Friday, July 30, 2004

More on the Politics of Fear

President George W. Bush may be tapping into solid human psychology when he invokes the September 11 attacks while campaigning for the next election, U.S. researchers said on Thursday...

"A lot of leaders gain their appeal by helping people feel they are heroic, particularly in a fight against evil," Greenberg said in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he presented the findings to a meeting of the American Psychological Association...

Greenberg, Solomon and colleagues then decided to test the idea further and set up four separate studies at different universities.

"In one we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV," Solomon said. "What we found was staggering."

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq. But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.

"They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq," Solomon said....

The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person's political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

"I think this should concern anybody," Solomon said. "If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don't care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq."

Snapshot from my Worklife

I work at - shall we say - a Dilbert sort of office. As I've signed a confidentiality agreement, that's about all the background I can give you.

Try this one.

And, another, for a good idea.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Watch This.

If you haven't watched this yet, you should.

And... Ah, consumer America: buy a loop of red string for $25.99. I mean, it's "mystical," man (via Boingboing)

Weighing In


I loathe clothes shopping.

I've hated shopping for clothes since I was about eleven or twelve, when my mother could no longer find my size in the children's section and had to drag me - kicking and screaming - into the women's section of Mervyn's to find a pair of jeans that actually fit me (this was back before there were "teen" sizes/sections). At the time, I was horrified at what I saw as the out-of-control escalation of my weight. I'd been hounded about being overweight since I was about five or six, and being dragged to the women's section of the store just before the sixth grade was just about all I could handle.

I had failed. It was all over.

A year or so later, I started bleeding.

Women's section, indeed.

What, did I expect I was going to stay on the kid's side forever?

But in fact, most women I know rebel with mortal terror against the escalation of fat that their bodies kick in during and after puberty. All that hip, thigh and butt weight is quickly being toted as the next big "epidemic" threatening the Civilized World, `cause someone with a fat ass is taking up too much room on the subway.

You want to know what the number one cause of death is, worldwide?

Infectious and parasitic diseases, also related to poor health care and malnutrition. Funny, I wouldn't have guessed that.

But let's not get too far off topic. I was ranting here.

So I went looking for a pair of pants the other day. I'm not a small woman. I've vacillated between 175lbs (my preferred "fighting weight") and 270lbs (my highest benchmark, which I hit briefly when I was 18) for the last twelve years. The war against my body is ongoing.

According the infamous and ludicrous BMI "charts" that the US health and diet industry continues to promulgate, I have to be 168lbs in order to be at a "normal" weight for a woman. Most of the people I go to high school with would say 150. Hollywood would say 130. Everyone would say, and has said: Less is more.

As a woman, there should be less of you.

For the entirety of my life, I've been told that there should be less of me. Going clothes shopping reminds me of this.

I am fascinated at the American fear of fat people not only because it was so often directed toward me, but even more because I direct it at other people. I'll be at the grocery store, watching some fat-ass stacking up doughnuts and rice crispy treats, and I'll start an internal diatribe against The Fat. I'm standing next to my own cart whose contents rarely change from week to week: strawberries, bananas, lean ground pork, skinless chicken breasts, string cheese, half & half, eggs, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, green onions. There's not an ounce of shit in my entire cart. If I'm feeling especially rebellious, I might add some whole wheat pitas or rice noodles.

All this health: boxing classes twice a week, a climbing class on Sunday, bike ride on Saturday, and starting today - jogging once a week: and I don't look like a fucking supermodel. I will never look like a supermodel. I will never, in fact, be even 150lbs, unless I want to work out three hours every day and look like I walked out of Auschwitz. I don't have that sort of body, or that sort of metabolism.

So I stare at my whole wheat pitas and growl at the Fat Masses who allow themselves the luxury of chocolate eclairs and doritoes.

And, of course, I am ever cognizant of the woman behind me: a thin blond cheerleader type sneering at *my* fat ass and lusting after my whole wheat pitas while she looks down at the apples and non-fat milk she's bought to sustain her for the week.

