The Reading List, 2/28/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

The Reading List, 2/28/2016

Saturday Storytime: Grandpa’s Glasses

Sometimes we look at a story and think it has no plot because the stakes and the conflict are personal, as with this story from Carol Otte. Those are often my favorites.

For two weeks I did nothing. I held two thoughts in my head: that I could use the glasses to visit Grandpa whenever I wanted, and that the visions were just a fantasy. In reality the grief of his loss was too new and raw for me to poke at.

But one morning I woke with tears on my face yet also filled with a sense of warmth, a memory of his kindness. I had to be close to him. I picked another pair and found myself sharing the first bite of a juicy ripe peach.

After that, I used the glasses most mornings. The visions showed me primarily everyday moments, but the sort which are precious and treasured despite their ordinary nature. I sat with Grandpa at the family table while his father carved the Sunday roast. I watched a newborn foal take its first steps. I tussled with my brother on the winter’s first snowfall.

Then one morning I stumbled across a rougher part of Grandpa’s life. When he was young, he’d worked for two years as a coal miner. I joined him underground.

I crawl on hands and knees through a side tunnel to set an explosive charge. If the coal vein runs narrow, the tunnel runs narrow, and that’s just how things are. Only the coal gets pulled out of the mountain. No one’s going to blast away worthless rock just so miners can have room to walk upright. The weight of the mountain presses down on me, but as long as I stay focused, I’m fine.

A low boom shakes the earth, and my throat closes in raw panic. The tunnel vibrates as if an earthquake is shaking the ground, but more likely it’s a methane explosion. Pebbles strike my helmet. I have no room to turn, but I can’t stay here. I wriggle backwards as fast as I can. My friends (my Jason) could be dying, could be burned to a crisp and already gone.

I came back short of breath and unnerved. I knew mining was dangerous work, but Grandpa never said anything about being in an accident. I didn’t even recognize Jason’s name.

I had to find out more. By now I’d realized that each pair of glasses showed visions linked to the original owner. That first pair had actually belonged to my Uncle Albert, not to Grandpa. I put the same pair on again. I didn’t end up underground, though.

Sunlight filters gently through young spring leaves. After being underground so much, the fresh air feels heady as wine.

Jason (Janet) is with me. (No, Jason. It’s better if I think of him that way, so I don’t give him away. Besides, Jason says he’s a man at heart, even though he has a woman’s body underneath those floppy clothes.)

The trees shield us from prying eyes. Jason says, “Shall we have some fun?”

I nod, and he reaches for my zipper.

For a moment the sensations drew me along: Jason’s smell against the sharp tang of pine needles, the rich spring air, the sun on his hair as he bent down. But I didn’t want to feel those things, not in relation to my own grandfather and in truth, not at all. For the first time, my own sense of self broke through the vision before its natural completion. I tore the glasses from my face.

I sat there shaking from a strange mix of confusion and betrayal. In Grandpa’s time, coal mines wouldn’t hire women, but as I sorted through the leftover snatches of memory, I realized that Jason hadn’t merely been passing in order to find work. He’d thought of himself as male.

And Grandpa hadn’t cared. If Jason had been born a man, he still wouldn’t have cared. When Jason reached for him, he’d been thinking of other times.

Grandpa had touched men too.

If I’d known while he was still here, I would have been proud of him. Instead I felt a growing fury that he’d kept silent all his life and left me to face this all alone.

Keep reading.

Saturday Storytime: Grandpa’s Glasses

And Then You Wait

In honor of the recent news that even the relatively low rate of HPV vaccine is dramatically dropping HPV infection rates among teenaged girls, it’s time for a repost.

One day your doctor calls. You think to yourself, “Huh. Last clinic, it would have been a nurse. Whatever.” And the news is good: Blood work, even the special stuff they did because you’ve not been feeling well and you have a family history, is perfectly, beautifully normal.

Oh, except the Pap smear came back abnormal and here’s the number for a gynecological clinic and tell them “CIN 2-3″ when you call to make the appointment for a colposcopy.

