Me in the computer box

An open letter of thanks to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Thank you, Speaker Ryan, for your courageous support of the Democratic Sit-In for a vote on gun control bills.

I know that, as Speaker of the House, it's your job both to bring bills to the floor of the House and to "enforce the laws we already have" about proper decorum in the House. Yet you are bravely allowing Democratic Representatives to continue their sit-in, and even to record and broadcast it, in obvious violation of the rules--because you know that that's the right thing to do.

I know that you are a hostage to the NRA, and that that's a scary prospect--they've got all those guns! And I know that you could take the coward's way out and bring bills to the floor that would just be voted down by a Republican majority of your fellow-hostages. After all, when you believed that ObamaCare was a threat to the country, you were willing to bring repeal to a vote more than fifty times, even though you knew it would accomplish nothing!

You didn't blink when you knew you were in the right.

But your conscience won't allow you to bring yet another bill to the floor, forcing your fellow-hostages to do the NRA's bidding again by voting against what a majority of Americans, including your own constituents, know is right: possession of a gun is a right that should nonetheless be governed by some common sense laws, just like the laws that restrict access to abortion, voting, and Sudafed.

Your conscience also won't allow you to end the Sit-In by ordering the Sergeant at Arms to forcibly remove your colleagues from the floor. You know that it would be deeply abhorrent to have police drag Rep. John Lewis and the rest of the House Democrats out of the chamber where their constituents have sent them to speak for Americans. You know that it would be tyrannical to enforce the rules that would prevent them from using social media to spread their message.

And still, you have a gun to your head. You know that the NRA could realize what you're doing through your inaction at any second and pull the trigger. All eyes are on you. What can you do? What can any hostage do when he's not free to speak?

Keep blinking, Speaker Ryan.

We see you. House Democrats see you.

Rep. John Lewis, who faced down bigoted police to fight for Civil Rights; Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who faced fire in combat to serve her country; and dozens of other House Democrats will face down the NRA for you, and for all of us.

You're been a hostage for a long time, Speaker Ryan, and so has every member of your party. Perhaps you lost hope. Perhaps you thought you could never be rescued from the NRA. Perhaps you thought no one would ever see. But House Democrats are fighting to set you free, and all of America is watching.

We're watching because you're allowing Democrats to violate House rules to broadcast from the floor. We're watching becuase you refuse to have protesting representatives forcibly removed from the House. We're watching--the whole country is watching--because you refuse to end the Sit In by bringing a bill to the floor.

We know that if you truly believed you were in the right, you wouldn't blink. You would bring a bill, or enforce House rules. We know what message you're really sending by backing down and allowing House Democrats to continue their protest.

So thank you, again, Speaker Ryan, for your courageous support of the Democratic Sit-In.

Keep blinking.
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Me in the computer box

What I'm reading Wednesday. On Wednesdsay!

Just finished:

I finally finished listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything! And now I know, or at least have heard, a lot of charming stories about a wide array of loosely connected topics. &Bill Bryson;

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh. This one is, fairly subtly, in the same continuity as his first novel, Soft Apocalypse, which I read a couple of years ago and found fascinatingly creepy. My reaction to Love Minus Eighty had a lot to do with having just read vN--and unavoidably mentally pairing them, since I read both of them for the same book group--and I vastly preferred Love Minus Eighty. It's a book about people robbed of agency and forced to please others where that coercion is actually a problem that the plot seeks to solve. So, yes. Recommended!

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott. This one had been enthusiastically recommended by several people, and I did like it, and enjoyed the ice-age-never-ended worldbuilding (Doggerland!) but I am not rushing right out to get the rest of the trilogy. It was really good! But not my new favorite thing. And my library queue is a little terrifying right now.

Currently reading:

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks. A graphic novel about one high school's robotics team battling the cheerleading team for funding. :D

Reading next:

The due-date juggling involved in my stack of library books is getting really... involved. But I think next up is either Shine: an anthology of near-future, optimistic science fiction, or Cannon fodder: an infantryman's life on the Western front, 1914-18. Depending, I suppose, on whether I feel like being cheered up or... the opposite of that.
Me in the computer box

What I'm Reading Wednesday on Thursday

...It's been that sort of week.

Just finished:

The Murderer's Tale by Margaret Frazer, because after the last one I wanted another Dame Frevisse mystery posthaste. This one was as excellent as usual but hard to read because--as the title might suggest--the book spends a lot of time with the murderer, who is a fairly unpleasant person. The actual solving of the mystery occupies a weirdly small part of the book, in fact. Still, yay Dame Frevisse!

vN: the First Robot Dynasty by Madeline Ashby, for a book group meeting that I wound up missing because I wasn't done with the book and didn't want to be spoiled. Collapse )

Reading now:

I just today started Kate Elliott's Cold Magic, and I am loving it! Also I want Cat's outfit.

