Weekend Update 8/5/2017: Let’s stick with happy stuff

Voyager: The Grand Tour and Beyond. Image © NASA

Voyager: The Grand Tour and Beyond. Image © NASA Planetary Science Division

As often happens, several interesting bits of news that I would have included in my weekly round up of links if I had seen them before Thursday night have turned up. And some of them are things I could write a bit of a rant on, but I’m just not in the mood to rant or be outraged. We can find bad or disturbing or worrisome news everywhere. So I will just save that for next week, okay?

I really wish I’d seen this story before I did this week’s Friday Links, because it would be a great candidate for Link of the Week: The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe. “As the Voyager mission is winding down, so, too, are the careers of the aging explorers who expanded our sense of home in the galaxy.” It’s bittersweet to think about: two devices built in the 70s that can only understand a programming language that has been considered obsolete for decades, billions of miles away, but parts of them are still functioning and sending their data back. It’s just a really good story. You should go read it. I’ll just point out that Voyager 1 launched just 20 days before my 17th birthday.

In much less serious news, this story (and the adorable video that accompanies it) is just funny: Gay Dads Obsess Over Baby’s First Haircut In Adorable Diaper Ad. Go, watch. Have a chuckle.

And then, in case you need some heartwarming family friendly goodness: In a Heartbeat – Animated Short Film:

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

The learn more about this short film: YouTube Falls Hard for ‘In a Heartbeat,’ a Boy-Meets-Boy Story.

Friday Links (where there’s smoke edition)

NASA satellite photo showing smoke clouds covering my home...

NASA satellite photo showing smoke clouds covering my home…

I’m trying not to freak out that it’s already August. So, it’s Friday, the first Friday in August. No big deal. The Senate has unanimously decided not to recess because no one on the planet, including Donald’s own party, trusts him with the power of recess appointments. Republicans actually had ethical limits. Who knew? Certainly not any of us who have been paying attention to them since 1980…

There are dozens of wild fires raging in the forest of British Columbia, some a thousand miles to the north of my location, but my city is currently blanketed by a layer of smoke from those fires so thick that they are telling us not to venture outdoors if we can avoid it, and certainly not to exercise outside. But we’re also experiencing a record-breaking heatwave, so on Thursday night, many hours before you can read this, I’m sitting outside with my laptop because it is somewhat cooler out here than inside.

Usually the third paragraph of these weekly round ups says simply that here are the links sorted into categories. But I think I need to change things a bit. I’m a news junkie and I approach the weekly roundup from my perspective as a queer man concerned with the future of the american republic and the world at large. But some people take some of those links differently. So I’m going to lead off with Science and other topics that are non-political this time. I’m going to finish off with music videos as I usually do. The things some people classify as politics/proof how awful the world is/etc will still be here, but you can skip down to the music once you hit those if you are so inclined.

Science!

Evidence mounts that the first cities are much older than we thought.

Kepler Spots the First Exomoon Candidate 4000 Light Years From Earth.

Eat, Pray, Fossilize? Praying Mantis Fossil Is 110 Million Years Old.

Death Valley just experienced the hottest month ever recorded in the U.S..

Bee Extinction Is Threatening the World’s Food Supply, UN Warns.

A lot of people were sharing this link: Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder. Please note that the “bounce back” has caveats, and the original site publishing the link is a marketing group for the manufacturers of pesticides. So the real take away is that beekeepers are trying to help the bees bounce back, but…

Scientists Reversed Glaucoma in Mice With the Help of a Single Gene.

Spiny Worm Beast Haunted the Seas 500 Million Years Ago.

Scientists Just Discovered the Oldest Asteroid Family Ever.

Physicists Capture the Elusive Neutrino Smacking Into an Atom’s Core. Wow!

Hubble Telescope Detects Stratosphere on Huge Alien Planet.

Apollo Astronaut Penlight Shines Again as Nautical Lantern Maker Replica.

This Week in Weather and the Atmosphere

Hot and hazy: Smoke from B.C. fires will hang around Seattle.

Giant Canadian Smoke Cloud Covers Puget Sound: NASA Photo.

Blistering Heat Wave Threatens Seattle, Where Only a Third Have Air-Conditioning.

Where’s the AC? Heat grips Portland, Seattle.

Seattle’s heat wave, wildfire haze could linger into next week, weather service says.

Western Heat Wave Breaks Record Highs in Oregon and Washington.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Book Review: Dinosaur Empire!

WHEN SHE WAS CAMP: BUFFY TURNS 25.

David gerrold on franchises.

Maybe the A.I. dystopia is already here .

THE BEST AND WORST TIME TO BE AN X-FAN.

This Week in Tech

Two Sides to Apple’s China Story.

How to Hack an Election in 7 Minutes.

Culture war news:

NAACP issues its first statewide travel advisory, for Missouri.

Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort.

Of Course Abortion Should Be a Litmus Test for Democrats.

There’s no evidence that immigrants hurt any American workers.

Texas Republican warns religious right getting “out of hand” with bigoted bathroom bill.

This Week in This Guy is So Gay it’s Painful to Watch Him Pretend Otherwise:

Do straight congressmen post hundreds of pictures of themselves like this on line? Of course not...

