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[links] Link salad knows the cider’s laced with acid

Magazine Monday: Subterranean, Spring 2013 — Including a review of my Green novelette, “A Stranger Comes to Kalimpura”. I liked this bit: Green’s voice is, as always, sharp and clear and pitiless. She is a haunting character.

Lois Tilton reviews “A Stranger Comes to Kalimpura” — She didn’t like it quite so much.

Cancer Centers Racing to Map Patients’ Genes — Welcome to my life.

What’s Tylenol Doing to Our Minds?The same pathways that help with physical pain seem to moderate existential distress. Wow. (Via [info]danjite.)

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: Ancient Computers in Use Today — (Via @daviddlevine.)

Inside the Race to Build the World’s Fastest Bitcoin Miner — Stories like this are making me feel like a tech dinosaur.

Two-Track MindThe MTA’s “track geometry car” slides around through the New York City subway, using “a variety of sensors, measuring systems, and data management [software] to create a profile of the track being inspected.” This is cool.

Microraptor: A 4-Winged, Fish-Eating Dinosaur

Fellowship of the Tree RingsNew Zealand researchers probe history and climate science by looking at wood. It’s pretty amazing how liberals have planted evidence for climate change even deep inside ancient trees. Thank God we have Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Party to keep us focused on the truth instead of that pesky old reality.

Exploring public concerns about geoengineering the climateUK researchers talk about pumping reflective aerosols into the atmosphere. What could possibly go wrong?

Terrorism and the other ReligionsIt takes a peculiar sort of blindness to see Christians of European heritage as “nice” and Muslims and inherently violent, given the twentieth century death toll.

Actual 4th Grade science test in South Carolina — I hope to Ghu this is a spoof. Thanks to Poe’s Law, it’s impossible to separate conservative willful ignorance from parody of conservative willful ignorance. I simply do not understand how any parent would want to so dreadfully miseducate their child. (Via [info]goulo.)

2nd Child of Pa. Couple Dies After Only Praying — Religion really can make you stupid. Fatally stupid. The deliberate miseducation and intellectual stunting so beloved of religious conservatives is bad enough. Those poor kids died of abuse and neglect privileged under the mantle of faith.

FMH Podcast Episode 52: Women That Leave Because of Gender Inequality — What I find fascinating about the blog Feminist Mormon Housewives is the intellectual train wreck always in progress there. Most of the post and comments on that blog are from intelligent, progressively-minded women who are struggling mightily to reconcile what their education and identities tell them with what their faith demands of them by way of subservience, submittal and acceptance of discrimination and flat counterfactuals. To my atheist outsider’s view, almost all of them would a lot happier listening to themselves rather than their faith.

GOP Ex-Congressman Testifies About Struggle Getting Visa For His Gay Partner — Words fail me. You do remember you’re a Republican, right? Further proof that no one likes conservative policies when applied to them personally.

Texas wants federal disaster aid it refused to give others — Ah, the justly famed intellectual consistency of conservatives is once more on display. Of course, these are Sarah Palin’s “real Americans” in trouble, not undeserving East Coast liberals.

The Senate’s gun control fail: dead children and monied politicians — A UK perspective. A sane man’s contempt for the United States Senate must now be certain and complete. Given the inertia on even the most modest legislative response to the mass murder of schoolchildren, those still credulous enough to believe that our governance is representative of popular will are either Barnum-sized suckers, or worse, tacit participants in tragedies soon to come.

Jeff Flake’s Rhetorical Games On Background Checks Come Back To Haunt Him — Speaking of intellectual consistency. As ever, conservatives value their guns over your safety.

Arkansas county GOP is unhappy that we can’t shoot politicians, as the Second Amendment intended — More of that measured reason we have all come to expect from conservatives in the gun culture. I sure feel safer knowing people like this are exercising their Second Amendment rights to theoretical defense of essential liberties.

WSJ Columnist Taranto Uses Gabby Giffords’ Injuries To Silence Her On Gun Violence — Stay classy, conservative America. It’s what you do best. (Honestly, if I were a Republican, I’d die of shame.)

‘I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.’ — This is how Republicans respect our democracy. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

QotD?: What is the Holy Spirit crying?


