Huge Corporation Attempts To Censor One-Woman Feminist Play

thatswhatshesaid

Once again, copyright is used by wealthy corporations to censor independent artists – and in this case, to muzzle a feminist critique of the most powerful and popular playwrights in the country.

From a review of the experimental play Thatswhatshesaid:

[Playwright Courtney Meaker] compiled lines from only the female characters in American Theater’s list of the 11 most-produced plays of the 2014—2015 season. Only two of these plays were written by women. According to Meaker’s script, these plays contain 74 total roles, 34 of which were written for women. Of those 34 roles, 28 were written by men. […]

Meaker splits the hour-long play into two acts. In Act I, she presents the lines and stage directions written by men. In Act II, she presents the lines and stage directions written by women. Each scene is composed of lines thematically bound by behaviors the culture polices the most in women. We see woman as sex object and temptress. Woman as angel. Woman as angry witch. The girl, the woman-hating woman, the woman who asks questions and apologizes for everything.

You get the big-picture point pretty early: society forces women to conform to certain harmful and paradoxical gender stereotypes, and America’s most popular plays reflect those stereotypes. Playwrights perpetuate the patriarchy by creating roles for women that reduce them to one version or another of male fantasy or fear, and playhouses make sure those plays have a home.

So it’s a play that remixes parts of 11 plays into a new play with an entirely different message, for the purpose of satire and commentary. That certainly sounds like “fair use” to me – and, more importantly, like the sort of political commentary and experimental art that shouldn’t be censored. I don’t think the law says Thatswhatshesaid should be censored – but if that is what the law says, then the law is pro-censorship and wrong.

(Incidentally, my fellow musical theater fans, the only musical among the 11-most-produced is “Into The Woods.”)1

But Samuel French, the theatrical publishing company which publishes Bad Jews and a few other plays quoted in Thatswhatshesaid, doesn’t see it that way, and about an hour before the show’s opening sent a cease-and-desist notice, demanding the play be stopped. And then Bruce Lazerus, the executive director of Samuel French, left a legally threatening message on Erin Pike’s voicemail, promising to “go after” not only Pike, but also “the presenter and the theater and all the folks connected to it.”:

The venue, understandably not wanting to be sued, told Pike that if Pike defied the C&D they wouldn’t allow the performance to go on. Pike went on anyway, after playing Lazerus’ voicemail to the audience – but mimed all the parts from Bad Jews, while an offstage voice shouted “redacted.” It sounds like a memorable night of theater.

And then came a second cease and desist letter from Samuel French, this time over The Whipping Boy – a play that, due to having no female characters, is never once quoted in Thatswhatshesaid.

Aaargh.

A few points.

1) It’s interesting that a feminist critique of a male-dominated art form, is being treated this way. It’s an illustration of how the power of wealth and the power of male dominance often work together – in this case, they’re virtually indistinguishable.

2) I wish I could comment more on the feminist message of Thatswhatshesaid, but I can’t really, because I haven’t seen it. Pike has said that there will be a video, but that was before Samuel French began making legal threats, so now: who knows? If the end result of this is that the play isn’t made available on video, then Samuel French will have succeeded in censoring Thatswhatshesaid.

3) There’s very little question that this falls under “fair use.” The eleven plays (ten, if we don’t count The Whippping Boy) are being substantively transformed.

4) In Blanch v. Koons – Koons, a painter, was sued by the photographer Andrea Blanch, because he used one of her photos in one of his paintings – Koons’ affidavit said:2

My paintings are not about objects or images that I might invent, but rather about how we relate to things that we actually experience. .. Therefore, in order to make statements about contemporary society and in order for the artwork to be valid, I must use images from the real world. I must present real things that are actually in our mass consciousness.

The ruling, which was in Koons’ favor, said:

The painting’s use does not “supersede” or duplicate the objective of the original, but uses it as raw material in a novel context to create new information, new aesthetics, and new insights. Such use, whether successful or not artistically, is transformative.

That seems very applicable to the case at hand.

4) But it probably won’t matter, because it’s unlikely that anyone involved with Thatswhatshesays has the financial means to allow themselves to be sued if there’s any alternative. Which is the fundamental corruptness of the copyright system – for pragmatic purposes, very often the right of fair use is worthless, because very often the cases involve people with truckloads of money threatening to sue people with none.

  1. A blast of facts from Matthew Everett’s very helpful review: “The most produced plays last year were: Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang; Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley; Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon; Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz; Around the World In 80 Days, adapted by Mark Brown and Toby Hulse from the novel by Jules Verne; Peter and the Starcatcher, adapted by Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson; The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez; Into The Woods, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; Venus In Fur by David Ives. The two women who break into the top 11 are: Nina Raine’s play Tribes, which I wrote about on “Alas” back in March; and Amy Herzog’s play 4,000 Miles. From these 11 plays, there were 74 roles total. 31 of these roles were written for women. Of the 31 female roles, six were written for women by women.” []
  2. I came across Blanch v Koons in this article by Brian Boucher. []
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Celebrating Mary Robinette’s Glamourist Histories

I wanted to make a post celebrating Mary Robinette’s Glamourist Histories because it is one of the few more-than-three-book series that I’ve read to the end. Actually, all of those series ended last year, so I was going to do tributes to all of them. I still may, but I wanted to start with Mary Robinette because this is her birthday.

So, in honor of Mary Robinette’s birthday, I present a short post about the book.. and some fan art.

The Glamourist Histories take place in an Austen-inspired world where it’s possible to weave illusions out of the ether. The protagonist, Jane (as a nod to Austen), is quite a skilled glamourist, but women’s dabbling in glamour is considered frivolous. Jane is set up in a similar position to the protagonist of Pride & Prejudice — and sure enough an arrogant nobleman shows up. He is one of the most talented glamourists in England, and while he is initially grumpy toward Jane, they eventually follow the P&P path, fall in love, and get married.

One thing that’s true of all the series that I have continued to the end is that the books often improve over the course of the series. Sometimes the first book is still the strongest, but the second book probably isn’t weak, and the third book might be even better than the first. (For me, the real dealbreaker with a series is if the books go constantly downhill, no matter how high the starting point.)

One of the things I like best about the Glamourist Histories in particular is how much the setting, characters, and voice developed over the course of the series. For me, book one was fun, but so heavily like Austen that she seemed to loom over the story. Book two was a radical departure, taking these Austen-like characters and Austen-like setting and shaping them into new things. It’s not that the series loses the sense of or tribute to Austen. It just gains its own charm.

