Friday, March 25, 2016

Mid-point of 2016 Primary Season


At some point this morning I realized I could easily spend an hour or two trying to tweet out my reactions to the state of politics right now. Then I remembered - I have my oft neglected blog for such impulses.Basically one thing strikes me at this point in 2016. The Republican Party - all of it - has no business being in government. If the best the GOP honchos can do is suggest Ted Cruz is the lesser of two evils than we are looking at an institution that has reached and passed its sell-by date. Cruz is not fit to be president. As demonstrated by his shut-down scheme, he is not fit to be a senator. His suggestion that patrols should be conducted of Muslim neighborhoods is exactly the kind of policy proposal his father left Cuba to escape. 'Nuff said.That said, Trump has been able to do the one thing I thought impossible - make me mildly sympathetic towards Ted Cruz. So, here I go: comparing the relative hotness of candidate wives, threatening to expose information about said spouse, and just generally going after loved ones of a candidate's family is wrong. Simply wrong. It's the kind of thing that should relegate The Donald to the same dark, windowless room Mel Gibson currently inhabits.
Instead the carnival continues.I glanced through an article yesterday suggesting Trump, if elected president, would outsource his Supreme Court nomination process to the Heritage Foundation. That's his 'oh-so-sly' way of getting establishment types to his corner, I suppose.  I imagine his pitch as going something like this:"Okay, you don't like me. You don't trust me. But I know what you folks like, okay? Conservative judges. Very, very conservative judges. I'll get my best brand development - er, vetting committee - on this ASAP. I'll have the best words for whatever judge I pick. Tall. Conservative. Hates women. Conservative.  Loves the constitution. You're going to love him. Trust me."Does anyone seriously think Trump's approach to nominating a Supreme Court Justice will be in any way different than how he chooses any other part of his branding empire? You love Trump steaks, you'll love Trump Scalia!Bigger question. Why exactly does Mitch McConnell think he's going to get a judge he likes from Trump rather than Obama?For the moment the Garland embargo holds, even as McConnell's levy keeping the waters of reason from reaching the U.S. Senate continues to crumble. This whole episode - however it turns out - reminds me of how much I'm going to miss President Obama when he leaves office. Another president, confronted with McConnell's intransigence would fume, throw a tantrum, or give up. Obama simply presses forward.

In general, I feel like that's nearly always the right approach. Confronted with the insane, the boorish, the irrational, you can't join the tantrum. You make it clear what's going to happen and then you start walking ahead.

Monday, March 7, 2016

What I Read in February

Another month of excellent reading to recommend to you, this time leaning heavily into the sci-fi side of things. As always, don’t think of this as a full-on review post or anything. These are merely a sampling of stories I read and enjoyed.


Strandbeest Tail by Morgan Crooks 2015


  • Baby Bird by Gwendolyn Kiste. (Tryptich Tales) Tryptich is an interesting market. They only publish three works at a time, and each echoes the other in some thematic way. Kiste’s offering is a dark fairy tale grounded by the friendship between two misfits in a southwestern town. What puts this story on the list for me is its spare and evocative prose, the way the relationship between the girls and their secret fall into place with the absolute minimum of description. 
  • Sober Kevin is a Bitch by HL Fullerton (Tryptich). I don’t think speculative fiction has quite reached the bottom of the multiverse concept and here’s a story that finds a clever take on multiple versions of a person in communication. The concept of this story, that certain versions of yourself want to help all the others is somehow very sweet and endearing. A concept that could have easily been mined for some dystopian pathos, here offers a very reassuring message about the possibilities of a single human life.
  • The Manatees by Heather Kamins. Beautiful story in Betwixt, a market I’ve often found excels in this kind of exploration of alternate realities. Girls pass back and forth rumors of the significance of visits from manatees. Only when the aquatic mammals do finally visit the unnamed narrator does she understand what her friends have actually been talking about. 
  • The Fixer by Paul McCauly (Clarkesworld) An interesting look at a nearly omnipotent AI gene-engineering a new race of hominims to live on an alien world. Finally discovered by an even more powerful artificial mind, the narrator of the story mounts of a fierce and sympathetic defense of the indefensible.
  • Charlotte Incorporated by Rachel K. Jones. Good stuff. Future of brains in jars slaving away for a chance to buy perfect bodies. This story was one part heart-felt philosophical thought experiment and one part Grant Morrison anarchy.