4/23/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo day)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (very carefully on the stationary bike)
Weight: n/a (couldn’t stand on scale due to injured foot)
Number of FEMA troops on my block faking evidence for climate change: 0
Currently reading: Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

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[writing|process] More work on Original Destiny, Manifest Sin

I really need to come up with an online icon for this book.

Spent a bit of time yesterday mapping the timeline and structure of Original Destiny, Manifest Sin. I’ve realized I’m going to have to approach this book differently from any of the other 20+ first draft novels I’ve ever written. With the partial exception of Madness of Flowers, I have always written in reading order. This regardless of how the plot or narrative timeline are structured. Even when writing first draft, my experience of story is remarkably parallel to the way I experience story as a reader.

Except that’s not going to work on this book, unless I want an especially messy first draft. And the meta-requirements of the voice of the book impose another layer of craft I really don’t think I can account for with my usual linear writing problem. I need the piece to be a dialog between Original Destiny and Manifest Sin. In my character sheet, I have labeled them “urges”. That word is a backformation from demiurge, and is a concept I’ve explored somewhat in the Green continuity. (Which, to be clear, is entirely a separate thing from the continuity of this book.)

In simplest terms, Original Destiny is the voice of pastoralism, premodernism, magic, divinity and the naturalistic world of God’s creation. The Dionysian impulse. The feminine principle. Mythos. Manifest Sin is the voice of industrialization, Enlightenment civilization and an increasingly mechanized, deterministic empirical world. The Apollonian impulse. The masculine principle. Logos. I need to work on those definitions a lot, obviously, but it’s the dialog between those two voices that must frame the book and provide the through-line, reader identification and narrative continuity. And I have to do so in a way which engages the reader’s attention.

So yesterday was a lot of thinking about that.

Likewise, I was looking at my character list with an eye toward whose individual stories are being told to highlight this tension. It is pretty obvious from how I’d first begun to address the story that my personal sympathies lie strongly with Original Destiny and the Dionysian impulse. But then The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen was always my favorite movie of Terry Gilliam’s Apollonian-Dionysian film quartet. However, this book isn’t about my personal preferences. I want to tell this story as a sort of parable about the evolution of the modern world, and it doesn’t serve me well to impose a moral axis. The Apollonian-Dionysian tension is fundamental to the choices that govern both culture in general and our individual human existences in particular, at least when seen through the dualistic lens of Western thought and philosophy. It’s not a good-evil dynamic at all, though in our world both great good and terrible evil have arisen as real consequences of that dynamic. And that Western dualism is decidedly the tradition in which I write and live my life.

Still, I will have my little jokes. So when I realized that Original Destiny was well-represented in the human narratives by Peony Sykes, Red Eyes Parker, Li Cheng-Ho and William Clark (who in historical reality was very firmly a creature of Manifest Sin), but Manifest Sin only had Aaron Burr and Thomas Edison to tell his story, I had to add another major point-of-view character. In this case, the logical choice seemed to be George Armstrong Custer. Why? Because I can!

So, anyway, that’s where my head is at today.

PS: I debated going into this much detail about my internal process in developing the book. I don’t normally reveal quite so much. But I figured, why not? It helps me to articulate my thoughts, and might be a useful glimpse into my writing process for those of you who read this blog primarily from a writer’s perspective. Feel free to ask questions or seek clarification on what I’m discussing.

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[links] Link salad chokes its way off to Florida

Jay Lake Benefit Auction at Gaslight Gathering — Huh. I just learned about this myself.

Female Protagonists — In which Green her own self gets a quick nod.

Game of Thrones Season 3 – “Princess Bride Promo” — Hahahah. (Via Gabrielle Harbowy.)

Forward — Ok, this is a way cool video. Weird, fun stuff. (Via [info]willyumtx.)

Tupolev Tu-95MS — This is a wow photo.

Sex chemistry ‘lasts two years’Couples should not worry when the first flush of passion dims – scientists have identified the hormone changes which cause the switch from lust to cuddles. (Via a friend who probably prefers to remain anonymous.)

