The New Jim Crow

I finished reading The New Jim Crow.

It is well, well worth reading. I highly recommend it.

The book clearly and simply explains, with evidence to back up the assertions, how a racial caste system developed out of the ashes of Jim Crow. That new system of racial subjugation is mass incarceration.

The book makes a very strong argument.

It also describes what steps are needed, as a nation, to remedy the situation.

I highly recommend reading this book.

Especially if the assertion makes you angry or uncomfortable.


I strongly recommend this book to people involved in running fannish organization. Not because fandom is similar to mass incarceration. But because the racial caste system in the United States is reflected in every part of society, and this includes fandom.

Part of The New Jim Crow explains how racial exceptionalism is integral to the caste system. And a vast part of SF/F’s fundamental racism also relies on exceptionalism. Namely, “we can’t be racist because look at Octavia Butler!” The New Jim Crow explains that this post-civil-rights-movement racial caste system has different features than previously.

Racial caste in America today does not require that anyone spit vitriol or espouse white supremacy. It merely requires that we don’t care.

There’s a lot of comfortable not-caring in SF/F and comics.

So if you are a fannish organizer, if you run conventions, if you develop programming or invite guests of honor, if you set agendas for international or local events, I strongly urge you to read The New Jim Crow. Learn about the current racial caste system in the U.S. Care about it. Lead your community to stand against it.


Temporarily a cyborg

Yesterday I had an upper G.I. endoscopy. (This is the latest grasping-at-straws the Mayo is doing for my mystery throat ailment.) While they were in there, they took biopsies, took photos and video, and implanted a wireless transmitter.

… Deep inside my body is a small capsule clipped to the mucosal lining of my esophagus. It samples the pH of my esophagus and broadcasts that data to a monitor pack. I am required to wear this monitor pack on a lanyard around my neck CONSTANTLY until Wednesday morning.

About every seven days or so, the human body naturally sloughs off the mucosal lining. So in about seven days the capsule will come free and exit.

This is both kinda gross and really neat, and in the meantime I am a cyborg.

Victory. Condition.


Not here today

At the Mayo all day today, nothing interesting to post –

Hugo nominations for serial works, plus some notes

The Hugo Nominations are open until March 10th. Everyone I know is working on their ballots, or finalizing, or talking about the lesser-considered categories.

I’d like to mention a few things here, specifically in regards to Dramatic Short form and Graphic Story.

For both of these categories, we must nominate specific episodes or issues. You can’t nominate Welcome to Night Vale or Ms. Marvel; you have to PICK something.

This means that worthy series can miss nomination because their fans have not figured out which instance of the work to nominate. The vote gets split between multiple episodes, and nothing makes the ballot.

To combat that hazard, here are the SPECIFIC episodes and issues I propose to nominate in those categories:

Dramatic Short

Welcome to Night Vale, “Old Oak Doors” parts A and B

Gravity Falls, “Sock Opera”

Penny Dreadful, “The Seance”

Graphic Story

Pretty Deadly vol 1, The Shrike [full disclosure, I am the editor of this series]

Lazarus vol 2, Lift

The Fuse vol 1, The Russia Shift

Other things which may not be at the front of a nominator’s consideration — comic book artists are professional artists.

Best Professional Artist

Jamie McKelvie
Fiona Staples
Emma Rios
Matthew Lark
Matt Southworth
Justin Greenwood
Carla Speed McNeil

And, in case you missed it, I have eligibility in a few categories.

I am eligible for Best Editor, Short Fiction
Apex Magazine for Best Semipro
Pretty Deadly, which I edited, can be nominated for Graphic Story.
And all the short stories Apex published in 2014 are eligible. Not that you’re nominating ME with that, but rest assured I will be giddy with delight over any Apex-stories that get nominated.

Giddy, I tell you!


Costs of historical production

The third season of Vikings started last week. In addition, I started watching the tv series Outlander. I realized (again) that I mostly watch shows like this for the historical details. In the past this has typically meant famous historical figures, or battles, or famous places.

Since I started cooking and knitting I spend a LOT of time looking at food and clothes.

I have a sort of geeky approach to cooking and knitting. I read a LOT about the topics, I listen to a bunch of podcasts, I watch a lot of tutorials. I like to learn the theory as well as the practice. I like to see what masters of the craft are doing, as well as outre artists. I like to understand the fundamentals and basics, to learn where everything comes from.

