So I tried InspiroBot
, the random generator of inspirational quotes that is going through my Facebook friendlist like surrealist wildfire. I think I lost:
says encouragingly, "One can try!"
I've learned that my short story "The Trinitite Golem" (Clockwork Phoenix #5
) has received honorable mentions
in both Gardner Dozois' The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fourth Annual Collection
and Helen Marshall and Michael Kelly's The Year's Best Weird Fiction, Volume 4
, neither of which I was expecting and both of which I am happy about.
Having been out of touch with Badass of the Week
for some years, I am very grateful to have been pointed toward their entry for Joe Beyrle
. "I shouldn’t have to go around reminding you that 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off' is pretty much the only phrase in recorded history that Captain America, George S. Patton, and The Dead Kennedys have ever completely agreed upon without even the slightest bit of argument—so clearly there has to be something tangible behind that sentiment."
I don't know what you call this kind of photoset illustration of a piece of poetry, but I really like it
- listening to:13th Floor Elevators, "Slip Inside This House"
Cordelia is now saying that she doesn't want to go to camp in August because she doesn't think she can handle a week without me. She also says that she's sure all of the other kids will be awful people and that there will be so many people present that there's no hope of her managing to spend any time with the people she actually knows.
She's been wanting lots of hugs and cuddling and reassurance that I'll always be there for her. She's also afraid any time she lets herself stop and think (mostly in the evenings). Her days have been pretty full, but she comes home and tells me that, even though she had fun, she missed me horribly. I think she's got some sort of worry that, if she's not checking up on me regularly, I'll just vanish.
I finally listened to the voicemail Cordelia's psychiatrist left. She says that the Celexa ought to stay at a steady level for twenty four hours on a single dose and that this may mean the dose is too low. Cordelia is afraid of upping the dose because she's connected her tiredness to the medication. I need to call the doctor back on Monday to discuss it.
Cordelia has more or less mastered swallowing small pills. Last night, she asked what I take for cramps, and I gave her a naproxen. It took her two swallows to get it down, but she did, and she was astonished to discover that it did help.
Her report card came today. It's all A's with an A+ in gym and an A- in algebra. Cordelia's of the opinion that they can't have counted the algebra final in that grade because she thinks that would have taken her down to B+ or even B range. I can't tell from PowerSchool whether or not she's right. It doesn't actually matter. B grades are good, too, and that particular class has been nasty for all the students due to the teacher not being very good.
I wrote a lot yesterday, a bit more than 2300 words. I find that amazing given that I spent most of the day in a groggy haze, trying to figure out whether or not I had a window for napping.
Scott had to work 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. today. We got a call from the shift supervisor about half an hour after Scott went to bed. The guy wanted to make sure Scott knew he had to come in. He kept stumbling over what he was saying and talking in circles. I'm pretty sure that he had a script in mind for the call and that I blew it up by saying that Scott was in bed and couldn't come to the phone. Scott identified the caller simply based on my description of the guy's confusion.
I ended up staying up a bit later than I meant to because the writing was working well. For some reason, just the thought of needing to go to bed makes me able to produce words and plot and all of that. I think I slept a solid eight hours once I did go to bed, so there's that. I kind of want to go back to bed, though.
Scott has Monday scheduled off because it's our anniversary. I have a couple of minor errands that will be much easier if someone gives me a ride, so we'll deal with those. The rest of the day is ours. Cordelia is now saying that Scott and I should celebrate however we want, including without her, because it's our day. (She said something on the order of "I wasn't involved in your wedding.") This is a change from years past. I don't know that we'll leave her at home, but it's nice that, if we did, she'd be okay with it.
We got home around 1. When I came upstairs this morning before 8, I found that a couple of cookbooks had been knocked off the kitchen bookshelf. No big deal. Then I noticed that the sample pack of cat food we'd gotten in the mail (Rachel Ray's Delish) was in the dining room and torn open. Sigh. I cleaned it up, went about the rest of the morning routine, and then hit the living room, where the bag of soft duck and pumpkin dog treats was lying there, also torn open.
Normally when there's morning chaos, I know which animal to blame (and this generally seems like Charlotte-style mischief), but I'm not sure all the animals didn't work together. Thankfully, it doesn't look like they ate a ton of the food in either case (I'm not sure Nicky even realized his treats had been opened).
Remember, folks: Having pets is good for your emotional health!
Some things I’ve read recently!
The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata
If you didn’t read Nagata’s The Red Trilogy, well, you might want to consider doing so. But whether you have or you haven’t–The Last Good Man is near-future military sf. It’s tense and compelling, and features a middle-aged woman protagonist, an ex-Army pilot who now works for a private military company. During a rescue mission she discovers something that casts a new and disturbing light on an event that she’d thought, well, not safely in the past, but over and done with and accurately understood. But she wants the truth, no matter the cost. If near future and/or military is your jam, don’t miss this.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
This is volume 1 of the Murderbot Diaries, and I suspect a certain percentage of my readers don’t need to hear anything more. Go, purchase, download! You will enjoy this.
Murderbot is a SecUnit–a security android, part organic part mechanical, that isn’t supposed to have any sort of free will. It does, though, and having achieved that free will it secretly names itself Murderbot and then works hard to hide its freedom of thought from the corporation that owns it. It doesn’t actually want to murder anyone, though. It just wants to be left alone to watch its stories. Unfortunately, someone is trying to kill the humans Murderbot has been tasked to protect.
I’m not kidding, I can almost guarantee that my readers will enjoy this. I have already pre-ordered volume 2, which is out in January.
Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns
So, Lesbian Space Pirates. Out at the end of October. That may be all I need to say.
Or not. Our heroines hijack a colony ship in a bid to join a famous band of space pirates–only to discover the pirates are not, as widely believed, hiding out on Barbary Station rolling in money and loot, but are in fact trapped there by the station’s renegade AI. Why is the AI doing what it’s doing? Is it conscious? Does it matter when it’s trying to kill you?
This book is good fun. Set in the Solar System, lots of action, I really enjoyed this, and I bet you will, too.
Mirrored from Ann Leckie.
