Critical Thinking More Important than Ever in the Time of Trump

I read this really good Vox article about American authoritarianism and the rise of the Cheeto today instead of cleaning the house.  Because the internet is infinitely more interesting than chasing dust bunnies and hanging up wet clothes, y’all.

TL;DR–Authoritarianism is driving the bigotry we’re seeing–it’s inherently prejudicial, because it stems from a rhetoric-driven fear of the “other” and a fear of change.

Dumb version:  someone tells you you should be afraid of X, and so you freak out and look for hard-line solutions to protect you from X.

This is fascinating from a psychological standpoint.   However, it actually illustrates a huge problem:  people stop thinking at hearing about X and don’t look deeper to see whether it’s actually a threat to them.  A good example is the vaccination scare–one incredibly flawed and eventually discredited study created a panic.  As a result, people (children!) got sick from preventable diseases because everybody freaked out and stopped vaccinating their kids.

Understandably, the study’s conclusion alarmed other scientists, and they took a good hard look at the data.  They found a whole lot of junk, poor procedures, and nothing to support the study’s conclusions.

The vaccines were not the threat–the panic was.

Same thing here.  One incredibly flawed and repeatedly discredited person (Trump) played on a latent fear of change and has fed a new, destructive, and frightening political demographic. Not created, mind you; it’s been there, lurking, and that’s even more scary.

It remains small and ineffective (we hope) at this time, but now more than ever, our future as a free nation depends on our willingness to embrace change.  I’m worried about this election.  I probably won’t be able to relax until it’s over, and if it goes all pear-shaped, I’m not sure I can or want to stay here.  Because as a writer, I know that words have power–and if his can, mine can.  My voice would join those of other dissidents and we would be in danger for speaking the truth.  Our veracity would have little sway over people who cannot or will not use their critical thinking power and who hold such a vital skill in little regard.  And it’s more important to me that I could continue speaking out than remain silent.  If I have to seek asylum elsewhere to do it, I will.

So what can you do?   Listen to the words you hear.  Think about them.  Dig deeper.  Do so with an open mind, not one attuned to unrelated nuggets you can use to support your position.  Hear all positions.  That’s what we’re supposed to do during an election.  So do it.


This article, though aimed at college students, can help you exercise these vital processes.

7 Ways to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills 

Cat Bites are Dangerous! or, It’s not Pig’s fault her mouth was a steaming cesspool of filth

We will resume our regular flippant writing content after this post.

I need to divert from talking about writing to discuss something important.  You may have seen my previous posts—Psycho Kitty (aka Pig) died on July 7.  When I caught her for transport to the vet, she bit me quite hard on both hands (poor little baby; it wasn’t her fault).

We got to the vet, but there was nothing he could do for her.  From the symptoms I described, he thought she might have had a heart problem.  I took her home and buried her in the backyard, near her favorite bush, her favorite toys with her.

Within three hours of the actual bite, my hand looked like this:

My gross cartoon hand

Photo:  Elizabeth West

It hurt like I’d been shot.  Since it was after eight o’clock and the urgent care closes then, I went to the emergency room with an infection called cellulitis.  They gave me a small bag of IV antibiotic, a tetanus shot, an ultrasound, and a prescription for oral antibiotics, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the infection.

The next night, I was back in the ER–it got worse.

More IV dope, and they popped me in the hospital for two days.  I must have had five or six bags of the stuff altogether–four hours on the drip, then a couple hours off, then four more hours, etc.  Round the clock.  They took an x-ray to check for bone involvement.  Fortunately, my bones were good to go.

Finally, they discharged me and sent me home.  I’m still taking the oral antibiotics, and though my cartoonish hand has resumed normal proportions, my finger is still swollen and painful with limited range of motion.  I’ve been assured by a hand surgeon that it will heal, and I have a follow-up appointment with my primary care physician in the morning.

I don’t blame my kitty.  She was very ill and she had never bitten me like that before.  I don’t know if she even realized it was her mummy trying to stuff her into a carrier.

Her little gravestone.  <3

Her little gravestone.  <3

Photo:  Elizabeth West

I’ve been telling everybody who will listen to please, PLEASE take animal bites, especially on your hands, and any signs of infection from any wound seriously.   Cat bites in particular are very dangerous–their teeth are like little needles that poke the germs right in there.  And your joints have lovely sacs of synovial fluid, which bacteria just LOVE.

