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[links] Link salad wants to go to Mars

A reader reacts to Mainspring — Interesting, positive review.

Little Dog — Oi, robots. (Thanks to and .)

NASA Lunar Analog Testing in Moses Lake, WA — I’ve been to Moses Lake. I believe this. (Thanks to .)

Looking Back Across Mars — Opportunity’s backtrail, on Mars.

Toward an Abstract Courage — Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Civil Rights era. In that sense, Goldwater is the more appropriate hero for today’s generation of blissfully ignorant (“How did that ‘White slavery’ sign get there?”) non-racist Republican. It’s not so much that they hate you, it’s they are shocked–shocked–to discover that some of their fellow travelers hate you. I can never understand why this sort of thing surprises conservatives. Their entire worldview is based on fear of the other, the new, and halting change. Not much more other and worldchanging that brown people getting some of what white people have.

Mark Souder’s downfall shows virtue knows no ideologyEnough with pretending that personal virtue is connected with political creeds. Enough with condemning your adversaries, sometimes viciously, and then insisting upon understanding after the failures of someone on your own side become known to the world. And enough with claiming that support for gay rights and gay marriage is synonymous with opposition to family values and sexual responsibility.

The ACORN Case and the Bill of Attainder Clause — Yep. Principled consistency on the American Right, assuming that by “principled consistency” you mean “media fraud” and “counterfactual paranoia.” As Scrivener’s Error says: “…it is impossible to foresee Congressional action being taken during the reign of George III, and under a Heffalump majority, against a pro-Tea-Party group that expended similar efforts and used similar tactics to (a) prevent them newcomers from registering to vote and/or (b) did the same thing in Appalachia… among folk of Northwest European descent.”

?otD: Would you have sat in at a lunch counter, back in the day?

Writing time yesterday: none (chemo exhaustion)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.5 (solid)
This morning’s weigh-in: 230.4
Yesterday’s chemo stress index: 8/10 (fatigue)
Currently (re)reading: Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

[links] Link salad is glad than kanly isn’t real

J.A> Pitts is having a contest to celebrate the release of Black Blade Blues — Go check it out.

Only the Best Sciencet Fiction and Fantasy is giving away a copy of Pinion

Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ holds timely – and timeless – appeal — A brief history of Dune. My favorite bit: Another early version [of the Dune movie adaptation] would’ve enlisted Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí, Gloria Swanson, Hervé Villechaize and Alain Delon in a 10-hour epic. ZOMG. I so want this to be real.

Who’s More Likely to Fake It in the Bedroom? — Hmm….

An Archaeological Approach to SETICentauri Dreams with an interesting article that lies pretty close to one of the core concepts I have for Sunspin.

A Softer World nail the difference between ebooks and print book — Especially important if you’re a conservative.

Diversity Is Work — Ta-Nehisi Coates with one of the smartest commentaries on racism and diversity I’ve seen in a long time.

Having no use for religion — What he says.

GA Woman To State Judiciary Committee: DoD Implanted A Microchip Inside Me — Ah, conservatives. This story pretty much speaks for itself. If they didn’t have political power, this would be sad-but-funny.

Tea Party speaker gay-baits Lindsey Graham — The story itself is par for the course; there’s nothing surprising about the ugly undercurrents (and overcurrents) of bigtory in the Tea Party. But I’m fascinated by the term “herrenvolk democracy”, which is a surprisingly useful description of contemporary conservative politics.

The Lost State of Jefferson — Secessionism by a slightly different flavor, from Strange Maps. Confidentlal to Tea Party in America: No, secession is still not patriotic. It wasn’t in 1861, it wasn’t in 1941, and it’s not now.

Un-Christian Delusions — Daniel Larison writing about the sheer folly Christianist worldviews in foreign and military policy.

Why I’m Passing On Tea — Andrew Sullivan on the tea party. Most of the rational tea-partiers accept that the GOP has been as bad – if not worse – than the Democrats on spending, borrowing and the size and scope of government in recent years. They repressed this anger during the Bush years out of partisan loyalty. Now, they’re taking it all out on the newbie. What, all three of them? Seriously, that’s the biggest issue I have with the Tea Party’s stated goals (ignoring their cultural baggage). Where were you under Bush? Why was it okay then but not now?

?otD: Ever seen the mythical 12-hour version of Dune?

