Monthly Archives: November 2016

Thanksgiving with Grandma Wanda, and other news updates

If you haven’t seen this story, or the viral images of the wrong number text message that led to a Thanksgiving meeting of former strangers: a woman send Thanksgiving dinner details to the wrong number. The guy who gets it replies, “Who is this.” The woman says, “Your Grandma.” The guy sends a selfie, “I don’t think you’re my Grandma.” She sends back a selfie and apologizes for the wrong number. He jokes, “Can I still have a plate?” and she says, “Of course! That’s what grandma’s do, feed everyone!”

And they kept texting and she said she was serious he should come to Thanksgiving dinner, and he didn’t have local family, and then, well, this happened:

Thanksgiving with Grandma Wanda: Accidental Text That Was Meant to Be.

In other news, after the phenomenal crowdsourcing campaign, the Green Party in Wisconsin has filed for a re-count and a paper ballot reconciliation:

Green Party files for Wisconsin recount, audit.


Clinton campaign: We are taking part in the recount.

cw8d-5oxuaaglhhI admit, I was one of the people saying I didn’t trust the Green Party’s effort. After asking the world to donate 2.5 million so they could demand recounts in three states, they changed the small print on the fundraising page several times, and changed the goal they were asking for several times. The fine print was the sorts of disclaimers you would expect, in one sense: they couldn’t guarantee the recounts would happen; if excess money was raised the part would keep the money to promote “voter integrity options” that sort of thing. But the wording kept adding more loopholes.

But the thing was, the first filing deadline (Wisconsin) was Friday. They had exceeded the original ask significantly, and the clock was literally ticking down, and they had not filed a petition for a recount. It was at a point where the Wisconsin Elections Commission was making snarky comments on it’s website and twitter account, because the Greens kept blasting out more money beg messages but hadn’t filed: Wisconsin Elections Commission Basically Calling Jill Stein Out for Not Filing Recount Petition Yet.

So I don’t think I was being unreasonable (or mean) when I retweeted another editorial that made the observation that the Green Party money beg was starting to seem as if it might be a scam. The word “seem” was in the title, so even if you didn’t click through and read the piece, (which was nuanced and balanced) it should have been obvious that I was only claiming suspicion.

As I exchanged words with some others on twitter afterward, I repeatedly said that if the Green Party actually filed all three petitions before the deadlines in each state, that I would agree that they weren’t merely fundraising for themselves off the issue.

The party did file a petition in Wisconsin before the deadline (as the above headlines show), so that’s one down. I understand that the rules in each state about the petitions vary. And that sometimes an incorrectly worded form can cause a filing to be rejected. I don’t know if any of the remaining states have a process by which the initial filing can be amended or corrected after it is filed.

And heck, even the states don’t always know. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said they had their own lawyers double-checking the procedure while they were awaiting the petition. Turns out there’s a contradiction in the state law: one part says that the petitioner has to deposit money to pay for the recount when they file, another part says that the Commission has to give the petitioner an estimate of the cost of the recount after receiving the petition and the petitioner has to pony up the money within a very short timeline after getting the estimate. So, I understand that trying to make certain all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed means they can’t just slap down a petition right away.

Completely unrelated to all of this: while there are reasons to be skeptical about the vote count in some places, I’m not holding out a lot of hope that any of these recounts will change any results. Part of that is based on past experience. And the lack of clear evidence of wrong doing is the reason that organizations such as the Clinton campaign is loathe to expend the millions of dollars required for a recount. I’ve blogged more than once about the Republican gubernatorial candidate in my state several years ago who paid over a million dollars for a recount and audit, and succeeded only in discovering that there had been a total of four fraudulent ballots filed in the race–and all four had voted for him, not his opponent. So he and the party spent a lot of money to actually reduce their own vote count, and thus lose slightly worse…

“I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump” —@danpfeiffer
“I really wish Jill Stein had not waited until after the election to be so concerned about a few thousand votes tipping the election to Trump” —@danpfeiffer
But I have to agree with Dan Pfeiffer, if the Green Party had done what so-called third-parties used to do: endorse the major party candidate who supported most of their agenda (earlier in the campaign the eventual Green nominee had claimed she would endorse Bernie Sanders if Bernie got the nomination, and since Hillary’s voting record when they were both in the Senate matched Bernie 90+ percent of the time you’d think that would be close enough). I get it, when I was younger I used to think that what we needed was more active third parties. That was before I understood a couple of very important things: while the Constitution says nothing explicitly about parties, the way the electoral college is set up to elect presidents means that we have a Constitutionally-mandated two party system; and for most of history both major parties are coalitions of unofficial smaller parties already.

