May 29th, 2010


[links] Link salad gets tired of the arguments

The New Space Opera 2. (ed Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, Eos 2009) — A review that I think is a reprint, maybe but says some very nice things about my Sunspin story, "To Raise a Mutiny Betwixt Yourselves".

FlaccidityScrivener's Error (a publishing lawyer's blog) on the legal arguments for and against fanfic. Oddly, I'm more likely to believe a lawyer with domain expertise than an impassioned defender or detractor from somewhere on the Internet.

Ensley Furnace: 1906 — There's coal-fired steampunk hell.

To Join the 'Galactic Club'Centauri Dreams on the Fermi Paradox.

Giant airplane-mounted telescope sees first light! — This is cool on a number of levels. Man do I want to go up in this thing, though.

The Stigmatization Of really is true that the economic and budgetary problems we're facing were inherited from the previous administration. What's false is the Republican effort to imply that Obama caused the problems -- an argument that collapses upon the slightest empirical pressure Facts are hard, let's blame Obama instead. There, feel better?

Memorial Day — The Right is outraged that Obama is sending Biden to Arlington National Cemetery for a Memorial Day wreath laying. Never mind that Reagan missed the same event four times in his presidency. This is like the "feet on the desk" photo. Ordinary behaviors of prior Republican presidents are mortal insults when done by a black Democrat. Facts are hard, conservative outrage is easy. Politics 101.

Glenn Beck smears Obama's 11-year-old daughterGlenn Beck, who repeatedly and angrily tells his alleged persecutors to "leave the families alone," spent a good chunk of his radio program this morning mocking and attacking the intelligence of President Obama's 11-year-old daughter, Malia. Stay classy, conservative America. It's what you do best.

?otD: What's up, doc?

Writing time yesterday: none (chemo exhaustion)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 9.25 (solid)
This morning's weigh-in: 231.6
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 8/10 (fatigue)
Currently (re)reading: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett


[cancer] Updates, lessons and the nature of anger

Slept over nine hours last night, thanks to the Lorazepam tango. Dreams were sort of a PowerPoint format about how to organize my life and life issues in little boxes with connecting lines and flow charts. Sort of metadreams. Was I examining the structure of my undermind, or was I simply working too hard this last week at the Day Jobbe?

Fatigue continues its reign of terror. I become slowly harder of thinking, to the point where I let myself get drawn into one of those no-win Internet tempests yesterday. I won't bother with any linkage, but suffice to say that a statement on my part that I felt unsafe in a certain situation was met with angry jeering, abuse and obscenity. The self-fulfilling irony of this was apparent only to me, it seems.

To be fair, a few folks engaged directly, one of them kindly and carefully, though another was mostly showing off their rhetorical snark skills. (Yes, a college education is a wonderful thing, I have one, too.) So call it a net loss for me, which I knew before I ever opened my mouth. My one regret was that this fubar took place in the comments section of an innocent bystander. The end score was about 50% nasty cheap shots, 25% smug patronization and 25% actual constructive engagement. Which is actually a pretty good ratio for an Internet comment slugfest.

I know how satisfying it is to have a cause, to pounce on the wicked, the unrighteous and the foolish. I was once young and angry all the time, too. Now I'm middle aged and angry sometimes. But somewhere along the way I decided that justice tempered with peace was a lot more important to me that being completely, absolutely right all the time. (I've been down that road. I know people with permanent addresses on that road.)

The cancer experience has only deepened that realization. I can't count the number of times people have said to me some version of: "Man, this really stupid thing happened — oh, never mind. You have cancer." It can't be about cancer all the time. Everybody's problems are as big as they are. I don't mean to equate "where's my next meal coming from" with "where do I invest the next million from my trust fund" — to name theoretical extremes — but if I spent all my time being outraged about my cancer and insisting it was the most important thing there is, there'd be no room left for understanding, compassion, friendship and love. Or listening to what other people have to say, whether I agree with them or not.

At least there's no debate about cancer, nobody arguing (or pretending that I'm arguing) in favor of it. Issues of social and economic justice, gender and race, family and life are so much more dimensional and complex, and so influenced by the experience and eye of the beholder. But I'm finding more and more that a little compassion and a little peace help me think about this stuff in a much more nuanced way than screaming anger does. And that in turn makes me a lot more patient and accepting of the screaming anger that others direct at me.

Cancer's an odd teacher, imparting odd lessons. One of which is that life's too short to be angry all the time. I'd rather communicate. With myself, and with the world.


[child|cancer] The Child asks questions

Lately the_child has been asking a lot of questions about cancer. We've discussed the basic mechanism (cell division error), the primary treatments (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy), the idea that there are many sorts of cancer and it's not a unitary disease at all. These conversations are episodic, and she returns to the topic from time to time.

Last night she asked me if the cancer of one of her friend's mothers would return. I said I had no way to know, but this led to a discussion of metastasis, and the preference of certain cancers for specific organ systems. For example, mine is colon cancer, tubovillous adenocarcinoma, with a strong metastatic preference for lymph, liver and lungs, so we discussed how my metastases were unlikely to occur in my brain or my stomach or my kidneys.

Then she asked a question that surprised me considerably. "Does cancer go where there are the most nutrients, or where the body is weakest?"

Somebody's been explaining the germ theory of disease to this child.

So we talked about the difference between diseases with external vectors, ie, infections, and cancer, which is a mistake the body makes in its own internal processes and not dependent on the same factors as viral or bacterial infections. She informed me that our bodies had plentiful germs naturally that belonged there, which I allowed as how this was true. I compared resident intestinal flora to opportunistic rhinovirus to illustrate her point.

Sometimes the_child is my little girl, sometimes she's a sophisticated thinker. Well, really, she's both all the time, but the emerging adult, visible down the long, difficult hallway of stormy adolescence, drops in occasionally to surprise me most pleasantly.