Writing time yesterday: none (family disruption)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.0 (solid)
This morning’s weigh-in: n/a (scale is out of batteries)
Yesterday’s chemo stress index: 4/10 (fatigue, GI distress)
Currently (re)reading: The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

[personal] Fear, self-censorship, and facing into it

This is a difficult post. When I found myself afraid to make it this morning, I realized I had to do so. My response to fear, once I get past whatever initial panic might be involved, is to step towards whatever scares me.

The so-called “Race Fail” last year was very troublesome for me. I found myself being vilified by total strangers based on other people’s interpretations of a few words of mine in a blog post. I found myself being held up as an example of ignorant, arrogant white privilege. I found a lot of things being said about me that were flatly untrue, grossly misinterpreted, or simply assumptions based on my skin color and gender as portrayed in my blog’s icons — in that last case, flatly stated as such.

I was told during the course of “Race Fail” that growing up in nonwhite countries (primarily Taiwan and Nigeria, for reference) did not give me any perspective on race. In other words, my white-ness trumps any possibility that my life experience might influence my development or perceptions.

I was told during the course of “Race Fail” that parenting a non-white daughter ( is adopted from China) did not give me any perspective on race. In other words, my white-ness trumps any possibility that my child’s life experience might influence my development or perceptions.

Since then, I’ve self-censored almost completely on issues of race and gender here on my blog. Not in my fiction — go read Green if you want to see me talking about those subjects — but here in my daily musings about life, fiction, politics, cancer, parenting and whatnot. It simply hasn’t been worth the trouble of defending myself every time I open my mouth, of having to laboriously re-establish my credentials and standing to even express an opinion on race or gender.

Am I complaining about being a white man? No. I am keenly aware of my privilege in society, even in the smallest ways. If I step up to a mobbed deli counter without a line numbering system, I’m often the next one called, ahead of people waiting far longer than I. I always defer to the people around me, precisely because I am aware. My paycheck every two weeks reminds me of my privilege. My occasional conversations with law enforcement remind me of my privilege. My nice house in the suburbs, my spiffy convertible, my pile of tech gear, my current standard of medical care in the face of recurring cancer — they are all privilege.

Ironically, one of the few places where white privilege isn’t overwhelmingly woven into the baseline of society is fiction. I say this as someone who’s edited numerous open anthologies, and submitted to something like a hundred markets. Manuscripts don’t have gender or race. As an editor, I stopped looking at by-lines years ago, given how many people write psuedonymously. And speaking as someone who often writes characters who are not what I am (white, middle-aged, male, Anglo-Saxon), I long ago stopped assuming anything about the author’s identity from their characters or settings.

All of which is to say, a commentor questioned why I’d linked to a recent review of Mainspring that took me to task through the lens of white privilege. My answer, likewise in comments, I have decided to repost here, because I think it’s important.

I firmly believe the story belongs to the reader. Whether that reader is fan, a reviewer, or some random gal from Dubuque.

I also firmly believe the writer is not the story.

I also know that I am neither a racist nor a sexist, unless the reader subscribes to the theory that all white men are racists and sexists. In which case there’s not much I can do about that reader’s perception, since they’re already prejudiced against me and anything I might have to say.

Finally, there’s absolutely no point in arguing with reviewers, with the very narrow potential exception of errors-of-fact. Arguing with perceptions is futile. The words really do need to speak for themselves, even if the reader is hearing things I didn’t put in them.

As far my personal place in this, anybody that’s read more than a few words of my fiction or my commentary would know pretty damn well where I stand on issues of race, culture and gender as a strong liberal-progressive. If they haven’t, then they’re judging me based on their own misperceptions, and that’s too bad for them.

I should have said two things differently. “Even if the reader is hearing things I didn’t put in them” should not have been an “if” statement. By definition, readers find things I didn’t put in the text. That’s them bringing their own experience to the work. Writing is only half the job of telling a story, after all. Reading is the other half.

The other thing I should have said differently is to note that of course I am racist and sexist. I am a human being. We all distrust the other. It’s hardwired into us. My responsibility as a human being, as a parent, a writer, a citizen, is to manage those impulses in such a way as to overcome them. Yes, I’m racist and sexist, every bit as much as someone who judges my words or dismisses my opinions because I am a white male is racist and sexist. As a white male at the top of the power curve, I bear additional responsibility for overcoming those tendencies.

That last is something I’ve been keenly aware of since about the age of 19, and worked diligently on all my life. Which you’d never know from looking at my face or my name, would you? You’d only know by listening to me, or reading my words.

So here’s me, facing my fear of speaking up, and trying to end my self-censorship. Because I find the self-imposed censorship has only stoked my resentments, and that’s less healthy than shutting up. Much less healthy.