they were stuck in 1978. Last spring? I felt no such time-jump. None. At the time, I thought it was the affect of the internet and well, England is now familiar to me, not foreign. We're all closer together now. More and more American businesses have claimed the international landscape. (This is both good and bad as I see it.) However after I've read that article, another article about recent events, and consider yet another round of anti-progress in my own professional circles[1], I'm begining to suspect otherwise. I need to read Sweden: The Middle Way. Because is sounds like that combination of government systems that I've long felt is the actual answer. Mind you, nothing is perfect. Nothing is when it makes contact with humanity. Still, "In Norway, capitalism serves the people. The government, elected by the people, sees to that." Again, less income disparity does, in fact, equate to a more stable, more beneficial nation for its citizens.[2] "In the Nordic countries, on the other hand, democratically elected governments give their populations freedom from the market by using capitalism as a tool to benefit everyone. That liberates their people from the tyranny of the mighty profit motive that warps so many American lives, leaving them freer to follow their own dreams—to become poets or philosophers, bartenders or business owners, as they please." Isn't that the fucking purpose behind civilization? Inequality Is Not Inevitable. It seems corporate welfare increases as we cut back on welfare for the poor.

What is the answer? I don't really know, but I do know it isn't more Capitalism and deregulation. Of course, I knew that twenty years ago, but hey, we're re-learning lessons.
[1] The current WFC committee seems to think it can turn back the clock back to the good old days when no one cared about whether their guests with disabilities can actually speak on the panels to which they are invited and/or it was perfectly ok to sexually harrass women. It's the second year this has happened. I'm still puzzled by this stance. Frankly, I'd think they'd be concerned about covering their asses regarding potential law suits. [shrug] In this case, they are actively dismantling/resisting work that has already been done. Why go to that effort over something that you claim doesn't affect you?
[2] See also 'I'm working as hard as I can': For the poor, the costs of life can be higher and Sorry, It's Not A 'Law Of Capitalism' That You Pay Your Employees As Little As Possible and 25 Images of Markets "Regulating Themselves." and Decades of Greed: Behind the Scenes With An Angry Walmart Manager.

Feminist Monday

Good morning! Ready for some ranting? Let's get that blood pumping, shall we?

Literary/Entertainment: Writer Angela Mayfair on critique-group level gatekeeping in fantasy. I ran into that quite a bit too, and hell, I was writing about white people.[1] The real censorship in children's books: smiling slaves is just the half of it. 11-Year-Old 'Sick of Reading About White Boys and Dogs' Launches #1000BlackGirlBooks. Post Punk and Feminine Ecriture: Harmony in Differentiation. New study shows that Disney princesses don’t get to talk in their own movies, Researchers have found a major problem with ‘The Little Mermaid’ and other Disney movies, and Where’s Rey? and Product companies were told to exclude Rey from Star Wars related merchandise. Oh, Disney. [sigh] Your marketing department needs to join reality now. Barbie talks about her dreams. Personal Essay: "My Life as an Alien-American" by Arthur Chu. Personal Essay: "Buzzword" by Alyssa Wong. Seven Incredible Dolly Parton Facts In Honor Of Her 7th Decade. The Wonder Woman Movie Has a Brilliant Approach To Getting Diana Right. Women in fantasy: rehashing a very old topic. Again. MOM SURPRISED YOUNG DAUGHTER WITH A REY MURAL, AMAZINGNESS FOLLOWED. It costs nothing to encourage an artist.