It’s warm, it’s dark, it’s anaerobic….bring on the mai-tais!

It’s warm, it’s dark, it’s anaerobic….bring on the mai-tais!

Image:  cuteimage /

Watch yourself, everyone.  You don’t want to go through this.  I was lucky it didn’t get worse.  And I miss my kitty.

In Memoriam: Psycho Kitty (aka Pig)


I DO NOT EVEN BELIEVE IT. Not FIVE minutes after I posted that blog post, Pig showed up on the patio.

She still will not eat.
She will not come to me.
I cannot leave food out, because two seconds after I put something under the bush for her, the monster strays were in the yard.

This is almost worse than if she were dead. I have to watch her slowly go feral and die.

I cannot get rid of these cats and if I don’t, she WILL die. I don’t know what to do.  I guess I will call the shelter and the vet in the morning and see if there is anyone who can help me either get rid of these cats NOW, or catch her.

Being single and alone sucks big time.


Psycho Kitty has disappeared.

She was harassed out of her yard by strays–a mother cat and kittens who took up residence in my neighbor’s crawlspace.  When last I saw her, she was hiding in the culvert pipe and would not eat, nor would she come out.  I checked again Sunday afternoon, and she was gone.

I have called her Psycho Kitty as a pseudonym, but I will share her real name with you.  She was called Pig (prior owner called her Miss Piggy, but I shortened it).  I often called her Piggy, Baby Girl, Bawlbaby, and Piggins.

This is a picture of her on her thirteenth birthday, 5 May 2016.  That is her purple British mouse, one of a packet I bought her at my auntie’s vet office in London.  It may have been her last birthday.

Aww Pig 2016

Photo:  Elizabeth West

This is not a feral animal (or rather, she wasn’t; if she is still alive, she may be now).  Pig has had two owners–me and a former neighbor.  The previous owners took care of her shots and fed her, but they didn’t bother to socialize her. She has always been timid as a mouse.  They dumped her on me when they didn’t want to care for her any longer.

I didn’t want a cat at that time, but I realized no one would likely take her because she was so scared, and she was strictly an outside cat.  So I adopted her.  After a great deal of coaxing and love, I had a sweet little baby who would come when I called.  She would demand attention from me.  She played with toys I bought.  She loved being brushed.  She even let me put her on my lap and pet her.

She loved me, and I loved her.  She could be very annoying, and it cost money to have her taken care of when I traveled, but I found a good pet sitter and took her to the vet regularly.  I bought her special food.  She has been well cared for.

PIg distracted from the squirrels

Photo:  Elizabeth West

Pig’s previous owner had her spayed.  I had no worries about unwanted kittens.  Unfortunately, other people have no such concerns.

The feral cats next door have starved and driven my cat out of her yard.  They drove my neighbor’s cat indoors (lucky him, to have a cat who likes being inside).  It has been a nightmare akin to having wharf rats move in.  I’d actually prefer the rats, because at least a pest control company will take care of those.

In her memory, I make this plea to you, interspersed with a few cat facts:

  1. Please, please, PLEASE spay and neuter your pets when they are young. (Dogs too.) Cats can start to reproduce as young as 4 to 6 months, and they will.  It’s a biological drive.  Neutered animals may still have loud kitty sex outside your window at 2 a.m., but they won’t be able to infest your yard with kittens.  According to this website (, “It has been estimated that in a 12-year lifespan, without human intervention, a single female cat could be responsible for as many as 3500 descendants.”

There is no good reason for pet cats to reproduce.  They don’t long for babies the way humans do, and it is not against God or nature to neuter them.  Unless you are a reputable, licensed breeder, I beg you–spay and neuter.

  1. Please do NOT feed strays. Do not leave food out for your animals–cats don’t need to snack all day, and I guarantee you they won’t eat it.  The strays will.  Also, don’t feed in one place hoping to distract them from another (in desperation, this was tried and it does not work).  If you leave food out, you will also attract skunks, raccoons, and possums, all which probably live in your city.  (If you’re in London, it would be foxes.)

Pig was fed twice a day and given only what she would eat. There were no leftovers, and until these cats moved in, we had few problems.

