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I'm catching the train this afternoon to head into the city to do a week of bunny-sitting. Hopefully I'll come out of it richer by one housesitting reference, as I very much want to be able to housesit when I move places. I have all my maps and tickets and packing sorted out, so now I just need to drink my tea and try to wind down. I stayed up too late last night, so everything feels a bit like I'm carrying around a 10 pound pack when I'm trying to do things. Not impossible, but just a bit harder than it needs to be. Tea should help, as should some lunch. 

I've been doing some reading about gerrymandering, which I have previously believed accounted for a moderate effect on why Republicans control the House of Representatives. This study suggests the effect is mild in terms of total seats gained (+1) http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jowei/gerrymandering.pdf but my suspicion is that gerrymandering does effect the left/right bias of the potential candidate. For instance, instead of 10 moderate candidates, you get 10 candidates farther towards the political extremes, and less likely to compromise because their district is more homogeneous. Now that, I do not have a citation for. 
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I woke up at 6:30 this morning, and spent my first hour reading a thoroughly useless well-written novel about a vampire apocalypse. You wouldn't think an apocalyptic hellscape full of good world-building and thoughtfully put together characters could be boring, but the writing style is what you might call gritty and reminded me strongly of No Country For Old Men. Metaphorically speaking, a lot of very artistic camera angles of sunsets, adding up to a novel full of characters whose relationships I didn't care about getting into fights with characters they couldn't beat, only to be saved by another vampire, a girl, who was so inhuman and feral as to be incredibly boring, and I didn't think you could make half-vampire saviors boring.

It's not that it was a bad book, it's just that the third or fourth time you lovingly describe a gruesome death I stop paying very much attention.

Attention brings me to a different line of thought, which is politics. I was talking to Rowyn the other day about whether or not politics should intrude on people's lives, and if so how much. We came to the tentative conclusion that the libertarian view was that politics should leave people alone if they wanted to be left, and that my view was something different, though I'm not sure what the word is. I suspect part of the divide there is rural-urban - it's far easily to not have very many group decisions if there isn't a critical mass of people to have decisions with in your area. I tend to feel that the solution to the rural-urban resentment in the United States should be solved by good old fashioned bribery. The cities have money, often taxed from the countryside, and they should use it to buy the countryside, again metaphorically, flowers and chocolate and, I don't know, some sustainable public transit like train lines. 

The trains are not a metaphor. 

I was reminded of the conversation this morning when a friend mentioned not understanding why someone would bring up politics out of the blue - which, granted, does seem a little rude, you should have some small talk first, but at the same time I don't see how we're supposed to govern ourselves as a democracy without a national conversation. Is national conversation a cliche? The national conversation I'm seeing right now is 'Donald Trump, is this guy for real?' but I feel like we could more usefully discuss 'the tax code, what's up with that' or 'infrastructure, who wants a bridge? doggy treats for everyone!' 

I have finished two slices of whole wheat toast with butter and homemade crab apple jelly, and two big cups of tea. I am now going to drink one more cup of tea, and consider the rest of my work day. 
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 I tend to feel that, if asked a direct question by the vice-president-elect of the United States on a matter of international relations and national security, if one is a professional subordinate, lying is the incorrect answer. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's treason, but it seems like something that should be met with something a little stronger than 'well, he said he was sorry.' 

I also tend to feel that the sheer volume of Russia-related conspiracy theories are over the top, but since our intelligence agencies are treating this White House as penetrated by the Kremlin, I won't soften my stance past that. It's a leaky boat.

Speaking of leaks, the White House staff seem to be going into a paranoid mania about their associates leaking things. This only seems to cause more leaks along the lines of 'they're being really paranoid, I think I'm going to edit my social media accounts,' to reporters. Never have I more appreciated a free press than I do in the past few weeks. I mean, I would never want the free press to be eyeing me like they were hyenas and I was a limping wildebeast, but since I don't like or sympathize with these people, it's fine that they're going to get torn to pieces. Metaphorically speaking. 

The Democratic party has a pretty long way to go to get back to governing, and I don't really understand why they're so extinct in state houses. (I paused to google.) Though, looking at a graph, it's less that they're very extinct in state houses and more that they've been doing badly for years. It looks like they lost most of their seats in 2009 or so, as part of the anti-Obama anti-Obamacare backlash. I predict good things for Democrats in 2018, though that does seem a long way away. Not having one singular voice for the party does make the whole thing seem much less organized, but I think it could be good - a chance for new voices. 

Politics

Feb. 4th, 2017 12:42 pm
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 I've been reading a lot of political articles lately, and as you may imagine, general themes emerge. One is that the party in power and the opposition have switched places, which means everyone has switched scripts. Obstruction is now standing up for our principles. The president who was elected is our president, and everyone who doesn't like it should stop whining. It's hypocrisy from one point of view, but I think it's beautiful. It's a grand dance. Trollope has some great things to say about that in his political novels about the Pallisers. 