Over the series of the novels, the theme of pride and prejudice continues to be explored. Jane must face a series of prejudices (beginning with prejudice against the Irish, which seems quaint to us now, but.) until, in the final book, she end up at an Antigua plantation owned by her husband’s family. (Spoilers on the treatment of race in rot13: Fur’f abg n juvgr fnivbe. Fur’f n juvgr nffvfgnag, naq n juvgr trnef-ternfre, ohg fur’f abg gur juvgr ynql jub pnzr va gb fnir gur urycyrff fynirf.) In real life, I respect Mary Robinette for her dedication to making our own world better; Jane, too, is learning about her world so that she can dismantle her prejudices and help people where she can.

In a way, the progression of the books can be read as a criticism of Austen–after all, Austen’s heroines are firmly rooted where they are, when they are–and especially in what class they are. I see criticisms of Austen from time to time essentially asking why the ladies from P&P etc. don’t go work in a hat shop or as ladies’ maids because clearly their concerns are frivolous. (I don’t have the feeling that men’s narratives of wanting to succeed are treated the same way, but maybe I’m wrong.) I don’t read the series that way, however. I think this is one of the ways where Mary Robinette is adding her own perspective to Austen’s, thus making it her own. Austen was writing social commentary on her time, within her time, and within those constraints–both physical and ideological. Mary Robinette’s character Jane gains exceptional freedom to travel and move between social circles which would almost certainly not have been available to Austen’s heroines.

The social commentary in the books is also modern. It should be. The books are modern. Mary Robinette is writing social commentary on our time, set in Austen’s.

I’ve looked forward to getting a new Glamourist History on my kindle every year for a while now, and I’ll be sorry to let them go, although there’s a stipulation at the end of the last book suggesting there might be further adventures from Jane in the future. I hope there are.

I’ll close with one my favorite memories relating to the series: When the first book, Shades of Milk & Honey, was nominated for the Nebula Award, Mary Robinette attended the ceremony in a beautiful, handmade regency gown with period undergarments. How cool is that?

Now, some fan art: Jane Austen enjoys reading Of Noble Family.

Austen reads Kowal

(I’m learning what I can do with Paper with my new stylus, so that’s why there are like 8 different techniques in there. Her face is based on the famous portrait. The tea pot and tea cup are shaped like things I found when I google image searched “regency tea pot/cup” and the regency wallpaper was inspired by a similar search.

Not pictured: Karen Joy Fowler’s Jane Austen’s Book Club, waiting by her bedside for a cozy reread.)

Source: Rachel Swirsky’s blog

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Breitbart Lies About The Minimum Wage Closing An LA Walmart

breitbart-walmart

Breitbart is being deceptive, which is harmful because it’s a hugely popular website that many people trust.

1) Nothing in the article supports the claim that Walmart shut down this store due to either the minimum wage or “union harassment.” That seems to be entirely made up.

2) This is one of 269 Walmarts being shut down, including over 100 “Walmart Express” stores (the smallest format of Walmart), plus a bunch of Walmart “Neighborhood Markets,” which are smaller than a regular Walmart (i.e., they’re as big as a large supermarket). The Walmart in LA’s Chinatown, which is what the Breitbart article is about, is one of their “Neighborhood Markets.”

Since many of these closures are in states with weak unions and low minimum wages, Breitbart’s headline is nonsense.

Most of those 269 Walmarts aren’t in areas where the minimum wage is being raised to $15. For example, 9 of the closing Wal-Marts are in Alabama, 16 are in North Carolina, and 29 are in Texas; in all those states the minimum wage is $7.25, the floor set by Federal law.

3) So why did Walmart close those stores? Mainly, it appears that they’ve made a strategic decision to phase out smaller Wal-Marts. And secondly, weak holiday profits in the entire retail sector probably figured into their decision.

4) There is a real problem here, which is that once that Walmart closes, the Chinatown neighborhood won’t have a full-size supermarket. The city should try to get another supermarket – and hopefully a better supermarket – to open in that neighborhood, if necessary offering tax breaks.

5) Because a relatively high number of Chinatown residents earn at or near the minimum wage, a supermarket in that neighborhood could benefit from a rising minimum wage, due to shoppers in the neighborhood having more spending money. I’m not denying that there’s a cost to employers of higher minimum wages, but often MW opponents focus only on the costs and ignore the benefits.

6) Empirical evidence shows that the minimum wage has virtually no effect on unemployment. Or at least, no measurable effect. (Pdf link.) That doesn’t mean that no marginal businesses have ever had to lay off workers because the minimum wage went up; but in the overall economy, those businesses are replaced by other businesses that are able to function while paying reasonable wages.

7) On the other hand, $15 an hour is a big jump – bigger than the jumps existing evidence has looked at. Maybe a nationwide $15 an hour minimum wage would lead to higher unemployment. But for now, only self-selected areas are going to $15 an hour – and in those areas, the limited evidence suggests $15 an hour is sustainable. But the existing data is limited; we’ll be able to answer the question much better five years from now.

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2015 Science Fiction and Fantasy Graphic Novel Recommendations, part one: The Sculptor and Beautiful Darkness

(Note: This post is by Ampersand. The other posts along these lines you’ve seen recently are by Mandolin.)

These are some of the fantasy and sf graphic novels I’ve read which came out in 2015. I haven’t read every sf/f graphic novel that came out in 2015, obviously, but these are ones I read and thought were stand-outs. I’m also just focusing on comics that were published as bound volumes in 2015, because that’s the medium I prefer to read comics in; there are some wonderful webcomics and floppy comics that I haven’t read.


mccloud-sculptor-coverThe Sculptor, by Scott McCloud.

(Disclosure: Scott McCloud is a friend. But The Sculptor is one of my favorite books of the year, and I’m positive I would be recommending it even if I’d never met Scott.)

An art-obsessed Twilight Zone love story, The Sculptor is about an unsuccessful young sculptor who makes a deal with Death to create immortal art… but of course, a deal with Death carries a price.

