Good morning, everyone. Ready for some righteous rage? Let's do this thing! Here is today's video.
Simple enough, right? :) And now, those links...
I was listening to NPR a few days ago when the following article came on: Does Money Make You Mean? Listen to it all the way through. Done? Okay.
The kicker for me was that even though the 'rich' player in the Monopoly game saw all the evidence that the game was rigged in their favor--only because they were lucky enough to win the coin toss, they still accredited their victory to their game-playing skills. Even Forbes grudgingly agrees to the study's conclusions that being wealthy makes people mean. And that just about says everything about Prosperity Doctrine that you ever needed to know. Those articles also gut the myth of Trickle Down Economics. But does the 'coin toss' really have that much of an effect long term? I mean, isn't the possibility of upward mobility the whole point of the American Dream? Read this: Rich Kid, Poor Kid: For 30 Years, Baltimore Study Tracked Who Gets Ahead. (The funny thing about that article is, even when Americans admit that reality indicates the American Dream is a fucking myth we still can't stop ourselves from coming up with that one in a million example. Nor can we seeming stop saying that "Hard work and traditional family" is a recipe for winning the American Dream lotto.) Guess what? Now that the income gap has widened to ever more drastic proportions in this country--that means upward mobility has been decreased with it. It's even harder for that one in a million ring-toss win.
It's time to abandon the bullshit Victorian idea that the rich are just better people and deserving of massive wealth as the expense of the poor. We need to ditch the concept that punishing the poor is a good thing. Negative reinforcement doesn't work. There are years and years of psychological studies that prove it. It's time to tax the rich. It's time to force corporations to pay their taxes. These two groups are the reason we don't have enough government funding for social programs.
The thing that made me feel a little better about all this is the knowledge that the rich can develop empathy. It's just difficult. And we really need to stop telling ourselves the myth that if we work hard, be good, follow the rules the beneficent Capitalism Fairy™ will reward us. Capitalism sucks. It's a vile system that requires oppression in much the same way Feudalism does. It's time to try something different. What that will look like, I don't know at the moment. But I think it's time for the SFF community to start punting ideas out there. That is a way we can make change. Hell, if Star Trek can cause the invention of a flip phone, why not? Governmental systems are far more important.
 For the record, the idea that God rewards the just with wealth isn't a new one. There is evidence (recorded in the Bible, even) that this nonsense existed from the start of Christianity. And before other groups get all righteous, I'd be willing to bet that attitude has existed since the first day someone decided there was a big shiny entity somewhere that could change the fate of the common person and explain why rich people were rich.
 Frankly, I don't understand why we're still having conversations about whether that's a thing. Particularly after the state of Kansas crashed and burned.
 It's been a long time since I was a Christian, but I seem to recall a Bible passage about how getting into the Kingdom of Heaven was more difficult for rich people.
Happy Monday, y'all. I hope everything is going well for you so far and that the week ahead brings wonderful things. And now for some righteous anger to add fuel to that caffeine you've consumed to get your day started. (Or to take place of the caffeine you didn't. ;))
Confession time: even though I marched last year, I didn't attend the Women's March this year. My new novel is due to the editor next month and I opted to stay home and work on it. Since it's a Feminist SF novel, I figured it was appropriate for me to focus on getting the work done vs. being seen at a march. Mind you, both acts are important--and American women, if you march you have to vote. Holy crap, do we need you to vote. (And remember that local elections are more important than presidential elections. They'll directly affect you and yours.) Anyway, I feel a little guilty about that and perhaps I shouldn't, but I'm an ex-Catholic. It goes with the territory. In any case...I don't own a pussy hat. Hey, I think they're cute. I'd wear one in a heartbeat if it were a color that didn't instantly feel more than a bit racist. And then there's the other problem: not all women have vaginas. Those who don't have voices that matter too, and in fact, the movement can benefit greatly from trans women's perspectives. That is the biggest reason of all for not selecting a vagina as the symbol of the women's movement. None of us are free as long as one of our sisters isn't free. Remember that.
And now...the video portion of our morning. :)
There's been another dust-up as it were in SFF circles. File 770 does a better job of reporting the mess than I could. (Well, better in that I'm not interested in wasting the time typing it all out.) That said, one of the things that stuck with me was, once again, this statement that "We feel it is time to return to SFF stories, films, shows and games that allow the reader/viewer/player to escape the real world - as it used to be." Alexandra Rowland had an excellent response to those last five words. She used one of the best examples possible to make her point: maybe the reason you're not experiencing the "wonder" in SF any longer is because you've grown up?