General: Scientific, medical, and statisical evidence in support of abortion: Avoiding the TRAP: Defending Legal Abortion, with David A. Grimes, M.D.. When A Country Without Abortion Tells Women To Not Get Pregnant. Anti-abortion activists indicted in Texas for Planned Parenthood video. This Prosecutor Gave the Perfect Answer to People Defending the Anti-Abortion Activists Behind Those Deceptive Videos. No, You Are Not an Hysterical Female, and This Is Not Just Anxiety. I hear this more and more. A friend of mine almost died from an untreated burst appendix. I've also experienced it. Once with an eye doctor. I told him--after an eye infection he'd treated--that my eyes were swollen. He told me that they weren't. I told him I could tell a big difference between post-antibiotics and during antibiotics. He said it was my imagination and that women most often have this complaint. My eyes were fine. I said that maybe the reason why had to do with women paying more attention due to makeup and such and that maybe it was makeup related? He practically told me I was crazy. Angry, I went to the internet and found out that my symptoms matched something called 'blocked tear ducts.' I printed out the information, including an image. Then I changed doctors. We started the conversation in the same way. I produced the printout. He read it, examined my eyes, and blinked. "I don't want to encourage you to do this, but you've nailed it. Here's how we treat it." Guess who's my eye doctor now? Panel Calls for Depression Screenings During and After Pregnancy. Twitter’s White-People Problem. Some hard truths about feminism and race. Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won't end
DeRay McKesson
. Obese women experience much more negative social stigma than previously thought, study finds. Connie Britton Sets Out To Prove That Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word. THIS MILLENNIAL MIGHT BE THE NEW EINSTEIN. What Happens When Women Are Asked to Speak Up During Business Meetings. Tennessee GOP lawmaker resigns leadership post after he’s outed as a serial sexual harasser. NH Republican lawmakers harass female state rep who objected to sexist law. A photographic history of the women of the Irish revolution. Welfare’s last stand. As Threats to Autonomy Intensify, Alabama Feminists Fight for Reproductive Freedom. A mathematician may have uncovered widespread election fraud, and Kansas is trying to silence her. Sexy Photos Of Wounded Veterans May Change How You View Disability. High School Student Proves Professor Wrong When He Denied “No Irish Need Apply” Signs Existed.

[1] And rape.

Let's Be Positive

The internet can be a dark and forboding place. It's easy to focus on that--particularly if you value activism, but one needs balance.[1] Recently, I promised myself I'd make space here for positive things. It's important. Like developing any habit, I've found it hard to do, but I haven't given up. I'm stubborn that way. -- great for when you need to meditate or when you need some nature sounds. I'm going to give it a try with my writing today. I usually write to music or nothing at all.

I was a child when I first heard Cat Stevens's songs. (And they make a great counter point to all the darkness in the film Harold and Maude.) I suspect it's Stevens fault that I have an inner hippy. Anyway, here's a great article about Islam and Cat Stevens: 'Alliance of Virtue (or Get Your Bags Together)'.

Tumbler actually has positivity, if you need a quick hit of happy.

Sometimes it helps to remember the little things. 1000 Awesome Things does that.

Need a hug?

May you have a wonderful, peaceful, fabulous Sunday.
[1] One of the reasons I loved about the movie Tomorrowland was the idea that positive thinking holds power. It does. It isn't the answer to all the world's woes, and it doesn't work without the accompanying effort. (One of the things I hated about The Secret. is that it failed to mention a) hard work and b) the fact that others have free will and that this is a factor. Magic takes more than focus, and willing people into what you want isn't ethical. Also, let's not lie here--LUCK is also a factor.)

The Deep Dark

I finished reading Holly Black's The Darkest Part of the Forest. I loved it, of course. Holly is one of my favorite, if not number one favorite, YA authors out there. She writes. I buy. The end. I've had the book for a while[1] but hadn't read it yet. So, I took it with me on my trip to Detroit and ConFusion[2] and finished it on the return plane ride. I love her work and highly recommend it. And that is where the book review ends.

While reading the novel I had IDEAS. It often happens. Holly inspires me. It's why I love reading her work. I've also been reading a lot of Terry Pratchett. My story-brain tends to operate like a cauldren. I dump various things in it with no clue as to why it may come in handy and eventually THINGS HAPPEN. I trust my subconcious. It's an important aspect of my creative process. It's not always easy to do so, but hey, creativity is scary--don't let anyone tell you it isn't. It is. This is why so many creatives are known to struggle with procrastination and so on. It may look easy from the outside, but it isn't. Anyway...both Holly and Terry write about fairies in a particular way. They present the negative side--and largely this is in keeping with the original myths. Fairies aren't nice. They're spooky. They haunt. They're alien. They're cruel. They're hopped up on power. They are the things that go bump in the night.[3] They are very real, and they are a threat. When you throw those ideas into the cauldren with current events, as I do...a certain picture emerges. What if the stories about the fae weren't only about the things that go bump in the night? What if what was going on was that the peasantry were voicing their anxiety about royalty/nobility? With that in mind, certain aspects of fairy lore made perfect sense. Always speak of the fair folk with respect. If you make a deal with them, you are unlikely to get the best outcome. You do not want their attention. It will go badly for you. They take. It is their rightful place to do so. They do not give. There are no consequences for acts of evil purpetrated by the fair folk. It isn't even considered an option. The more I think about that and the more I read about the actions of the Mayor of Flint, Michigan, the affluenza teen, and so on...well...the more that interpretation makes sense. It's an aspect that Epic Fantasy--at least the Epic Fantasy I've read--seems to miss because it's busy glorifying royalty.

