Random Thoughts Roundup

Winter is coming.

Autumn is already here, seasonally speaking. The calendar will catch up soon. And I fear winter’s going to cut down on opportunities to safely spend time with other people, what with the pandemic & all. I wish that wasn’t true.

Some of my favorite memories are cold weather ones: campfire parties with bunches of Girl Scouts, all sitting on logs bundled up, hot drinks in mittened hands and marshmallows blazing over the fire; comet watching with Spouseman, lying on the warm hood of the car, staring up at stars on a back road in a forest preserve; all alone on a sunset walk through the neighborhood, ice crunching under my boots, ice forming on my eyelashes, ice making the bare tree branches creak in the -40 degree wind chill.

Gonna pause here to note that I was rarely cold out on any of those occasions. Did I did mention I hate feeling cold? Yeah. No cold toesies for me once I was old enough to buy my own boots.

I hate being cold, but I’m willing to keep having outdoor hangouts all winter long, if I can find other people to hang with me. It’s partly about having the right gear, and all about the good company.

MURICA AMIRITE?

I am a citizen of a country whose federal government throws people into concentration camps, keeps them in wire cages, starves them, experiments on them, & sterilizes them. I’m a citizen of a country where local and state police forces promote violence and consort with thugs, neither serving nor protect the communities that provide them with budgets dwarfing the ones funds given to public aid and education. I live in a country where the haves are unforgivably selfish and dangerously blind, and the have-nots are willfully ignorant. Where far too many people have no idea how their own government works, and are so secure in their willful ignorance that no narrative truth can reach them.

It’s painful, that’s what it is. I’m not helpless, and I am not a bystander, but it’s hard, not being able to do more without breaking myself. I don’t do as much as others, but I give, and I speak up, and I support where and when I can. Not everyone is built for battle. Not everyone is strong enough to hold up themselves, much less others. It ain’t fun being fragile, is what I’m saying.

FFS All opinions were NOT created equal.

When did the absurdity of “We can agree to disagree, but it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it,” become an acceptable conversation topper? It isn’t true, it isn’t right, and it’s responsible for a lot of evil in the world. That’s my opinion. And if you disagree with me, you’re wrong. Period. So there.

Vote Dammit.

I have voted in nearly every election since I turned 18. That’s a lot of elections, and a LOT of disappointments. I have known all my life the system was rigged and broken and the only chance we had to fix it was to vote in people who were willing to change it.

I’ve preached about the importance of voting so often my friends who think it doesn’t matter get annoyed and edge away from me every time it comes up. (YOU WERE FOOLS AND NOW LOOK WHAT IT’S COME TO) Ahem. Sorry. Not helpful, but GD*#$#)$&^#@ it’s frustrating.

And this year…oof. This year I am feeling very gloomy about the outcome but still hoping I am wrong. We’ve got this one last chance to steer away from the precipice. Maybe. But by golly, whatever happens after the election, I’m gonna go down knowing I did everything I could to make a better future out of this mess I grew up in.

HAHAHA-OOOPS.

Last week started off more cheerful than it wrapped up, can you tell by the way the entries deteriorated into rants? SORRY. In writing news, things are going okay. I’m grinding through the end of the 3rd of 6 sections in Sharp Edge. I’ve hit a plot point that doesn’t want to polish up, but things will work out.

ANYway. It’s Monday night, so this is going out now. Until later!

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.

Time to level up, folks

If you’re one of the people who’s felt my scorn about your take on The American Plague Situation, please know I am not sorry. (If you are not one of those people, be warned this rant is long and…um…exceedingly ranty.) So. Onward.

When you sigh about overwhelming information, muse about lockdowns maybe being too extreme, express concern that the doom predictions aren’t coming true but your friends & family are going bankrupt/ being evicted/ losing their savings, if you wonder if the prevention is worth the effort and cost, or maybe it’s exaggerated and it’s definitely confusing and we can’t go on like this forever..this is what’s going on in my brain:

OMFG OH MY FUCKING GOD NO YOU ARE WRONG AND I AM TOO SHOUTYCAPS ANGRY AT YOU & THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD TO DEAL WITH YOUR IGNORANT BULLSHIT.

I am happy to have rational discussions about issues, and I think I have achieved that standard in most cases despite my above feels…

BUT. When you hear that edge in my voice, when you sense I am less patient than usual, less inclined to accept the validity of your ideas, and not treating your positions as reasonable, there is a reason, and it is this:

You are not reasonable. You are fucked up, AND you are identifying yourself as a direct, immediate threat to my life and the lives of people I love. I will not be chill about that.

Bad ideas come in gangs, and they beat up on rationality. “It’s all so confusing” runs with “They’re all equally bad,” “I can’t keep up,” and “I don’t know what to believe,” and they are all shitty excuses that play right into swearing allegiance to the ringleader of rational assassins, Denial.

When you hang out with the “it’s so confusing” mindset, you become the “It’s fine” meme dog. People deny their way into death by smoke inhalation every year. True story. No joke.

I’m actually in favor of letting people endanger themselves on their own time. But in the case of this pandemic, you are endangering others. Me.

So, fuck your willful ignorance. “Looking at both sides” and “I can see their point” acceptance of all ideas as equal spreads hot takes like “we can’t stay locked down, people are going bankrupt,” “But the children ARE FALLING BEHIND and having their childhoods ruined” and “cloth face masks don’t prevent disease, so are they worth the hassle?”

All those chunks of bullshit can be disputed and debunked point by point, but I have neither the patience or interest for it. No one who accepts them is doing so rationally. No one who even ponders them is thinking straight.

