naomikritzer: (Default)
I imported my whole journal from LJ a while back. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be indexed on Google -- like, if I search site:naomikritzer.dreamwidth.org "clown car" I get no hits. I checked my preferences and I did NOT check the "try to prevent search engines from indexing my journal" box or anything else that obviously looked like it would impede indexing. Anyone know what I should do to fix this? I definitely want people who go looking for my old political posts to find them (including me, since I pretty regularly look at old posts to find stuff I need to remember about candidates.)
naomikritzer: (Default)
LiveJournal is offering up a new mandatory user agreement if you want to keep using the service and I don't think I trust this "the legal version is actually in Russian" agreement so I think I'm going to stop using LJ. Not that I was using it all that much anyway. (My political stuff is all going on my naomikritzer.com blog anymore.)

If we were friends over on LJ, please feel free to drop me a comment and we can connect here, instead. I kept meaning to go through and track everyone down on DW but so many people registered blogs here and never posted on them that it felt a little pointless.
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There was a proposed ritual that made the rounds last month to "bind" Trump. I was honestly a bit bothered by the airy reassurance that doing this ritual wouldn't be dangerous, and e-mailed one of my Wiccan friends to get her opinion on it. (Her take was the same as mine: presenting it as risk-free is disingenuous, as you could bind yourself to Trump by doing it. NOT IDEAL.) Another Wiccan friend noted that because it got national publicity, the Domionist Christian rallied to do a counter-spell, basically, rendering the whole exercise much less effective.

Anyway, I've found myself thinking that what's needed most, right now, is not a spell on Trump, but ritual magic directed at the entire nation (or directed at the people around us who most need to see what's going on).

Let me back up with a couple of disclaimers. I am not a Wiccan nor typically a practitioner of ritual magic. I do, however, buy into the idea of ritual magic as a thing: I think that large-scale group prayer is solidly in this category (see: the Dominionist Christian counter-spell). So I'm going to propose a ritual, but with the caveat that I'm probably leaving out elements that might be very key for you in your own tradition or practice. The idea here is to raise and direct energy toward a purpose: if it appeals to you, feel free to restructure these ideas based on your practice, traditions, etc.

If, like me, you're on social media, you've probably been seeing article after article go by about people who voted for Trump, but are going to lose their health insurance under TrumpCare. Who voted for Trump, and still truly believe he's going to bring back coal mining jobs or somehow solve all their problems. Who voted for Trump, but never thought it would be someone they knew who got hurt... etc.

And there's a lot going on here: while in some cases it's as simple as, "they're basically racist assholes," that's not true for all. Some are not paying close attention to the world. Some are in denial. Some put their trust in the Republican party years ago and haven't reconsidered whether the Republican party actually stands for anything they believe in.

This is who this ritual is trying to reach: the people who need to wake. The people who need to look at the facts rather than the propaganda. The people who need to wake to who they've become -- to look at themselves in the mirror one morning and realize that they've been walking side-by-side with white supremacists and literal Nazis. The people who need to know that they're becoming someone they've always recognized as the bad guy.

I'll note that sending out energy to "wake someone to the truth" should be inherently pretty safe, as long as you live a reasonably honest life. When it comes back to you, it might be uncomfortable, but hopefully it will not be dangerous.

Having shown this to a few friends who are more specifically expert on this stuff than me, they think that "the whole nation" is potentially too large a target, and suggest focusing more on people you know, and/or specific politicians.

Timing

Monday, March 20th, is the Spring Equinox. This strikes me as a very logical time to do this ritual, because on the Equinox, we're balanced between darkness and light, but more light is coming. That's what we're asking for: more light, even just a little more, every day, for everyone.

If it is more convenient for you to do a morning ritual on a Sunday, I think the day before the Equinox is also a perfectly reasonable time. (An astrological consultant thinks that Sunday may actually be better; he thinks the exact moment of Spring Equinox would be ideal, but missing it even by a minute or two would be less favorable. Check your schedule, I guess? Sunday morning is a nice time for a ritual, especially if you're getting a group together.)

The New Moon is March 27th. If you prefer a night ritual, the first night when a crescent will be visible also seems like a time that could work. I'll let you figure out the lunar info for your area.

Components

You will want a symbol of the U.S. (Possibilities: a flag, a picture of an eagle, a picture of a bison, a road atlas, your Hamilton album. Preferably something that is meaningful to you. If you are focusing on particular people, symbols of them would be good, as well.

You will want a pot of a hot caffeinated beverage. (Coffee or tea.)

You will want symbols of deities, saints, spirits, etc. associated with light, knowledge, wisdom, and clarity, particularly any who are especially meaningful to you.

You will want a mirror. There's a lot that's significant about mirrors: the idea of "looking at yourself and seeing the truth" is pretty culturally embedded. But here's another thing -- traditionally a vampire doesn't reflect back. By holding up a mirror to someone, we are both confronting them BUT ALSO acknowledging their humanity, the idea that they are redeemable. You wouldn't hold up a mirror to Steve Bannon.