The Sculptor is one of those stories that takes a concept – in this case, devoting one’s life to art – and the story comes back, agan and again, to examining that question from many angles. This is an approach that McCloud relied heavily on in his years-ago superhero series Zot!, and that I also associate with science fiction novels like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge. I really enjoy this form of storytelling.

mccloud-sculptor-107One of the things I like best about The Sculptor is that it tells its story, and examines its themes, without spelling everything out for the reader. For example, the main character, David, gives up everything to be an artist – but McCloud leaves it up to the reader to decide if David’s art is any good. (Within the story, some art-educated characters like David’s work, others are not impressed.) The two main characters – David and Meg – are well-developed and very rounded. When she first appears in David’s life, Meg can seem like she’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but that impression is unfair; one hallmark of the MPDG is that she seems to have no life outside of trying to improve the male main character’s life, and that’s definitely not the case here.

The Sculptor has terrific art; McCloud’s drawings are human and warm (despite the chilly blue color palette), and his environments are especially well drawn, making the various New York City locations seem real and complete. More importantly, McCloud is a master storyteller, and his layouts are devoted first and foremost to crystal-clear storytelling. But when the story requires innovative layouts, McCloud more than rises to the occasion. (There’s a sequence in which someone’s life passes before their eyes which is particularly stunning.)


BEAUT_DARK_cover-fullBeautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet, translated from the French by Helge Sascher.

Beautiful Darkness is sort of like “Lord of the Flies” starring all of Tinker Bell’s fairy friends.

The story begins with a bunch of adorable fairy-like creatures crawling out of the corpse of a young girl, which is lying on a forest floor. We don’t know what happened to the girl – murder? Freak accident? Heart attack? – but it doesn’t matter, because the girl’s corpse is just part the setting; the story belongs to the fairies, who are woefully unprepared for surviving in the material world.

Most of the little fairies don’t seem to have much personality or emotional depth, to the point that they seem indifferent to each other’s deaths (and those deaths happen frequently). In most books that would be a flaw, but in Beautiful Darkness it seems intentional. My interpretation – and this is only my interpretation, the book would easily support other readings – is that the fairies are characters from stories the girl made up, who somehow escaped into the real world upon the girl’s death. A few of the characters were the girl’s major protagonists or villains, and those characters have more personality; in particular, the main character, Aurora, goes through amazing development and changes as the story goes on. Most of the other fairies were simple background characters, and act like it.

beautiful_pg28(About that name, “Aurora”: Early in the book, we see that the dead girl had a notebook with “Aurora” handwritten on the cover. I interpreted this as the book the girl wrote stories about Aurora in, but I’ve seen other people suggest that the girl’s name was Aurora, and that the fairy Aurora is named that because she represents the girl’s idealized self-image. Another possibility is that the fairy just named herself “Aurora” on the spot when she saw the notebook cover.)

This book is brutal, ambiguous, incredibly original, and stuck with me a long time after reading it.

The artwork is excellent; Kerascoet (a pen name for a married pair of cartoonists, Marie Pommepuy and Sebastien Cosset) switches between a loose, airy cartoon style for the fairy-like creatures and impressive fully-painted realism for the big humans. (I’d find that sort of fully-painted realism heavy-handed and oppressive for a full comic, but here – used in brief passages interspersed throughout the book – it’s very effective at making the humans seem alien and often a bit threatening, and also quite beautiful to look at).

Representation watch: Beautiful Darkness passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors; the main character is a girl, as are nearly all important characters. If The Sculptor passes the Bechdel test, it’s just by a hair. All the characters in Beautiful Darkness appear to be white; in The Sculptor, the major characters are all white and straight, but there some supporting characters are people of color, and others are gay.

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2015 Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Recommendations

This list is not comprehensive. It’s just a dash of things I liked.

This year, there were a number of novels that I found interesting, but also think I was an audience mismatch for. The books carry significant emotional weight through passions that I’ve never been particularly interested in: Silvia Moreno Garcia (vintage vinyl), Elizabeth Bear (westerns), Ken Liu (military strategy), Cat Valente (Hollywood glamour).I still enjoyed the books, though I think some of them faired better in the face of my ignorance than others. But they’re all interesting and I think the right audience will find them particularly compelling.

Astonishing

The Fifth Season* by N. K. Jemisin – I think this is one of my new favorite books. It takes place in the same world as last year’s short story, “Stone Hunger,” a really compelling setting where frequent apocalyptic events have forced humans to operate in a perpetual wary state, with stores of grain and preparations for martial law always at the ready. Among the population, there are magic-workers who can manipulate stone. They are blamed for the apocalypses and persecuted. One thing I really love about this story is the detailed layers of dead civilizations, where some were developed and technological and have left such ruins, while later ones operate on wildly different aesthetics and technological capabilies. The story is divided in three broad timelines/perspectives–one a young girl being enslaved to the empire because of her magic ability, one a magic worker laboring in service of the empire, and one a magic worker fleeing an apocalypse that has ruined her home town. The threads are brought together beautifully and intelligently in a way that makes it clear that each prior move has been deliberate. The book reminds me a bit of some Octavia Butler, like Parable of the Sower, which looks with an unsentimental eye at how humans react to instability and apocalypse. It also reminds me of Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet which also has beings that manipulate the elements and resonances in terms of tone and plot development (it’s a sad series, but I recommend it). I see Nora as one of the most important novelists working in contemporary sf/f.

 

Recommended

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard – In this setting, gods and magical beings inhabit the world. Around World War I, a magical disaster caused an apocalypse. The city of Paris has been mostly destroyed, overrun by gangs, and under the control of houses run by fallen angels. This is a very delicate novel with lots of intricate descriptions and observation. The world building is an unusual combination of fantasy and historical strains. (I admit the angel houses feel pretty similar to vampire houses, which some readers may not prefer.) It feels to me, in a way, like a very pretty snow globe, a sort of small scene of enclosed beauty. Along with those things, though, it felt like the thematic resonance of the story wasn’t too deep or broad; there was sort of a skimming feeling for me, particularly in regard to the characters. I never wholly felt emotionally immersed by them. I wonder now how the book would fare written if the main voice was from a different character, or if another perspective character had been added.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant* by Seth Dickinson – The daughter of a colonized people joins the empire’s ruling ranks in order to destroy it from within and avenge her people. In pursuit of the power she needs to do so, she must participate in the oppression of other peoples and do things that radically violate her conscience. Additionally, the empire, while in favor of some things our culture considers progressive like gender equality, is perniciously homophobic, killing or maiming those discovered participating in homosexual behavior. The main character, being a lesbian, must constantly work to conceal herself. This is an epic fantasy, largely concerned with politics and war, but anchored in the perspective of a single, dogged character. Baru Cormorant isn’t particularly likeable, but her ambition and determination carry the story. At times, the story did lag for me, and I wasn’t entirely convinced by the long time cuts. I was also personally more interested in the empire and its strange world building than I was in the politics of the nation where she ends up, which looked more like things I’d seen before. This is a smart book. (Side note: I referenced Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet in conjunction with N. K. Jemisin’s Fifth Season (my favorite novel this year). Dickinson’s Cormorant doesn’t particularly resonate with the Jemisin directly, but it does resonate with the Long Price Quartet. Maybe I should interview Abraham and/or write about those books sometime soon. I think Baru Cormorant also resonates with Hurley’s God’s War.)

