Archive | November 2019

The 11th day of the 11th month…

We’ve called it Veteran’s Day since 1954 — a day to honor those who have served in the military. Our allies still refer to this holiday by its original name: Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. We American’s barely study World War I in public school history classes, and when we do, it seldom includes the whole story: How did the first world war actually end?

November 11, 1918 was the day that the peace accord ending what was then called The Great War. And so each year after we set aside a day to honor those who served, to remember their sacrifices, and pledge to work to prevent wars from happening. At least that’s what we used to say. Since the U.S. came into the Great War later than the other countries, and it wasn’t fought on our country, and the number of our troops killed was a small fraction of the casualty totals of the war, we have never looked at Armistice Day quite the way our allies did. WWII was what loomed large for us, culturally.

In the U.S. this holiday is described as a day to honor and thank veterans for their military service. To me, one of the ways we ought to thank them for their service is to find ways to end wars and bring them home. Unfortunately I get the feeling from certain politicians and pundits that trying to find ways to start even more wars is what they are interested in doing.

I’ve written before about the way we tend to blend our patriotic holidays together. Specifically the misguided practice of everyone thanking people for their service on Independence Day, Memorial Day, and so on. Those holidays aren’t when we should do that. This is the day to do that.

Regardless, if you want to show support for those who served, may I humbly suggest donating to National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. There are, of course, many other fine charities that serve veterans and their families. You can find more of them here: Charity Navigator: Support Our Troops

Friday Five (ok boomer edition)

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We’ve reached the second Friday of November and there was a lot of good election news this week.

Before I get into anything else, I want to point out that I am a Baby Boomer, and please put my name at the top of the list of people who say that neither ‘boomer’ nor ‘ok boomer’ are slurs. Furthermore, Boomers are the ones who started the generational conflict by wrecking the housing market, not standing up for workers’ rights, starting wars we don’t intend to pay for, and all those stupid “Millenials kill…” headlines.

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five stories of the week, five stories about reading & writing & sci fi, five stories about the blue & rainbow wave, five stories about the impeachable one & another deplorables, and five videos (plus a thing I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Hundreds of mammoth bones found in 15,000-year-old traps in Mexico.

Charles Addams: The Long Island Macabre Master Who Created The Addams Family.

Chicago book returns surge 240% after city eliminates fines.

For the first time ever, a US cheese is named best in the world.

Feds Sue Gilead Over Patents On HIV-Prevention Drugs.

Writing, Reading, and Science Fiction:

Ready. Set. Write a Book.

Terminator: Dark Fate Review. I really enjoyed the movie, myself.

Is Publishing Too Top-Heavy? – As megabestsellers command more of publishers’ marketing budgets and retailers’ shelf space, breaking out the next crop of hit makers has become a challenge.

[NOVEMBER 5, 1964] THE STATE OF THE SOLAR EMPIRE: PERRY RHODAN IN 1964. Galactic Journey is a web site that covers important development is science and sf/f—55 years ago. It’s almost like time traveling back once a week.

Round-up of Awards Posts by F&SF Writers, Editors, and Publishers for 2019.

This Week in the Blue & Rainbow Wave:

Massive, Major Victories for Democrats in Virginia and Kentucky as Trump Fails to Deliver Wins for His GOP Candidates.

The Blue Wave Hasn’t Crested – Virginia has been a bellwether in the Trump era, and Democrats hope their historic victory last night points to another national win in 2020.

Anti-LGBTQ Fairfax school board member loses re-election bid.

At Least 100 LGBTQ Candidates Win Elections as Rainbow Wave Continues.

Let’s Celebrate All The Good Shit That Happened On Election Night.

This Week in the Impeachable One and Other Deplorable People:

‘Lawless’ Trump Foundation Must Pay $2M Settlement.

Don Jr’s ‘Book’ Sales Boosted By Republican National Committee – Don Jr’s “book” is climbing the charts due to a huge purchase by the Republican National Committee, who is giving the book away for free to donors.

Hate Crime Verdict In Burning Of Church Rainbow Flag.

Milo Posts Racist Rant By Extremist Richard Spencer – Leaked audio purportedly shows the far-right leader screaming anti-Semitic slurs and threatening further violence in Charlottesville.

Impeachment transcripts reveal a consistent, damaging narrative for Trump – The witness testimonies released so far are all aligned, offering Democrats a powerful political weapon in public hearings next week.

In Memoriam:

Bernard Slade, 89, Dies; ‘Partridge Family’ Creator and Playwright .

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 11/2/2019: Seamy underbellies everywhere.

Old authors yell at clouds again—or, I thought sf/f was supposed to be about progress.

Videos!

