Sign up for my newsletter to be among the first to learn of upcoming titles!

[culture] Lake’s Law of Power Outlets

In any public space with a high demand for and limited supply of power outlets, such as an airport gate area, the first seats taken will be those closest to the outlets, and those seats will generally be occupied by people who do not need or care about the outlets.

Corollary: You will be resented as a creeper if you sit down next to them in an otherwise empty gate area and reach around to plug in.

[culture|politics] Pro-life

When you fight for unfettered access to women’s health services…

When you fight for universal contraception…

When you fight for pre-natal care for all children…

When you fight for paid universal maternity and paternity leave…

When you fight for universal health coverage for all children…

When you fight for early childhood education…

When you fight for honest, fact-based teen sex education…

When you fight for equal pay for equal work by mothers as well as fathers…

Then I will believe you are pro-life.

[culture|religion] The modern persecution by the Christians

One of the more ridiculous things I hear from some of my Christian friends on a reasonably consistent basis is that they are being persecuted for their religion. I realize that persecution is an important Christian meme from the earliest days of the Church, and telling themselves this is comforting and self-valorizing. But let’s talk about persecution for a little while.

As a Christian, are you prevented from marrying the person you love by the rules of your country’s dominant religion? My gay and lesbian friends are. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a Christian, are your efforts to seek political and legal equality stymied by rhetoric from houses of worship on every street corner, and millions of dollars in a political funds from tax-exempt entries? My gay and lesbian friends are. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a woman seeking basic reproductive health services, are your choices limited and controlled and banned by government interference between you and your doctor, those bans and controls coming from your country’s dominant religion? My female friends are. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority seeking to practice your own religion in peace, are you constantly subject to prayers, religious observances and public holidays as established by the rules of your country’s dominant religion? My Jewish and Islamic and Sikh friends are. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority seeking to establish a house of worship consistent with real estate and zoning practices in a major American city, are you prevented from doing so by a massive public outcry led by practitioners of your country’s dominant religion? My Islamic and Sikh friends have repeatedly endured this. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority voting in state and national elections, are your choices almost always between two members of your country’s dominant religion? My Jewish and Islamic and Sikh friends find that to be so. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a religious minority being sworn into a rarely-elected office, or to testify in court, are you required and expected to swear on the sacred text of your country’s dominant religion? If you try to use your own sacred text, are you subject to mockery and derision? My Jewish and Islamic and Sikh friends find that to be so. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As an atheist who polls as the leased trusted group in America, how would you feel about despised and distrusted? That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

As a student trying to learn to be competitive in the high tech future, are you subjected to counterfactual faith-based teachings in math and science class thanks to the meddling of your country’s dominant religion with its persistent, pernicious confusion of faith-based belief with objective reality? Students across America are every day. That’s persecution by Christians, not of Christians.

The next time you complain about a minor erosion in the absolute social dominance of Christianity as being a form of persecution, take a moment to think, really think, what it still means to be a non-Christian in America. Trading away a small bit of your power for the self-respect and social safety of others isn’t persecution, it’s loving compromise.

[politics|culture] More on Komen

A friend responded via email to yesterday’s post about the media, political perceptions, and my views on the Komen Foundation. It’s worth reposting, though they specifically requested that I omit attribution. They’ll see any comments people make here, and can covey responses through me if need be.

Here’s a link on media coverage affecting attitudes about politics. Might be something to consider when it comes to other things.

Regarding Komen, I’ve got mixed feelings. I have some warm fuzzies about the group. My mom did a short walk before her diagnosis. The wife of one of my old sources and my source walks it every year and sometimes when they are training their route comes by my house and we chat. So it’s warm fuzzies. People I know do the walk.

But I’m really feeling critical about Komen group. There’s a lot of reasons for me to think that they aren’t a group I’d put time and money into. It’s not just the Planned Parenthood snafu.

They sued other charities for using the words “for the cure.” (To me that’s almost as bad as the Washington Shriners sued the Campfire girls trying to break a 100-year lease on land that the Campfire Girls gave the Shriners. So group that benefits kids sues kids’ group. WTF? Cancer-fighting nonprofit goes after other nonprofits over intellectual property over words that anyone writing about cancer would use. WTF? It’s like the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee suing a brewer for creating 2002 the unofficial amber forgetting that you can’t trademark a year.) I think a nonprofit should take the high road and not worry if someone wants to use the same prepositional phrase.

