2015 Book Log

Does anyone read these? Eh, I don't even care, I just like to keep track of what I read.

Also at some point I should do a "various media I enjoyed in 2014 and want you to get into so that we can squee about it" post.

1. The Alchemist's Son: Doctor Illuminatus, Martin Booth
2. The Long Tomorrow, Leigh Brackett
3. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin
4. Once a Witch, Carolyn MacCullough
5. The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, Irvine Welsh
6. Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution, Ann VanderMeer
7. The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson
8. Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
9. The Broken Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin
10. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel

1. End This Depression Now!, Paul Krugman
2. TARDIS Eruditorum: An Unauthorized Critical History of Doctor Who, Volume V: Tom Baker and the Williams Years, Philip Sandifer
3. Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's Assault on Your Right to Know, Mark Bourrie
4. The Haçienda: How Not To Run a Club, Peter Hook
5. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Elizabeth L. Cline

1. Toronto Comics Anthology, Steven Andrews, Nelson da Rocha, and Miike Something (eds.)
2. Saga: Vol. 1, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
3. Saga: Vol. 2, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
4. Saga: Vol. 3, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
5. Saga: Vol. 4, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
6. Ms Marvel: Vol 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jake Wyatt
7. Lumberjanes: Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy, Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis


Answer for question 4384.

Which United States political party do you think is most responsible for the government shutdowns or near-shutdowns that have occurred over the past few years, and why?
Well now, that's a question that suggests its own answer, isn't it?

Answer for question 4380.

If you were in a band, what instrument/role would you play? What kind of music would your band play? What would be the name of your band?
I used to play the piano and was not utter shit at it, but I've fallen way out of practice these days. If I could learn any new instrument, I'd want to play accordion.

I am very sad that I lack even the musical talent to be in a punk band called The Christie Pits Riot. And I am disappointed with the Toronto punk scene for not generating a band called this, as it was the most punk rock thing to ever happen in Toronto.

Answer for question 4376.

Do you believe in the concept of destiny or fate? Why or why not?
I believe in historical materialism. ☭☭☭

Answer for question 4374.

What is your favorite Classic Disney film and why?
The Black Cauldron. The Horned King was metal as fuck. I understood this even as a child of 6.

Answer for question 4372.

Are you scared of the dark? How do you combat this fear when you have to function in the dark?
One thing that I've discovered whilst running around in the woods in the dark battling zombies is that it's not that difficult to see in the dark as long as you let your eyes get adjusted. Light sources are what interferes with that and make it difficult to see, and thus easier for things that go bump in the night to catch you unawares.

That's why pirates wore eyepatches, so that one of their eyes was always adjusted to the dark.

Basically, it's the light you should be worried about.

Weekend of awesome

Want some pictures (mostly blurry) from the past few days? Of course not. But you're gonna see some anyway!

Friday: Went to see Primal Scream. I was vaguely aware of them in the 90s but only really started listening to them recently. They were pretty great and we ran into the singer at the pub afterwards. I have no pictures as we were really far back, and then we were too close to take pictures in a way that wasn't awkward.

Saturday: Gardened with my mum in the afternoon. Planted ALL THE THINGS. Here is my garden at the moment:


Currently in the ground: cherry and grape tomatoes, snap peas, snow peas, pickling cucumbers, kale, collard greens, and ghost peppers. It got scorchingly hot over the weekend and I have no idea what will live and what will die, but I'm pretty psyched. I also got a rose bush, which is already starting to bloom.

Admittedly, I am most psyched about the potential for ghost peppers. Gotta love planting instructions that come with a warning to "use extreme caution."

And here is my apple tree in full bloom!

Saturday night, well, you already know what happened. But here is a picture of most of the Kitten Bloc:


Anyway, the show was really phenomenal. It was exactly as balls-out insane as I would expect a Laibach show to be (I've been into them for ages but have never seen them live). As much performance art as music, with amazing visuals/propaganda videos. I am utterly in love with the new album.

And yes, apparently Milan Fras noticed and kinda did a double-take.


