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It seems so fittingly SFnal that I first heard about her death on Twitter, early this morning.

I encountered her feminist critical essays before I knew her as an SF writer, oddly enough, though I was reading widely with a foot in each of those worlds. By the time I discovered her fiction, though, I'd already developed a profound respect for Russ as a thinker, a philosopher, and a visionary:

In a nominally egalitarian society the ideal situation (socially speaking) is one in which the members of the "wrong" groups have the freedom to engage in literature (or equally significant activities) and yet do not do so, thus proving that they can't. But, alas, give them the least real freedom and they will do it. The trick thus becomes to make the freedom as nominal a freedom as possible and then—since some of the so-and-so's will do it anyway—develop various strategies for ignoring, condemning, or belittling the artistic works that result. If properly done, these strategies result in a social situation in which the "wrong" people are (supposedly) free to commit literature, art, or whatever, but very few do, and those who do (it seems) do it badly, so we can all go home to lunch.
The methods indicated above are varied but tend to occur in certain key areas: informal prohibitions (including discouragement and the inaccessibility of materials and training), denying the authorship of the work in question (this ploy ranges from simple misattribution to psychological subtleties that make the head spin), belittlement of the work itself in various ways, isolation of the work from the tradition to which it belongs and its consequent presentation as anomalous, assertions that the work indicates the author's bad character and hence is of primarily scandalous interest or ought not to have been done at all (this did not end with the nineteenth century), and simply ignoring the works, the workers, and the whole tradition, the most commonly employed technique and the hardest to combat.
What follows is not intended as a history. Rather it's a sketch of an analytic tool: patterns in the suppression of women's writing.
--From How To Suppress Women's Writing, by Joanna Russ

I'm sad that I never met her, since she profoundly influenced so much of how I think about writing and about being a woman. I am grateful, though, that in keeping with traditional singing of tales about our passing heroes,  TNH remembers Joanna Russ.
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Through the grapevine, I'm getting reports that a persistent and stubborn troll has managed to frustrate the admin/staff of the Asimov's/Analog forums into closing the forum indefinitely. Having been through similar rodeos, running AW, I'd caution folks not to believe everything they hear. It may well be something as simple as a technical problem or updates that are taking longer than expected. Sometimes stuff just gets lost in translation.

I've also been approached by multiple people about creating an online space for the displaced forum members, over on Absolutewrite. I'm happy to do that, of course, either as a semi-permanent solution or on a strictly temporary basis. We already have a thriving SFF board. It's pretty trivial, technically-speaking, to create a room or sub-forum for people trying to keep in touch with each other, until this situation gets resolved.

I'm concerned for the displaced community members -- I'm seeing a great deal of consternation and displacement expressed, and I know that it's disorienting and frustrating for a community to go through this.

I'd urge folks to be patient, though -- it's pretty rare that a single troll is so very awful as to result in the permanent dissolution of an online community. I'd be willing to bet that the folks running the forums for Asimov's and Analog get things figured out and manage to restore the community. So those of you feeling disoriented, keep the faith!

In the meantime, since online communities are what I do for a living, I'm happy to help anyway I can (and that includes volunteering AW's SFF forum as a gathering place and information-clearinghouse.
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Someone recently sent me a link to the website the ACLU has set up to collect reports of TSA abuse.  Boost the signal, if you're inclined. The rest of this is rather long, potentially triggering or maybe just rage-inducing, and a fair bit political -- so I've put it behind the cut.
Read on ... )
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 I'm interested primarily in a start-small project, like powering an electric pasture fence, with recycled/reused materials to build most of your own solar-power collection and storage system.

Anyone? Bueller?
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yummy, tender, sweet roasted brussels sproutsBrussels sprouts, roasted with a little olive oil, kosher salt, and lemon pepper? Nom nom nom. Especially alongside mashed yukon gold taters with crispy pepper bacon bits over all.

Turns out I like brussels sprouts after all. 

