Back from WisCon!

Gah, I miss everyone in the universe. That is all I have to say. More later.

Awesome Women Daredevils

Here is an article about seven kickass female daredevils (you should read it for Bessie Coleman and Ethel Dare1, at the very least).

etheldare
Ethel Dare, who looks like she would have been fantastic at rollerderby

Poll #1534215
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 9

If at some point in the future you could be a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping daredevil, what kind would you be?

View Answers
Martian skydiver
2 (22.2%)
Tightrope walker from International Space Station to shuttle (requires excellent toe grip)
3 (33.3%)
Repeat star of series Jackass in Space
0 (0.0%)
Jupiterian skydiver
1 (11.1%)
Hoverbike stuntperson
2 (22.2%)
Dr.Strangelove-style bomb rider (with excellent bomb defusion skills and a parachute, to allow for repeat performances)
0 (0.0%)
Military drone surfer
0 (0.0%)
Someone who saves their memory backups only on Windows machines
1 (11.1%)
Something I will detail in the comments
0 (0.0%)

During your short but fame-filled years you would:

View Answers
Marry someone named Hoot
0 (0.0%)
Run for political office
1 (11.1%)
Hoard a bunch of money before faking your death and living out your days in peace
5 (55.6%)
Swing a position as a judge on American Idol
0 (0.0%)
Something I will detail in the comments
0 (0.0%)




1. Ethel Dare's given name was Margie Hobbs. I love that, in selecting a stunning stage name, she went for Ethel.

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We'll Just Say That You Chose To Withdraw

More from Virginia Foster Durr's autobiography (previous post here).

In 1921, Virginia went off to college - Wellesley College, in Massachussetts, which was very different from Birmingham, Alabama.

Particularly with regard to race.Collapse )

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Marriage in Washington, D.C.

In December of last year, the City Council of the District of Columbia passed a bill extending equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples in Washington, D.C. by 11 - 2.

Anti-marriage organizations tried to force the city council to subject the bill to a public vote.

They failed.

They tried to use the U.S. Congress, which has jurisdiction over D.C., to block the bill.

They failed

Yesterday they filed a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep the law from taking effect.

They failed.

The law takes effect today. As of midnight last night, the relationships of both gay and straight couples will be recognized in the eyes of the law of Washington D.C.

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The original linkdump on this situation (with background) is here.

Long story short, Jake Freivald at Flash Fiction Online turned down an ad for the LGBTQ issue of Crossed Genres because it was "sexually themed". It turns out this was his way of saying it was an ad for an issue that would likely portray LGBTQ relationships in a positive light, which he did not approve of. At one point during the discussions he justified his stance against "normalizing" gay relationships by comparing them to pedophilia.

So you can tell it was generally an awesome conversation.

Freivald discusses his stance a little further with Rachel Swirsky here.

Although it’s painful to say, and more painful for others to hear, I don’t support the normalization of GLBT relationships in our culture. Marriage is only one aspect of that (albeit the one I tend to focus on these days). The Crossed Genres ad still felt like a gray area because you never know what’s going to show up in a spec fic magazine — and I could feel myself looking for rationalizations to avoid the coming s**tstorm — but ultimately I assumed the Crossed Genres issue would be supportive of GLBT relationships in our culture, and I rejected it.

He also notes:

All things being equal, I wouldn’t avoid a magazine just because it didn’t accept Christian advertising. Failing to support something isn’t the same thing as attacking it.

Of course, this latter comment was on advertising, and not story content.

I'll also note that the guidelines for Flash Fiction Online are still opaque on this point.

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WisCon is On!

I am definitely hitting WisCon again this year.

Many of you are already familiar with the tin-foil spaceship and sock-puppet madness generated by the Think Galactic party, but this year things should be twice as awesome.

Because Beer & Marmalade is teaming up with Think Galactic for combined party madness! More details to follow, but we're all very excited about it!

As an addendum, Think Galactic 2011 is still on the chopping block - myself and a few of the other concom members are getting overwhelmed with some other life stuff, and unless we get a few more volunteers, we won't be able to pull it off again.

We've cut the jobs down to small, pocket-sized bites that are very do-able, whether you are local or not! So if you're interested in keeping another pro-queer, pro-woman, anti-racist con rolling, please take a look over here and consider volunteering!

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Pub Trivia Wades Back In: The Answers


Usually I'm good about at least neatening up before I fall off LJ (i.e., posting things like this!) - clearly not this time. Sorry, all. Here are the much belated answers!

* What is the animal known as a "river horse"? Answer: Hippopotamus
Correct: stillsostrange, pats_quinade, mkhobson, jess_ka, glorioushubris, maureenmcq, shaolingrrl, cyphomandra, secritcrush, davidlevine

* Death Valley is in what state?
Correct: stillsostrange, pats_quinade, jess_ka, merylinabarrel, glorioushubris, maureenmcq, shaolingrrl, secritcrush

* What is the name of newspaper published daily for U.S. servicemen around world? Answer: Stars and Stripes
Correct: sarah_prineas, snurri, merylinabarrel, glorioushubris, maureenmcq, shaolingrrl, secritcrush, davidlevine

* What is Tiger Woods' first name? Answer: Eldrick
Correct: Yeah, this one screwed us, too.