Do straight congressmen post hundreds of pictures of themselves like this on line? Of course not…

Self-loathing closet cases who bilk taxpayers to lavish international trips on their boy toys must be outed.

Court docs reveal Aaron Schock’s aides urged him to stop acting so ‘gay’.

Aaron Schock gay rumors: More than just snarky jokes.

Aaron Schock Outed As Gay By Itay Hod, Journalist, On Facebook in 2014.

The 7 gayest Aaron Schock Instagram posts.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liar:

5 things Trump did while you weren’t looking: Week 8.

CNN’s Jake Tapper destroys Trump: Russia seems like the only one that can control the president.

Trump Cabinet Secretaries Attend Bible Study Led by Extremist Pastor ‘Not Biblically Qualified for Spiritual Leadership’. This pastor’s own church and ministry decided he isn’t qualified to lead Bible studies, so of course the Trumpites are pretending to listen to him.

Lawsuit Alleges Fox News And Trump Supporter Created Fake News Story. The lawsuit includes enough evidence to drop the word ‘alledged’ from that headline.

Brinkley: Trump is ‘unfit for command.

CBO says Trump budget plan doesn’t come close to balance. We’ve known this for weeks…

Trump’s Dangerous Incitement of Police Violence.

News about the Fascist Regime:

Read the Full Text of Bill Browder’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee .

This week in Politics:

Democrats Aren’t In Lockstep Over Abortion — That’s Why They’re Fighting.

Dem campaign chief vows no litmus test on abortion . This is a really bad idea. I should write a blog post on why, for a legal and logic point of view this is a supremely bad idea.

Why are Rand Paul and Kamala Harris teaming up on a bill? Because the whole point of the U.S. Republic is that sometimes we find alliances in unlikely places?

Sen. Mazie Hirono Holds Back Tears During Impassioned Health Care Plea.

This Week in Racists, White Nationalists, and other deplorables:

William Shatner Attacks Snowflakes, Social Justice Warriors, and Misandrists.

xJesse Lee Peterson Claims African Americans Were ‘Better Off’ Under Jim Crow.

Maybe Taking the Arguments of Nazis At Face Value Is Bad.

GUILTY: Judge rules in former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s criminal contempt case

This Week in Hate Crimes

Two more men have gone missing from Toronto’s gay village, rekindling old fears in the queer community.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 7/29/2017: More Words and Pictures.

Settling in to the new place.

You never know where you’re goin’ ’til you get there! (or, Revising my goals).

It’s not a food allergy & other misconceptions about diabetes.

Everybody was kung fu fighting, even mighty whitey — more of why I love sf/f.

Self-loathing closet cases who bilk taxpayers to lavish international trips on their boy toys must be outed.

Videos!

Adam Lambert – Two Fux [Lyric Video] (NSFW, but this is my new anthem):

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

Public Service Broadcasting – They Gave Me A Lamp:

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

Tegan and Sara – Boyfriend [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]:

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

Charli XCX – Boys [Official Video]:

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

Adam Lambert – Welcome to the Show feat. Laleh [Official Music Video]:

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

Self-loathing closet cases who bilk taxpayers to lavish international trips on their boy toys must be outed

Totally normal to have your photographer (far right) pose with you in all the official photos rather than actually operating a camera. Even if the taxpayer is picking up the photographer's tab, right?

Totally normal to have your photographer (far right) pose with you in all the official photos rather than actually operating a camera. Even if the taxpayer is picking up the photographer’s tab, right?

Former Rep. Aaron Schock Furious After Feds Ask If He’s Gay And If That’s Really His “Girlfriend”. And Shock’s lawyers are asking to have his 24-count indictment for financial wrongdoing tossed out because of asking about the gay questions: Aaron Schock lawyers seek dismissal over ‘prosecutorial misconduct’. There are many big problems with this, only one of them being this: among the financial improprieties the former Congressman (and almost certainly self-loathing closet case) is charged with is using taxpayer money to pay for accomodation, first class international air travel tickets, and more for the unmarried hot young man who lived with him as a roommate for years and with whom Shock would pose in photographs as if he was a spouse.

As Joe Jervis over at JoeMyGod.com observed, “investigators are trying to determine, among other things, if his traveling companions were legitimate staffers or, you know, his boyfriend(s).”

On one of those taxpayer funded trips Congressman Shock had this guy who was listed as a staff photographer (but he never took pictures) put in a hotel room with a door adjoining his, get upgrades and other things using programs that are usually meant for spouses, and so on. Those are among the many, many, many reasons that everyone with a lick of sense has been saying for years that the Congressman who pushed lots of anti-gay legislation when he was in office and made speeches saying the employers should be able to fire people who they even suspect might possibly be gay (and that landlords should have the right to evict tenants simply because the landlord suspects they might be gay, et cetera) is probably a closeted gay man. So the exact relationship between Shock and this string of good-looking unmarried “roommates” that Shock kept in his multiple extremely expensive homes is quite relevant to some of the financial shenanigans under investigation.

Congressman Shock has a great anti-gay voting record, but posts pictures of himself to Instagram like this, has never married, and has lived with a string of similar male “roommates” for over a decade.