Thanks for reading my ramble. That's one of the many ideas I've been playing with.
[1] I'm a slow reader, and I've been making my way through Moby Dick among other things. Because one doesn't write about tall ships without having read Melville...well, if you're me, anyway.
[2] Did I mention that ConFusion was wonderful?
[3] I suspect the American version of the Fae--which has much in common with the English version--that they're merely mischievous children or Tolkien-esque beauties is due to electricity. Face it. The deep dark of forests isn't scary when you can light up the whole place with stadium lighting. The new 'deep dark spooky forest of the unknown' is outer space. And that explains why stories of alien abductions have so much in common with the actual myths around fairies.

Random Bag of Links Friday

Some links I've gathered over the course of the week:

Political--Data: 62% of the people Donald Trump RTed this week follow multiple White Supremacist accounts. To be honest, I find it difficult to believe that Trump has an honest shot at the presidency. I want to believe that the Conservative Right isn't that stupid. He's a Nationalist Dictatorship waiting to happen. It's clear to everyone but the far Right. However, I find it hard to dismiss him completely because there is a way he could win. (It involves splitting the Democratic Party. That is, it involves the Dems going with Hillary and Bernie going Independant.) And that is well within the realm of actual possibility. It terrifies me. Still, it's too early to tell. HSBC faces charges of fraud and money laundering from Belgian state. I've long said that when a corporation declares itself "multinational" doesn't that make way for them not paying any taxes at all *anywhere*? Also, doesn't that (on a certain level) make them exempt from law as well? It's not as if there is an international government that places controls on that sector and they know it. Indiana Lawmaker Tries To Seriously Limit The State’s Ability To Make Environmental Rules. <sarcasm font>I can't imagine how that could go wrong, could you?</sarcasm font> And on a related topic:  Michigan’s Great Stink. I'm so happy to see what happened in Flint getting so much press. Things that concern me, however are 1) even after attention has been given to the problem NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE 2) people are being charged for water they can't use and 3) there've been zero repercussions for those who instigated this 'cost cutting' measure. I can't help feeling that the reasons why are related to the fact that the town in question is majority persons of color. I want the Mayor held accountable. I want there to be drastic consequences for his actions and those who perpetrated this crime and it is a crime. Because if we don't, Flint will not be the only town in which this will happen. Paul LePage says 'bring the guillotine back' for drug dealers. Let me just say...that's an irresponsible statement on so many levels even if you pretend he doesn't actually mean it. I'm so ready for professionalism in political circles to be fashionable again. 3 Troubling Ways the Charter School Boom Is Like the Subprime Mortgage Crisis.

Odd/Art--DOWNLOAD PDFS OF THE MYSTERIOUS VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT AND THE CODEX SERAPHINIANUS FOR FREE. The interesting thing about that is that it contains some sort of code that has never been cracked. It's the sort of thing that Charlie Stross would come up with. I kind of love that. 5 Things You Didn't Know About Edgar Allan Poe. Blacklight hair and glitter roots. It's a thing! On Alan Rickman, Loss, and Mourning Our Heroes. And I can't wait to try out this next one: Cut Up Machine. Illuminated Book Sculptures Form Incredibly Detailed Magical Worlds. Company Builds Pre-Fab Hobbit Houses In 3 Days And You Can Actually Live There. And 12 Creepy Lullabies From Around the World That Will Keep You Up at Night.

Other--Ever wonder why someone might say that torture doesn't work? Here's the science: Neuroscience: Tortured reasoning.


OMG, I love this so much. This is for the writers out there who eventually will write about death and for the morbidly curious.

I swear I met her at one of my friend Thad's parties. She's fun, and I love what she's doing. I will buy her book because...why yes, I do have a collection of non-fiction books on death, dying, funerals, poisoning, and so on. Hey, I'm a writer. And a goth.

Oh, and on infant mortality...worldwide that number is 32 deaths per 1000 live births in 2015. I suspect she was using old data and data specifically for the United States because at the moment that figure is rising for the US. In fact, the US was on the bottom of the chart when it comes to industrialized nations in 2013. The reason? It's complicated. Here's an article that looks into the matter

It's Wednesday, Right?

Day three post convention, and it's quite obvious that I wiped myself out on a massive scale. I only just now feel like I normally do post con. Wow. Must remember to get more water and sleep pre-travel. Because da-yum.