* Which Italian city has famed mass transit system known as "vaporetti"? Answer: Venice
Correct: sarah_prineas, stillsostrange, snurri, jess_ka, glorioushubris, maureenmcq, shaolingrrl, cyphomandra, davidlevine

* What is the name of "the beer that made Milwaukee famous"? Answer: Schlitz
Correct: glorioushubris, shaolingrrl

* "Dyspepsia" is the medical term for what? Answer: Indigestion
Correct: sarah_prineas, pats_quinade, snurri, mkhobson, jess_ka, glorioushubris, maureenmcq, shaolingrrl, cyphomandra, secritcrush, davidlevine

* "Mistake-out" is the original name of what office product? Answer: Liquid Paper
Correct: Nobody got the mistake-out question because they did the same thing we did - went for Wite-out/White-out instead of Liquid Paper (they're owned by different companies). We thought this was dumb as bricks, but still lost the point, so feel free to give yourselves a free point and we'll all just pretend we stormed the judges table or something.

* PC's Limited was the original name of what office product company? Answer: Dell
Correct: glorioushubris, cyphomandra

* What name is given to a sentence or word that reads the same forward as backward? Answer: Palindrome
Correct: sarah_prineas, stillsostrange, pats_quinade, snurri, mkhobson, jess_ka, merylinabarrel, glorioushubris, maureenmcq, shaolingrrl, cyphomandra, secritcrush, davidlevine

* What Irish political group's name translates to "ourselves alone"? Answer: Sinn Fein
Correct: sarah_prineas, stillsostrange, pats_quinade, snurri, mkhobson, jess_ka, maureenmcq, shaolingrrl, cyphomandra, secritcrush, davidlevine


Other reasons people rock:

* What is Tiger Woods' first name?

Oh, gawd. It's Elrond, or something. - sarah_prineas

Eldon? (Something with an E, I am sure.) - secritcrush

if it's not Tiger I feel gyped - jess_ka

Horndog, apparently. - shaolingrrl


* What is the name of newspaper published daily for U.S. servicemen around world?

no idea. I am, however, suddenly curious as to what cartoons it has. - cyphomandra


* "Dyspepsia" is the medical term for what?

The horrible sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that this quiz is giving me. - mkhobson


* What is the name of "the beer that made Milwaukee famous"?

I think my answer to this question is something along the lines of "not famous enough". - cyphomandra

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Mix and Match

fengi pointed out that someone was doing Emma and Werewolves. This makes me very happy1, even though it will likely be terrible. Most of the people who've I spoken to who read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies said they liked the conceit of it, but that it got boring partway through.

fengi went on to say:

Still, I'd like to see this infestation metastasize if a wider set of influences become part of the symptoms. Recently I was listening to an audiobook of The Hound of The Baskervilles and was struck by how many scenes were inadvertently structured like the setup for a porn scene. The Asshound of The Baskervilles could be great fun, but it would need a sure hand. The same for The Telltale Heart With Don Knotts As The Wacky Nextdoor Neighbor or Hard Times And Hipsters.

Poll #1497669
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 15

I would totally buy, although maybe not finish reading:

View Answers
Asshound of the Baskervilles
3 (20.0%)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Climate Change
0 (0.0%)
Telltale Heart With Don Knotts As The Wacky Nextdoor Neighbor
0 (0.0%)
Odysseus On the Road
0 (0.0%)
Don Quixote Encounters Polar Bears on this Weird Jungle Island
1 (6.7%)
Hard Times and Hipsters
1 (6.7%)
Animal Farm and PETA
1 (6.7%)
Something else I will suggest in the comments
0 (0.0%)


Hard Times and Hipsters!

I do believe remixes succeed or fail based on the skill of the person writing them. The shine wears off fast if one is simply mashing together two different things - it's the way those different fictions comment on one another that gives them real potential.



1. I love remixes, but must acknowledge that in many cases they don't live up to their potential. I read the novelization of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, based on the comic books, themselves drawing heavily from various novels. So bad. Oh, so bad. I knew it would be bad going in, but did not believe it could get that bad. It could.

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I'm reading Virginia Foster Durr's autobiography. Learning what life was like for an upper class young white woman growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the late 1920s, is a little like reading a science fiction novel. She describes the system used for social gatherings:

The hostess of a party or dance would make a list of the girls who had been invited and put it on the cigar counter at a drugstore. The boys would go in and check the names of the girls they wanted to take to the event. No matter what you were invited to, whether it was a buffet supper or a picnic or anything, the boys would check the names. The boys were totally in control of the social system. If you didn't get checked, you didn't go, even if it was a private party. The hostess would make frantic efforts to try to make some boy bring you! We were in a state of absolute terror all the time because we were totally dependent on popularity with the boys.

To me, this lays out the parameters of absolute hell. Durr wasn't particularly popular - she describes herself as too outspoken and stubborn - and the next couple of paragraphs are devoted to the advice people kept giving her to try to become more attractive to boys so she could go to parties.

That a girl's attendance at any social event required being selected by a boy first... how that alone must have warped interactions with them toward charm and flattery, and away from forthrightness and honesty.

And I'm sure when boys made generalizations among themselves about the "fundamental nature" of girls, the underlying power structure that forced those kinds of interactions was utterly obscured, leaving behind only the pretty scrum of girls' sweet and unthreatening conversation.

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Pub Trivia Wades Back In

Same rules as always - if you use the internets to answer these, don't post what you find in the comments thread, i.e., don't spoil it for anybody else (though guessing or actually knowing the answer and commenting is encouraged).

You might want to click 'Reply/Speak' rather than the link that will let you see all the comments, because that way you can type in your answers without seeing anyone else's.

* What is the animal known as a "river horse"?