  1. If you see a neighbor feeding strays, please talk to them and try to convince them not to do this. Please realize that feral cats are not cute.  They are, in effect, wild animals.  Cats are very close to their wild origins, much more so than domestic dogs.

a.  They do not need you to survive.

b.  They carry various diseases that can infect other animals, including feline distemper and rabies (which can also infect you and has a 99% fatality rate).

c.  The lifespan of a feral cat is usually only about 2 or 3 years, and it’s not the best life.

If you don’t spay and neuter and / or if you foolishly abandon animals you grow tired of, then you cannot call yourself an animal lover.  Cats who are well cared for can live up to 15-18 years. If you’re not prepared to make that kind of financial and emotional commitment, then you should not have one.

Only known video of Pig playing with toys

 My sweet, timid kitty is either running wild and scared, or she is lying dead somewhere and I can never find her or say goodbye to her.  I may have lost her forever, and these horrible awful animals who drove her away are still frolicking through my yard until they’re weaned and gone.  Pig did not deserve to have to starve alone away from her loving home.

Dear Pig, Momma loves you.

I miss seeing you at the gate when I pull up after work.

I miss you coming to meet me at the car like a dog.

I miss your bawling at the kitchen window for me to come out and then running around like a crazy thing when I tried to play with you.

I miss you setting the belly trap and I know you were laughing when I fell for it (ouch).

I miss you yelling at me in the car after we went to the vet’s office (and you were a good girl while you were there–they all thought so).

I miss your excitement when you got a can of Fancy Feast or a little broth envelope.

I miss giving you a treatie at night before you went to bed.

I miss you.

Godspeed, little girl.

Even this one, fat and mouthy as she is.

Photo:  Elizabeth West

Blogging from A-Z April Challenge and Random Updates!

It’s March already (how did that happen!?) and April approacheth, with its Blogging from A-Z Challenge!  I have been pre-writing posts for that (or notes, rather) and will announce my theme during the A-Z Theme Reveal Blogfest on March 21.  Look for it!

2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge

Random update #1

I am so freaking tired, you guys.  Seriously.  I cannot wait for winter to be over.  I have literally no energy and I’ve eaten everything that isn’t nailed down.  Even the baseboards looked good (lots of fiber, you know).

It did not help that I managed to give myself the world’s biggest whiplash while skating. I came out of a spin and my blade slipped out from under me, and my back hit the ice, followed closely by my head.  I’ve been in car wrecks that didn’t hurt that much!  I still have a little residual neck pain and an annoying groin pull.  However, my Wolverine-like healing powers have activated and I am fine and back on the ice.

And, with the advent of warmer weather, my energy levels should go back up soon. I’m sure we are all looking forward to the sunshine and longer days.

Random update #2

This means absolutely nothing to anyone but me so I don’t expect you to care, but I thought I would share.  I’m no longer a redhead–I’m now a blonde!  Well, strawberry blonde.

A recreation of my expression when I saw my hair for the first time.

A recreation of my expression when I saw my hair for the first time.

Photo:  Elizabeth West

It’s actually more golden than it looks in that picture; I haven’t gotten a decent selfie yet.  They say blondes have more fun.  So far that’s not true, but I’ll keep you posted.

Random update #3

I have constructed a gigantic Word table with all the scenes/chapters either written or planned for Secret Book.  Only nine remain unwritten.  That may not sound like much, but they’re kicking my ass.  Because this is the Year to Finish Stuff, it WILL get done.  The table helped–it forced me to consider the purpose of each scene, with the unfortunate materialization of a couple more.  Nerts!  Oh well.

I shall leave you now and go recover from this day/week.  You’ll get another vocabulary post before the Challenge.  In fact, I hope to actually finish that by the time it rolls around.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

Image: Hongreddotbrewhouse / Wikimedia Commons 

2015 in review

Happy New Year!  It’s time for the annual WordPress report again!

I don’t know what 2016 will bring, but I have a few plans.   They include the following:

  • A renewed push in querying and submissions.  I already sent one (yeah, I know it’s not the best time of year for that because of people’s New Year’s resolutions and the aftermath of NaNoWriMo, but too bad).  Tunerville has the best chance, I think, but we’ll see.
  • To complete Secret Book and begin the Rose’s Hostage sequel.  I’ve made quite a few notes for the latter. Still working out a subplot, though.
  • The upcoming April blog challenge–time to get busy on a plan for that one!
  • I’m hoping to go to Europe this year–not sure when, but you’ll get to see/hear about it.  Italy is definitely on the list because of something in Secret Book, but I have friends in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, and Belgium I’d like to visit. It’s time I ventured out of the UK.  But don’t worry, UK; I still love you!  I’ll be sure to see you again!