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Meche returns from Oslo to her hometown, Mexico City, for her father’s funeral. While there, she confronts memories of her teenage dabbling with magic which led to her hurting a friend she loved which set them both on lonely paths. Meche is obsessed with vintage vinyl. I was oblivious to the meaning of most of the music referents–which are the conduit for her magic, and the underpinning of her relationship with her father. However, I thought the book bore up well even robbed of those tools. The characterization is detailed over slow, meticulous scenes. Many of the turns were unexpected. Where I broke with the book is that I found Meche an extremely unpleasant character. I think the reader was supposed to see her that way, but perhaps I felt more strongly than I was expected to. Spoilers in rot 13: V sbhaq gur jnl gur bgure punenpgref sbetnir ure gb or ovmneer. Gur obbx frrzf gb or qenjvat gbjneq n gehr ybir pbapyhfvba, ohg V jnf zbfgyl yvxr “ab, guvf vf n onq vqrn, V pnaabg ebbg sbe guvf ng nyy.” Znlor gur obbx vf n pevgvpvfz bs gur vqrn bs sngrq ybir, naq n qrfpevcgvba bs ubj nohfvir crbcyr qenj crbcyr gb gurz? Vs vg jnf, V qvqa’g trg bireg fvtanyf sebz gur grkg gung guvf jnf gur vagragvba. Znlor V jnf ernqvat vg guebhtu na vanccebcevngr traer yraf.  Anyway, the novel is interesting.

Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman – A xenoethnologist travels on an expedition to explore a planet that’s at a locus of unstable space where gravity doesn’t work as it should. They discover a lost diasporic group of humans underground, forcing the main character into an unexpected, unprepared-for first contact situation. (A second main character is making a study of consciousness and has some really interesting passages.) This was really interesting in a good traditional science fiction space opera way, lots of shifting from interesting idea to interesting idea. Carolyn’s prose keeps the story moving while knowing when to dwell on a pretty image (such as a disturbing, distorted forest of reflections and knife-like crystal leaves). It’s an effortless read because of Carolyn’s skill. The story lagged a bit for me in places, but overall, I was really into its ideas and explorations. I even wish Carolyn had gone further into the physics which is rare for me. Stipulation: a Muslim-inspired culture is abstracted into a symbol for patriarchy.*

Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal – Mary Robinette’s series the Glamourist Histories takes place in a Jane Austen-inspired world. The heroine, herself name Jane, can work magic by weaving folds in the ether. Her husband, Vince, who once filled the prideful (of pride and prejudice) role, is a magic-worker by profession. Of Noble Family is the fifth book in the series and, I am disappointed to discover, the last planned for now (although the ending is left open to possible future volumes). It takes place on an Antigua plantation. The book and series are worth more unpacking than a thumbnail review. I wouldn’t recommend that readers jump into book 5, but I wanted to mark it as one of the books I most enjoyed reading this year, and also to recognize the series as a whole. If the pitch sounds interesting to you, go start with the first, Shades of Milk and Honey. (Though I will note that this is the rare series that I think improves over the course of the first few books.)

King of Shards by Matthew Kressel – Daniel is one of the Lamed Vav, the righteous people who uphold the world in some mystical versions of Judaism. No one –including the pillars themselves — know who the lamed vav are, until a demon finds a list and begins killing them one by one in order to destroy the earth. Before she can kill Daniel, he’s rescued by an opposing demon, who kidnaps him down into the lower worlds — broken shards from God’s previous creations where there are different physical laws. Daniel himself was a tepid character for me (not in a terrible way, just in a transparent-lens way), but many of the other characters are dramatically interesting. My favorite thing about the book though was the world-building of the shards–Matt does these really interesting, creepy city and landscape things, with unusual imagery that sticks in the mind. There were a couple of typical fantasy tropes which appeared which I wasn’t interested in (I’ve decided I’m sick of harem slavery as a threat), and I also hope that (spoilers in rot13) gur perngbe tbqqrff, jub jnf gur zbfg vagrerfgvat punenpgre, jvyy or oebhtug onpx gb yvsr va gur arkg be yngre obbxf. The book is obviously of interest in the conversation about Jewish science fiction and fantasy, but it’s also a rewarding read with beautiful settings.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Our main character has grown up in a small village that exists in the shadow of, and under the protection of, the wizard’s tower. Every ten years, the wizard selects a girl to be his servant. This year, he picks our main character. She doesn’t know what to expect from him, but becomes his apprentice. (Later, she also becomes his lover, which was a little bit sketchy for me, but possibly only because I was reading the book as young adult.) It’s a fun, brightly written book, that is crafted with extreme skill within the territory it stakes out. The structure is well-done; the plotting is well-done; everything’s good. For me, it didn’t reach beyond that to something exciting, which is what I need for a book to be one of my favorites–but good, smart fun is good, smart fun, and I admire the execution. A good, appealing read. (Also, I think it did reach beyond that to something exciting for many readers.)

Beasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo – Cat Rambo has written about Tabat in numerous short stories. In the beautiful city of Tabat, sentients from non-human races are property, routinely lobotomized and treated as slaves. Beasts of Tabat is told via dual POV: Teo, a child and a non-human shapeshifter finding his way through the city while destitute, and Bella, a famous and wealthy gladiator who fights on behalf of winter every year in their annual games to see if spring can come early (under her tenure, it never has). One of the great virtues of this book is the detail in which Cat has laid out her city. Teo admires it, but Bella is in love with it, and that love is infectious. The city itself is interesting, and I find the plot about rights for non-humans compelling; it’s the sort of thing I’m natively interested in. Many of the interludes are really interesting: I love one where Teo stays with a photographer, and I also love Bella’s politically radical cousin a lot. At a few points, the book did lag a little for me. The ending is disappointing because it’s so abruptly cliffhangery, but it is an effective teaser. (After my mother read it, she wrote me to lament that she’d have to wait for the next installment to find out what happened.)