* Death Valley is in what state?

* What is the name of newspaper published daily for U.S. servicemen around world?

* What is Tiger Woods' first name?

* Which Italian city has famed mass transit system known as "vaporetti"?

* What is the name of "the beer that made Milwaukee famous"?

* "Dyspepsia" is the medical term for what?

* "Mistake-out" is the original name of what office product?

* PC's Limited was the original name of what office product company?

* What name is given to a sentence or word that reads the same forward as backward?

* What Irish political group's name translates to "ourselves alone"?

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Marriage in New Jersey

The Past

Mark Lewis graduated from the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. In 1992, shortly after he moved to New Jersey, he happened to drop by a friend's home where Dennis Winslow was visiting. "Our eyes met from across the apartment," Mr. Lewis said. "We have been together since that day."

"I did a complete thunderbolt thing," Mr. Winslow said.

Lewis and Winslow

In 1999 California became the first state with any legal recognition of same-sex couples when Governor Gray Davis signed a domestic partnership bill into law1. Four years later, in 2003, New Jersey followed, becoming the second state in the country with domestic partnerships.

But by that time, a marriage case, filed a year earlier, was already working its way through the New Jersey courts. Lambda Legal represented seven couples who had been denied their rights2. One of those couples was Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow, still together after that thunderbolt moment in a friend's apartment, by this time together for a decade.

The case, filed in June of 2002, was heard one year later. Five months later the ruling arrived: they had lost. They appealed, and in December of 2004 argued the case again before the appellate court. The ruling, six months later, came down 2-1 against them. But the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

By the time oral arguments arrived, in February of 2006, the seven families had been fighting for their rights for almost five years.

In an affidavit to the court, Lewis said:

Marriage is omnipresent in our lives as citizens… Recently I felt the sting of this label at my college reunion, when old classmates asked at least twenty times “are you married?” It is one of the most common questions in adult conversation, key to establishing an understanding of others. It was what people wanted to know about me first of all after a 20-year separation. And for good reason. The word “married” holds and conveys great meaning, like no other word can, about one of the most common aspects of our lives: the essential personal identity that comes with a committed and responsible adult relationship. For other relationships, it seems like only the words “father” or “mother” can carry that same kind of incredibly significant weight. When asked “are you married” time and again, I have to answer “no, but…” and launch into a lengthy explanation that can never capture my commitment to Dennis. Only the word “marriage” does that in this culture. Every elaboration invites the reaction that our relationship is of a lesser caliber than my heterosexual friends’ marriages… Again and again, I feel how my dignity is on the line, my questioner free to make a casual, personal judgment about my family’s legitimacy.

Karen Nicholson-McFadden, a member of another of the plaintiff couples, highlighted the way the differences played out in the hospital when their first child was born, saying:

The assault on our dignity hurts the most in the moments of our lives that matter the most. Kasey’s birth was difficult – Marcye was in the hospital for 28 hours and needed a C-section. As the hours wore on and difficulties arose during labor, I had to worry about re-establishing my role each time the nurses changed shifts or a new resident walked though the door. The significance of our relationship would have been plainly obvious and completely understood had I been able to say we were married. Then, after Kasey was born, a nurse challenged my right to be in the newborn nursery. This should have been a moment of pure joy, untainted by this type of questioning. Being with a new baby as he is weighed and measured is a joy for all parents, but some of that joy was taken from me because my relationship to Marcye and to my son was questioned.

Marcye, in her own affidavit, highlighted another difference:

One of the most painful sadnesses in my life is that my parents died and never got to see me married. They both loved Karen so much, and would have loved to know we had the legal security of marriage. My dad just died a few weeks ago. I was with him in his last days at a hospice care center. Karen and I had to make arrangements to fly the whole family out to Arkansas for the funeral. As we talked to the airlines about “bereavement airfares,” they wanted to know the relationship to the deceased. And in the midst of my grieving and sadness, I was not even allowed the small comfort of answering “daughter and daughter-in-law,” because Karen has no legal standing as part of my family.

Marcye and Karen Nicholson-McFadden

Eight months later, in October of 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that denying same-sex couples equal rights violated the state constitution, and that the legislature needed to take action to fix the problem within 180 days.

But the court was split, 4-3, as to how the problem could be addressed. And the majority felt that civil unions, so long as they offered equal benefits, would be appropriate.

And so, in December 2006, the New Jersey Legislature passed a civil unions bill. It came into effect on February 19, 2007.

Three months later, in May of 2007, Mark and Dennis's civil union announcement appeared in the New York Times.

The Present

In 2008, a committee was convened to evaluate whether civil unions really did provide rights equal to that of marriage. Their report, published in December of 2008, just after Obama's election and the terrible losses in California, Arizona, and Florida, stated unanimously that separate was not equal: civil unions were not good enough.

Governor Corzine, who had signed the civil unions bill into a law, made a deal with gay rights groups: if they would delay until after the election, he would agree to sign a marriage bill.

Then several scandals hit, all of them with Corzine involved. He lost the election to a Republican challenger – Christie – who is virulently anti-marriage. Corzine has been true to his word, and is on record as saying he will now sign the marriage bill if it reaches his desk before he leaves office. Unfortunately, between then and now, Maine lost its marriage equality to a public referendum, and the New York Senate failed to pass its marriage bill. Democrats are running scared.

It looked like the bill would not be able to make it out of the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee. Until a petition for marriage equality, "boasting the names of more than 2,300 Democratic officials, advocates and residents began making the rounds."