Many thanks to everyone who stopped by in 2015.  I wish you a happy, safe, and amazing New Year!


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,100 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Remembering September 11

No jokes, silliness, or funny pictures in this post.  Today, I want to give you my words.

I was temping part-time at a previous workplace on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. That morning, I woke with an impulse to go to the TV before making coffee, unusual for me.  I clicked it on and immediately saw smoke pouring from the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.  I thought at first it was just a regular fire; the news announcers muttered distractedly and didn’t make much sense.  But as I watched the screen, BOOM! The second plane hit.

My mouth dropped open.  I immediately called my mum, but she didn’t want to talk then.  She wanted to hear every word the news was saying.

I watched a while longer in growing horror.  The Pentagon attack, and then reports of a downed plane in Pennsylvania.  What was happening to us?

The network had live footage of a man-on-the-street view from local reporters when the towers collapsed.  I remember the faces of the people running away from the dust cloud, running toward the camera, screaming, with a cop standing there frantically gesturing, yelling what was probably, “Go! Go! Go!”

I saw a small redheaded woman, perhaps in her forties or fifties, pelting toward the camera, terrified, her mouth open and shrieking, wearing the same expression as the little boy in the famous Vietnam War photo of the children running down the road after being napalmed.  I cried for her.  I’m crying now thinking about her.  Even now, I think of her often.  I hope she is okay now.

I felt numb.  I got dressed and went to work. Someone had brought in a tiny TV and we watched the news for the rest of the day. The phone only rang twice (we worked for a shopping circular and we took ads over the phone, which typically rang all day long).

Around 2:00 pm, I went out to pick up a copy of a special newspaper supplement and some chocolate chip cookies.  An eerie silence hung over the streets.  Most people were inside, watching the telly or listening to radios.  It hit me suddenly that I could hear no air traffic.  No planes, no helicopters, nothing.  Every plane in the United States had been grounded.  All of them.  Nothing could fly, not even into our tiny, insignificant airport.

It was then that the seriousness of the situation came thundering down on me–even in our small Midwestern city, hundreds of miles from NYC, we were potentially in danger.  We had been invaded.  Nobody knew if there were more rogue pilots on other planes or where they might be.  A chill ran down my spine, and I hastened back to the office.

Over the next few days, I heard many stories of Americans stranded in other countries because their flights had been cancelled. They spoke of the help and sympathy given to them. To this day, I still sometimes hear people from other nations mention it and say how sorry they are.  We’re lucky compared to some of them; they deal with this kind of thing every day.  But they knew how we were feeling at that moment–the shock of attack upending our daily lives–and this feeling brought all Americans together too.   Even those of us who were far away from the sites felt it.

We truly thought nobody could ever hurt us–the US is too big.  Now we know that isn’t true.  America grew up a little as a country that day.  It’s too bad we had to pay such a horrible price.

I’d like to think such a thing can never happen again.  But it will.  It has to.  There is too much hate in the world, too much fear of people and cultures we don’t understand.  It’s ironic that the most visible attack took place in one of the most diverse cities in our country.

What can we learn from September 11?  That hate is destructive.  That blindly following any religious doctrine or government decree, especially ones that advocate harming or ostracizing others, is dangerous.  We may think we are immune to the kinds of thinking that produced Al Qaeda militants and suicide pilots, but we are not.  I see it every day online.  On biased news reports.  When I hear people around me saying awful and judgmental things about others.  I see biblical law slowly encroaching and overwhelming our Constitution, destroying the carefully worded values that keep us free.

We’ll tear ourselves apart if we do not open our hearts and minds.  We’ll have another September 11, but it will be a slow, painful one that creeps insidiously into our lives until we wake up one morning and realize how badly we have trapped ourselves.  We have allowed terrorism to change how we live our lives, caved to fear, and in the process, we have permitted our country to backslide into an era when human rights were not a priority.  We are becoming the enemy.

We must remain vigilant, for now we know that those who want to harm us can do so.   But we can’t do it by treating each other with suspicion and prejudice.  We can’t forget what made our country what it is–optimism, openness to new ideas and new exploration (including scientific discovery), and acceptance of people who fled to our shores from horrors we could not imagine.  All our citizens are valuable:  those who were here before we came, and those who will arrive after us.   Those who are different from us in the ways they eat, love, and pray.  Who look different from us and who speak many languages.

