Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for the 'politics' Category



Sunday, November 13th, 2016
So. Thinky Thoughts

I have been trying to gather my thoughts to express my feelings about this election and the next four years. I feel scared. Really scared. And vulnerable. That’s the word that sums it up best. I can’t imagine how other targeted groups feel, but as a woman, as a mother, as someone in the middle class, as someone who believes in equality for everyone–I’m really really scared. I’ve found myself crying these last days out of stress and those fears. I’ve been trying to pick myself up with some family things and also watching Christmas movies. But I still have lead in my stomach and I still want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers up over my head.

One of my friends said that she’s been in a low level panic. I’d say that I’ve been the same. My blood pressure is up, I’ve been in a constant state of nausea, and it’s been a real struggle to keep myself from sort of collapsing. This too shall pass, but I fear that these next four years will leave behind an aftermath like Hurricane Katrina. Only much much worse.

I have no idea how to feel better. I’m just trying to figure out how to deal with this new normal. Never in my life have I been so frightened by and for America’s future.

I’ve been trying to focus on writing and thinking maybe I need to write some lighter escapist sort of fiction. It’s not a lot to give to other people sharing my fears and panic and sense of danger, but it’s something. I have to focus on the the people around me and buoy them as much as I can. I need to be a port in a storm for whoever needs it. I need to raise my voice against hate. I need to speak out for those who are endangered and threatened. I need to be as much a light in the darkness as I can be.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 11th, 2015
Politics and how much I really hate them

I have just learned about the Hastert rule. No, that isn’t true. I just learned it had a name and how it came to be. I think this method of governance is both irresponsible and unethical and should be criminal. I don’t care which party is in power. If the government is going to work in a way that serves the people best, then all the bills need to come up for votes. They need discussion, and they need a chance to be shot down or put through, regardless of party affiliation. This particular practice has long made me want to vomit. I find it utterly revolting. I believe in a system with a lot of voices. I believe in a system where those voices get to be heard. Too often the voices that are squelched are the most reasonable, the most likely to serve the people. It also makes it hard for parties to work together and compromise. To actually talk to each other. This stupidity discourages that.

That brings up another thing I hate. I hate the term political correctness and I hate how people label something they don’t like PC and dismiss it. Political correctness can be also translated into an effort at respect. For instance, I despise the term mankind. Hate it. Why? Because there are no women in it and because our society frequently erases and dismisses female experience as unimportant. Many say the word mankind includes everyone–women are implied. But those same people would not agree if all of humanity was called Womankind and men were implied. Or if the general pronoun was she instead of he. Because male experience is generally privileged and considered more important and more valuable. It’s considered normal and anything that isn’t male is abnormal and not included in the definition. Women are not normal. Think about it. Most drugs are based on male anatomy. Most cars are designed around male anatomy and needs. Most everything in our culture is designed around the male norm. Except maybe airline seats which are designed around anorexic Capuchin monkeys.

My point is simply this. we create our world out of language. Michele Foucault said that if we can’t name it, we don’t really know it. That’s because it doesn’t fully exist until we can put it into language–convey, communicate, and internalize the essence of something in language. So when people ask to have their experiences of the world validated by the language, calling it PC without considering its value is a dick move. It’s saying “what exists is perfect and you’re not important enough to bother changing the way I speak.” Of course, what that really does is protect ingrained thinking, and therefore what is accepted as knowledge, even if it’s bigoted. And with control of knowledge comes the cultural establishment of how people understand the world–the way it works, what’s normal, what’s not.

Now consider what might have in the past been considered PC changes. Colored for blacks. Or nigger. Why shouldn’t black people want to be called that? How ridiculous, how PC that they should want the dignity and respect of not being called a pejorative word, even though that word is routine in the language of the culture. What about faggot? Or Kikes? Gooks? Wetbacks? Many would agree now that those are not acceptable. They are racist and hate-filled. But then they turn around and see no sense in changing something familiar because others find it derogatory.

I tend to think that there is too much sensitivity in the culture. That sometimes you just have to let things go. At the same time, I make choices not say things like mankind, runs like a girl, screams like a girl, slut, and so on. Yes, a lot of my particular peeves surround women. I’m a woman, I experience the world in a way that frequently tells me that my experiences are less-than, silly, unimportant, stupid, ridiculous, overwrought and so on. Women are blamed for the things that the culture teaches us to be, that expects us to be, that somehow wants us to be, and also negatively judges us for being. Doing anything like a girl is bad. I wish to hell that would fall out of the language. PC? No. Sign of respect for women? Hell yes.