And suddenly the bill was live again.

Last night the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony in favor or against the marriage bill. Among those testifying were the Nicholson-McFadden family. Marcye and Karen brought their two children to the podium, and spoke in favor of the bill. They told stories of their daughter, in first grade, coming home and telling Karen that if she were a substitute teacher, the children would have to call her "Ms." and not "Mrs." because she wasn't married. Kasey, the boy who a nurse tried to "protect" from Karen, is now in fifth grade. He spoke, saying, "At school, at soccer, at swim team, the other kids say my moms aren't legally my parents because they're not married. When my sister and I try to explain civil unions, they look at us like we're from Mars. My sister and I want to say, 'Our parents are married,' and end it. It doesn't bother me to tell the other kids my parents are gay. But it does bother me to tell them they can't get married."

After over eight hours of testimony, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee passed the marriage bill with a 7-6 vote.

It now goes to the New Jersey Senate. The vote will be this Thursday.

There are two major hurdles. The Senate vote, like the New York Senate vote, will be close. Democrats hold 23 seats in the Senate, and at least one Democrat has vowed to vote against the measure. It needs 21 votes to pass. It is likely that at least one, maybe more, Republicans will have to cross party lines to vote in favor.

The Assembly vote will be less of a problem – the Democrats have 48 of the 80 seats, and need only 41 votes to pass.

The second hurdle is time. Christie takes office on January 19th, 2010. The marriage bill is currently not even on the Assembly calendar. If the bill makes it through the Senate, then legislators will have to move fast to get it to Corzine's desk before that desk becomes Christie's.

But if they do, New Jersey will step into the place left by fallen Maine, and six states will grant equal marriage rights to their citizens.



1. Unless you count Hawaii's bare-bones reciprocal beneficiaries bill, passed in 1997, which I don't.

2. Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow; Saundra Heath-Toby and Clarita Toby-Heath; Craig Hutchison and Chris Lodewyks; Maureen Killian and Cindy Meneghin; Sarah and Suyin Lael; Marily Maneely and Diane Marini; Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden, as noted here.

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The Ramayana, by Valmiki

Things that piss me off: Two of India's greatest epics are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. They're fundamental to Indian culture, and their characters and events are woven into Indian writings in the same way Biblical references and metaphors are woven into many Western writings. Moreso, the epics are embedded in, and often used as exemplars of, the Hindu faith.

And there are no complete accurate translations of either epic in English. There are paraphrases, and summaries, and retellings, and poetic retellings from the late 1800s1, but in the year 2009, there still exist no complete and accurate translations of two of the most important works of Indian literature.

W. T. F.

There will be seven volumes of the Ramayana when it is completely translated. They just came out with the sixth this year.

There will be ten volumes of the Mahabharata when it is completely translated. Only four have been published thus far.

I discovered this because I started reading the Ramayana a while ago and got bogged down in volume 1. I've just come back to it, and had been under the mistaken impression that there were only five volumes, and that it had been fully translated. Then I discovered volume 6 had just been released!

So now I am angry all over again, but at least I am back to enjoying the Ramayana2.

Here's my plan. It'll take me a while:

Ramayana Vol 1: Balakanda
Ramayana Vol 2: Ayodhyakanda
Ramayana Vol 3: Aranyakanda
Ramayana Vol 4: Kishkindhakanda
Ramayana Vol 5: Sundarakanda
Ramayana Vol 6: Yuddhakanda
Ramayana Vol 7: Uttarakanda (not yet out)

The translator on these is William P. Goldman.

And then, because there are actually many extant versions of the Ramayana (unlike the Iliad and the Odyssey, variations survived in different parts of India, and evolved as time went on), some examinations of the major differences in various versions of the story:

Many Ramayanas
Questioning Ramayanas
Inside the Dramahouse (might skim this one)

For any of you reading who are more familiar with the epic than I, any suggestions? Something I should read that's not on here? Or something on here I shouldn't read?



1. Pretty much all you can say for the poetic retellings is that they sound pretty if you have no idea what's actually going on in the original epic. A good example is when the evil Ravana is abducting Sita (Rama's wife, and a good person). Jatayu, who is king of the vultures, and a friend to both Rama and Sita, confronts Ravana and tries to stop him, first with reason and then with force. It takes quite a few chapters for the confrontation to progess and end (tragically for Jatayu). Yet Dutt's 1899 poetic retelling portrays the whole encounter in four verses:

And thou royal bird, Jatayu, witness Ravan's deed of shame,
Witness how he courts destruction, stealing Rama's faithful dame,

Rama and the gallant Lakshman soon shall find their destined prey,
When they know that trusting Sita is by Ravan torn away!"

Vainly wept the anguished Sita; vain Jatayu in his wrath,
Fought with beak and bloody talons to impede the Raksha's path,

Pierced and bleeding fell the vulture; Ravan fled with Rama's bride,
Where amidst the boundless ocean Lanka rose in towering pride!

I thought Jatayu was way more awesome than that, and deserved more than getting mentioned and discarded so fast (even compressing the narrative). And calling Sita a dame? Really?

2. I have no in-depth knowledge of the culture(s) of India, both current and historical, so I expect I'm going to make interpretive mistakes as I read (part of the reason I specifically wanted a lot of footnotes). And I'm hobbled because none of the scholars working on the complete translation seem to be Indian, so it'll be interesting to see how that influences the way the work is discussed. There's already been some interesting self-correction around what English-speaking academics thought was meant by Rama's half-man half-god status – I'm betting there are some things that haven't been self-corrected.