I've been told my body's all wrong for most of my life. First, because I was a "girl" which somehow had a world of meaning outside of the way I actually viewed myself (you know - as a person). There were and are things that "girls" do that make them girls, and if you don't do them, you start to feel a little like a failure. I don't wear makeup. I don't carry a purse. I don't dress fem: that means no skirts, no dresses. I can't dance. I can't sew. My cooking skills are merely adequate. I'm not thin (a recent addendum to the "being female" camp). I'm too tall (5'9 is the average height of the American male, not the American female). My feet are too big, like giant portable skis (size 11). My breasts are too small. I have the wrong color hair (brown, not blond). I don't like soap operas. I don't like romance novels. I don't like big butch men. I don't like girls enough. I can defend myself from most threats. I know how to change a tire. I have too much education. I'm loud. I'm opinionated. I speak out of turn. I swear a lot. I drink beer. I don't care much for roses. I find syrupy sentiments exasperating.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to be smaller, quieter, to dress the way I was supposed to, to stop talking about myself, to pretend I was stupider, to pretend I read less and partied more. But at the end of the day, that only made me more miserable.

I remember a highschool boy friend hauling me home after school one day and saying, "I have to show you something."

He pulled out a book of ancient Greek art and opened it to full color pages of nude and partially nude statues and portraits of women. Anyone who's seen a lot of Greek work and its Renaissance imitators knows that their female subjects tend to be hourglass or pear-shaped women, fleshy, intimidating figures big in the hips and thighs. They often look like they could thwart an onrushing chariot merely by holding out one strong arm.

"See," this guy said to me, reverently turning the pages of the art book. "These are real women. This is the way women are supposed to look. This is how you look."

I likely should have been flattered. A lot of the men I've met expect me to be flattered when they compliment me, as if their opinions are some sort of manna from heaven. In fact, I was startled.

"How women are supposed to look?" Isn't that the whole problem? Men deciding how I'm supposed to look, and giving me a grade based on their opinion? Who the hell gave you white male assumption of privilege to assess my worth? Oh, that's right: you were born white and male. Congratulations. Manna from heaven.

And really, this is what it all came down to.

When I stepped back and looked at the Fat Issue as being about class, about affluent people looking for another way to look down on poor people, sure, that made a lot of sense too. Weight loss symbolizes sacrifice and restraint and good pious Christianity, which would, of course, be really popular in Puritan America. Hungry women get more media attention. Hungry women get more attention, period.

"You're so thin! Did you lose weight!" is considered the highest of compliments.

The reply to that, in fact, should be, "Yea. Do you think I have cancer?"

So, fat is a class issue, sure. Yea. And it's a feminist issue, because the vast majority of dieters, the vast majority of people hounded about weight, are women. Because women generally have a higher ratio of body fat than men (women with less than 10% body fat do not menstruate. If women don't menstruate, the human race dies out. So...).

To get us back to the beginning: Why do I really care about my pants size anyway? Is it because I think people will look down on me? Sure. Because I won't find attractive clothes? Sure.

Hey, wait a minute. Why do I want to be so attractive? Who am I trying to attract? I am not, in fact, attempting to attract anyone, and have not been trying for quite some time. So what gives?

Fat is, at its heart, about standards of beauty. And who controls them. By controlling standards of beauty, you can control people.

What do you do to silence a strong, smart, financially and emotionally independent woman so that you'll feel superior to her?

Tell her she's fat.

Make her neurotic about something she can't change, or worse, something she can only change with thousands of dollars of surgery performed by a (male) doctor, dollars she'll earn working in a crap job she hates for a (male) boss. Tell her the same sorry story that I've been getting since I was six years old: there's something wrong with you. You have the wrong body. You have the wrong bones. The wrong shape. The wrong mouth. The wrong hair. The wrong eyes. It's just all wrong.

Who's telling you this? Pretty much every loud, blaring media outlet around. The vast majority of them owned by... Huh.