So I want people to not knee-jerk call something PC and label it therefore as stupid and unimportant. I would ask people to consider whether there might be real merit in changing their use of language, in considering the other point of view.

Sunday, January 18th, 2015
multiple things make a post. One hopes.

I do my twittering through Hootsuite. Hootsuite remembers my password. I, however, do not. So I was trying to go on to Twitter for some reason I no longer remember–it’s been hours, already–anyhow, Hootsuite may remember my password, but I don’t. I had to decide if I should reset the password, which would mean resetting Hootsuite, or just say forget it and worry about it another time. I went the lazy route.

I really sympathize with Charlie Hebdo and I really believe in Freedom of Speech. I even understand the “nuanced” argument of the editor that they go after religions which make political statements. Wouldn’t matter if I didn’t, though, because I do believe in freedom of speech, no matter how ugly. But at the same time, I really don’t like the way US culture and clearly other cultures all over the world, are willing to be deliberately hateful and offensive to other groups. The way we tend to go after each other as if we have a right to tell anyone else what to do. And yet . . . shouldn’t some things be stopped? Like genocide? Like child abuse? Like human rights abuses? Even if those things are legal and morally acceptable in other parts of the world?

Obviously I have no answers. I’m terribly torn. I hate knowing that if you’re black or Muslim and you’re walking down the street, everybody is a potential threat these days. I hate the way you can’t send kids out to play without worrying they’ll be accosted by a pedophile, a rapist, a killer, a gangmember, an idiot texting, a bully . . . I hate the rape culture. I wonder with all our progress in this world, how have we become so dangerous to each other? Yet I support the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution. I support freedom of religion and of speech and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also believe in the social contract, that supporting our neighbors supports ourselves and leads to a healthy nation.

These are the things I’ve been thinking about today.

I’ve been knitting and learning new things. Posted a new picture up on facebook. Unfortunately the picture is too big to post here until I shrink it. But I”m working on something new and will likely post it. It’s remarkable how well I’m doing (ie that I am satisfied with what I’ve made) in such a short time. I’ve only been knitting a month. Thanks to Devon Monk, I’ve recently learned to knit with double points in order to make mitts in the round, and I’ve managed to make a new pattern. I also read it and followed it accurately, even though it left out a key direction and I figured that out, too. I’m very proud of myself for that.

I’ve been revising Edge of Dreams. I’m planning to send it back to my editor a week from tomorrow (Jan 19th). I *think* I can get it done satisfactorily by then. Kids are out of school tomorrow, so I do have doubts about how much work I’ll manage to get done tomorrow. And then there’s the dentist appointment tomorrow for the girlie . . . .

I lulled myself into thinking that it’s almost time for spring here. It actually is, compared to the fact that Montana spring is about five months away. I expect to see the camelias starting to bloom within the next few weeks. My primroses are actually blooming. All the same, it’s not going to be spring for at least a couple of months. Of course it’s very green and warm here, so it’s not like it’s ever been the twiggy, sere wasteland of winter that happens in Montana. Which is lovely, but I prefer the green.

The boy went four days without getting sick, then he threw up for two, and today he’s not yet barfed. I’m trying to figure out what might have set him off. If anxiety somehow got to him (but on the weekend didn’t make a lot of sense), if he ate something different (didn’t figure out what), or if it could be just a normal part of healing from an ulcer (I can’t find a lot of that info on the net). Still haven’t figure it out.

Laura Anne Gilman blogged about bagels in Seattle the other day. The result was me craving bagels. I am no New Yorker, and I like fruit bagels with cream cheese. I do like a chewier bagel, but I got some at Costco and while they were not chewy really, they were tasty and hit the spot. Yum. I’ll be bageling my lunch this week, methinks. I can’t even remember the last time I ate one.

I keep thinking that I’m doing nothing very interesting, nor thinking anything very interesting, and so I’ve not been posting. I’ve got to work on that. Maybe just thinking more. Perhaps that would be a useful thing. Where on the web is the best source of world news? And US news? I tend to skip around and try to catch the evening news, but not find anything that I really like for a regular source of news. Suggestions?

