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.
That title is sort of a reference to the year we endured triple digit temperatures for more than ninety days straight and practically the entire state of Texas was on fire. (You could see the flames in the shape of Texas from space.) This week we hit 25F in Austin--which is pretty cold even if it's colder elsewhere. It's also snowed (lightly) about three different times. (It almost never snows here.) My favorite was when it snowed while I was walking home from the gym. It was magical. There were big, fat, fluffy flakes floating around--not the tiny, almost sleet particles we usually get when it snows. Anyway, it's been like this for a couple of days, but I'm glad of it. Sadly, it'll warm up again to 50F today. Because: Texas.
At least some of the fleas and mosquitos were killed off. Here's hoping for one more big freeze.
This morning I came across this image of earth supposedly taken by the Hubble space telescope but apparently not so much. (I kept thinking those clouds were awfully huge. Many thanks to Cam Loft for the Snopes link.) Still, I think it's my favorite visualization of earth. In a way, the planet looks so much more like the other planets in our system. You can see where our atmosphere starts and stops. The cloud cover is beautiful like Saturn's rings.
It's the kind of big picture we don't often see. I can't help feeling a lot of love for that big blue marble. Here's hoping it sees less damage and abuse from us in 2018.
I hope you're having a wonderful, restful time with friends and/or family. And may your best holiday wishes have come true. The New Year is right around the corner. And so is my novel deadline. So, I may have to cut back on the number of posts per week on this site for a while. I'll keep up with Feminist Monday because I feel it's a service to the community at large, and giving back is important. However, the Wednesday and Friday posts will be spotty until I can turn in my manuscript. It's a good thing. A shiny new SF novel will come out of it. So, there's that. Oh, and because New Year's falls on Monday I'll be taking that day off. So, the next Feminist Monday post will be January 8th. Sorry about that. I'll probably pop in a few times between then and now. (I won't be able to help it.) Just expect the unexpected for a bit.
Since Persephone Station is going to call me away for a while, it's only fair that I give you a small excerpt. I hope you enjoy it. I'll drop it behind the Read More tag. Once again, I hope you're having a wonderful, safe, and restful holiday. May 2018 be better to you and yours.
The Winter Solstice was officially yesterday, but this is the time of year where we like to drag out the celebration. It's drizzly and cool here. (Texas is not terribly great at winter, really.) There are so many holidays going on--I believe every major religion observes one at some point this month. (Which is why it pisses me off when 'practitioners' of a certain major religion attempt to erase the others. I thought sharing was a good thing?) This is, clearly, an important time of year for many. I hope that, whatever way you choose to celebrate it (or not), may you and yours have a joyous time and that the New Year brings you wonders and love.
I watched the first season of The Crown as a form of research. (I needed to see a woman in a leadership role badly. I still do. It's hard to imagine things you've never seen or experienced.) I've been watching Madam Secretary too. It's so rare that we see women in roles of power at that level. FYI: I'm not a fan of the Queen or the Royal family. Therefore, I resisted at first. But I was desperate. So, I relented. As it turns out, season 1 was great. I really enjoyed it. I didn't care for Philip--what a big baby! But it was fun for the most part. So, I signed on for season 2. And here's where it got really interesting.
For a start, it turns out that yes, even if a woman were to have all the money and power in the world--she'd still have to put up with bullshit from the Patriarchy. In this case, in the form of her husband. It is at this point where I'll put the rest behind a 'Read More' tag because Spoilers Abound.
Good morning, y'all. Ready for those links? I know I am. Here we go.
I read a really great essay on Tor.com the other day. It's called Fear of the Female Voice and it's by Sarah Gailey. It's a wonderful, powerful piece. If you haven't read it yet, you should. Go ahead. The rest of us will wait here while you read it. We're not going anywhere. I promise. Go on.