Suggested Structure for a Morning Ritual

If you're doing a dawn ritual on the 20th, rise before dawn. Start your coffee brewing (or your tea). Sit by an eastern window. Lay out the symbols and watch for the sun.

At first light, sing a song of waking and light. (Possibilities: "Morning Has Broken," "Here Comes the Sun," the Little Birdies song from the Scouts, Reveille, Harry Belafonte's "Turn the World Around.")

Call on your deities to wake all who are willing to be woken: to the truth, to themselves, to what we're becoming, to what they've become. Call on them to remind them that it's never too late to turn around. (Resolve for yourself to accept those who DO turn around.) Don't ask for people to be woken forcefully but ask for all those who WANT the truth to receive it, to see it, to find it, to recognize it.

Look into the mirror. Ask to be shown yourself in truth. Ask that all those who are willing to be shown the truth about themselves and the world around them when they look into the mirror in the morning. If it's meaningful to you, make this a small pocket mirror you can literally carry around as a symbol of Bringing People to the Truth, and keep the mirror on your person after the ritual ends.

Thank all who came (both human and divine); pour coffee/tea. Drink. (If "cakes and ale" are part of your standard ritual practice, break bread -- possibly you'll want to lay in morning buns as one of your components, or make toast along with your coffee.) End the ritual.

If you're doing a mid-morning ritual on the 19th, especially for a group, make it a brunch.

Suggestions re a Night Ritual

Watch for the first light of the moon, rather than dawn. Brew a symbolic but non-caffeinated hot beverage; the goal is to invoke enlightenment, not insomnia.

Commitments

The whole goal of this ritual is to wake the complacent on the other side, to help them see and accept the truth about what's going on.

So take some time, as well, to think about what to say and do, if you get what you ask for. Obviously, it's going to depend on the person and your relationship with them and your history and obligations to each other. But especially if you have a particular person in mind -- someone who insists that they want to know the truth (and they're getting it from Fox News!) and believes they're educated on how things are going -- think about what THAT person needs to hear. If they come to you and say, "things aren't going how I thought they would; what do I do now?" what you can encourage them to do. (You could start by encouraging them to call their congressional rep and say, truthfully, "I am a lifelong Republican and I am horrified at what you're doing." Or letters to the editor. Encourage them to admit their past affiliation, as this makes it easier for other people who are in the same boat to do the same.)

Do not expect your generally-conservative friends to convert to full-press liberalism overnight. Most of us have made changes in our lives that required baby steps. If the only step they make is to realize what the Republican health care plan is going to do to them or people they care about, then let them focus on that. There is so much work to be done -- if they are clinging to a pro-life identity and don't want to push back on the Planned Parenthood stuff (for instance), get them pushing somewhere else (Medicaid, clean air protections, there are MANY options) and trust that time and thought and awareness have their own magic. (I want to say, though, that I'm not advocating that you martyr yourself. You're allowed to have boundaries and dealbreakers in ALL your relationships.)

Politics

Oct. 2nd, 2016 11:08 pm
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I've gotten worse and worse about cross-posting from my other blog. If you're looking for my political posts this election season, you can find them over at naomikritzer.wordpress.com. If you follow me on Twitter, my WordPress blog automatically Tweets out those links.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
"Cat Pictures Please" is a finalist for the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and (most recently) the Hugo Award for Best Short Story!

To celebrate I put my two short story collections on sale:

Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories kindle | nook

Gift of the Winter King and Other Stories kindle | nook

(Neither of these collections has "Cat Pictures Please" in it, but you can go read that online at Clarkesworld!)

 
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
In the news coverage of the controversy at Nova Classical Academy, it's really clear to me that some people have no earthly idea what "gender nonconforming" is and how it differs from being trans, so let me talk about that, just briefly.

I think most people have at least some idea what it means for a person to be trans. A trans person identifies with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth: if at birth, people thought you were a boy and gave you a male name, and have always used male pronouns for you, but despite this you know yourself to be a girl, you are trans. (If at birth people thought you were a girl and you agree with that assessment, the word for feeling comfortable in that identity is "cis" or "cisgender." I am cisgender, or a cis woman.)

The best example of a gender-nonconforming or gender-creative kid I can readily point to is C.J., the son of the blogger at Raising My Rainbow. C.J., now eight years old, likes dresses, wears his hair long, wanted a Bitty Baby for Christmas, and prefers things pink or purple or covered in sparkles (or all three). He went through a brief period of requesting that his family call him Rebecca and use female pronouns, then decided this didn't feel right. His mother, in a recent blog post, wrote about the fact that she's had people insist that her son is trans, and pressure her to transition him: "My son no longer wants to be a woman when he grows up, like he did when he was four. He didn’t feel comfortable during those days when he was six and we called him Rebecca and used female pronouns. And, after watching his friend transition he declared that he couldn’t imagine being a girl every day."