After settling on my pair of pants and bundling it into my bag, I walked down Washington and stopped in at a sandwich shop for dinner before my boxing class. I settled on an Italian sandwich packed in thin bread, no sides, and an iced tea. I stared vehemently at my sandwich. I wanted to eat the whole thing. I wanted to eat the whole thing not only because I was hungry, but because I wanted to wave a big "fuck you" at the entire marketing industry. How can the opinions of other people have so much weight on my mood? Why do I give a shit about what number is on my pants, as long as they fit? Who the fuck cares? I WANT TO EAT THIS GODDAMN SANDWICH.

I ate half the sandwich, set it back on my plate, and stared at it. I was satiated, but not totally full. I would be hungry again in two hours. I stared at the sandwich. I WANTED TO EAT IT. I WAS VERY HUNGRY.

But I couldn't eat it. I went through a list in my head of what I'd eaten that day. A protein shake. A string cheese. Half a cup of brown rice with chicken.


I thought about health, and losing weight, and what were people going to think of me at Christmas? I thought of the numbers on the tag, I thought of the girl who was a size 8, standing in front of me in the line to the dressing rooms. She was not built like me. She didn't have these broad shoulders and these bones. She also didn't have these arm muscles. Mine are much scarier. I thought of the fact that I was not, had never been, and would never be one of the Beautiful People. My face would not launch a thousand ships - and that was a good thing. I was a writer, and a human being, and I really liked who I was and what I was doing with my life.

I went through, again, an inventory of what I'd eaten that day.


And then...

Greedily, rebelliously --

I did.

I ate the rest of the sandwich. I was full. I was happy. Then I had a great boxing class. I went home to my own place that I upkeep with my own money and curled up in my own bed that I paid for myself, in a room that was all mine.

I'm not even 25, and I've been to lots of places, met really strange and weird and funny people... I've done some crazy things. I've done some wonderful things. I write books. I sell short stories. I can pick people up and carry them around the room.

And there I was, sitting in a sandwich shop, spending 15 valuable minutes of my time obsessing about whether or not to eat another serving of bread.

There is something fucked up about a society that's ground at me so much that I still catch myself performing these perverted parodies of self hate.

Who are other people, to tell me how to look, what to wear, what to eat?

The answer is, in the end: they're no one.

I think the greatest fuck-off of all is that the world conspires to make you think that it's got you in a corner, that there's no way out. No way up that wall.

They're wrong. And the minute we realize that, I think, everything changes.

Wouldn't that fuck things up.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Speech! Speech!

Great speech by Al Gore on the politics of fear... wouldn't it be great to have an educated president again?

Fear drives out reason.

It suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction.

It also requires us to pay more attention to the new discoveries about the way fear affects our brains...

The root word for democracy - "demos" - meant the masses of common people, who were an object of fear in the minds of many of our country's founders.

What they wanted was an orderly society in which property would be safe from arbitrary confiscation (remember the Revolutionary War was in significant measure about taxation).

What they believed was that a too pure democracy would expose that society to the ungoverned passions of what today we call "the street:" of people with little to lose, whose angers could be all too easily aroused by demagogues (note the root, again) and turned against those with wealth.

So the Constitution of which we are so proud is really an effort - based at least as much on fear as on hope -- to compromise and balance out the conflicting agendas of two kinds of Americans:

those who already have achieved material success, and those who aspire to it: those who are happy with the status quo, and those who can only accept the status quo if it is the jumping off place to something better for themselves.

That tension can never be fully resolved, and it is perfectly clear at the present moment in the profoundly differing agendas of our two major parties.

Neither has the fear that underlies these differences gone away, however well it may be camouflaged.

Somewhere along the line, the Republican Party became merely the name plate for the radical right in this country.

The radical right is, in fact,

a coalition of those who fear other Americans:

as agents of treason;

as agents of confiscatory government;

as agents of immorality.

This fear gives the modern Republican Party its well-noted cohesiveness and its equally well-noted practice of jugular politics.