Anyway, I don’t think that recounts and audits are ever a bad idea. So even if these efforts don’t change anything, I’m glad that we’re going forward with at least one, and hope at least two more.

Friday Links (global biomedical duel edition)

cx1bsu-uuaaal38It’s a Friday. The weirdest Friday of the year. Between a shortened (and therefore busier than usual) work week because of the holiday, holiday travel, and the odd place our news cycle is, this week’s links are less diverse than usual.

I forgot to mention last week that that was the final Friday of the year that I would be working. Between office closure for holidays and my personal tradition of taking Fridays in December as vacation days to give me time to work on holiday stuff, I’ll have short weeks until the second week of the new year. Yay

In other good news, we got through out holiday without any big fights or incidents.

Anyway, here are links to stories I found interesting, sorted by category.

Links of the Week

A Mysterious Giant Foam Blob Is Taking Over A City.

Stop Calling It Identity Politics — Its Civil Rights.

This week in awful news

Standing Rock protest: hundreds clash with police over Dakota Access Pipeline.

Dakota Access pipeline protester may lose her arm after small explosion, activists say.

News for queers and our allies:

Big Gay Fiction Giveaway – November 20-27.

What Does It Take To Shock John Waters?

Freddie Mercury’s Life Is the Story of HIV, Bisexuality, and Queer Identity.


CRISPR gene-editing tested in a person for the first time: The move by Chinese scientists could spark a biomedical duel between China and the United States.

The Supermoon and Global Warming: A Taste of Things to Come – North Miami, Florida was flooded due to the effects of the magnified high tide of last week’s unusually close full Moon.

“Strange Stars” Could Be the Weirdest Objects in the Universe.

Ant species cultivates coffee for accommodation.

Astronomers just discovered one of the most massive objects in the universe hiding behind the Milky Way.

Did NASA Mars Rover Find a Signature of Past Life?

NASA’s New Horizons Unveils Its Masterpiece: Pluto’s Interior!

The Asteroid That Killed the Dinosaurs Blew Right Through Earth’s Crust.

Drone Footage Shows How Massive Earthquake Ripped New Zealand Apart.

Rare faint dwarf galaxy found lurking in the halo of the Milky Way.

Ginkgo ‘living fossil’ genome decoded.

This week in Writing

BS “medical” tropes to stop using TODAY, 1/?.

How to Write Character Arcs. This is actually an index post linking to a bunch of posts about different aspects of creating character arcs.

The 3 Types of Character Arc – Change, Growth and Fall. Different writer, slightly different advice.

This Week in Covering the News

How Facebook Spreads Fake News And Anti-Muslim Views In Myanmar.

Where Do We Go from Here?

So about that call for unity, then.

oh and yes, this is going to be a thing for a while.

More than 250 Jewish professors across the United States are calling for Americans to denounce and “mobilize in solidarity” against President-elect Trump’s “racial, ethnic, gender-based, and religious hatred.”

Jill Stein Just Raised $2.5 Million To Start Recounts In 3 States.

No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along.

This Week in Inclusion

This Thanksgiving, A Reminder of the Contributions of Immigrants.

This week in Difficult to Classify

Rigged election: Hillary Clinton’s early-voting lead in Florida was mathematically insurmountable.

This week in the deplorables

Trump surrogate cites Japanese internment camps as precedent for Muslim registry.

Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute.

Cashing in BIGLY in Argentina!

Eric Bolling Is Trying To Cover His Bigoted Tracks (And Failing).

Wall Street Journal Editors Warn Trump – Draining The Swamp Starts With YOU.

