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Friday Five (someone’s going to prison edition)

Picture of convicted conspirator, Paul Manafort captioned “Will not do well in prison”

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It’s Friday! The second Friday in March!

And it snowed again. Had a bit over an inch in our part of town. Snow turned to rain and washed it away by afternoon, but it snowed. Again. I’ve seen snow in March, yes. Much later than March, in fact. When I was a kid growing up in Colorado! I haven’t lived in Colorada in over 40 years. We’ve already had the snowiest winter ever. Can we please, please have a bit of normal?

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

Stories of the Week:

How Much Wealthier Are White School Districts Than Nonwhite Ones? $23 Billion, Report Says.

In wake of protests, JPMorgan Chase breaks up with private prison industry.

A Clinton-era centrist Democrat explains why it’s time to give democratic socialists a chance.

Sex outside of marriage could soon be legal in Utah.

North Korea Is Rebuilding Rocket Site It Dismantled After Nuclear Talks Last Year. Because of course they are…

This Week in Science:

Smithsonian | There is A Scientific Reason That Cold Weather Could Cause Colds. There are actually multiple reasons why cold and flu season happens during the cold part of the year.

Semi-Identical Twins Identified For Only The Second Time Ever .

Galaxy Simulations Offer a New Solution to the Fermi Paradox.

After 14-year search scientists think they have found a new type of killer whale off coast of Chile.

A 2,000-year-old tattoo tool is the oldest in western North Americ

Awful, Deplorable People:

Paul Manafort Sentenced To Only 47 Months.

The Truth in Trump’s Law-Enforcement Hypocrisy — As a public defender, I’m not mad at how well Manafort and Cohen have been treated. I just want that same treatment for my clients..

Mike Pence isn’t ‘decent.’ He’s insidious..

Two Dozen Republicans Refuse to Vote for Resolution Condemning Wide Range of Hate and Bigotry.

Indiana man had 2,000 ancient human bones in his house. Most illegally dug up out of various indigenous burial grounds.

In Memoriam:

Luke Perry Dead: ‘90210,’ ‘Riverdale’ Star Dies at 52.

Luke Perry, in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ Helped Redefine the Male Love Interest —the mediocre 1992 movie eventually led to some great TV — but it also created a first-rate example of a male feminist..

Things I wrote:

Disgraced former Congressman gets an out of jail free pass….

Haste to prepare the way, or an ex-evangelical explains christianist attitudes toward Israel and Israelie.

Videos!

Someone has created an animation of several Police Logs of Port Townsend:

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Good Omens – Official Trailer | Prime Video:

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Brian Justin Crum “CIRCLES”:

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Better — A Horse With A Horn (NSFW):

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HE’S IN LOVE (and we’re all gonna die) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody:

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F/r/i/d/a/y/ Saturday Five (checkmate edition)

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It was Friday. I knew it was the first Friday in March. Yet, there was no Friday Five post on this blog yesterday.

We had two simultaneous product releases at work, and being the sole technical writer for the division, that turns into an extremely busy week. I put in more than eleven hours on Thursday alone, and it wasn’t the only day that I worked long hours. So, Thursday night, once I was done, I started working on this post. But I was literally dozing at the keyboard, so it didn’t happen.

Anyway, welcome to the Saturday Five. This week I bring you: the top five (IMHO) stories of the week, five stories about deplorable people, five stories about our very impeachable alleged president, and five videos (plus notable obituaries and the thing I wrote).

Stories of the Week:

Everyone loved me as Cosmo the Cougar, but would they love who I was behind the mask?.

Opinion | I Didn’t Kill My Baby.

World’s Largest Bee Is Spotted For First Time In Decades.

The Brain That Remade Itself.

Apple, Google, Tumblr and more businesses lobby US court for trans student.

This Week in High Crimes:

Republican Questioning of Michael Cohen at Hearing Is Bad – Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows Don’t Ask About Trump.

What We Learned From Michael Cohen’s Historic Testimony.

Former Trump Aid: Mueller Report Will be a Conspiracy Roadmap for Impeachment .

Kompromat: Or, Revelations from the Unpublished Portions of Andrea Manafort’s Hacked Texts .

A prominent conservative just shredded Trump’s ‘deafening silence’ on an alleged white supremacist terror plot.

Awful, Deplorable People:

NORTH CAROLINA: Republican Operative Arrested On Seven Felony Charges Over 2018 House Election Fraud and Central figure in 9th District election probe indicted and Board Orders New Election in Fraud-Tainted NC-9 Race .