What happens, then, is that when I am watching historical fiction I am frantically trying to add up the sheer weight of hours of work that have gone into making the things on the screen. That salted meat and hard bread packed into the longship for the trip to Wessex? Or that knit wool shirt? Or how about that woven blanket? Or all those great kilts? What about the simple existence of BREAD? Do you know how much WORK it is to make BREAD?

And that’s not even touching the products I don’t know how to make. The carved chairs, the metal sconces, the PLETHORA of weaponry …

… the stone castles.

When a farmhouse burns on these shows, I want to weep. The loss of time and production is … staggering.


When I first started going to conventions and ren fest I was shocked, SHOCKED, at the costs of the goods. Leather belts, floofy shirts, pewter mugs, etc. My understanding of a fair price point had been artificially suppressed by the global economy, by mass production. By unfair and extortionate labor practices taking place across the world where I could ignore it all. I had no actual idea how much work it took to make things.

After I found out, now that I understand, I feel that I pay no-where near enough for the craft labor of others. Most artisans don’t make an actual living with their work.


There’s a warning in all the how-to-knit books — everyone says do NOT make a Boyfriend Sweater. That your loved one will never, EVER, unless they are also a knitter, understand how much work and commitment and love you have put into making something they could have bought in an instant for a quarter of the money.


I also watch survivalist shows. Alaskan Beards. Windburns of the Outback. Jungle Feet Alone. Bearded Survival. You know the sort of show I mean. I hate the part where the show introduces “drama” into a scene. I want to shout at the shows that just making food for a week is drama enough!

I would watch these people make shingles all morning and spin wool all afternoon. I marvel at the skill and commitment and TIME.


When a farm burns on Vikings, or Jaime’s shirt is ripped apart on Outlander, I want to weep. At the loss, the destruction. at the fact that some woman or women will now have to spend additional hours of theirs lives that they could have used for food or joy or reading or dance on making another damn shirt.

Yet the costs of production also fill me with intense pride in humanity. Look at us.

Just, LOOK at us.

Look at how far we have come, when the costs of getting here are so murderously high.


SFWA Announces 2015 Nebula Award Nominations

On Friday SFWA announced the 2015 Nebula Award Nominees.



The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (), translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)


We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
“The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)
“The Mothers of Voorhisville,” Mary Rickert ( 4/30/14)
Calendrical Regression, Lawrence Schoen (NobleFusion)
“Grand Jeté (The Great Leap),” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)


“Sleep Walking Now and Then,” Richard Bowes ( 7/9/14)
“The Magician and Laplace’s Demon,” Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 12/14)
“A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” Alaya Dawn Johnson (F&SF 7-8/14)
“The Husband Stitch,” Carmen Maria Machado (Granta #129)
“We Are the Cloud,” Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed 9/14)
“The Devil in America,” Kai Ashante Wilson ( 4/2/14)

Short Story

“The Breath of War,” Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/6/14)
“When It Ends, He Catches Her,” Eugie Foster (Daily Science Fiction 9/26/14)
“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld 5/14)
“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family,” Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)
“A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” Sarah Pinsker (F&SF 3-4/14)
“Jackalope Wives,” Ursula Vernon (Apex 1/7/14)
“The Fisher Queen,” Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5/14)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Edge of Tomorrow, Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Guardians of the Galaxy, Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Interstellar, Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures)
The Lego Movie, Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan (Random House)
Salvage, Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)
Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, A.S. King (Little, Brown)
Dirty Wings, Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Greenglass House, Kate Milford (Clarion)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton (Candlewick)


More information on how to vote is here!

Congratulations to all the nominees! And a very biased congratulations to Ursula Vernon for “Jackalope Wives,” which I commissioned from her for Apex Magazine.


So you want to be an air traffic controller

I’ve been getting more involved in the training program at my work.

For those who don’t know, my primary income-earning job is as an air traffic controller. It is, I must say, a pretty good job.

We are currently seeing an upswing in candidates for the job. And I was pondering what qualifications I, personally, think make a good ATC candidate.

The official requirements are here.

However, I have a further suggestion for a successful metric.

Are you a good restaurant server? Bartender? Short-order cook? If you are, you will probably be a good air traffic controller.

It’s much of the same skill-set — ability to remember complex things and prioritize the order of accomplishing them. Spatial recognition and manipulation skills. Extremely quick decision-making.

So if you are a good waiter and you meet the other requirements, and you want to make six figures a year, BY ALL MEANS apply to the FAA Academy and become an air traffic controller.



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