FEC wants Trump to explain $1.3 million worth of ‘mistakes’ in campaign report.



Trump’s toughest transition test: the Trump Organization.

Why we’re saying ‘white nationalism’ instead of ‘alt-right’.

‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect.

9 of Mike Pence’s Most Controversial Stances Regarding Gay Rights, Abortion and Smoking.

This week in Politics:

As Clinton’s lead in popular vote passes 2 million, calls for ‘audit’ in key swing states grow.

Obama’s approval rating highest in seven years.

New York county reveals ‘gay cure’ ban bill named Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment (PENCE).


Florence Henderson, ‘The Brady Bunch’ mom, dies at 82.

Things I wrote:

Fire Retardant Malfunction will be my queercore cover band name.

Red cups, manufactured outrage, and twisted meanings.

Real family….

Queer Thanksgiving.

At least we’ll have pie….


Queer Thanksgiving:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

A HERSHEY’S KISSES Family: The Nobles — A Holiday Tradition:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

President Obama Pardons the National Thanksgiving (“A corny-copia of Dad jokes…”):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

John Lennon – Imagine HD:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

At least we’ll have pie…

(Maxine created by John Wagner, © Hallmark Licensing, LLC)
(Maxine created by John Wagner, © Hallmark Licensing, LLC)
We’re spending Thanksgiving at Mom’s, which is a very small space for the number of people who will be there, and the kitchen is even tinier. So coordinating holiday dinners is always a little difficult, particularly since we are driving down the night before and staying at a nearby hotel (by the time this posts, we should be there, obviously). If we lived a lot closer, we’d be able to cook some things here the morning before, but that isn’t an option. The other extended family members who live nearby have various restrictions on their space and facilities, as well. A few years ago, Mom and I collaborated on ordering dinner from a local store which I picked up that morning. But it was… well… it wasn’t good. And the small town she is in doesn’t have any better options.

Which isn’t to say that the dinners haven’t been good and enjoyable. And as crowded as everything gets when we’re all crammed in at Mom’s small place, if we had more (shall we say) elaborate food, it would be even more difficult. It’s just that there is a part of me—primed by memories of epic childhood holiday dinners, plus a boatload of pop culture expectations, and memories of elaborate holiday dinners I’ve cooked as an adult—that keeps wanting it to be more. It’s emotional baggage, rather than any actual shortcoming of the event, right?

Which means that I have to spend a certain amount of time before the holiday psyching myself out to not be disappointed, and (perhaps more importantly) to not act as if I’m disappointed.

This year I’m responsible for the relish tray, a salad (specifically Mom wants me to make the salad my hubby dubbed Foofy Salad), and pies. All are things that are easy to transport and don’t need to be cooked or heated when we arrive. And it has the upside of leaving me certain that there will be pie. Later this weekend, we’ll be cooking a dinner with some of the traditional holiday dishes that we don’t get on the actual day.

Before I queue this up and finish packing, I want list some of the things I’m thankful for; if for no other reason to remind myself that there is still a lot of good in the world:

  • my wonderful, handsome, sweet, smart, talented, and sexy husband
  • purple
  • people who love
  • kittens
  • people who make art, stories, music, and other creative things
  • mousies
  • radio and other wireless technology
  • coffee
  • people who help other people
  • my friends—wonderful, talented, nerdy, loving, and some of them nearly as crazy as me
  • people who make things work
  • puppies
  • books
  • otters
  • my wonderful, talented, hard-working, handsome husband who inexplicably puts up with me (who absolutely deserves to be on this list more than once!)
  • people who sweat the details
  • flowers
  • tigers
  • people who don’t sweat the details
  • science
  • my job
  • raspberries
  • satellites and space craft and telescopes
  • my extended chosen family, which yes overlaps with several other times on this list (not just the third)
  • technology that lets me carry my entire music library in my pocket, access the world’s libraries from the palm of my hand, read silly things people say halfway around the world, all while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • my family, yes even the most exasperating, because they’re part of what made me who I am, and I’m sure that I drive them just as crazy as they drive me
  • electricity
  • people who clean up after disasters
  • readers
  • pie
  • pi
  • good food, drink, and opportunities to be merry
  • my sexy husband who keeps me sane, fixes things I break, finds things I lose, and perhaps most importantly, inspires me to ignore my worst impulses and go high when others or the world goes low

Thank you, everyone who reads this. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope that you are surrounded by love. I hope your life contains more blessings than troubles. May you find joy, and may you know that you give others reason to be thankful.