NASA chief says only God can defend Earth against asteroid attack

‘Full’ Neanderthal genome sequenced for the first time

Polar bear hunting and migration ‘hit by warming climate’

Ice Age CreationismI continue to wonder whether the folks at AiG are working to make Christianity look as foolish as possible, even while claiming their aim is to promote it.

Stuxnet Missing Link Found, Resolves Some Mysteries Around the Cyberweapon — (Via David Goldman.)

CIA Family Jewels — Some weird stuff in here… (Via Marta Murvosh.)

Loudoun teen fatally shot by homeowner identified — Yep, we are all so much safer when gun owners can shoot confused teenagers dead.

City Council Member Who Wants Prayer at Meetings: ‘This is a Government Institution, Not a Secular Institution’And the harder he tried to disprove the Bible using science, the more he found that the Bible proved science. I will say this: Christianity is not a religion. And I see laughter, but it’s okay. I was younger once, too, and as we grow older we’re exposed to things in this life. Wisdom, I always say, comes with gray hair and if you don’t have any gray hair, you’re too young to have wisdom. The smug stupidity of religious conservatives is breathtaking. (Snurched from Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Demographics and the Future of the GOPJeb Bush told CPAC that the Republican party had an image problem. “Way too many people believe that Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker.” People have good reason to believe those things. But the “way too many” suggests that the GOP’s problem is not image or brand, it’s demography. Well, duh. The GOP has gone to a lot of trouble to brand itself as anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-worker. Why are they surprised?

QotD?: Have you flown sick?


3/20/2013
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (WRPA, mostly more Whole Genome Sequencing stuff)
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (very fitful)
Body movement: 0.0 hours (airport walking to come)
Weight: 240.2
Number of FEMA troops on my block building solar arrays to undermine the American fossil fuel industry: 0
Currently reading: Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

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[links] Link salad wakes up in Houston, wonders what the heck happened

My Green novelette “A Stranger Comes to Kalimpura” is now available at Subterranean Online — It concerns an older Green, and an outside context problem.

Frank’s Compulsive Guide to Postal Addresses: Britain and Ireland — Obsessive doesn’t even begin to cover it. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

LOL, texting, and txt-speak: Linguistic miraclesA linguist surprises the TED crowd; apparently txt-speak really is special.

Should sex be like jazz?

M-497 Black Beetle — Wow. Just wow. Talk about your hurtling fever train.

How to Spend 47 Hours on a Train and Not Go Crazy

Screech Owl Cam’ is Down — Oi. My friend Chris Johnson has been frozen out of his long-term bird education project.

After Initial Problems, SpaceX Dragon Now Looking Good On Orbit

Volcanic eruptions halted global warming during 2000-10

A Mother’s Death Tested Reporter’s Thinking About End-Of-Life Care — (Via Jennifer Danvers.)

Taking on Creeping Creationism in Public Schools The US will fall behind other countries in bio-technology if this wave of obscurantism is allowed to continue. And, note that biotech jobs are increasing, but concentrated in seven states. They are the ones where anti-evolution thinking is unpopular among the public, and they emphatically do not include Louisiana, which limps along with among the worst poverty, employment and health rankings among US states.

Obama’s ‘Jedi mind meld’ reference ridiculed by sci-fi fans — Oops.

Vigilante Walmart shopper shoots at shoplifter, hits 3 cars, almost hits innocent — Yep. More guns. Definitely need more of this kind of responsible citizen protecting us all. What could possibly go wrong?

QotD?: Oilers much?


3/2/2013
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (1,000 new words to draft complete on the current nonfiction project at 7,900 words, plus some light editing.)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.0 hours (traveling)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block converting golf course to concentration campsi: 0
Currently reading: Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

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[links] Link salad sleeps the sleep of dreams

Kalimpura — Paul di Filippo reviews my Green trilogy at barnesandnoblereview.com, with a focus on the latest book, Kalimpura. In creating Green and her universe, Lake has not only provided a vivid protagonist and a grittily glamorous world, conducive to high heroics, but also updated the kind of Red Sonja (Robert E. Howard’s heroine) and Jirel of Joiry (C. L. Moore’s swordwoman) archetype for postmodern, egalitarian sensibilities. He’s never obtrusive in this program, but always effective. This trilogy stands as a landmark in heroic fantasy that fuses pulp brio with sharp philosophical underpinnings. I think he liked it.

