It’s New Years – make predictions for what geology things WON’T happen in 2017. The magnetic pole won’t flip. Yellowstone won’t erupt. There won’t be record high Arctic sea ice. Scientists won’t suddenly admit that climate change is a Chinese hoax.
This topic is marvelous. I love it. But I don’t want to do the predicting alone: I want to hear your prognostications, too!
I had my main character, Dusty, losing Mom and Grandma and her best woman friend. To be fair, she also lost her father and a brother and a fiance, but then, I also had her future hubby being motherless, and goodness knows how many other women I’ve offed. Women I knew nothing about. Women who often didn’t even have names outside of mother or grandmother.
You know why? Because my society taught me that’s what women were for, and as much of a rebel as I can be, I didn’t question that.
Many of the stories I grew up with had dead mothers. I mean, fuck, look at Disney. Dead mothers everywhere. Women whose main claim to fame was giving birth to the heroine or hero, and then tragically dying to give the kid a rough start in life. Sure, you could have strong female characters – but they were basically defined by their absent mothers and their strong male role models.
And because, as a storyteller, I read all of these stories and absorbed them, I ended up regurgitating the tropes without realizing what I was doing.
With John Glenn’s passing earlier this month, my thoughts turned to space. People don’t think of the stars when they think of geology – I mean, it’s all about Earth, right there in the name. But the earth is made of star stuff. And the way gravity works, it turns that star stuff into rocky little worlds all over the universe, perfectly suited for our good science of rock-breaking. Geology isn’t limited to the planet it was born on and named for. And we can take it all over space and time.
We got there. We grabbed some rocks. We made some nifty discoveries. And believe me, green cheese might be a pretty tasty substance, but it’s nowhere near as delicious as the things the moon is actually made of.
The eleven European tourists exploring Antelope Canyon on a fine summer day in 1997 probably never considered drowning in a desert slot canyon to be a possibility. They may have known that water carved those sandstone walls into fantastical curves and angles. But it wouldn’t have seemed like an ongoing process. Why would anyone be thinking of water, standing on dry sand, with shafts of sunlight spearing through from the narrow opening above? Despite it being the height of the Arizona monsoon season, it wasn’t raining.
It started with the sandy silt on the canyon floor leaping six inches into the air. Tour guide Pancho Quintana and his group heard a roar so loud it drowned out screams. The solid rock walls shook. They began running, trying to find a place to climb out. And then they were hit by a wall of water that filled the canyon to a depth of eleven feet. Bodies were thrown into the walls. People might find a grip for a few seconds before debris or other bodies hit them and tore them away, tumbling them down the canyon. Pancho was the lucky one: despite the water and rock tearing off his clothes and skin, he managed to get a foot wedged in a crevice. The rest of the people with him, his tour group and another, were swept out of the canyon and into Lake Powell. Some of their bodies have never been found.
How? How could water suddenly appear from nowhere and end almost a dozen lives in a few minutes?
We’re getting a clearer picture of how science in America will be treated under Trump. It’s horrifying. Our scientific endeavors are under severe threat, as is our environment. Scientists and those who support science have every reason to be concerned about the next several years.
Here’s a small taste of what we’re dealing with under Trump.
So. America. Beacon of freedom and example to the world. Nazis must’ve hated us, amirite?
When responding to critics, Nazi racial experts muted the distinctiveness of their aims by noting analogues elsewhere…. While rabid antisemites praised the lynch mobs that kept African American’s “in their place,” more sober but equally determined racial policy makers expressed the hope that one day Nazi racial codes would be as widely accepted as U.S. immigration quotas, anti-miscegenation laws, involuntary sterilization programs in twenty-eight states, and segregation in the Jim Crow South.
We inspired the very monster we later fought. And we as a nation have a terrible time admitting our faults, much less fixing them. We see the outcome of that denial. Nazis do as we do, not what we say. A toxic stew of racism and bigotry simmers as we play the great white knights. And now we find tens of millions of our fellow citizens looking fascism in the face and deciding to hand the keys to the country over to it. We were never as good as we claimed. We never lived up to our aspirations. We never really tried. And now we’re perilously close to repeating a part of Western history that never should have been allowed to repeat.
One of the best ways to control people is to control how and what they think. Warren Jeffs, like many cult leaders before him, knows this well. Seems he may have learned it from his father, who forbade higher education after he became prophet. This allowed him to keep dangerous things like reading and critical thinking in check.