So, today I'm going to throw a creepy link at you. Dolls. My husband and I have a different opinion when it comes to dolls. I love creepy dolls. I've a collection. He hates dolls so much that when we were dating he made me remove a doll from the bedroom before he'd go to sleep. Mind you, we're still married after almost fifteen years. I suspect he loves me a lot. Anyway, yesterday he sent me the following link. Because. Thai Smile Airways allows passengers to buy seat for ‘supernatural’ dolls.

You're welcome.

It's Tough Being a Writer Geek of the Female Persuasion

I talk a lot about internalized misogyny. Largely, I do it because I struggle with it, and I suspect I'm not the only one. Worse, it took a long time to understand how badly I was affected. Even so, I still find myself tripping over it. How awful is that? And hey, I can only imagine how rough it is when you add in race, religion, class, disability, and non-cis genderedness. I say this quite a lot, but oppression is a system, and it isn't even a creative one. Studying Irish history taught me that race is about power.[1] Just as misogyny is about power. Chances are if one group is affected, another one will be as well using almost exactly the same words and images. Which brings me to Geek of the Female Persuasion. This is going to be a bit rambly. I'm sick and haven't recovered enough brain power to be concise. Sorry.

I grew up believing the following:

1) Geek Girls/Tomboys are not like other girls. We're better. We aren't all the silly, stupid, weak, girlie things that girls are. We don't even associate with girls who are because that shit is catching. Boys like us because we are like them. We don't do girl things if we can help it.

2) Girls who are not girlie are safer and more successful. If you're one of the boys, then you're less likely to be treated as a sex object. You aren't percieved as threatening--provided you aren't too good at boy things, nor are you threatened--provided you overlook anything offensive said in your presence. If you voice an objection, you will remind the boys that you are not as they are, and they will turn on you. Hiding is your safest option. Living in fear is better than not living at all. Be attractive but not too attractive.

3) Do not join with other girls even if they're like you and not like other girls. To do so draws attention to your girlness. See rule 2. You must be an exception. An exception is only an exception when there is only one. Too many girls in a group will be percieved as a threat.[2] No matter what, do not group together. If you try, there will be competition among you.[3] There must be a Final Girl because there can only be one Girl Not Like Other Girls in a group.

4) Being attractive means that you will be harrassed. Non-attractive girls do not get abused or assaulted.

No one sat me down and told me these stupid things because if anyone said this shit out loud it'd be instantly seen for the bullshit it is. No, these rules are what I learned through observation and example. They're also damned near impossible to root out of your brain once planted there, and they are planted in most (western) womens' brains.

This weekend I was at ConFusion and I had a wonderful, wonderful, lovely time. It was, thanks to the efforts of the con volunteers, full of all the people I usually don't see unless I'm at WFC or WorldCon. However, I found myself struggling with a number of lessons. Mind you, they were good lessons, and I'm thankful for them. I learned a great deal over the weekend. Kameron Hurley has made it clear that I'm not the only one. And I'm so thankful for John Scalzi. Y'all, John uses his super powers for good. I admire that in all people. Kameron and John gave me the courage to introduce myself to all sorts of people I see at cons and are too shy to approach. I met Alaya Dawn Johnson and had the best conversations with her. Sadly, I waited until Saturday night at 1am to do it. [sigh] But I did do it and I almost missed my taxi to the airport as a result. LOL. Anyway..some other things happened.

The first day, we had Archery with Authors. It was a brilliant idea and was so much fun. We spent the first fifteen minutes signing forms and carefully reading/initialling the safety rules for the range. No big deal. No one wants to be sued. I did okay. (My first shot was a bulls eye as luck would have it and it was luck.) I did better once the woman who worked at the range gave me a properly powered bow about halfway through the event. (If I'd started with that one, I'd have rocked that shit. As it was, once I had the right bow I consistantly hit within the target rings. I like archery.) She also told me to get my hair up and away from the bow string. So, I knotted my hair on top of my head. This almost always results in spiky hair. I like that. Hey, I like punk. I practiced for a while. I also noticed that the manager of the range kept treating Diana Rowland in a manner that was more than a bit creepy. He kept referring to her as "Blondie" in a flirty condescending manner and handed her the pink bow. It disturbed me, but I figured she would eventually tell him to fuck off. She didn't as far as I could tell. (Hey, we all have to judge how safe it is to push back.) Then the range manager came up really close to me and started fondling my hair and touching my back. "I like your hair. I tell you what. Why don't we stand you up by the targets and see if people can shoot your hair?" This, after all the forms explaining how dangerous it was to be anywhere near the targets. He continues to play with my hair as if this is perfectly okay. I said, "I've an idea. Why don't I practice Juijitsu on you? That sounds like more fun." He dropped his hand and left like he'd been burned. Ultimately, I didn't report it because I felt I'd handled the situation, but I did talk about it and am talking about it because it should be discussed. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that young, pretty women are the only ones who have to worry about harrassment. Rule 4 is bullshit. Men will pull this crap with any woman. Period. Harrassment, abuse, and assault is about power. It is not about sex. Sex is the weapon not the goal.