Australian Experts Report First Known Quintuple Negative — A language funny from Lowering the Bar.

No breasts for our guests — Censored wallpaper? Really?

Male as the Neutral Default — Ah, gender. Sigh.

Alcohol said to have big role in cancer — Not mine, since alcohol never played a big role in my life.

Cuomo Bucks Tide With Bill to Ease Limits on Abortion — As we all know, conservatives don’t want the government to come between them and their doctor, so I’m certain Republicans across America will do the intellectually consistent thing in supporting this bill.

Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence? — A fascinating article that points to some blindingly obvious conclusions about pervasive conservative hypocrisy and the Republicans’ much beloved tactics of social repression.

Preemptive Pessimism Isn’t A Plan Still, today, after all the debunking, the repeated certification by the State of Hawaii, two successful presidential campaigns and all the background checking that implies, more intense scrutiny than any other single president in American history – after all of that, a significant fraction of conservatives in this country still refuse to openly admit that Barack Obama is a fellow citizen, that his skinny black ass is just as American as they are. They’ll readily believe every silly poorly reasoned, logically inconsistent, idiotic, ridiculous, asinine, soundly debunked conspiracy theory that comes along from every coked-out, crazy-haired, wild-eyed fruitcake with an Internet connection, but they won’t believe Barack Obama is an American citizen, a Christian, and Capitalist. And there’s nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. Nothing. Welcome to the conservative mind. Which Jim Wright analyzes in detail, contrasting their own words and stated policy positions with objective reality. (Via Steve Buchheit.)

QotD?: Did you dream the dream of sleep?


2/17/2013
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (2,400 words on novella in progress, to first draft complete at 18,100 words.)
Hours slept: 7.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 231.6
Number of FEMA troops on my block covering up high crimes and misdemeanors in Benghazi: 0
Currently reading: Mort by Terry Pratchett

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[links] Link salad introduces itself as a man of wealth and taste

Con or Bust is auction my Green trilogy, donated by me and Tor Books — Go make a bid!

I hate being disappointed by a promising book… — A reader reacts to Green. Not very much with the liking at all, I am afraid.

Science Fiction Studies: Special Issue on Chinese Science Fiction — (Via Cora Buhlert.)

Calvin and Hobbes on writing for academia

Mystery surrounds missing World War II love letters — Purloined, indeed.

Defence nerds strike back: A symposium on the Battle of Hoth — Hah!

Weatherwatch: Arctic hysteria caused by severe winters — Pibloktoq? (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

A tale of two worlds: habitable, or colonizable? — Karl Schroeder is smart.

Cultural Diffusion and SETIWhat happens to us if our SETI efforts pay off?

How Nest’s Control Freaks Reinvented the ThermostatTwo men who created the iPod and iPhone founded Nest and injected new technology into the humble thermostat. Now they have their sights on the rest of your house. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while, but not enough to do something about it.

Flirting 101: Coaches teach daters to cozy up — Maybe I need this?

Bits and PiecesIt is quite amazing how many parts of the body belonging to famous people in history, somehow become separated from the body itself and turn up again, many years or even centuries later. Let me give you some examples… Heh. (Snurched from art guru James Gurney.)

Tiny mutation may have shaped modern humans, scientists say genetic variant could have helped people survive crippling heat by giving them extra sweat glands, says a report from a team that sought to replicate the effect in mice.

FDA Approves ‘Bionic Eye’ to Help Against Rare Vision Disorder — Six million dollars later…

Scientists solve mystery of cosmic raysScientists have solved an astronomical mystery by discovering the source of cosmic rays.

Hints of cosmic ray-climate link in sediment core from JapanBut the correlation only holds during some of the times examined. Weird.

Geocentrism and a historical AdamSlacktivist Fred Clark on the idiocy of some Christianist doctrine. And yes, geocentrism was once Church doctrine as well.

