Today is Labor Day, which I am apparently celebrating by working on the things I do outside of the DayjobTM, like writing and editing things.
Thank you, early labor movement, for the five day work week and eight-hour day that those of us lucky enough to be in certain economic strata enjoy. Also, for the desperately-needed three-day weekend.
Yesterday was some light housekeeping, followed by a phone meeting/social call with my co-editor on Secret Project, followed by writing and sending All The Queries. Well, not all the queries, since Illustrious Co-Editor is also working on some of them, but between that and preparing some other materials, I had a pleasantly active afternoon/evening.
Plus, it gave me something to do while I watched the (somewhat rickety and not-entirely-reliable) livestream of this year's Hugo Awards ceremony. Nerd that I am, the Hugo Awards are sort of like my VMAs in that I tend to get really excited about the whole thing. It was, I think, an excellent ceremony this year, and many things I love (Saga, Writing Excuses, SF Squeecast, Avengers) got to leave with pretty trophies.
Also, I have spent the entire day being sad that there is not another person in this house who will think the "semiprozine" joke is nearly as funny as I do. Life is hard.
But there was another moment during the ceremony that got my attention. There I was, agonizing over a particular bit of wording when I looked up and was like, "Holy shit, Elizabeth Bear could break me in half."
Well, my limbs, at least. My trunk is pretty chunky.
Chunky enough that today I dug around for food guidelines in terms of servings of various things, hit the supermarket to buy healthy equivalents of those serving guidelines, and then set up a shiny new SparkPeople account to make sure my macronutrient intake is in balance. Which is maybe not strictly the most proportional response to seeing another author on an event livefeed, but it's really more the thing that kicked the "not loving the way I live" ball down the hill.
I mean, come on. I changed practically everything else about my life this summer. A little bit of brown rice probably isn't going to kill me, right?
(Something, something, arsenic.)
But yeah. I have become Captain Produce or something. We'll see where this goes.
And now, to go back to Writing All the Things.
Actually, no. Honestly, the remainder of the summer seems to have done more or less exactly what I anticipated. I went from moving my mother to downsizing my own clutter and moving house, then found myself in a place where my downtime needed to be downtime while I let the toxicity of the last seven years bleed and seep and ooze out of me.
Yeah, I anticipated being a little less quiet, but there you go.
So here's what I did on my summer vacation. I arranged and rearranged my room. I binge-watched all eight seasons of Supernatural. I spent time bonding with my dogs. I started the work of consolidating all of my old data from various previous computers and then trying to delete the duplicate copies of everything (which is a chore just with my music collection alone).
Somewhere along the line I started working again. A friend lured me onto a project a couple of months ago that I can't wait to be able to talk about. I hammered out several really fun pages on something else yesterday. I'm reading more again. Things are unknotting. This is good, because when the full scale of what I did by walking away from a house hits, I'll probably want to be pretty bendy.
Overall, though, I feel pretty good.
I've been quiet over here for much longer than I intended. For those of you wondering where I am and what's going on, the short version is that 2013 is turning out to be sort of a big year for major life changes.
For one thing, my roommate and I got shot at a couple of months ago. That was exciting.
Not in a directed way, fortunately. Mostly we stepped outside at just the wrong moment to find ourselves behind the shooter's actual target. Still, that's the kind of moment that changes one's perspective about life. Intended targets or not, that could have been it.
Since then, we've been in the process of finding a different place and way of living. That's meant relocating my mother (and two 26' trucks full of her stuff) and deciding what to do about our own household. We're pretty sure we've got all of that figured out at this point, but spending a couple of months flailing around and dealing with multi-household logistics is exhausting.
Seriously. I'm sick of moving and I haven't even started moving my own stuff yet.
On the whole, I'm feeling mostly optimistic. There's still a lot of stress and exhaustion happening. There are some things that won't be sure or settled for a while. On some levels, that's marvelously liberating. In other ways...well, that "unspecified doom" feeling can mean many things.
It's been good for my creativity, albeit in a terribly erratic way. I'm making things in bursts in various media. I'm collaborating on a secret thing I can't discuss yet. I'm getting rid of a lot of things while being smug enough not to be an Annoying Rich Internet Minimalist. I'm re-learning that I'm allowed to be comfortable (though, importantly, not entitled).
So yeah. It's a thing. You'll probably hear more from me as things settle down. It's just been a week and I felt like I really need to start putting thoughts here again.
So I'm mostly through what will be my longest week until mid-May, and I'm really starting to feel it.
Oh, sure, I'm still getting over that nasty chest/throat thing I had for a while. And yeah, in addition to logging some heavy hours I'm also trying to organize some serious lifestyle changes and and reading some relatively weighty books instead of feeding myself delicious fiction, but still. Ugh.
My head feels like it's made of wood tonight. If you've seen my brain, please send it home.
While it's away, some random links:
- Hanzi Smatter, or a website devoted to why it's dumb to get things tattooed onto your body in a language you don't know.
- Wringing things out...FOR SCIENCE! Canada is better at space than every other country because of Chris Hadfield.
- Mark Ruffalo is all about the Science Bros. Pardon me while I wipe away a tiny tear of glee.
- Pagans help save the Parliament of the World's Religions. Because we're awesome like that.
...is this short film called Cargo, in which a bitten father tries to protect his infant daughter.
So Fox has contracted a company -- Ripple Junction -- to make licensed Jayne hats. You can get them on Think Geek and stuff.
My personal reaction is that it's nice to be able to get one that's "right" in the sense that it's a licensed piece designed to be accurate -- AbbyShot makes some things I'd really like to own, for example -- but I also like the option of obtaining handmade. Jayne hats, for example, tend to be made with nicer materials than the acrylic yarn Ripple Junction's using, and buying handcrafted means supporting people who do handicrafts as a hobby or livelihood.