Queer Thanksgiving

“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)
“Some of the most poisonous people come disguised as family.” (click to embiggen)
Not everyone has family to be thankful for. Or should I say, not every family is thanks-worthy? The video I’m linking below focuses particularly on queer people of color, and I don’t want to detract from that message at all—but many of us pale queers have families of origin that are less than welcoming to the point of toxicity. There are reasons that I have severely limited the amount of contact I have with some branches of the family.

This year we came very close to canceling the Thanksgiving trip, because the anti-Hillary/pro-Trump talk in general seems to have encouraged the most bigoted relatives to go all in on the anti-gay talk on social media. Since the big extended family get-together no longer happens, we don’t usually have to deal with any of the actually toxic family members. Instead we’re left with the odd thoughtless/unintentional comments that slowly make your blood boil. We were invited to spend Thanksgiving with wonderful, supportive friends in Seattle, and the invitations were very tempting, but we’ve decided to give the trip to my Mom’s place another go.

We’ve just arranged the trip so we don’t need to stay all day.

Anyway, I hope that you can have a toxin-free holiday. And we may throw a spontaneous Second Thanksgiving later this weekend if we think we need a brain-rinse!

Queer Thanksgiving:

“The holidays are here — which for most people means lots of food and lots of family. But for many queer and trans people of color, the word “family” means something entirely different.”

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Real family…

“Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your live who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile & who love you no matter what.”
“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your live who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile & who love you no matter what.”
I won’t try to sugar coat it. Right now it’s difficult to feel thankful. We have spokespeople for our soon-to-be president saying on national news channels that they aren’t certain whether Jewish people are actually people, for goodness sake! Anyone who thinks that this is all just something that will blow over, or that “both sides” are somehow just as bad is being delusional. And don’t get me started on the relatives that I have had to block recently!

But there are good things in my life. Specifically, good people. My husband. Our many wonderful friends. People near and far who have reached out to say we’re not alone in this. For most of my life family hasn’t referred to people who happen to be related to me by blood. Yes, a couple of my actual relatives have always been supportive and accepting even while others were most actively letting me know that my queer self was not welcome, but they are the minority. I’ve felt much more welcome and accepted by many of my in-laws. Not only that, my ex-wife and several of her family members have been more accepting of me than most of my blood relatives.

But blood or DNA isn’t what makes someone family. I will fight anyone who tries to say the my mom’s adoptive father wasn’t my real Grandpa, for instance. Family are the people who love you not in spite of your flaws, but including the flaws. It’s known that they have your back, and that you have theirs. The old joke is that a friend might help you move, but a real friend will help you move a body; and I am lucky enough to have some friends of the latter category (and I hope they know that I’m in that category for them, too).

The larger world seems to be out of control right now. What’s getting me through the craziness is knowing that I have these people I love, and who love me as well.

Red cups, manufactured outrage, and twisted meanings

Two of several designs of holiday cups at Starbucks this year, and my annual bag of Christmas Blend coffee.
Two of several designs of holiday cups at Starbucks this year, and my annual bag of Christmas Blend coffee. Photo © Gene Breshears (Click to embiggen)
The annual wails of outrage and anger at Starbucks over the “War on Christmas” began a few weeks ago, before a bunch of Trumpkins took it into their heads to punish Starbucks by going to various Starbucks stores, buying fancy coffees, telling the barista their name was Trump, and then get all upset if anything untoward happened. Or something. I really still don’t understand how buying stuff from a company punishes it.