My first introduction to Cordwainer Smith was "The Game of Rat and Dragon," which I'm guessing (alongside "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell") is his most anthologized story based on nothing more than guesswork and the fact that, for years after that story, it was the only
Smith I could find. (Admittedly, this was not helped by spending high school in South Korea. )
"The Game of Rat and Dragon" has stuck better in my memory, but at some point in college I was delighted to discover that there were more Instrumentality stories. The one that I remembered, years later, as being particularly interesting was "The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal." Peculiarly, I remembered that it had an unusual narrative structure/format, but not anything useful about its plot. Cue yesterday when I actually reread it, having checked out the posthumous collection When the People Fell
from the library, and being bemused to discover that this story was almost certainly, before I ever heard of fanfic on the internet, my introduction to mpreg.
A spoilery discussion of the story follows beneath the cut.
 My high school library's sf/f holdings were very eclectic. They had a couple decades' worth of Analog
under Stanley Schmidt. I read every page of every issue available, and remain fond of the zine although I have not read it in over a decade. They also had old classics like John Wyndham's Re-Birth
, amusing curiosities like a litcrit book on the best fantasy novels by Michael Moorcock (possibly with a co-author; I no longer remember) in which he immodestly listed his own Stormbringer
, a number of old Nebula anthologies, and a copy of Harlan Ellison's (ed.) Dangerous Visions
that I read two or three or four times before someone else stole it or, more charitably, checked it out and lost it. (Years later, I still think Philip José Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage" was insufferably boring, and Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah" makes zero sense when you are barely aware of what sex is.) They had Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books, which is where I encountered them. On the other hand, the librarians were very
friendly, and for a number of years, because my sister and I were the only
ones who made use of the request box, we pretty much got them to buy whatever we wanted to read for the year.( Read more... )
Home late last night after a lovely, lovely train journey up the coast to Portland, and then east to Minneapolis. Once I got there, I bumbled my way to the delicious breakfast place my daughter and I found last year (The Buttered Tin) and after that, in perfect weather--low seventies, cloudy, tiny drops of rain--made my way to the hotel for Fourth Street Fantasy.
Other than a somewhat jolting experience at the opening ceremonies, which made it clear yet again that many of those who have always assumed their perfect safety in any circumstance (and who thus find argument entertaining) simply do not comprehend the paradigm for those who have always had to be wary, to at least some degree, while maneuvering in public spaces. I trust that learning happened.
After that, things went so very well. So many great conversations, over delicious food. Interesting panels, lovely weather. Another thing occurred to me: I so seldom get that quick-back-and-forth of conversation, as my social life is about 95% online, that I found myself frequently behind a couple steps. At least, I think it's due to that and not (I hope) to me dulling with age.
The con was splendid right to the last moments: my return train was to leave Mpls. at ten-ten that night, and I did not particularly look forward to sitting at the Amtrak station for six hours, but I didn't have the discretionary cash for adventuring about. However after delicious ice cream sundaes (yum, yum, yum!) carbonel
generously offered to take me home, then drop me at the station, though it was not even remotely in her way.
My six hours passed so pleasantly it was emblematic of the entire weekend for me: after the fast pace it was so nice to sit quietly, watch some BBC animal planet documentaries . . . and, to my utter delight, the resident kitting--after doing considerable showing off by leaping to wall and ceiling beams and down again--curled up in my lap to purr. When you realize that I rarely get to see cats except in youtube vids when the news is too fraught, you will understand how that was the perfect close to an excellent weekend.
Thence an equally lovely train trip back, much reading and some writing achieved.
And this morning, I hauled my aged bod to yoga, for a much-needed session. This last couple weeks has been all about the head. Exhilarating, but not good for the bod. I used to be so active, until the arthritis turned all my joints into a constant ache; now exercise is something I have to do, so I've some tricks to keep my lazy ass in gear.
Anyway, it occurred to me as I sweated and stretched that the fundamental good of yoga is to strengthen all those muscles we otherwise do not notice that hold the body upright. Especially someone like me with rotten posture (I've had the child-abuse shoulder hunch all my life, and when young fought against it in dance, constantly hearing, "Shoulders down
, Smith!" The only time I didn't have it was in fencing, oddly enough) it's easy to turtle. But I feel much better and stronger overall when I keep up with the yoga.
So--that, and to my desk to catch up!
A bit of writerly stuff to pass on: an indie writer I met through a fantasy bundle project last summer, C.J. Brightley, has put out a call for fantasy stories of the uplifting sort, and asked me to pass it on. Submission data here
Bad news: I just woke up now. Good news: I slept six hours. Frankly, after this week, I'll take it. A few things off the internet before I head out to meet rushthatspeaks
and Fox and later phi
1. Solaris has put up a hexarchate faction quiz
for Yoon Ha Lee's Machineries of Empire
! I got Shuos
, which is not what I was expecting. Maybe I flunked the trolley question.
2. Girl of the Port
(1930) had almost no internet footprint when I watched it—I could find links to contemporary reviews on Wikipedia, but almost
nothing by anyone closer to me in time. By now it's been reviewed by both Mondo 70
, clearly from the same TCM showing. Honestly, this is pretty cool, even if I wish it were more like discovering and promoting a cult treasure than a thought-provoking trash fire.
3. I have been meaning to link this poem since Juneteenth: David Miller's "Hang Float Bury Burn
." I wish I knew where to nominate non-speculative poems for awards.
- listening to:British Sea Power, "Blackout"
I am crocheting my 9th hat of 25 goal crochet hats. I had to restart it and now it's going a lot better. I've had to redo quite a few of my hats and that's annoying, but that's okay. I feel like I'll be able to crochet enough hats to donate to the local women's shelter in the winter months.
Jon Ossoff lost his Georgia election, 48-52, and while that's very disappointing, there's still some hope from it. That seat has been red for a very long time and the Republicans had to throw a LOT of money to defeat Ossoff, way more than the Democrats did. These elections are not cakewalks and we're going to win sooner or later.( Thank you email from Jon Ossoff )
I've been calling and leaving voicemails for my senators about the Senate health care bill. There have been a few times when my R senator's DC office voicemail was full, so I left a message at his local office instead. When I call my D senator, I leave my thanks and tell her to keep fighting in any way she can.