There’s some concern that more money is being spent on marketing, masked as education (34 percent of the budget page 13 in the FY2011 Annual report, more financial info here. However, I have not looked at their tax statements, which are public record, and compared them to other groups’ statements, such as the American Cancer Society.

There’s also a concern about Komen not recognizing certain carcinogenic as carcinogenic. Jezebel would have it be a red/GOP conspiracy. I’m not so sure about that; I suspect it’s Komen board not understanding science. (That’s my take based on watching some of the lawmakers argue about the science when they were working on outlawing BPAs in Washington.)

There’s also it’s issue with how it uses stats in advertising that caught the attention of two doctors/researchers who published their criticism in the British Medical Journal.

Since Komen is ranked with St. Jude’s as the most trust worthy philanthropy groups in the nation, I think Komen needs to be cautious that the information they provide helps women make informed health choices, rather than misleading them.

[culture] Again with the meds

You know the old problem of why hot dogs are ten to a pack but buns are eight to a pack? One thing I’ve noticed in medicine is a tendency to do that sort of thing with prescription drugs.

I had port implant surgery yesterday. I was given two Vicodin in the hospital during recovery. I was also given a Vicodin prescription for pain management at home. Since returning to Nuevo Rancho Lake from the hospital, I have taken exactly two more Vicodin. I am highly unlikely to take any further pills, and if I do, it will be one or two at the most.

My prescription is for fifty pills.

What the hell do I need fifty Vicodin for? Even if I were dreadfully pain-sensitive and tanking up on the damned things at every conceivable opportunity, that’s a significant oversupply. Given my pain tolerance and my aversion to opiates, this is a multi-year ration of pills.

I don’t really care. I just find it weird. And this kind of oversupply must be a contributing factor to healthcare cost overruns, however small it might be. So what is up with giving me fifty of these things?

[culture] The Ones Who Walk Away From Penn State

I don’t comment on sports much on this blog, with the exception of occasional posts about [info]the_child‘s team events and athletic accomplishments. I’m just not much about sports. My personal universe includes walking, hiking and (sometimes) biking. I am so not a sports fan that if the entire apparatus of professional sports in the United States vanished overnight, I wouldn’t even notice until NPR ran an informative investigative piece on the subject a few weeks later.

Part of this is because of the way I grew up. I spent the vast majority of my childhood overseas in the era prior to VCRs or consumer satellite television, so there were no broadcast sports in the house. My parents aren’t sports fans at either the college or pro level. Even the high school I went to was about as unfocused on sports as it’s possible for an American high school to be.

My first real encounter with serious sports fans was when I went to college at the University of Texas at Austin. Hook ’em, Horns. Watching Longhorn fannery, and more specifically, Aggie fannery, rise nearly to the level of mental illness in some cases, pretty much confirmed my lack of interest in that culture.

On top of this, I experienced a childhood of always being the slowest kid in P.E. class, the most inept at ball sports, the last picked for every team or exercise (and often the subject of bitter arguments about who had to be stuck with me), all of this in the era when the gym teacher coaching style was to pick one kid to goat hard in order to motivate the rest. “You don’t want to be like Lake, do you!?” shouted with a sneer were words I heard from adult authority figures for many years of my life.

Likewise, my first experience of the concept of privilege in the social justice sense of the term was through athletic privilege. As early as about fifth grade, the bad kids — bullies, petty thieves, etc. — who happened to be good at sports were excused a great deal of terrible behavior that would have landed most kids in a lot of trouble. By the time of my high school years, this favoritism was blatant and explicit. For example, you could be thrown out of my prep school for drinking, unless you happened to be a sports star whose contributions to the team drew alumni interest and donations.

All of which is to say, my attitude toward college and pro sports hovers somewhere between blank indifference and resentful contempt. Which I recognize is specific to my life experience and personal quirks, so I don’t usually feel a need to comment on sports in public. Not for me to piss on other people’s harmless passions. With the exceptions of dodgy stadium deals and some unfortunate educational funding priorities, sports fans don’t really have a negative or destructive influence on public life. (Unlike, say, Evangelical Christians whose misplaced obsessions and passions frequently poison the well for everyone.)

Except sometimes sports does become destructive. Joe Paterno. Jerry Sandusky. Penn State. The Freeh Report. Even I, the resolute non sports fan, am aware of what’s been going on in State College, PA.