It’s not just the former Congressman’s fashion choices. It’s not just the fact that at one point his personal Twitter account and Instagram account was following hundreds of gay models and male athletes who were always known for posting pictures of themselves scattily clad (and then unfollowing those hundreds of accounts en mass when a major news site finally mentioned the gay rumors). It’s not just the years of being unmarried and wealthy but always having unmarried male “roommates.” It’s not about the adjoining hotel rooms with the unmarried male roommate while traveling. It’s not about the way when he was walking around a gay neighborhood during Pride week with reporters where he was supposed to be talking about some urban issues but he kept getting distracted on camera with his eyes following the hot shirtless men who walked by. It’s not about using an airline perk that is supposed to be reserved for spouses to get the unmarried male roommate/supposedly staff photographer moved up to First Class to sit with him. It’s not about his decorating choices. All of that smoke adds adds up to a something, yes.

And no, I and hundreds of other queer people aren’t being homophobic when we point all those things out. We’re not stereotyping him as a gay man, we’re stereotyping him as a self-loathing closet case. That is different.

But the two issues are: he was a public official who voted for and campaigned on anti-gay causes. He tried to make it legal for people to fire folks merely for being suspected of being gay. That means the moral and ethical imperative is to look into all this suspiciously gay behavior. So the Log Cabin Republicans are absolutely wrong (again) when they insist that outing is always wrong.

But yes, with all the financial crimes that he’s been indicted for, including spending taxpayer money to take a so-called staff photographer who acted like a boyfriend the entire trip and never took pictures, those questions are completely legitimate. If the guy went along because he was the Congressman’s boyfriend and didn’t perform any legitimate staff duties, then that was a misappropriation of funds. Lock him up!

Everybody was kung fu fighting, even mighty whitey — more of why I love sf/f

On reflection, I don't think the story lines were why hormonal 14-year-old closeted me was fascinated with the character right away...

On reflection, I don’t think the story lines were why hormonal 14-year-old closeted me was fascinated with the character right away…

This post will eventually become a commentary on the Netflix series Ironfist based on the Marvel comics character, but I have a lot of ground to cover first. I am an old literal grey-beard fan who was reading U.S. comic books before the great Kung Fu/Asian cultural appropriatation phase of the early 70s, so my relationship to any media property related to that era is a bit complicated. Because both the Jessica Jones series and Luke Cage series had significantly transcended their original comic book incarnations, I had high hopes for what might be done with Iron Fist. Alas, those hopes were not met. However, I think that the series Netflix ultimately produced is not a complete failure, and may eventually be redeemed with the subsequent series in the franchise.

In the early 70s U.S. pop culture became obsessed with martial arts. One of the best examples of this was the television series, Kung Fu which ran from 1972-1975. The show, which was wildly popular both with audiences and critics, told the story of Kwai Chang Caine, a half-chineses, half-white man raised in a Shao Lin monastery who winds up in the American Wild West wandering the countryside seeking his father while evading agents of a Chinese nobleman who wants him dead. The show cast white actor David Carradine in the role (after rejecting Bruce Lee). And it really was wildly popular. In the redneck rural communities I was living at the time, every one of my classmates would quote favorite lines from the show and make allusions to it in various ways. While the show cast a white actor in the role of the supposedly biracial lead, since ever episode relied heavily on flashbacks to incidents in Caine’s childhood, teen, and young adult years back in China, it also provided a lot of acting roles for Asian American actors in recurring and supporting roles. Probably more so than all of American TV before then. Which doesn’t make up for the white washing, but was at least a teeny step forward.

That TV show wasn’t the only bit of pop culture effected. Action movies and television series of all kinds started introducing martial arts experts to their story lines, and soon audiences were expecting amazing martial arts fights in all of their entertainment. Even the BBC’s Doctor Who had to bow to the expectation, with the velvet-jacketed Third Doctor suddenly becoming an expert in “Venusian Karate” though embarassingly what that meant was the actor occasionally exclaiming a cliche “Hai-ya!” as he felled opponents with an unconvincing chopping motion of his hand.

And comic books were hardly immune. Suddenly every comic company was adding martial arts experts (some of asian descent, some not) into their superhero lines. Comic titles such as Master of Kung Fu, Karate Kid (no relation to the 80s movies), and Kung Fu Fighter, and Dragon Fists were suddenly popping up in department store comics racks. Along side characters such as Shang Chi, Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva, and Karate Kid (no “the”) there was Danny Rand, aka Iron Fist: the Living Weapon.

Danny was a classic mighty whitey: a white orphan taken in by mysterious monks in a secret temple in the Himalayas, who masters their semi-mystical martial arts to a degree that far exceeds any of the natives and becomes their greatest warrior. This being an American comic, of course Danny comes to America, specifically New York City, where he tried to reclaim his family fortune (along the way discovering that his parents’ deaths on the journey may not of have an accident). His costume was a bit unusual for male superheroes of the time—ridiculously plunging necklines were usually reserved for women. The excuse for exposing all that skin was the black dragon mark on Danny’s chest. It’s not a tattoo, but rather a symbol that was burned into his flesh during a fight with a dragon, which is an important part of the ritual of becoming the Iron Fist.