One confusing factor here is that a lot of trans kids start out presenting as gender-creative kids, then transition. But if you've got a boy who loves to wear sparkly purple dresses and identifies as a boy, that's also fine. The appropriate pronoun is "he," the appropriate word is "boy," and his communities (school, preschool, day care, church...) should take steps as needed to make sure he is safe and respected. It is no more okay for people to tease a boy about wearing a dress than it is for people to tell a little girl, "you shouldn't play with that lightsaber; Star Wars is for boys."

It's a lot rarer that you hear people talk about gender-creative or gender-nonconforming girls, in part because the idea of a "tomboy" is so solidly part of our culture. We have narratives in which tomboys grow up and put away their blue jeans and join the world of ladylike girls -- Katie John, Caddie Woodlawn -- and narratives where they hold tightly to the empowerment offered by "masculine" behavior -- Tomboy, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. While there are many ways that society squashes girls who want to resist the "feminine" box, society in general these days is overall kinder to little girls who want to wear pants and play baseball than it is to little boys who want to wear dresses and play with dolls. Even the 1970s-era empowerment story (and song, in "Free to Be, You and Me") William's Doll shows William as reassuringly masculine other than in his desire for a doll, and assures both readers and the other characters in the story that nurturing behavior is still appropriate masculine behavior.

The two books My Princess Boy and Jacob's New Dress are both about gender-nonconforming boys. The boys in these books are creative and exhuberant dress-wearing boys. (Here's a really lovely interview with the author of My Princess Boy, by the way.)

In creating safe schools, we need to protect and empower both gender-creative kids and trans kids. (We also need to recognize that protecting a gender-creative kid may mean something different than protecting a trans kid -- just as it's unacceptable for a peer to say to a trans kid, "you are really a boy!" it's unacceptable for a peer to say to a gender-creative kid, "you are really a girl!")
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Nova Classical Academy is in the news today. This is the school both of my kids attend and have for years. It's in the news because a few families have responded to anti-bullying efforts at the school by renting space and bringing in the Minnesota Family Council (sponsors of the Parent Action League, named as an anti-gay hate group by the SPLC).

Nova's facility rental policy left things open to anyone who showed up with the necessary insurance and a check. I think this type of scenario didn't occur to anyone when the policy was written.

The Minnesota Family Council does not represent Nova. Not only does it not reflect Nova's values, it is antithetical to the values my children are learning at Nova. MFC is explicitly pro-bullying; they want to see GSAs (supportive organizations for queer kids and allies) eliminated and books censored. They endorse completely discredited, abusive tactics such as conversion therapy, and they want to force teachers to be their mouthpiece for homophobia and transphobia. None of that is what Nova stands for.

Not only do I stand with the targeted family against bullies both inside and outside the school, I will stand between those bullies and the vulnerable kids they are targeting any chance I get.

 
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
It's December, and do you know what that means? That means it's time for my annual very special article on gift shopping for people you hate.

In a better world, we'd only ever have to be presents for people we want to buy presents for. But the sad fact is that sometimes, presents are obligatory. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that sometimes, giving a present is a whole lot less trouble than the inevitable drama that would result from not giving a present.

Let me just reel out the usual disclaimers before we get started. I love everyone I give gifts to: if I have given you a present and you hated it, I swear I tried to get you something you would like (or at least find briefly amusing) and for heaven's sake please feel free to donate it to a thrift shop or something if you've still got it. And if you've ever given me something that could possibly fit one of these categories, I am not talking about you, your gift was lovely and I do not suspect you of passive-aggressive malice, I promise.

I ran across this totally fascinating document from World War II earlier today. (Props to the Central Intelligence Agency, for sharing this riveting bit of history!) This is a guide to "Simple Sabotage," which I guess was covertly distributed in occupied Europe as a guide to sabotage for the motivated layperson. Probably the funniest part is the section where they talk about how to use office politics as an engine of sabotage against the Nazi war effort. "Insist on doing everything through 'channels.' Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions." "Make 'speeches.' Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate 'patriotic' comments." "When possible, refer all matters to committees, for 'further study and consideration.' Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five." "Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions."

Anyway, the relevence here is that Resistance members and Allied sympathizers in Nazi-occupied Europe could get away with dropping wrenches into machinery, breaking drill bits and dulling saws, tying up phone lines with wrong numbers, and making lots of time-wasting patriotic speeches to avoid decision making because that sort of thing legitimately happened on a regular basis just by accident. That same basic principle is at work here. People get terrible, inappropriate gifts all the time; usually, it's not because anyone was trying to give them a bad gift, it's just because buying good presents for people we don't know well is really difficult. All those inadvertant bad gifts are your camouflage. Adhere to a certain degree of subtlety, and no one needs to know that your goal here was to make your target unhappy with your Simple Sabotage Christmas largesse.

ON TO THE GIFT IDEAS.