Still listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything--I keep trying to listen to it at non-running times to finish it sooner, but it seems to put me to sleep if I am not actually on my feet and in motion when I listen to it. Microorganisms are extremely soothing!

Reading next:

The Steerswoman's Road by Rosemary Kirstein, probably. Unless it's Cannon fodder: an infantryman's life on the Western front, 1914-18 or Wendy Cope's Serious Concerns. I like to keep my options open.
Me in the computer box

What I'm Reading Wednesday

The best thing I have been reading today is, of course, Twitter: I woke up and read the night's Twitter coverage of Wendy Davis's stand about SB5 in Texas, and then throughout the day Twitter brought me the SCOTUS decisions on DOMA and Prop 8. It was a whole day of trying not to cry while reading Twitter.

But also, some books!

Just finished:

Good Night, Mr. Tom, by Michelle Magorian. A long-overdue reread, and for the first time I felt confident that I understood the timeline of the book (it spans about 18 months including the postscript). Also, I love this book a lot.

The Boy's Tale, by Margaret Frazer. A murder mystery set in a fictional convent in 1436, centering on Edmund and Jasper Tudor, whose Wikipedia pages I spent a lot of time peering curiously at in between actually reading the book. It's also really fascinating to me to read a story about a woman who will never have a romantic interest, and who continues to submit herself to rigorous religious discipline.

And, as a bonus, having read these two books, I could enter them in Todd Wheeler's 7th Annual Virtual Summer Reading Program, which means they represent a donation to the Prison Reading Program, too!

Reading now:

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar, which so far features lush imagery, a fascinating not-European fantasy milieu, and what seems to be an austistic character in the person of Jevick's older brother Jom. All this and the promise of "that seductive necromancy, reading." I am thoroughly intrigued!

I'm also still slowly listening my way through A Short History of Nearly Everything. We're up to particle physics!

Reading next:

After five or ten years of having it recommended to me, I'm finally going to give Rosemary Kirstein's The Steerswoman's Road a whirl!
Me in the computer box

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Just Finished:

Lots, this week!

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton. I was enjoying this well enough, interested in the characters and the worldbuilding and so on, and then I got about 85% of the way through it and went OH! THIS IS A ROMANCE! IT'S GOING TO HAVE A HAPPY ENDING! I have no idea why that was such a huge and delightful revelation--maybe the conventions of Victorian novels include a lot more crushing, stymied dread than I'm used to, maybe just the fact that the first book of Jo Walton's I ever read was Farthing. But Tooth and Claw had a delightfully happy ending, and I think it's the first time in a really long time that I managed to be so surprised and delighted by a book faithfully adhering to its genre conventions. ♥

This Token of Freedom by Jon Helminiak. It was interesting to read a specific, and local, true account of a phenomenon I was already somewhat familiar with: children evacuated overseas from England during WWII, who spent five years in, this case, a well-to-do Wisconsin suburb before returning jarringly to post-War England.

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So after reading the inevitably less-satisfying true version, I decided to dive into the fictional version, which sports a lot more narrative closure, where I am well-acquainted with and rather fond of the author's quirks and biases:

A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian, which was the one I was most eager to read after finishin Helminiak's book. This is the story of Rose, a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl sent into the country with her sister in the summer of 1943. She and her sister spend the summer living in an isolated cottage, unraveling the mystery of the previous inhabitant's locally-notorious madness while Rose cultivates a relationship with the owner of the bookshop (who in turn cultivates Rose's love of writing). ♥ ♥ ♥

Back Home by Michelle Magorian, which actually parallels the story of Jayne Jaffe very closely--Rusty was evacuated at age seven and returns at age twelve to her mother, who has been doing voluntary work throughout the war while Rusty's father is off in the Pacific Theater. Rusty has become very--and increasingly, defiantly--American in the interim, and struggles to bond again with her mother and cope with life in an English boarding school.

Reading Now:

In a shocking twist, I am currently reading yet another book by Michelle Magorian, the first one of hers I read, when I was about twelve: Good Night, Mr. Tom. I am told that reading this book explains a lot about what I want out of stories. It's about yet another war evacuee, this one a boy named William, sent from a London slum to a small village in 1939. He's sent to live with Mr. Tom, the widowed village curmudgeon with a heart of gold, and found-family of all kinds ensues.

I am still listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything--I'm up to the chapter on the early days of Chemistry as an (almost) organized science!