I slept better last night than I did the night before, and the sneezing and such seem to be gone. I will likely keep taking the various allergy medications for a few days in case what I'm seeing is them working rather than the trigger being gone. I'm still pretty tired, so I will likely try to nap later on. Cordelia and I don't have anything planned today, so I think it will be feasible.
I'm debating Camp NaNo. The main thing against it is that it doesn't tend to motivate me to write more or more often. The social aspect only works for me if I know the people I'm interacting with. Then again, signing up costs me nothing (except a lot of emails from the website).
I realized yesterday that the first two pages of a side project I was working on didn't belong in the story at all. They were necessary world building/scene setting for me but would probably bore readers. I can work in a lot of the details that matter later in the story and in small chunks.
Does anyone know anything about the folks running captiveaudience
? The maintainers on the AO3 collection are nonx
. The former looks like a sock, and I don't recognize the latter. The exchange theme, captivity with either Stockholm Syndrome or Lima Syndrome, sounds like something I'd have fun with, but I suspect it's not likely to be a large exchange. At the moment, it looks more appealing than Fic Corner simply because there's nothing in the Fic Corner tagset that I'd be really enthusiastic about writing. There are a number of things I could write and/or request, but I don't know if I'd enjoy writing any of them.
I suspect that part of the problem is that the things I'd be comfortable offering to write are all kind of old and not necessarily the sorts of things that people think of first when signing up for exchanges. There are often specific requests that are things I'd be comfortable writing, but without the specifics, I don't dare offer because there's a lot of those canons that I don't feel I know well enough or have time/access to review properly. The things I can generally offer always have way more offers than requests.
I am not good at political predictions. And I hope I'm wrong about this. But I don't see how we can keep the ACA.
I mean, this is why Republicans have been swallowing Trump's shit, right? For the Supreme Court seats and the right to pass this enormous tax cut? Isn't this what they sold the republic for? If they don't pass it now, wouldn't that require them to decide to have given it all up for nothing? Wouldn't they be taking a huge personal hit to their own opinion of themselves, not to mention their own taxes, and their own donors, for no other reason than to help millions of people they've never personally met and would probably not like if they did meet? Humans are not super good at doing that kind of thing; the richer the worse, the more powerful the worse
, and I just don't really see how I can expect these particular rich old powerful motherfuckers to transcend the limitations of their species at this moment in time.
Gosh, I've not done one of these for a while...The Good Immigrant
edited by Nikesh Shukla
This is a series of essays about the experience of being an ethnic minority in the UK. A lot of the ideas were things I'd encountered before, but all presented thoughtfully and engagingly, so it would be a really good starting point for someone who hadn't thought much about race relations to introduce themselves to some of the common ideas and experiences. But there was also a lot that was new to me. Thoughts about representation and tokenism in popular media, about the relationships between generations with different levels of integration, about colourism and casteism, and about the impact on ethnic minority children of growing up learning that stories are about white people.Seed to Harvest
(Wild Seed, Mind of my Mind, Clay's Ark & Patternmaster) by Octavia Butler
This is a collection of four of the five Patternist novels (the fifth is set in the same universe, but I understand doesn't include any of the same characters, and is disliked by the author). These are all exciting and easy to read novels, but other than that and the plot thread that runs between them, they have surprisingly little in common. Wild Seed is alt-history, Mind of my Mind is a near future story about psychic mutants, Clay's Ark is gritty apocalyptic stuff, and Patternmaster is in a distant future that feels more like fantasy than sf. They're all great though - lighter than Kindred, but still packed with ideas about society and hierarchy.Starting Strength
by Mark Rippetoe
This book has a phenomenal amount of detail about the anatomy involved in five major lifts - the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, and power clean. A fairly tedious read, but one which I hope will make me less likely to injure myself.Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity
by Fr James Martin SJ
I really like Fr James Martin, and his "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything" is one of the best books about life and religion that I've ever read. This is a short book in two parts; first an essay based on a talk about how the Church hierarchy and LGBT Catholics can heal the divide between the two groups, and secondly a series of suggestions of bible passages and questions that LGBT Catholics and their allies might find useful in prayer and reflection. I liked the essay, although more because it echoed a lot of my own thoughts back at me than because I learned much from it. I think that the more traditionalist members of the church could benefit a lot from reading it and taking it to heart. I think that most LGBT people, especially those who aren't Catholic, would find the suggestion that they too need to show respect, compassion and sensitivity towards those in the hierarchy who have hurt and oppressed them quite frustrating. I have a lot of sympathy with that, but ultimately I think that Fr Martin is correct, both because we are called to love all our neighbours, not just those whom it's easy to love, and because I don't think we will see change any other way.
Definitely not standing:
Jo Swinson, Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Tom Brake, Tim Farron, Alistair Carmichael, Norman LambProbably not standing:
Stephen Lloyd, Wera Hobhouse, Christine JardineProbably standing:
Ed DaveyDefinitely standing:
You'll note that Norman Lamb has moved from probably standing to definitely not standing. He announced this with rather petulant article in the Grauniad
, in which (among other things)
he proclaimed the Lib Dems' second referendum policy as toxic. Now I agree, it is
toxic. "First we'll negotiate brexit, then we'll set up a referendum, then we'll campaign against the deal we ourselves negotiated!" is an utterly ridiculous
policy. The problem is, it was only in
the sodding manifesto due to the insistence of people on the rump brexity wing of the party, of which Norman Lamb is definitely one. This was as far as the rest of the party, who just wanted "we will stop brexit" to be the manifesto position, could be dragged. Policy making by committee often comes up with soggy centrist compromises, and often that's a good thing and satisfies most people, but sometimes it's patently rubbish. This time was the latter. What I don't get is Captain Brexit blaming the rest of the party for it. Well, I do. He'd like us to embrace brexit. And that is not going to happen.
Anyway, the rest of the article sticks the boot in to members in various other ways, and alludes to, but doesn't actually acknowledge, the problems autistic people have with the idea of Norman as a leader, and frankly, just makes me glad he's not standing. At least he has the self-knowledge to know he's not right to lead the party as it currently is, even if he declares it in a rather Skinnerian way.