This was the fifth issue of Marvel Premiere that featured Iron Fist. Premiere was a series Marvel used to introduce new characters or revive old ones that might lead to a new series.

This was the fifth issue of Marvel Premiere that featured Iron Fist. Premiere was a series Marvel used to introduce new characters or revive old ones that might lead to a new series.

When Marvel debuted in comics in 1974 I was 14 years old. I didn’t read the very first couple of issues. Back then my source of comic books was the rack at the only drugstore in the small town where we lived, and which comics they got were hit and miss from month to month. But I remember seeing this cover in that rack one day and being instantly fascinated. I bought the comic, and as I frequently did in those days, read it, re-read it, and re-read it again and again. The story was middle episode in the middle of a story arc, so I was a bit confused about some things, but was still immediately enamored with the character. I kept my eyes peeled for the character from then on, and managed to pick up a few more issues as they came out, but not all of them. It was a constant frustration at the time: not being able to count on the next issue making it to my town.

Because of that inconsistency—where I would pick up, say, issue #85 of Spider-Man, then not find another issue until #89 came out—I spent a lot of time looking for clues in the stories as to what I had missed in the intervening issues, and I would write up my own versions of the adventures my favorite heroes had experienced in between. Very occasionally I tried to draw my own comics, but mostly I wrote them out more as prose stories. This skill of figuring out all the ways a character might go from point A to point Z has been useful in my own writing since.

Eventually, after my parents’ divorce, Mom, my sister, and I moved to a town large enough to have multiple book stores and an actual comic shop, where eventually I managed to purchase at relatively cheap prices many of the back issues I had missed of Iron Fist and several other titles. I was a little disappointed that some of my attempts to fill in the gaps between issues were way off, but I still loved the character. I know now (but didn’t realize back then) that one of the things that appealed to me about the character originally was that chest-baring costume. But Danny Rand’s story also appealed to me because he was an outsider, never quite fitting in anywhere. That was something I really empathized with.

Another thing that appealed to me about Iron Fist the comic (and some of the other Kung fu-ploitation properties) was the inclusion of (often mangled, I know) zen, buddhist, and taoist philosophy. Seeing other traditions underpinning moral and ethical principles, seeing good, brave, and noble character behaving morally and ethically outside of the fundamentalist Christian framework helped me reconcile my growing discomfort with the evangelical beliefs I’d been raised with. Yes, it was culture appropriation, and it was a stripped-down and distorted representation of those other religions, but it wasn’t being done to deride those beliefs. The distortion was because of ignorance and the expediency of meeting writing deadlines, not out of a hostility to the cultures themselves. While it was problematic, it still helped me find a way to escape the clutches of a homophobic denomination. And that’s a good thing.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I had had high hopes for the Netflix Iron Fist series. I’d read enough reviews when it first came out to know that the consensus of critics and a lot of fans was that the show was nowhere near as good as some of the other Marvel-Netflix shows. But I still hoped. I still think that the show would have been improved immensely if they had cast an asian american as Danny. It would have been really easy, and I think would have made the way they chose to tell his story work a bit better. The external conflict of the series is mostly about control of the corporation originally founded by Danny’s father and the father’s best friend. The internal conflict is about Danny trying to figure out his place in the world. If they had made Danny biracial, showing his father in the flashbacks as white and his mother as, let’s say, Chinese American, then that internal conflict would have had more layers. And this story desperately needed something less shallow than a badly thought out boardroom drama.

It also doesn’t help that the actor they cast as Danny seems about as talented as a block of wood. Seriously, the adam’s apple of the actor who was cast to play Danny’s childhood friend from the mystical city displays more acting talent and skill in a single scene than the actor playing Danny does in the entire series. Another big problem is pacing. The series spent about 9 episodes setting things up that could have easily been handled in one. The first episode was pretty an okay beginning of the tale, but it wasn’t until about episode 11 that things seemed to pick up. I also can’t figure out why they showed virtually no scenes of the mystical city where Danny gets his training. Let along never showing us the dragon. I mean, what is the point of telling Iron Fist’s story without showing us all that?

Maybe they’ll do better in season two.


In case you don’t know where the title of this blog post originated, here’s a music video that might explain things:

Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting:

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

It’s not a food allergy & other misconceptions about diabetes

I run into this one all the time...

I run into this one all the time…

Since my diagnosis , whenever a planned visit to my mother’s approaches I start getting texts from Mom with various food questions. “I forget, can you eat pineapple?” “I know you can’t eat regular bread, but what about biscuits?” And so forth. And each time I have to explain, yet again, that I can eat anything.1 It isn’t about what kinds of food I can and can’t eat, it’s about how much carbohydrate is in each food, and how much I’ve already eaten.

Once when I vented about this misconception on line, someone replied that their mother kept thinking that his wife’s need to eat gluten free meant always having a vegetarian option.