At the pub afterwards, L. showed everyone a trick to light up your beer with your cellphone:


Sunday: If Kitten Bloc was not enough to convince you that I am a massive nerd, a bunch of us drove down to Buffalo to go see the Welcome to Night Vale live show.

I don't want to say too much about it because apparently it is a thing to not say much about the live shows until the tours finish, but ZOMG SQUEE. Like the other live shows, much more on the hilarious side than the grinding existential horror that's been the podcast lately, and so worth a 2+ hour road trip to another country to see.

Here, have a very blurry cell photo of Cecil making a claw hand, for reasons.

The cast at the end, taking adorable to a whole new level.

Now I'm home and my body hates me but yay, weekend of awesome.


Thanks for all the birthday wishes. You guys know how to make a girl feel loved.

I bet you're curious as to what I did on my birthday. In fact, I bet you're wondering if I went to see Laibach and got a gang of friends together to reenact Rathergood's 2009 classic viral animation, "Fear the Kittens," dressed in cat masks and Soviet hats.

I bet you're wondering if I have video evidence that I did this.

Answer for question 4364.

If you had to choose, which would you rather be: a werewolf, a vampire, or a zombie?
Selkie. Yes, your story is going to inevitably be tragic, but in the meantime, you get to be a selkie.

On Omar Khadr

I've been away this weekend and there's probably many things that I'd like to post about, but one of the things is that Omar Khadr, the former child soldier imprisoned and tortured by the US and its Canadian lapdogs, is out on bail. I'd like to make a lengthy post but now I don't need to, because commodorified made an excellent post and you can read it here, and that pretty much says everything I would on the subject. Go read it. It's an important post.

The Evil Empire

Canada's Parliament, last seen playing the Imperial March on the bells without a hint of irony or self-awareness, has voted to pass Bill C-51, euphemistically referred to as "controversial" in all the articles about it. Essentially it gives the government even more power to spy on and round up terrorists and terrorist supporters, which for those of you who haven't been paying much attention to Canadian politics, can be defined as "everyone the government disagrees with, but especially environmentalists and First Nations activists."

This isn't even the biggest news story of the day. It passed because it's got a boring name and hardly anyone was paying attention.

More later unless I'm thrown in an army transport vehicle and sent to a camp somewhere, but in the meantime, you can view a list of who voted for it, and, even more tellingly, who didn't even show up, so you know who should go up against the wall come the revolution, I mean next election.

Just in case you thought Trudeau's Liberals would be an improvement over the current lot: spoiler, no, they won't be.

I never thought I'd be saying this

Let's talk about Alberta, shall we?

flaily puppy

But think of the children!

It's a rare day—and especially in the middle of some acrimonious contract negotiations with my union—that I'll say something nice about the Ontario Liberal government. But here it is: They updated the antediluvian Grade 1-8 sex ed curriculum and it's pretty good. It needed to be done and the changes are thoughtful and vital, including information about LGBTQ sexuality and affirmative consent. So, yay government on this one particular specific issue! You done good! You are terrible and corrupt when it comes to mostly everything else, but I can rest assured that you are sensible when it comes to the health education of young children, and I genuinely do appreciate that.

If you are interested and have enough time on your hands that you want to read really dull Ministry curriculum documents, you can read it here. It's not very interesting unless you're a teacher or a parent but there you go—it's totally public information and you can read it for free.

You know who didn't read it, though? Most people with an opinion about it.

Naturally, when I Googled "ontario sex education curriculum," the curriculum itself was not the first search result. Or the second, or the third. It's at least halfway down the page. The top hits are about protests—very sympathetically covered by the media, in contrast to how left-wing protests are covered—and misinformation by the likes of extremist anti-abortion and right-wing hate groups. This thing has been incredibly controversial, with said hate groups appearing on mainstream media with absurd claims that the new curriculum teaches seven-year-olds how to buttsex. (Spoiler: No it doesn't.)

One thing that would probably seem weird to an outsider is the support that the Tories (and make no mistake—these are not grassroots concern groups coming out of nowhere with no political agenda out of concern for THE CHILDRENS) have amongst marginalized and immigrant communities. I mean, you would think that a party of almost exclusively rich white men who hate people of colour, restrict immigration, have actual ties to white supremacist groups in some cases, and starve poor communities would not be well-liked by the people they make a living disparaging. But they do! And this is by design.