For the curious, I did not parboil or blanch them, first - just trimmed them off the stalk, rinsed thoroughly, then tossed in a big boil with enough olive oil to coat 'em, salted, lemon-peppered, and roasted at about 400 - 425 F, turning a few times until they were crispy and caramelized and yummy on the outside and sort of steamed tender inside.


Oct. 19th, 2010 10:36 am
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I've been talked into NaNo-ing, by a friend who wants to give herself "permission to write crap, again" since she's feeling like she got a ways away from being able to just plough forward. (Like a lot of other writers, she works full-time as a freelancer, especially publishing kids, family, educational, and humor pieces.)

I'll confess I'm a bit seduced by the slogan "thirty days and nights of literary abandon" -- because, well, who wouldn't be?

I am nervous.
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Early in the morning, flying out for the East Coast. Some of you I'll see there! I always look forward to meeting a new class of VPers, and this year is shaping up to be magnificent.

I still have not gotten my jellyfish tattoo. Something to be considered as soon as I'm home again.

See you on the other side, everyone!
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 A week into the five-miles-a-morning regimen, (it's a looooong story, having to do with a writing-group buddy who valiantly volunteered to help me start running again, because I loathe running so I'll only do it if I know there's someone downstairs in the alley in the rain, waiting for me to drag my sorry butt down three flights of stairs to run with him; and also having to do with the complex quitting-smoking head-games that twenty-years-of-smoking smokers play with ourselves) but I'm actually starting to look forward to that five miles of searing lungs, sweat, and painful knees.

Also, I've developed a possibly out-of-balance fondness for both ice-packs and NSAIDs. But one vice at a time.


May. 11th, 2010 08:59 pm
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Remember that Angel rewatch I was threatening? I won't torture my whole friends list with it, but if you're interested in playing along at home, the introductory post is up: Whedon, Rimbaud, and Cicero--and hopefully it's not as boring as it sounds....


Apr. 15th, 2010 05:36 pm
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I've officially filed my 2009 tax returns.
I'm done! Dunno why it made me so surly and resistant, this year, but it's over with, now.

And I'm going to have a martini. Or three.


Apr. 15th, 2010 09:12 am
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Today, I must actually DO my taxes instead of wandering around, sighing heavily, saying aloud, "Crap. I really need to get my taxes done."
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 Heh. Netflix has all the seasons of Angel - which I've not seen, but [ profile] tnh  says is better than Buffy in many ways. And I don't have to wait for the DVDs, because they've got 'em streaming!

I'm sort of excited, and suspect I'll be talking about it a lot in the coming weeks. The rewatch/reread posts--about everything from Star Trek TOS to Jordan's Wheel of Time books--have me itching to write about pop culture stuff, too, even though it's not properly a rewatch since I've never seen 'em.

Thoughts, recommendations, advice? Please, please tell me I don't have to watch the sixth and seventh seasons of Buffy again, unless it's absolutely crucial to continuity or mythology?
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 Since it's come up in a comments thread that many, MANY of us have songs on our iPod that make us laugh, or songs that work for our brains in odd ways, or otherwise we are attached to -- but songs that are a wee bit embarrassing to admit to. Okay. Maybe even a lot embarrassing to admit to...

What's the funniest/oddest/most embarrassing thing on YOUR iPod or mp3 player, or otherwise in your music collection?
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I've joined one. Hopefully, this will help kick my ass out of the rut-that-looks-suspiciously-grave-like, and I'll start putting down new words again.

Wish me luck, folks.

ETA: Also? You people rawk.
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 I got to go for a long walk with a terrific puppy, today -- a [ profile] plunderpuss sort of puppy -- which made for an utterly marvelous afternoon. And! I have been offered visitation dog-walking privileges.

Color me very, very happy about this turn of events. *G*
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I was just recently reminded of these links about mansplaining.