Wrapping up the ‘Biblical Family of the Day’ seriesThe gatekeepers indignantly claim that every word in the Bible is, by definition, completely moral. That doesn’t reveal a reverent devotion for the Bible, but rather an ignorant disdain for it.

The Social Trends Driving American Gangs and Gun Violence — Ta-Nehisi Coates interviews University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack.

How to Think About Guns: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Fox Claims That Declining Minimum Wage Is “Growing Exponentially” — Which happens to be flatly untrue. But since the facts as usual don’t fit the conservative narrative, Fox as usual outright lies. Millions of Republicans nod along.

Senate Republicans Make a Spectacle of ThemselvesExcept for dedicated partisans, no one can look at the display most Senate Republicans have put on over the last eight weeks and conclude that these people should be in the majority.

Electoral college reform (fifty states with equal population) — Huh.

QotD?: Have you been around for a long, long year?


2/15/2013
Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (2,200 words on novella in progress, to 13,300 words)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (stationary bike)
Weight: 232.8
Number of FEMA troops on my block covering up high crimes and misdemeanors in Benghazi: 0
Currently reading: Mort by Terry Pratchett

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[links] Link salad looks to the future, finds itself myopic

The Acts of Whimsy cancer fundraiser is still live. It has made goal, but additional support is always welcome, especially given my new complications. Please check it out if you have not done so yet.

The Lakeside Kickstarter has expanded its stretch goals to include documenting the science around my genomic testing by traveling to the testing lab and interviewing the scientists there. They’v also posted a new trailer for the movie, which is very striking. So give a little to support SCIENCE!

The Great Lake Conspiracy — A Mustache and the Mutt Mystery (Audio Drama for Jay Lake) — Skiffy and Fanty perpetrate another Act of Whimsy.

Genomic Analysis, the Office Edition — More on genetic sequencing and interpretation. (Via my Dad.)

Medical Self Defense — Really? (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated

GIVEAWAY REMINDER: Win a Complete Set of Jay Lake’s “GREEN” Trilogy!

A reader reacts to Mainspring — Luke warm review.

Amazing Future Tales — Heh heh.

China’s Chicken Syndrome, and the Man in the Iron CurtainStrange Maps gets a little weird.

The Author Himself Was a Cat in the Hat — Ted Geisel’s toppers.

Court Rules Icelandic “Girl” Can Use Her Own Name — Weird.

How to Build a Nanotube ComputerIBM creates a new way to make faster and smaller transistors.

Last-stand Neanderthals queriedWe may need to look again at the idea that a late Neanderthal population existed in southern Spain as recently as 35,000 years ago, a study suggests.

Noisy Sex Really Is Better Sex, Study Reveals — So much for my duct tape.

Britain’s PM faces gay marriage revolt as plots swirl

Tree ring history spurs actual climate science debateScientists argue about errors in tree ring records vs. cooling from volcanoes. This is science, constantly self-correcting based on new facts and data. Unlike ideology, which is right by definition regardless of facts and data. Guess which I choose?

Health Care’s Trick Cointhe entire evidence base for medicine has been undermined by a casual lack of transparency. (Via [info]danjite.)

Krugman: The NRA Is An ‘Insane Organization’ They have this vision that we’re living in a ‘Mad Max’ movie and that nothing can be done about it. Gun culture.

Memo Cites Legal Basis for Killing U.S. Citizens in Al Qaeda — In other words, summary execution without due process of law. No.

QotD?: Whither hope?


2/5/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.25 hours (WRPA)
Hours slept: 6.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.33 hours stationary bicycle (still in post-operative recovery)
Weight: 227.2
Number of FEMA troops on my block protecting women from violence: 0
Currently reading: Gulp by Mary Roach

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[links] Link salad knows there will be peace when it is done

The Acts of Whimsy cancer fundraiser is still live. It has made goal, but additional support is always welcome, especially given my new complications. Please check it out if you have not done so yet.

The Lakeside Kickstarter has expanded its stretch goals to include documenting the science around my genomic testing by traveling to the testing lab and interviewing the scientists there. They’v also posted a new trailer for the movie, which is very striking. So give a little to support SCIENCE!

An Act of Whimsy video from @ eustaciavye77 — She sings a silly SJ Tucker song.