My mom isn’t the only person who buys into this myth that diabetics can never ever eat this, that, or the other. I’ve met plenty of diabetics (and a doctor or two) who also buy into it. I’ve seen plenty of people who take it the other way: since they’ve been told they can “never” eat anything they think is good, they just say “screw it” and eat themselves to death.2

So, for instance, most mornings I have a cookie or nice piece of chocolate. We’re supposed to eat a small snack each time we take our insulin, and I have found my blood sugar is most stable if I eat something with less than 10 grams of carbs for that first snack of the day. And there are lots of snack foods which are NOT sugar-free where a single serving falls in that range.

Everyone’s body varies, but I’ve found that as long as my total carbs for the day stay under 150 grams and no single meal has more than about 40, (and I take my meds on time) my blood sugar readings stays in the desired range. That’s true whether those carbs come from things like lentil soup, tangerines, and icelandic yogurt or chocolate, Dry soda, and beef stroganoff with noodles.

Keeping track of the carbs takes work, I get that. People keep asking me if I have an app the tells me how many carbs are in things and I reply, “Safari!” Yes, the defalt web browser on my iphone. I can just type “how many carbs in french fries” and get a useful answer–a serving of this size contains this many carbohydrates, that much fibre, et cetera. I’ve been doing it long enough that I don’t have to look up a bunch foods, because the numbers and serving sizes have started to stick in my memory. I can eyeball a lot of servings and come up with a good guess.4

I’m just enough of a creature of habit with a bit of obsessive compulsive leanings that once the behavior was established, making a not of how many carbs I’m eating happens almost without thinking. But there is time and effort involved. And let’s be honest, eating healthy isn’t cheap. Our society has gotten really good at serving massive amount of calories cheaply in forms that are almost tailor-made to make you fat. Finding health alternatives, that are easily to keep with you, easy to store, won’t spoil before you can eat them all, and so forth is more expensive the just grabbing the reasonably priced pre-packaged foods, or a cheap (and delicious) meal from a food truck or whatever.

Another myth I hear a lot is, “You can eat all the fruit you want!” in various forms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation that includes the claim, “But fruit doesn’t have sugar!” and when it’s pointed out that fruit contains a lot of sugar, “Well, but it’s nature sugar, so it’s good for you!” I’ve had engineers who I know had to pass basic chemistry to get their degrees insist that the naturally occurring sugar in fruit doesn’t elevate your blood sugar reading, because it “isn’t the bad stuff.”

News flash: all sugar is natural. Really. That beautiful white crystalline power you buy at the store and put in sugar bowls is natural sugar. It’s simply squeezed out of plants, such as sugar cane, or beets. The science is very clear that nothing about the process of extracting it and purifying it makes it any more or less dangerous than the sugars you ingest if you take a bite of an apple or a banana. At all.5 This is really just the flip side of the myth I opened with: you can never have certain foods, others are always good for you, no matter what.

So, no, just because it’s “healthy” doesn’t mean I can eat as much as I want.

The biggest adult-onset diabetes myth I keep running into is the notion that being obese causes diabetes. For decades people (and doctors) said that because there was a strong correlation. But try as they might, no medical study could ever establish the causal link. Not only that, as options other than just injecting insulin became available, a lot of people started noticing that diabetic patients who had been struggling to lose weight (and failing), starting losing weight easily once they were on the correct medicine for them. Turned out there was a reason for both of those facts: for several types of diabetes, it isn’t the obesity that caused the diabetes, it’s the underlying genetic issue that will eventually turn into diabetes that is causing the obesity.

There is a relationship. Being obese makes many of the other symptoms of diabetes worse. But a huge number of studies have shown that the old way of treating the disease: basically fat-shaming the pre-diabetics and refusing to start them on medication until their blood sugar levels were so out of control that permanent damage had accrued in the liver, kidneys, and other internal organs–wasn’t helping anyone. Whereas starting patients on medication early, and focusing on diet, exercise, and the results of blood tests rather than worrying about weight, often leads to the patient losing weight, and sometimes bringing function back to the pancreas.

While we’re on that. There’s another related myth. For a long time when treating patients who were developing adult-onset diabetes, doctors put off starting the patient on insulin for as long as they could. The reasoning was a combination of the obesity-causation myth and the anecdotal experience of watching adult-onset diabetics’ health decline sharply after starting the insulin. The problem was the waiting, not the insulin.

There’s a number that is generated from the routine blood tests, your A1C. You don’t need to know what that means to understand what I’m about to explain. The average healthy person’s A1C will be about 4. If it’s over about 5.7 you’re considered pre-diabetic. If it’s over 6.5 you’re considered diabetic. In the old days, doctors would wait until an adult patients’ A1C was over 12 before starting them on insulin. The problem is that when the A1C is greater than 7, internal organ damage starts happening. So waiting until a patient is consistently at an A1C of 12 means the body is already so damaged that the patient was already dying. So it created this mass of anecdotal evidence that people were associating with the insulin.

That’s why the guidance now is to start medications early. Try the various meds that can be taken as pills when a patient is in the upper end of pre-diabetic stage, but don’t wait so long. Again, lots of studies are available on this.

Anyway, besides just trying to reduce the number of people who argue with us about what we’re eating, I hope that this will encourage you to think about how the body works and how many of medical and biological facts you’ve absorbed over your life are actually just widely believed myths. Everyone should have a basic understanding of how human bodies work, in my opinion.