Remember the lessons of September 11.  Once a year all Americans, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, orientation, and identity, come together in remembrance of this terrible day.  But we should be standing together every day.

I wish solace for those who lost friends, family, and colleagues.  I remember those who fought bravely on Flight 93 to keep anyone else from getting hurt.  I give my love to the world, and my hope that someday, we will all know each other, understand each other, and come together in harmony.


Things I Learned While Trying to Paint like Bob Ross

How many of you know who this is?

Image:  Bob Ross Incorporated /

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the man in the picture is Bob Ross, an artist who had a public television show called The Joy of Painting that aired all over the US, in Canada, and in Europe.

In this show, Bob would demonstrate a wet-on-wet painting technique in which he created the most amazing landscapes and seascapes merely by smooshing colors around on a canvas wet with liquid white (gesso) using various-sized brushes.

Watch him do this here:

Sadly, Bob is no longer with us, but his legacy lives on in endless reruns of his show, and the sale of painting kits, supplies, and classes where you can learn this technique.  I always wanted to do this.  Last year, I bought a Bob Ross beginner painting kit.

Today, I decided to try it.

I wish I could have filmed it for you–you would have found my experience pretty hilarious.  I used to dabble in painting (badly) and I haven’t done anything like this in many years.  I learned some things today.  Here are some of them.

  • When you buy a kit, open it the day you buy it. Don’t leave it in the closet for six months.   Mine was missing some things.  There was no fan brush (luckily I have one), and the tray had a space for one more tube of paint than it actually contained.
  • You can do this without an easel, though it’s more difficult. I put double-sided tape on a large cutting mat and used it to hold the canvas still.  Then I stood over it and painted.  I didn’t want to buy an easel until I knew if I would do this again.
  • Very, very old oil paints will still be good, if you can get the tube open. I ended up ripping the bottom off an old art kit tube of yellow ochre and another of burnt sienna, since the kit did not provide those colors.  When I finished, I just rolled the end of the tube back up and smashed it down.
  • Phthalo green will stain your brushes, your clothes, your table, and your palette FOR THE REST OF THEIR NATURAL LIVES.
  • I need FAR more odorless paint thinner than the kit provides. Like gallons of it.  Also, I used almost an entire roll of paper towels to clean up my mess.  There has to be a better way.
  • Beating the brush is just as much fun as Bob made it look on TV. I had to do it inside the coffee can that held my thinner, but it still made me laugh just like he used to.

Ready to see the result?  ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE READY?  Okay, here goes!

What’s that thing in the sky?  A UFO.  Hey, it’s my painting--nobody said I couldn’t put that in there!

What’s that thing in the sky? A UFO. Hey, it’s my painting–nobody said I couldn’t put that in there!

Painting and photograph by Elizabeth West

This technique is harder than it looks.  My misty foothills look like crap, especially the ones right above the water.  The first row marches straight across the canvas; real foothills don’t do that.

I had better luck with the water than the sky.  The reflection thing works just as advertised.  I’ll have to try again to get fluffy clouds like the ones Bob made.

Also, the instructions in the kit left out a lot.  I would have been better off cueing up an episode of The Joy of Painting and watching it as I went along.

The evergreen trees were easy, but the paint is so wet you really have to be careful not to muddy up the colors.  When Bob tells you to load the brush full, he means it. Using the palette knife takes a very light touch as well.  It turns out that I’m fairly good at cutting off a little roll of paint, but not so great at actually using it.

Like any new skill, painting this way takes practice.  I think I shall try again.  I like doing this–it’s quick, it’s fun, and I enjoyed creating a happy little world, even if my trees look a little bit pissed off.  Despite the horror of this first attempt, I think Bob would be proud of me for trying.


It’s a day later, and I wanted to add a thought.  The most important thing I’ve learned from this? It doesn’t have to be perfect. Despite my mistakes, people have responded favorably to my lame attempt at art.  I’m happy with the painting, even though it isn’t as good as I’d hoped.  It’s still better than I expected.

And that’s about all we can do.  If our endeavors turn out fabulously, we’re golden. But silver is still pretty nice too.

Happy Independence Day! Updates

Happy Independence Day!  For me, it’s Not-So-Happy-Wish-I-Were-British Day.  Or at least Wish-I-Were-In-London Day.