Look. I know news comes at us from all sides like fire hoses of fact & fiction, pouring data into the burning building of The Year 2020. But complaining that you don’t know how to interpret it all? That it’s too haaaaarrd?

TOO FUCKING BAD. FUCKING LEARN. I WOULD FUCKING TEACH YOU.

Wading through a neck-high flood of information isn’t fun. But it isn’t HARD. It’s just time consuming. Engage in source-checking, recognize and filter out data that’s tied up in bias phrasing and hidden agenda red flags, and translate hyperbole based on the facts you learn from the first two activities, and there you will find consistent, reliable information.

Please understand, my passionate horror of your attitude has deep roots. I have pushed back against the American devaluation of expertise and lived experience for decades now. The whole, “doctors disagree, so I’ll believe the conclusion that feels right,” makes my blood boil. The eager embrace of anecdote-as-proof, the trust in uninformed intuition, the erosion of respect for intellectual rigor and basic math…I have been howling and growling (and calmly educating people) about these problems for years.

But now the worship of snake oil over science is LITERALLY killing people by the dozens each day. COVID-19 is on its way to becoming endemic, and it didn’t have to be this way. We’ll be lucky if it doesn’t hammer at the fracture points in our society until they shatter and send us careening into open civil warfare. (as opposed to the undeclared war already being waged by federal & local military forces against American citizens right now. BUT I DIGRESS. Sorrynotsorry. Recognizing the seeds of dystopia is kinda my thing.)

And okay, fine. I can’t resist. I will bring the hammer of reason down on a few points.

There are social safety nets that could catch EVERYONE facing personal or business losses due to the collision of a pandemic with a private sector Gone Wall Street Wild for 30 years. Mostly in the USA we’ve gone the “full-on blatant corruption & skimming” route instead, but that isn’t the POINT.

The point is, helping people through financial and educational loss is possible. Bringing people back from the dead isn’t. And don’t get me started on the “that which does not kill us leaves us damaged” aspect of COVID-19 which is becoming clear as cases pile up.

Pitting lives against economics is a rigged game, and if you’ve been tricked into playing it, you’re a fool. Period. There will also be economic devastation if factories shut down, ports shut down, stores close, utilities fail BECAUSE TOO MANY PEOPLE WHO RUN THEM ARE SICK OR DEAD.

Is that possible? Oh, hell, yes. Likely? Maybe? We are NOT under control. We squandered the initial shutdown time without developing resources for identifying & containing outbreaks. And now the spread is skyrocketing because too many people are tired of taking simple precautions. (The dangerous magical thinking goes something like this: we did the shutdown, we flattened the curve, it’s all over and now everything is fine!)

Uh. No. We barely flattened out the curve, and never came close to stamping it out anywhere. I expect we will face breakouts for years the way we used to see with measles & polio and still see with flu…and oh, yeah, we could have TWO pandemics at once this winter if it’s a bad flu season. Viruses don’t care if they’re inconvenient.

While I’m ranting, forget the phrase “herd immunity” forever unless you are saying you are a-okay with hundreds of thousands of people dying from COVID-19 and far more facing lifelong medical complications for your hypothetical, temporary protection. At least 20-40% of the whole damned herd has to get infected to matter at all, and its benefit assumes the immunity lasts. WHICH IT USUALLY DOESN’T FOR CORONAVIRUSES. If you are okay with that, GTFO of my life, you are a monster.

Don’t believe me? Look up the tweets by the governor of Mississippi, who lays out the gruesome toll.

Oh–and all your friends who are a) swearing they had Covid last year, or b) insisting lots more people had it already and never got sick and that means the fatality numbers are inflated and c) besides, it’s mainly old people? A) No. Just. Ugh. NO. B) Check your arithmetic, even if Covid only had the fatality rate of a mild flu, that’d be 325,000 dead people or more if left unchecked, so C) GTFO, monster. And some of those healthy folks walking around are breathing death, and we cannot know who they are.

Also not all the dead will be olds. Hospitals some areas are so full of COVID cases right now that Our Federal Government is hiding the numbers from the public. Young people. Old people. Sick people. Previously-healthy people. Virus doesn’t give a damn. The cold numbers are such that even tiny percentages add up to a lotta dead. Math is unforgiving that way.

And that’s why masks fucking matter. My fitted mask cuts the risk me exposing someone virus by more than half. I can’t know if I’m a healthy spreader. The antibody tests are trash.

But everyone who won’t bother to properly cover their damned noses is doubling MY risk. The sheer, flagrant selfishness of it enrages me. FYI, you will not choke on your own toxic exhalations or suffocate because you cover your face with thin cloth or paper. *FACEPALM*

ANYWAY. Wrapping up now, I promise.

All your musing and pondering comes down to the equivalent of this: “I heard the fire alarm, but I don’t smell smoke, the fire exits are hard to find, and leaving seems like a waste of time and money, plus so many people say we can ignore the alarms because sometimes the alarms are wrong anyway so I don’t know what to believe.”

To which I say, WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?

If you get to wrap yourself in a comfy blanket of information fatigue and refuse to educate yourself properly or keep a fucking mask over your damned nose, I get to call you a fucking accessory to mass murder.

Yes, I am judging people and finding them wanting. I hate losing faith in so many, MANY people I once respected, especially since they could do better and won’t. But alas, I am disappoint. SO DISAPPOINT.

TL;DR:
Stay strong, learn the difference between snake oil and science, remember you are mortal. This ain’t over. Keep a mask on your face, keep your distance from others, and keep your pantry stocked.

And if you’re one of the people who feels the way I do, hail and well met. We shall stand in solidarity. Separately. Safely.

And next post I’ll write about my exciting book revisions, or my upcoming Gen Con events or happy garden projects…or something.

Until later!