I do seem to remember the Democrats and their columnists being this condescending about what the Republicans had to do to salvage their party - come to the center, work with the President, not go chasing absurd conspiracy theory rabbits - the Republicans seem to have managed to ignore all this advice and still come to power, so we'll see if any Democrats listen. 

NYC morning

Feb. 4th, 2017 12:07 pm
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Some work on Pegasus came together. Writing feels like heavy lifting right now, due to lack of momentum/traction. Working on it. Glad that the judge made a good decision on the immigration order.

This week was strange. I spent way too much time reading the news, I was well rested from my vacation, but I had a hard time getting my feet under me at work. I did hire a spring intern, which is great, but I'm stalled on most of my projects again. I'm heading back up to MA today and I'll have tomorrow to try to settle back in to life.

I've been wanting to write more poetry, and I've been reading the Art of War. The nice part is that the military era matches Tapestry - chariots, infantry, bronze, etc. So it's really great for war ideas, which I desperately need.  

Going to CT next weekend for an evening of music. 

Thinking about politics - it seems clear to me that we won't get rid of Trump without Republican cooperation. Most Democrats would be happy to impeach him already (to generalize wildly), but Republicans seem to want to give him some time, out of faith that he will improve with time. Given the wildness of his promises, I expect Republican disillusionment will follow in good time. I am hoping that his election will be a turning point for a new generation of political leaders to get involved on both sides of the aisle in the US - I am seeing a lot of political engagement from a lot of people. 
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1. Donald Trump is still president.
2. The immigrant ban is still evil tempered by incompetence, and a bigoted national embarrassment. 
3. Attacking a politician's children is still an asshole move. 
4. I don't feel complacent yet. 

Thoughts for today: I do like the supreme court pick. Your mileage may vary. 
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I've been compiling a mental list of rules of civil engagement in our fast-paced era. These are for me, generally Democrat-leaning, but I think they're good enough to share with the group. Thoughts welcome and appreciated.

1. Respect the office of the President. Call him President Trump, the President, or Trump at the most casual. Resist the urge to say 'not my President,' or call him Donald or insulting nicknames. I haven't decided if I should call out my own side about it - I suspect that's a losing battle, as giving presidents nasty nicknames is a habit of the country, but not one I want to invite to my table.

2. Separate personal and political criticism. Separate usual criticism from unusual criticism. Trump is a bad man, implementing bad policies badly. Each of those deserves separate consideration. I would be raising a fuss about climate change denialism with any Republican president, but any Republican president would not be seeing how far the law will let him run on banning Muslims in this country, only pausing when the courts rein him in.

3. Bring facts to the factless.
This means sourcing your arguments and arguing for science, but it also means being critical in reading even sources you trust. I completely bought a poorly sourced article in the New York Times about Rick Perry this week, and I embarrassed myself. On that note, this means refraining from pee jokes. There's enough to talk about without smears not fact-checked by any reputable outlet.

Here's an article with some general rules of civil discussion: How can we support more productive discussions?
Here's an easy tool for contacting your representatives

What do you want to see in political discussion over the next few years? In a few words, I want respect and engagement, not contempt and apathy.

Deer

Jan. 24th, 2017 08:44 am
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I fell
Into their nest
After a car accident
I was dizzy, staggering

The nest was built of walls of antlers,
Discarded, the color of bones.
Their pale eyes gleamed
In the darkness


---

I had a weird dream night before yesterday. I would prefer to write this one in rhyme or iambic pentameter or something, but maybe I'll revise it. 
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I am on vacation. I woke up a couple hours later than my norm, had tea, went swimming in dad's condo's shared pool under a warm Florida sky,with birds chirping, mostly blue sky and a light breeze. I thought about politics, punching Nazis, torture, and drones bombing civilian populations overseas. So, your usual morning thoughts. I came home and made myself some more tea, a toasted english muffin, and eggs, which I am now eating.

I'm thinking about strategy. I'm thinking that the Democratic party is still the best vehicle for my views in this country. I'm thinking that my conservative friends probably don't run into the people I run into on twitter - the 'women's place is in the kitchen' crowd that makes it hard to take Republicans en masse seriously online.  I'm thinking about Toby from West Wing saying 'they'll like us when we win' about appeasing your enemies. I'm thinking about whether I should confront my fellow liberals who say 'not my president,' because it is corrosive to democracy, and we can't let him be corrosive to our democracy, we can't, we mustn't. 

I'm thinking how do we stand together (answer: just like yesterday) while also reaching out to the middle of the country and saying, yes, it is your country, this can be a disagreement between honorable friends instead of a fight between lying enemies. I think abortion is more central to the debate than most people are willing to admit - especially whenever women come up. I don't think it's a very warm place to be a pro-life Democrat these days, or a pro-Choice Republican. How do you be agreeable in defeat without conceding defeat on everything? 