My first panel at the con was titled How Many Genders? (or something like it) and the listed moderator was not able to make the convention due to the weather. Justin did a marvelous job of balancing panelists. We had a transgendered woman, two cis women, and a cis male. (It doesn't sound like much but I can't tell you how many of these panels I've been on and it's all cis women.) The transgendered woman volunteered to speak, but I moderated instead because we had two cis women on the panel and the transgendered woman needed to speak. Also, if the lone cis male had moderated that would have sent some bad messages to the audience. All in all, that went great--that is until an audience member addressed a question to the lone cis male like this, "As the only author on this panel..." I stopped him at once. I pointed out what he'd just done. I told him that everyone on the panel was an author.[4] He acknowledged the problematic statement and then went on with his question. To his credit, he came up to me after and apologized. He went on about being from the literary side of things, and how helpful the panel was and so on and then again implied that I was not an author. "Dude. You did it again. I'm an author." He said, "But you didn't introduce yourself as one." My mouth dropped open. "I did too." and then I walked away because I'd had enough of his shit. I wish I'd have gotten his name. I didn't. My bad--not because I feel he needed to be punished, but because he was clearly attempting to learn the lesson and failing dramatically over and over. I didn't help him. At the same time, I'm aware that I'm not required to do so. I'm merely proud of the fact that I've finally gotten the lesson enough to be able to call shit out on the spot instead of having to wait twenty minutes to be able to verbalize what happened. You know? Baby steps.

The biggest aspect of the weekend for me was learning to open up the circle as Kameron Hurley said. I gave myself permission to invade the Dude-Bro circles when they manifested. As an author of an Epic Fantasy series, it's important for me to do so since virtually the entire genre is a Giant Circle of Dude Bro, particularly if you're writing about military things. Although, I had enough going on without being constantly uncomfortable and angry. I had enough on my plate, learning how to make space and take the space when it was offered. And that last point is a bigger issue than you'd think. I was raised Catholic. Accepting the positive things (like opportunity) when they are given is huge. Catholicism doesn't teach that. What it does teach--especially to women--is that suffering is best. Offer it up to God, sweety. We only get what we can handle in this life. You don't get a vote in this. Saints suffer in silence. Yeah. Bull shit.

I used to wonder why I couldn't get all my wonderful SF writer friends together. See those rules? That's why. And it's not just them. It's ME. 2016 is going to be the year I fight that crap. It's going to be the year I create a fucking social circle and open it as wide as I can. It's going to be the year I stop and think. Because it's too important not to.
[1] The Irish weren't considered to be 'white' for quite a while. Then it was the Italians. Jews. And so on. White has nothing to do with skin color, not really. It's about power.
[2] See the Seventeen Percent rule: “If there's 17 percent women, the men in the group think it's 50-50,” Geena Davis told NPR. “And if there's 33 percent women, the men perceive that as there being more women in the room than men.” Read more at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media site.
[3] This is practically instinctual and can be traced back to a time when women were not legally permitted to hold jobs. Thus, marriage to an established, financially stable male was a matter of life and death. And so the need to be attractive carries with it an unconscious competitiveness. You can firmly disbelieve this thing is awful and still find yourself comparing yourself to the other women in the room in a competitive way. It's less so when you're married, but it's still there.
[4] We had one writer early in her career, one non-fiction author, and two established authors.

Grrrr Arrrggggh

Feminist Monday will be late, sorry. I'm home, but I also feel like Hell and my head is full of bees. So, this will be short as Sofa, blanket, hot drinks, aspirin, throat spray, and TV Day is calling my name. (I really pushed myself hard over the weekend.)

For the record, ConFusion is an amazing con. It's my new favorite. The panels were amazingly amazing. There were some minor sexist incidents for me. (I took care of the problem on the spot.) The only downside was the food. Getting to restaurants isn't easy, and the hotel doesn't much believe in this thing called 'vegetarianism.' (What do you mean you're tired of chopped romane lettuce with a tomato on it?) So, that made it difficult. Thank the gods there was a tiny Indian restaurant across the street that was phenomenal. So many thanks to everyone. Seriously. That was so wonderful.