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29 November 2016 @ 10:04 pm
This was not the post I was intending to write. I was going to come on here and share a fun writing exercise and then do a(noter) movie review. Those things are coming, but this has been floating around in my head for a while and needs to come out first.

So. I've been reading up on the many conflicts of interest that President-elect Trump has, or at least potentially has. The Atlantic has a good primer;<./a> there's several on the list but the two that got me thinking were the Argentinian Office Building and the Philippines Ambassador. I've been torn, because while I love that these things are coming out, I am also wondering where the f*** these articles were before everyone voted. I felt kind of traitorous, being a journalist but jumping on the "blame the media" train- in this case, I guess, for not doing their jobs well enough. (Of course, there are many good reasons you or I could come up with to explain this. This isn't my point.)

I attempted to talk to my journo friend about this, and her certainty struck me. "He's teflon," she said. Nothing sticks to him, nothing could hurt him. Trump himself said it:, on (where else but?) Twitter Nov. 21 "Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world.Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!"

I guess the saddest thing is, even I don't really believe the stories coming out sooner would have helped. The people who were tired of being ignored and feeling left behind wanted to overcome those feelings so badly they ignored everything else. They wanted their values respected, their lifestyles supported, their views validated. They wanted a victory of some kind, in other words. For them and Their People, not the Others.

Trump played off the natural tendency for us as humans to think in terms of in-group and out-group, us versus them. To many of his voters, Them is "the elites," "the city folk," "the liberals-" the people who got Obama elected, and heralded a new vision and new direction for the country. One They wanted, but Us did not.

In many ways, I think the election was more about winning for the sheer fact of winning than any substantive issue or agenda. Much of the debate focused on questions of character and not policy. Take the insistence on "radical Islamist terror" as the phrase to use. Or the opposition to "political correctness." Those have nothing to do with policymaking or governance. It's just petty, symbolic victories, small wins over what They would have us do.

And to get those small victories- which admittedly feel really good when they are for your side- many decent people ignored the decided not decent things Trump has said and done, and said and did during the campaign. I guess this is what Washington (my boy George!) was warning about when he cautioned against forming parties. Things become about victory for your team at all costs. It's like in football. The Ravens intentionally committed holding against the entire Bengals team in the last 11 seconds of the recent game, but we won! You hear it said, "It's not pretty, but a win is a win."

In everything except football (a literal game) I think an ugly win is just, well, ugly. But more to the point: Politics shouldn't be about winning at all. It should be about helping people, making things better. I have been working- nay, living- far too long, to believe it actually was like that. It has been, for a very long time, about nothing except winning and extending the careers of those in power. But I've had flashes of hope before. This election took away what little glimmers I had been able to see. And worse- the people were complicit in it this time. I've always had faith in the American public. And that's why this election was so devastating to me.
I'm feeling: melancholymelancholy
Listening to: "Jesus, Remember Me"
21 November 2016 @ 07:25 pm
As you can see, I've started this blog up again and hope to post at least weekly. I swear I will do more than movie reviews/reactions eventually.

This is a step in that direction, because aside from being about the (frankly, excellent) movie "Arrival" it's also about journalism, and politics in a way. Unfortunately, I have to spoil at least some of the movie to say what I want to say here. I'll try to be as vague as I can, but you've been forewarned.

Here thar be mild spoilers, but also analysis!Collapse )
I'm feeling: listlesslistless
Listening to: Chris Tomlin, "At the Cross"
06 November 2016 @ 04:23 pm
Last night, I went to see Marvel's "Doctor Strange" with my boyfriend. I'm trying to get back into blogging, so I thought I'd write a little about my impressions of the movie. One of the main themes/motifs at work here is time (and watches). Some spoilers follow under the cut.

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Writing from: Home
I'm feeling: melancholymelancholy
Listening to: Soundtrack to the video game BF is playing
25 August 2015 @ 10:43 pm

So I spent the past week in (and I guess traveling to/from) Spokane, Wash., for the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention. WorldCon, as it's colloquially known, was officially titled Sasquan and featured many awesome panels and activities and things, including the much-talked-about Hugo Awards. (Although I myself won't say anything on the topic, although I pretty much agree with this [and it's also a really cool, creative way to approach writing about the whole kerfuffle!].)