So you look that up, and you see “moderate to severe” and “carcinoma in situ.” You take a little bit to let that sink in and try to remember there were other words there as well, like “regression,” and as you’re doing that, the phone rings again. This time, you find out that you need to make a change in your health insurance data so your clinic can make the referral so whatever happens next is paid for.

You do that and discover that the change won’t go into effect for just over a week. And then you wait, distracting yourself but not really forgetting. Continue reading “And Then You Wait”

And Then You Wait

The Reading List, 2/25/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

  • Antonin Scalia and the Ethics of ‘Celebrating Death’“–“Here someone often argues that Scalia’s family is in mourning and would be very upset at the things that some people are saying. That’s quite possible, although it seems highly unlikely that any of Scalia’s family members are spending this time browsing the social media feeds of random unknowns like my friends and me.”
  • Red Carpet Rundown: BAFTAs 2016“–“My favorite character arc of the red carpet season is Alicia Vikander’s slow realization that this Louis Vuitton partnership means she actually has to keep finding Louis Vuitton dresses to wear on the red carpet.”
  • Period pain can be ‘almost as bad as a heart attack.’ Why aren’t we researching how to treat it?“–“Around half a dozen friends told me that they’d had similarly frustrating experiences—that they’d been shoved on birth control indefinitely, been prescribed Prozac to deal with their monthly bouts of depression, suffered through migraines and even vomiting whenever they had their period. The symptoms were diverse, but these stories all had one key thing in common: No one seemed able to get clear answers from their doctors.”
  • Sometimes busting myths can backfire“–“Peter and her colleague Thomas Koch decided to find out how best to combat this backfire effect — our tendency to misremember myths as fact — when confronted with scientific information.”
  • Brazil’s First Dark Skin Globeleza Queen Was Stripped of Her Title For Being ‘Too Black’“–“Justino was called everything from a monkey to a darkie, and told she didn’t deserve to be the Globeleza because she was ‘too Black.’ What hurt most, though, were that many Black Brazilians also thought she was unfit for the title because of her dark skin.”
  • Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic Reopens After Deadly Attack“–“Joseph Martone, 54, said he was a regular protester at the clinic and had returned just after the shooting. ‘People believe he’s part of us, but he’s not,’ he said, referring to Mr. Dear. Then, turning his attention to the clinic employees, he said, ‘They are harming women and killing babies.'”
  • De-platforming and free speech“–“But what if we took the free speech claim at face value, but we took it a bit father and looked at who we invite to speak and not just who we ask not to. If our goal is to use our platform to advance free speech, why not give speaking positions to people of color and trans people?”
  • Beware of the angry white male public intellectual“–“But we need to start acknowledging that men with real power and authority are fostering online harassment. Such public intellectuals are perhaps even more dangerous—both because they give online harassment a larger and more mainstream audience, and because they give those campaigns the stamp of moral or intellectual seriousness.”
  • The Anti-GMO Doctors Behind False Monsanto Microcephaly Link“–“The leader of Médicos de Pueblos Fumigados, Dr. Ávila Vazquez has come under fire for making giant albeit unfounded scientific leaps.”
  • Deadpool, Zoolander 2, sexy fighting, and transmisogyny“–“The female villain in Deadpool, Angel Dust, does eventually fight Negasonic Teenage Warhead, but her longest and most protracted action sequences is with Colossus, and there is nothing sexy about it.”
  • An Open Letter from Past CEA Chairs to Senator Sanders and Professor Gerald Friedman“–“We are former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers for Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. For many years, we have worked to make the Democratic Party the party of evidence-based economic policy.”
  • Police say cop who told drivers to run over protesters has resigned“–“Rothecker apologized and the comment was deleted, but his remarks drew condemnation from Mayor Chris Coleman.”
  • The Consequences of Dissent: When Atheism Lands You In A Psych Ward“–“Eight months later, fearing Mubarak would negatively influence his other siblings by eating during Ramadan and not praying, his father baited him into seeing another doctor.”
  • I Am Not Ashamed of Identifying As Mentally Ill“–“Here’s the truth: accepting and paying attention to an important fact about myself is not negative or limiting. My mental illness has a big impact on my life.”
  • A Romance Manifesto“–“When I want comfort, I read romance to escape. I don’t understand why that is so difficult to grasp, given that the same folks that often rag on this practice may spend an awful lot of time in Middle Earth.”
  • Is this a KISSING book?“–“If you’re going to write an essay about romance and you’re not a regular romance reader, here are a few tips”
  • The Geek’s Guide to Disability“–” I’m hoping that if I walk through some of the more common misconceptions, I can move the needle a little–or at least save myself some time in the future, because I’ll be able to give people a link instead of explaining all this again.”
  • The Science of Star Wars: The Orbital Mechanics of Starkiller Base“–“But, like, it’s also orbiting the star. It’s not eating some star a long way away. In the movie, we see it destroy the star it’s orbiting. What’s up with that?”
  • A fetus can’t ‘hold hands’ with its twin“–“This story is already all over the anti-choice sites (I’m including Fox here) as well as many more sites as ‘proof’ of fetal emotions and purposeful movement (either explicitly stated or implied). However, ultrasound images of fetal movements are really just a Rorschach test.”
  • The remarkably different answers men and women give when asked who’s the smartest in the class“–“In other words, if Johnny and Susie both had A’s, they’d receive equal applause from female students — but Susie would register as a B student in the eyes of her male peers, and Johnny would look like a rock star.”
The Reading List, 2/25/2016

