Friday, September 20, 2019


I have been doing facebook instead of my blog for the past year. The blog feels like me speaking into a void. I like the interaction of facebook. The neat articles other people find, the comments and discussions, the cat pictures, the breakfast news.

The other thing I like about facebook is how transitory and in the moment it is. I can describe a sunset or my breakfast and that seems fine. A blog seems more formal. I could post a photo of a sunset, as John Scalzi does. But a several line description seems less appropriate to a blog. Do blog readers care?

Last night there were (or was) a row of cumulus clouds low in the NW. They were blue at sunset. Above them and to the west were high, thin clouds. pink in the last light. So -- low, bubbly, blue cumuli and high, gauzy, pink clouds, and the sky gradually darkening around them.

Also, breakfast this morning was the usual toast and marmalade and coffee.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


My favorite apple is the Haralson. (See above.) Patrick likes the Prairie Spy. (See below.) I clearly need to get down to the Farmers Market this weekend. In some ways, this is my favorite time of year for produce: apples, winter squash, onions, carrots, potatoes, kale...


I will be at Gaylaxicon in Minneapolis (October 18-20) and at Icon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (November 1-3).

That's it for the year.I am thinking about ICFA in Florida next spring, but we shall see...

Aging Writers 4

There is a current discussion about changing the name of the Tiptree Award, since Tiptree/Alice Sheldon killed her husband before killing herself. The two Sheldons apparently had a suicide pact, but we don't know how serious it was and if Sheldon's husband had really agreed to die. Sheldon herself was deeply depressed and had apparently thought of suicide.

So was it a suicide pact or was it one of those strange exits where the killer -- usually a man -- wants to die and feels that he cannot leave his family behind? A compounding issue is the Sheldons' long years of working for the CIA. That has got to give you a strange attitude toward violence and the value of human life.

How Sheldon and her husband died has been known for decades. The question now raised by some people is -- do we want to have an award named after a woman who was a killer and whose victim was disabled, at least to some extent?

I have a personal involvement in this, because I won a Tiptree Award. In fact, I won the very first Tiptree Award. I have felt the last few years -- maybe the last decade -- that Second Wave Feminism is being written out of SF history, along with a lot of older women writers, including me. Changing the name of the Tiptree seems -- to me -- to be part of vanishing Second Wave Feminism and maybe feminism as a movement. In addition, once the Tiptree Award is gone, I will not have won it. That matters to me.

This is an interesting variation of older women's sense that they have disappeared. Even Le Guin felt this.


I keep going back to Brexit, I think as a way to avoid thinking about American politics. This leads me to the Gramsci quote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Gramsci was writing (I assume) about the rise of fascism in the first half of the 20th century. But it applies now. The most morbid symptom of the 20th century -- fascism -- was beaten back; and capitalism -- a remarkable resilient economic and political form -- survived and went on to a kind of golden age. But now we are back in crisis, with morbid symptoms appearing on all sides.

One could argue that the old methods of economic and political control are no longer working. Neoliberal economic policy has proved a failure. The postwar political parties have fallen -- or are falling -- apart. Those in control -- let's call them the ruling class -- are forced to ever more extreme methods of control, including a reemerging fascism. At the same time there are attempts to break free of the old system. These attempts are often ambiguous. Are the gilets jaunes on the left or right? Are the demonstrations in Hong Kong a genuine popular uprising or is the CIA involved or both? In addition, there is froth on top of a turbulent era, ideas and organizations that I would call wrongheaded or loony.

So where does this leave us? Trying to understand what's going on. A good analysis always helps. And acting to address the problems as best we can. Most of all, we need to act on global warming. Acting on that will clarify a lot of political issues, because we will see who is opposed to saving the planet.

The smart capitalists will come out in favor of saving the planet. However, the drive to grow -- which seems basic to capitalism -- is (almost certainly) in opposition to the changes necessary to save the planet. "Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets.”

Le Guin

I'm reading a collection of interviews with Le Guin and thinking about the ways our writing is similar. (I have been called Le Guin-like plenty of times.) In some cases the similarity is due to direct influence. Her two tour de force novels -- Left Hand of Darkness and Wizard of Earthsea -- came out when I was just starting to become a real writer. I suspect I might be as impressed by The Lathe of Heaven if I reread it. (Maybe I should reread it.) I think there is little question that her work influenced me.

But as I have aged I have wanted to be my own writer, sui generis. And I think -- hope -- that at the core Le Guin and I are different.

I will probably read some Le Guin essays and think about the ways we are different. She usually sounds so sane and calm and smooth to me, and my sense of myself is -- I am probably sane, but I am not calm nor smooth. And I hear French behind her English, though I may be wrong about this. I hear Old Norse behind my English, at least in many stories. My brother says he can hear the sagas in all my writing. Le Guin is bien civilisé. I don't think I am. I have certainly done my best to get away from American professional middle class civilization.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Fall in Minnesota (with Global Warming)

I rode the bus out to the Megamall (aka the Mall of America) for mall walking. The sumac is turning red, and there are lots of wild flowers along the freeway: sunflowers and goldenrod and other bright yellow flowers I don't recognize. The temp is ten degrees high for this time of year, thanks to global warming. A reason to be inside. It was not pleasant outside: both hot and humid. Still, a handsome day. I had lunch with my friend Theresa and then we walked.

After looking at my bank account, I decided I am bought out, so nothing was purchased aside from lunch (and groceries later). I got home a little after two. Then Patrick and I went grocery shopping. Since the weather is so warm, we bought summer foods that don't need cooking: grapes, green peppers, hummus, yogurt, cheese and bread.

Patrick really dislikes heat and humidity and keeps mentioning this. I point out that at least we not in the town in Pakistan where the temp gets up to 125 F.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Hello, there!

I have decided to reactivate my blog, in the hopes of reaching more people than I reach on facebook.