And I just don’t understand it.

How can devotion to a team, to a university, be so powerful that child rape can be excused and covered up and enabled to preserve that team’s fortunes and good name? Not just one incident of child rape once, but a pattern of behavior known to the principals for well over a decade?

What the fuck is wrong with people?

This business is like everything I’ve ever despised about the culture of sports in America distilled into one evil package.

Why aren’t Curley, Spanier and Schultz registered sex offenders rotting in prison? Why is there a single statue or plaque to Joe Paterno still left standing? Why does Penn State even still have a football program? This isn’t the case of a child molester who happens to be tangentially associated with a football program. This is a case of an entire sporting dynasty resting explicitly on a knowing long-term coverup of child rape. To preserve Penn State’s good name, and Joe Paterno’s place in history.

I don’t give a damn how many games he won. What a nice man he was. How many athletes he graduated. When he made the decision to protect Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno crossed an unforgivable line. When the officials of Penn State made the decision to protect Jerry Sandusky, they crossed an unforgivable line.

Will anyone walk away from Penn State over this?

I seriously doubt it. The culture of entitlement and privilege around big time sports in America is too powerful. Penn State’s need for alumni donations keyed to its football program is too great. What’s a few kids getting messed around back in the day compared to the significance of a Big Ten football program?

My question to all you Penn State supporters with ready excuses for Paterno and the school, with easy words about how it’s not the program’s fault and you shouldn’t punish the players or the institution by shutting things down, is this: How would you feel about the coverup if you were one of Jerry Sandusky’s victims? How would you feel about Penn State if your child had been abused by Sandusky under the smiling protection of Joe Paterno?

There couldn’t be a sports story with a more clear-cut moral than this. And I’m afraid it will have no effect at all.

[culture|tech] Living in the bounded future

I’m just a little too young to be of that generation that took the Jetsons’ future seriously. Yet despite having for the most part grown up in the 1970s, I existed on a steady diet of 1950s and 1960s science fiction. I didn’t discover the New Wave until about ten years after the fact. So as much as I love the identity paranoia and dystopian pessimism and ingrown self-referentialism which came to be such a part of our field in those years, those trends didn’t really take hold of me during my formative phases.

No, I still remember optimism. I remember watching the moon landings with my Granddaddy Lake. I remember the unbounded future.

As so many of us have asked over the years: Where the hell are my jetpacks and flying cars, anyway? Instead we got MTV and Coke Zero. Was that really worth it?

Hell, yes.

Living in the bounded future has brought us mobile phones and GPS and fresh fruit in January and automated teller machines and email and the ability to form close friendship networks that extend beyond barriers of geography and class and race and ethnicity and nationality and even language. The bounded future has brought us so many wonderful things from Facebook to neonatal cardiac surgery. The bounded future has made life easier and more interesting.

A First World perspective? Surely this is. On the other hand, I’m a First World person. And one of the neat things about the bounded future is most of its benefits eventually transcend even those barriers. Microlending in Bangaladesh, mobile phone networks in the Amazon, cheap and effective medical tests for pervasive Third World diseases. These are part of the bounded future as well.

For my money, the single coolest thing about living in the future is realtime, interactive mapping on my smartphone. That’s my nomination for most disruptive and beneficial day-to-day technology. Think about what you did once upon a time if you were lost. You could be a block away from your destination, and have no idea. Even with a good map, you could be right where you belonged on a country road somewhere, and have no idea. An analog map can’t tell you where the nearest Mexican restaurant is or the price of gas in the town you’re passing through or how heavy the traffic is on the highway up ahead. Realtime, interactive mapping has made huge and subtle changes in how I think about moving through the world.

What’s your favorite part about living in the bounded future? What do you miss about the unbounded future?

[culture|child] Giraffe rules and shotgun rules

About four years ago here on the blog, I mentioned the concept of “giraffe rules” [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]. As I said at the time:

“Please don’t eat the giraffe” rules […] are the kinds of rules any society has which no one ever thinks to spell out in so many words, until someone comes along who tries to eat the giraffe. If you’re a parent, you’re pretty familiar with these rules, because kids are always finding some giraffe to eat. If you hang out with writers, many of whom are the beneficiaries of what at the kindest could be called quirky socialization, you run into some of these same rules. (And of course, there are places in the world where “Please don’t eat the giraffe” may well be a needed social rule.)