Anyway, I saw some blog posts a couple of weeks ago claiming that this year’s Starbucks holiday cup was, once again, an assault on traditional american values because it didn’t say Christmas on it. The blog posts were in reference to a green cup that Starbucks unveiled a week or so before election day. They called it a Unity cup, and the featured artwork was many different people drawn with one continuous line, to symbolize how everyone is connected, humanity is one big family, et cetera. And the usual War on Christmas nuts started making angry posts about it.

Here, in a picture I swiped for the Starbucks corporate website, are this year's actual holiday cups, which all look very Christmasy to me!
Here, in a picture I swiped for the Starbucks corporate website, are this year’s actual holiday cups, which all look very Christmasy to me!
There are a couple of problems with this outrage. First, the cups weren’t the Starbucks holiday cups: No, Those Green Cups Aren’t The Starbucks Holiday Cup. Second, in what way can any Christian be legitimately offended by a message of community and connectedness of all mankind? Especially at Christmas?

I mean, in Luke 2:14 after the angel tells the shepherds that the savior has been born, a multitude of the heavenly host appears in the sky beside the first angel and sings, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Right?

Well, that’s one of the problems. The King James Version, which was the English language translation of the Bible preferred by most protestants for a couple hundred years (and was the one I first read cover-to-cover, the one read and quoted from the pulpit at all the churches I attended, and the one from which I memorized the Christmas story as told in Luke chapter 2 and Matthew chapter 1 as a child), states the angels’ song the way I quote it. God’s message is good will toward all mankind in that translation.

But evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have spurned the King James Version and a couple of similar translations, in part because they weren’t homophobic enough. Seriously, in 1946 the Revised Standard Version added the words homosexual or homosexuality to several passages. The fact that it was unclear in the original languages what some of those were passages talking about, and in other cases were references to particular types of prostitution (and a weird legalistic argument some people were apparently making that if they hired a male prostitute pretending to be a woman they weren’t really cheating on their wife) was completely glossed over with these changes. (You can read a lot more about it here: Homophobia and the Politics of Biblical Translation.)

The god of the King James Version was pretty judgmental, but not judgmental and condemning enough, apparently. And the new translations many of the evangelicals and fundamentalists favor render that verse a bit differently: “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Clearly implying that God does not offer universal love and forgiveness to everyone.

Make no mistake, the King James Version’s translation has all sorts problems. And the original texts from which the modern Bible is derived have other problematic issues. There are so many passages that praise slavery, for instance. There’s the bit in the old testament where men are instructed, if they suspect their wife might have been unfaithful, to take said wife to the temple for an involuntary abortion. There are also twenty-five separate and unequivocal passages stating that left-handed people are abominations and will not get into heaven. These are just some of the reasons that I no longer consider myself a member of the religion in which I was raised.

But I still keep, rather foolishly, expecting that more people who call themselves Christian will actually conduct themselves according to the actual teachings of the man who said: “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Do good to those that hate you. He didn’t say to make laws that punish those who disagree with you. He didn’t say to deny marriage licenses to those who believe differently than you. He didn’t say deport those who worship differently than you. He didn’t say to build walls to keep out people who look and speak differently than you. He didn’t say to tell all those people you are persecuting that you love them even while you’re doing all these hurtful and hateful things to them.

He said to do good to everyone, including those who hurt you. That’s how you love your neighbor. But it’s apparently a lot easier to change the words of their sacred book than it is to change their own hearts.

A red coffee cup with snowflakes on it, or Christmas ornaments, or snow covered evergreen trees, or a fanciful reindeer do not constitute a “War on Christmas.” It’s manufactured outrage, not an actual war. But people who call themselves Christian and support the persecution and demonization of people based on race, sexual orientation, immigration status, or religion? That is an actual war on the teachings of Christ.

Fire Retardant Malfunction will be my queercore cover band name

@AnnRubinKTVU  captured this picture of cyclist Blake Harrington who rode through the 10 foot deep foam mass before police blocked the area off.
@AnnRubinKTVU captured this picture of cyclist Blake Harrington who rode through the 10 foot deep foam mass before police blocked the area off.
I had planned something else for my next post, but then this news story crossed my twitter feed Friday afternoon: A Mysterious Giant Foam Blob Is Taking Over A City.