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Aggravation

Today I had an absolutely lovely day. Took girlie shopping and we had a lovely outing until . . .

I had to go into Costco to get another prescription for boy (his nausea medicine) and a few other things. We decided to get a slice of pizza and so sat down to eat before we left. This smiling older gentleman sat down opposite us and his wife beside me. He started chatting, and pretty quick he dove into politics. He firmly believes in Glenn Beck. I firmly believe Glenn Beck is mostly delusional. He insinuated that if I in any way supported Obama, I therefore did not support the constitution. Voting for Obama even though much of the Republican party lately is (from my perspective and based on legislation passed by Republicans and blocked by Republicans at a Federal and State level) anti-science, anti-education, anti-gay marriage, anti-women’s rights, anti-middle-class worker, and into privileging companies over people, is a vote for the end of the world apparently (Biblically, for these people). They quoted information at me that I found to be problematical and/or downright wrong. Also, the Bible is not a convincing support for me. Sorry. Unless you’re going with the Do Unto Others rule, which I support.

I consider myself an independent voter. I’m not enthusiastic about any of the party offerings for the most part, but right now, there’s very little that would convince me to vote for a Republican. I’d rather vote for Randy of the Redwoods (an old MTV reference, for those who don’t know). I am also not convinced that the Republicans can and will save the economy. Their track record is not that good. So while those people who tell me I should be voting Republican will acknowledge (some if not all) the problems I mentioned above, they will say it doesn’t matter because the economy matters more than everything else and only the Republicans can save it.

I don’t buy it. I’m not saying I’m a particular fan of Democrats. I see tons of problems there and frankly I think if a politician’s lips are moving, s/he is lying. (Although I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Warren). I think that too many politicians have no idea how ordinary middle-class people live and I think that all too often they’re in it for the prestige and power and money. I am not enthusiastic about the NSA spying. I’m really disgusted by the recent attempts to make it possible to refuse services to people because your religion might not accept the way they live and who they are. Suck it up sunshine. This America. We believe in equal rights.

I like guns. I like equal rights and human rights. I like the environment. I like for women to have equality under the law. I like universal healthcare. I like lower taxes. I like education. I like decent wages. I like the separation of church and state. I like unions and protections for workers. I like a woman’s right to choose. I like freedom of religion. I like gay marriage. I like the constitution. I don’t believe corporations deserve the rights that people do. I think quality education is vital. I believe in evolution and science. I believe people have a right to defend themselves in their homes and kill if necessary (I’m thinking home invaders here and abusive spouses, and imminent danger).

I hold both conservative and liberal beliefs and a range in between. I’m not Christian, but neither do I know what I am. I’m not sure I’m atheist. I’m just not convinced in any particular direction. I honor and respect those who do have faith, no matter what it is, though I’ve no respect for people who are hypocritical about their religion. Of course, I don’t respect hypocrits in general. I believe in Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. I also believe in the Wiccan Rede, An it do no harm, do what ye will.

I got up and walked away from this couple. Mostly because I was done eating and I wasn’t going to change their minds and they weren’t going to change mine and I didn’t want to be preached at, and I didn’t appreciate their judgements of me.

On the positive side, after a horrible bout of barfing this morning (brought on I think by a coughing attack), boy has had a good day.

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
Gender, writing, SFWA

Tonight I was talking to my husband about gender. He says, why should the woman (on the TV) call herself transgender? She’s a woman now, why not just call herself a woman? That’s what she is, isn’t it? I pointed out that she has to talk about it and call herself transgender when she’d probably love to just be a woman, because society demands that she identify as what she was born as. That she has to worry about what bathroom she is allowed to use, and she has to worry about whether she is legally committing fraud if she says she’s a woman, and so on. His reply–*rolling his eyes* that’s just stupid. She’s a woman. All that other is just bullshit (I do love this man).

That brings me to all the crap that’s been floating around the internet this last week involving a certain petition put together by a guy who does not belong to SFWA complaining that now that the SFWA is trying to a) be more professional, b) not demonstrate regular bigotry against much of its own membership and women the world over, c) attempting to be more inclusive and respectful of people of color and women, that it’s being turned into a politically correct travesty of a professional organization. It was much better when the professional organization not only permitted but celebrated bigotry against women and POC. Rah Rah. It’s all couched in terms of political correctness is evil and freedom of speech is being destroyed and anybody who loves freedom of speech should sign the petition. Here’s the link if you want to go have a gander.