Reading is an interactive experience. This is a big part of what makes literature an art form. Writers don't get to dictate your experience of their work. We've never had that level of control--even if sometimes we wish we did. A literary work is always one part what the reader brings to the piece. Readers aren't passive. Reading engages the imagination. If the piece you're reading doesn't do this, the piece in question has failed in its job. That's the definition of interactive. So, if you're missing a sense of wonder from all modern SFF, then maybe it's time for some self-examination? As a therapist once told me: "If every relationship is a failed relationship, maybe it's time to have a look at the common denominator in all those relationships." Hint: the biggest common factor is yourself. So, maybe it's time to admit that maybe the lack of wonder isn't the author's fault? Because no author, no matter how talented or how powerful the work, can give you back your childhood.
And that's what pops to mind every single time I see a white man (and let's face it, it's always white men) say they miss the sense of wonder in the original [fill in the blank media property]. Every. Time.
 Trust me. That's honestly a thing.
This blog is going to stop updating on Wednesdays. I made a deal with my self that I'd work on writing more stories and less random stuff for free. This is a good thing for you, Dear Reader, because I'll have fewer days where I have nothing much to say. :) Seriously, coming up with anything new to say some days is very difficult. My life simply isn't that interesting. And every post can't be about Feminism. That's exhausting. Although, today's post is going to be about song lyrics. Specifically, Jack White's Connected By Love. Because this morning I turned on Spotify and it played the first few lines of the song and I almost immediately wanted to punch Jack White in the nuts.
But first read this article: #MeToo isn’t enough. Now women need to get ugly. It'll explain the cultural mindset of women at this moment. Now, read this article about Toxic Masculinity and Emotional Labor: Why Women Are Tired: The Price of Unpaid Emotional Labor. The deal is this: emotions are a vital, necessary aspect of being human. People cannot exist without them. Touch--casual touch, even, like hugs from friends--is a physical need. It is possible to die from a lack of touch. (see this experiment with monkeys and wire mesh/cloth mothers.) Now, have a look at this:
Also, have a look at this Tumblr article about Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. And lastly, watch this interview.
With all of that in mind, I think I can finally understand why men feel so very deeply the need for a woman in their lives--so much so that they're willing to go to any length, even to the point of enslavement or rape, to get what they need. It explains the abuse and the entitlement. It explains so, so much. It doesn't excuse it. Not. One. Bit. But now I see how things got this way. It needs to change for Men's sake as well as for Women's.
So, now let's get back to that Jack White song. Here are the lyrics:
Today is Martin Luther King Day in the US. It's the day when we celebrate a great man. It's also the day when white people all across the nation share memes--a lot of which are bullshit. No. King wasn't a Republican. He also wasn't a Feminist. He was a human being and human beings have flaws.
That is a great video right there. I've always loved the Jedi because I saw them as samurai/monks. I like samurai movies. So, I basically ignored all the "don't have any feelings" crap because Obi Wan does say, "Search out with your feelings." You can't do that if you don't have any. Anyway, this video explains the confusing conversation I had at Best Buy over the holidays with a couple of young male geeks. They said they were all about the Sith. I said fuck that. I'm for the jedi. And they came back with "We want to have feels. So, fuck Jedi." And I said, "Temper tantrums are feels, sure. But they're not useful adult feels or useful adult means of handling feels." And we were at a standoff. Heh. Anyway, it's a great video about toxic masculinity within Star Wars. Here's more on that discussion.
Today, Americans were faced with this racist bullshit from the Racist in Chief. On the upside, CNN actually used the word 'racist' to describe Trump. Two different news anchors said this. (And when Anderson Cooper, of all people, steps up and calls the president a racist, that shit is definitely hitting the fan.) My hope is that we're seeing the start of the turning point. This is where the American media stops playing nice. This is where the "nice" veneer gets ripped off and American racism is fully revealed and substantive discussion and healing can happen. My hope is that this is where we start turning this country around. That's my hope. My other hope is that it's in time to save us. Because Russia isn't fucking around.