 

Thoughts

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear – In a steampunk wild west, soiled doves (with the help of a marshal and his backup) fend off an evil sadist who wants to take over the city. I think people frustrated with the portrayal of race (and gender) in typical westerns will like this. I’ve never had a particular interest in westerns which makes me suspect I’m not the ideal reader for the book and that readers who are will like this even more than I did. I enjoyed reading the book: great voice, interesting historical stuff, and characters developed in interesting ways–I just wasn’t personally interested in the plot.

Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi – Stipulation: I didn’t finish this, but I want to, and will probably go back. A depressing (well it IS Paolo) story of water rights in the west where California and Las Vegas monopolize the water supply, destroying cities like Phoenix. The prose is sharp with perfect diction, and the ideas are compelling. I had trouble with immersion and emotionally relating to the characters–I had the same problem with Windup Girl. Paolo’s young adult novels feel much more vivid for me for some reason. I don’t think I’m the right audience for this book (though I’m sure I will get interesting things from it), so I set it aside.

Grace of Kings by Ken Liu – Stipulation: I didn’t finish this, but I want to, and will probably go back. Another book that I don’t think I was the right audience for. This book tells a broad scale, epic story of political machinations and war. The setting is derived from Chinese history instead of western European. Some of the descriptions are strikingly gorgeous as one would expect from Ken. His description of the emperor’s pagoda, for instance, is an image that hangs in my mind. The story involves a lot of points of view, and with the volume, I started to get confused. That, combined with my relative lack of interest in military strategy, make me a poor reader for this novel. Readers who like to sink their teeth into those things should definitely pick this up.

Radiance by Cat Valente – Stipulation: I didn’t finish this, but I want to, and will probably go back. (Side note: great cover.) Presumably based on a Clarkesworld short story, “The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew.” This is the one I really wish I’d finished. I didn’t put it aside on purpose: it was the last book I picked up, and I just ran out of A) time, and B) brainpower for dealing with novels. This novel takes place in an old-fashioned science fictional solar system where there are flowers on Pluto and oceans on Venus. A new Hollywood on the moon makes silent movies with title cards and raccoon-eyed makeup. The language is dense, disjunctive, and often gorgeous–I’m not sure it always works in service of the story, but I think I’d have to finish the book to fully make up my mind on how it functions in context. I do think the book would be enhanced by an interest in old Hollywood which I don’t particularly have. The novel is definitely unusual and ambitious.

*Because I’m sure someone will ask–and because there seems to be this persistent strain of thought from anti-feminists that feminists are a-ok with patriarchy in Islam–my objection to this is not to acknowledging patriarchal oppression in some Islamic cultures. It is that patriarchy includes more than Islam, and Islam includes more than patriarchy. Using one as a symbol to point to the whole of the other results in simplification, rather than deepening understanding. The history of equating these things amplifies the effect that gestures in this direction will have, thus making it even trickier to navigate in fiction.

Footnote one: Occasionally, I get confused about what year something comes out in, and end up reading something from the previous year for consideration. This year, it was Lock In by John Scalzi. This fun murder mystery about robots and revolutionary politics was really cool, and possibly my favorite of Scalzi’s book so far (I’d need to reread a coupe of the earlier ones). I like murder mysteries, but am usually dissatisfied by the way they are rendered in science fiction and fantasy. So that’s a double bonus for me. So, yeah — yay for Lock In, courtesy of 2014.

Footnote two: Spoilers involving the discussion that’s happened around The Fifth Season and The Traitor Baru Cormorant in rot13, particularly for people who are sensitive around queer issues: V haqrefgnaq gung crbcyr ner fvpx bs gentvp dhrrearff, naq obgu gurfr obbxf srngher vg, rfcrpvnyyl Pbezbenag. Vs crbcyr qba’g jnag gb cerff ba gung oehvfr (nf Nzny fnvq vg) naq jbhyq cersre gb nibvq gur obbxf sbe gung ernfba, gung znxrf gbgny frafr gb zr. Ubjrire, V qba’g guvax gung gentvp dhrrearff fubhyq or bss gur gnoyr nf n qrivpr. V whfg guvax gung, yvxr encr, vg fubhyq or eraqrerq qryvorengryl (nf bccbfrq gb whfg vapyhqrq sbe ynmvarff), gubhtugshyyl (jvgu erfrnepu naq pbagrzcyngvba), naq jryy (orpnhfr qryvpngr guvatf arrq gb or qbar jryy). V gubhtug gur obbxf cnffrq gubfr zrgevpf.

Source: Rachel Swirsky’s blog

Posted in Mandolin, Recommended Reading, Reviews and Criticism | Tagged | Leave a comment  

2015 Recommendations for Young Adult and Middle Grade SF/F Novels

(I was reading this year for the Norton Award. For those who don’t know, the Norton Award is given annually by SFWA (alongside the Nebulas, although it is technically not a Nebula award) to a young adult or middle grade novel that has science fiction or fantasy themes. This year, I read about seventy-five young adult and middle grade novels that met the criteria. Some I solicited and some I bought, but most were review copies or ARCs sent by publishers for the jury to consider.)

As always, I didn’t have a chance to read everything I wanted to (although I got a lot closer with this category than I have in previous years). And because of the way I organized my reading, there are some books around the house which are by friends  and by people whose writing I’ve enjoyed in the past, which I still haven’t read. Also, as always, there are more wonderful things than I can possibly do justice when writing a single post.

