So a while back I looked at my short stories and realized, huh — they kind of fall into these nice little groupings. Not enough in any one grouping to fill a whole print collection, but very nicely sized to make a set of tidy little ebooks.
The first of those is now available for pre-order! The title is Maps to Nowhere, in homage to Diana Wynne Jones’ novel Fire and Hemlock and the “NOWHERE” vases that are a recurring motif in it. (The same novel that inspired me to become a writer, and in a roundabout fashion sparked another story of mine.) It contains ten short stories, all set in secondary worlds. To whet your appetite, here’s the table of contents:
Maps to Nowhere
- “Once a Goddess”
- “The Mirror-City”
- “A Mask of Flesh”
- “But Who Shall Lead the Dance?”
- “A Thousand Souls”
- “Beggar’s Blessing”
- “Nine Sketches, in Charcoal and Blood”
- “Letter Found in a Chest Belonging to the Marquis de Montseraille Following the Death of That Worthy Individual”
- “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review“
- “Love, Cayce”
- Story notes
Maps to Nowhere will be out on September 5th!
Ron Formisano, American Oligarchy: The Permanent Political Class: This cri de coeur about corruption has a lot of outrage, but it’s short on definitions and thus on solutions. At times, Formisano suggests that anyone with a state, local, or federal government job is part of the oligarchy, as well as doctors, people in positions of authority at nonprofits, think tanks, and businesses. There is a lot of corruption in the US; the chapter about the abuses in Kentucky, where poverty, pollution, child mortality, and other indicators of suffering are extremely high, should make anyone angry. I understand getting mad at nonprofit CEOs who are compensated like for-profit CEOs—but the problem is not the parity (I don’t like the argument that “you chose a helping profession, you should accept less pay because of how good it feels to do good”; not only is it a trope usually used to justify paying female-dominated professions less, it positions doing good as something you ought to have to pay for, when really you ought to have to pay for acting solely in your own self-interest) but the fact that anybody can get paid as much as for-profit CEOs do, with so little tax. It is appalling that CEOs of nonprofit hospitals are paid hundreds of millions while the hospitals garnish the wages of poor patients who can’t pay—but that is true of for-profit hospitals too.
Formisano also points out that our federal legislators get perks that let them live like millionaires even when (as is increasingly unlikely) they aren’t; during the 2013 government shutdown, Congresspeople stopped National Airport from closing because it served them and also deemed their own gyms and pools “essential” enough to stay open, though the workers there still didn’t make very much. These privileges, he suggests, corrupt even the people who moved up in class, so that a visionary leader at Brown University speaks eloquently about admitting more students from poor backgrounds but also doesn’t want to interfere with alumni preferences because she has a granddaughter. The elites funnel money to themselves and their families by self-dealing, whether in government (remember Kim Davis?), nonprofits, or business. Disgrace, if exposure occurs, is ameliorated by a soft landing—a pension, positions on other boards, and soft words from one’s co-elites. Even nonprofits are in on the game, and they increasingly replace grassroots activism with palatable-to-elites causes that are organized from the top.
Formisano quotes Robert Borosage’s criticism of liberal focus on “opportunity” instead of equity or punishment for elite cheaters as “passive voice populism,” to good effect. Defunding tax collection is just another mechanism of harm—creating more loopholes for cheaters, who are subsidized by ordinary wage workers whose taxes are collected automatically. Though it’s relatively easy to cherry-pick from history, this John Adams quote seemed apposite: “civil, military, political and hierarchical Despotism, have all grown out of the natural Aristocracy of ‘Virtue and Talents.’ We, to be sure, are far remote from this. Many hundred years must roll away before We shall be corrupted.”
James Q. Whitman, Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law: Repeatedly, Nazis looking for inspiration looked to the US system of racial discrimination, primarily in the treatment of immigration, the rights of those in non-state territories, and anti-miscegnation laws. Whitman emphasizes that the Nazis’ crimes were their own and that they also rejected liberal and democratic parts of American law. They also appealled to racist practices among other European colonial powers. Still, Whitman argues that, because the Nazis didn’t envision the Holocaust when they started out, they found compelling analogies in American discriminatory practices, even though these practices were often not aimed at Jews. As with everything about America, it was possible to be selective, and the Nazis had no problem claiming that New York City had “very little to do with ‘America’” because of all its race-mixing and Jews.
Hitler was able to see the US as a model of Nordic supremacy, and he wasn’t alone; a Nazi historian described the Founding, in what Whitman says was the received wistom of the time, as “a historic turning point in ‘the Aryan struggle for world domination.’” One detailed scholarly work, Race Law in the United States, had as heroes Jefferson and Lincoln—Jefferson because of his insistence that blacks and whites couldn’t live under the same government if both were free, and Lincoln because of his early calls for black resettlement outside the US. Similarly, “Nazi expansion eastward was accompanied by invocations of the American conquest of the West, with its accompanying wars on Native Americans…. Indeed as early as 1928 Hitler was speechifying admiringly about the way Americans had ‘gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand, and now keep the modest remnant under observation in a cage’ ….”