Now, as Angie Jackson often points out, you can be highly educated and still fall for cult nonsense. But it’s far easier to maintain a hold on people if they’re not exposed to outside information.
Forbidding any higher education within the community means there’s soon a shortage of teachers for the elementary and high schools. They’ll need to start recruiting from outside the FLDS community, but the salaries are too low to attract anyone. Even with some families homeschooling, the existing teachers are flooded with far too many students. Something has to give – and Carolyn thinks she has the solution when Arizona starts funding charter schools. After some research, Carolyn figures that with the state funding they would get per student, they could easily afford to hire good teachers. So she and some of her fellow teachers begin working on a proposal. Surprisingly, she gets support from Merril, who tells her she’s got a good idea and that he’ll talk to the prophet about it.
Meanwhile, to relieve the pressure on the existing teachers, Carolyn suggests using computers for students to do reading and math drills. She could even do the necessary software development. The school superintendent thinks this is awesome and jumps aboard the charter school train.
Their proposal makes it past the first hurdles, and so Carolyn and her fellow teachers end up in Phoenix to present it. They’re up against a hundred other potential charter schools, most developed by high-ranking educational professionals. Competition is fierce, and almost all of the presenters before them get turned down. But they sail through to approval: the board is extremely impressed by their assessment plan and innovative ideas. All they have to do is build the school building in time, and the FLDS folks are old hands at putting buildings up fast. Carolyn and her team are elated. Even Merril’s impressed. He goes to tell Uncle Rulon about their victory.
But then Warren gets wind of it. And he doesn’t like it.
It will be a school run by professionals, with professional teachers, unlike his school, where only two teachers have actual degrees and some don’t even have a high school diploma.
Kids won’t have “learning” beaten into them with yardsticks, the way he does it.
The charter school will make liberal use of computers. Warren has banned computers.
The children will be well-educated, which means they can read things he doesn’t want them to read, and think things he doesn’t want them to think.
Needless to say, he’s not a fan. And because by now he’s pretty much in control of his father, Uncle Rulon is also not a fan. As far as Carolyn knows, Merril doesn’t even attempt to change Rulon’s mind. He just accepts the verdict and forbids Carolyn from having anything more to do with it.
I was furious. My anger touched a core in me that burst into flame. For the first time, I began to see how religion could suppress something positive and life-giving. Failure to educate our children was unconscionable.
Carolyn is so distraught that she can’t continue her teaching career – she quits at the end of the school year. She can’t be a teacher while Warren is prophet in all but name. Still.
I didn’t think about what might happen after his father died. No one really expected Warren to become the next prophet. I certainly didn’t. He was too much of a nobody.
When you’re dealing with a “nobody” who’s as cunning and power-hungry as Warren Jeffs, though, you can’t take their failure for granted. That’s a lesson we should all endeavor to remember.
It tried and failed to get Carrie Fisher, so this terrible year took George Michael from us instead.
Faith was one of the first albums I ever owned. I didn’t understand a lot of things back then, but I vaguely understood that George wasn’t actually singing most of these songs to women. It’s hard to put into words, but I feel somehow that people like him were the reason I didn’t end up homophobic. His struggles with love and loss and faith resonated. They didn’t need a hetero context to be valid or true.
And his music, his voice, everything about him was so incredibly beautiful. He was one of those singers who, even long after I’d lost my taste for pop music, I could still listen to with reverence. Continue reading “Thank You, George Michael”→
When searching for the appropriate image for our Midwinter Shenanigans Playlist, I came across too many good lolcats not to share. Settle in with your favorite holiday drink and enjoy! Continue reading “Merry Catsmas!”→
Happy Newtonmas Eve, my lovelies! Merry Solstice! Happy all the holidays, in fact!
For your listening pleasure, I’ve been putting together a Midwinter Shenanigans playlist (although it’s the Midsummer Shenanigans Playlist for all you folks in the Southern Hemisphere). It’s full of some non-religious tunes, unusual takes on classic faves, and things that are just darned beautiful. Continue reading “Saturday Songs: Midwinter Shenanigans Playlist”→
It’s been a busy week, y’all. I’ve been writing stories, finding stories I’d thought I’d lost, and then been dug out of the house to go look at pretty lights. Those of you following me on Facebook have already had sneak peeks. Now the full album is here for everyone. There’s something for all tastes! We have a bit for the geeks (Star Wars!), for the cartoon aficionados (the Grinch!), potty humor connoisseurs (Santa on the toilet!), plus plenty of pretties and one of the funniest inflatable tableaux I’ve ever seen in my life.