There? Done? Good. So, I just finished watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which is a new series written by Amy Sherman-Palladino. I'm a huge fan of Ms. Sherman-Palladino. Gilmore Girls (the entire library was on Netflix--it might still be. If it is, GO WATCH IT.) got me through the terrible time after the 2017 election. Seriously. I was so depressed, but watching those two get through the ups and downs with a smile (and a more than a few tears) made me think back on the days when I could pretend that there was a time when a woman running for office wasn't an automatic trip to the 1950s time loop we're in now. It made me think back to that glorious fantasy of a reality when women's voices weren't "too shrill" for public office. (Let's fact it, ladies. It was a fantasy. Think back to all the ridiculous complaints about HRC and re-read what Sarah Gailey said about women's voices on the radio. Yes, bats and ghouls, THAT'S SEXISM.)
Here we are one year later and women's voices are being used to bring down abusive, powerful, sexist men. There's even a movement in New York state to put a toothier law in place that prohibits men with Domestic Violence convictions from owning guns. (See: “Where there are more guns, more women die”: A Harvard public health expert breaks down the data on firearms and women’s safety.) Since there is a strong link between Domestic Abusers and mass shooters, GOOD.
Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote another show. Unfortunately, the program is with the evil Amazon, and you can't see it unless you subscribe to Amazon Prime. (Yeah. Fuck you, Amazon. A lot.) I binged the show, and is it ever binge-worthy.
It's about a woman who (after her husband has an affair and leaves her) finds her voice and herself in stand up comedy. It's brilliant. It's funny. It's heartwarming. It's even a little depressing. (I ended up feeling a little sorry for Joel, even if he's a schmuck.) Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) has a wonderful voice. I love her. I love her manager Susie (played by Alex Borstein.) I'll be honest. I've always hated the 1950s. It was the epitome of everything that is awful about the Patriarchy. Reading The Feminine Mystique only intensified that hatred. (Frankly, I'd never want to be a time traveller as a woman. There really isn't an era before now that was even remotely pleasant. And it's so much worse if you're a person of color, or gay, or trans, or disabled. Yeah. Fuck that.) Anyway, the show is very Feminist and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Amy S-P is amazing with dialog--particularly my favorite kind of dialog, the fast banter. It's wonderful. I am in awe.
Mind you...the show isn't worth tying your future purchasing power to a retailer that doesn't support your local community forever and ever, but it's worth a month or two of Amazon fees. So... fuck it. Here's hoping Amy S-P ties herself to a production company not infamous for fucking over creatives just so they can have more low-priced "content." [shudder]
 Yeah. I got the stupid Prime account not only because of Amy S-P, but because Amazon instituted some squirrelly rule about how they couldn't guarantee your holiday gifts would reach recipients in time a whole week and a half before Christmas. Unless you have Prime, of course. So, I signed on and will promptly tell them to fuck off after a couple of months.
For those who haven't heard...and as often as I mention this project (or read from it in public) there are Readers who haven't heard about it...I'm working on a Space Opera. The elevator pitch is: Persephone Station is a gender-flipped Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven set in space with six women of color and one white woman who never speaks. It will be published by Saga Press of Simon and Schuster. Looking for music to inspire such a thing has been fun. I'm still searching--that's a lot of the fun with this sort of thing, at least for me. So, I may have posted a list before. It's changed since then. It generally does as I get acquainted with the characters and the story. So, in no particular order...
1) Short Change Hero -- The Heavy
2) Killing Strangers -- Marilyn Manson
3) The Fade Out Line -- Phoebe Killdeer & The Short Straws
4) Can't Kill Us -- The Glitch Mob
5) Beat the Devil's Tattoo -- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6) Lay Myself Down -- Mazzy Star
7) Tennis Court -- Lourde
8) Intro -- The XX
10) No Soul (PMT Remix) -- ILS/The Crystal Method
11) Butterfly -- Bassnectar (featuring Mimi Page)
12) Predator (Final Mix) -- Front Line Assembly
13) Black Melt -- Massive Attack
14) Overkill -- Kosheen
15) Say My Name -- ODESZA (featuring Zyra)
16) Anxiety -- Ladyhawke
17) Heart of Stone -- Ravonettes
18) Two Weeks -- FKA twiggs
19) You Don't Get Me High Anymore -- Phantagram
20) Stigmata -- Marilyn Manson & Tyler Bates
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.