So a while ago, [info]the_child commented that she thought that Mother of the Child and I weren’t very good parents.

“Why?” I asked her, quite curious about this utterance.

“Because you don’t give me very many rules.”

“Well,” I pointed out, “You don’t need a lot rules. You pretty much behave yourself. Parents make rules when kids do things they shouldn’t.”

Such as trying to eat the giraffe.

There are so many unwritten rules in society. Not just unwritten, but even unconscious. A favorite example of mine is the priority of seating in an automobile. With the partial exception of a socially flat group of peers (such as high school kids of the same gender and clique in the same year-class), we almost always know who’s going to sit where in a car without having to ask. If you begin to pick at how that works, it’s a pretty complex hierarchy with a lot of exception management. Who owns the vehicle? Who has the keys? Who is dating or married to whom? Who’s infirm or elderly? Who’s exceptionally tall or short? What’s the gender mix? What’s the age mix? And even for peers, there’s a protocol. Calling “shotgun”, for example.

Yet no one ever sits down and explains this to people. We all just know, by some magic osmosis. We’ll call these shotgun rules.

So there are giraffe rules, which are so obvious they aren’t normally stated at all, then there are the shotgun rules which are the opposite of obvious, maybe even vanishingly subtle, but they aren’t normally stated either. And believe me, being a parent brings both sets of rules to consciousness, especially if you have a kid like mine, who spends a lot of time analyzing other people’s behavior. Or likewise if your kid’s on the autism spectrum, you spend a lot of time explaining these rules.

What are your favorite examples of giraffe rules? What are your favorite examples of shotgun rules?

[politics|culture] Romney, bullying, and me

Yesterday, in Link Salad, I posted this:

Romney Apologizes For Bullying In Prep School, Says He Didn’t Know Victim Was Gay — I can and do say a lot of negative things about Romney, but I’m not sure very many of us could stand up to being accountable as mature adults for what we did in high school. (Via my Aunt M.)

That stirred some passionate comments on both instances of my blog:

[info]twilight2000: Sorry – but Bullshit. You can argue the average teen shit maybe, but he’s being described as a bully and a terror by more than one school mate. You get to be guilty for assaulting kids and terrorizing them.

[info]jere7my: He was also eighteen at the time, and a legal adult. There are a lot of people sitting in jail for things they did at eighteen that weren’t half as bad. (Of course, most of them aren’t wealthy and white.)

[info]chessdev: Agreed. Additionally, it only took 40 years AND a Presidential campaign for him to see the light… and we should commend his coming forward (when this was going to surface anyway most likely?)

[info]jimvanpelt: Like your other commentors here, I’m less likely to give Romney a pass on this one. As Frank Wu said in his blog today, “Would you want the bully of your sixth grade class elected President?” I’m a firm believer in character change and redemption, so it’s entirely possible that he’s moved a long way from those days, but, since I already don’t like or trust him, I’ll keep this story as another data point.

[info]elfs: [Excerpted from a long, thoughtful comment] When people his own staff called to cover for him instead described him as “evil” and prone to “Lord of the Flies moments,” no, really, you’re looking at a man’s character.

Stephen A. Watkins: [Excerpted from a long, thoughtful comment] As someone who was bullied for being wrongly perceived as gay when I was younger… I disagree with the idea that adults oughtn’t be held accountable for the nasty things they do when they are in high school. And his “apology” was a total non-apology.

Cora Buhlert: [Excerpted from a long, thoughtful comment] Pinning a fellow student to the ground to forcibly cut his hair goes way beyond a simply prank – that qualifies as assault IMO. Besides, Romney was 18 at the time, i.e. of an age where he should have known better, and not 12 or 14.

For whatever it’s worth, let me establish my own scrap of cultural authority on this question by saying that from a very early age through about age 14, I was the target of some pretty intense and difficult bullying. I was the new kid in school almost every year, exceptionally socially awkward even by the standards of my peer group, had a big mouth, and was almost always literally the slowest, clumsiest kid in the class. I’m not talking about name calling, either. Among many other things, I was forced to drink urine, stripped and stuffed in a trash barrel, battered with school desks and then buried in a mound of them, routinely threatened and robbed of my lunch (or lunch money), and so forth.