So the only likely runner at this point undeclared is Ed Davey. And there will be siren
voices whispering in his ear, saying:
Don't stand, Ed. Leadership elections are expensive, Ed. They are divisive and set party members up against each other, ed. It'd be easier all round just to crown Vince, Ed. You don't want the hassle, Ed. The party doesn't want the hassle, Ed. Lets just have a coronation, Ed.
To which I say, pish, tosh, bunkum, bollocks, and bullshit.
Yes, leadership elections are
divisive, and do
set members up against each other, and sometimes even cause resentments. Do you know what's even more divisive, and causes even more resentments? Not letting Lib Dems have democracy. Not letting us scrutinise each candidate and come to a decision on merit. Not having hustings at which we can put questions to candidates and examine their views and records and promises. Imposing a leader on us without us having a say. I can guarantee you that while a leadership election might be divisive, it's nowhere near
as divisive as a coronation.
Now, Ed Davey told one of the BBC politics correspondents (I think Norman Smith)
the other day that he would declare whether or not he was standing "on Thursday or Friday". He didn't declare yesterday. I'm hoping he declares he's standing today.
And if you'd told me last month I'd be crossing my fingers for Ed Davey to run in a leadership election, I'd have thought you insane in the membrane, crazy insane, got no brain. Just goes to show what a funny old world it is...
Prompt: "Shuos pranks."
with apologies to the black squirrels of Stanford University campus
Jedao and Ruo had set up shop at the edge of one of the campus gardens, the one with the carp pond and the carefully maintained trees. Rumor had it that some of the carp were, in addition to being over a hundred years old, outfitted with surveillance gear. Like most Shuos cadets, Jedao and Ruo would, if questioned, laugh off the rumors while secretly believing in them wholeheartedly--at least the bit about surveillance gear. Jedao had argued that the best place to hide what they were doing was in plain sight. After all, who would be so daft as to run a prank right next to surveillance?
"Lovely day, isn't it?" Ruo said brightly.
Jedao winced. "Not so loud," he said. His head was still pounding after last night's excesses, and the sunlight wasn't helping. Why did he keep letting Ruo talk him into things? It wasn't just that Ruo was really good in bed. He had this way of making incredibly risky things sound fun. Going out drinking? In itself, not that bad. Playing a drinking game with unlabeled bottles of possibly-alcohol-possibly-something-else stolen from Security's hoard of contraband? Risky. Some of those hallucinations had been to die for, though, especially when he started seeing giant robots in the shape of geese.
Fortunately, this latest idea wasn't that risky. Probably. Besides, of the many things that the other cadets had accused Jedao of, low risk tolerance wasn't one of them.
"Not my fault you can't hold your drink," Ruo said, even more brightly.
"I'm going to get you one of these days," Jedao muttered.
Ruo's grin flashed in his dark brown face. "More like you'll lose the latest bet and--" He started describing what he'd do to Jedao in ear-burning detail.
At last one of the other first-years, puzzled by what Jedao and Ruo were doing by the carp pond with a pair of fishing poles, approached. Jedao recognized them: Meurran, who was good at fixing guns despite their terrible aim, and who had a glorious head of wildly curling hair. "Security's not going to approve of you poaching the carp," Meurran said.
"Oh, this isn't for the carp," Ruo said. He flicked his fishing pole, and the line with its enticing nut snaked out toward one of the trees.
Meurran gave Ruo a funny look. "Ruo," they said, "the fish are in the opposite direction."
"Please," Jedao said, "who cares about the fish? No one has anything to fear from the fish. That's just nonsense."
"All right," Meurran said, sounding distinctly unimpressed, "then what?"
Come on, Jedao thought, the nut is right there...
As if on cue, a black squirrel darted down from the tree, then made for the nut.
Ruo tugged the nut just out of reach.
The black squirrel looked around, then headed for the nut again.
"Oh, isn't that adorable?" Meurran said.
"Don't be fooled!" Ruo said as he guided the squirrel in a figure-eight through the grass. "Why would the commandant be so stupid as to rely on carp, which can't even leave their pond?"
Meurran glanced involuntarily at the pond, where two enormous carp were lazily circling near the surface, as if the carp, in fact, had a habit of oozing out onto the land and spying on lazy cadets. "You're saying the squirrels--?"
Ruo continued to cause the squirrel to chase after the nut. "It makes sense, doesn't it? Everyone thinks the black squirrels are the cutest. They're even featured in the recruitment literature. Damnably clever piece of social engineering if you ask me."
Meurran was starting to look persuaded in spite of themselves.
Meanwhile, as Ruo made his case, Jedao leaned back and studied the squirrel with a frown. The local population of black squirrels was mostly tame to begin with and had proven to be easy to train with the aid of treats. (Ruo had made Jedao do most of this, "because you're the farm boy.") But while Ruo and Meurran argued about squirrel population dynamics, Jedao caught a slight flash from behind the squirrel's eyes--almost like that of a camera?
He opened his mouth to interrupt.
The squirrel made an odd convulsing motion, and the light flashed again, this time directly into Jedao's eyes.
Jedao closed his mouth, and kept his thoughts to himself.
I did an essay for Tor.com, The Beauty of Physical Writing
, on fountain pens! There's a photo of some of my fountain pens over there.
From left to right, for the curious: Waterman 52V, Webster Four-Star, Scriptorium Pens Master Scrivener in Red Stardust, Conway Stewart Churchill in Red Stardust, Aurora 75th Anniversary, Nakaya Naka-ai in aka-tamenuri, Wahl-Eversharp Doric in Kashmir with #3 adjustable nib, and Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight.
Meanwhile, I swear I am writing flash fic right now. This caffeine is taking an unholy amount of time to kick in...
Senate Republicans have finally released what appears to be the draft text of H.R. 1628, the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.”
It’s 142 pages, and to be honest, I’m having a hard time deciphering it all. (Not a lawyer or a legislator.) But here are some things that stood out at me…
Elimination of the individual and employer mandate. (Pages 10-11)
Tax repeals on medications, health insurance, health savings accounts, etc. (Pages 25-29)
This includes the “Repeal of Tanning Tax” on page 29.
