I am back in my own house, with my dear First Reader, the happy dog, and… WHERE did all this pile of stuff on my desk come from?! Oh my… reality is a pile of packages, supplies, books to catalog, whiteboard with a list longer than my arm, and emails that piled up in my absence (do electrons pile? Or should that be a tornado of emails, as electrons orbit?). I’ve mentioned my summer editing job, right? Well, originally it was supposed to end by now. Reality is that it’s only half-done. So I’m going to tackle school, three jobs, and… um. Right. Today, you get links of interest. Tomorrow, a book review (I did read while I was gone). I won’t even have time to miss my kids… well, ok, yes, I will. But I can call them. Or email little elctrons!
Rumor and Innuendo, Alarums and Excursions
Sarah A Hoyt
Did you hear about the snake-headed baby born to the woman in the next village? What about the three-legged centaur born to the woman a village over? No? You know those people over there, with whom you don’t interact are always having monstrous children and, what’s worse, they eat them too.
You’re reading that paragraph again and wondering if I lost my mind.
Last night, I found myself wondering if the field as a whole has lost its mind.
A colleague, a midlister with a decent reputation and okay writing, posted a recommendation of one of Larry’s books. The comments were immediately assailed by people informing her that he was the evil lord of evil and she was evil for promoting him.
I considered jumping in, and while I was deciding, she erased the post, then put up another saying that, well, she’d liked his books, but since he was an unsavory homophobe and all around evil in the matter of gay rights, she would never read him again, and she would now recommend a female from a small press.
This – this leap from rumor and innuendo to “since he is” pushed me over the edge. Yes, I do know some of you are saying that it’s a short road and an easy drive, but really, what kind of insanity is this?
The Best Award Folds and is Green
For elections, where you want the winner to be someone most of the people voting can at least look at without wanting to throw up (it helps the process of negotiation a little), this works out remarkably well. The system tends to bubble up the least offensive candidate and push down the controversial ones.
I’m sure you can all see why that makes it completely inappropriate for something like the Hugos, which purports to be a literary award. It pretty much guarantees that winners will be either whatever fits the prevailing views of the voting membership or whatever offends the voting membership least. Needless to say this practically guarantees that the winning work will not be the “best” anything. Nor the “most popular” (we have the folding green award for that. Smart authors love that one.
Cedar Sanderson’s The God’s Wolfling
Cedar has a sure hand when it comes to writing teenagers, and her refusal to yield to the “helicopter parenting” trends of our age is immensely refreshing. Additionally, she manages to add a young male character to the tale without immediately succumbing to the urge to pair him off with Linn. Indeed, Linn’s attitude regarding boys in general is, thankfully, quite balanced; she notices them but doesn’t let those thoughts consume her life. Ironic, isn’t it? Cedar is an outspoken opponent of the “social justice warrior” faction, and yet she’s one of the few writers out there who successfully writes female characters who aren’t defined by their male counterparts. Could it be that libertarian individualism has more to offer the cause of “equality”?
(a letter to Jerry Pournelle) Ralph
My direct lineage is French, British (English, Welsh, Irish, Scot), German and Swedish. So what am I? I am an American. If you think of yourself as anything but American you play directly into the hands of those who get and hold political office and seek to rule rather than govern by manipulating emotion and dividing us into small, ineffective groups.
If you are going to recognize accomplishment – or sins – the individual should be the one recognized, not whatever group(s) to which that individual may belong. No group is purely good or purely evil. My father would sometimes remark that every family, no matter how accomplished or distinguished, has a horse-thief or two lurking in the family closet.
The increasing level of divisiveness being peddled as “diversity” for the last several years is troubling on several levels but especially since it isolates groups and creates friction that we do not need. In my role as a military officer I served with people from north, south, east and west, white, black, yellow, brown and every shade in between. Ancestry was world-wide as were religious practices. I respected and admired them all. By the time I was active the services were all fully integrated and if the subject came up, in fact we were all army green (I guess it’s blue, now). I can’t imagine the army without these people. So we had diversity, if that is thought desirable, but, more importantly, we had commonality – in language, in traditions of the service, in our responsibilities under the UCMJ, in the principles of soldiering and in our mutual loyalty to our service, our commanders, our unit and to each other.
What those who have never served don’t seem to understand is that although we wore the same uniform, swore the same oath, conform to the same regulations we are still individuals with our own families, traditions, interests and backgrounds. We never lost those things when we became members of the larger organization. Indeed, in many respects, who and what we are was enhanced by our membership in the larger society.
The divisiveness being promoted in the civilian world is not doing good. In fact, it reduces individuality and enforces a type of conformity that is not desirable in that it isolates the various groups from the larger society. This is particularly true when it comes to language. If you can’t communicate you can’t participate in any meaningful way and can easily be manipulated. The manipulators have their interests in mind, not yours.
No. I’m Fine.
(note: this is a story my favorite webcomic artist wrote. Like most creative people, he’s talented in more than one direction. Yes, this is message fiction, but it’s message fiction that acknowledges and embraces that identity rather than trying to pretend to be something it isn’t.)
My goal with this story is to elevate the dialog about mental illness, to remove some of the stigmas, and hopefully to let non-sufferers into my head for long enough that they can get a sense for what’s going on in there sometimes. That’s a pretty lofty set of objectives for something that weighs in at just 1,730 words.
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Preaching to the Choir
(Note: I’m not entirely sure I agree with his numbers when it comes to Ebola, but this is a really good assessment of how an epidemic could start)
Patient Zero hits the door, sees the nurse just inside at the front door, there to eyeball everybody, and speedball the critical ones coming in with SOB (shortness of breath, not bastardlyness) or acute Chest Pain, after the patient pulls up in his vehicle, which he’s coughed and sneezed in and all over, which is then parked by valets. The valet is infected. Then he grabs the set of keys of a family discharged and heading home, touching their keys, steering wheel, shift, parking break, seat belts, etc. So now that driver is going to get infected.
The valet now goes back, after rubbing his eye, nose, or mouth, and handles a phone, pens, clipboard, and key locker. Now the other 2-5 valets are going to get infected. And all the patients leaving whose cars they park or retrieve. And their families. And the valets’ families. If not tonight, then tomorrow or the next day.
Meanwhile, the patient, presenting with sore throat, cough, fever, maybe vomiting and/or diarrhea, clearly non-critical compared to having a heart attack, stroke, or asthma attack, sits down in the waiting area and fills out their short form info sheet: chief complaint, name, personal info. Then brings the clipboard and pen back so the nurse and financial clerk can input them into the computer database, so that their prior records can be matched up, and to put them on the master patient tracker so that the charge nurse, triage nurse, and all the treating physicians can see what’s waiting on deck.
The pen and clipboard are now contaminated, along with possibly the nearby patients and visitors, the chairs, maybe the drinking fountain, and perhaps the restroom doorknobs and faucets. Perhaps they go to the cafeteria while they’re waiting, or one of the other newly contaminated people does. They grab a few forks from the cutlery bucket, the doorknobs, the food freezer handles. etc., which the entire hospital uses the next day.
Other than an “eyeball survey”, they haven’t even been seen yet, and they’ve already killed 200 people, in about a month from now. Including the outside nurse, who took the pen and clipboard from them. And her family. And her spouse’s and children’s friends. And all the other kids at their school, and in their neighborhood. And their parents. And their parents’ friends and co-workers. And their kids. And the other kids and teachers and other staff at their schools. And their parents, and their parents co-workers. And on and on.