Justin Scott on Interviewing Presidential Candidates

In this week’s show, Stephanie Zvan introduces interviewer Peggy Knudtson, and Peggy and Jenn Wilson talk to Justin Scott about his work to get politicians on record on the separation of church and state.

As an Iowan, activist, and atheist, Justin Scott has had a unique opportunity to represent nontheists in the political process. The timing of the Iowa caucuses means that 2016 presidential candidates spend a lot of time answering questions from average citizens, and Justin has used this opportunity to press the candidates on church-state separation and issues of religious privilege. His YouTube videos of the candidate’s answers have propelled the debate over religion in the public sphere into the headlines.

Justin’s links:

Yep, new The Humanist Hour. Go check it out.

Justin Scott on Interviewing Presidential Candidates

Providing Leverage

It started with Laura Anne Gilman:

I will be a Guest at Anachrocon this weekend, and there’s something I want everyone there to know.

I may look about as tough as a toasted corn muffin, but I lived and worked in NYC for two decades. I take no shit, and I give no shits. If you are at the convention and feel unsafe or harassed, you can walk straight up to me, no matter who else I’m talking to, and tell me you need Leverage (term in this usage suggested by the awesome Seanan McGuire).

I won’t be at Anachrocon, but you may do this at conventions and conferences I attend. Tell me you need Leverage, and you’ll have: Continue reading “Providing Leverage”

Providing Leverage

“I Love Kids!”

Sometimes it’s tempting to view abortion-clinic protesters as people motivated by concern for the patients. To a certain extent, I’m sure that’s even true. They probably don’t want people to go to Hell. They may believe the lies about depression and breast cancer printed in their materials.

The realities of their interactions with everyone around them, however, tell a different story. They tell us how little these protesters view any of us as individual people.

There’s a dialysis clinic in the same building as the women’s health clinic where I escort. On any given Saturday, those of us at the main door will usually see more dialysis patients than we will people there for an abortion. Their reactions to the protesters range from polite (and just as polite to us escorts) to openly hostile, and it’s not hard to see why. Continue reading ““I Love Kids!””

“I Love Kids!”

