I appear to have caught a cold

I’m sick.

Blerg.

I have a cold.

Just in time for my work week.

See y’all later.

*

*

A Case Study in Stepping Up

I read A Nervous Wreck’s Disabled Guide to Stepping Up this week, and I found it very heartening.

Madison Mahdia Lynn’s five-step program is this:

STEP ZERO: Give yourself a moment to breathe.
STEP ONE: Make a list of what you’re good at.
STEP TWO: Make a list of your limitations.
STEP THREE: Make a list of people and organizations who need support.
STEP FOUR: Make a list of people and organizations you are connected with.
STEP FIVE: Put it all together.

She offers herself as a case study, and I thought I would share my own experiences so far.

STEP ZERO: Yeah, I’m not doing great at this. But I AM doing it. Every day I stop and knit. I turn away from all my connectedness and talk to my spouse, my kids. I snuggle dogs. I clean my house. I sit and read. I watch some tv. I have friends in my life who are very seriously NOT staying informed all the time, and I have things to talk about with them. Pets, projects, local gossip. I drink a lot of tea.

STEP ONE: I have money, I gave give materially. I have a small internet following, I can signal boost. I have a reasonably safe community, I can support it so that it continues to thrive. I can drive. I am white and have that privilege. I can write.

STEP TWO: I can’t march, or stand, or put myself in difficult physical circumstances. I wish I could, but I can’t. I don’t have a lot of free time for volunteering. I am a federal employee, and have sworn an oath to never advocate the violent overthrow of the government nor to join or support any group that does so.

STEP THREE: Every-fuckin-body needs help, it seems.

But that’s not entirely true.

The ACLU is doing fantastic work, and I have a recurring donation to them. But they got 24 MILLION dollars this weekend, and over 300,000 new members. So I can ignore their pleas for money right now.

Local groups. Local, small, groups, they need help.

STEP FOUR: Who am I connected with?

Local fandom, the Geek Partnership Society. Unity Unitarian Church. Local homeschool groups. National and international SF/F and comics creators. National and international fandom friends. Family. My trap shooting league team. My union.

STEP FIVE:

– Once a month I donate goods to Bridge for Youth. Gift cards, or stuff from their Amazon wishlist.

– I support artists on Patreon.

– I have recurring donations to a lot of organizations, national and local.

– I write. I call. I write and call my national representatives, my state reps, my mayor, my city council member. I write the local newspapers, I write my union, I write to the public libraries. I write to my college and high school. I write to SF/F conventions and organizations. I write or call basically everyone I can think of, on the issues relevant to them.

– I signed up for a LOT of newsletters, local and national. I’m reading a lot, taking in what’s already in place. I look for opportunities to volunteer or show up. I think I can manage an in-person action about once a month, whether that be a protest or march, or a city council meeting, or a CONvergence departmental meeting.

– I knit. So far, it’s mostly for friends and family. (I’m not that fast.) But I intend to branch out into knitting winter gear for shelters in the Twin Cities.

– I talk to my kids about the issues of the day. I try to support them as they react to the state of the world.

That’s where I’m at right now.

It’s going to take all of us. I won’t judge your contributions. You are needed, in this resistance. You are necessary. You will play a different part than I do. I mean, I HOPE you will! I need you to play a different part than I do, you know what I mean? Someone has to be doing the parts I can’t.

STEP ZERO: Give yourself a moment to breathe.
STEP ONE: Make a list of what you’re good at.
STEP TWO: Make a list of your limitations.
STEP THREE: Make a list of people and organizations who need support.
STEP FOUR: Make a list of people and organizations you are connected with.
STEP FIVE: Put it all together.

Resist.

*

*

Visiting Senator Franken’s office

Yesterday I got out of work early, and went to a meeting at Senator Al Franken’s office.

A few points:

– The invitation was issued by MoveOn.org, whose lists I have signed up for. The event was held in conjunction with Indivisible.

– A simultaneous event was held at Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office in Minneapolis, and I understand it was much more strongly attended.

– These will be weekly things, though in the future probably not scheduled at the same time.

– Senator Franken was not there, having flow back to D.C. after a weekend spent in Minnesota at the Muslim Ban protests.

Why I went:

– I want to meet local organizers, HOWEVER, I don’t want to be on Facebook. In doing some research I have found that a LOT of groups are popping up locally, and they largely have a Facebook presence and nothing more. MoveOn is a national umbrella for local, grass-roots organization, with a years-long record of having its shit more or less together.

– I wanted to see Franken’s office, since I have been calling it every week since November 9th.

– I have the privilege, I *could* go to a noon meeting. I could take the time off work, I could get there. I could attend and speak up for others who may not have been able to attend.

Who else was there:

– I was the second-youngest person in the room. The MoveOn local coordinator was a bit younger than me. She, in fact, brought her small child with her. (Which had a remarkably quelling effect on everyone’s language, let me tell you! The amount of profanity bitten-back at the last minute was … a lot.)

– Of the fourteen constituent-activists in the room, four were (probably) men, nine were (probably) women, twelve were white, one PoC. Nearly all of us were completely new to this activist-thing. When asked, “are you here with MoveOn?” three of us, including me, said, “I have no idea yet.”