Footnotes:
1. Well, except almonds, but that’s an actual allergy I’ve had forever.

2. One reason I asked my doctor for a nutritionist referral when I was diagnosed pre-diabetic 17 years ago was watching my Dad,3 some uncles, and cousins who didn’t take care of their illness lose their eyesight or toes or entire lower legs along with their swiftly declining health. Contrasted with a great-uncle who had watched his diet and took his meds faithfully since his diagnosis at age forty who lived to the age of 99, spry enough to play nine holes of golf with some younger buddies just a few days before he dropped dead.

3. I should mention that Dad wasn’t diagnosed until 13 years after the divorce, so my Mom has never lived with someone with this particular disorder.

4. Usually. Sometimes I realize partway through eating something that it is sweeter than I expected, and I can stop at half a portion. Other times I didn’t realize there were hidden extra carbs in something until later, when I start feeling that high sugar buzz, then check my blood sugar and confirm that it’s shot up a lot higher than it should have if what I’d eaten a bit ago had been what I thought.

5. And all sorts of natural substances are poison, while lots of manufactured substances are life-saving medicines. Stop assuming that natural somehow means magically healing or whatever.

You never know where you’re goin’ ’til you get there! (or, Revising my goals)

“People with goals succeed because they know where they're going.”

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”

When I set my goals for this year, I pledged to do monthly updates, since the years I’ve done that has resulted in better results than years I haven’t. This year has been complicated by the move, my husband’s surgery, and more craziness in my work schedule than usual. So there was a month that I didn’t post an update because we were swamped in the actual move. Then I declared June a reset month as we still had a lot of unpacking to do and were still trying to settle into new routines. By the end of June I’d realized that I really needed to reassess and reframe some of the goals, which is why in July’s update I only talked in really general terms.

The big goals now are mostly the same, but I’ve tweaked them a bit and decided to rearrange their priority:

Take care of us: reduce and prioritize. The move has changed a lot of things, and left us with a bunch of new tasks. People kept warning me before the move that it always takes longer to unpack than you think, for instance. And so far they’ve been right. It’s important to remember to take rests, not to let ourselves stress about things, and so on. However, not having the house quite as organized as we would like and so forth contributes to our stress level. So I’m going to count everything we do to further the unpacking and organizing of the house in this category, too. Which means this is no longer a separate main goal.

Don’t get mad, stay busy. My tasks are: write about things I love; listen to music and audiobooks more and podcasts less; spend at least half of my lunch break writing; set specific monthly writing/editing goals in each check-in.

Write, submit, and publish. More than half the year is gone and I’ve only submitted to two places. I have consolidated all of my notes for the revisions to the first novel. I spent much of July trying to get the editing/revision pass finished. While I need to work on finding other places to submit shorter work, I also need to get the big stuff done.

My specific tasks for June and July were:

  • Get back into the rhythm of editing the novel. Only so-so. I got work done, but I haven’t got new habits. Considering eight weeks of unplanned overtime as a mitigating factor, I’m going to consider this a mixed success.
  • Write at least two blog posts each month about things I like, rather than rants or commentaries. Done. Two one month and three the other!
  • Get the iris bulbs, monitors, and other things that we want to give away handed off to people who said they wanted them. We got a lot of stuff handed off, but there are still several people who wanted iris bulbs that I haven’t hooked up with since digging up the irises. So, half done.
  • Go through the rest of the Christmas decoration bins and finish that purge. Done! Finished! Completed! They are out of here, and the small number of boxes we had room for in the walk-in closet contain all the Christmas ornaments we kept.
  • Write something that isn’t in one of the novels. Sort of. I’ve written several things that I’m calling “prose skits.” They are stand alone vignettes that don’t have a traditional plot an resolution. But all of them are at least related to my fantasy novel series thus far.
  • Make significant progress on revising the first novel. Another sort of. I got through several more chapters, but a lot less than I hoped for.

It’s a mixed bag, but there was at least some progress on every task.

So, for August my tasks are:

  • Revise, revise, revise the novel.
  • Write at least two blog posts about things I like, rather than rants or commentaries.
  • Write at least two blog posts about the writing process.
  • Complete my action items from the last Corporate Board meeting.
  • Get more stuff handed off and finish cleaning out the veranda.
  • Get gaming sessions scheduled.
  • Review calls for submissions and figure out something to write for one of them.

Wish me luck!

Settling in to the new place

Fair Warning: This post falls into the “what I had for breakfast” category for some people. If you don’t want to read me rambling about things I like about our new home, things I’m getting used to about our new home town, how the move motivated us to take care of overdue tasks, and related topics, you’ll want to skip this. I’ll get back to the craft of writing, my love of all things sf/f, and various culture war issues soon.

So, in case you haven’t been following: we had to move from the place in Ballard that I had lived in since 1996 (and that Michael had shared with me since 1998) this year. On the one hand, it wasn’t our decision to move; on the other, the process by which the new owners of our old building went about it, we had many months notice to prepare and plan. On the gripping hand, we had to also fit in my husband’s surgery and recovery time, plus my work was even crazier with long hours than usual.