The Reading List, 2/21/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

  • Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters“–“Clever touch, too, to frame everyone who wants nothing to do with the man’s opinions as ‘the girl’, because that’s exactly what will appeal to the Dawkbros. For the rest of us, though, it just tells us that you haven’t been listening.”
  • IT IS TIME: My personal journey from harassee to guardian“–“It is only now, when I see these things happening to my students, that I have become really, truly, irrevocably angry. Angry because I know them, and I know they didn’t ask for it and don’t deserve it.”
  • Why Again Were You My Enemy?“–“My sense of identity had already marked him as Other, and so I had to undergo the cognitive dissonance now of wondering why I had that intuition at all. And of course, I recognize that it’s a false association and no longer think Avalos the devil that he was portrayed to be.”
  • Why I Just Dropped The Harassment Charges Against The Man Who Started GamerGate“–“The simple fact of the matter is that I’m less useful to the world as someone who fought this case, win or lose, than someone who can throw all hope of winning away to be honest with you, to educate you, to try and call for reform so I can set the next girl up for a spike instead of falling on my face.”
  • placing Ken Zucker’s clinic in historical context“-“This is perfectly fine, of course – no one is obligated to use my quotes in their article. But I did feel that the most important point that I stressed (i.e., placing the current Zucker clinic debate in the historical context of the long history of gender reparative therapies) was not duly acknowledged in Singal’s article.”
  • Against Endorsements“–“I don’t so much hope that any reader ‘agrees’ with me, as I hope to haunt them, to trouble their sense of how things actually are.”
  • Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau will keep her job, but not without critics“–“Harteau took heat for the disputed death of Jamar Clark, as well as police officers’ treatment of protesters during Black Lives Matter’s ensuing 18-day occupation of the 4th Precinct. An uptick in gun violence in 2015 led others to accuse her of being too soft on crime.”
  • Stop Bernie-Splaining to Black Voters“–“Instead, black folks are trying to keep their feet planted in reality and choose from among politicians who have historically promised much and delivered little. It is often a choice between the devil you know and the one you don’t, or more precisely, among the friend who betrays you, the stranger who entices you and the enemy who seeks to destroy you.”
  • Arizona mayor forcibly removes Jewish rabbi who objected to Christian-based invocation“–“‘If they don’t like it, they can vote us out,’ said Marley.”
  • The Science Byline Counting Project: Where Are the Women—and Where Are They Not?“–“But for longer front-of-book or back-of-book pieces, where writers have an opportunity to showcase their writing style and establish credentials that could lead to opportunities to write the more prestigious feature articles, men outnumbered women, in some cases by a factor of two or three to one.”
  • Ferguson Mayor: ‘There Was No Agreement’ With The Justice Department“–“The Justice Department slapped the city of Ferguson, Mo., with a civil rights lawsuit this week after the City Council voted to change a proposed settlement agreement to reform the police and courts.”
  • Cash is Bad for Creativity? Yeah, Right“–“Obviously autonomy is key. In any study where monetary rewards are given for creativity, one must assume a baseline where the artist is well-fed and has the basics of existence, or alternatively, plan to sort subjects by a variety of economic conditions and then see how cash rewards affect creativity.”
  • Catholic leaders say Zika doesn’t change ban on contraception“–“The Zika epidemic, he said, presents ‘an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.'”
  • Why is Silicon Valley so ‘tone deaf’ to India?“–“When the news came that India had rejected Facebook, board member and investor Andreessen tweeted the missive that echoed around the world: ‘Anti-Colonialism has been economically catastrophic for India for decades. Why stop now?'”
  • Audit of U’s human research reveals profound ignorance, chaotic mess“–“One person said the U’s required training left her confused about the process of getting informed consent. Nevertheless, she still actively recruits patients for human research.”
  • Peyton Manning’s squeaky-clean image was built on lies“–“For anybody other than Peyton Manning, such damning statements from a fellow student who had no dog in the fight would have been the nail in their coffin. As a general rule, it’s not just gross to smash your testicles on a woman’s face, it’s a crime.”
  • Jerkbrain Lies“–“You see, if you didn’t know that Jerkbrain lies, you might be tempted to take it seriously. Might think that maybe it’s right and you should just go back to bed forever to stew in your own filth because you’ll never be worth anything more than that.”
  • Trans people have no dispute with feminists – they either support transgender rights or they do not“–“Well I say there is no ‘row’ between TERFS and trans people. Just as there is no ‘row’ between Westboro Baptist Church and gay people, no ‘fallout’ between the BNP and ethnic minorities, and no ‘debate’ between rape advocates and women.”
  • #PrayForDawkins Isn’t Trolling, Just Religious Privilege“–“Even if someone at the Church of England would really like to make such a remark to Dawkins to, as my mother often liked to say when I was younger, “heap burning coals on his head” by being so magnanimous, it just makes no sense as a public relations move.”
  • This Sex Which Is Not Two“–“The resistance to the notion of the social construction of scientific knowledge was, and to some extent still is, pretty fierce. A lot of people at first can’t imagine what that would mean. To some people at first it means, well, you can just make anything up. And of course that isn’t true.”
  • Brief thoughts on women writers being erased from SFF – again“–“No, women SFF writers don’t take these best-of lists, these recommended-for-award-nominations and shortlists, these articles and review columns erasing us ‘personally’. We object because they damage us all professionally.”
The Reading List, 2/21/2016

