May 2008


I got a hundred and sixty hits yesterday.

It’s not a lot, considering the size of the intarweb, but it’s the most this wee blog’s ever had in a 24 hour period, and it also means there’s over a hundred people out there in the world that read what I had to say in a burst of righteous pedantic fury.  But I never pretended to be anything but just another small-time blogger, standing on some cliff and hollering, hoping the wind would pick up my words.  So thank you, people who read.  I appreciate it.

Someone who got a lot more hits on the topic, and rightfully so, is Angry Black Woman.  This post is the second most hit on wordpress.com today, and it deals with the situation in far more extent than I went into, but it’s not for the shrinking violets.  I do hope that ABW does, as she promises in a post today, come up with a good guide for combatting vicious net attacks.  I talk a good talk, but I’m still chewing on how to actually act on my own proposal.

In that light, I’ve decided I need to post more actual thought on this blog, thought that isn’t rambly slice-of-life, because either my domesticity isn’t very interesting, or I can’t write about it in a compelling manner.  Probably both.  Any ideas or suggestions, both in terms of reclaiming the power of feminist fandom, and in terms of what you’d like to hear me talk about, are welcome.

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This post is not about knitting or food.  If you read this blog for either, and don’t care about anything else, the following may or may not be of interest.

It turned out to be good on me that I missed WisCon this year, for one because of the plague that went around, and for two because of all the Hot Mess that’s happened because someone decided to play spoiler and ruin a good (not quite perfectly safe, but a better place than the world usually is) space.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, my Smith bud Sheana has a decent synopsis and links from an outside perspective.

I should say this: I am a middle-class white able feminist of average weight, and my gender identity isn’t particularly interesting.   But I know and love people who aren’t, and I respect their causes both individually and as they dovetail to my own.  And I have been ragged on for various identity issues enough in my time that I do not want to stand around while more good people, talented artists/writers, and their kids no less, get very nastily dumped on so that someone out there on the intarweb can have momentary lulz.

So generally speaking, to RM and those who perpetuated this, I hope you get the karma you deserve.  There’s not really anything else I can say that’d penetrate that armor of loathing you all have on, so y’know, whatever.  I trust that in time, the universe straightens things back out to neutral.

What this has made me think about is something that has been bugging me throughout the last few months, in terms of politics and feminism and fandom–from the Wright fiasco to the OSBP to the Seal Press issue.   When crap rains down on us or our friends, should we fight back, or should we not say anything because we’re better people than they are?  The latter is how a lot of liberals operate most of the time.  If we ignore it, the problems will go away because we’ll have shown that we have the moral high ground.

Unfortunately, only using the moral high ground only works for the Doctor and then only some of the time.  And I’ve fallen into this trap before myself.  The answer isn’t violence, of course, and the answer isn’t anger, exactly.  We’ve got to fuel that anger into productivity.  Gandhi led his people on a march not for freedom, per se, but for something the people wanted and needed that they weren’t getting, and in doing that, in saying that things were wrong but not acting in returned pain, they ended up getting salt.  And at the same time they ended up with a step towards a greater goal of equity.

Obviously none of this works out perfectly, and we have plenty of problems with phobias within our own community of feminist fandom.  But the answer isn’t to sit on our hands when something like this happens.  We should rise to the occasion, both as it illuminates our internal issues and outwardly in defense.

The question now is where to begin, and how.  But don’t just let it slide.  Don’t say it’s not your issue.  It’s everyone’s.

In bopping around the Intarwebs, it has come to my attention that people think I am cool.  This is my official notification that I am Not Cool.  I’m about as cool as an ice cube…if that ice cube were set on the hood of a car that just drove two hundred miles.  The weather right now is cool.  Paige is not cool, just ask my brother.  (In fact, it seems the weather’s due to warm up any day now.  I’m not holding my breath.  For anyone not in the US, be advised that the Midwest is distinctive in being both hot as hell and frigid as a freezer.)

Right, every time I watch an Eddie Izzard set, I always think that I would be hilarious at stand-up.  (Fortunately, reality sets in and I realize that I am very bad at improvisation.)  I have a theory about stand-up, and that’s that to be funny, in my mind, a stand-up comedian must not be a straight white raised-Christian American man.  Canadian men are okay, and British men.  But not Americans.  They’re just not funny; they’re like comedic Wonder Bread.  This is, of course, why I’m not a judge on Last Comic Standing, because half the contestants would be gone in no time flat.

Not like Last Comic Standing is actually funny, like, ever.

Anyway, I should talk about knitting or cooking or something!  Yes!  Sidewinders are really nice, and end up being very pretty in Schaefer Anne.  They knit up really fast, and the only problem I’ve had is that if I make the medium size, it ends up being too big on my calf and just perfect on my foot.  Clearly I have skinny ankles, which I guess is good, even though I’m from farmer stock and should have thick ones.  But then socks slip down.  Hrm.  I think if I was remaking them, I’d skip the short rows for the calf sizing, but since this second one needs to be consistent with the first, I’m doing it anyway.

My mother was looking through her recipes last weekend, and in her doing so, I remembered when I’d been looking for a cake recipe last year and came across a different cake recipe that led to incredulity on my part.

Watergate Cake.