And now, after 32 years, I am no longer a resident of Seattle… Read More…

Weekend Update 7/29/2017: More Words and Pictures

I save images and memes and such as possible illustrations to blog posts, but only use a fraction of them. We have a busy weekend including attending a barbecue with friends, so no time to do much writing or commenting on anything that’s happened since I put together this week’s roundup of links, so, here are some of my recently collected images/memes/what-have-you:

“Good friends offer advice and words of wisdom, real friends show up unannounced with vodka, chocolate, glitter, duct tape, cat suits, explosives, and a plan.”

“Good friends offer advice and words of wisdom, real friends show up unannounced with vodka, chocolate, glitter, duct tape, cat suits, explosives, and a plan.”

McCain isn't a hero for his recent Senate vote, he's the douche who swoops in at the moment of victory to take credit for the hard work others.

McCain isn’t a hero for his recent Senate vote, he’s the douche who swoops in at the moment of victory to take credit for the hard work others.

Bush and Cheney destroyed the middle class, then Republicans spent eight years blocking every effort by Obama and the Democrats to rebuild it. Now, Donald Trump is stocking his cabinet with antigoverment billionaires who are hell-bent on dismantling every program that helps the little guy. Do you get it yet?

Bush and Cheney destroyed the middle class, then Republicans spent eight years blocking every effort by Obama and the Democrats to rebuild it. Now, Donald Trump is stocking his cabinet with antigoverment billionaires who are hell-bent on dismantling every program that helps the little guy. Do you get it yet?

Stand with our Transgender Troops!

Stand with our Transgender Troops!

“What does it mean if the holy water sizzles when it hits your skin? Asking for a friend.”

“What does it mean if the holy water sizzles when it hits your skin? Asking for a friend.”

“Letting go of toxic people is not on act of cruelty, it's an act of self-care.”

“Letting go of toxic people is not on act of cruelty, it’s an act of self-care.”

Thank you clouds, and trees, and more clouds, and fog, and more trees for letting me enjoy being outside.

Thank you clouds, and trees, and more clouds, and fog, and more trees for letting me enjoy being outside.



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Oh, and here’s a link I wish I’d had for yesterday’s post: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEATRIX POTTER: AN ODE.

Friday Links (nobody’s perfect edition)

"I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate. I'm a woman. I'll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I'm an immigrant. I'm a Buddhist. When I said this at a gathering, they said, ‘Yes, but are you gay?' I said, ‘Nobody's perfect."' —Senator Mazie Hiromo

“I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate. I’m a woman. I’ll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate. I’m an immigrant. I’m a Buddhist. When I said this at a gathering, they said, ‘Yes, but are you gay?’ I said, ‘Nobody’s perfect.”‘
—Senator Mazie Hiromo

It’s the final Friday of July. Yesterday we got a teensy bit of drizzle in Seattle. If wasn’t enough to qualify as measurable rain, so we might still match or beat the record for consecutive days without measurable rain (we’re at day 40, only 11 more to go!). In one sense I want us to break the record, but in another I would really like a good rain. At least Thursday was a bit cooler than it has been lately.

Work isn’t quite as grueling this week, but I’m still feeling a bit overwhelmed, and trying to spend what time and energy I have outside work on writing, rather than reading the news. So, again, not a really long collection of links this time.

Anyway, here are the links I found interesting this week, sorted into categories.

Links of the Week

“Bipartisanship” Means “I Don’t Understand What Politics Is”. “Civility seems like a pressing matter when you already have everything else you require.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono Holds Back Tears During Impassioned Health Care Plea. She has Stage 4 cancer and flew back to D.C. after undergoing treatment to fight to save the Affordable Care Act – why isn’t this hero being recognized?

News for queers and our allies:

Domestic Violence Law Unfair to Gay South Carolina Couples, Court Rules.

Germany’s President Signs Gay Marriage Bill into Law; Will Come into Force October 1 at Earliest.

Science!

Robots to Livestream Washington’s Deep Sea Nightmares.

England Will Ban Prescriptions for Homeopathy and Other “Low Value” Treatments.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Best footnote ever in the Specfic Diversity Report (click to embiggen)

Best footnote ever in the Specfic Diversity Report (click to embiggen)

RANKING THE 40 TRAILERS OF SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2017.

SPIDER-MAN, CIVIL WAR, AND THE POWER OF LOWERED STAKES IN MARVEL MOVIES.

The 2016 #BlackSpecFic Report.

A response to the #BlackSpecFic Report.

Midnight, Texas Is Magical Trash. But sometimes junk food is just what you need…

Doctor Who star John Barrowman undergoes emergency surgery after ‘collapsing in agony’. He had his appendix removed, and hours later was posting on Instagram.

Culture war news:

Alabama lawyers say a 12-year-old rape victim shouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion.

Gay-beating church accused of running horrific underground slave operation.

Trump’s Transgender Ban Is a Legal Land Mine.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liar:

The Pentagon Thought Trump Was Announcing a Military Strike On North Korea.

Trump says it’s too pricey to have transgender troops. Here’s the truth.

The military spends more than five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troop medical expenses.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips cost more than trans soldiers’ health care.