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Why Phone?

If you have ever wanted to help in the battle for the equality, ever for even a passing moment thought idly about lending your efforts on the side of justice, of protecting the relationships that others are trying to destroy, then I ask you to read this post.

We have 15 days. Maine and Washington hang in the balance, until Nov 3rd.

And you can tip that balance.

As many of you are aware, I've phoned from home for many of the marriage battles going on around the country (I've called for California, New York, Vermont, Maine, and soon Washington).

But I have not described exactly why phone-banking is useful, and why it is not as scary as it may sound.

If you phonebank in Maine or Washington, you become a scout and a messenger for pro-equality forces. In both these states, polls bring back numbers approximately 50-50 in favor or against equal protection of relationships. But in every poll, the pro-equality people come up as less likely to vote.

We could lose this because the campaigns aren't able to find and activate the pro-equality voters.

Phonebanking helps the campaign sort the voters into supporters and foes. Phonebankers discover where clusters of pro-equality voters are; they discover which voters would be a waste of time; they give pro-equality voters important information (a great example of this is painfully simple – to support equality, should they vote YES or NO on the proposition? In Washington it's YES; in Maine it's NO.)

When you phonebank for a campaign, you start with a list of numbers, and you ask the people who pick up the phone – hey, equal rights for GLBT folks, you in? Then you mark down their answer.

Without phonebanking, a campaign is in the dark. Phonebankers turn lists of opaque phone numbers into clear groups of people not to bother, supporters, and potential supporters. And it is only with that information in hand that a pro-equality campaign has any chance of winning.

That is why phone-banking is crucial.

It's also not as scary as it may sound. I know to some of you reading out there who want to help may be afraid that the calls will be confrontational. Let me begin by saying that I'm very good at imagining all the terrible discussions I could get into with people on the phone. And they have never come to pass.

Because when you get them on the phone, people are basically decent. In fact, of all the calling I've done, the worst thing that happened is somebody who was a little snide.

The fantastic thing about phoning from home is that you are not going into battle – remember, you are not a warrior, but a scout, a messenger.

The thing I was most afraid of – a lot of backlash from the anti-equality people – never materialized. Because the anti-equality people don't want to talk to you. They want to get off the phone as fast as possible. And the great thing is that you want this too.

Because it is turnout that will determine both these ballot battles. And the longer you stay on the phone with anti-equality voter the more they'll be entrenched in their view and more likely to get out there and vote. If you get off the phone fast and smoothly – "Thanks for your time, have a good night." – then they haven't gotten riled up. You've just made it more likely they won't be bothered to get out to the polls and vote.

So who are you spending most of your time on the phone with? Pro-equality people who just want to clarify if they should vote "yes" or "no", and think you are fucking awesome for volunteering, and will often tell you so.

I've even had people who wouldn't tell me how they were voting tell me that they thought I was awesome.

You're going through lists of phone numbers, and marking down the pro-equality people. That's all this is.

Something very easy and very small, that will nonetheless determine whether families in these states are defended or damaged. If Washington wins, the entire west coast of the U.S. will have marriage-likes rights for its citizens. If Maine wins, it will be the first time in U.S. history that equal marriage has been defended at the polls.

Both these goals are within reach.

You can sign up online and phonebank from home easily for either campaign:
- Washington (YES on 71 – defending the all-but-marriage domestic partnerships)
- Maine (NO on 1 – defending equal marriage)

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Pub Trivia Picks Up the Phone: The Answers

Man, Linus was the Great Betrayer on this one. Pretty much everybody who missed the Peanuts question got distracted by the boy with the blanket!

* How many apples high are Smurfs? Answer: Three
Correct: colonelrowe, bibliogrrl, susansugarspun, carolineyoachim, timakers, pats_quinade, cyphomandra, karimariw

* How many dice are there in the game of Yahtzee? Answer: Five
Correct: colonelrowe, davidlevine, susansugarspun, ckd, carolineyoachim, muneraven, pats_quinade, snurri, danima, cyphomandra, karimariw

* Which Peanuts character plays the piano? Answer: Schroeder
Correct: colonelrowe, davidlevine, bibliogrrl, jess_ka, ckd, j00j, muneraven, pats_quinade, snurri, danima, cyphomandra

* In the nursery rhyme, Little Miss Muffett was eating what when the spider scared her? Answer: Curds and whey
Correct: colonelrowe, heavenscalyx, davidlevine, bibliogrrl, jess_ka, susansugarspun, ckd, j00j, carolineyoachim, timakers, secritcrush, muneraven, pats_quinade, snurri, danima, cyphomandra, karimariw

* Name the largest U.S. state capital city not home to an NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL franchise. Answer: Austin
Correct: jess_ka, ckd, carolineyoachim, muneraven

* Who invented the system of shorthand writing that replaced the Pitman method in 1888? Answer: Gregg
Correct: davidlevine, ckd, secritcrush

* How many U.S. presidents first served as governors? Answer: 17
Close: colonelrowe, muneraven, snurri (off only by 1!), karimariw

* A McBurney incision is used to perform what kind of surgery? Answer: Appendectomy
Correct: colonelrowe, jess_ka, susansugarspun, j00j, secritcrush, muneraven, pats_quinade, snurri, cyphomandra

* How much does it cost the U.S. Treasury to make a currency note? Answer: 6 cents
Correct: muneraven
Close: secritcrush, pats_quinade, danima, karimariw

* Which letter of the greek alphabet is used to denote the brightest star in a constellation? Answer: Alpha
Correct: colonelrowe, heavenscalyx, davidlevine, jess_ka, susansugarspun, ckd, j00j, timakers, secritcrush, muneraven, snurri, danima, cyphomandra, karimariw

* What are the code names given to the bombs dropped on Japan to end WWII? Answer: Fat man and little boy
Correct: colonelrowe, heavenscalyx, davidlevine, susansugarspun, ckd, j00j, timakers, secritcrush, muneraven, pats_quinade, snurri, danimakarimariw
Close: carolineyoachim, bibliogrrl

Other reasons people are fantastic:

* How many U.S. presidents first served as governors?

