Last week’s random thinks.

Here be thoughts that stuck in my brain over the last week. They aren’t quite big enough for their own posts but too big for me to ignore, so I’m sharing them here together.

One

I got into a great conversation with a friend about Ann Leckie’s Ancillary series. (IT’S AMAZING OMFG GO READ IT IF YOU CAN.) Specifically, we chatted about the characters Breq & Seivarden, & our different take on their genders.

I read both of them as male in my head, or at least as “not female” despite the default pronouns of the dominant culture in the book being she/her, and despite descriptive cues in the text that show Breq is not male. (It’s complicated. My research indicates she’s agender.)

Seivarden is described w/facial hair and other physical/traditional male characteristics, so I’m sticking with that being a reasonable take, but how do I get from a character being called “she” to a read of “he?”
Is my internalized acceptance of patriarchy that sneaky? Am I that brainwashed?

NOPE. It’s the Q. The name Breq is unisex, but (in the US anyway) names that end in a hard K sound are assigned to boys far more often than girls (350+ to <20) so my brain migrates to “boy name” in the absence of overwhelming description. Regardless of pronouns. Otherwise I generally default to reading characters as female/agender — my mental visuals for most characters in that trilogy are…androgynous like the pyramid aliens in Stargate. Now that’s a thing you know about me.

TWO

Presidential elections are different.

I can have nice, rational discussions about politics and principles right up until people start talking about “voting their conscience” by not choosing a candidate or going with any third party candidate in a presidential election.

Think your favorite local libertarian should be school board president? Great! Vote’ em in! Want to be represented by the Green Party in your state legislature? Brava! Check that box. Really want representation to take off? Start pushing ranked-choice voting at all levels of office.

But presidential elections are different. The existence of the Electoral College plays merry hob with our already-weighted “most votes wins” system, and THAT means when it comes to presidents, you either pick one of the two leaders, or you might as well vote for whichever of that top two has less support going in.

It’s math, and numbers, and I’m not explaining how it happens here, I’m just venting. If all this is totally new to you, I recommend fairvote.com as a good starting point and also all the Schoolhouse Rock America Rock videos. Yes, really.

If we end up with a United States dictator in November, I’ll blame very frikking person who didn’t vote because their candidate “got cheated,” and every joker who thought it’d be hilarious to vote for Kanye because “sure, Trump’s bad but Biden’s a rapist and they’re all equally awful, it doesn’t matter who’s in charge?”

I’m gonna be permanently pissed off at alla y’all if the US ends sliding into civil war and full-on civic collapse like I wrote into my Restoration series, because that IS what will happen if we let the kleptocrat-in-chief steal our country out from under us.

Vote. Vote like the future depends on it, because it does. It always has. Now ‘scuse me, I’m going to chase some kids off my lawn.

Text: On Undecided Voter​s: "To put them in perspective, I think​ of being​ on an airplane.​ The flight attendant comes​ down the aisle​ with her food cart and, eventually,​ parks​ it beside my seat.​ “Can I inter​est you in the chick​en?​” she asks.​ “Or would​ you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broke​n glass​ in it?”

To be undecided in this elect​ion is to pause​ for a moment and then ask how the chick​en is cooked.” 

--David Sedaris
this is about undecided voters, but it has bearing on the 3rd party/conscience voter argument too.

Three.

I have spent my whole life being uncomfortable with feminist organizers for reasons I had a hard time pinning down.

Once I hit college I flat-out refused the label because I really didn’t see eye to eye with the students who ran those groups there. They called homemakers/stay-at-home-moms traitors to the feminist cause, women who enjoyed their sexuality in the “wrong” ways sluts, and women who didn’t want to do it all weak. Basically, they had this weird idea that “equality” meant “we get to decide what’s right for ALL women,” which meant they got to define whether other women were “feminists.” And…uh…NOPE.

I didn’t get around to reading a lot of pivotal feminist texts until my 40s & 50s because I was so turned off by the exclusionary snobbery, judginess, purity tests and racist bullshit that floated around the movement like a toxic cloud.

And that pisses me off on the regular, because feminism is critically, objectively important. Societies should guarantee women the same choices and opportunities as men at every level and in every forum. So if someone wants marriage and kids and a career, or one, or the other, if they want to flaunt their sexuality or wrap themselves in chastity, ALL those options should be open. THAT is feminism.

I’m glad that younger & older, wiser, more energetic women than me stuck with it, kept shoving aside the bullshit spewers and are redefining the movement.

TL;DR: I’m really bad at being a nice white lady feminist.

That’s all for now. Until later. Next week, probably. Unless I get excited about how well Sharp Edge of Yesterday is coming along and decide to gush about it.

My sister reminded me about this one

Today in Klingon fables, as told by Kahless to Gowron in the STtNG episode “Rightful Heir:” 

Long ago, a storm was heading toward the city of Quin’lat. The people sought protection within the walls, all except one man who remained outside. I went to him and asked what he was doing.

“I am not afraid,” he said. “I will not hide my face behind stone and mortar. I will stand before the wind and make it respect me.”

I honored his choice and went inside. The next day, the storm came, and the man was killed.

The wind does not respect a fool. Do not stand before the wind.

Gee, why does this story feel so relevant to the experience of living in America right now? Oh, right. Willful ignorance & pure hubris.

Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Stay in your lane.

It’s windy out there. The storm is already here.

Random Monday musings, mostly TV-related

1. Schitt’s Creek. I succumbed to curiosity at last, after I dunno how long since it seemed like all my friends were recommending it. Just in time for the series to end its regular run. It even sucked in Spouseman, which is a high compliment for any TV show, but especially one with no action and WITH lots of awkward situational humor. Now we just have a wait for the last season to post to Netflix.

2. I haven’t had much energy or focus after supper lately, so I’ve been re-watching NCIS episodes. And it has occurred to me that it isn’t a police procedural at all. Hasn’t been one for at least 5 seasons, maybe as many as 10. It’s an hour-long family sitcom dressed up in a worn-out, comfy old police procedural bathrobe.

3. Landscaping barrier cloth is horrible stuff. Maybe it’s good in high-erosion zones where there’s no soil, but laying it down over heavy clay soil is just…what a WASTE. It doesn’t stop weeds, weeds grow right on top of any mulch atop of the landscape cloth. All the cloth does is block helpful worms n other critters from traveling up into the mulch to loosen & improve the topsoil by mixing things up, and traps the poor plant roots down in solid clay away from all those nice nutirients.

I mention this mainly because I’ve spent the last three days ripping out multiple layers of landscape cloth hiding under the mulch & weeds in most of the planting beds. No wonder the soil in those beds was dead, and no wonder the few salvageable perennials were struggling so much. I’m still mostly going to be growing dirt in this yard for the next couple of years, but the horticultural foundation is,not nearly as bad as I first feared. So. Happy times in the garden.

That’s it for now. Until later!