Anyway, my coworker today asked me to tell her "all about it" and (1) that was fun, and (2) it made me really excited and pumped up, potentially even moreso than when I was actually there. So here is "all about it" in blog post form- or, I guess, highlights and takeaways.

1) United Airlines: I do NOT recommend- in fact, I strongly advise against. I, of little experience, was already apprehensive because of the recent system crashes, but we stayed the course. And got stranded in Denver overnight- it would've been physically in the airport if it weren't for a generous friend who lives there. Things I personally experienced (I also heard MANY things, negative all, but I don't want to repeat hearsay): you have to pay for ANY movie or entertainment, whereas Delta offered a free movie for their flight of approximately equal length. They will tell you they are holding flights for you when they are not. Also, we were stuck on the tarmac for 45 minutes because ALL the gates were full at once and that was why we missed our connection. We were about a minute past when boarding closed and they still would not cut us slack, when we were coming off their own plane. The lady at customer service was very hesitant to put us on another airline even though it would get us to our final destination faster. The amount of vouchers they gave for food was really arbitrary; I got $14 but another lady on the same make-up flight got $21. Compared to Delta and especially Alaska (which was a great choice) they were far inferior.

2) Silver lining: I got to see Mt. Rainier because of the missed flight (we went to Seattle before puddle-jumping over to Spokane. And my row-mate on that flight was a veteran con-goer with some amazing stories to share!)
Also, we saw the Spokane Falls (upper and lower), the carousel, the trash-eating goat, the giant red wagon, basically everything in Riverfront Park. Also a performance of "The Taming of the Shrew" with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks! And smoke- ALL the smoke, although obviously that is not good. My lungs held up better than BF's did, strangely enough.

3) Panels: I went to a BUNCH of them, some each day. Highlights were the ones on what I dubbed "Fantasy Day" (Saturday), including two world building panels (one featuring Ken Liu and the coolest Supreme Court analogy ever that will forever change the way I read decisions). I also enjoyed the "Women in Video Games" one that we went to because one of BF's friends was moderating. I also went to one on "The Future of Government" which was fascinating (this was my first exposure to the theory of "Dark Enlightenment," described as "libertarians discover monarchy") and an actual professionally-useful one on science reporting and what makes it good- an important takeaway was that for climate change stories, your "other side" can be someone critiquing the study's methodology or comparing its conclusions to those of similar studies, rather than giving deniers the time of day print space.
I also realized that the moderating makes a HUGE difference in the quality of panels. The panels we went to on Sunday [the last day] were really disorganized/bad, because of the above. So that's something I'll keep in the back of my mind for future last-day panels.)

4) Events: Match Game was THE GREATEST PART of the Con. Really fun, very interactive and inappropriate, in a tongue-in-cheek way, without being vulgar. The "celebrities" contestants had to match were all really enjoying it, and I especially commend Leigh Ann Hildebrand for fully embracing the spirit of the event and coming up with the evening's immortal Running Gag! The Masquerade was alright; I would have enjoyed it more if my expectations weren't so high from watching "Heroes of Cosplay" and the like, BUT I got to experience filking, which I wouldn't have were it not for going. Now I know that I like it, though, I will make sure to pop in on it at least once at future cons. (Also, I've since learned that masquerade and cosplay are slightly different things, so there you go.)

5) Con Suite: I had been looking forward to the room parties, but they were REALLY alcohol-heavy (some, alcohol-dependent, even) and the food selections were often lacking. BUT the Con Suite. I went there the first evening and they had just put out fresh, handmade quesadillas (chicken and cheese) and taquitos, as well as hot dogs. I also got homemade split pea soup (and a sandwich and chips and juice) another visit, and a lovely breakfast of cereal and yogurt one morning, all free of charge for Con guests. Pleasant surprise, especially since I had experienced a fairly spartan one at Balticon and was warned about the possibility of it being the same at Sasquan. Definitely an awesome amenity and major plus to the Con.

6) Souvenirs: We got the badge, on a lanyard, Program and a Con booklet with art and filk lyrics and all sorts of essays and stories. And a nifty canvas bag with the Sasquan logo on it, all with registration. I also bought a book, The Tropic of Serpents that I am excited to read- out 50 pages in so far and it is not disappointing :)- and was given Loose Changeling at the author's reading, which BF recommends. I also have a few books from the "freebies" table. AND- a bookmark from Writers of the Future Volume 31, who are all really lovely people and good friends to my BF. The artist featured on the volume's cover actually drew a little doodle of BF and me on it, and I'm so tickled every time I see it.

