Holidays--specifically holidays that Dane gets from work--throw me. I work from home. Combine this with the fact that I stick at this concept called 'Time.' So much depends upon "Is Dane at work? Okay. Weekday." And well...Dane had the day off yesterday. Combine that with birthday celebrations and... LOL.
So, part of my birthday celebration was cuddling up on the sofa with a blanket and a comforting movie. One of the films on the agenda was The Ramen Girl (2008.)
Today's inspirational image is brought to you by Black Panther. Dorothy Steel is the 91 year old actress who started acting at 88. She's amazing. And she's today's Badass of the day. Go her! May she get many more film roles after this one. She's great. Older women need more visibility on the screen--if for no other reason than to convince Americans that no, women don't vanish in a puff of smoke after age 30.
Speaking of comic book movies, my husband sent me a link to the first trailer for Deadpool 2 last weekend. At first, I wasn't enthusiastic. (Admittedly, I wasn't enthusiastic about Deadpool 1 until after I saw it. Now, it's one of my favorite super hero movies.) And then I saw Morena Baccarin as Vanessa something in my chest unknotted, and I knew everything was going to be all right. It took me until the next day to figure out what it was.
My entire life I've watched film after film wherein the white male lead drops everything to give his all to win the Woman of His Dreams™--only to have her vanish as if she'd never existed in the second movie. Sometimes, not very often, a non-emotional throw away line might explain her absence. Oh, she left me. Too bad. But I'm over it now. Or She died. I was sad. I grieved for a whole week. More often than not, no one spoke of the missing character. The woman of the main character's dreams, the woman that he spent an entire film obsessing over like some sort of highly dangerous stalker was suddenly not a factor in the story of our hero. It doesn't affect him much. Hell, she wasn't even worth altering the plot or creating some actual character building over. Worse, she's often replaced by some other Woman of His Dreams™. And I'm supposed to believe that she's the love of his life? It rang hollow every time. Worse, it backed up everything I'd been taught to believe about men from the first time I was sexually harassed--probably age 10. "He only wants to get into your pants. Once he gets what he wants, he'll be gone."
It doesn't say much positive about our hero, does it?
Whenever I'd ask my date, "Hey. What happened to Kim Basinger? Wasn't Vicky Vale the love of Batman's life?" My date would inevitably tell me, "Oh, the film company probably couldn't afford to bring her back. She's a big movie star." Well, knowing now what we know about women actors' salaries versus male actors' salaries we all know that's bullshit. And I sensed it was too at the time. After all, they brought back Michael Gough (Alfred) and Michael Gough (Commissioner Gordon). Hell, even Stan Lee--who isn't even technically a character in a movie--gets to appear in all the movies. Why not the Woman of Our Hero's Dreams™--unless she wasn't the Woman of Our Hero's Dreams™? And then I noticed that James Bond wasn't the only asshole that had a revolving door filled with girlfriends who would only be disappeared between that movie and the next. It was like being tortured with a thousand paper cuts. And yet, women were supposed to yearn to be the woman on that screen. I sure as hell didn't. I mean who wants to be used like a kleenex for one blow and then tossed in the trash without so much as an onscreen goodbye?
It sucks, y'all, and not in the good way. And now...those links you came here for.
Okay. Today's video.
Let's start today's post by giving this story a listen: Learning To Wage Peace. The discussion points out that violence doesn't solve problems. It creates them. Human beings need to spend more time learning how to negotiate through conflict rather than running away from it. If we learn best via trial and error, then it should come as no surprise that modern humans tend to be inept at resolving conflict without violence. Personally, I agree. How different would our culture be if we actually studied how to resolve conflict without resorting to violence?
Ultimately, Americans have to stop believing that the answer to every problem is a man with a gun. The Good Guy with a Gun schtick is a myth spread by the NRA to sell more guns. And as you can see by the first link, it's not the only one. These myths are fueled by the biggest myth of all: that violent crime is escalating. In fact, the data indicates that it's declining. So with that in mind, let's move on to cops, guns, and gun violence in schools.
There have been 290 incidents of gun violence in schools since Sandy Hook (2012.) There is no doubt that this is a problem. Gun advocates have proposed providing a larger police presence and/or arming teachers as means of making schools safer. I'm going to tell you why this is a very bad idea. First, go back to the list of debunked NRA bullet points, starting with the first. The presence of guns does not make everyone safer. It puts them at higher risk. That's merely taking accidents into account. Now, let's factor in cops and school power dynamics.