Lorem Ipsum Transition FundraiserOur doors will close forever. Eviction day is coming. The story doesn’t have to end this way. Here’s what you can do right now to save the bookstore.

A review of Dark Faith: Invocations which includes a special focus on my story, “The Cancer Catechism” — I’m not often moved by reviews of my own work, but this one… Wow.

GIVEAWAY: Win a Complete Set of Jay Lake’s “GREEN” Trilogy! — My friends at SF Signal celebrate the release of KalimpuraPowell’s | BN ].

Carry on My Wayward Son (Trombone Quartet) — My teen years suddenly seem so different.

The material that’s like an octopusWhen pressure is applied all around them most materials shrink. But materials exhibiting a rare property known as negative linear compressibility (NLC) are different. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Tapeworm eggs found in fossilized poop — Man, I want a coprolith to go with my trilobites!

Carrots for Doctors — A New York Times piece on medical incentives that touches on but then sidesteps the real issue in healthcare costs: profit-taking throughout our healthcare finance system. Countries with single-payer systems take less profit and pay lower costs, a double win.

Climate change may be hitting migratory species harder than we thoughtCurrent methods don’t consider the whole picture when calculating risk. Actually, it’s just Al Gore out hunting them to help keep the hoax going. Ask any Republican, they’ll tell you those liberal “facts” and “data” about climate change can’t possibly be true.

Idaho gun-nut lawmakers freak out over man with gun in state Capitol (irony alert) — But guns make us safer! Just ask the 80 people killed every day by them!

1 dead in Phoenix office shooting; shooter at large — See how much safer those people are because of widespread private gun ownership. The NRA and the GOP, still protecting the Second Amendment rights of angry, impulsive people everywhere to kill at a whim, as should always be in the case in a just, safe and moral society.

Gabby Giffords made me cry. America? And you? — Roger Ebert on gun control.

Moral Perversity In David Mamet — Andrew Sullivan on David Mamet’s recent bizarre and counterfactual piece on gun violence. I read the Mamet piece when it came out, and couldn’t even begin to frame a response to its ghastly amoral stance.

African-American Travel and Jim Crow Segregation — I’ve heard of the Green Book before. A sobering reminder of white privilege and racism.

Can Republicans “Disengage” from Obama?Because many Republicans and conservatives assumed the worst about what would follow Obama’s re-election (this was the “Obama unleashed” idea), they are going to be more inclined to try “winning a series of confrontations with the president” rather than less. The other problem is that many Republicans are likely to continue reacting to Obama’s re-election as they did to Clinton’s, which was a combination of disbelief that he had won and an increased obsession with “getting” him by way of investigations and scandals.

QotD?: Do you cry no more?


1/31/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (still in post-operative recovery)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0.0 hours (still in post-operative recovery)
Weight: 224.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block protecting women from violence: 0
Currently reading: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

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[politics|religion] Where should the rules come from?

Yesterday on Facebook, a conservative friend said, I suspect part of the issue is that most writers and artists of the last 150 years working in the fantastic field have been (more or less) refugees from religion, of one sort or another. To them, a more perfect (or at least more fun) world is a world where god and church… are just not present. God and church mean rules and we work in genres inhabited (more or less) by people who hate rules. On their persons. On their choices. On their thoughts and ideas.

(No link, because I don’t want to accidentally create a dog pile.)

As it turns out, I somewhat mistook the context of my friend’s remark, but I still wanted to repost what I said, because I think it may have some value. Below is a synthesis of several comments of my own:

I think you’re oversimplifying terribly. I don’t know a single liberal or atheist who doesn’t believe firmly in the social contract, and the social contract requires rules. Frankly, from our point of view, it’s conservatives who have been abandoning the rules in working so hard over these past decades to void much of the social contract.

As an atheist myself, and definitely a proud refugee from religion, I write about religion all the time in my fiction. See my entire Mainspring series, as well as my Green series, as well as a large percentage of my short stories, as well as Death of a Starship, whose protagonist is an Orthodox priest, and my yet-unpublished Sunspin, one of whose key characters is also a Christian priest. Portrayed with loving care and as much internal honesty and morality as I can manage, not with liberal snark.