7) Miscellany: My first time experiencing jet lag and it is very unpleasant. I'm exhausted and at about 10:45 both nights I had it I got extremely dizzy and the world was spinning.
I got to meet a lot of really great people, including many my BF had talked about all the time, so now I have names for faces. The Facebook friend requests from (some of) these people are trickling in, and it's nice and validating to see they liked me enough to reach out that way.
That said, at times I sorta felt like I don't belong there, in that environment- especially "bar con." I'm not a real writer, I don't have the fortitude of those people to do the hard work and get the rejections. So for a while that sort of dampened my fun, but then I was like, I can make myself belong. I can write, however sporadically. (Also, I figured out another thing that's wrong with one of my current WIPs… although I am rethinking that rethink haha). I can certainly read these people's works so that is a starting point. I can potentially volunteer at the con- newsletter, perhaps- to own it from that angle. Be involved.
And there are some relationship things I picked up, too, but they don't need airing here.

So, yes. Sasquan 2015 was definitely a positive experience overall. And I find myself planning for MidAmeriCon II already (which had a fabulous commercial/preview video during the Closing Cermony), which is perhaps the biggest testament of all to its success. As the writers say, show not tell. :)
I'm feeling: cheerfulcheerful
Listening to: Ink Master reruns
09 December 2014 @ 09:18 pm
#AdventUs project, Day 9. Today's verse is one I had never heard of, the story of Jael from Judges. Apparently she murders a guy with a tent peg through his skull... BUT when I initially wrote the story, all I had was half of a verse (Judges 4:21) and a haiku from a fellow participant, both of which conveyed Jael's sense of mission and purpose, and the word "softly." Word association brought me to snow, kittens, and quavering- which became wavering as a contrast to the surety in the original tale and then the story followed. Once again, I exceed my self-imposed word count, but not by quite as much.

So, I now bring you, WaverleyCollapse )
I'm feeling: uplifted
03 December 2014 @ 08:22 pm

This Advent, I am participating in a digital... project? program? experience, I'll say. Each day brings a different prompt, a word from a Bible verse, and you are to create something relating to said prompt. It can be anything, really, so I am just being creative and letting whatever medium inspires me that day, inspire me. Everything is digitally archived with #AdventUs so the project organizers can track things and interact. It's pretty snazzy. Details, and the various prompts, are available here. There are still 22 days left if any of you want to get involved!

So, overview out of the way. Introduction to the piece: My first real attempt at flash fiction. Initially my goal was 300 words, but this is over that by a bit. Yet it feels complete, so I've elected to bend my own rule/guideline a bit. The story is unfailingly uplifting, because the verse for today is so inspiring to me even if it doesn't seem to be (Genesis 4:9, "Am I my sister's/brother's #keeper?") and because there's so much sad stuff going on right now I needed to counterbalance it in whatever small way I could. (It is also unpolished, because I feel like the spirit of the exercise is to be spontaneous and let things happen as they will.)

KeeperCollapse )
Writing from: My "new" digs
I'm feeling: uplifted
25 September 2014 @ 06:10 pm
So I had been kinda thinking about doing this for a while now. Or, more accurately, there have been a few stories for which I've considered doing this. But I am finally going to take the plunge, because I want as many people as possible to read this article (the original one, not necessarily this post) because I think it's an important issue that people should be aware of.

So here is my Anatomy of a Story for "Athletic activists put spotlight on redistricting reform" (Part two here)

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I'm feeling: accomplished
My little corner of the Internet has been on fire lately about DashCon, the first convention by Tumblr users, for Tumblr users. I don't really mention it much, but I am a proud Tumblr-er (Tumblee?) - not so proud that I can't see and sometimes mock the worst things about the site. I vaguely remember when DashCon wasn't (to use the parlance of the web) A Thing yet, merely an idea. And I remember thinking, "By users, for users? Yikes!" Because I have been involved with conferences in the past and they are not easy to put on. So much goes on in the lead-up, and so much more behind the scenes during the event, that attendees aren't privy to. So I kind of wrote it off as one of those oft-wished-for but never-to-be trips, marked by this conversation: "We really should all go visit the Grand Canyon." "Yeah, really, let's do it!" And then no one actually does anything.