I miss this. 

I miss this.

Photograph: Elizabeth West

You might wonder why I’m so attached to England.  When I was a kid, my auntie married an Englishman  and moved to London (they’re divorced now, though she is still there).  This fascinated me–growing up in a small Missouri cow town, I had no concept of foreign places.  Getting Christmas presents from her thrilled.

I corresponded with my step-cousin in high school.  Pen pals were a big thing back then and since we had no internet, we wrote letters.  We sent each other teen magazines and painted nail varnish colo(u)rs on our missives.

Jackie magazine, 9 June 1979.  I had this one, until my mum threw out all my mags and comics while I was at music college.  GAH, MUM!!!

Jackie magazine, 9 June 1979.  I had this one, until my mum threw out all my mags and comics while I was at music college.  GAH, MUM!!!


When I turned eighteen, my parents’ graduation gift to me was a two-and-a-half week trip to London to visit Auntie, then-Uncle, and cousins.

I fell madly, passionately in love with it.

I wanted to go back, wanted it crazy bad, but it just didn’t happen.  So I tried my best to put it out of my mind.  It didn’t exactly go.  It lurked silently in my system until last year, when unrelated conversations with both European and American friends brought it roaring back to life.  A bit like how the chicken pox virus hangs out in your spine, only to cause shingles later.

I’ve changed a lot since that first visit, in various ways:

  • I’m not as picky. Seriously, my auntie thought I would starve to death; I barely tried any foods.  The last two times, I ate everything that didn’t eat me first.  Including haggis and black pudding.
This is delicious and there is no way I would have touched it back then. 

This is delicious and there is no way I would have touched it back then.

Photograph: Elizabeth West

  • I’m more experienced. At eighteen, I could not have planned an independent trip to Scotland or Wales.  Also, it’s lucky London is such an easy city to get around in.  I was the most clueless, small-town idiot ever and I’m surprised I didn’t get mugged or fall into the Thames.
Me at 18, in Regent’s Park rose garden.  Oh my God, what a dork.  #TBT (yeah, sorry, I know it’s not Thursday)

Me at 18, in Regent’s Park rose garden.  Oh my God, what a dork.  #TBT (yeah, sorry, I know it’s not Thursday)

Photograph by random English person using my camera

  • Technology has caught up. In the 1980s, no one had a smartphone.  Everyone had a London A-Z.  They still sell this marvelous map of the city, because not everyone has a phone (or wants one), but let’s face it; you look like a tourist standing around flipping through it.  And besides, the print has shrunk–oh, sorry, it’s my ancient eyes.  Well, bollocks.
Getting old ain’t for sissies. 

Getting old ain’t for sissies.

Image: imagerymajestic/

Now everyone has their faces in their phone screens. You pause somewhere to check the directions and it looks like you’re texting or reading email (be careful to watch for phone snatchers, however).  So thank you, Google maps, for helping me blend in and still get around.  An updated A-Z made a great souvenir instead.

I’ve no idea when I will return.  Right now, I feel very much like I did after that first trip, wondering when or if it will happen again, and thinking it’s out of reach.  But I’ve learned one more thing since that time: anything can happen.  Anything at all.

Let’s hope anything does.



  1. Secret Book is becalmed. I’ve slowly realized that it’s a much larger and more involved project than I thought.  The amount of research I still have to do to write convincingly about subjects of which I know nothing staggers me.  I’m still working on it, never fear.  The main priority is still to actually finish the book, but it will be the sketchiest first draft I’ve ever written.  I think that’s part of the problem; I’m headiting too much instead of just writing Blah blah blah check this later like I usually do.
  1. Brian Keene says he is finished critiquing Rose’s Hostage. I hope I get it back now.  I’m still trying to work out a subplot for a sequel.  The book did get a minor rewrite already; I replaced an interrogation scene with a MUCH better version.  It added to the word count, but fuck it.
  1. A friend is beta-reading Tunerville.  She’s my consumer test person; her job is to see if it’s readable.  I’m nervous because I want her to like it.  (She did like Rose’s Hostage.)
  1. I have three queries out on Tunerville at the moment. No word from anyone, but there’s always hope.

That’s all I have today.  Later this week, look for a vocabulary post, and by next weekend, I will post a review of the sequel to Knight of Light for you.

Everybody have a safe and happy Fourth!