To oversimplify on my part, the fundamental disagreement you’re so casually alluding to isn’t over the question of rules vs. no rules, it’s over the source and meaning of the rules. I don’t think any single faith should be the source of societal rules. How would you as a conservative Christian feel about living in a society based on rules drawn from the Sharia, for example? That’s how I feel about living under Christian rules. Though in all fairness, the vast majority of the secular rules I favor and the Christian rules I presume you favor are in alignment.

In my personal case, I have a particular allergy to both Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, but I also work pretty hard to talk about religion fairly in my writing. I’m an atheist, but I’m not a fool, and religion is one of the defining human experiences/institutions.

Likewise, on the political front, the assertion that the US is a Christian nation is obvious religious fantasy when contrasted with the blackletter content of the Constitution as well as the writings of the Founders taken as a whole in context (as opposed to cherry picking ‘gotcha’ quotes). Nonetheless, it is an act of intellectual idiocy to deny that we are overwhelmingly a Christian nation in a cultural and historical sense. To me, freedom of religion means freedom from religion. That in turn is the single most important protection any particular religion or denomination or sect or individual faith-holder has in pursuit of their own religious freedoms.

To sum up, those of us who reject religion in our own lives are not the libertine1 anarchists of conservative fantasies. We’re just people who think there are better ways than arbitrary faith in revelation to organize society. Better for everyone, including faith holders.


1. Well, okay, I personally am something of a libertine, but that’s not the point here.

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[cancer] Field notes from cancerland, surgical edition

This and that…

The Acts of Whimsy Fundraiser

Thanks to your incredible generosity, we’ve added some more unlock stretch goals to the Acts of Whimsy Fundraiser:

  • $42,000 — NY Times Best-selling author Steven Gould will run for SFWA president!
  • $44,000 — Video, “How to Write Like My Dad” by Bronwyn Lake (a/k/a [info]the_child)
  • $46,000 — Klingon language expert Lawrence Schoen will present Five Pick-Up Lines Used in Federations Bars by Klingons
  • $50,000 — A delicious surprise!

And yes, I do know what the delicious surprise is. It will be pretty awesome, I can assure you. And it was [info]the_child‘s idea, so she’s in a sense responsible for two of these stretch goals.

Personal Stress

Some folks contacted me privately after yesterday’s post entitled “Hope and Despair” [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. A lot more expressed both concern and support publicly in comments. Rest assured, I am not going off the rails. I was talking about my experience, not expressing a desperate cry for help. I am receiving both good therapy, and excellent support from family and friends. The big issues in my life are soul-crushing, but I still live day to day in (mostly) good cheer, love and personal fulfillment.

Surgery Next Week

Next Tuesday, I am having my liver resected for the third time. This will be my fifth major cancer surgery. (There have also been five minor surgeries, repeatedly inserting and extracting my chest port.) That means, among other things, that the blogs will be dark for a while, with the possible exception of occasional status updates by Lisa Costello.

Also, I am seeing my surgical oncologist today. We’ll be exploring some of the issues around the apparent emergence of Ashcroft (tumor #4), and how that affects the surgical plan, as well as treatment expectations going forward. I should be commenting on this here on the blogs tomorrow.

The release of Kalimpura, the third Green novel

In one of those bizarre coincidences that wouldn’t work if you wrote it into a story, Kalimpura releases two weeks from yesterday, Tuesday, January 29th, a week after my surgery while I’m flat on my back at home in bed recovering, and thus unable to do even local promotion at Powell’s and elsewhere. Part of the irony is that the paperback release of Mainspring occurred the day I went into the Emergency Room with my initial cancer presentation back in 2008. Apparently my careers as a professional writer and as a professional cancer patient are intertwined.

One way to support me is of course to donate to the Acts of Whimsy Fundraiser. Another way, which is better for my other career, is to buy a copy of Kalimpura. Though it reasonably stands alone as a novel, if you haven’t enjoyed Green or Endurance, feel free to take a read of them. Audible.com also has a terrific set of audiobooks for the series.

If you want to purchase Kalimpura today, here are some links: [ Powells | BN ]

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