I'm reading Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's assault on your right to know, by Mark Bourrie, and there is a fascinating chapter as to why this is the case. Harper has a famous mistrust of journalists and believes that the mainstream media is a Liberal conspiracy that's out to get him, and one of the things he's been able to do in his tenure is to craft his message mainly towards the ethnic language media. So he will say one thing to Tamil language media, and another thing to Chinese language media, and so on, depending on whose votes he wants to win, and these are all tiny publications and stations that are basically just excited to get exclusive interviews with major politicians, so they softball interviews and don't have the budget to fact-check. It's completely brilliant and lets the Tories pander to various communities while actually enacting policies that directly harm them.

So when I see stories about how Ontario parents are staging a "strike" over the new sex-ed curriculum, I don't think I'm particularly conspiracy-minded to suspect a greater manipulation at work. I mean, let's be honest; it's pretty impressive if parents of young children can organize a bake sale to raise a few hundred dollars for their child's school, let alone a province-wide movement. Someone is out there, spreading lies and misinformation and playing the fears of parents to score electoral points. And it's working, because our mainstream media is not, in fact, a well-oiled Liberal machine and is actually an uncritical, bare-bones, defunded dinosaur gasping for its last breath as the meteors strike.

Who loses in this? Ontario, because this is all in service of eventually electing a Tory government that will be even worse than the abominable Liberal government. And most of all, the very children that these poor dupes want to protect. Every study ever done points to poor sex education as a major factor in teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs. And even more dramatically, I think this curriculum, properly implemented, is a crucial step in building a culture of positive consent that will pay off when these kids are teenagers and experimenting with sex for the first time. Teaching young kids that "yes means yes" means a future where not as many boys will think they're entitled to girls' bodies, and not as many girls will think it's their fault because he bought them dinner. Not as many queer and trans kids will grow up thinking that they're abnormal. This is a net gain for everyone, except for the backwards reactionaries.

Which is maybe why we need to reframe the debate. Instead of "concerned parents," let's focus on the manipulators behind the scenes and their pro-rape, homophobic, transphobic agenda. While sex ed is always a controversial thing, the butthurt of a few uptight pearl-clutchers has never made quite so many headlines in modern Canada, so follow the money. Who is really holding the kids hostage to make a political point?

Answer for question 4342.

Despite how old you really are, what age do you feel? Have you generally been more or less mature than others of your own age?
I'm still in my 20s and the 90s were just a few years ago.

I have some of the markers of adulthood—a career, a house, a desire to stay in and drink wine and watch TV rather than partying much of the time, but the biggest markers, reproduction and conservatism, appear to have missed me altogether. So I've had the weird experience of people my age or not much older relating to me as though I'm a decade or two younger than them, and teenagers relating to me as though I'm a peer.

I told a kid the other day that I feel their age when they talk about movies, but quite old when they talk about music.

The devil and Baltimore

Following, via the internet (because fuck knows I'm not going near actual newspapers or TV right now), the police riot in Baltimore. Like most of you, I'm full of rage and helplessness and horror.

In between updates, I've been mainlining episodes of Daredevil (which is awesome, by the way). I highly recommend it for a variety of reasons. Among them are its portrayal of a very nuanced moral universe. Without delving too deep into spoilers, both the protagonist and the villain do objectively Very Bad Things in the service of a near-identical goal: to improve the neighbourhood where they grew up. The latter sees gentrification and disaster capitalism as the key to fixing Hell's Kitchen; the former fights for the rights of tenants in rent-controlled slums. You can probably guess why I like it, beyond that I enjoy silly TV shows with superheroes beating the shit out of each other.

I'm going somewhere with this.

The show is really, really violent. Like, graphic in a way that makes me flinch, and I do not flinch easily. In between fight scenes, the characters debate whether it's justifiable to take the law into your own hands. The premise paints a picture of a dystopian city, where the rich circumvent the law, manipulate the media, and use the police as a death squad—so, pretty much like we have now—and as a viewer, while you may find it squicksome, you accept the narrative justification for Murdoch putting on a mask and beating the shit out of people every night. Because he's tried the other way, and failed.