Take My Breath Away

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (young adult) – After seeing his good friend Rosza kidnapped by a mysterious man, Finn is viewed with suspicion by his small rural town which thinks he’s lying about what happened. I can’t do justice to the plots and characters in this book with a short review; they are so intelligent and unusual. Brushing in a few points: Finn’s girlfriend is an exceptional character. I was impressed by the sustained emotional strength of Rosza’s perspective during the chapters in which she is imprisoned, and doubly impressed by the way Ruby writes about sexual abuse and trauma in a pragmatic, realistic, non-romanticized or -eroticized way. (It strikes me that people who liked that about Jessica Jones will likely find interesting parallels here.) Finn himself is an excellent, unusual character, with a very different voice than Rosza’s. Finn is also rendered with an intelligent eye toward avoiding stereotypes of men–for instance, he seeks creative solutions instead of using violence as a first resort. My favorite piece was how deep his friendship was with Rosza, even though it wasn’t romantic. I could write at length about that if I were inclined and willing to include spoilers. Anyway, this is a smart book with absolutely beautiful prose, intelligent storytelling, strong imagery, unusual characters, and an unpredictable, thoughtful plot. It’s not structured perfectly, but it’s excellence on other points drowns that minor objection.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (young adult) – This story is told from the alternating perspectives of two young women, one a prisoner and the other a ballerina. Their lives are tied together by a third young woman–Ori, also called the “bloody ballerina.” Once, Ori and the ballerina main character were friends, but after Ori was convicted for murder, she was plucked from her dancer’s life and put into the prisoner’s cell. Both perspective characters love Ori, but the way they treat people is very different. This ghost story works because of the close, detailed characterization of the two point of view characters. Their similar traits and similar drives are initially masked by differences in their accents and attitudes, but slowly revealed as the tension rises. The two unreliable narrators do their best to obfuscate, forcing the reader to almost fight against them as they read, trying to get a clearer picture of events. Ori is never seen in herself, always pinging back and forth between the idealization of first one main character and then the other, a sort of pixie dream girl concocted by their mutual imaginations. The whole book is a game of secrets–characters lying to themselves, others, history–disposable lies, treasured lies–events that are hidden, or misportrayed, or misunderstood. My mental image of the book is of looking at a beautiful nighttime scene through misted glass, watching as it slowly, mostly clears. The prose is gorgeous. The audio recording is excellent, too.

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (young adult) – This was a fragile, dreamlike sort of novel that I have trouble keeping altogether in my head–pieces of it seem to slip away, and other pieces are vivid images, disjointed. That’s pretty apropos given the subject of the book, which is about a fairy changeling inhabiting the body of a constructed doll which has been set in the place of a kidnapped girl. At first, she does not know who or what she is, and the book follows her confused emergence from what she thinks is a “fever.” It soon becomes apparent that her confusion is more than a mild physical ailment, but a magical problem–her first clue is an eerie scene where porcelain dolls try to attack her. The Victorian mood and setting details enhance the story, evoking older children’s stories where adults and children are in different spheres. Despite that barrier, the relationships between the family members were a great element of the book: the doggedly loving (if necessarily clueless) parents, often a rarity in YA, and the strong relationship between sisters. The novel’s mood and characterization are excellent, and the language remarkably lovely.

Some Favorites

Wonders of the Invisible World by Chris Barzak (young adult) – When Aidan’s childhood best friend returns to town, Aidan doesn’t recognize him. Then, he does. As a sort of forgetting spell tatters, he learns about pieces of his life he’s forgotten, magic he can do and has seen done, his family history, and secret worlds. The characterization is slow and detailed, drawing each character in a carefully observed way. Language is honed to convey characters’ moods and thoughts through their descriptions, speech, and word choice, giving the book a subtle and layered texture. For me, the book was too bulky in sections, and I think a trimmer version could have retained the intricate characters while eliminating some repetition.

Fallout: Lois Lane by Gwenda Bond (young adult) – I rarely read tie-in novels as an adult, but this is an example of how good the genre can be. In Fallout, Lois Lane–a high school student reporter with a record for being resistant to authority–stakes out her own identity as a character. She’s driven and smart as she sets her sights on injustices and pursues them with vigor, regardless of physical danger. The little descriptions of the classrooms, clothing, and high school life place the reader strongly, and the technology in particular gives the old comic book world a new gloss. Writing that’s good, intelligent fun sometimes gets short shrift–and this is a great example of good, intelligent fun.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (young adult) – This strongly voiced historical novel tells the story of a young woman who can magically sense gold the way a dowser can magically sense water. Her parents know the talent is dangerous, but they haven’t disguised her abilities as well as they think they have–one day when the main character comes home, she finds her parents murdered. After their deaths, she’s pursued by their killer, who intends to use her talent for his own purposes. Dressing as a man to avoid capture, she travels west by covered wagon to join the gold rush. The characterization is good here, as are the main character’s voice, and the historical language and descriptions. The plot is tense, often on a razor’s edge as anyone who’s ever played Oregon Trail knows–anyone could die, anytime, of so, so many things. It felt a bit overwritten to me; I would have appreciated it more in a somewhat sleeker version. Also, for readers who are interested in such things, the speculative element is very light; the historical content is more dominant than the fantasy.

Hereville: How Mirka Caught a Fish by Barry Deutsch (middle grade) – I’ll stipulate here that Barry is a very good friend of mine so I’m not objective here at all. That said, I really adore the Hereville series which is about the magical adventures of Mirka, an eleven-year-old Hassidic Jewish girl who wants to wield swords and find monsters. Magic isn’t all the glamor and fun that adventurous Mirka wants it to be; instead, she finds herself in irritating tangles that magic only makes messier. In How Mirka Caught a Fish, she and her five year old sister, Layele, encounter a fish who has both the capacity to grant wishes–and a thirty-year grudge against their family. The book is warm and humorous, and this entry in the series has particular emotional depth as a marker on Mirka’s path to adulthood.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Gaudin (young adult) – Yael wants to kill Hitler. And yes, it is a good novel anyway. This novel presents an alternate timeline where Hitler won the war. Instead of extrapolating into the present day, Graudin chooses instead to write about the European resistance movement that would have followed Hitler’s rise to power. The book avoids the weird moralizing of most alternate universe and time travel Hitler-killer stories by being set where and when it is. Yael is a Holocaust victim seeking revenge in her immediate life; she isn’t relating to Hitler as an abstract symbol of evil. In the camps, Yael was subject to Nazi experiments which made her a shape-shifter–and the perfect person to assassinate Hitler. For various plot reasons (the novel’s action often stretches the probable, but not in a way that seems inconsistent with genre norms), in order to get close to Hitler she has to disguise herself as a motorcycle rider and win an important national race. Yael’s active, competent, stoic character provides a compelling point of view that keeps the discussion of motorcycle mechanics interesting. One of the most palpable joys of this novel is the sensory and setting descriptions of the cyclists’ journey across the continent. Wolf by Wolf is a great blend of fun and smart.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (middle grade) – The darned thing about graphic novels if you make them is that they take so long to draw. The nice thing about graphic novels if you read them is they take such a light, enjoyable time to peruse. (And are often rewarding on reread.) Nimona has an art style that looks effortless, but no doubt requires hours of intense labor–which I can breeze through in minutes. Nimona, a teenage girl, wants to be evil. Specifically, she wants to be a villain’s sidekick. She doesn’t have the same ethical barriers that he does, though, and he has to train her how to be a moral villain. There’s a strong backbone of story, and the characters are evocative and easy to empathize with. I got a bit teary eyed at the end. In addition to the emotional substance, there are also a lot of sly snickers, like scenes with Nimona and the villain watching a movie together.

Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon (middle grade) – This middle grade book is sprinkled with illustrations by the excellent, quirky, and hilarious artist/author. As a great fan of Ursula Vernon’s, I expect they are wonderful. However, I read a version without them, so my experience of the book was incomplete. As I read Castle Hangnail, I couldn’t help picturing an animated version. Perhaps Pixar? Oh, better yet, stop animation like Wallace and Grommit. The novel tells the story of a young girl who has come to take possession of Castle Hangnail, a villainous lair which is on the verge of being shut down if it cannot find a resident evil person to master it. She volunteers, but the staff suspect of her not really being a witch, which she isn’t. Her struggles to conceal her lack of a magical nature, while simultaneously performing feats of “magic,” ensue. The characters are distinct, colorful, and loveable. The humor is downright silly, but also sometimes sly, giving the narrative a hint of Roald Dahl edge. This book didn’t quite make it to “transcendent” for me, but it was pretty darn great.

Great Reads

Nomad by William Alexander (middle grade) – Sequel to Ambassador which I reviewed in last year’s list. It’s still “a contemporary and fanciful science fiction novel about a young American boy with Mexican parents who is chosen by a strange alien creature to become the ambassador for the earth”–only this time, instead of fumbling to learn what’s going on, he’s out in space negotiating with aliens. It’s still whimsical and fun, and still has a smart, caring main character who often solves problems with logic and empathy.

An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet (young adult) – Our main character, a young woman, lives in a town recently exhausted by war. Even her brother-in-law was claimed as a soldier, leaving her very pregnant sister alone, and making it difficult for them to manage the farm. Their troubles worsen when the main character discovers a “twisted” creature from some kind of fae-like dimension beyond ours. Where the two worlds touch, they spread contamination and destruction. The main character’s dogged attempts to save her farm in the face of supernatural dangers are interesting, but I was most interested in her relationship with her sister. I found the climax a little strained, and started to lose interest in the adventure plotline, but that’s common for me. Interesting world-building detail tucked in the background: it seems to be a post-apocalyptic setting.

Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly (young adult) – Tina brings her charming brand of humor to young adult novels with this story of a witch’s unwilling apprentice who has to balance life in servitude to an evil witch with A) her conscience, and B) high school. The main character and the voice are charming, and I enjoyed many of the background details about the world. It was a fun reading experience, but looking at it with a more critical eye, there were a number of gags I’d seen before, and the book invoked some stereotypes about high school. So, I have some complaints, but it was good fun.

Death Marked by Leah Cypess (young adult) – I really like Leah’s YA. I think I’ve had one of her books on my list almost every year. (I wrote about the first book in this series last year.) The sequel is about a young woman who is at the center of an anti-imperial resistance movement. (Now I’m starting to sound like Star Wars. Sorry.) Anyway, she’s a sorceress who has been trained in elaborate spellcasting techniques, but has no power of her own–only she can fight the empire with magic. In the previous book, she was learning about her place in the world while she lived among the assassins who, like her, opposed the empire. In this book, she has infiltrated the empire as one of its top students in magic. As she meets the people her revolution wants her to kill, she has to grapple with her conscience, knowing neither choice is clean. I think I liked this one better than the first which is rare for me. The scenes where the main character is learning magic are particularly interesting; I’m a sucker for those kinds of scenes in lots of books. Leah does secondary world, epic fantasy really well.

The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst (middle grade) – Sarah Beth Durst is a delightful writer who tackles different subjects and moods in almost every book. In The Girl Who Could Not Dream, she’s writing humorous urban fantasy for a middle grade audience. The main character can’t dream herself, but she comes from a family of people who collect, distill and sell dreams. Because she can’t dream, she has a special power: She can bring pieces of other people’s dreams to life. Sometimes that’s okay, such as when she brought forth her quirky and useful pet Monster. Other times… The story begins when someone wants to use her as a weapon, to bring those “other times” through into the world. A great, fun, funny adventure read, which I definitely recommend for bringing to kids who like magic and reading and silliness. I suspect it would overlap well with Harry Potter.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (young adult) – A dying teenage girl has a rare, undiagnosable disease, which is causing her to drown in the air. She’s in love with a boy, but they both know it’s doomed, the moreso as her symptoms get worse. She’s dreaming of sky cities, and coughing up feathers, and hearing birds talk to her. He finds a description of mythological sky cities populated by bird people. Though they dismiss the possibility, when the main character dies, she finds herself alive again among the city bird people, breathing freely for the first time in her life. The language is clever, with Headley’s skill at choosing the right words to be razors while others are sly and clever. The imagery is beautiful. The main character is melodramatic as hell, but has a right to be as a teenager with a fatal illness. She seemed very true to the kind of artsy, emotional teenagers I knew, although thankfully we weren’t tested by such extremity. I found myself much less interested when she went into the sky. I don’t know if that’s because the language changed (it wasn’t as sly or referential since her experiences were no longer earthbound), because I’m sometimes adventure-averse (I generally find characters more interesting), or because the two pieces just didn’t fit together (I may have impressed on the first part and not been ready to leave). The book didn’t work for me as a whole, but it was interesting.

Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kohrner-Stace (young adult) – This was among the first young adult novels I read this year,so I don’t remember it very sharply. I remember liking the main character, and also the world. The story moves through two major parts–one is a post-apocalyptic landscape in which the main character is a ghost catcher. (She has some really cool interactions with ghosts.) In the other, she enters the afterlife. The first sections were much more interesting to me; I was compelled by the mix of magic and post-apocalyptic signs. The ghost realm was nicely enough done, but seemed less unusual, and I found it a disappointment after the first, vivid setting.

Razorhurst by Justine Larbelestier (young adult) – The novel follows impoverished teens through a violent neighborhood in 1930s Australia. Great historical stuff, neat language, some really nice character moments. Moved a bit slowly for me, and I wasn’t interested in the main plot. I was much more interested in the speculative element which I hope is featured more strongly in the next book.