And one bit of good news out of the North Carolina mess: Anti-LGBTQ pastor Mark Harris won’t run again after election board called for new House election in ballot fraud case – The Republican cited health concerns to explain his decision to skip the upcoming North Carolina Ninth District election.

George Pell: cardinal found guilty of child sexual assault – Vatican treasurer, the third most senior Catholic in the world, convicted on five charges in Australian court case.

Right-wing media and think tanks are aligning with fake feminists who dehumanize trans people.

And here in my home state: Tim Eyman (serial initiative sponsor under investigation for election finance fraud) charged with misdemeanor theft; attorneys call chair’s removal from store an accident

In Memoriam:

Disability Rights Advocate Carrie Ann Lucas Dies After Insurance Company Denied Her Necessary Medication.

Katherine Helmond, the Man-Crazy Mother on ‘Who’s the Boss?’ Dies at 89.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update: Words and images worth checking out.

Videos!

Trevor Noah: Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump Is a Racist, a Con Man and a Cheat but Lynne Patton Says He’s Not, So…:

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Lanny Davis: Michael Cohen Gave ‘Game Changing’ Information To House Intel | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC:

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Ex-Trump campaign official calls him ‘un-American’ and says his supporters were ‘taken for fools’:

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Boys In Trouble – Sean Dorsey Dance:

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Ben Platt – Grow As We Go [Official Video]:

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Get over it

“In 202, there will be a candidate competing against Donald Trump for President. It is likely this candidate:
1. Isn’t your first choice
2. Isn’t 100% ideologically pure
3. Has made mistakes in their life
4. Might not really excite you all that much
5. Has ideas you are uncomfortable with
Please start the process of getting over that shit now, instead of waiting until 2020.”

Get over it.

It can’t be too late for common sense about guns, right?

I’ve written about the most recent incident last week, and laid out how all the usual arguments for why we can’t do anything about mass shootings have been trotted out by other industries and proved incorrect a while ago: They used to insist that drunk driving couldn’t be reduced either. I had some more stuff I was going to follow up with, but almost everything I wanted to say is summed up by Emma Gonzalez, one of the survivors of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida: Teen who survived massacre rips Trump to pieces in emotional takedown. I’m just going to quote a bunch of that article:

[S]he responded directly to Trump’s tweet, which blamed students at the school for not reporting on the shooter’s behavior before the event.

“We did,” Gonzalez said, “time and time again, since he was in middle school.”

“We need to pay attention to the fact that this isn’t just a mental health issue,” she continued. “He wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife.”

“How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault?” she demanded, and called out those who do deserve to shoulder that blame.

“[The people] who let him buy the guns in the first place. Those at the gun shows. The people who encouraged him to buy accessories for his guns to make them fully automatic. The people who didn’t take them away from him when they knew that he expressed homicidal tendencies. And I am not talking about the FBI. I am talking about the people that he lived with, I’m talking about the neighbors who saw him outside holding guns.”

The NRA gave $30,000,000 dollars to the Trump Presidential campaign alone, not to mention the tens of millions to various senators and congresspeople. Last year, when Congress passed a law making it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns (and Cadet Bonespur signed it), the NRA sent out a bulletin to all of its members bragging about it.

The NRA routinely pours millions into defeating laws that NRA members themselves claim to support. When gun sales plummeted last year after Cadet Bonespur was inaugurated, they spent a bunch of money producing advertisements that portrayed Black Lives Matters protesters and such as dangerous violent people. The ads were blatant calls for white supremacists to buy more guns and prepare for a race war.

The NRA as an organization is demonstrably not promoting responsible gun ownership and hasn’t been for decades. It’s only goals are to protect and increase gun manufacturer profit; and if any of its leaders aren’t racist (a highly difficult proposition to prove), they are all absolutely fine fanning the flames of racial fear to keep the money rolling in.

So, anyone still supporting them is supporting an organization that sees mass murders of children and racial tension as marketing tools. You aren’t nobly defending a moral principle if you support them.

It’s time to end this bloody charade.

“The common refrain when shootings happen in that if you restrict access to guns, they'll just use knives. This is a switchblade. It's illegal to own in 11 states, illegal to sell in 13, illegal to open carry in 14, and illegal to concealed carry in 17. Itf we can agree that certain knives are so efficient at killing that we shouldn't possess or carry them, why can't we agree the same about guns? Keep in mind, knives meet the legal definition of arms referred to in the 2nd amendment.”