This being the 1970s, the most common response from my parents and teachers was, “What did you do to antagonize him?” I cannot remember a single instance of accountability for any of the boys who tortured me, even when their actions were witnessed by adults. At times, I was punished at school as an instigator. Often the bullies were star athletes picking on the slow weak kid, safely cloaked in the athletic privilege that begins to pervade even in upper grade school. There was an attitude that boys will be boys, and I just needed to toughen up and build my character. And besides, I had a big mouth, so I probably had it coming.

So, yeah, bullying is an intensely emotional issue for me, with a lot of triggers.

And quite frankly, I’d be amazed of any of the kids who did that stuff to me even remember it today. The experience of the bully is very different from the experience of the victim. The intense, emotional humiliation of being on the receiving end of that treatment can scar for life. For most of the bullies, it was an amusing way to pass a lunch break or a playground recess. Their actions had no great significance to them. In the battlefields of childhood, bullying is asymmetrical warfare.

What does this story mean? That Mitt Romney is arrogant, entitled and self-involved? That he unthinkingly uses his social power for his own amusement and benefit? I can’t believe anyone in America is surprised by this. And for a conservative electorate that values heteronormative masculinity above almost all other traits (c.f. George W. Bush’s “flight suit” moment), I suspect this story is validating and comforting. After all, here was candidate Romney in his youth fighting for what’s right and putting the wrong people in their place.

All that being said, I still hold to my original comment. How many of us could stand up to being accountable as mature adults for what we did in high school? I have many reasons to oppose Romney’s candidacy, rooted in common sense, in patriotism, in my understanding and experience of what Republican governance means to this country. That he was a childhood bully is a feature of Candidate Romney, not a bug. I don’t endorse or agree with that, but in the end, how different is his behavior at 18 from his behavior at Bain Capital, or even today? How different is the behavior of the GOP as measured by its platforms and legislation?

This is who he is. This is who the Republican party is, bullying the poor and the gay and women and little brown people the world over. And millions of my fellow Americans approve.

That’s the depressing aspect of this story to my way of thinking.

[culture] Now in Bakulavision, in which I try my hand at tv criticism

Yesterday in comments [info]ruralwriter asked me about my watching of Star Trek: Enterprise for the first time, given one of my passing remarks thereupon.

I’m watching Bakulavision for the first time, and I’m not finding it as flawed a show as you seemed to opine in a previous post. In part, I find my perspective is probably affected by the fact I tried to go back to watch TNG…and found it unwatchable. I’m curious what you might find problematic in Enterprise.

I’m not much of a television critic, as I haven’t watched broadcast or cable tv since 1994, and have only caught a few series on DVD or Netflix over the years since. (Specifically, the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Firefly, Futurama, part of Red Dwarf and most of Heroes. And now, Star Trek: Enterprise.) But as longtime readers of this blog will note with an absolute lack of suprise, I do has me some opinions. Here’s what I told in comments [info]ruralwriter, slightly edited for clarity.

Well, to be clear, I continue to be entertained by the show. I am still watching it, partway into Season 2 at this point.

However, the place where I really lost faith was the bit partway through Season 1 where Trip is on an alien ship repairing the hallucinogenic warp drive. (Episode 5, Unexpected.) They’re funny-forehead aliens, with a holodeck that recreates a homeworld scene of a boat on an ocean. Yet when the cute female engineer brings Tripp some food, she hands him something that looks like a bowl of jello shots and says, “This is as close as we could come to water.”

Really? Bipedal oxygen breathers with something very similar to a human metabolism from a world with horizon-spanning bodies of water and you don’t a) drink/metabolize water yourselves and b) with starship level technology can’t synthesize one of the simplest chemical compounds in the universe? That’s a seventh-grade Introductory Physical Science howler, apparently for the sake of a little throwaway alien mystique.

That’s when I decided the script writers were basically idiots, or at least were writing at an idiot level of comprehension.

Also, a number of the plots fail on the very simple point that they have a transporter aboard Enterprise. I realize the transporter is new and unproven and possibly unreliable, but it’s been used a few times, and been discussed at other points when not used for some technical reason like the target area being underground (Season 1, episode 6, Terra Nova). Yet the most recent episode I watched was the Season 2 ep where the captain and Reed go back for the lost communicator (Episode 8, The Communicator) and wind up being arrested and almost executed as spies. There’s a huge fooraw about getting down there in the Suliban cell ship, and cultural contamination, and big old shootout in the prison yard, when in fact all they had to do was use the transporter to pluck the prisoners out of their cell. It would have been a twelve-minute short film if the writers had bothered to remember the logic of their own setting.