News about the Fascist Regime:

Trump administration moves closer to undoing overtime pay rule.

A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned with the Trump Era, Speaks Out.

In Court Brief, Trump Administration Says Anti-Gay Discrimination OK Under Federal Law.

This week in Politics:

Obamacare repeal fails again in the Senate in 49-51 vote.

The Democratic Party Has a New Slogan and Elites Think It’s Stupid. Could That Mean It Just Might Work?.

Former Republican Majority Leader Admits Obamacare Repeal Was a Long Con.

More than 7,000 Sisters Sign NETWORK Lobby ‘Nuns’ Letter’ Against ACA Repeal.

Growing GOP backlash to transgender troop ban underscores Trump’s political miscalculation.

Congress sends Russia sanctions to Trump’s desk, daring a veto.

This Week in Racists, White Nationalists, and other deplorables:

“It looks like you're trying to defend Trump policies. Would you like to turn on Caps Lock and disable spell check?”

“It looks like you’re trying to defend Trump policies. Would you like to turn on Caps Lock and disable spell check?”

Two Notorious ‘Alt-Right’ Figures May Play Key Roles in Russia Investigation.

Before Trump banned transgender people from serving in military, here’s who praised him as pro-LGBTQ.

Oregon National Socialist Movement leader wants white separatism, repeal of sanctuary status, also “We’re actively volunteering for ICE “We are white separatists, I believe people have a right to exist to a point, I just prefer to exist separately. I live by the 14 words: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,’” Dutton said. “That’s all it’s about.”

Farewells:

June Foray, Voice of ‘Bullwinkle Show’s’ Natasha and Rocky, Dies at 99.

Things I wrote:

Holding the reader’s attention—and keeping it.

Videos!

‘L-G-B-T’ – James Corden Sings for Transgender Troops:

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

Stephen Colbert Rips Draft Dodger Trump for His Lies About Fighting for the LGBT Community:

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

John Barrowman Singing “Copacabana” at San Diego Comic Con Dressed in Sparkly Tardis Dress:

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

Eli Lieb – Shangri La:

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

Holding the reader’s attention—and really keeping it

“The writer's object is —or should be—to hold the readers attention.” —Barbara W. Tuchman

“The writer’s object is —or should be—to hold the readers attention.” —Barbara W. Tuchman

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard and read people give the advice that writers should write for themselves, and not for the audience. It’s a warning not to fall into the trap of trying to please everyone. It’s also encouragement to trust yourself as a writer. And I understand why both of those intentions are needed, but I think that in the process of hearing and trying to accept this advice, that some writers take it a bit too far. You’re not writing something for the individual audience members, that’s true, but you are writing to them.

We tell the story that we have to tell and we tell it the best that we can. The whole point of storytelling is to tell the story to someone, right?

So the audience isn’t superfluous to the process. A writer who thinks that the audience doesn’t matter—or even worse, a writer who holds their audience in contempt—is not doing the best in any way. Of course you don’t contort the story to cater to the wishes of every reader, but respecting the reader is not the same thing as catering to them.

I most often think of this topic when I find yet another example of queer-baiting. But queer-braiting is hardly the only way that storytellers show contempt for at least part of their audience, and I’ve been seeing a lot of examples lately in television (though it also happens in book series).

I understand that with a television series (or web series or movies or plays) you don’t have a single storyteller. It’s a collaborative process where the writer, the actors, the director(s), the designers, the show-runners, et al work together. But it is still storytelling. And just because it’s a collaboration doesn’t mean that no one is to blame when the reader is cheated, mocked, or otherwise abused. And when decisions are being made out of cynicism, that is what you’re doing to at least some of your readers.

You disrespect the reader when you mislead rather than misdirect. You disrespect the reader when you play on their feelings by raising hopes you intend to dash. Not every story has a happy ending, but you can tell a tragedy while still playing fair with the reader.

The usual counter argument is that the storyteller is simply putting the reader in suspense. ”We’re supposed to keep the reader’s attention, after all!“

The word people are missing there is ”keep,“ not just to the big reveal. The stories I love are tales I come back to again and again. Not because they always ended the way I wanted them to, but because they made me care, and the ending—even in the tragedies—rang true.

Yes, we focus on keeping the reader turning the pages until the end, but as artists we should want our stories to settle into the reader’s heart and make themselves at home. Stories don’t do that when the storyteller intentionally kicks some readers in the teeth then points and laughs at those readers.

If you can’t be moved as a writer to treat all your readers with respect out of artistic integrity, think of this: A reader who decides, midway through a story that it isn’t for them puts down the book and finds something else to read. They may never pick up another book by that author again, or they may simply wait to get recommendations from others before taking the plunge. But a reader who gets the feeling that the writer is cynically baiting them or otherwise comes to the end feeling mocked, used, and/or abused, is someone who will emphatically warn other readers away from your work for the rest of their lives.

So tell your story. Tell the story you want to tell. Tell it the best way you know how, but tell it truthfully. Build suspense honestly. Payoff the misdirections with integrity. Make the reader go, “I should have seen that coming! Wow!” or “What a great plot twist!”

Don’t treat reader as an enemy, and they won’t become one.

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