My response, in a nutshell, is horseshit. Here’s why. The reason why “political correctness” has been demonized and vilified is because it questions the privileging of certain people, language, religions, and so forth. Why shouldn’t women be called lady-writers and men be called writers? After all, it’s accurate, at least to a point. The reason why it’s offensive is because the language is andro-centric. It privileges male experience as normal and all other experience as other. That means by definition, anything that is not male is other (there’s a lot of logic and theory that sustains this argument and I won’t go into it here.) Male experience is also valued and other experience is not. Let me give you a for example. The typical name for an unmarried man is bachelor. No negative connotations are associated with that term. You could also go with stud, player, gigolo (to play up the sexually fertile idea), all of which are not pejorative. Think of the unmarried woman. Bachelorette–that is the friendliest one, and it still defines a woman in terms of the masculine idea. But look at the other terms: spinster, hag, maiden (which implies virginal, because a sexually active woman is a bad thing) virgin or to go the sexual route–slut, whore, bitch, as only a few examples. (Notice how these terms value women only in relation to their sexuality and relevance to the masculine eye). The language (and the hegemony behind it) perceives women as not-men, which means failed or flawed men. Specifically women are vessels to be filled by men, and if they fail in that regard, they have no purpose (spinster/hag/bitch/slut comes from this perspective). This valuation goes back to the story of Eve. She grows out of a spare part of a man, and not even an important one, and she’s responsible for getting kicked out of Eden because she is too emotional, too greedy, too passionate (I’ve heard it a lot of ways).

I firmly think that the language you use matters. It matters because we create the world through words. We know our world through the language we use. We all know that the old nursery rhyme “sticks and stone may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Again, horseshit. Think about it. We forget physical injuries fairly quickly, but we can remember the names we were called forever. On top of that, I believe that treating people in a fair and respectful manner is important, but it is fundamental to a professional organization like the SFWA. Yes, I’m a member. The petition keeps talking about a vocal minority that is moving toward these terrible changes that would silence bigotry (but it’s just a joke! Why must you be so thin skinned? Don’t you have a sense of humor?  oops. Sorry, but those sorts of rhetorics are always the excuse for this kind of bigotry). This isn’t a minority. It’s a sea change within the organization. We want professional standards and we want members to meet them in our professional communications. I’d love people to be respectful in all their communications, but I know that won’t happen.

So let me share some things with you. Here’s Mary Robinette Kowal’s account of being harassed as an officer of SFWA. Here is her follow-up to that, given the current petition. A lot of is truly repulsive, repugnant, and disgusting. Here’s The Daily Dot talking about the current situation. Here’s a really good post by Juliette McKenna about why talking about it and why shouting back is fundamental. I’ve been reading a lot of posts about this and reading a lot of really horrifying nastiness on the parts of those who are fighting to keep their ‘rights’ to be shitty people. They squeal freedom of speech and wave flags saying they have a right to say what they want the way they want in any and every forum. Here’s the problem. They don’t. The SFWA isn’t a public organization. It can have civil standards. It can have rules against bigotry. It can say, we will not tolerate the denigration of some members by other members. Not only can it, it sure as hell should.

These same people complain when others take them to task for their speech, claiming freedom to say what they want. That part is true. They can say it. But other people can speak too. One person’s freedom of speech does not negate another’s, and just because you have a right to say it, doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to tell you that what you said was stupid, ridiculous, bigoted, and downright nasty.

So that leads me to this post by John Scalzi.  It begins with this quote:

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld) on SFF.net, during the recent unpleasantness.

This quote is meant to be insulting, comparing those who would protest hate speech as insects who refuse to crawl away and shut up when this verbal vomit is spewed forth onto the unsuspecting SF community. In response, John says this:

Mary and I are no longer officers of SFWA, but I think our commissions at the head of the Insect Army are still in effect: After all, not every “insect” is in SFWA (yet). And so I say to you: Join John and Mary’s Insect Army! You must write! You must be fearless! You must stand your ground in the face of deeply silly insults, clacking your pincers derisively at them! And, if you believe that every person — writer, “insect” and otherwise — should be treated with the same dignity and honor that you would accord yourself, so much the better. Together we can swarm to make science fiction and fantasy awesome!

