Monday, February 28, 2022

Sometimes What About is the Right Question?

I'm seeing this pop up in writer and fandom spaces again and I know nuance is hard and you can never truly define one thing so that it excludes all other things. But I do think people have latched onto the term whataboutism and are using it to shut down a lot of discussion.
If I show up at a breast cancer rally and start shouting, "Pancreatic cancer matters!" - I am absolutely engaging in whataboutism. Working to address breast cancer is a thing that needs done, and people working on that aren't saying there are no other cancers. 
However, if an organization that received a lot of negative press for treating an Asian American person badly and then that organization decides to provide a scholarship for Black Americans, people asking what their plans are to address harms done to Asian Americans are not engaging in whataboutism. 
Similarly, we see a lot of US authors resolve to not attend events in a state that passed some regressive and bigoted legislation, people asking have you checked the laws for every state you've already done events in is not whataboutism.
And some of the current conversation is about where to hold cons, and look, I know there's no perfect answer to this. But saying, I couldn't safely attend a con in this country is one thing. Saying that everyone saying well actually, here's a running list of atrocities committed by the government of the con you apparently happily attended is not whataboutism. And if you say, but I know how to call a lawyer there, I know what to do there, you actually aren't proving that country X is worse. You're just proving you know you have enough privilege in country Y to get out of jams. And look, this is a fair calculus. 
I went to school abroad but I did it when the idea that the entry laws might change while I was on the plane was unfathomable. I would have a very different conversation with anyone considering that now. 
Also, I know we are so so ready to people again, but you can skip a con. You really can. Or lobby for better virtual attendance options. These are all choices. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. This article was not the first I have seen comparing COVID 19 to smoking, but I think it's a useful analogue because while the greatest risks are to those who are unvaccinated (which yes, I am aware includes children and others who cannot get vaccinated, I have not forgotten you, small humans!) their illness potentially affects the rest of us, so the mitigations need to factor all of that in. 
2. This piece on skier Eileen Gu talks a little about the paradox of being Chinese American and the dual culture nature of things. 
3. As you may know, a real life story gave me the initial scenario for Hot Bartender. Obviously, I invented the rest of that story.  But I appreciated this follow up with these folks and hearing that they are still friends.  

Monday, February 21, 2022

Doing It With a Whine

There is a dog that lives near me. I have not, to my knowledge seen it, only heard it. The dog whines a lot. In the way of writers I have imagined many possible back stories for this. I do want to be clear, I have no reason to suspect the dog is being mistreated, I simply suspect something about the going outside multiple times a day ritual makes the dog unhappy. It could be dislike of weather, outside, strangers, seeing cars, being leashed, being unable to hunt down that squirrel, or any number of things. 
Because dogs need to do their thing regularly, I hear the dog a few times a day. 
And honestly, dog, I feel you.
The world right now hardly seems interacting with some days. There are many things I can't do, or can't do the way that I want to or used to, and yet, it turns out I still have to do them. And so I do. But I am not happy about it. And even if I personally am not making noises that carry around the side of buildings, it's not because I haven't thought about it.
There are still good things, and things that work okay, or not badly. And I still have the privilege of avoiding many things right now. But still need food, and to do laundry, and really, laundry in this economy and in a pandemic seems incredibly unfair. 
So, dog, I feel you. You're expressing yourself, but you're still showing up.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. An older piece, Ashley C. Ford shares her thoughts on red velvet cake (spoiler: not a fan).  
2. Jeff Yang shares why people who want to wear shoes in houses with no shoes rules, can just stay away
3. Adib Khorram writes about the stories we lose when there is book banning afoot. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

A List of Shout Outs

Shout out to teachers, who are facing unprecedented challenges, and trying to still actually educate folks in multiple ways, on multiple platforms, with so little notice, and while risking their lives, in often underfunded buildings.
Shout out to delivery folks, who have seen incredible demand, and have worked through lots of logistical challenges to get the things to people, often life saving things. 
Shout out to parents, who have faced incredible child care challenges, along with trying to keep tiny humans both entertained and safe.
Shout out to grocery store workers and food purveyors. Food is something we all need, and the work and challenges you have faced are so big. 
Shout out to health care workers. I hope you are now at least getting better access to the equipment you need as you work what have always been ridiculous hours. This is and has been an especially long journey in this country.
Shout out to everyone who works somewhere that has been touting lean staffing for years, and is now discovering that lean staffing suffers when folks can't work while sick, and when a novel virus hits, more people get sick all at the same time. 
Show out to folks who are in jobs where they've been expected to carry on, because the wheels keep turning.
Shout out to folks in industries where customers and users treat staff as peons, who are not fully human. 
Shout out to you.  It seems a little silly, but surviving a pandemic is no small thing.  Keep on keeping on.  

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. A cat who'd gone missing six years before turned up, thanks to a microchip.  
2. This article on the MarySue details issues international authors face dealing with the payment and other vendors designed with a North American bias face.
3. NPR Life Kit did a piece about how passion does not and mayhap should not be the highest priority in your dayjob. 

Monday, February 07, 2022

Books - And Access to Knowledge

It is not lost on my that one of the toughest years of my life (aka last year) my reading was on the high side for me. Sure there were lots of factors. I have generally had little interest in TV during the pandemic, which has freed up a lot of time. I started a new job and the schedule has often meant that I have reading time before I start, which has also been great for my reading time. 
All of this is a long way to say, books are incredibly important to me, not just because I am an author, but because I was and am a reader first.
Watching wave after wave of book banning is incredibly disheartening. Every book removal means many people, many of them kids, won't have access to that book. Sure some people who watch the news, may hear about the book. Sure some people who are very plugged into social media will hear about the book. 
As a kid I mostly found books by literally scanning the shelves in the library. And yes, I am an old, but many kids do not have control over their own money, do not get to spend freely in bookstores, may not even live near a bookstore. So they are finding books in libraries, be they public or school ones. Books that aren't in those places are unlikely to be on their radar. 
I recognize that this is like cycle 278 of book removals, challenges, and bannings in this country, but every time the hypocrisy stings. These books are not being removed to protect the children, they are being removed so children won't get ideas, so children won't ask uncomfortable questions about a society that allows atrocities and does little to prevent them. The idea that children don't know the world sucks is honestly only something someone who doesn't listen to kids thinks. 
Please pay attention to your local school boards and library boards and keep reminding them that you are in favor of kids being able to read books about the world we live in. 

Thursday, February 03, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. As an old who read a number of books for school that featured violence, war, racism, and sexual assault, it is not lost on me that the books being banned and challenged today are the newer ones, the ones about now, the ones that make it clear bigotry didn't magically end in the 1960's or the 1980's or whatever new date we're pretending.  Because many of the books left contain all the things that these adults claim to be protecting kids from.  All of this is preamble to the text of Randy Ribay's speech from ALAN, which he recently relinked. 
2. I think synthetic voices are better than no audio versions, but wow, audio narrators are worth every penny.  
3. If you want an incredible dive into the use of costuming to create differing silhouettes between two of the characters in "The Witcher", this tumblr does it.