...a lot of them? - jess_ka


* Name the largest U.S. state capital city not home to an NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL franchise.

Those would be sports organizations, right? - danima


* Which letter of the greek alphabet is used to denote the brightest star in a constellation?

You'd think I'd know this, being married to an astronomer and all. You'd be wrong, though. - carolineyoachim


* What are the code names given to the bombs dropped on Japan to end WWII?

Bombs - I have numerous problems with the phrasing of this question, as surely the important bit is the whole ATOMIC factor (there being plenty of other bombs dropped on Japan) and there's still arguing about the role this played in ending the war, particularly given that a not inconsiderable amount of WWII took place in Europe. I also note the bomb droppers have deftly been erased from the question. Anyway. Having registered my displeasure, [answers]. - cyphomandra

[Yeah, I think this question would have had a hard time minimizing any more than it already is - it's the badly-worded question for this round. No good. - tacithydra]

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Shagged by a Rare Parrot

Towleroad, from which I totally stole this video, has the perfect thing to say about it: "British actor Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine travel to New Zealand to find a rare parrot on the verge of extinction. It's one of the few left of its kind, and it's very horny."



My favorite part of this video is Stephen Fry, who doesn't think to help his friend until forty-five seconds after the parrot had begun... maneuvers.

Poll #1468518
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 11

If a rare parrot suddenly started shagging your friend's head, your sense of empathy would overwhelm your sense of surprise in:

View Answers
Less than a second!
0 (0.0%)
Five seconds
1 (9.1%)
Thirty seconds
3 (27.3%)
Several minutes
2 (18.2%)
Hah, never, this is AWESOME!
4 (36.4%)
At a point which I will detail in the comments
1 (9.1%)

If a unicorn suddenly appeared and tried to eat your friend's jacket (seriously threatening them with all that horn-swinging), your sense of empathy would overwhelm your sense of surprise in:

View Answers
Less than a second!
2 (18.2%)
Five seconds
2 (18.2%)
Thirty seconds
3 (27.3%)
Several minutes
1 (9.1%)
Hah, never, this is AWESOME!
3 (27.3%)
At a point which I will detail in the comments
0 (0.0%)

If your friend was bitten by a zombie, your sense of survival would overwhelm your sense of empathy in:

View Answers
Less than a second!
2 (18.2%)
Several minutes
3 (27.3%)
Several hours
0 (0.0%)
Several days
0 (0.0%)
When they stopped breathing
2 (18.2%)
When they started moving again
3 (27.3%)
No, really, you look hungry. Here, have my brains.
1 (9.1%)
At a point which I will detail in the comments
0 (0.0%)

One Million Snow Geese

I grew up near San Juan Capistrano Mission in southern California. Each year in San Juan Capistrano there is a celebration around the swallows who migrated there annually. On a school trip there we were told stories of how, when the swallows returned, the sky would turn black with birds.

Today, the swallows no longer fly to San Juan Capistrano.

A little older, I read how both Native Americans and European immigrants described herds of buffalo as covering the plains, seemingly limitless. And how later, those stories were disbelieved, as the buffalo were hunted nearly to extinction.

I could never imagine what that many animals in one place would be like.

But this year, one million snow geese migrated from Canada to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

And they were photographedCollapse )

Even with the swiftly changing ecosystems and the vast incursions of humanity on their territory, one million snow geese still flew south this winter.

Imagine what it must have been like a century ago.

Pub Trivia Picks Up the Phone

Same rules as always - if you use the internets to answer these, don't post what you find in the comments thread, i.e., don't spoil it for anybody else (though guessing or actually knowing the answer and commenting is encouraged).

You might want to click 'Reply/Speak' rather than the link that will let you see all the comments, because that way you can type in your answers without seeing anyone else's.

* How many apples high are Smurfs?

* How many dice are there in the game of Yahtzee?

* Which Peanuts character plays the piano?

* In the nursery rhyme, Little Miss Muffett was eating what when the spider scared her?

* Name the largest U.S. state capital city not home to an NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL franchise.

* Who invented the system of shorthand writing that replaced the Pitman method in 1888?

* How many U.S. presidents first served as governors?

* A McBurney incision is used to perform what kind of surgery?

* How much does it cost the U.S. Treasury to make a currency note?

* Which letter of the Greek alphabet is used to denote the brightest star in a constellation?

* What are the code names given to the bombs dropped on Japan to end WWII?

Tags:

Fleming and Strong

This is Kate Fleming (left) and her partner Charlene Strong. Kate, an accomplished actress, found her life's calling recording audio books. She took a pseudonym to honor her great-grandmother, a Vaudeville performer of the same name.