Join our ranks!

insect

I’ve wanted to speak out on this since it broke, but I’ve had quite the full plate. Boy’s MRI is tomorrow and this weekend he’s backslid. I’ve also had a professional piling on. I don’t have time. Except this is one of the most important things any of us can do–stand up for our ideals. Maybe the nasties believe it’s only a vocal minority because more of us don’t speak up. I have before, and who knows if anyone will look at this blog. Nevertheless, this is my torch lit against the city of dreadful night. Bigotry should be fought against whether we have time or not.

I am an insect. I am a writer. I am vocal.

 

 

Saturday, July 20th, 2013
Fun Days and Shelves! and Hobby Lobby

We started the morning with me going to the farmers market for many good things including red potatoes, cantaloupes, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, peaches, apricots, and cilantro. I think a couple other things snuck into the baskets too. Meanwhile, the man ran his errand and finished the project he was working on. We then set off for Portland. Oh, yesterday I bought a used desk. It’s very nice and I can pick it up next Saturday. It should fit well into my office. Yay! So okay. Went to Portland today to a shop that has unfinished furniture (we were also going to a consignment shop to look at desks, but I found one locally on craigslist, so that dropped off the list). The shop was in this really kitchy cool part of Portland near the Lloyd Center (Lloyds? uncertain).

We ordered shelves for the front room and started working on the shelves for the office, but we can’t fully plan those out until we get the desk situated. What’s nice is that the shelves are birch and alder, well made, and will be quite lovely. We will finish them ourselves. We can’t have them for 4-6 weeks because the order has to be made and a local guy makes them. I’m really excited though. It means I’ll actually get to visit the books I haven’t seen for years, some of them. (We had packed up a bunch when we were getting ready to sell the house and then the house took 2 years to sell).

After that, we had some lunch at Chipotle, and then drove back home on a meandering route that took us through a bunch of Portland. We found an estate sale and stopped in, where I bought some bundt pans, a plastic bundt pan carrier/cover, a couple of full aprons (one is pink and the girlie loves it), and put a couple of bids on some furniture. We’ll hear tomorrow if we got them. One is a really cool little coffee table with drawers at the ends. Could be awesome. The other is a rosewood plant stand. Our bids were on the low side, though, so we may not get them. Ah well.

After that we popped into a tool place and grabbed a furniture dolly for moving the desk, and then we chugged on. The kids were desperately looking for a Krispy Kreme shop (which we did not pass). Sadly, nothing. (Not so sad for me. I was and am still stuffed from lunch at this writing). We decided to meander back through some small towns and farmfields and I was on the hunt for some blackberries to pick. I finally found a good bush–off the main road and easy to get to, plus we were all wearing sandals and shorts, so fairly easy to reach. We picked for about a half hour. Filled the bundt pans and the bundt cake keeper. I estimate at least 16 cups, probably closer to 20. Pie and jelly are in our future.

Now I am about to try getting some words down. I wrote about 2K last night and I’d like to keep the groove up.

Oh, and then this. Hobby Lobby has been, at this point, allowed not to provide birth control to its employees as part of its insurance. I wrote a bit about this on FB this morning, but I was thinking more about it. I got to wondering about whether a judge would have approved this if they were Muslim. Really I wonder if many religions would be approved, but in particular I think Muslims would be excoriated by the courts, partly because of Sharia Law (which I admit I know precious little about, but which is demonized in this country, and I have no idea how ordinary Muslim faith actually follows Sharia Law or not), and partly because of 9/11 and the Taliban. Would Muslims get this same approval? I not only doubt it, I think pigs would fly and screw butterflies first. I think the same would apply to Mormons, frankly. And Amish. And Hutterites. I could go on.

And that leads me to this question: why is it right for one religion to have the ability to dictate the health/sex lives/fertility of its employees, but not others? Well, for me, the answer is it’s not right, not for Texas, not for Arizona, not for Wisconsin, not for anyone. What a woman or man chooses to do with their bodies is their choice, including whether or not to have children.

/off soapbox

Feel free to agree or disagree, to correct me, explain to me, or otherwise discuss.  I merely ask for civility in this discussion, and respecting that other people have opposing beliefs and ideas. The discussion is important to have, regardless of agreement.