In other less important, personal news, my personal trainer broke up with me last night. ;) He said I was ready to take on the task of training without him watching over me every step of the way. He'll be around, and I can ask him questions and for help whenever I need it. So, yesterday we sat down together, and he helped me plan a workout. Then I did the thing. Without him watching over me. And for the first time in my life I worked out in a gym and knew I knew what I was doing and that I belonged there. I was not an athlete as a kid. I was scrawny and bookish. I was the last to be picked for teams in gym because I was awkward and sucked at pretty much anything physical. (It wasn't until I discovered fencing that I turned that vision of myself around.) It's silly, but this makes me very happy. I feel wonderful.
And now, back to work. I had a few days when I wasn't feeling well, but the antibiotics are kicking in and now I've got the energy to push on. I seriously can't wait to finish this novel. I think it's going to be some of my best work once it's polished. But hey, this is the rough draft stage. Onward!
I've been collecting articles about social media and the American political scene. It's a subject that requires our urgent attention--particularly since the current administration appears to be deliberately ignoring the situation. (I suspect the reason why is that they feel that the thumb on the scale is being pressed in their favor. Why do anything if it's working to your benefit?) Sure. The problem exists. But the Republicans think they need every advantage they can lie, cheat, buy, and/or steal to maintain power. The sad part is that it's true. The GOP do need to cheat to stay in power. At a certain point, the popular vote will overwhelm the Electoral College's hold. It's going to happen. The average American is not as extreme or conservative as the Republicans want or need. They've gone farther to the Right than average Americans are comfortable with. (It's about time white America woke up and listened to POC.) And now Americans are getting pissed off. Finally. Unfortunately, there are bad-actors out there, and we've no protections in place. This makes me very concerned for the 2018 elections. If we don't start dramatically turning this mess around--if we don't wrench power from those who are merrily turning our democracy into a dictatorship, there'll be no turning back.
It's what Russia wants. Fortunately, people are paying attention. They just need to be listened to.
Anyway, there's no doubt that social media has been a huge factor. Clickbait headlines are what 'sells' in social media circles. What's more clickbait-y than a conspiracy theory? Such tactics were used during the 2016 election to engage the latent misogyny within Bernie supporters (and Bernie's self interest) to split the Democratic party and manipulate the Electoral College. They were manipulated. (Of course, they don't want to admit that. That urge to watch a train wreck that I kept hearing from various quarters was a big part of it too.) Anyway, I'll let this article tell the rest: How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us. See also: FACEBOOK IS LOSING THE WAR ON HATE SPEECH.
In short, unfettered Capitalism is a problem. It's always been a problem. When you create a tool for communication there is always a chance that someone will use that tool for harmful purposes. When you're the only one who can immediately and directly curb the harm done by third parties using your creation then it is, in fact, your responsibility to do something about it. It's time for Silicone Valley to grow up. It's time for tech companies to acknowledge that they are pissing in the swimming pool. It's time to stop disrupting everything and everyone. That shit is only an advantage for those who are first to do it, and it is only a short term gain. After that, all that remains is smoking rubble unless you create a monopoly. And monopolies are, in fact, abusive and evil unless heavily regulated. Enlightened self-interest is the best policy.
User privacy (in spite of the blasé attitude a lot of users have about it) is a big component. Your personal data is the product social media sells.
Good morning, y'all. Ready for those links? Yes? Let's do this thing!
Today's video is Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes Ceremony speech, because how could it be anything else today?
Oprah is a bad ass. It's beyond awful that no black woman has gotten the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement until 2018. There were other important moments too (Natalie Portman making it clear that all the nominees for director were men, for example) but none were as vital as Oprah's speech.
Okay, and now for those links.
Sometimes I feel like social media's determined focus on the sensational is not a good thing. The clickbait obsession is already known to be harmful. It ends up pushing the exception rather than the rule. When I came across this story--The 99 best things that happened in 2017. I missed a lot of these stories. And here I thought I was paying attention! (Of course the one about the lower abortion rate in the US is not necessarily a good thing. If the cause were more frequently available birth control, I'd be all behind it. It's what birth control is for, after all. It's literally a life-saver. Sadly, I more firmly believe the drop has been due to limiting legislation created by uneducated misogynist legislators more interested in controlling women's bodies than actually doing the moral thing which means more unwanted pregnancies. Since the maternal death rate is on the rise, this also means more deaths.) Still, the article gave me a much needed boost. I hope it does the same for you.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.