Jim Crow segregation, Whitman contends, wasn’t all that important to the Nazis, but citizenship and sex/reproduction were, and it was there that they took lessons from the US. In fact, “Nazis almost never mentioned the American treatment of blacks without also mentioning the American treatment of other groups, in particular Asians and Native Americans.” American immigration and naturalization law was, almost uniquely, racist and race-based, and Hitler praised it for being so in Mein Kampf. And there were various forms of de jure and de facto second-class citizenship for African-Americans, Filipinos, and Chinese, to which the Nazis could look as they created second-class citizenship for Jews—drawing on, for example, the distinction between “political rights” and “civil rights” that American whites offered to excuse segregation. Indeed, some Nazis considered openly race-based laws to be more honest about keeping “alien races” from getting the upper hand; they had no need for grandfather clauses, and they devised the Nuremberg Laws in part to “institute official state persecution in order to displace street-level lynchings,” which offended the facist need for state centralization.
The US was also unique in anti-miscegnation laws, with careful rules about blood quantum—in fact, there were no other models for such laws for the Nazis to consult. And it mattered, Whitman suggests, that America was seen as a dynamic country—confirmation for the Nazis that the future was going in their direction. Among other things, American creativity on the definition of race showed that one didn’t need a purely scientific or theoretical definition of race, despite the leanings of German law; one could proceed with a political, pragmatic definition in enforcing anti-miscegenation and other discriminatory laws. Indeed, that’s ultimately what the Germans did when they defined Jews as including people with one Jewish parent if and only if they practiced Judaism or married Jews (rejecting, along the way, the even more aggressive American one-drop rule). Whitman concludes that we have to acknowledge that the Nazis practiced a particular kind of Legal Realism, whereby the law was supposed to assist in the process of social transformation, throwing formalism aside and recognizing reality—and reality, in both countries, was racist. “[T]o have a common-law system like that of America is to have a system in which the traditions of the law do indeed have little power to ride herd on the demands of the politicians, and when the politics is bad, the law can be very bad indeed.” Whitman finds the most prominent modern manifestation of this in the US in its harsh criminal justice system.
Amazon Prime comes with perks. They're not great perks, but show me a company that doesn't profit from supposed swag, and I'll sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. The one I use most often is Amazon Prime Music. Is the selection dubious? Sure. But it's "free".
This morning when picking "Happy Indie Pop" I saw this:
Today, Salena retweets a 1994 post in which she explained it all to us, race edition. (Save for nausea before clicking.)
Briefly, the essay says that a black family moved into her white neighborhood in 1969. I'll let her explain it.
In typically horrible timing, government-enforced integration coincided with Lyndon Johnson's “Great Society,” which bulldozed iconic ethnic neighborhoods — tearing apart lifelong experiences, communities and ways of life — in favor of public housing.
It was supposed to compensate for past injustices but it merely punished one community to make amends to another.
No mention that the "iconic ethnic neighborhoods" included black neighborhoods, of course, or the neighborhoods -- almost certainly including Zito's -- whose sale contracts forbade the owner to sell to a black person. No, that neighborhood just mysteriously grew up all-white.
Thanks to my parents, the Chatmans weren't considered “black people.” They were just new neighbors, and we did what we always did when someone new moved onto the block — baked chocolate-chip cookies and delivered those to their home.
“Your dad chased those young teens ... he caught all of them, single-handedly, and held them for the police,” Carnisa recalled. “I remember him telling them how ashamed he was of them.”
And everything was okay then! And Carnisa, her black friend, repaid her by saving her from a black riot in high school! And therefore:
Note that it never occurs to Zito that Carnisa had to go to school with the brothers and sisters and friends of those boys who burned a cross. Or that there were other people who put their resentment of "tearing apart lifelong experiences" into words and action. No. Zito made friends with Carnisa and they're still close friends and that's what everybody should do! And nobody (among Zito's friends) considered the Chatmans black, so that made everything better!
You won't read an essay that better encapsulates the belief that individual virtue is better than collective action. With a triple scoop of white privilege.
e: Chaser. Mother Jones finally does what nobody else is doing and interviews rural black voters.
Turner’s mom, who cleans houses in town for a living, went to work a couple of days after [the election], and her employer, an older white woman, brought up the results of the recent election. The two had talked politics before—Turner’s mom is a Democrat, and her employer is a Republican. “Well, you might as well come and live with me now,” the employer said. “You gonna be mine eventually."