“The common refrain when shootings happen in that if you restrict access to guns, they’ll just use knives. This is a switchblade. It’s illegal to own in 11 states, illegal to sell in 13, illegal to open carry in 14, and illegal to concealed carry in 17. Itf we can agree that certain knives are so efficient at killing that we shouldn’t possess or carry them, why can’t we agree the same about guns? Keep in mind, knives meet the legal definition of arms referred to in the 2nd amendment.”

The Return of the Fumble Fingers, part gazillion

I clicked publish instead of save by mistake, again. Come back later for the finished post.

She Knew What She Was Doing and Why – Ursula K. Le Guin

“Fake Rule: The generic pronoun in English is he. Violation: “Each one in turn reads their piece aloud.” This is wrong, say the grammar bullies, because each one, each person is a singular noun and their is a plural pronoun. But Shakespeare used their with words such as everybody, anybody, a person, and so we all do when we’re talking. (“It’s enough to drive anyone out of their senses,” said George Bernard Shaw.) The grammarians started telling us it was incorrect along in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. That was when they also declared that the pronoun he includes both sexes, as in “If a person needs an abortion, he should be required to tell his parents.” My use of their is socially motivated and, if you like, politically correct: a deliberate response to the socially and politically significant banning of our genderless pronoun by language legislators enforcing the notion that the male sex is the only one that counts. I consistently break a rule I consider to be not only fake but pernicious. I know what I’m doing and why.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story

“Fake Rule: The generic pronoun in English is he.
Violation: “Each one in turn reads their piece aloud.”
This is wrong, say the grammar bullies, because each one, each person is a singular noun and their is a plural pronoun. But Shakespeare used their with words such as everybody, anybody, a person, and so we all do when we’re talking. (“It’s enough to drive anyone out of their senses,” said George Bernard Shaw.) The grammarians started telling us it was incorrect along in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. That was when they also declared that the pronoun he includes both sexes, as in “If a person needs an abortion, he should be required to tell his parents.” My use of their is socially motivated and, if you like, politically correct: a deliberate response to the socially and politically significant banning of our genderless pronoun by language legislators enforcing the notion that the male sex is the only one that counts. I consistently break a rule I consider to be not only fake but pernicious. I know what I’m doing and why.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story

“Dear Mr Radziewicz,
I can imagine myself blurbing a book in which Brian Aldiss, predictably, sneers at my work, because then I could preen myself on my magnanimity. But I cannot imagine myself blurbing a book, the first of the series, which not only contains no writing by women, but the tone of which is so self-contentedly, exclusively male, like a club, or a locker room. That would not be magnanimity, but foolishness. Gentlemen, I just don’t belong here.
Yours truly,
Ursula K. Le Guin”

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88.

The fantasy and science fiction community pays tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ursula K. Le Guin, the spiritual mother of generations of writers; John Scalzi pays tribute.

I’ve written about two of Le Guin’s books that were instrumental in my life: Timebomb from the Stars – more of why I love sf/f and The Original Wizard School – more of why I love sf/f. Please note I said in my life, not just in my understanding of science fiction/fantasy or how to write. Her stories did that, too—but Le Guin’s books were particularly important to teen-age me trying to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin.

As I said in one of the earlier blog posts, she may not have explicitly meant her story to help a queer kid learn to accept himself, but that’s what her tales did for me. Also, every time I re-read one of Le Guin’s books, I notice ideas that she develops in the story that have become such an intrinsic part of how I look at stories, that I have forgotten she was the one who introduced me to the idea. The ideas in her tales weren’t messages that slap you in the face, they are simply a part of the story in such a way that you accept them. They aren’t “Ah ha!” moments, but more like, “Of course!”

I don’t know how to express how heavy my heart is because of her passing. Tuesday afternoon, when my husband got home from work, he asked me if I had been paying attention to the news or twitter, then told me that Ursula K. Le Guin had died, and I just said, “No! Oh, no!” emphatically. It struck me harder than a celebrity death has in a long time. Once I was finished with work, I cued up the audiobook in which Ursula read her own translation of the Tao Te Ching, because I just needed to hear her voice for a while.

I was a little surprised how upset I was, until I read John Scalzi’s column above. I hadn’t realized it, but she was a spiritual mother to me, despite my only ever meeting her at a book signing. And he’s right. It takes time to mourn a mother.