Some Browncoats I've seen talking about this have a pretty strong attachment to the Ma Cobb ethic in that Jayne hats ought to be DIY and not mass-produced pieces of luh suh.
So here's the thing:
Fox owns Firefly. They're absolutely entitled to market and license the manufacture of Firefly-related stuff. That's not up for debate. They're also allowed to defend their intellectual property, even if it's a property they mistreated pretty egregiously, then pointedly ignored for years.
That said, there's apparently a pretty good case to be made that Jayne's hat itself isn't a thing that Fox can stop people from making and selling. Calling it a "Jayne hat" might be problematic in terms of trademark, but if someone were to knit replicas and call them "cunning hats," for example, Fox would have (in my absolutely non-professional opinion as someone with a B.A. in English, informed by some lawyer's blog) less of a case. They've got even less of a leg to stand on with Jayne-style hats that are color-inverted, color-shifted, or mashed up with other things (like this Fourth Doctor Jayne hat).
And, of course, there's no way for Fox to stop anybody from making their own, teaching other people how to make their own, giving them as gifts, airdropping them, etc.
Of course, some of this may technically be moot for the poor knitter who can't afford to stand up to them, but I'd be surprised if the Browncoat community didn't pull together to raise money if Fox actually lawyered up.
Fans are going to make things, full stop. While property holders do have some rights in terms of controlling works based on media, those powers aren't total and complete. Fox is very big, and throws its weight around, but fandom isn't powerless, and telling a bunch of creative people working in community to stop doing that simply doesn't work.
While I wasn't jealous, exactly -- we have a lot of local honey going on around here, and I can get some pretty good stuff relatively inexpensively -- it did make me think about how I'd really like to learn about apiary at some point. Also, mead-making.
Of the two, learning to make mead is undoubtedly going to be the easier of the two to get away with. After all, if one can make a wine-like substance in a prison toilet tank out of sauerkraut and orange juice, I'm reasonably confident that I can produce something drinkable in a proper kitchen using proper tools. Plus, unlike Oprah, not everybody is completely stoked about having a colony of bees rocking out within spitting distance.
Mead, meanwhile, is comparatively inoffensive. It just kind of hangs out and ferments for a little while, and all it asks for is to be left undisturbed for a while in a relatively constant environment. Dogs don't (usually) bark at it, there aren't sad movies about children being attacked by a swarm of angry mead, and unless something goes really wrong, it's unlikely to try and build a colony inside the walls.
So yeah. New goal. Learn to make mead. And then maybe befriend a beekeeper with it or something.
So I was doing my morning news round-up today and learned that Julie Burkhart, who worked with Dr. George Tiller before he was murdered in church by an anti-choice extremist in May of 2009, has just reopened a new women's health clinic in the Wichita building where Dr. Tiller practiced before his death.
She and her staff are, unsurprisingly, facing a lot of harassment (mentioned in this segment from Maddow), but it sounds like they're just as undeterred in making sure that women have access to a full range of reproductive healthcare now as they were in February.
Meanwhile, Burkhart's Trust Women PAC is going to continue working to preserve and find ways to provide full-spectrum women's health care and family planning options in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. You can check them out (and donate, if you're into that sort of thing) here.
While I don't usually duck and cover on April 1 -- I actually enjoy well-executed pranks and faux product launches, and even the occasional questionable news article -- this year I spent most of the day away from the keys.
This might not have been a bad thing overall since a lot of my energy is spoken for at the moment and I might not have had the extra brain cycles to enjoy a lot of the jokes anyway, one thing that happened yesterday has managed to penetrate the busy and the brain haze: Lawrence Person's offensive post on the Locus site, Locus' response, and Person's reaction to the whole thing.
From what I can tell, here's what went down:
- Person posted an April 1 post in which Wiscon's organizers announce a burqua-only dress code for the upcoming convention.
- Sensible people decried it as offensive.
- Locus pulled the post, ended association with Person, and issued an apology to readers.
I'm all for a bit of succès de scandale, but I'm skeptical that over 20,000 people seeing that that the problem essay is basically a heady mish-mash of Islamophobia and misogyny, or that Person goes straight for the "humorless feminist" stereotype, or that he is comparing this to Elizabeth Moon's infamous "Citizenship" post from 2010 as if that were a good thing is going to have a positive effect.
I will be the first to admit that the way we do social justice on the Internet can be flawed. Well-meaning allies do dumb things, people don't always understand differing cultural norms, folks get dogpiled for the wrong reasons, and the Internet frequently combines a long memory with an inability to forgive in really ugly ways. Really ugly. Even so, there's a difference between what might be rightly called "social justice fail" where someone gets hurt by the seething mass for asinine reasons and what's happening here.
There is nothing "radical" or "fringe" about inclusivity. Locus' decision to pull something that doesn't represent its values isn't an impingement on speech. That SF/F as a group of genres increasingly caters to diverse communities of people instead of just a particular kind of white guy may put a crimp in the style of people who'd really rather not deal with the rest of humanity as equals, but them's the breaks.
You can adapt to the plural public square -- which, gasp, includes women and Muslims -- and learn to include people even when they're different, or you can rage against it and alienate yourself. Expecting someone to maintain a basic level of civility and professional inclusion isn't a "petulant demand." It's basic common sense. Locus made the right call. Good on them.
And yeah, this all happened in the context of an April 1 post (which Person has apparently been doing for eleven years), but the fact remains: Person made an Islamophobic, misogynist post in the guise of a joke, and then expected all of us to be okay with that. We weren't. Disparagement humor has real effects. And no, "Don't be so sensitive!" isn't an acceptable response.