My friend, Jared, took issue with the headline for being overly clickbaity. The foam mass wasn’t mysterious by the time the reporter got there: it was leaking fire retardant foam from a nearly airport (Chemical foam spills from hangar at airport). It’s non-toxic, and will eventually fade away, but for a little while part of the city of Santa Clara, California was buried under a blob of foam.

And you thought 2016 couldn’t get any weirder!

In much less funny news (though there is some gallows humor to be found), Trumpkins are all het up because Vice President-elect Pence was booed on Broadway last night after a cast member addressed him during the curtain call. Given Pence’s virulent anti-gay actions in past political office, and his emphatic assertions since the election that he and Trump are going to undo as much gay civil rights as they can, and the lead actor of the play Pence went to is an openly-gay man, being booed is the kindest thing that could have happened, IMHO. Then, when a Trump surrogate complained about the disrespect and asserted that Pence loves gay people, CNN host Don Lemon wasn’t having it: WATCH: Don Lemon shoots down Kayleigh McEnany’s whining about ‘elites’ booing Pence at ‘Hamilton’.

Oh, and the statement from the cast member which has Trump and his followers rage-tweeting? Not disrespectful by any means:

Thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of ALL of us. Thank you.

Some Trumpkins are calling for a boycott of the musical Hamilton, which is going to be quite a trick, given that the show (with some tickets as high as $1000) is currently sold out through next January…

But then, Trump supporters don’t seem to understand how boycotts work at all: Trump Fans “Punish” Starbucks For Anti-White Discrimination By Buying More Coffee. Because of Starbucks’ corporate policies supporting various civil rights issues, the company has long been a target of anger and vitriol form the rightwing. However, this week after avideo of a really angry white customer losing his sh*t (attacking and threatening the baristas and the other customers because his coffee took too long—which he blamed anti-white “discrimination”) went viral, Trump supports have been going into Starbucks, ordering and paying for expensive drinks, and telling the baristas that their name is Trump, so that Trump’s name will be written on the cup. They then take pictures of the cups and post them to social media.

Wow, that’ll teach ’em… something?

Friday Links (snails in love edition)

Two of the rare left-spiraling snails brought together at last...
Two of the rare left-spiraling snails brought together at last…
It’s a Friday. I’m getting over the shock and depression. This means that my mood is shifting to righteous outrage, which is probably going to drive some people crazy. I hope mostly it’s just the deserving.

Last week I re-organized the Links post to put all the non-election (and mostly happy) links first so readers could avoid all that news if they just stopped at the warning. This week I’m going back to something close to my usual layout. Still trying to get most of the fun and happy news (such as there is) first.

Links of the Week

Can’t Hurry Love: Rare Snail Finds Romance After Global Search.

The ACLU’s Donation Website Couldn’t Keep Up With Everyone Trying To Donate After Trump Won.

Dear Trump Supporter who says they love me.

News for queers and our allies:

“I'm not interested in being polite or heterosexual.”
“I’m not interested in being polite or heterosexual.”
Ian Thorpe On Coming Out: “I Always Thought Of It As A Negative”.

New Kids On The Block Singer Jonathan Knight Proposes To Boyfriend In Africa.

You have to see how people reacted when a trans woman’s car was graffitied with hate slurs.

Here’s How LGBTQ People Can Protect Themselves Before Trump Takes Office.

Baptist church in Dallas votes to accept LGBT members.


The Supermoon and Global Warming: A Taste of Things to Come.

Hubble Just Spotted an Enormous Bubble in Space. This actually happened back in April, but the article I linked to then didn’t have the pretty pictures.

Man dissolves after trying to soak in Yellowstone hot pool.

Scientists have measured the smallest fragment of time ever.

Seriously beautiful science cocktails will have you rethinking your alcohol choices.

Oil and Gas Industry Ensnarled in Spate of Oklahoma Earthquakes.

Thank Neanderthal and Denisovan genes for health and skin colour.

Physicists just discovered a second state of liquid water.

CERN boffins see strange … oh, wait, that’s just New Zealand moving 2m north.