Questions for debate. The floor is open.
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Snow covers the ground
Prowling lynx enjoys terror
Our herd is restless. 
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 I'm sad today. Not particularly because we're swearing in a serial liar whose idea of fun is sexual harassment. More because I will miss having Obama in office. I trusted his judgement throughout, and I was rewarded for that with being pleased with his results. The headache isn't helping. 
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It took about three years to finish all the babies. She had to get genetic donors who were sufficiently outside of her family lines for her to be comfortable with it, with wings in their heritage. She had to bribe the people to get space for the babies to grow, and she had to assemble supplies and gently conquer a small village to give them a place to grow up. She had to track down all her children and grandchildren and adopted children, every twig that connected her family tree to the great Addergoole root network, and get them to agree. 

Some of those conversations could have gone better, honestly, but Zita was determined in her efforts and sincere in her passion. She'd owe Lot for ages for veiling her from farseers and foreseers and finders. 

It probably would have been better to have more patience, to let things play out in time, but life was short and immortality was laughable, and she'd seen too many people die waiting for their oaths to be over. There had just been one death too many.

"Hello, Bethamin, Charles, Dorotea, Esteban. Hello, Georgia, Libya, Columbia, Maya. Hello Silver and Gold." She went on, touching each baby, rocking them in their identical cribs, smiling with wicked sharp teeth at her new charges. "I'm your grandmother Zita. Georgia and Libya, your mother is Bethamin. Charles, you're technically the mother of Columbia and Maya, but if that's the only thing that gives you a complex in life I will have done my job well. Dorotea, your children are Silver and Gold...."

Introducing all the rest of her generations of promised Addergoole students to each other took a while, but Zita was thorough. Names were important. Nine generations were promised, and nine they'd have - and then she'd be done with them, and her children would be done with them. 

And if a tiny little girl in the back of her mind thought Director Avonmorea would like the chance to observe multiple generations in one four-year stretch, well, that tiny little girl always had had a crush on Regine. Moving on - there was work to do.
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"He appointed who ambassador?"

"Lord Charles."

"He appointed Lord Charles ambassador."

"That's right."

"He has met Lord Charles?"

"I'm actually not entirely certain. It's possible he's just heard about Lord Charles."

Fitz considered this from a number of different angles.

"Heard... accurate things... about Lord Charles?"

"Well, you have to consider...."

"Yes?"

"If Lord Charles is ambassador, he's not here."

"But he has the power to materially effect our relationship with Tulura."

"He'll have advisors. Assistants."

"Babysitters."

"Funny you should mention that. He also has a four year old."

"You're telling me this, why?"

"Well, Fitz, you are a capable servant of the crown, and so it is my great honor to advise you that you are going to need to brush up on your Tuluran."

"..."

"Lord Charles, as it happens, does not speak Tuluran. You'll be keeping busy."

"I could have supported the usurper, you know. It would have been far more restful, and I probably would have gotten a lordship out of it."

"Your king thanks you for your service."

"Does he really?"

"No."

"As ever, a pleasure, Edwin. An absolute pleasure."
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Health: pretty good. Swimming three or four times a week, my sleep is smoothing out due to better mental health. Tried a pilates class last night. I might rejoin that dance class next month.

Work: it's been very stressful, and I'm trying not to count chickens before they hatch, but I should get some good news tomorrow. My productivity has also been very high.

Writing: I really haven't been, except for dribs and drabs. Something to change in the new year. I'm going to have to get to know myself as a writer all over again. I have picked editing Colony X up again, which is good.

Friends/family: I could be staying more in touch, but I've been very inward-focused and I think it's beginning to pay dividends. Worth reconnecting in the new year.

Travel: I'm going to see if I can go visit dad in Florida for a while. And my brother in Beijing, in the spring. That'll fill up my travel schedule. NYC over New Years.

Monday

Nov. 21st, 2016 07:02 pm
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Day two of staying off the internet complete. I'm pretty twitchy about it, but it's still a good idea, and mom seems pleased with my productivity. I just want to go to bed, but it's 7 in the evening, which is not a reasonable time for sleep.

Hopefully being engaged in life will lead to good results to buoy my spirits soon. I'm still pretty worried about big picture stuff like money and business planning.

Big snow storm today, so mom and I hunkered down to eat up food in the fridge and not venture out on the roads, aside from a brief shopping trip for milk, bread, and eggs, which we couldn't do without.

Down to NYC for Thanksgiving this weekend, which will be a pleasant change. It's always relaxing being down there.
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Days in which I give up browsing the internet: 1

Days in which I feel good about my character: 1

I am tired, feeling pretty certain the internet thing is verging on or indeed an addictive behavior, pleased with the amount of work I have done, and tired.

Also my phone is fixed, so friends can reach me there. I'll figure out how to handle social media once I'm more confident my internet use is less pathological. I can also be reached by email at the usual addresses, and I'll get dreamwidth comments. I plan to write more, and work on my book, and work on my life and job and all those things that have been slipping.

One day at a time.
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