How it went:

– We were a small group, and were ushered into a conference room. The Franken staffer said that for larger groups (and for future reference) they ask that the main group stay outside in the public space and send a delegation up to the office. Because, he explained, they are renting in this office building and the landlord gets worried about disrupting the other tenants.

– The conversation was a free-for-all, though people did sort of raise their hands. Everyone stressed that we are generally pleased with Franken.

– However, we want him to be a little less diplomatic.

– Except, we also want him to remain an effective Senator and reach acros the aisle for allies.

– I was NOT the only person in the room who is worried about a coup, and I didn’t bring it up first.

– I requested that Franken’s office include in a weekly email, or on the website, a list of the things Franken is working on, so we stop fretting about whether he’s on it or not.

Overall, I was glad to have gone. I met some people, I gave my email to some local organizers, and I thanked Franken’s staffers for their work.

*

*

Terms, defined

Overton Window

The Overton window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept. … According to Overton’s description, his window includes a range of policies considered politically acceptable in the current climate of public opinion, which a politician can recommend without being considered too extreme to gain or keep public office.

Gish Gallop

His debating opponents said that Gish used a rapid-fire approach during a debate, presenting arguments and changing topics quickly. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, dubbed this approach the Gish Gallop, describing it as “where the creationist is allowed to run on for 45 minutes or an hour, spewing forth torrents of error that the evolutionist hasn’t a prayer of refuting in the format of a debate.” She also criticized Gish for failing to answer objections raised by his opponents. The phrase has also come to be used as a pejorative to describe similar debate styles employed by proponents of other, usually fringe beliefs, such as homeopathy or the moon landing hoax.

Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive incapacity, on the part of those with low ability, to recognize their ineptitude and evaluate their competence accurately.

Fascism

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism. Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.

Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power and limited political freedoms. Individual freedoms are subordinate to the state and there is no constitutional accountability under an authoritarian regime. Juan Linz’s influential 1964 description of authoritarianism characterized authoritarian political systems by four qualities:

– limited political pluralism; that is, such regimes place constraints on political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest groups;

– a basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat “easily recognizable societal problems” such as underdevelopment or insurgency;

– minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and anti-regime activity;

– informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers.

Modern dictatorships use an authoritarian concept to form a government.

*

*

We can see the pattern now

Wait and say something genuinely terrifying on Friday.

Entire weekend is devoted to civic unrest.

Walk it back Sunday evening.

On Monday, there’s not as much for us to call our congressional representative about. The terrifying situation has been reduced, or mitigated, or it’s reconsidered. The administration backed down due to massive protest and civil disobedience.

During the week, it’s a Gish Gallop of frightening, terrible thing after thing. And we call, we email, we go through channels and tell our representative government *we do not want this*. And Friday afternoon hits, and everyone goes home, and BOOM.

Another fucking nightmare for the weekend.

Find. Your. Local. Organizers.

Find your local ACLU office and write their number on your arm in Sharpie.

Find the local groups, the Black Lives Matter, the immigration defense team, the Planned Parenthood, your neighborhood council, FIND THEM.

They are the people who already know how to throw together a protest on no notice. They have plans. They have lawyers. They know how many water bottles to bring.

FIND THEM.

Talk to them. Meet them. Volunteer with them.

You’re going to need them.

We’re all going to need them.

We must become them.

Join. Organize. Resist.

*

*

Unfollow at will, please

Soooooooo ….

So it seems that this new-found political activism on my part isn’t fading anytime soon.

Please, please — if you need to unfollow me, here, or on Twitter, or Tumblr, PLEASE do so. It doesn’t matter to me if we are friends, or family, or we’ve been following each other for ages. If you cannot handle daily political discourse, PLEASE unfollow.

Take care of yourself, first and foremost.

:solidarity fistbump:

*

*

For your awards consideration: Becky Allen and Bound By Blood and Sand

Full disclosure: Becky Allen is a friend of mine.

Becky Allen has been writing her whole life. Her first novel, Bound By Blood and Sand was published this past October. (From Delacourt Press!)

This makes BBB&S (a YA novel) eligible for the Andre Norton section of the Nebula Awards.

It also makes Becky eligible for the Campbell.

Becky is one of the people I make a point of seeing, of talking to, at any convention we’re both at. She is thoughtful, passionate, wry, and quick-witted, a great person to talk to on almost any topic. I value her opinions.

She is also dedicated, my goodness. BBB&S will NOT be her last novel, oh no. And her next one will be even better, because Becky learns from errors and strives to constantly improve.

Let me tell you something, about BBB&S. It is a YA novel that is thoughtful about how we humans screw up and go on. Think, for a moment, about being a young adult. It’s a never-ending stream of trying to do things, screwing it up, and not being able to hide in bed forever. We HAVE to go on. We have to go back to work, go back to class, see our friends, pick up our stuff from our ex’s place, go back to church — we can’t hide forever. And sometimes it seems impossible to go on.

Bound By Blood and Sand is a YA novel featuring young adults who are trying to go on. It is EXACTLY the book you want in your libraries, cover facing out, with “Andre Norton Award Winner” in plain view. You WANT to give this to schools, to teens. This is one of those books that helps map the uncharted waters of young adulthood. This novel truly deserves the attention the Norton would confer.

When you are nominating things this season, I urge you to read Bound By Blood and Sand. Give it, and Becky, your consideration this year. Nominate it, if you feel so moved.

I know I am.

*

*