Justine Larbalestier has a recent post about mansplaining, where she mentions "whitesplaining", as well. She goes on to observe:

"Just as a general rule if you ever find yourself in a position where you are explaining to someone who has lived experience on the subject at hand when you don’t, then perhaps you might want to, you know, shut up. Also listen. Examples run the gamut from telling someone whose name is Linda that their name means “beautiful” cause you just learned that in Spanish (you know, typically, people know what their own names mean) through to explaining Judaism to someone who is actually Jewish."
And I was struck in a way that wouldn't have happened even a couple of years ago, because I can't even begin to count all the times just in the last year or so that I've been in a room with people (male and female, by the way) who identify as straight, or self-identify as queer but have pretty much exclusively straight relationships, or self-identify as bi, but...y'know...pretty much only wanna fuck like they're straight, and always have--who nonetheless want to hold forth about queerness, being queer, queer lifestyles and issues and the inherent difficulties, complexities, and social navigation pitfalls of being gay or lesbian. They want a sort of otherness status from calling themselves a queer, or a fag, or a dyke, but they seem to want it magically. They want that status without actually living the life. And some of the people I've noticed doing this are perfectly lovely people. And inevitably, they're people who are convinced they've actually paid dues, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

Conversely, many of the people I know who are actually pretty queer but are now in het marriages,  often with kids? They express feeling guilty for the inherent privilege garnered by those more socially-acceptable relationships. So if that's you, you're not who I'm venting about, okay?

I'm venting about my quite-apparently mostly-straight friends who want to hold forth to anyone who will listen about queer topics, and because I know a lot of writers, especially with regard to the issues surrounding queerness when it comes to writing queer characters. Perhaps you don't realize you've just spent a half-hour holding forth about being queer and how tricky it is, to me.

To me. An out dyke for better than 20 years. A woman who has been assaulted, harassed, fired from jobs, and otherwise paid in pain and actual blood for being who I am, for over 20 years, now. Then you want to giggle about the "cute boy" you have a crush on. 

My anger level about that stuff? It's gotten a lot worse in recent years. I'm not quite sure why. And exponentially worse just in the last year. Like bad. Stuff like that used to completely roll off my back, and I swear to dog I never even noticed? Suddenly I've got this sort of white-hot anger response around it all. I don't like it. I'm working on it. But I'm really angry about that stuff, especially so, lately.

I'm not sure what to do about that, and I just don't know how to negotiate this particular topic with people I love and respect. And I do believe that I have a responsibility for my own reactions, emotions, and I'm responsible to figure out my own emotional baggage around all this, you know?

I'm more than aware that sexuality is fluid. I'm certainly politically savvy enough about all the we're-all-queer-together, kumbaya, "our similarities are more important than our differences" stuff. And honestly, I'm interested in people's different experiences. But you know what? Don't call yourself a dyke if you're not. Just don't.

Don't tell dyke jokes to me, if you have an biologically-attached and functioning penis. We're just not that close. And you're not dyke enough to tell those jokes.

And don't fucking hold forth to me about the difficulties and social penalties inherent in self-identifying as a dyke (or a fag -- because, curiously, I notice that more often than not the people who do this really, really want to use privileged language as if they were long-time insiders) if you've never actually even been in an acknowledged sexual/romantic relationship with a same-sex partner, okay? It's really obnoxious. Beyond being obnoxious, you're either talking out your ass and you know it, or you're a walking-talking example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

So if you're one of my friends that I love and respect, and sometime in the next year or so we're all together in a bar or at a con somewhere, and from across the room, I suddenly hurl something hard at your head? That's very likely why. It doesn't mean I don't love and respect you, in general. It doesn't mean I'm not interested in your experience. It doesn't mean that we can't actually have a conversation about queerness, or straightness, or the price of grass-fed beef.

It just means I'm really, really pissed right now that you'd pretend to my experience to the point of forgetting that I'm even in the fucking room, and I really don't give a goddamn what your damage is that you feel like you need to do that.

And I promise that, in return,  I'll try very hard to deal with my own recent anger-management issues around this subject.

Oh dear

Jan. 9th, 2010 03:25 pm
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Woke up with a sore throat, cough, and low-grade fever.

And the height of hilarity in my current condition is rickrolling poor unsuspecting and naive AW users.

I should probably push more fluids and consider a nap...
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