I then didn't hear anything about it until about a week before, when the Baker Street Babes started promoing their involvement. I honestly thought it was a super lame thing, like a glorified liveblogging scenario. And then that Sunday, I saw my Dash blowing up with complaints from the Babes and others and "an hour in the ball pit" memes. So I did my digging and found out what I had suspected: DashCon failed horribly. From the oft-mocked ball pit to the shady $17,000 fundraiser the day of the Con to the walk-out of prominent guests Welcome to Night Vale and more, almost nothing had gone to plan. And some people are taking great amusement in this, but I just can't. Some people are out a lot of money on this, some kids ended up in tears, hotel staff got mistreated, and the DashCon name is forever tarnished. The admins (who really should probably call themselves owners or managers) released a statement addressing some of the issues people have raised. It's a start, if a sort of mediocre one. It will take a very long time to completely sort out fact from fiction and heresay from actual occurances. But regardless of the reasons, DashCon 2014 was a disaster. The ways in which in failed, though, are uniquely Tumblr (and, again I say this as an avid Tumblee and fan of the site).

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I'm feeling: compassionate
Listening to: Wheel of Fortune
So I’m going to do something a bit different today: I am going to respond to one of my own pieces. Longtime readers may remember my “reading response responses” from freshman year of college, which is probably the closest to what I am doing. I’ve never really explicitly mentioned my work since becoming a professional, instead focusing on national issues or personal essays while I cover local politics at work. But today my editor brought up a piece I did on campaign finance and said he thought my analysis was good and that the numbers fairly accurately predicted the actual primary election results. Naturally, journalist that I am, I decided to revisit that piece and test the claim. Since the election’s been over for weeks, I didn’t think it would be timely enough to publish, but still interesting enough that people might read it. Which brought me here.

So, we covered 11 races (counting the gubernatorial one) this cycle. Not all of them were contested, though, (or some were technically contested but there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt who’d actually win) so my article focused on five: three House of Delegates and two County Council. I looked at three financial measures to try to determine the outcome: overall account balance, last quarter spending and last quarter fundraising. As predictors of the outcome, all of these figures were hit and miss.

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I'm feeling: nerdy
So there's a lot of stuff going around about the Hobby Lobby decision that is inaccurate. And it's bothering me because even just the bare facts of the case should upset you, without having to resort to exaggerations.

First, Hobby Lobby (hereafter HL) was not objecting to birth control per se. It was objecting to four specific types of birth control, including IUDs and Plan B and ella, because the founders believe those types cause abortions. Their Christian faith says life begins at conception, which they think is "egg and sperm meeting." Therefore IUDs which prevent the egg from implanting kill that embryo (i.e. are abortion). But the pill itself, and the shot and the patch and what have you- the other 16 forms of BC- are fine by HL.

And yet we still should be super upset about the verdict. Because the way that those forms of BC operate DOES NOT cause abortion. Plan B and ella prevent an egg from being released at all by preventing (Plan B) and/or disrupting (ella) the hormones surges that signal the body to release an egg; therefore, there is no egg for the sperm to join with to fertilize. If the egg has already been released, it will do nothing for you and you can still get pregnant.

For IUDs, the mechanism is slightly different. Copper IUDs release copper (duh) which is a spermicide to "kill" the sperm. Mirena is hormone-based and releases progestin, which thickens the cervical mucus, preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. (The barrier becomes too difficult for the sperm to cross).

So, to recap: ella and Plan B prevent pregnancy by stopping the release of an egg. So no egg = no baby. IUDs work by killing the sperm or impeding it so much that it can't get to the egg. No sperm = no baby. Scientifically speaking, in NONE of those cases are there any babies- embryos, zygotes, fetuses, whichever term you can put in here- being aborted or at all harmed. The purpose of these methods is to prevent there being a baby.

Where the grey area comes in is that fact that IUDs are foreign bodies lodged inside you, which naturally causes swelling and mild inflammation. And that inflammation can prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus, which HL owners consider an abortion because the fertilized egg is expelled from the body and "dies," being unable to support itself. But this is not the main purpose of the IUD; it is a natural side effect of any foreign body inside your body anywhere.

I will admit, up until very recently I had no idea how any of these things worked myself.Collapse )
I'm feeling: annoyedannoyed