Source: Rachel Swirsky’s blog

Posted in Fiction, Mandolin, Recommended Reading, Reviews and Criticism | Tagged | 5 Comments  

My Problem With Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” (Spoilers)

the-hateful-eight-jennifer-jason-leigh

I saw “The Hateful Eight” and enjoyed it until the ending. Dana Stevens gets at what bugged me:

I can say no more without giving away several major twists, but let’s just say that symbolic retribution—a gift Tarantino loves to dole out to his historically oppressed subjects in individual goodie bags of justified violence—keeps eluding Daisy, even as she continues to embody the site of that retribution for others.

Okay, there’s some big spoilers beyond this point.

Continue reading

Posted in Popular (and unpopular) culture | 5 Comments  

I don’t care how the CEO of Marvel Comics spends his money

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It’s his money. When I order pizza, I don’t ask how the pizza delivery person plans to spend the tip. Why should I feel differently about comics?

Whether or not we buy products from people shouldn’t be a referendum on what those people do with their own money in their off-hours.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Free speech, censorship, copyright law, etc. | 34 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Pretty Taxi Edition

  1. The surprising success of Bernie Sanders’s insurgency should be a wake-up call to the Democratic establishment – Vox
    “But trying to foreclose any kind of meaningful contact with the voters or debate about party priorities, strategy, and direction was arrogant and based on a level of self-confidence about Democratic leaders’ political judgment that does not seem borne out by the evidence.”
  2. Federal Government Rules That Trans Woman are Entitled to Surgery Under Medicare | Advocate.com
  3. Balkinization: The Limits of Bernie Sanders’ Imagination
    For a real revolution, Sanders should be talking about amending the Constitution.
  4. Report: INS Raids on Central American Women and Children ‘Unconstitutional’
  5. Conservative Culture and the Fear of Reverse Racism | Mother Jones
    “But among whites, a majority believe that racism against blacks has improved so much—and reverse racism against whites has intensified so much—that today there’s literally more bias against whites than against blacks.”
  6. ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: The Iowa Primaries. Lessons on Gender Politics and Gender in Politics.
  7. Gynnya McMillen, 16, Dies In Juvenile Detention After She Refused To Remove Her Hoodie
    It’s impossible to tell from the report if this was a freak accident after the use of appropriate force (I do believe that it is reasonable for guards to search all prisoners) or if the force used was inappropriate. Nonetheless, clearly procedures for making sure she remained healthy in the hours after the violence had ended were either not followed or completely inadequate.
  8. Study Proves That Physics Teachers Tend to Give Girls Lower Grades Than Boys for the Exact Same Questions | Alternet
    However, the same study found that experience changes things; teachers with more than 10 years of experience graded without bias. Also, male teachers in Germany were unbiased (unlike female German teachers), and there was no bias detected against students in language rather than science majors.
  9. Obese women experience much more negative social stigma than previously thought, study finds | MinnPost
    Rather than asking fat women to recall instances of past incidents, the researchers asked them to keep contemporaneous diaries. “The 50 women cited a total of 1,077 stigmatizing experiences during that single week — an average of three a day for each woman.”
  10. A Woman on the $10 Bill, and Everyone Has 2 Cents to Put In – The New York Times
    If the NY Times doesn’t let you read their articles, click on the link at google instead, and then you should be able to read it. Personally, I like the plan of getting fucking Andrew Jackson off the twenty and replacing him with Harriet Tubman.
  11. Ayn Rand’s Firefly – The Toast
    “Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not rescue your sister from torture school. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without rescuing her from torture school.”
  12. Barbie Debuts Curvy, Tall and Petite Dolls for Body-Positive Makeover
    Diversity is relative – real life bodies are a lot more diverse than these new Barbies are – but it’s still a significant step.
  13. Traditional Publishing, Non-Compete Clauses & Rights Grabs | Kameron Hurley
  14. Compassionate Bigotry and the Future of Anti-Gay Rhetoric
    Anti-gay rhetoric has gotten kinder, but the reality hasn’t changed enough.
  15. After Cologne, we can’t let the bigots steal feminism – Laurie Penny
  16. Masked men beat up immigrants in Stockholm, distribute anti-refugee pamphlets
  17. Liberals are not soft on, sympathetic towards, or defensive about Islamic terrorism – Amanda Marcotte
  18. What’s Behind the Clinton-Sanders Debate About Iran? – The Atlantic
    Clinton makes an attack that covers up her own hawkishness; if Clinton had beaten Obama eight years ago, the Iran deal might not have happened.
  19. Bernie Sanders’s Superior Foreign-Policy Judgement – The Atlantic
    Thanks to ClosetPuritan for this link.
  20. The Hillary Clinton Doctrine | Foreign Phttp://amptoons.com/blog/wp-admin/edit-comments.phpolicy
    A much more nuanced and in-depth look at Clinton’s foreign policy perspective. But it’s a longread. The author, James Traub (who definitely favors Clinton), seems to me to be oversure about some of his conclusions, but the article on the whole is excellent and I recommend reading it.
  21. Is Hillary Clinton More Electable Than Bernie Sanders?
  22. Trump Urges his Followers to Knock ‘the Crap’ out of Protesters, and Promises to Cover Legal Fees
    Whether or not he was joking (although he literally said he was serious), this is a dangerously irresponsible thing to say in front of a crowd.
  23. The unsexy truth about why the Arab Spring failed – Vox
    Save you a click (although it’s worth reading): Because dictators tend to hollow out governing and civil institutions, leaving a completely unstable situation for anyone who takes over.
  24. Bonnie Milligan & Laura Osnes – “Disney Princess Medley” – YouTube
  25. The Real Hero Of ‘Hamilton’ Is Aaron Burr
    It’s never too late to redeem a reputation.

taxi-3

Posted in Link farms | 24 Comments  

“Alas” errors: I’m not sure what’s wrong, but I’m looking into it. UPDATE: I think it’s fixed now.

homer-error

As you may have noticed, although the blog is here and can be viewed, trying to look at any individual post gets a “not found” error. Which means, of course, that no one can view or leave comments. Aaargh.

I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m trying to figure it out. If you have an idea what’s wrong, please send me an email. :-)

UPDATE: Things appear to be working again. This may be an illusion, however; desperate minds can make themselves believe almost anything. Please remain calm and breath into a brown paper bag until such time as Cyndi Lauper sings “Time After Time” while a puppy naps contentedly in your lap.

Posted in Site and Admin Stuff | 5 Comments