The continuing attack on abortion rights.
“Disallowance of small employer health insurance credit for plan which includes coverage for abortion.” (Pages 8-9)
“No Federal funds provided from a program referred to in this subsection that is considered direct spending for any year may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity,” which is then defined as an entity providing abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. (Page 35)
According to a USA Today analysis, this bill would:
- Reduce or eliminate most subsidies for individuals and families
- “Eliminate the ACA’s requirement that insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what younger customers pay for the same coverage. Instead, those in their 60s could be charged five times as much, or more.”
- Eliminate penalties to large employers who choose not to offer health insurance. (Elimination of the employer mandate.)
- Make it easier to drop coverage for things like maternity care and mental health issues.
CNN points out that the bill would also:
- Defund Planned Parenthood for a year.
- Require coverage of preexisting conditions. However, it also lets states “waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover… This would allow insurers to offer less comprehensive policies, so those with pre-existing conditions may not have all of their treatments covered.”
A PBS article says the bill would:
- Cap and reduce Medicaid funding, and allow states to add a work requirement for “able-bodied” recipients of Medicaid.
- Provide $2 billion to help states fight opioid addiction
Fox News, unsurprisingly, focused on what they saw as positive in the proposed bill:
- It preserves health care for people with preexisting conditions (with the potential exceptions noted in the CNN bullets, above), and allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26.
- It expands health care savings accounts.
- It provides a short-term stabilization fund to help struggling insurance markets.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their report on the senate bill next week. The CBO estimated that the House-passed bill would result in 26 million fewer insured Americans by 2026, and would cut the budget by $119 billion over the same time. (Source)
Nothing here is particularly shocking. I’m glad I and my family can’t be kicked off our insurance for our various preexisting conditions…though some of those conditions might no longer be covered, which sucks. It would hurt the poor, the elderly, women, and the mentally ill, among others. None of my readers will be shocked to hear that I think this is another step backward. The ACA was far from perfect — it’s like a patient with a broken leg, but instead of trying to fix the broken leg, we’ll just throw them through a woodchipper, because hey, it’s cheaper!
It looks like this may be a tight vote, which would make this an excellent time to call your Senator.
Please keep any comments civil. I’m angry about this too, but I don’t have the time or the spoons to moderate fights and nastiness today. (Which probably means I shouldn’t have posted this in the first place, but I never claimed to be that bright…)
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
There's something about hot weather that makes me extra-aware of my size. (that something might be sweat). I feel myself balloon, every bus seat another recrimination about the width of my hips, every pair of bike shorts under a skirt a pointed comment about my thighs, every electrical bill a sign of my weakness (because running acs is weak, and if I wasn't fat, I wouldn't be uncomfortable, and I could just sit in my 80 degree house and be fine with it.)
I don't even dream of making friends with my body, though I'm still trying to negotiate some sort of truce. Why are my rules for myself os much different than my rules for everyone else? For that matter, why do I think of them as inflexible rules for me and preach kindness and self-compassion for everyone else?
So I have been... not exactly enjoying Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, but getting a lot out of it.
One thing that has become clear is that a big chunk of American history looks like this:
White People: *do appalling things to Black people*
Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God, this thing we've done is unforgivable.
Less Philosophical-Type White People: Oh, come on. How can something this profitable be wrong?
Black People: Hey, cut that out.
Philosophical-Type White People: OH NO SEE THEY'RE ANGRY I SAID THEY'D BE ANGRY OH NOES!
Less Philosophical-Type White People: Shit.
White People: *do MORE appalling things to Black people to try to reduce their power and ability to take revenge*
Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God...
Lather, rinse, repeat.
It's not funny, but it is kind of amazing how early this showed up-- both the stereotype of the Angry Black Person and the alternate stereotype of the Supernaturally Loving and Forgiving Black Person-- the White people's fear and hope in the face of White guilt. None of which considers the possibility that Black people might possibly have some priority other than White people, that Black people might be more interested in living their lives, recovering from trauma, and, I don't know, writing books and petting dogs and taking long thoughtful walks on a cloudy day.
White Americans have never been good at not centering ourselves in the narrative. But this particular manifestation is particularly ugly, because real people get hurt for the sake of protection from figments of projected guilt. And... gods damn it.
I think I'm having allergy problems right now. I started sneezing mid-afternoon yesterday, and by evening, my nose was running, and my left eye was watering constantly. No idea at all why my right eye is clear, but I'm glad of that much. I got about three hours of sleep last night because, any time I moved, I'd start sneezing and/or desperately need to blow my nose. (I'm not sure Scott got much sleep either.) Basically, shifting around makes me feel an itching burn in my sinuses that's really unpleasant. I've gone through an entire box of tissues so far.
I may have to take my box of tissues and a bag to throw the used ones into and vacate the house this afternoon because I'm pretty sure that the stuff the cleaning lady uses will make things much, much worse. But I can't imagine what I'd do with myself for five hours, especially if it's raining.
I'm trying to think of anything that changed in the house yesterday, and I'm coming up completely empty. I also didn't eat or drink anything different or use different toiletries.
My anniversary present for Scott has arrived. I got him some bluetooth earbuds. His old ones died, and he needs them for listening to podcasts and audiobooks while doing things like mowing the lawn.
Cordelia has her volunteer training for working at the library this afternoon. I need to prod her a bit to make sure she actually eats something before she goes. She'll also have to leave earlier than she wants to be because of the bus detour (the training is at the Traverwood branch).
Scott will be going to bed early tonight because he'll need to get up around midnight to go to Top of the Park and get Cordelia. She has asked the friends she's going with if any of them can give her a ride home but hasn't gotten any answers yet. I offered to spring for a cab, but Cordelia balked at the expense. I don't know, though, $11 for Scott not to have to get up in the middle of the night? Sounds like a bargain to me.
I managed nearly 700 words on my NPT story yesterday. I still don't know exactly where it's going, though, and I'm a bit over 3000 words. This does not bode well. Then again, endings often come up unexpectedly and smack me in the face, so maybe I'll find the end soon.