Which brings me back to Baltimore.

David Simon, creator of one of the best TV shows ever, is requesting that the "rioters" go home. His voice carries a certain weight, since most of what I know about Baltimore I learned from watching The Wire. But he's wrong. The so-called rioters are home. And I don't see as they have much of a choice at this point.

I want you to imagine you're watching a silly show on TV. In pretty much every episode, a young man dies. Usually he's killed by the police, who are depicted as hopelessly corrupt. The deaths are horrific, over-the-top in their brutality. Helpless victims are beaten, tased, left to die. In the last episode, a young man looks at the cops funny, so they arrest him and sever 80% of his spine.

No one in authority does a thing. The friends and families and communities of the victims try to do the right thing. They try to appeal to the law. To the media. But the police are corrupt, the courts are on their side, and the media is preoccupied with Bruce Jenner or something. When their appeals are met with silence, they take to the streets in peaceful protest. You can imagine what happens next.

At what point, oh viewer, does violence become justified? Let's be honest; if this were a TV show, and not reality, you'd be rooting for the hero to be mowing down these fascists in the first 15 minutes.

Now, I wouldn't recommend violence because the state has bigger guns and is happy to use them, but I understand it. What gets me is the utter lack of empathy on the part of people wringing their hands about a few bricks being tossed, like a window matters more than a young man's life. I don't get why people don't see that every legal, civilized means of dissent has been exhausted and trampled over. I don't get why everyone in that entire city and anyone who can get in a car or on a bus, isn't out there in the streets, protecting the protesters from the cops.

I like fiction because it builds empathy. We can sympathize with drug dealers and junkies when The Wire reveals their struggles and aspirations. We can sympathize with vigilantes when we watch their desperation at an unfair system grow. And yet. We can watch high school kids, armed with nothing more than bricks and righteous outrage, face down a militarized racist police force that won't hesitate to kill them, and complain that they're not behaving like we would want them to, that they just need to lower their voices and their fists and we'll talk this out like rational people, as if anyone in power had any designs on civility. As if were ever anything but an impossible struggle against an implacable enemy. We get this in fiction, so why not when it happens in real life? Is it really that hard to understand?

Bad blogger, no cookie

I haven't been commenting much 'cause the only time I'm on the intertubes in any personal capacity is on my cell, and the LJ app is nonfunctional. The situation where I'm not home and am too tired to have reading comprehension is likely to continue for the next few weeks at least.

I really need a nap. It's a good thing I bailed on plans this weekend; I'm pretty much drowning in work.

Answer for question 4318.

Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek. Come at me, bro.

Oh, you want reasons? David Brin has plenty in this essay and various follow-ups.

I will add, because he didn't mention it, that in all the various SW media, there was never any character as awesome as Garak.

Sad as fuck

I'm really sad. Also a rage ball. There are a bunch of posts, public and private, that I'd like to make about it, but it'd basically amount to a FB style "see this thing that I am angry about? You should be angry about this thing."

Hit me with your best funny, cute, or cathartic things?

Answer for question 4310.

Do you laugh at things that you shouldn’t? Describe one time in particular when this happened. Did someone else see you laughing? If so, what happened?
Back in the...oh, when this kind of thing was a thing and not a meme, my friends who swooned over Leonardo DiCaprio (showing my age here) forced me to watch Titanic with them. The scene where the funny sidekick bites it had me giggling. The scene where DiCaprio dies and there's hand-holding and Celine Dion? I was laughing hard enough to fall off the couch.

Apparently that's not the reaction that teenage girls were supposed to have to that scene. Apparently it's not a comedy and you are supposed to cry and hug. Eh, what do I know, right?

This has happened for actual serious situations too, but I can't think of any specific examples.

P.S. That door easily could have fit two people.


a sudden absence of bees
These being the adventures of a proper schoolmarm, her presumptuous felines, and her horde of young minions.



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