Sports Memorabilia

Many people have a favorite team, and if you buy a thing with their team's logo on it, this shows that you have paid attention to something they like, and are trying to please them. The thing is, even very devoted fans don't usually want everything in their house to be dedicated to their sports team. (There are exceptions. You probably already know if you're dealing with one of those, though.) You can find a Tiffany-style table lamp with a sports team logo. A curtain valance. A wallpaper border. A light switch plate. A spandex throw pillow that looks like a giant baseball. A wall clock! A SHOWER CURTAIN. A pot holder and kitchen towel set. The list goes on, and on, and on.

My favorite item on this list, for sheer WTF value, is definitely the Tiffany-style table lamp with the team logo, but it's $129, and gifts for people you dislike should always be inexpensive. There are far more reasonably priced items.

Like duct tape. Duct tape is not normally something you would give as a Christmas present, probably, but you can present this with the air of someone who'd never seen sports team duct tape before and got overexcited. Use the statement, "when I saw this I knew I HAD to get it for you!" Which is probably a statement you've heard a few times over the years, usually just before being handed a terrible gift. See what I mean about camouflage?

Whimsical Housewares

There are well-designed whimsical kitchen items that are both cute and functional. And then there are whimsical kitchen items that will take up space in a drawer or cabinet without being good for anything at all.

1. Mugs are pretty dang basic, you know? How do you even screw up a mug? Well, you can make it take up the space of two mugs or you can give it a handle that you can't easily slip your fingers through.

2. Oh look, a hedgehog cheese grater! So adorable, but try to picture using it. How do you even hold onto it while grating cheese with it? If you read the reviews, the answer is, "argh!"

3. The Nessie ladle looked so adorable in the magazine articles about it six months ago -- I totally wanted one. Too bad they're apparently both runty and flimsy. (Small ladles can be functional -- we have one that we use for gravy -- but it sounds like this one comes in an awkward size, too big for gravy but too small for soup.)

4. A sculptural dragon that will embrace your salt and pepper shaker like they are part of its hoard. Okay, to be fair: I totally know people who would honestly love this item. Use your own judgment here.

5. Even most of the people who would love a dragon salt and papper shaker holder are not actually going to install a dragon TP holder. Especially since, according to the reviews, it's really pretty annoying to install.

6. In the "easy to install but WHY WOULD YOU" category there is a Santa toilet decal. If you give this for Christmas, it'll already be too late to stick it on when they unwrap it; they'll have to save it for an entire year in order to get any use out of it.

7. A decorative tabby cat wine bottle holder. This is a bulky storage gadget for a single bottle of wine that also makes it look like the cat is drinking wine directly from the bottle. Note that the five-star reviews are entirely from people who gave it as a gift and say that the recipient just loved it (except for one person who cheerfully notes that his girlfriend thought it was hideous and "mysteriously lost it.") If you need a present for someone who's more of a dog person, you can get a dog version and somehow the wine-sucking golden retriever puppy is even more disturbing to look at than the cat.

8. In the "whimsical wine" category there are also whimsical wine bottle covers. What are these even for? Is there a reason that wine needs a cozy? Are these to dress up gifts of wine because you don't like wine gift bags? My suggested strategy for bad wine gifts is to go to a wine store or Trader Joe's and tell them that you need a bottle of wine for a stage set, it needs to not be a recognizable brand (so no three-buck-Chuck) but it doesn't have to be drinkable and you don't want to spend more than $5. Then stick a sweater on it, I guess. (WHY. WHY DOES WINE NEED A SWEATER?)

9. Whimsical nested measuring cups. Because you totally want to play "Take Apart the Matryoshka Dolls" before you can measure 1/4 cup of flour, and put them all away again every time you wash them rather than just throwing them in a drawer.

10. Whimsical dinosaur fossil ice cube trays. There is a huge selection of whimsical silicon ice cube trays out there. I spent some time last summer in a rented apartment that came with silicon ice cube trays, and I went out and tracked down a real ice cube tray because life is too short to pry whimsically-shaped cubes out of those stupid silicon trays. They are a complete pain in the ass and no one cares about whimsical ice.

Cookbooks

Rather than linking to specific cookbooks, I'm going to suggest that you visit your nearest chain bookstore and check out the discount section, although before buying, make sure that the discount sticker can be easily peeled off.

There are people who love to cook and disdain any recipe that calls for Cream of Campbell's or Lipton Onion Soup Mix as ingredients. For those people, you want to find a cookbook where the recipes mostly involve assembling the contents of cans. The whole "Dump Dinners" series is arranged around this premise but there are plenty of others out there.

There are also people who really hate cooking and for them, you want to find a cookbook that claims everything in it is "quick and easy" and "ready in ten minutes" but also assumes that you just happened to stumble across 2 finely diced onions, 10 peeled and minced garlic cloves, 2 chopped green bell peppers, and four deboned ducks before you started the process of cooking. If you're not sure how to identify those, look for cookbooks produced by Cook's Illustrated or America's Test Kitchen. (I have a copy of the America's Test Kitchen Family cookbook, and I even use it, but they have crock pot recipes in there that call for, I swear to God, two hours of prep before you turn on the crock pot. That is not why I have a crock pot. That is not why anyone has a crock pot.)