- Universal Basic Income has some unexpected benefits
- For a given definition of "unexpected" which includes "not very" for anyone who has actually looked into the concept
- miss_s_b | A reminder of the contents of my sticky post, for the hard of thinking
- I've been getting a few new readers/commenters recently, so decided to be helpful to some of the commenters who don't seem to have quite grasped how I like to run things around here.
- Never mind the headline, feel the content - an email from LDHQ
- When I saw the subject line of this, I groaned. "No mention of “tens of thousands” immigration promise – Lib Dems". But then I read the content. "The vilification of immigrants by the Conservative Party is an utter disgrace – these are students who help fund our universities, doctors and teachers who help us and our children, and entrepreneurs who help grow our economy. Theresa May must drop the target and instead recognise their contribution to Britain.” - holy shit, you guys! I mean, that's a GOOD immigration comment. Holy shit!
- ... And then came the second email from LDHQ
- And I started thinking, "you keep THIS up, Mr Davey, and you might be challenging RON for my first pref on the leadership ballot"
- miss_s_b | Is £70,000 a year rich?
- tldr: yes, and no. Some great comments on this one too.
Apparently it's the time of year for reviving old hobbies. I recently got to the top of the waiting list to join the London Gay Men's Chorus, so I'm going to be starting rehearsals with them in September. I'm a bit nervous about this, because singing in public is scary, but also really excited. I'm switching my piano lessons to singing ones for the time being, which should help with the nerves, and having external things to practice for will hopefully mean that I'm a more assiduous student than the last time.
Yesterday I also went climbing for the first time in years. I used to climb quite a bit when I was a teenager, and then about five years ago I tried going with emperor
as a day trip from Ardgour, and found it depressingly difficult. Since then my strength to weight ratio has improved significantly, so last night I had a much easier time hauling myself off the ground. I was still distinctly conscious that the kind of strength you need in order to lift a heavy thing and then lower it five times before putting it down and having a break to recover is quite different from the kind of sustained effort you need to put in climbing a wall. I started with what was probably the easiest route on the wall, and then gradually increased in difficulty until I found a couple of routes that I made it up but just barely, and a couple more that I couldn't manage, but which are now on my target list for next time.
Have stayed at completely different places in the last three days: Corral Creek Cabins was in the mountains right by Kern River, then Sequoia Riverfront Cabins was a weird place which WAS right by a river, not across the road from one, and its front desk was a general store about a mile away, and now in a beachfront resort in San Simeon. My brother has been driving us a lot. We've been radio-surfing a lot.
Tomorrow we'll head to Santa Cruz, and hit up Monterey on the way, and after a couple of nights in Santa Cruz, we'll go to San Francisco.
I'm really liking the beachfront place. The front office gave us two rooms, one with a view of the ocean downstairs, and one upstairs with a fireplace. And I snagged the downstairs immediately because I wanted to work at a desk with a view of the sea. It's not been working, of course, because I spent most of the evening texting with A instead of working. But hope spring eternal?? We don't have to check out until noon anyway.
Dear fellow caregivers for toddlers: I would love advice on two distinct things.
1) What makes a good potty? The number of variations is overwhelming. We want something pretty simple, I think: looks like a toilet, no branded characters, doesn't play music, sits on the floor, is basically a bucket with a seat. In the more distant future we'll need one that folds up or goes over the toilet seat or something, for when we're on the road, but right now this is just for Kit to examine and contemplate and get used to the idea of.
2) Like most 18-month-olds, Kit is full of energy. Unlike most 18-month-olds, Kit can barely walk unassisted and can't run or jump. They've only just started climbing around on the most low-level playground equipment and are very uncertain; they can get up five steps to the top of the baby slide but haven't yet sorted out how to slide down it. When they can't burn off all that energy, they get very agitated and fussy. How do we help them get something like vigorous exercise on the weekends? So far my only idea is to take their walker wagon to the park so they can toddle along at a fairly fast clip for longer distances than our apartment allows—there's a good smoothly paved straightaway there—but that's a pain because the sidewalk between here and there is very uneven and narrow, so I'd have to figure out some way to carry the (heavy, bulky, non-folding) wagon while pushing Kit in the stroller, and that may surpass my own physical limitations. Maybe a lightweight folding medical-style walker? Is that a ridiculous expense for a kid who probably won't need it anymore by the end of the summer? And what do we do when it's not park weather? The nearest real play space for kids is the Brooklyn Children's Museum and it's kind of a haul from here—two buses, and you have to fold the stroller on the bus. They can only crawl around our apartment for so long.
EDIT: We did have a great dance party to the B-52s on Sunday—their pure sincerity is a perfect match for toddler sincerity, plus a good beat—so I should remember that's an option for indoor days. Friends on Twitter and elsewhere also suggested walking while holding Kit's hands/arms; playing follow-the-leader movement games ("Stretch WAAAAAY up high! Now bend WAAAAAY down low!") or doing movement to songs; setting up a tumbling mat and big foam blocks to climb on if we can get some that fit Kit's room (need to measure the open floor space); getting a cheap flimsy lightweight doll stroller
to use as a walker in the park.
I'd really appreciate any suggestions on either or both fronts!
Happy solstice! I was indeed awake all night. I'm still awake. Sleep or no sleep, however, sometimes a person has to yell about a movie on the internet.Girl of the Port
(1930), directed for RKO by Bert Glennon, is a pre-Code curiosity if ever I encountered one: a hopelessly confused adventure-melodrama-romance between a tough-cookie showgirl and a shell-shocked veteran set in the South Seas islands, which is part of its problem. Its title is technically relevant in that the heroine is the only female character of any prominence, but thematically it would have done much better to be released under its production title of The Fire-Walker
, after the original short story by John Russell. Story elements include World War I, half a dozen nervous breakdowns, British tourists, mixology, untranslated Chinese, institutional racism, surprise aristocracy, the climactic if no longer eponymous firewalk, and the whole thing's over in 65 minutes, so it gets the plot in with a crowbar. There are really interesting things in it and there are really frustrating things in it and they are not arranged in any separable fashion. I am not sorry to have seen it, but I do not expect anyone else to feel the same.