Seriously.  Who came up with this in the first place?  How was it considered appropriate to have a cake named, even ironically, after a ridiculously awful political scandal?  It’s not like we’ve had cakes named that before or after.  It’s not like there’s Bay of Pigs Cake, or Iran-Contra Cream Pie, or god forbid, Little Blue Dress Tarts.  (But if there was, they’d be rumcake, banana flavor, and lemon, respectively.)

My mother’s answer was ‘it was the 70s’ and I guess that’s pretty much the only answer.  If forced under duress to leave this decade for another one–I like the rights and tech we have here far too much to go voluntarily–the 70s would probably be my choice.  If I were still an academic, it’d be my oeuvre.  Or I’d go visit with the Doctor, in the TARDIS.  Speaking of, why hasn’t anyone come up with Time Lord Socks?  Do I have to do everything myself?

As a more serious side note, I’d like to add that even though I don’t usually email a response (it’s a bad habit from years of LJ), I really do read every comment that comes through here.  It gives my soul joy, for honest.

Despite not being able to go to this year’s WisCon, I did pick up this year’s Tiptree Award winner (having been mortified by not reading last year’s winner, Half Life, beforehand and making a fool of myself in front of the author).  I had been pleasantly surprised both by Half Life and by Geoff Ryman’s Air two years back, so I figured hey.

So.  Sarah Hall’s Daughters of the North (UK title: The Carhullan Army) deserves this year’s Tiptree, by sheer meeting the criteria alone.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Daughters addresses gender issues better and more thoughtfully than any other novel US-side in ’07–it effectively proves that women can and do and will cross the line when pushed.  The horrors of the dystopian England pictured have come on believably, in slow steady inroads, which is much more chilling than a sudden catastrophe.  I don’t shy away from books that are depressing, for that matter, and though this one is dark, there are moments of beauty in it.  I also appreciated the fact that I’ve been to the setting of the Lake District, for a brief time, at about the time Hall was starting to write the book, early 2005. 

My problems here are two-fold:
– Unlike the last two winners, Daughters of the North, without a doubt, is not as original a concept as I would have liked.  It reads, for a good portion, like an updated Handmaid’s Tale with the stylistic form of Children of Men.  Part of the problem with this is that the main character/narrator is such an enigma.  I got no sense of her as a person besides entirely conflicted, and while she desperately tries to convince the reader that she is not manipulatable, that she sees all the options, she is instead a leaf on a greater wind.  It’s realistic, but it’s also sort of dull.
– There is effectively no climactic scene.  Hall skips the hard parts, the bloody parts, and the worst of the trauma, then tacks on an ending.  It would be less frustrating if not for the fact that almost all of the narrative up to this point has been so very descriptive and evocative of the lives of the women of Carhullan.  They build to a goal, and then that goal isn’t written in its fullest, only hinted at, and then we see a brief denouement that hints at what had happened.  It strikes me as a cop-out, to write all the process, then not actually follow through.  Either write up to the climax point and end it, or write through the whole thing.  Both would have broken my heart, but instead what happened just left me shrugging.

So, in essence, Daughters of the North is an excellent case study of the capabilities of average and not-so-average women.  It is beautifully written in terms of prose and fairly compulsively readable.  It just didn’t grip me, and while I realize that’s not the point of the Tiptree, it’s something I expect from the best feminist SF these days.  I’d say the Carhullan women themselves deserve better, but I just can’t bring myself to quite care.

Ugh.  In the few weeks since I last wrote here, I had computer woes, had the woes fixed, got more woes, had them fixed, had woes again, then gave up on the whole thing and bought a MacBook instead of waiting until January as I wanted to do.  Said computer is partially courtesy of the US government (in terms of $600 in economic ‘stimulus’).  Unfortunately, it means my plans to go to WisCon have been scrapped in the interests of liquid assets coming into what seems to be a long summer for all of us here in the States.  While I try not to usually be a fatalist, I’ve read too much SF in my time to not think about trouble, and the feeling isn’t just on my part, as I’ve found out on Ravelry.

The MacBook is pretty darn awesome, but I wish that they would make the OS less idiot-proof.  It drives me up the wall.  Everything is pretty and cute, and sometimes I just want to get down and dirty.

Anyway, I had a good long bunch of rambles about feminism, Smith, this year’s Tiptree Award winner, and knitting Sidewinders in mind, but I’m completely made of lazy.  Yesterday was a long day and today provides to be similar.  Mostly I’m upset about things I can’t change, and so I’ve been trying not to think on them: the politics of international aid is one, rising gas prices is another, and FOX moving House to Mondays is a third.  If you ever wondered what kind of deep thoughts actually go on behind the scenes here at Not Be Televised, there you have it.

That and beer.  It’s finally beer season again, and my pick is, of course, Leinie’s Honey Weiss (or Berry Weiss).  I’m not sure if this is in national distribution, though.  Summer Shandy has grown on me slightly, but not to the point where I’d pick it over something else.  Recommendations are welcome, but remember that we have a lot of microbrews locally and any small brand from out of state could be hard to get.

Oh, and I’ve adopted Google Reader as my blogfeed thingy of choice.  I see that there are seven of you reading this from there, which is rather intriguing.  I hope this looks decent–I haven’t bothered to subscribe, because it’s my blog, for crying out loud, and I know what I’ve written.  I think.