Alternately, I'm pretty sure that It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great, Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, could successfully irritate anyone who is not already a member of Gwyneth's personal cult. Especially as it's apparently about 2/3 pictures of Gwyneth.

Charitable Gifts: Wildlife Adoptions

Yesterday, someone on my Facebook shared an article about how the Bronx Zoo lets you name their Madagascar Hissing cockroaches after people for $10 per named cockroach. That is an awesome, if thoroughly unsubtle, gift. However, when I visited the Bronx Zoo website I couldn't find any links to do this, so I think it may have been a limited-time deal last February. (Too bad, because with some effort you can sell it as not an insult, I think. You'd want to focus on the whole "only thing that will survive a nuclear war" aspect of the cockroach personality.)

It's especially too bad because when you browse Wildlife Adoption options they tend to overwhelmingly focus on cute, appealing animals like tigers and panda bears. No one lets you adopt a blobfish. The World Wildlife Fund (logo animal: the panda bear) has 125 species available for wildlife adoption, but the blobfish is not among them. Dear WWF: I think you are missing an opportunity here. I know (I am sure) that as an organization you are strongly committed to saving ugly animals just as much as cute ones. You could even do one of your themed wildlife adoption buckets with the theme "save the uncharismatic fauna, too!" but for sure you'd need a blobfish in there.

Wildlife adoptions from the WWF are available at various price points -- they push the $55 option, which comes with a stuffed toy, but you can also do a $25 option, which is just a photo and a certificate. And while they do not have blobfish, they do have some animals available that might suit your gift-giving needs.

Bonobos. "Bonobos are highly social animals," the WWF tells you on their bonobo page, leaving out the part where they socialize primarily by having sex all day long. "They communicate in a variety of ways--visually, by touch and vocally," they say, delicately leaving out the fact that bonobos in captivity have been observed using a self-developed sign language to proposition one another sexually. "Male bonobos stay with the group that they were born into; a male's dominance is based upon his mother's rank," they say, leaving out the detail that bonobos live in a lesbian matriarchy. Get your homophobic bigot relative a bonobo wildlife adoption, and get yourself a copy of Biological Exuberance, which was where I first heard about bonobos. Fun additional fact: they're our closest primate relative. (Well, they're probably tied with chimps. But they are definitely at least as closely related to us as chimps are.)

Anacondas. If you think about it the right way, giving an anaconda adoption is a very subtle way of calling your recipient a dick.

The Great White Shark. If you have to give a gift to someone who's ever cut you down emotionally, give them a Great White Shark adoption and think of this lovely image of a Great White Shark every time you look at their shark stuffie. (SUPER GREAT.)

Vampire Bats. This one is maybe a little less subtle, but hey, you are RESCUING ENDANGERED WILDLIFE IN THEIR NAME.

Honey Badgers. Not surprisingly, the WWF page does not quote this excellent educational video about the personal strengths of honey badgers.

The Sierra Club also does wildlife adoptions and lets you adopt tarantulas, which is awesome. However, Ed and I used to donate to the Sierra Club and they would not stop calling us, so I hesitate to suggest donating to them. Although they will send you a tarantula puppet, and how cool is that? Also, if you can figure out a way to sic their phone solicitors onto your recipient, that would definitely be a gift that would keep on giving, but I'm not sure how you'd get them to do that while not also calling you.

If you want a stuffed blobfish for a do-it-yourself wildlife adoption, by the way, you can order one. It's kind of astonishing how cute it is, while also being recognizably a blobfish. You could pair it with The Ugly Animals: We Can't All Be Pandas, a book by the Ugly Animal Preservation Society, which sadly is an educational comedy group and not an actual non-profit. That's less a gift for someone you hate and more a perfectly fine gift for anyone cool enough to appreciate it, though.

Uncategorizable

I made a note of this one months ago because it was inexpensive and kind of awesome. These are super cute, but they are also spikey cacti in tiny cases. Available as either key chains or jewelry, and there are teeny tiny holes in the case so you can water them occasionally by immersing them briefly in water. Nifty, cute, suitable for stocking stuffers, but there is something subtly hostile about giving someone a tiny cactus.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Passive-Aggressive Gift Giving Guides from Previous Years:

2010: Beyond Fruitcake: Gifts for People You Hate
2011: Gifts that say, "I had to get you a gift. So look, a gift!"
2012: Holiday shopping for people you hate
2013: Gift Shopping for People You Hate: the Passive-Aggressive Shopping Guide
Gifts for People You Hate 2014: The Almost-Generic Edition

Also, if you're amused by my writing, check out my science blogging at Bitter Empire: http://bitterempire.com/author/naomi-kritzer/

My (kind of low-volume) Twitter feed: @naomikritzer

And my fiction that was published online this year:

Cat Pictures Please (Clarkesworld, January 2015.)
Wind (Apex, April 2015.)
So Much Cooking (Clarkesworld, November 2015.)
The Good Son (Lightspeed, March 2015 -- reprint. Originally appeared in Jim Baen’s Universe, 2009.)