A Victory for Love

I am so happy for all my LGBT friends today.  In a history-making decision, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.  This includes every state in the union.  No exceptions.


Excited farting rainbows

Despite what the religious right would have you believe, this push for equality had nothing to do with God, or making everybody be gay (you can’t turn people gay; they are or they aren’t), or with forcing churches to perform same-sex weddings.

See, you can’t do the last bit because the Constitution says you can’t. If you make laws that are based on your religion, then you don’t have religious freedom, because you’ve forced everyone to abide by your religion whether they want to or not.  The Founding Fathers wrote the damn thing exactly this way to prevent you doing just that.

What it also says is that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  At the time, people still thought slavery was pretty cool, that women were property and not people, and anyone engaging in “unnatural congress” was either a witch or a criminal (or both) and should immediately be put to death.

But you know, we learned some things between then and now.

No, it’s always and only been about legal marriage. The right to go to a courthouse and obtain a marriage license to wed the person you love.  You can have all the religion you want, but unless you have that piece of paper, you are not legally married and cannot avail yourself of the legal rights and protections that come with that status.  To name a few:

  • Social Security
  • Tax recognition purposes (including gift tax exemptions)
  • Immigration
  • Federal employee benefits
  • Health coverage

And let’s not forget the tragic story of Shane Bitney Crone, whose partner Tom Bridegroom died unexpectedly in an accident.  Tom’s family barred him from attending his funeral.  Shane could do nothing, because the two were not legally married.  From the linked article:

After Bridegroom’s untimely death on May 7, 2011, Crone was barred from attending the funeral and wake, and wasn’t mentioned in the obituary. His experience trying to obtain information from the hospital was similarly unsuccessful.  “To Tom’s family, I no longer existed, and to the government, Tom and I were mere roommates,” Crone notes.

Imagine if the love of your life died, and this happened to you.  Just think about it for a minute.

A friend of mine, Casey F., posted something on Facebook today that I’d like to share with you.  He was talking about the Confederate flag, but he pointed out our government is not supposed to discriminate (bold emphasis mine):

That’s part of our balance of government – the states have a certain amount of authority and the federal government has a certain amount of authority. And (in theory, anyway) the laws the state legislatures and Congress make are made by people we elect to represent us. The exception here is discrimination. Neither branch of government is supposed to make laws that discriminate. And our definition of discrimination is constantly evolving, so our laws must evolve as well…. 
So although the states should and do have the right to make their own laws as their citizens see fit, we are a civilized nation which should not allow discrimination on any level of government. So sometimes the federal government has to step in and say “no, you can’t do that because it isn’t fair to everyone, even if a lot of your citizens think it is.”

Way to go, Casey–you said it much better than I could.  It IS unfair to restrict the rights of citizens based on something they are and can’t help being–like being black.  Or female.  Or gay.

I experienced a mix of feelings today when I heard.  The first, jubilation.  I’m happy for my gay friends and loved ones who can get married now and have full legal status as life partners, same as my straight ones.  I said “YES!” out loud and did fist pumps at my desk when I saw the news.

The second, a little bit of surprise.  I honestly expected this not to pass.  I know, I know, but the justices of the Supreme Court are older, conservative people.  They have a lot of factors influencing their decision–I know courts are supposed to be impartial, but they are human also.  I expected it to go back to the lower court for some kind of weak amendment perhaps stating yes, it’s unfair, but maybe some bits are less unfair than others, and we can still do X but not Y.  As surprises go, this one rocked.

The third, pride.  For the first time in a very long time, I felt proud to be American.  Not fife-and-drum proud, but less embarrassed than usual.  Usually, when I go abroad, I want to hide.  I had actually considered cultivating a British accent so no one would know where I really live.

The guy on the left had a crush on the drum dude, you know.

Image:  The Spirit of ’76 by Archibald MacNeal Willard / 

Everybody in my monkeysphere is aware that I want a family and they know I’ve had a terrible time finding the right man.  I joked with them, “Hey, now it’s official; everyone except me is allowed to get married!”   For once, however, I’m not jealous.  The people who fought for their rights, and who ran to the courthouse and got married today have put up with a huge load of shite and they deserve every bit of happiness.  They earned it.

All couples, gay and straight, Christian and not, black and white and every combination, should celebrate this day!  It’s not just a victory for gay people.  It’s a victory for love.