How Teamwork Brings Home the Tuna in Lego Land.

Some Dinosaurs Were Iridescent.

Antarctic quest to find ‘oldest ice’.


Geologists discover how a tectonic plate sank.

Thousands of dead fish clogged a New York canal. Why?

Humans are still evolving – but in ways that might surprise you.

Huddled mice could change the way we think about evolution.

Watch How Slime Mold Smartly Crawls By Itself All Over Everything.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

“Post Apocalyptic fiction has been moved to our Current Affairs section” — the Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass
“Post Apocalyptic fiction has been moved to our Current Affairs section” — the Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass

All the science fiction and fantasy novels you need to make it through winter.

Arrival shows there’s still room for literary science fiction films in Hollywood.

12 YA Books With Characters of Color and LGBTQ Characters.

This Week in Tech

How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour.

Facebook’s Fight Against Fake News Was Undercut by Fear of Conservative Backlash.

Culture war news:

LGBTQ People Are Scared About What Trump’s Victory Means for Them. Here’s Why.

God Magicked Donald Trump Into the White House, Says Pastor Who Doesn’t Get the Electoral College.

Which LGBT rights are on the chopping block?

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance.

A Survivor Of Gay Conversion Therapy Shares His Chilling Story.

On Day 1 President Donald Trump will take away Rights of The LGBTQ Community!

This Week in Fighting Back in the Culture War:

The Resistance: How to Defeat Donald Trump’s Plot Against America.

The Democrats must change – here’s how they can do it.


Progressives must lead the Democratic Party and develop its economic populism.

This Week in Difficult to Classify

HOLY FUCK THE ELECTION. This isn’t an article, it’s not quite a game… but go answer a few questions and get some answers…

This week in why the Electoral College must go


This week in Comments, Trolls, and Wankers

Twitter Just Banned a Bunch of Alt-Right Mouthpieces.

Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’.

This week in the deplorables

Gay man attacked by Trump fan who warned ‘my new president says we can kill all you f*ggots now’.

Trump is already consorting with a hate group.

If Your Election Postmortem Ignores Racism and Misogyny, It’s Probably Wrong.


‘An ape in heels’: WV officials slur Michelle Obama — and say Melania Trump will be ‘refreshing’.

Here’s Why It’s Fair—and Necessary—to Call Trump’s Chief Strategist a White Nationalist Champion.

Trump draws sharp rebuke, concerns over newly appointed chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon.

This Is Not Normal.

Bernie Sanders: Trump already breaking campaign promise to ‘drain the swamp’.

Trump Supporter Uses Japanese Internment Camps To Defend A Muslim Registry.

This week in Politics:

The Majority of American Voters Did Not Choose Trump for President.

Hillary Clinton Didn’t Shatter the Glass Ceiling.


Congressional GOP Pursues Codified Discrimination Against Range of Identities.

Terrorism deaths fall despite widening impact of attacks, global study reveals.

What the Hell Just Happened?

This Week in Hate Crimes

Hundreds of hate attacks recorded in US since election.

This map tracks where people are being harassed by Trump supporters.

Anti-Semitic propaganda was mailed to me at my home. This is not normal.


Robert Vaughn, ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ Star, Dies at 83.

Robert Vaughn may be best known for ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,’ but he had a range of colors to display.

Gwen Ifill, Host Of ‘Washington Week’ And ‘PBS NewsHour,’ Dies.

Gwen Ifill, legendary PBS reporter, is dead at 61.

Farewell to the Irreplaceable Gwen Ifill.

Things I wrote:

Facing an existential threat yet again….

Stop saying ‘We’ll get through this’ because not everyone will.

Imagining hope.

Getting indicted, still faking it (badly), & other weekend updates.

Five months later, Pulse shooting still a gut punch.

Not forgotten.

I am a writer, have pity on my husband.

Just keep writing, just keep writing, cry when you need to, just keep writing.