And if you just can't get enough of my writing, you could consider buying:
Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories (short story collection)
Gift of the Winter King and Other Stories (short story collection)
My novels (there are five of them)
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Wondering if you missed any of my stories that came out in 2015? Here is a handy list with links!

Short Stories

Cat Pictures Please, Clarkesworld, January 2015.

Wind, Apex, April 2015.

"The Silicon Curtain: A Seastead Story," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July/August 2015. You can buy the back issue online.

"Cleanout," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November/December 2015. You can buy the current issue online.

Novelettes

"Jubilee: A Seastead Story," The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 2015. You can buy the back issue online.

So Much Cooking, Clarkesworld, November 2015.

Reprints

The Good Son, Lightspeed, March 2015. (Originally appeared in Jim Baen's Universe, 2009.)

"Artifice," ESLI ("If"), translated into Russian. I have no idea how you'd get your hands on this, if you really wanted to read me in Russian. The magazine's website is here. (Originally appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2014.)
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
In this month's issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction you can find my short story "Cleanout," which is about family secrets, and all the stuff you find when you clean out your parents' extremely cluttered house.

In this month's Clarkesworld, you can find my short story "So Much Cooking" (also available in audio) which is about a food blogger writing during a novel flu pandemic.

This is my second publication in Clarkesworld this year -- if you missed it, you can also find my short story from a few months ago which explains why there are so damn many cat pictures on the Internet.

Enjoy!
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
These are only for St. Paul, because as far as I was able to determine, there are no elections in Minneapolis tomorrow.

The St. Paul City Council seats are voted on with Instant Runoff/Ranked Choice, which means you can rank your top preferences. I didn't find any races that I thought were likely to be competitive beyond two people, though. The school board is a "pick four" race, but it's not ranked choice, so you just vote for the four candidates you like the most and can't rank them.

The race I feel the most fundamentally undecided about, not surprisingly, is Ward Two (the open seat). I like both Rebecca Noecker and Darren Tobolt quite a bit. Rebecca e-mailed me back about police body cameras (she's for them) and Darren didn't, so I'm going with Rebecca, but if you read my analysis of them and decided on Darren, I'm happy to have been of service.

FIRST WARD
Dai Thao

SECOND WARD
1. Rebecca Noecker
2. Darren Tobolt

THIRD WARD
Chris Tolbert (uncontested)

FOURTH WARD
Russ Stark

FIFTH WARD
Amy Brendemoen

SIXTH WARD
Dan Bostrom

SEVENTH WARD
Jane Prince (uncontested)

SCHOOL BOARD
Mary Vanderwert
Zuki Ellis
Steve Marchese
Jon Schumacher

Don't forget to vote tomorrow, and one of my friends was very startled to find out last week that her polling place had moved, so it's probably not a bad idea to check yours right now. The polling place finder is here: http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ and you can also see your sample ballot.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
HOME STRETCH. Whew.

Candidates in the Sixth Ward:

Dan Bostrom (incumbent, DFL-endorsed)
Kevin Bradley
Edward Davis

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naomikritzer: (witchlight)
So, it's literally the day before the election and I'm feeling like I may have waited a little too long to start my term paper and trying to remind myself that once upon a time I felt no particularly obligation to blog about every damn race in the two cities and just stuck to my own ballot. And my own ballot is done! All the rest of this is gravy.

I could totally get this done if the two remaining races (City Council Ward 4 and City Council Ward 5) were like one serious candidate and a couple of flakes, but they're both real races.

In Ward Four, the candidates are:
Tom Goldstein
Russ Stark (incumbent, DFL endorsed)

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Endorsement: Russ Stark. Not because I'm entirely satisfied with him, but because I think his opponent isn't really ready for prime time. Also, St. Paul desperately desperately needs better bike routes, and someone who will push for them.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Open seat! So there are a bunch of people running and no one's endorsed by any party.

Sharon Anderson
Patrick Fearing
Bill Hosko
Michael C. Johnson
Rebecca Noecker
Darren Tobolt

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I am leaning toward Rebecca Noecker.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
The Ward One candidates are:

Trahern Crews (Green Party)
Dai Thao (Incumbent, DFL Party)

Dai Thao's website starts out with the statement, "My whole life has prepared me for the position of Councilmember for Ward 1. I was born in Laos and escaped the communist regime there as a youth. I survived refugee camps in Thailand and came to Minneapolis, where I grew up in a housing project." That made me blink and think that this may be an excessive level of preparation for the St. Paul City Council. He also calls out some of his top accomplishments (he was elected for the first time two years ago -- I think maybe someone resigned mid-term, since terms are normally four years long): "We approved Paid Parental Leave, secured pool vouchers for low-income youth and supported the Women's Economic Security Act, ensuring all women contractors are paid the same as men."

Before taking office he worked as a community organizer for Take Action MN (working against the evil constitutional amendments of 2012) and ISAIAH (organizing to help people in poverty, basically). You really could not ask for a candidate more committed to racial and economic justice and progressive issues.