Reading Next:

The Boy's Tale, by Margaret Frazer (at this point in the series still a collaboration between Mary Monica Pulver and Gail Frazer), the fifth book in the Sister Frevisse series, about a 15th Century nun who fights crime!
Me in the computer box

Surely the only time I will ever say this.

...It seems I have been remiss in Googling myself!

I'd just sort of resigned myself to the fact that it's rare to hear much about what people think of a story released in print; I had several lovely comments from co-workers and friends, and I figured that would be the end of what I heard about "Ready, Set." Somehow it never occurred to me to poke around the internet and see if people were saying anything about it. But as it turns out a few people have!

"Ready, Set" got (proportionally brief, but positive!) mentions in the reviews of the July/August Analog at Tangent Online and at SFRevu, and I am feeling terribly proud of my little story all over again.

Plus--weirdly just as gratifying--I have an author page at Goodreads!

Now, to close the Google tab and get back to work on the next thing.
Me in the computer box

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Just finished:
Embarrassingly, I haven't finished a thing since my last Wednesday post. The book group meeting for which I was reading The Algebraist overtook me before I'd gotten more than a hundred pages into the book, and the discussion, while delightful, did not persuade me that it was a book I wanted to finish.

I also bailed on the audio book I'd been listening to--Garth Nix's Sabriel, read by Tim Curry, which sounded like a surefire winner. I'd read the book before and enjoyed it! Tim Curry Story Time! But somehow I was just not getting into it. I'm going to blame Mogget and move on.

Reading Now:
Still Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw, which I am adoring at the same time that it is making clear to me why I have never, to my knowledge, actually read a Victorian novel. (I liked Jane Eyre better as Jenna Starborn, too.)

The Emotion Thesaurus, slowly. I may need to take notes. Or just buy my own copy to keep forever and ever.

And I'm listening (while running--I run very slowly, so I like having someone talk to me instead of the sort of fast-paced music other people seem to like for workouts) to Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which seems to be geared to my exact level of ignorance. Also I have adored Bill Bryson's writing ever since I swiped my dad's copy of The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way when I was about twelve. I'm vaguely aware that his pop-academic writing is much more pop than academic, but see above re: my exact level of ignorance and longstanding attachment.

Reading Next:
::eyes stack of library books::

By the exigencies of due dates, it looks like the next book up is This Token of Freedom, the first-hand account of a woman who was a child evacuee from the Channel island of Jersey to Wisconsin during WWII. I've been fascinated by the stories of children evacuated during WWII ever since discovering Michelle Magorian's books as a kid, and this manages to combine that with local history, so I am really excited about this one!
Me in the computer box

What I'm reading Wednesday

Just finished:
I (inadvisably, since my very busy workday started at 8:30 this morning) stayed up until past midnight to listen to the end of volume 4 of The Sharing Knife. I've read it at least twice before but, sigh, story of my HEART. And I love epilogues with a deep and unholy love, so I definitely wasn't going to bed before that.

Reading now:
I was at WisCon this weekend, where I was too constantly distracted and underslept to concentrate on the book I'd been slowly reading up to then, Ian Beckett's Home Front 1914-1918: How Britain Survived the Great War. Then I attended "It's Actually Quite Hard to Rip a Bodice Part 2: Historical Accuracy in Fiction", which included lots of great research suggestions and made me realize that if I'm reading this book for research purposes it is okay to just search out any relevant information I need from it rather than conscientiously reading it cover to cover. It's been a while since I did actual book research, okay?

So then I picked up a copy of Guest of Honor Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw, which I had only been meaning to read for about... ten years? And now I am reading it! And enjoying it quite a lot.

Reading next:
The Algebraist, by Iain (M.) Banks, for this month's meeting of my local SF book club. I'm not sure this is in my wheelhouse, but I suppose getting out of my wheelhouse is the whole point of belonging to the book club, so I'm trying to keep an open mind. Also: trying to find a copy. I darkly suspect other members of the book club are responsible for the fact that every copy in the library system is checked out right now.
Me in the computer box

getting involved

So I'm going to WorldCon this year because it's more or less in my backyard (yeah, take that, Chicago, to some people you are just Milwaukee's backyard) (Chicago probably cannot hear me over the sounds of the El, but anyway) and I decided, hey, I'll volunteer.

Which has turned into volunteering to basically do my job at the con, i.e. I'm an information desk staff member all of a sudden. I am actually pretty excited about this!

Aaaand then merriehaskell mentioned today that there are a few spaces left in the WorldCon writer's workshops, so I signed up for that, too, so I can maybe show my email-forward-themed cuss-filled short story to some pro authors and fellow fans I've never met!

This is going to be the best WorldCon ever, right? o.O