Saturday Storytime: Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass

Here’s one by Jeremiah Tolbert for all of us serial escapists.

The agency had placed Louisa with Dewem, Putnam, and Low, a small but venerable legal office downtown. The interview had been very brief, as temps were harder to find since rabbit holes. In the past six months, the calls had gotten more frequent; Louisa had developed a good reputation for dependability. She had little else to do with her time since the cancer had finished its relentless march through her mother’s bones.

“Do you have one?” asked the office supervisor, a stern-sounding woman named Catherine (absolutely never, ever to be called “Cathy,” she had instructed). Her name and voice conjured pictures of Catherine the Great, but in person, she was considerably shorter, wider, and balder than the Russian leader.


“The last girl we hired never bothered to come in. And the young man before that showed for three days. I’m sure it’s wonderful, frolicking with elves in the forest, but we here in the real world have work to do.” She said “real world” with a degree of bitterness that evoked considerable sympathy in Louisa. Perhaps she too had been passed over.

“I am dedicated to my work, don’t worry. What would you like me to do?” Of course, she didn’t say that if her rabbit hole did arrive, she wouldn’t be coming back. She still had to pay rent for the time being, after all.

Catherine waved at the paperwork threatening to topple from the side of her desk. “File these, to start.” Catherine dismissed Louisa by simply ignoring her in favor of the computer. It took a long moment before Louisa realized she was supposed to leave. She could appreciate a supervisor who didn’t expect her to spend hours chitchatting about television or current events, two things that held no interest for Louisa, unless you counted the rabbit holes as “current events.”

Louisa gathered up the paperwork and wandered in search of the filing room. Most of the offices were dark and empty. The few people she saw looked frazzled and weary, like people for whom sleep had dropped a few levels on the hierarchy of needs—kindred spirits, those. She had seen that exhaustion many times in the mirror during her mother’s long decline.

Many of the lawyers were nearly hidden behind stacks of paperwork as large as the one she was attempting to file, which, if nothing else, signaled job security. One young man looked up as she stopped to stare. He gave her a half-smile, raised an immaculately sculpted eyebrow.

Louisa blushed. “Um . . . which way to the filing room?”

He pointed down the hall. He opened his mouth to speak, but she turned and fast-walked away before he could make a sound. She didn’t know how to talk to attractive young men anymore, if she ever had. Best to avoid it as much as possible.

Instead, she went to work in the small, dimly lit room down the hall. The system was a standard, though slightly antiquated one, as promised. The room itself would have been unremarkable but for one of the ceiling-high wooden cabinets; it was padlocked with two fist-sized chrome locks and a heavy steel chain. A sticky note indicated that T to Th had been moved to the neighboring cabinet indefinitely, and pointed with marker-drawn arrow to the right. When Louisa pressed her ear to the drawer, harp music whispered from within.

Louisa rooted through her pockets for her notebook, flipped to the end of her list of “Types of Rabbit Holes” and wrote: FILING CABINETS in neat letters. She snapped it shut, tucked it away, and began to work.

Keep reading.

Saturday Storytime: Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass

Listening to Milo and Based Mom

There was an event on feminism at the university last night featuring Milo Yiannopoulos and Christina Hoff Sommers. It was free. I went. I tweeted. I Storified, with additional information. Storify included below the fold. If it doesn’t load properly for you, you can read it here. Continue reading “Listening to Milo and Based Mom”

Listening to Milo and Based Mom