Trahern Crews is Green Party endorsed. He starts off by saying he wants to end government tax breaks to Wal-Mart (does the City of St. Paul even give tax breaks to Wal-Mart? I mean, I suppose it's possible?) and then says he wants to implement rent control. Rent control is a terrible idea. (Though I'm not super surprised that a Green-endorsed candidate would disagree with me on that issue.)

His website looks fully functional but if you click the donations link it says "Online donations coming soon!" and then suggests you set up a meeting with Trahern to give him a donation in person. Since the election is on Tuesday, I'm thinking that online donations are not coming soon.

And that's fine with me, because Dai Thao is absolutely the person I would vote for if I were a resident of Ward 1.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I have no council race in my own ward -- Chris Tolbert, who pronounces his last name toll-bert and not like Stephen Colbert's last name but with a T, is running unopposed. Given the complete and utter mess that was this summer's road construction projects, I find that a little surprising. Possibly it was such a hassle to get out of our neighborhood that possible opponents couldn't get down to City Hall to file?

Anyway, there are other wards that have interesting races in various ways and let me see if I can get through any of them before election day, which is Tuesday of this coming week.

Ward 5 has the following candidates:

Amy Brendmoen (incumbent)
David Glass
David Sullivan-Nightengale (endorsed by the Independence Party)

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If you really loathe Amy Brendmoen, I guess you can pick between the resentful failed businessman and the slightly paranoid safety engineer for your 1st and 2nd choice. (St. Paul has ranked-choice voting, so you can order them by preference, you don't have to pick just one.)

Otherwise, vote for Amy.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
So the last candidate of the bunch is Keith Hardy.

(cut for length)

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In my Facebook-based live-blogging about the endorsing convention last spring, I wrote, "We're tired of our children falling through the cracks!" says a Keith Hardy supporter who just reminded us he's running for a 3rd term.

Yeah. People are really tired of it. I think that might be the source of the entire throw-the-bums-out approach this year. Because chaotic classrooms, badly planned rollouts (either of technology or new policies), and teachers so miserable that you lose nine in one month from one school: that hurts all the kids. The privileged families are going to be loudest about it, because they have that sort of bone-deep middle class entitlement that tells them that their voices matter. But what they're complaining about isn't, "we're getting a smaller slice of the pie." They're saying, "this pie is ENTIRELY FUCKED." They're saying, "GUYS, we want there to be a pie, and instead you threw a bunch of things into a pie plate and shoved it into the oven for a while. Now I have a crescent wrench and a handful of Lego bricks on my plate, and putting a scoop of ice cream on top DID NOT TURN THOSE THINGS INTO FOOD." Inedible metaphorical pie doesn't feed anyone, but it is 10x worse to get inedible metaphorical pie if you don't have parents with the skills and equipment to bake you nourishing metaphorical pies at home.

Anyway. I am strongly inclined to vote for the four DFL-endorsed candidates this year.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
So I'll start by saying that in this situation, I think it's entirely legitimate to hold it against Rashad Turner that he didn't file in time to get on the ballot. If something had changed drastically during the race due to a death, a major scandal, whatever, and he jumped in -- fine. But that's not what happened. His answer to "why aren't you on the ballot?" is "I was encouraged and decided to run for school board after the filing deadline. I missed it by a couple of days." Although, I have in fact voted for a write-in candidate who jumped into the race because he disliked the person who was running (John Scalzi, when he ran for SFWA president in 2007) but I do think "oh good grief, if you couldn't decide you wanted to do this in time to file, you don't deserve the job" is a reasonable attitude.

He's running a lot more seriously than some of the other candidates, though -- he has a website, he has endorsements (from the Green Party), he can take donations and he's recruiting volunteers.

Rashad is best known for being the most visible organizer of Black Lives Matter of St. Paul. Which means I need to start with a sidebar about BLM generally and BLM-St. Paul. When I talk about BLM over on Facebook, for the most part I've just reposted things that other people have said. I'm white, I'm solidly privileged on the issue of cops and how they treat civilians (when was the last time you saw a video of a cop beating the crap out of a nonresisting middle aged white lady?) and I think that solidarity from white people on this issue is entirely called for but making white voices predominant is really not.

But just to be clear about this from the get-go, I think that Black Lives Matter is an ENTIRELY legitimate movement. I am horrified by the fact that black men and women are routinely battered, abused, threatened, and murdered with complete impunity by people to whom we've handed over a shit ton of authority and not bothered to check up on. And I'll note that fixing policing to protect black people is a great example of what I think of as societal Universal Design. Universal Design is an approach to building design where things are made accessible to disabled people but also just better for everyone. If you've ever pressed a "door open" button with your butt to get through a door with your hands full, you have benefited from universal design. But if you start with the people who will have the hardest time getting through a door, you can usually guarantee that everyone will be able to get through that door. If we start by protecting the people who are most vulnerable to police abuses, it's going to get better for everyone. (Well, everyone who is not a power-tripping abusive asshole with a badge. But I'm good with that!)