So, yeah, written at a level of comprehension of both science and plot logic that pretty much fails for me.

So, do I expect too much from television? Like I said, the show continues to entertain me, but I have to turn off my intelligence insulter to watch it. What do you think?

[culture|politics] Privileging wilful ignorance

Recently in the car I heard part of an OPB broadcast about changes in Oregon law removing religious belief in faith healing as a valid defense for failing to seek needed medical attention for a child. (This in the context of manslaughter and child abuse charges on the death of a child with an otherwise treatable condition.) The host challenged the legislator behind the law as to why they were targeting religious believers as opposed to vaccination deniers.

My reaction was to think that both positions — faith healing and vaccination denial — are positions of wilful ignorance in the face of plain fact. And fundamentally, while adults are free to neglect themselves as see fit, when a parent applies either of those approaches to a child, they are committing abuse. Plain and simple. The child has no choice about participating in the explicitly counterfactual and risky behavior being chosen by the parent. Children deserve better than that kind of wilful ignorance.

Even filtered through my confirmation bias as a liberal-progressive, most of the privileged wilful ignorance I see in our society these days emanates from the religious and political Right wing of our culture. The notable exception to this is the anti-vaccination movement, which is entirely founded on precisely one widely discredited study two decades old, and seems to be a pet theory of a certain New Age-left perspective. Every other significant example I can think of comes from the Right.

I’m talking here specifically about wilful ignorance with a broad base of support or a broad impact. Moon landing denial is a wilful ignorance, but it’s the hobby of a selected few cranks. Holocaust denial has more serious roots and implications, but it’s hardly a major fixture of the American political or social scene. On the other hand, there’s a whole array of conservative hobby horses ranging from evolution denial to climate change denial to stem cell research that have wide ranging implications in electoral politics and educational policy alike.

All of these fixations, no matter where they emanate from, require a belief in a broad-based conspiracy of suppression, a denial of widely available data and plain facts, and a “where there’s smoke there’s fire” kind of logic that says if enough people believe something, it must have validity.

Part of the privileging comes from that idea that if enough people believe something, it must be true. This is the basis of Creationism’s moronic “teach the controversy” mantra. There is no controversy except one arising from wilful ignorance, and that doesn’t deserve privileging as political or social discourse.

Likewise, part of the privileging comes from some of these positions being articles of certain sects of this country’s mainstream Christian faith. Because it’s been defined as an article of faith, evolution denialists can cry foul and claim anti-Christian bigotry to privilege their position. That doesn’t make them an less wrong, of course.

But most of the privileging comes from a deeply cynical long term conservative strategy of building on fear and ignorance to keep the GOP voting base engaged. One of the two major parties of the most powerful country in the world deliberately indulges in all sorts of weirdness from Birtherism to evolution denial to keep their voters activated. That kind of short term electoral thinking comes at the expense of both good government and a rational society.

The principle of crank magnetism weighs in here. (HT to Orac, where I picked this term up.) Once you surrender evidence-based thinking and logic chains in favor of a cherished illogical belief, you strongly risk decoupling your ability to think critically about other matters. Frankly, this is one reason I am an atheist — all faith-based thinking creates this mindset, insofar as I can see. And we can see the evidence in the rapid drift of the Republican party and its standard bearers into increasingly weird territory on a whole host of science and reality type issues. Which then feeds back into deep counterfactual thinking on blackletter issues like budget and tax policy.

I don’t really have any notion how to address this. I do know that undermining the American way of thinking is a great way to score electoral votes, but it’s a lousy way to chart the future course of our country. This is the kind of problem we ought to be able to educate ourselves out of, on the Right and elsewhere (we don’t really have a Left in America), if we’d only listen to reality.

[help] Looking for info on genre-friendly college English programs

This is signal boost for a friend, who will pick up feedback here in comments.

Amongst the manifold experiences of my trusty readers, can you all recommend a list of which college English departments are SFF friendly? A student who is applying for college wants to be a creative writing and/or English major, and is also a budding fantasy novelist — and definitely wants to be writing genre fantasy, not “literary” fantasy. While my friend is aware of some of the few graduate programs that are genre-friendly, can the mighty blogospheric brain offer some comments on undergraduate programs?

Many thanks.