There is no doubt that the relationship between police and the American public has changed for the worse. Police are no longer viewed as safe. This is for damned good reasons. (See: numbers of people killed by police vs police killed on the job. 232 vs 16 and 2018 is less than three months old.) The police force has become dangerous. My hunch that the biggest factor is the uptick in the use of steroids. We've known about it since 2007 at least. Nothing seems to have been done about the issue, and we know there is a link between steroid use and aggression. In addition, police culture has become militarized. They're given military equipment, and police no longer consider themselves 'peace keepers'. They see themselves as warriors which puts them at war with the citizenry they're paid to protect. Now, add in a vast power imbalance between youth and gun-wielding police and the prevalence of unexamined racism. These lead to incidents like the one in Spring Valley High School. Worse, this environment speeds up the school to prison pipeline. As you can see, the whole idea of armed police presence in schools is horrific if you analyze it from just one angle.
Now, let's examine it from another: the biology of teens.
It starts early.
Good morning, y'all. I'm feeling clear-headed and energetic due to the removal of 75% of the head bees. The other 25% will be evicted in a couple of weeks--just in case the minor surgery impacts the blog. (Which, come on, we both know it will.) Anyway, here goes!
Feminist Monday will be Tuesday this week. One of these days I'll think ahead and write the post before the day it's scheduled. One. Day.
Anyway, I blame the Head Bees. The shots are to keep them away. See you tomorrow.
Warning: this is going to be a political post. So, before you bug out, I have a new article over at Skiffy and Fanty. It's about Honor Harrington, and if you're a writer thinking of gender-flipping and/or race-flipping characters, it might be of some use to you. It's called THE INTERSECTION: CONTEXT, HONOR, AND THE STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER™. Hop on over and have a look. Leave a comment, if you like.
On to other things.
If you're an American and you're here, I'm certain that you've been keeping up with what's going on with the Mueller/Russia investigation. The only thing I'm going to do differently is that I'm rounding up some related articles and attempting to look at the bigger picture. This doesn't mean I'm accurate. I'm merely trying to look beyond the every day news as it were. In any case, the developing situation is alarming.
Dems say whistleblower emails show gov't workers targeted for not backing Trump. Alone, that's not a good story. Combined with the renewed burst of 'housecleaning'...well... not having advisors in key positions means that Americans have no one to apply the brakes when Trump behaves like a dictator.
Even more worrying, the Trump Administration has connections to Russia and Putin. The business ties are damning enough, but there are more connections--campaign funding connections--via the NRA. Also, read: The Very Strange Case of Two Russian Gun Lovers, the NRA, and Donald Trump. The scary thing about the NRA/Russia story is that a majority of the GOP in our government have taken NRA money. If the NRA has been funneling Russian money to American politicians--and it's looking more and more like that's the case--then that means that Trump isn't the only problem. It means almost the entire Republican Party has been compromised by Russia. Interestingly enough, Trump and his administration have undermined sanctions put in place by Obama. This, even though they've finally instated sanctions of their own. The impression is that the Republicans didn't do so willingly. Personally, I think they didn't have a choice after the news about the NRA connection was revealed.
Now for the rest of the news about Russia.
Good morning, y'all. It's time for your Monday morning cup of righteous rage. Are you ready? Let's go!
First, today's videos.
I do sincerely believe that one of the biggest reasons gun deaths are such a problem (other than the easy availability of guns) is toxic masculinity. And again, I say that boys aren't merely "accident prone" and somehow, by nature, less mature than girls. Boys, via toxic masculinity, are taught they're the exception to every rule. They're encouraged to push past boundaries--yes even physics. They are socialized to not consider consequences for their actions. We've taught women and girls that they don't have to be second class citizens first because women and girls are (according to misogynist thought) always the problem. Fix women, and everything's okay. Women are paid less? Teach women to ask for more. Is rape an issue? Teach women how not to be raped. Pick any problem associated with women and you'll see the standard response is almost always how women should change their behavior. It's almost never about how men should change. Except, studies have demonstrated that when a woman asks for more money in an interview, she isn't given what she asks for. She's not even hired in the first place because she's a bitch.
Men should change because they are the biggest part of the power structure. We changed how girls were raised. Now, we're seeing that fact running headlong into how boys are raised. It's time to change how boys are raised. And I'll bet when we do, we'll see a lower motor accident rate among young males.
The frustrating part of this is that whenever I hear people discuss a behavioral problem that directly involves white, cis males how many times society refuse to see the common element: unenlightened white, cis males. It's why when I hear there was a "lone shooter/madman" I know that the perp was white, cis, and male. It's like repeatedly watching something happen and everyone saying, "We just don't understand how this could happen. 'Tis a puzzlement." when everyone damned well knows why on an unconscious level. It's fucking obvious. They just aren't willing to see it due to the power structures.