Ooops!

Fumble fingers again!

If you got to this page from a notification sent out on the weekend, the post was only half-written then and I clicked the wrong button. Now you can read “We’re living in the future, but a lot of people don’t get it” by clicking the link.

Fumble fingers again…

Not quite ready…

Sorry, the Save Draft button and the Publish button are too close together on the interface, and sometimes while I’m working on a blog post, particularly a longer one where I save many times, I accidentally click publish without realizing it.

The real post is available here!

Shiny new toy: my new Macbook Pro

I was trying to take a picture that showed the Touch Bar the first night after my laptop arrived.

I was trying to take a picture that showed the Touch Bar the first night after my laptop arrived.

I replaced my 5 1/2 year old Macbook Pro with the sparkly new Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. I’ve been using it for about a month and a half and thought I’d share my impressions. Note: I’m just a queer sf/f writer (who happens to have worked in the tech industry for more that a quarter of a century); I’m not a professional technology reporter, I’m not making any money from this blog and certainly not any money from Apple. But I own and use a lot of Apple products and have been using computers for over thirty years. So take this review accordingly…

Read More…

Oppressed oppressors: make America great like it was before The Homosexuals…

Face the Nation did a segment this weekend where they interviewed some Trump supporters and it was… special: Trump supporter tells CBS: He will make America great again like it was before ‘the homosexuals’. We’ll come back to the bit that made it into the headline. I’m just continually confused by people like these (and a whole bunch of my rightwing relatives), who keep insisting that Trump is the Christian candidate. Insisting that Trump is going to lead the country to a place of morality (with the corollary claim that the country is deeply immoral now).

So they want to elect a serial philandering racist tax cheat who scams retirees out of their Social Security checks with a fake university, breaks contracts and refuses to pay his bills without a hint of remorse, and brags about walking into dressing rooms filled with naked fifteen-year-olds.

I just don’t quite understand how anyone can make a statement with a straight face, as the woman in the Face the Nation video does, about a time “before abortions and the homosexuals.”

Humans have been performing abortions since ancient times. There’s a section of the old testament (that gets mistranslated rather hilariously), which instructs husbands who believe their pregnant wives have been unfaithful to take the women to the temple so that the rabbis can abort the baby, for instance. Abortion was happening in the U.S. at an alarming rate in the 1950s and 1960s when it was illegal, for instance: 200,000 to 1.2 million per year, resulting in as many as 5,000 American women dying annually as a direct result of unsafe abortions.

And queer people have been around for as long as there have been people. And humans are not the only species on the planet with queer members.

What she and people like her really mean, of course, is not a time before queer people existed, but a time when queer people weren’t treated as human. When we could be fired, thrown in jail, and so on just because of who we loved. When there were arcane laws that made it illegal for a bartender to knowingly serve alcohol to more than one homosexual (yes, the laws actually said it was okay to have one fag in your bar at a time, but no more!).

But it wasn’t just that queers were beaten to death with impunity and subject to jail time and fines for who they loved. In many states and towns it was literally illegal for women to wear pants in public or for men to wear a dress (one of those laws in a town in New Jersey wasn’t overturned until 2014, by the way!). And the laws were usually pretty vague. It was a crime to appear “in public a clothing not belonging to his or her sex.” Which makes me wonder about the sort of suit jacket thing the woman in that video is wearing, no?

Remember it was also illegal in most states for a woman to refuse sex to her husband until such laws began to be repealed in the 1970s. Note: even if a couple were in the midst of a divorce, legally separated, and the husband broke into the home the wife was staying in and forced himself on her, she couldn’t charge him with rape. Heck, under current law some states there has to be proof of physical violence of an aggravated level before it can be called rape.

And it was a time when it was illegal in many places for people of different races to marry.

And these things are all related. There are reasons that abortion rulings were referenced in early court cases about sodomy laws. Ultimately, laws about abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and even how people dress are all about making sure that some people’s bodies (women, racial minorities, religious minorities, sexual minorities) are under the control of other people (white Anglo Saxon Protestant men). In that time before The Homosexuals, America was not a place where woman could dress as they wished, where woman could kiss or refuse to kiss who they wished, or where anyone outside of very narrow definitions or situations could love or get intimate with another consenting adult.

It wasn’t a better time for anyone who wasn’t a straight, cisgender, white guy… or a person considered under their protection (control).

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