If you've listened to audio books narrated by Anna Fields, such as Vonda McIntyre's Dreamsnake or The Moon and the Sun; Catherine Asaro's Ascendant Sun, Primary Inversion, The Quantum Rose, The Radiant Seas; Kate Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang; Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters; or Sylvia Nasar's A Beautiful Mind (about Nobel Laureate John Nash, off which the movie of the same name was based), then you've listened to Kate Fleming's voice. Charlene describes Kate, her "Special K", best:

I always thought of her as sort of like Lucille Ball," she beams. "Kate just had that goofiness about her, and that comedic timing. She was very smart, too, just one of the smartest people I've ever met in my life. When I wasn't with her, I was always thinking about her, and when I was with her, I was having the time of my life.

In 2006, during a flash-flood, Kate rushed into the basement of their Madison Valley home in a attempt to save her audio recordings, her life's work. The water rose too fast, and Charlene risked her own life to pull Kate from the water. An ambulance rushed them to a hospital, where Kate was taken into the ICU. A social worker barred Kate's way, informing her that, under Washington law, the hospital did not recognize same-sex partners in emergency situations.

Agonizing minutes passed as Charlene tried desperately to reach one of Kate's family members by phone. She contacted someone, and received permission to be by Kate's side.

She had enough time to tell her she loved her before Kate died.

When Charlene attempted to make funeral arrangements, the funeral director refused to address questions to her, and would speak only to Kate's mother.

In the midst of the New England marriage battles, some of you may remember my shocked post about Washington. They passed a domestic partnership law that included all the rights of marriage – everything but the name. The governor signed it on May 18th.

With all the rights offered in this bill, Charlene Strong could have walked right into that hospital room. She could have spoken directly to the funeral director. She would not have had to use Kate's family members for proxies in every decision. And imagine, just imagine for a moment, how horrific an already unspeakably terrible night would have been if Kate's family were not accepting – if they didn't approve of Kate's "lifestyle".

Of course, the anti-equality forces moved immediately to keep the bill from taking effect.

Even though the bill was specifically about domestic partnerships, not marriage, the anti-equality people formed a group called Protect Marriage Washington. Like Maine, Washington has a referendum process whereby the people can vote to cancel bills passed by the legislature, and so they started collecting signatures. Equality activists ran a Decline to sign campaign in response.

On July 25th, the anti-equality activists turned in 137,881 signatures. For a moment there was hope – they needed 120,577 valid signatures to qualify the referendum for the November ballot, and many signatures are often invalidated in situations like this. But then the Washington Secretary of State, in violation of the Washington constitution started counting signatures of people who were not registered voters when they signed the petition. A judge upheld the practice, and the referendum cleared the hurdle by a bare 1200 signatures – 121,780.

What is now known as Referendum 71, or R-71, is on the Washington ballot this November.

In a quirk of Washington ballot law, pro-equality forces must vote YES on 71, approving the bill the legislature passed, while anti-equality forces must vote to reject 71, and the domestic partnership bill.

Washington Families Standing Together, the pro-equality forces, are asking that people do a number of things. As in Maine, voting ends on November 4th. If Referendum 71 passes, Washington couples (this includes straight senior couples, who have their own reasons to prefer domestic partnerships over marriage) will be able to protect their partners and families with domestic partnerships that bring all the rights of marriage.

Polls show the "Approve 71" campaign as barely ahead, with undecided voters, as in California's Prop 8, the ones who will make the final decision for Washington.

We have 29 days.

What you can do:

1. If you live in Washington, spread the word about 71. There are many ways to volunteer.

2. If you don't live in Washington, donations help. Even a little helps.

3. Call from Home. Washington has set up a Phone-from-Home system. All you have to do is fill in some simple information here, and an organizer will be in contact with you soon.

4. Talk to People. Do you know anyone who lives in Washington? Call them. Talk with them, and make sure that if they support equal rights for everyone, they know they need to vote YES on 71.

Tags:

FYI:

Crossed Genres magazine is doing an LGBTQ issue, and Bart Leib and Kay Holt are advertising it in order to get the widest range of submissions possible. This is the ad:

rejectedad

When Leib submitted the ad to Flash Fiction Online, however, it was rejected for being "sexually themed." Leib inquired further with the editor, Jake Freivald, as to what he meant by those words.

Apparently what Freivald means is that LGBTQ themes or characters are inherently sexual, and thus inappropriate. However:

I would probably not publish stories where the purpose was to justify or condone homosexual relationships, polyamory, and so on — I reject all “message” stories, even those that I agree with — but that doesn’t imply that stories containing those elements will automatically be rejected.

Full context and exchange here: LJ | blog (posts are identical).

Freivald has every right to hold these beliefs. I feel it's shady not to be open with them on the submissions page (as Christian genre magazine Mindflights is), but he has every right to write up the submissions guidelines however he wishes.

However, I think this information is important for those who write queer-themed fiction to know before they submit to FFO.

I also know that, if I ever happened to write something that ended with a queer character being unhappy, or having something unfortunate happen to them, and FFO published that – because it was in line with their policy of not representing queer relationships in a positive light?

I would be sick.