All that said, I am not convinced that Rashad Turner would be a terrific person to have on the school board.

Read more... )

As a final note: you are welcome to post comments about whether Rashad would be good or bad on the St. Paul school board. We're not going to have a conversation about the basic legitimacy of the Black Lives Matter movement. We're also not going to get into BLM-St. Paul's tactics in general. I realize that there is some overlap here, but if I think you're not making a good-faith effort to stay on topic I will delete your comments.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I have been putting this off and putting this off and then I realized today that the election is in less than a week and I do in fact need to make a decision about who I'm going to vote for in it.

The four DFL-Endorsed candidates are Steve Marchese, Mary Vanderwert, Jon Schumacher, and Zuki Ellis.

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Overall, I would say I like Mary, Zuki, and Steve quite a bit. I'm less enthusiastic about Jon, but may ultimately vote for him.

Part of my struggle in terms of just getting a grip on this race is that the four DFL-endorsed candidates have been running as a unit and encouraging people to think of them as a unit. I've seen few (if any) individual signs: they want you to put up a sign with all four candidates on it.

In fact, this may be sort of a party response to some of what happened in Minneapolis last year, where a DFL-endorsed candidate (Iris Altamirano?) went to a fundraiser for Don Samuels (who was not DFL-endorsed, and Iris was supposed to be supporting Rebecca Gagnon, the other DFL-endorsed candidate). I would not be surprised if somewhere in the process they all pledged to support whoever the endorsed candidates were, especially if they were also endorsed. (I was actually at the city convention, where these pledges would've been made, but the acoustics in that room were horrible, I was seated near the back, and I missed large amounts of what was said from the microphones, despite them regularly scolding us to "be respectful" and refrain from side conversations, which -- FYI, DFL Arrangements Committee -- NEVER WORKS EVER.)

But it makes it that much harder to properly think about and write about the race. In part because I really don't WANT to elect four people who are going to march in party-approved lock-step. I want people who will bring their individual ideas and priorities to thinking about the problems of the district. I mean, sure, there are certainly areas where I want to see SPPS follow the liberal party line, but there are a whole lot of issues that schools have to deal with that are not obviously partisan.

There was a campaigner from Caucus for Change (a Minneapolis teacher who had been sent out door-knocking on behalf of the St. Paul endorsed candidates) who door-kocked me a few weeks back to talk up the four endorsed candidates. I told him I would probably vote for three of them, but was undecided on whether to vote for all four, or for three plus Keith Hardy. His pitch against Keith Hardy was that the School Board has seven people on it, with four seats up for vote, and if Keith Hardy is elected, the Old Guard will still control a majority of seats. The implication, of course, is that the old board voted as a block and would continue to do so -- I find that startling as hell, because back when the Minneapolis City Council was dominated by people I deeply disliked, there were huge fracture lines and people who were the "good guys" on the council who we didn't want to get rid of. How is it even possible that there's no one on the board that the CfC considers a potential ally for their candidates? Were all their controversial votes unanimous?

Ed pointed out that if we vote for the DFL-endorsed candidates, then we're handing full control of the school board to the Caucus for Change. To revisit this point -- I am generally pro-union but I think it's important to remember that the priority of the teacher's union is to represent the interests of teachers. Those overlap heavily with the interests of students but there are areas where they conflict, and when those come before the board, I do not want the union voice to be the only one at the table. Is that what I'm going to get, with four Caucus for Change candidates? Maybe not. I mean, the overall approach with using CfC instead of doing straight-up union endorsement was that they screened everyone and gave most of the non-incumbents vying for DFL endorsement a general stamp of approval, and then said they would say "yes, them" to whomever the DFL endorsed. And for all that I feel like the CfC has presented itself in a deceptive way, it's also the most hands-off approach to union endorsement I could have ever asked for.

Anyway, I'm going to write about Keith Hardy (the incumbent) and Rashad Turner (running as a write-in candidate) and then possibly I'll have more thoughts on the race overall. If anyone who adores Jon Schumacher wants to make a pitch for him, by all means feel free, either in comments or by e-mail. (My e-mail address is my first and last name, at gmail. Basically if you were to take a stab in the dark based on the fact that I do all my pre-election research with Google, you won't go wrong.)
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
In an attempt to impose some organization on this process, I'm going to do a relatively quick post on the candidates I'm not seriously considering voting for, with some information on why. To recap, there are nine candidates on the ballot and four seats. There are four DFL-endorsed candidates and one incumbent who's running without endorsement. That leaves four remaining candidates, none of whom are really all that viable: Scott Raskiewicz, Linda Freeman, Greg Copeland, and Aaron Anthony Benner.

Cut for the analysis of the candidates.

Read more... )

There is also a write-in candidate, Rashad Turner. I'm going to tackle him with the real candidates because despite not actually getting his act together in time to be on the ballot, he's at least got a website, positions, a donations link, etc.
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