5 things you’ll find in my bag: lip balm, headphones, pencil case, glasses, ballet shoes
5 things you’ll find in my bedroom: photos from friends, whiteboard, A:TLA DVDs, yarn bag, way fewer books than expected (our bookcase is in our living room & I left my SF/F collection in the US)
5 things I’ve always wanted to do: visit more places on my travel wishlist (Brazil, Greece, Istanbul, Prague, New Zealand...), try scuba diving, develop a yoga/pilates habit (unsuccessful so far), get a dog (someday when I have more time/$?), create my dream home library
5 things that make me happy: ♥ tea ♥, delicious food, music, guilt-free free time, THIS NEWS FROM NK JEMISIN!!!!!
5 things I’m currently into: zouk, choreographing with S, Agatha Christie film adaptations (I'm on a huge Miss Marple and Poirot kick), Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge, Otayuri (recs appreciated!)
5 things on my to-do list: finish exam prep, batch cook, clean house, schedule a massage, contact subletter
There're lots of gorgeous photos & great snark.
Contains: shame, sexual violence, shame, internalized misogyny, eating disorder, shame.
I don't know if I'll ever be able to finish it.
"Social workers began going door to door in San Juan housing projects, explaining that a pill could be taken daily to prevent pregnancy. Once women were told what the pill did, they signed up by the hundreds. However, these women were not informed that they were part of a clinical trial or that the treatment was experimental."
"Side effects [of the vaginal implant] can range from chronic pain and loss of sexual function, to major complications like the implant protruding through the bladder, or bowels, even necessitating removal of organs ensnared in the mesh. It can shrink inside your body, slicing through nerve endings, tissue and organs."
"If someone makes the effort of going to doctor after doctor, and all they are given is a pat on the head and told, 'Oh, sweetie, you'll be OK—you just need to smile more,' that is a failure of the physicians." Article covers both social biases (like doctors assuming a woman's problems are psychosomatic instead of doing tests) and biological ones (like researchers only testing on male mice, leaving them with huge gaps in knowledge regarding biologically female humans).
"The Gay Men’s Chorus posed to illustrate the impact of AIDS. Those dressed in black, with their backs turned, represent those who had died." This 1993 photo is a punch in the heart.
"The military spends five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops’ medical care."
And for something more hopeful:
An experiment, recounted in comic form: If you put rats alone in cages, they'll addict themselves to morphine. If you put them in an enriching environment with a bunch of other rats to hang out with, they'll avoid it.
Gisella Perl, the "Angel of Auschwitz" -- who got that title by providing abortions, so the Nazis wouldn't have pregnant Jewish women to experiment on.
"As what was thought to be the largest referral service in the country, which referred an estimated half million women for abortions in its six years of existence, the [Clergy Consultation Service] had significant market power that it leveraged to reduce the going rate for an abortion." The name isn't a euphemism. It was literally a coalition of Protestant and Jewish religious leaders.
"Intersex advocates are rejoicing at a paper released by three former US Surgeons General. The surgeon-generals called for an end to forced medical surgeries on young intersex people."
I don't watch much 'comedy' as a genre - not even outside of anime. Way too much either hits my embarrassment squick, or else the cast are assholes. Or both! (See also: OSOMATSU-SAN and EXCEL SAGA, both of which I saw recommendations for as OMG FUNNIEST THING EVER, and no. I managed all of one episode each, and then noped out hard.) I'm more likely to laugh at manga.
But after rummaging through my past catalog, I found a couple OVAs that did make me laugh! DRAGON-HALF (heroine is half-dragon! unfortunately, her love is a dragon hunter! whoops, nothing for it but to enter an enormous tournament for reasons that I don't remember and may not have been explained), and SHINESMAN (loving parody of super-sentai e.g. Power Rangers - I've only seen the dubbed version, which is glorious).
I skived off before the speakers, though, as I was pretty tired and had a long walk home. I'm counting that as exercise because my leg muscles certainly felt it.
I met a baby whose dad said this was her first protest outside of the womb. She was really cute. I saw another insanely cute toddler later on, who had disposed of one of her shoes...I didn't rat her out, though, she was giving me the sweet eyes. Also the mom was talking to the dad and I didn't want to interrupt.
Never did manage to meet up with Camille and Barbara, and didn't see Lionel and Shani and their kids, but did run into Amey from choir, Vash from the writing community, and C.'s cousin Grace.
If I can answer 'yes' to 'Do I want to watch it again?' and/or 'Do I want to own a copy of this?'
Of course, I can answer 'yes to those questions over some real hot messes, too. ^_^
I mean, if I made it to the end as was entertained in some way, then it did its job. That alone should qualify as 'good', right?
I feel like 'good' has lost all meaning.
(I am so glad this meme is almost over.)