There have already been a number of responses:

The Outer Alliance: Regarding Queer Unfriendly Markets (you can join The Outer Alliance here). Freivald responds in the comments here.
Hal Duncan: Crossed Genres Special Issue
Brandon Bell: The Crossed Flash Affair
Benjamin Solah: Flash Fiction Online Won't Publish Queer Stories
M-Brane SF: Outer Alliance Makes Statement on Queer-unfriendly Markets
Christopher Fletcher: Call me a child molester one more time, and I'll nuke your house and salt the radioactive ruins
K. Tempest Bradford: A Market I Intend to Avoid Right Now
Shaun Duke: Publication Against LGBT Content: Writers Be Aware

Update as of 9:50am:

N. K. Jemisin: Another $%^ing one, what are they, breeding?
Charles Tan: September 10, 2009 Links and Plugs
Aishwarya at Blue Lullaby: cfs and a bit of useful information

Update as of 7:20pm:

Jeff Ford: A Sorry Situation
Martha Wells: September 10, 2009
Mumbling Sage: Curse Principles. They cause nothing but heartbreak.
Lee Thomas: Via Jeff Ford's LJ, via Hal Duncan's blog, via...
Shweta Narayan: Flash Fiction Online is a Queer-unfriendly market.
Arthur D. Hlavaty: It's an online zine...
Haddayr Copley-Woods: I love my LGBT friends and family
Alan Yee: Why I Will Never Submit to Flash Fiction Online
Zack Weinberg: September 9, 2009

Update as of September 11, 7:51am:

Crossed Genres posts some follow up
Sarah Kanning: upcoming LGBTQ issue of Crossed Genres - subs open until Sept 30
Anna Caro: Friday Politics: Queer characters... without the sex
Catherine Lundoff: A market I won't be submitting to any time real soon...
Marshall Payne: Sub withdrawn from Flash Fiction Online
Thomas Bennet: Just a Quick Update
Josh Jasper: How to Become Professionally Dead to Me

Update as of 10am:

Cheryl Morgan: LGBT Rights: the Good and the Bad
Kay Holt (Crossed Genres co-editor with Bart Leib): The Rejection Heard Round the World (well, technically...)
Jessica Reisman: September 11, 2009
Megan Rose Gedris: Call for submissions! (On DeviantArt, On Lesbian Pirates)

Update as of 8:08pm:

Brandon Bell: Fund Drive & Fuss Final Thoughts
Ithiliana: Boosting the Signal: Queer SFF
RavynFyre: September 10, 2009
Brandon Bell: Fund Drive & Fuss Final Thoughts
Michele Lee: Full Disclosure
Shweta Narayan: Followup on FFO

Freivald has updated the Flash Fiction Online submissions guidelines page by adding a few paragraphs at the end. These paragraphs read as:

An aside, speaking for myself, as editor: I have been taken to task for not defining our editorial policy with respect to particular types of characters, claiming that because of my worldview I wouldn’t publish certain types of stories. As long as the stories aren’t message stories (see above), I’ll consider them. After all, I don’t expect every character to have the same beliefs, lead the same lifestyle, or value the same things that I do.

An example (not the one that got me chewed out): I have strong opinions about whether the Second Amendment guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. I have rejected message stories that have espoused or rejected my view, but I would not automatically reject a story in which one of the characters rejected my view. Most good stories don’t have black-and-white treatments of complex or polarizing issues.

I won’t give more examples because it’s impossible to define every opinion I hold that might possibly color my opinions of a story. I also know of no mainstream publications that do so. If your story isn’t a message story, don’t worry about whether your characters live up to some ideal of mine. (Even I don’t live up to my own ideals, and my ideals have changed over time.) If you’re in doubt, query me or just submit it.

Meanwhile, let’s focus on the stories instead of the politics. Thank you.

This has about as much wrong with it as his original line of reasoning does. The biggest problem I have with it is that I think most people will not understand from this update that a story with a queer person in it who has a healthy relationship will be classed as "a message story."

But the point of these posts isn't to get Freivald to change his mind, anyway. The point is to get the word out to as many people as possible, so folks know what they're dealing with, and can make their own decisions about submitting their work there.

Update as of September 12, 4:10pm:

Delagar: Ow! Ow!
Willow: Oh SciFi Fiction. Can't Stand Anyone Not White Straight (and usually) Male
Suaine: Sep 10, 2009
Bodlon: In which -isms play a part.
Rm: and a few more sundries
Shadesong: Friday

And another email exchange with Freivald, here:

Wood Artist: A day filled with surprises

Update as of September 13, 12:44pm:

Flash Fiction Online staff member Debra Hoag responds.
Flash Fiction Online staff member Sabrina West responds.
Melissa S. Green: Cold, Crossed Genres, & Flash homophobia

Update as of September 14, 8:59am:

Angela Benedetti: The Outer Alliance
Kelly McCullough at Wyrdsmiths: Wyrdsmiths

Update as of March 2

Freivald discusses his stance a little further with Rachel Swirsky here.

Although it’s painful to say, and more painful for others to hear, I don’t support the normalization of GLBT relationships in our culture. Marriage is only one aspect of that (albeit the one I tend to focus on these days). The Crossed Genres ad still felt like a gray area because you never know what’s going to show up in a spec fic magazine — and I could feel myself looking for rationalizations to avoid the coming s**tstorm — but ultimately I assumed the Crossed Genres issue would be supportive of GLBT relationships in our culture, and I rejected it.

He also notes:

All things being equal, I wouldn’t avoid a magazine just because it didn’t accept Christian advertising. Failing to support something isn’t the same thing as attacking it.

Of course, this latter comment was on advertising, and not story content.

I'll also note that the guidelines for Flash Fiction Online are still opaque on this point.

Angry? Looking for something positive to do?

May I suggest helping out Maine, one of the six states with equal marriage, which is under threat from a Prop 8-like measure on their ballot that would take away same sex marriage rights. They're fighting it, but it's going to be close. You can donate here.

We lost Maine.

Tags: