Issues in Bloggery

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Freed up enough space for one picture!

With the gorgeous weather this weekend in Chicago, I got out with my camera, and I was going to post pictures, but just remembered that I am out of storage space. Old problem, forgotten with all the bigger problems of the world, still unsolved. So I’ll work on that, and maybe get some photos up this week.

Getting my mind back to this blog has been tough. When the entire world starts dissolving around you, fun irreverence isn’t the mood that immediately surfaces. Life is currently fraught with a kind of fear most of us here in the United States have never had to face; it’s the kind of fear people travel thousands of miles and leave loved ones behind to escape.

Usually by escaping to the U.S. So…

I’m still working on that balance I wrote about, and maybe, while things are as they are, breezy blog posts about TV shows and writer’s block will be far less frequent than they used to be. But even so, I’m still working on finding pockets of normalcy, on days where I can head out, trusty camera in hand, and see the world in a new way and an old way, all at once.

 

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’: A Cultural Crystal Ball

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Author’s note: This piece first appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo Contributor’s Network.

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is celebrated for its condemnation of censorship and groupthink, but Bradbury — a writer who has always been categorized as “science-fiction” over the tonier synonym “speculative fiction” — deserves recognition for that book’s eerie prescience of culture. What he foresaw, from six decades out, is remarkable.

Though Bradbury copyrighted “Fahrenheit 451” in 1953, as described by The Big Read, it was adapted first from a short story called “Bright Phoenix” published in 1947, and then “The Fireman,” which was published in 1950. While increasing numbers of households would get televisions in that decade, at the beginning of the ’50s TVs were new. Yet not only did he foresee them in every household, he foresaw them taking over households: huge, wall-sized televisions. Bradbury imagined ear buds with his seashell radios long before the concept existed. And, in the dreaded Hound, he saw a future of robotics far out of line with the technology of the time.

But those details are prescience of technology, which, though still a neat trick, is not quite as stunning as understanding the evolution of culture if left to its natural course. With a beauty of language also often not given the credit it is due, Bradbury says: “With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” (Del Rey 50th Anniversary Edition, pg. 58).

Bradbury writes of the condensation of thought from book to digest to blurb in a way strangely predictive of Twitter, where all ideas must fit within the constraints of 140 characters. He sees the rise of advertising so incessant it’s nearly ritualistic, and long before the advent of reality TV, he predicted shows that were little more than life itself, with home participants easily joining.

He even wrote about the future of attempts to erase any signs of age, of having lived a life, of a world lacking depth and texture, with his description that sounds predictive of Botox long before people decided injections of neurotoxins were preferable to wrinkles: “So do you see now why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.” (pg. 83).

And then there is that beauty of language that comes from its clarity, from each word in a sentence chosen for both its overt and subtle meanings while still seeing the far-off future from quite a distance. At a time when newspapers were in nearly every home, he said “I remember them dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them.” (emphasis in original; pg. 89)

There are classics that are classics through some sense of tradition, and then there are books that become classics because what they tell us about ourselves is unchanging, unencumbered by movement of culture in the world around us. “Fahrenheit 451” is about so much more than censorship. With amazing insight from more than half-a-century away, it is about the willing relinquishment of critical thinking.

 

Oh Right. My Blog

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OK, so this blog. I know I’ve been absent, pretty much since the election. It’s tough to continue our lighthearted exchanges about life and writing and exercise and weird dreams and blah days.

Well, maybe the blah days are still easy.

Still, I’ve found I cannot prevent myself from writing about politics. This doesn’t see like the right place to do that, so I’ve started writing at Medium. You can even follow me there.

You can also click the links in the sidebar.

Everything I write there will be political, so be forewarned. Or intrigued. I prefer intrigued.

I’ll be trying to pop in here, and write the kinds of things this blog talks about, but the world has changed, and my focus seems to be changing with it.

I’ll keep you updated, though, on books and other such goodies, and I anticipate something in that regard in the not-too-distant future.

Hope everyone is doing well or handing in or coping. Onward we go.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Red and Blue, We’re the Colors of the Flag

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Hi Members of the Electoral College,

We don’t know each other. Probably. I mean, if we did, it would be quite a coincidence, so let’s just go with we don’t know each other. We likely live in very different parts of the country. Where I am buildings rise high next to a lake so large you’d swear it was a sea, a goaty curse was broken, and I hear people like our pizza.

That’s my America.

Different colors and shapes of faces when I walk to the grocery store; the warmth being sucked out of the air as December goes on while a wind with teeth bites your face; the heaviest coat in the coat wardrobe making its seasonal debut.

That’s my America.

I’ve visited some of your America, too. The otherworldly loveliness of the Florida Keys; the quiet, rolling beauty of Wisconsin; the unexpected hills of southern Indiana; Louisville’s spanning bridges; the sudden mountains of Pennsylvania; the open skies of Iowa; the long, straight roads of Ohio that have their own kind of silence.

That’s your America.

I’ve driven and I’ve flown, and I’ve never felt like a stranger in this country. I’ve chatted with servers and people in the line at the supermarket; hotel guests in an elevator and the clerks at the front desks. I’ve held the door for you and you for me, and perhaps we shared a smile or a nod.

That’s your America.

And the one thing I’ve never questioned, even if I knew that your secret inside color was as red as my secret inside color is blue, is that we are all still colors of the flag. Red next to blue; blue next to red; we are America.

This is our America.

We cannot permit this country that we love, this country that is made of all those moments of driving through and staying and visiting and moving and living and families and acknowledging the thing that makes us all the same, we cannot permit it to be lost to a foreign power with plans of its own.

This is our America.

I understand that secret red inside you, Moral Electors, is a strong force. It is a defining force. And it might make the decision you must make feel difficult. We understand, we really do.

But now is not the time for our blue and red to stand, separated. Now is the time for us all to be the colors of our flag, to rescue our nation from the precipice, to tell a foreign power that there is no room for interference between those swathes of red and blue, blue and red.

History will remember you, Moral Electors, for your service to your country when you reject Russia’s candidate, when you reject Vladimir Putin’s candidate.

When you think about me in my corner of our country while I think about you in your corner of our country (probably with jealousy if it’s a warm corner of our country). History will remember you when you stand with the popular vote, stand with the person that Russia fears so deeply, so completely, that Putin would go to this length to stop her. History will remember you, Moral Electors, when you reject Donald Trump and cast your votes for Secretary Hillary Clinton.

United we stand, red with blue, blue with red, and simply tell Russia “no.”

This is our America.

[This piece originally appeared on Medium]

Feed Your Warrior Spirit

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We are more powerful than we know. Call your members of Congress, give them all of our concerns, that is why they are there. And nourish your soul.

Let’s Rock Our Warrior Spirits

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Picture taken in CA. I apologize for the graphic language, but this is a time for truth, not pretending this isn't happening.

Picture taken in CA. I apologize for the graphic language, but this is a time for truth, not pretending this isn’t happening.

I was going to write about how my NaNoWriMo is going today, but that was before Trump appointed Steve Bannon, a literal nazi, not a hyperbolic nazi, but a literal nazi who told his wife he didn’t want his daughter to go to a school that had too many Jews. A man who, for a living, oozes Jewish conspiracies about banks and Hollywood and probably horns.

I’m not sure about the last one.

Nazi flag flying outside a San Francisco home.

He’s a man so racist he could probably make George Wallace blush, wherever George Wallace is, and I hope it’s hot. He will be the Leni Riefenstahl of the “administration,” peddling propaganda to an apparently perfectly willing media.

For anyone of the “wait and give him a chance,” camp, what chance are we to give him? Trump has made his allegiances clear with his heavy praise of Russia, Russia’s admitted involvement in his campaign, and Russia’s possible hacking of voting results. Consider this: Hillary Clinton only won counties in Wisconsin where the counties used solely paper ballots and no electronic voting machines.

He is working with a GOP that disenfranchised likely Democratic voters to decrease the likelihood of a Democratic win. Let’s go over that again. The GOP itself has utilized its gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited these tactics, to try to maintain control when they don’t actually have the number of voters to maintain control.

Take that, democracy.

In Wisconsin, again, 300,000 voters were disallowed votes due to the new voter laws. Trump “won” by a margin of 27,257 votes. And remember what I said above? Hillary only won in counties with paper ballots?

Yeah.

Meanwhile Trump has condemned the protests springing up all over the nation, all over the world. Our very basic constitutional rights are at risk. If we allow this “election” to stand, without any investigation into possible hacking by Russia or domestic parties, without investigation into the voter suppression tactics, without investigation into Russia’s admitted influence, we lose our country.

Let us not forget the partisan actions on the part of James Comey and the FBI, who also denied Trump’s ties to Russia to the New York Times, only to have Russia confirm them after the election.

Meanwhile Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote by the largest margin of any candidate that has ever “lost” the electoral college. All of these things add up to a very strange election, strange enough that we need to know it was legitimate.

And Trump is so ill-prepared, so uncomprehending of the job of President of the United States, he had no idea he had to hire the staff of the West Wing. He doesn’t want to work weekends, and wants to commute from New York or move the capital.