Stephen Colbert – Meanwhile… Is It OK To Say “OK, Boomer”?:

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Seth Meyers’ monologue – Roger Stone’s Trial Begins and Other Topics:

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New Zealand lawmaker shuts down heckler: ‘OK, boomer’:

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Stephen Colbert – “Read The Transcript” Is Trump’s Latest Rallying Cry:

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Sam Smith – I Feel Love (Visualiser):

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Old authors yell at clouds again—or, I thought sf/f was supposed to be about progress

Old man yells are cloud, "I will not succumb to the cultural devolution you call progress!"

Since I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month, I don’t have a lot of time for blogging. But a particular kerfuffle has resurfaced in sf/f fandom and I had a lot of thoughts. I don’t want to go into all the details, other than it involves one older author writing both in a published column and then on his blog about how certain people (and oddly enough most examples he gives is sf/f written by women of color) are ruining things because they’re getting awards for writing stuff that isn’t good, proper, serious, hard science-filled science fiction.

Fortunately, other people have written things that are a bit more organized that I would likely be in a quick blog post.

First up, the following essay was actually written and sold to Uncanny Magazine some time before the old guy’s recent angry rant, but it just so happens to be a great take on the underlying topic: The Science, Fiction, and Fantasy of Genre. Just this metaphor alone is worth the read:

“It’s been said that whoever writes in the field of science fiction stands on the shoulders of giants, the towering titans of yesteryear. Their hard work built the playground; we just play in it.

“At the risk of thoroughly mixing those two metaphors, it occurs to me that even if we allow for the existence of giants, a playground in which we have to stand on top of each other can’t be very large, can it? And even the best playground could use some new equipment from time to time.”

But my favorite parts are in the middle—and too big to excerpt and still give justice—where she looks at famous works by Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clark, and Isaac Asimov and points out that none of them were about hard proper science, but actually about history, psychology, and sociology. It’s a really good read! You should check it out.

And then there is this incredibly wonderful bit of sarcastic artistry: Science Fiction vs. Fantasy: The Choice Is Clear.

“Science fiction provides its readers with iron-hard, fact-based possibility…

“Where but science fiction could we find stories like Pohl and Williamson’s Reefs of Space series, which explores the possibility that the Oort Cloud could be filled by an ecosystem powered by biological fusion and that a few lucky humans might someday enjoy mind-melds with intelligent stars? And where but in science fiction could we entertain the quite reasonable possibility that someday a young woman with whichever psionic powers the plot of the week requires might have to contend with invisible cats? Who but science fiction writers will remind us of the very real possibility that one day starships might be propelled at superluminal velocities by the power of women’s orgasms?”

That last sentence is particularly relevant. Because the old author yelling about how modern science fiction has been ruined by all this fantasy? He’s the one who wrote about starships powered by women’s orgasms. And it wasn’t a parody—he insisted that it was serious sci fi at the time. Also, that is unfortunately not the creepiest sexual non sequitur he ever shoehorned into a supposed science fiction tale.

So, yeah, the angry man who wrote that stuff? He doesn’t get to lecture other people on not being serious enough in their science fiction and fantasy.

Weekend Update 11/2/2019: Seamy underbellies everywhere

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Normally, this would be another post about news that broke after I posted this week’s Friday Five, or didn’t come to my attention until afterward, or that didn’t quite make the cut, or about a previously linked story which has new developments.

This week I’m starting with something else. A story I very emphatically did not bookmark last week after reading it, because I knew no matter how sparse my list of possible stories were by the end of the week, I didn’t want to link to it. It was yet another “Millenials Kill…” story, this one about so-called “power lunches” at swanky Manhattan eateries. I admit I only clicked on the headline when I saw because I thought that surely this was from the Onion, so I was expecting to read something funny.

No, it was dead serious. While the article did admit that part of the “problem” for these famous restaurants in downtown New York City aren’t raking in the weekday cash like they used to is because many corporations have moved large portions of their workforce to cheaper locations outside the city. But otherwise it was all about how office workers eat lunch at their desks instead of going out.

Now, to be clear, I classified as a Baby Boomer under the currently most prevalent definition of the generation. And this Baby Boomer eats lunch at his desk, it isn’t a Millenial thing. And the reason I do it is the same reason that hundreds of thousands of other office workers out there do it: our employers keep demanding more and more productivity from a smaller work force. That’s it. If I take the time to leave the office, walk to a nearby restaurant, order food, wait for my meal and eat it there before sauntering back to the office, that means I have to stay even later that I already do to meet my deadlines.

Also, like most Americans in the workforce for the past three decades, while I do occasionally get a raise, the raises don’t ever seem to get ahead of the increase in the cost of living. And because the length of time between raises keeps getting longer, well, I can make my own lunch a whole lot cheaper than it will cost me to got out at lunch.

The other issue is that these “traditional power lunches” were never attended by rank and file office workers. Older white male executives and younger ambitious white men who wanted to become executives were the vast majority of people at those three-martini lunches.

I’m just going to start ranting angrily if I keep going, so instead here are two stories (one from nearly a year ago that I’m pretty sure I included in one of the Friday Five posts then) which cover things quite well:

Millennials Didn’t Kill the Economy. The Economy Killed Millennials – The American system has thrown them into debt, depressed their wages, kept them from buying homes—and then blamed them for everything.

12 Industries Experts Say Millennials Are Killing — And Why They’re Wrong.


Usually I have a lot to say about the other stories I include in a Weekend Update, but I’m doing NaNoWriMo at the moment, so here are a few quickies:

Beto O’Rourke Packing Up His Air-Drumsticks And Your Diner’s Countertops And Going Home. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Beto as a Senate candidate. And clearly, after the mass shooting in his home district when he found his voice and demonstrated a lot of spine in the gun control topic, I became more fond of him in the Democratic debates. But I think the three-term Congressman could serve the country better as, say, a Senator from Texas (the climate is going to be more favorable to Blue candidates this next time against John Cornyn that it was last time against Ted Cruz). He’d probably make a decent cabinet secretary, and he’d look lovely standing beside President Warren or President Harris as veep. I’m just sayin’.

Conservative Supreme Court Justices Are Showing Their Biases On Twitter Now – If only the Supreme Court had ANY ETHICS RULES AT ALL. Since we can now prove that one of these guys committed purjury during his confirmation hearings, I really hope we can do something about him in the not too distant future.

Smugglers Easily Cut Through Trump’s New Border Wall. All you need is a $100 reciprocating saw. Like we said!

Inside The Seamy Underbelly Of Trump’s Twitter Feed – The New York Times has done a deep dive into Trump’s Twitter feed, examining how extremists and lunatics use his audience – and more importantly – his attention, to springboard their agendas of hate. I’m linking to this excerpt because the main story is behind a paywall.

Friday Five (convenient hypocrisy edition)

And now we reach the first Friday of November!

It continues to be winter-cold, without any rain. Which means the spore counts keep climbing. Having hay fever when it’s cold is never fun.

Anyway, welcome to the Friday Five. This week I bring you: the top five stories of the week, five stories about deplorable people, five stories about the impeachable one, and five videos (plus a thing I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Who Gave You the Right to Tell That Story? Ten authors on the most divisive question in fiction, and the times they wrote outside their own identities.

Looking at Cute Animals Online Is Literally Good for Your Brain.

Are 90% of giraffes gay – or have their loving looks been misunderstood?

Blast from Waukee gender reveal felt over 2 miles away.

‘He’s a patriot’: Republicans defend key impeachment witness from attacks.

This Week in Deplorable People:

Senate blocks effort to roll back Trump administration’s ObamaCare rule. Excluding pre-existing conditions will kill thousands of Americans… which is what Trump and his billionaire buddies want.

Right-Wing Lobby Divorces Itself? In Lawsuit, NRA Says NRA-TV Is Racist. Which is true… but the NRA is also racist.

Missouri’s state health director says he tracked Planned Parenthood patients’ periods.

Evangelical conservatives are determined to go down in disgrace with Trump. Let them do it.

When One Good Day Is One Too Many.

This Week in Impeach the Mo-Fo Already:

Trump lures GOP senators on impeachment with cold cash.

Why it’s such a big deal that Donald Trump is suddenly selling his Washington DC hotel.

Trump Takes Swipe at Obama for Not Capturing al-Baghdadi Then Admits to War Crime at Police Chiefs Conference.

‘Music to Putin’s ears’: Ambassador McFaul blasts Trump’s pattern of furthering Russian interests.

Security Official Testifies Ukraine Transcript Was Edited.

In Memoriam:

Robin Brett, NASA scientist who studied ‘moon rocks,’ dies at 84.

Tributes pour in for John Witherspoon after actor dies at 77.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 10/26/2019: Cold hearts and webs of sin.

Yelling at clouds, pointless nostalgia, and blind spots.

Time to fire up those word processors! #NaNoWriMo.

…and then what happened? And then? And then? — getting the story started and keeping it going.

Evasive geniuses, invisible monsters, and helpful (sassy gay) robots—more of why I love sf/f.

Videos!

Stephen Colbert and the gang go after Hallmark and Lifetime Movies – Just In Time For Halloween, It’s The Late Show Christmas Movies!:

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Lunar Module Costume: Big Sis Lunar Lander, Little Sis Astronaut (with flag):

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Trump & Syria: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO):

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TESS Catches its First Star-destroying Black Hole:

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Galantis & Dolly Parton – Faith feat. Mr. Probz [Official Music Video]:

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