Robbie Williams | Love My Life – Official Video:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

SAINT MOTEL – “Move” (Official Video):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Alicia Keys – Blended Family (What You Do For Love) ft. A$AP Rocky:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Passenger | When We Were Young (Official Video):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Just keep writing, just keep writing, cry when you need to, just keep writing

“Shut up and write the book” Detlef Schluchter @D_Schluchter
“Shut up and write the book” Detlef Schluchter @D_Schluchter (click to embiggen)
A couple of times this week I’ve been tempted to write a blog post about the struggle I’m having with my project for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but then decided that was a procrastination trap and worked on the books instead. I seem to be back on track wordcount-wise, so that was probably a good call.

I’m still very worried about the future of the country, and yes more than a bit about my future and that of a lot of people I know and love. Brooding, worrying, researching, and chatting online last week didn’t help. Meeting some of our friends Saturday night and getting to vent and worry a bit together, but more importantly to commiserate and other wonderful things that friends do for each other helped me incredibly. Seeing more friends Sunday helped even more.

I’m also not going to discount how much help the unexpected crying while walking home from work on Monday provided. Keep in mind my walk takes a bit over an hour, and for more than half of that I couldn’t stop crying. Exercise and crying, I wholeheartedly endorse it!
Seeing this message from President Obama helped, a lot. I had already privately given myself a deadline of getting over the moping by the end of this week. With the help of wonderful friends, I’m getting there.

Now, I have these books to finish, so I better shut up and write!

I am a writer, have pity on my husband

I had a plan last night to attempt to try to deal a bit with my current doldrums. I’m sure that it’s a combination of my usual sort-of seasonal depression (starts most years around the time I realize it’s nearly Ray’s birthday and running until about the anniversary of his death), the shock-dismay-disappointment of the election, the other unrelated uncertainties (our landlady has sold the building and we may have to move when our lease is up), and my frustration with the projects I’m trying to finish during NaNoWriMo.

The plan was an old standby that has helped many a time before: pick one of the movies in our collection that I know will make me cry a few times, snuggle up under a blanket and watch it. It’s amazing how having a really good cry helps getting me back on something approaching an even keel.

So that was the plan. I left the office and began the walk home. I drilled down in the vast collection of playlists on my phone to find one I hadn’t listened to in a while. It started with Beyoncé’s “Halo” and jumps around in genres after that. I picked it primarily because I hadn’t listened to it in long enough that I didn’t remember what all was in it, to be honest. I didn’t expect that when the Al Green version of “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” came up that I’d start crying while I was trying to walk home.

So there I was, walking along, bawling my eyes out at least half of the walk home. It didn’t feel as cathartic as the good cry over a movie by any means. So I was still planning to do the movie thing when I got home.

But I got there and my husband was pulling beef ribs out of the oven that he had cooked until they were falling apart. And while I ate I was scrolling through the database of our movies we’ve got ready for streaming, and chatting a little bit online with a couple of my NaNoWriMo buddies and I just couldn’t pick a movie. And I was feeling exhausted.

So I curled up on the recliner and took a nap. I was afraid it was going to be one of those depression naps: where I sleep until the wee hours of the morning and wake up, not feeling any less depressed, but too awake to sleep and knowing that I wouldn’t feel rested when it was time to get up for work because I would stay up the rest of the night unable to sleep.

What actually happened is I slept for just over an hour. I felt like writing when I woke up, so I did. And by the time midnight rolled around, I’d written a bit over 1800 more words on my novels, and had some confidence that maybe I had sorted out the plot things. My husband was in bed asleep by then, so I put things away, turned out lights, and went to bed.

I don’t feel much better this morning but I feel less worn out and unmotivated. I thought I had about a half hour I could spend writing a blog post about where I was at, maybe talk about the plotting issues or something, but first I did a quick check of social media, where someone was sharing this from Schreibblockade offiziell, a blog by Lenia Roth:

© Lenia Roth
© Lenia Roth
Which says the writing stuff I was mulling over more succinctly. Plus I haven’t recommended another blog in a while, so I can take three or four birds with one stone which is even better than the usually proverbial rock tossing, right?

So, go check out the cool cartoons, commentary, and other stuff on Schreibblockade offiziell, and let’s all try to have a better day.

(And I still may pull out one of the tear-jerker movie some night this week.)