He said that if Roe v. Wade is reversed, women can just go to another state. No matter your position on the issue, this man does not understand the impact of Supreme Court decisions.

This is not a partisan issue. This is an American issue. In America, we believe in fairness. We are borne from democracy. We believe in the sanctity of our elections. We demand at least a minimum of competency. And you better believe that if there was this much evidence that the candidate I supported may have rigged the election in her favor, you’d be reading the same post.

We are entitled to congressional hearings. We are entitled an investigation from the Department of Justice. And the Electoral College must really consider all of these issues when casting its votes. That is why it exists; to prevent an unfit candidate from taking office. It can consider possible impending impeachment.

Conspiring with a foreign government is, of course, grounds for impeachment. As is fraud, but that is a separate issue that will be watched closely as Trump’s trial progresses.

Now that you are as depressed as I am, or hopefully as upset and angered as I am, what can you do?

  • You can sign this petition to ask the Electors to reconsider casting their votes for Donald Trump.
  • Contact your Representatives and Senators to initiate hearings to investigate these issues in order to preserve democracy and the integrity of our elections. Call, write, tweet. Feel free to adapt any part of this post into your letter, if it helps.
  • Sign this petition asking the DOJ to file an injunction preventing the Electoral College from voting until an investigation is complete.
  • Find and join a protest.
  • Tell everyone, and I mean everyone, about your concerns. Bring it up in line at the grocery store. Tell your friends on FB and twitter. Use your First Amendment rights. We may not have them for long.
  • Share this post. However you want to share it, share it. Educate. Make sure people understand this isn’t about party politics. This is about the autonomy of our government and democracy itself.

We, the People, are the strength of this nation. We are this nation. The Trumps and the Bannons don’t own it yet. But make no mistake, if they gain control, they will treat it like they own it, with a disregard for the law and the Constitution this country has never seen.

Let’s shed our sadness and rock our warrior spirits.

Loser of the Election? Democracy

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rip-democracyYes, I’m going to talk about the election. This transcends politics. This transcends where you fall on the scale, red or blue or for you middle-grounders, purple. This transcends budget squabbles.

This election was about democracy. And democracy lost.

Most of us spent yesterday reeling over the concept that voters endorsed virulent hatred. Virulent hatred got the government stamp of approval. Hello open discrimination, goodbye even the veil of politeness. And that was sickening.

If you don’t think that was sickening, or you think that disgust over someone enthusiastically accepting the support of the kkk* and nazis* is nothing to get worked up over, this is where we part ways. Feel free to unfollow my blog, and go live your existence smug with the thought that you can be free from the tyranny of being polite and treating others with respect.

If you’re still with me, or if that last sentence made your stomach twinge, and you now understand what you’ve done, then stay with me. And commit to your own growth.

And so we continue.

How Trump won exposes the naked contempt of the GOP for the very fabric of our Constitution. Voting is a fundamental right, and yet, after the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court — at the behest of members of the GOP — states were free to enact the kinds of laws specifically designed to stop certain voters from exercising that fundamental right.

You know who used to use those laws to prevent people from voting?

The kkk.

You know who utilized those laws to capture the electoral college while losing the popular vote?

The candidate supported by the kkk.

But the responsibility lies with the GOP itself, as it also used redistricting to minimize the likelihood of Democratic candidates winning the majority of districts while increasing their share of Representatives. Instead, the GOP created incredibly strangely shaped districts to increase the odds of GOP wins in the majority, while concentrating Democratic votes in others. Some of the biggest offenders?

Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

Those states ringing a bell?

Add to that North Carolina GOPers actually bragging about how they curbed the votes of black voters, and the success of their voter suppression tactics, and you might see what I mean.

No matter what your point of view, no matter how you feel about Social Security or defense spending or health care, if you believe in the Constitution, you have to support the right of everyone to choose their government.

Everyone.

Not just the people who vote like you. Because that is not a democracy, it is a power grab. It is a coup. It is a subversion of the will of the people all tied up with a heaping helping of authoritarianism.

This election proved that democracy is far more delicate than we realized, and the GOP hates it far more than we realized. Even now, peaceful protests, filled with citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights, are being characterized as “riots,” or, according to one terrifying man with too much authority, the protesters “radical anarchists.”

For exercising their First Amendment rights. And I hear this man is up for a cabinet position. As Director of Homeland Security. You know that branch of government that decides who constitutes a threat?

Chew on that.

And we haven’t even gotten to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s involvement in the election, which Russian officials just confirmed.

So here we are, at the mouth of the tunnel to a very, very dark place. We have lost control of the “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” And we may never get it back.

 

 

*[Refusal to capitalize kkk et.al. is not a typo but an editorial choice.]