October 4th, 2006


Morning has broken

I still don't feel quite right, but, hey, here I am. Doctor this morning, day job now. No fever for 24 hours, and my head's clear.

In other news, I'm convinced the true efficacy of Airborne tablets lies in part in the fact that they force you to drink a fairly large amount of water in one go. Which, while it's something I do pretty often, I suspect is something most people don't.

In other other news, I've got another "if I were running for office" piece brewing, about the politics of fear. And some comments to pass along I received IRL. Will post accordingly later.


"Fading Away" to Abyss & Apex. Happy. Thanks, guys!

(For those playing along at home, that's 27 short fiction acceptances this year, to go with 65 short fiction rejections, and 19 stories out for consideration as of this writing.)

Favorite spam of the week

From: Patrick Wells <pxcrmcsli@mediamaxproductions.com>
To: jlake@jlake.com
Subject: emotionless stare man.
Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2006 16:36:65 +0100

eminence: I know that shunts aside for twelve. embryo.

They're at it again on the Lotus Lyceum


This time the gong is being banged over whether style is a meaningful attribute of speculative fiction. (Really.)

If this is round 247 of standard debate number 41 for you, please, give it a miss. If like me you find this stuff entertaining, go have a look. And since the last time I sent folks there, Paul has made commenting much simpler.

1The standard debates, as I see 'em...feel free to contribute to the list.
  1. The definition of "science fiction" (old school)

  2. Can women really write science fiction? (now deprecated)

  3. Is it fantasy without unicorns, dragons or elves?

  4. Does style count in speculative fiction?

  5. Where does Hartwell get those ties?

Gay Rights

Anent the gay rights meme, I've decided I don't believe in gay rights. I believe in human rights. If some humans can marry, all humans should be able to marry. If some humans can inherit, all humans should be able to inherit. And so forth.

At the very basest level of self-interest, if you're committed to limiting human rights, by skin color or language or surname or religion or sexual preference or any other shibboleth, you're only creating the means to limit your own rights, should you find yourself in some future minority.

Turn your head and cough

Went to the doctor. Apparently I have a co-infection of bacterial sinusitis and a respiratory virus. The viral infection is recurring opportunistically due to the untreated sinusitis, which may have been an opportunistic infection in connection with the original viral infection (ie, head cold) a month ago. Go figure.

Medical science is even now embarking on a treatment program for me consisting of fusion-powered terawatt lasers in a secret undergr-- Oops. I mean, I took my prescriptions to the pharmacy. Good health is expected soon.

Some thoughts on electability and the middle of the road

Speaking yesterday to a friend of mine, they said, "If you were running in a general election I'd vote for you, but not in the primary. I'd want someone more middle of the road."

I got to thinking about what that comment meant. They were talking about electability, of course, and in specific how liberal issues and causes have become a third rail for American office seekers. The left runs to the middle to avoid being tarred by the right, while the right runs unashamedly further to the right.

In effect, this is the true legacy of Ronald Reagan -- he and his strategists succeeded in redefining the spectrum, moving what is thought of as the center far, far to the right. Go back and look at Richard Nixon some time. I'm not talking about the insanity for which he is best remembered, but at his actual governance. That Republican created the Environmental Protection Agency. Think about that for a moment. (And no, I come neither to praise Nixon nor to bury him, just to point out how much things have changed in the decades since. Try to imagine any contemporary Republican politician doing such a thing.)

So one of my frustrations as a liberal and a humanist is that our causes have become dirty words in public discourse, frightening our politicians and donors away from running on what we really stand for. The right seems free to agitate for prayer in school, medical restrictions on women's health (I won't dignify that anti-abortion movement with it's soi-disant label, since by so many common sense metrics they are very much against any reasonable right to life), the narrowing of public discourse and the closing of the American mind the name of distorted interpretations of Christian thought -- you name it, they're out there in the media, the pulpit, the school board meeting, the mall and the voting booth calling for it.

But let a moderate or a liberal talk about gun control or a rational healthcare finance policy or global warming or reproductive sanity, and we are lost.

I want our side to stand up as vocally for what we believe in as the other side does, for the simple reason that we are right, and they are wrong. Don't want an abortion? Don't have one. Disapprove of gay sex? Be sure to date outside your gender. Solutions to their fears are encompassed within our solutions. The reverse is emphatically not true. The solutions of conservative America have increasingly become exclusive of, even punitive to, anyone who falls outside their fold.

At the heart, it's a matter of permissiveness as opposed to restrictiveness. "Permissive", like "liberal", has been turned into a dirty word these past decades.

It's not. Permisiveness means freedom. Permisssiveness means choice. And my liberal values permissively include conservative ones, however wrong-headed I might personally find them to be. The conservative movement does not extend me the same courtesy, at least not through their choice of elected officials, party platforms and public rhetoric.

To put it more simply, when presented with a disagreement, a liberal will generally say, "You know, you might have a point." The conservative says, "I know, you're wrong." In our society, certitude sells. As a nation, we don't do nuance.

And so electability has come to mean a turning away from our beliefs and core values, a catering to the hatred and fear and paranoia that have become pervasive in Bush-era conservatism. Their hate and fear will always shout louder than our permissive, inclusive ways.

It's long past time for us to proclaim our own message, with pride, with volume.


(For what it's worth, without exception my conservative friends are reasonable, thoughtful, humane people. Yet somehow, those characteristics in them individually have been completely lost in the expression of their votes and their ideology.)

Respectful discourse

The delightful arcaedia talks about respect in political discourse here, specifically in the context of a fascinating problem within the RWA. I whole heartedly agree with her.

However, one problem for me is that over the last few years, respect for my viewpoint has been notably absent from the public discourse, while scorn for it has been very widely promoted. This fuels my anger and frustration. Look at best-sellers like Ann Coulter's Treason or Michael Savage's Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, or programming like the O'Reilly Factor and Rush Limbaugh's radio feed. The right likes to believe it is on the receiving end of instutional bias from the liberal media, but where are the liberal Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs? Michael Moore? Al Franken? Not the same thing at all, not nearly the sell through numbers or pervasive media influence that the right has. And not the same abusive, ad hominem attacks on conservatives simply for the sake of being conservatives that are daily fare in the other direction on television and radio.

When liberals speak out passionately we're so easily slapped down for being out of line, for being unreasonable, for being haters. When conservatives do so, they get national talk show gigs.

Back to work

Ok, no more politics for the moment. I need to work on Stemwinder now, since I'm solo dad tonight. I'm to the point where I get steampunk tunnel boring machines and misbehaving clockwork men. Not to mention Chinese submarines...

The Republican Oath

This one pretty much speaks for itself. This would be very, very funny if thousands of lives and billions of dollars had not been burned in the name of the American voters who have been suckered by this kind of play. I may do a gloss tomorrow if I have time. Link courtesy of shawn_scarber

ETA: To be clear, if the actions of the GOP even faintly resembled this pledge, I might consider being a Republican. What is so terribly sad about this oath is that is noble, idealistic and forthright, but it stands for a party that has inverted and perverted every clause. (Except, in fairness, the third clause, which is essentially a comment on U.S. economic history, not an actual or implied philosophy of governing.)


Republican Oath
I'm a Republican Because...

I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.