It opens with title cards, setting the zeitgeist of the Lost Generation: "Not all the casualties of war are in hospital cots. There are wounds of the spirit as lasting as those of the flesh, but less pitied, and little understood. Few know the dark fears brought back from the battlefront. Even fewer know that those fears may be cast out . . . but only by the mind that harbors them." The sequence that follows startled me; I keep forgetting that while the Production Code did its best to reduce the realities of sex, race, and gender to cartoons, it also did a lasting disservice to violence—not the two-fisted pantomime kind where bullets leave no marks and people's eyes close gently when they die, but the kind people should be scared of. We see it in the barbed wire trenches of World War I, where a battalion of British soldiers is getting ready to go over the top. It's cold, dark, ghostly. A young officer is trying to reassure an enlisted man even younger than himself, a hollow-eyed boy whose head is already bandaged bloodily under his tin hat. Five in the morning is zero hour; he re-checks his watch, takes a deep breath, and blows the signal. All together, his men call out their watchword, "God and the right!" and scramble up over the sandbags into no man's land. Their German counterparts affirm, "Gott mit uns!" and do the same. There's little sense of strategy on the British side, just a loose line of men ordered into hell with rifles and nerve.1
They walk into a nest of German flamethrowers. It's horrifying. At first they don't see the danger, decoyed by the smoke and the disorienting concussions of the mortar barrage covering the German advance; then it's too late to get out of range. There is something uncanny and inhuman in the flamethrower troops with their deep-sea gear and the long, long streams of fire they send snaking out before them, licking and curling as if they were living and hungry things. The young officer stands his ground with his service pistol, trying to take the flamethrowers out, but soon he's dry-firing and then a stutter of enemy machine-guns takes him in the leg and the arm; he tumbles into a shell-hole alongside the feebly flailing body of a fellow soldier with some obliquely shot but grisly makeup effects on his face—burned, blinded. He keeps crying about the fire, about his eyes. With his helmet knocked off, we can see the officer's face under its stiff tousle of dark hair, terrified and suddenly, desperately young. "Stick close to me," he said confidently, just a few minutes ago in the safety of the trench, "and don't forget—those Fritzes are nothing but men." But fire is more than men, fire can eat men alive, and it's doing just that all around him. Everywhere he looks, the white-hot hissing light of the flamethrowers coming on and the bodies of men he knew burning, or worse, stumbling through the inferno, screaming. He's trapped. He can't get out. Suddenly he's screaming, too, high and hoarse and raw: "Oh, God, don't let the fire get me—don't let the fire get me—oh, God!" And scene.
It's a harsh opening and the viewer may be forgiven for feeling a little whiplashed when the action jumps years and genres to the rainy night in Suva, Fiji when footloose, all-American Josie (Sally O'Neil, a mostly silent actress new to me) blows out of the storm and into MacDougal's Bamboo Bar. Late of Coney Island, she fast-talks her way into a bartending job with theatrical sass, booting the current barman and introducing herself to the appreciative all-male clientele like the carnival talker of her own attraction: "I don't need no assistance, thanks. My father was a bouncer in the Tenth Ward. My mother was a lion tamer with Ringling. I was weaned on raw meat and red pepper. Boo!" She's petite and kitten-faced, brash and blonde as an undercranked Joan Blondell; her dialogue is a glorious compendium of pop culture and pure, nasal Brooklyn slang. She refers to her pet canary alternately as "John McCormack" and "Jenny Lind," derides a hoary pick-up line as "old when Fanny was a girl's name," and deflects an incipient attack of sentiment with the admonition not "to go . . . getting all Jolson about it." A handsy customer gets the brush-off "What are you, a chiropractor? You rub me the wrong way." When she finds another new patron passed out face-first on a table, their exchange as he groggily props himself up gives a good idea of the script's overall mix of the snappy and the sententious:"Who in blazes are you?"
"I'm coming up to date. Usually at this stage I'm seeing Jonah's whale."
"Snap out of it, bozo. Ain't you glad you don't see pink elephants?"
"Lassie, I drink so's I
can see them. They crowd out other things. Four fingers, please."
Asked for the color of his money, the man produces a military decoration: thin and scruffy in an old collarless shirt, no longer quite so boyish with the haunted lines in his face, it's the young officer of the opening scenes (Reginald Sharland, also new to me; he had an eleven-film career between 1927 and 1934 and by turns he reminded me of Richard Barthelmess, Peter Capaldi, and Dick Van Dyke, which is a hell of a thing to say about anyone). He has shell-shock you can see from space. When the bar pianist starts tinkling a jaunty improv on "Tipperary," he recites the chorus in a kind of bitter trance, tellingly omitting the last line about his heart. Josie tries to break in by guessing his rank; when she reaches "Captain," he jolts to his feet like a snapped elastic, giving an instinctive salute and then a haggard smile: "Clever, don't you think yourself?" In a welcome gesture toward nuance, he's fucked up, but not totally pathetic. He's known as Whiskey Johnny, after the stuff he drinks more thirstily than water and the song he'll perform in exchange for free glasses of it, especially when egged on by white-suited local bully McEwen (Mitchell Lewis, wait for it). This sort of setup is usually the cue for public humiliation, but Johnny can actually sing and he grins round at the room while he does it, a slight, shabby, definitely not sober man, drawing his audience in all the same. I had a girl and her name was Lize. Whiskey, Johnny! Oh, she put whiskey in her pies. Whiskey for my Johnny!
He balks only when McEwen presses him to sing the last verse, the one that Johnny nervously protests "isn't done amongst gentlemen, is it? Not when ladies are present."2
In response, McEwen insults Josie, Johnny insults McEwen, words escalate to fists escalate to McEwen pulling a knife, Johnny grabbing a chair, and Josie throwing a bottle that smashes the nearest lamp. The oil ignites as soon as it hits the floor, a quick mushroom of flame spurting up right in Johnny's face. He was unsteady but combative a moment ago; in the face of the fire, he screams like a child. "Oh, God, the fire! Don't let the fire get me! Oh, God, let me out of here!" A few voices call after him as he blunders jaggedly away through the crowd, plainly seeing nothing but Flanders and flames, but most dismiss him as a "ruddy coward . . . not worth stopping, with his tail between his legs." The next morning, flinchingly hungover on the beat-up chaise longue in the back room of the bar, he tells Josie the story of how he won his medal, the sole survivor of his company decorated for bravery for cowering in a shell-hole "watching the others crisp up and die—hearing them die—seeing the fire draw nearer, nearer, seeing it all round me—oh, God, don't let the fire get me! Don't let the fire get me!" He can recover a wry self-possession in quieter moments, but he "can't face fire" or even the memory of it: the terror is always just below the surface. McEwen has only to flick a cigarette into a bucket of gasoline to bust him back down to a shuddering wreck, trying to hide in the furniture, chokingly gulping the drink he just swore he wouldn't touch.
Josie's solution is unorthodox but unhesitating: she has him move into her cabin. McEwen can't get at him there. House rules are they don't sleep together and Johnny doesn't drink. As the intermittent intertitles tell us, "Half her time she saw that men got liquor at Macdougal's . . . the other half, she saw that one man didn't!" After eight weeks, their relationship is a comfortable but charged mixture of emotional intimacy and unacknowledged sexual tension and I think accidentally sort of kinky. Each night when she leaves for work at the bar, she locks Johnny in—by now at his own request—so that he can't wander off in search of booze despite his best intentions. He refers to her as his "doctor, nurse, pal, and jailor—and savior, you know. That is, if a chap who didn't deserve it ever had one." His hands shake badly when he kneels to put her shoes on for her, but he insists on doing it anyway, just as he insists on helping with the washing-up even when they lose more plates that way. She treats him practically, not like something broken or breakable; she calls him "Bozo" because she doesn't like "Whiskey Johnny" and he doesn't like "Captain." Eventually, diffidently, he introduces himself as "Jameson," at which Josie shoots him a skeptical look: "I've seen that name on bottles." She's fallen for him by now, which the audience could see coming from the moment she deflated his romantic sob story of a contemptuous fiancée who betrayed him with his best friend with the tartly dismissive "What a dim bulb she
turned out to be," but she keeps a self-protective distance, correctly recognizing that she's given him a breather, not a miracle, and in the meantime he's imprinted on her like a battle-fatigued duckling. When he declares his love, she warns him, "Now don't go mixing up love and gratitude, 'cause they ain't no more alike than champagne and Ovaltine." They end up in a clinch, of course, and a jubilant Johnny promises that they're going to "lick that fear—together," waving her off to work like a happy husband already. The viewer with a better idea of dramatic structure vs. runtime waits for the third-act crisis to come home to roost.
All of this is an amazing demonstration of the durability of hurt/comfort over the decades and to be honest it's pretty great of its type, even if occasionally over the top even by the standards of idfic. Both O'Neil and Sharland's acting styles are mixed somewhere between early sound naturalism and the full-body expression of silent film—O'Neil acquires a vocal quaver in moments of emotion and Sharland employs some highly stylized gestures in his breakdowns, though there's nothing old-fashioned or stagy about his screams—but since they are generally in the same register at the same time, it works fine. They make a sympathetically matching couple with their respective fears of being unlovable, Josie who bluntly admits that she "ain't a nice girl," Johnny convinced he's a coward and a failure, "finished." Some of their best romantic moments are not declarative passion but shy happiness, the actors just glowing at one another. The trouble is that what I have been describing is the best version of the film, the one without the radioactive levels of racism that start at surprisingly upsettingly high
and escalate to Jesus, was D.W. Griffith ghosting this thing?
and essentially make it impossible for me to recommend this movie to anyone without qualifiers galore.( Perhaps you have a little something yet to learn about native blood, milord. )
I do not know how closely Girl of the Port
resembles its source story, which can be found in Russell's Far Wandering Men
(1929). Since he seems to have specialized in South Seas adventures, I assume some of the racism is baked in; I also wouldn't be surprised if some of it was introduced in the process of adaptation. I can get his earlier collection Where the Pavement Ends
(1919) on Project Gutenberg, but Far Wandering Men
isn't even in the local library system, so it may take me a little while to find out. Until then, I don't know what else I can tell you. "Frustrating" may have been an understatement. I don't want Sharland, O'Neil, and lines like "There you go, full of ambition. You have your youth, your health, and now you want shelves" to have been wasted on this film, but I fear that they may. Duke Kahanamoku certainly was. Mitchell Lewis, by the way, is most famous these days for his uncredited three-line role as the Captain of the Winkie Guard in The Wizard of Oz
(1939)—I didn't recognize him as such in Girl of the Port
, but once I made the connection, the deep voice and the strongly marked brows were unmistakable. I like him a lot better when he's green. This damaged recovery brought to you by my stronger backers at Patreon
1. And kilts, which means they must be one of the Highland regiments, but in the chaos of battle I did not get a good look at the tartan.
2. Seriously? I've got like five versions of "Whiskey Johnny"/"Whiskey Is the Life of Man"/"John Rise Her Up" on my iTunes and I wouldn't call any of them racy. It's a halyard chantey. What have I been missing all these years?
3. Once safely outside MacDougal's, Kalita spits on the coin in disgust and then throws it away in the rain. I really think the script is trying its best with him, but because even his positive scenes rely on stereotypes, I credit most of his extant dimensions to Kahanamoku.
4. With a slur I've never heard before: "That little tabby over there . . . T-A-B-B-Y, tabby. The girl that's trying to make you!" From this context I assume it means a gold digger or a tart, but if it's real slang rather than minced for purposes of the Hays Code, I don't think it widely survived.
5. We are also, presumably, supposed to cheer plucky Josie for finding a way to turn the villain's heritage against him: before she agrees to his blackmail, she makes him swear to keep his end of the bargain on something he won't be able to cheat, not God or his honor, but the carved shell charm from his Fijian mother that he wears beneath his European shirts and suits, the hidden and telltale truth of him. "Swear on this Hindu hocus-pocus," she challenges, gripping it in her white hand. "Go on. That'll hold a Malay." Native superstition out of nowhere wins the day. Looking suddenly shaken, he swears.
- thinking about:
- listening to:Bellowhead, "Whiskey Is the Life of Man"