Toxic Masculinity doesn't just hurt all the other genders, it hurts men too.
Misogyny isn't merely a woman problem. Sexism is a System of Oppression problem. The same shit happens with any oppressed group. This is why intersectionality is important. The oppressed group no matter the group in question is expected to change their circumstances and behaviors while those in power are not. And when the oppressed group changes, they're punished for attempting to change the system.
And now for those links.
This morning in the Leicht-Caruthers household:
Me (half asleep): [mutters something about buying coffee and the lack of readily available Oaxacan Coffee in this town]
Dane: Remember kids: SXSW starts today. You can't go anywhere near the river or downtown. No Curra's coffee for you. No coffee shop writing either. The Out of Town Hipster Alert is flashing Amber.
Me: Hipsters aren't as bad as you make out. You know my feelings on man-buns, stylish hats, and beards.
Dane: Didn't you say there was a hierarchy of hipsters? I believe this was last night.
Me: Well, yeah.
Dane: Out of town hipsters are the worst. You decided. Right up there with Illinois nazis.
Me: I didn't say that! The two aren't even close. I mean, out of town hipsters might be a little bit self-involved, but at least they don't advocate genocide. [pause] Well, not un-ironically anyway.
Dane: And that's pretty much in the realm, isn't it?
Me: Damn it. I'm not awake. My debate skills aren't online. This isn't fair. And now I can't go to the Apple Store.
Dane: That's what you get for putting all those skill points in Northern Irish history and not in teleportation.
 For real, I totally hate that "I'm doing this sexist/racist thing ironically" bullshit.
 Yes, we do actually talk like this. I just don't do it very well before I've had coffee.
 Pretty much every word out of Viktor's mouth in Cold Iron and Blackthorne is something Dane would say.
 This is why I adore a) screwball comedy dialog b) Dashiell Hammett dialog c) Joss Whedon dialog and d) Amy Sherman-Palladino dialog so very, very much. Well. Beyond the fact that that style of dialog takes delicate finesse, timing, and skill as a writer.
Good morning, y'all. Sorry about yesterday. I turned in a novel and then passed out. I was super exhausted. Even if I'd had the energy to blog, I wouldn't have made a hell of a lot of sense at that point--having written 5,000 words in one day. There simply isn't enough coffee in the world to make blogging happen after that.
Anyway, let's get started. Shall we? First off, let's video.
“This, milord, is my family's axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y'know. Pretty good.”
― Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant
Whenever I'm in the midst of research I'm not really enjoying or when I'm under a lot of stress I give myself permission to load up something comforting on the iPhone, plug in the ear bugs and go for a long walk. For me, audiobook in question is almost always something by Sir Terry Pratchett. Almost every time I listen to Sir Terry's words they say something important about whatever is going on, whether it's something in my private life or the daily news. Yesterday, the topic was gun control and the United States Constitution.
Too many times I hear the erroneous argument that the US Constitution provides white dudes the absolute right to own a personal arsenal regardless of age (have a video of a 13 year-old boy buying a 22 caliber rifle without a single question from the seller.) Frankly, I've read it. The amendment in question ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.") is extremely out of date. Assuming that by "well regulated Militia" the authors of the constitution meant "untrained amateur with a personal arsenal of military grade weapons and all the ammo they can buy." That doesn't sound terribly well regulated, if you ask me. Even if it did mean that, the interpretation is ridiculous to the point of being laughable. Seriously? You honestly think you're going to be able to take on what amounts to an unlimited number of professional soldiers with high tech surveillance, drones, explosives, tanks, bomber jets, and so on all on your lonesome? You've been watching too many Action Movies. Also, I'd be willing to bet you look nothing like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Good Guy with a Gun™ argument is horse shit. If you honestly know anything of the psychology of emergency situations, you'd know that a) most non-First Responders freeze during emergency scenarios (and as in the case of a certain police deputy sometimes First Responder training isn't even a guarantee of bravery.) b) it's difficult to assess details during an emergency and c) do you really want to be wandering around an active shooter scene with a million cops on a hair trigger hunting for a white dude with a gun? Cops apparently have a hard time determining whether an unarmed child in a park with a toy is a threat.
Heinlein claimed that an armed society was a polite society. Not only was Heinlein a fiction writer which, speaking as a fiction writer, does not make one an expert in such matters--he was dead wrong. Even the American Frontier had gun control--more than we do now.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.