Even in power, the modern Republican Party feels itself to be surrounded by hostility: beginning with government itself, which they present as an enemy; extending to those in the opposition party; and ultimately, on to that portion of the country whose views and hopes are represented by it - that is to say, to virtually, half the nation.

Under these circumstances, it is natural - perhaps tragic in the classical sense - but nonetheless natural - for the modern Republican Party to be especially proficient in the use of fear as a technique for obtaining and holding power....

In many ways, George W. Bush reminds me more of Nixon than any other previous president.

Like Bush, Nixon subordinated virtually every principal to his hunger for reelection.

He instituted wage and price controls with as little regard for his "conservative" principals as Bush has shown in piling up trillions of dollars of debt.

After the oil embargo of 1973, Nixon threatened a military invasion of the oil fields of the Middle East. Now Bush has actually done it.

Both kept their true intentions secret.

Like Bush, Nixon understood the political uses and misuses of fear.

After he was driven from office in disgrace, one of Nixon's confidants quoted Nixon as having told him this:

"People react to fear, not love.

They don't teach that in Sunday School, but it's true."

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Holy Crap

Viacom's launching a new channel: Gay Channel Now Set To Launch Feb. 17

No shit. That's cool.

Monday, July 26, 2004


Had my first climbing class last night. The place I go to has a featured outdoor wall with overhangs and optional lead climbing areas that's at just over 70ft. I haven't done any climbing in over three years, when I was back at the U of Alaska. When I lost my belay partner, I spent five days a week bouldering, and I loved it. But all of that climbing was pretty much freeform -- I only ever did a quick certification test, and the wall itself was pretty basic; only about 50 ft or so of flat concrete wall peppered with handholds, tagged with routes. There was a shorter tilted wall banged out of wood that simulated an overhang, but nothing fancy.

This time around, I'm doing four classes of actual instruction over four weeks, then switching out to a regular 1-2 per week climbs for the rest of the summer. After that, I'll need to decide if I want to join the indoor wall downtown or quit for the winter, as the outdoor wall closes Oct 1st.

It's funny how much you forget about climbing. In my case, I had a belay partner in AK that I trusted; we were buddies, and by the time I managed to get to the top of the wall, we'd been climbing regularly for a couple weeks. This time around, I was in a class of newbies, facing a 70 ft wall that definately wasn't flat.

I got about 15ft up before that heart-pounding terror hit me: funny, how I forgot the terror part. There was a newbie on the other end of the rope, and one instructor, and he was busy flirting with the little girl who couldn't figure out how to tie a knot. I got bunched up at that point, and sat back, rested a bit, let myself hang on the rope to assure myself that no, really, falling is mostly safe. Then I started back up.

I've got a lot of work to do -- I went up twice, and only managed to get halfway up both times. My body just wimped out on me and broke into violent muscle shaking at the halfway point. I forgot, again, what an intense workout climbing is. And here I was thinking that all these boxing classes and bike rides were doing me some good. Ha. Climbing uses totally different muscles.

I have a long way to go. And it's a fun journey.

What's Happening?

Referee shoots coach from visiting team... I thought for sure this headline was referring to a crazed bunch of adults coaching and refereeing Little League games in the Midwest. Turns out, no: they're South Africans. Go figure. If this is all CNN will cover in its "World News" section, why does it bother having a "World News" section?

And... Does this stuff bother anyone? Don't harass single women. They're single because they're more likely to be murdered by a spouse or boyfriend than a random stranger on the street. Self preservation, much?

Feel increasingly frustrated about the state of the US of A and its fucked-up foreign policy and increasingly totalitarian view of women's rights and sexual freedom, but don't know what the hell to do about it? Try running around here.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Crazy Times

I'm not sure how any work gets done...

Speaking of work, I'm getting out of here. All the bosses are gone, and I've got some juicy PTO time still on the books.

Have a great weekend, all.


The Doughnut Nazi

We've got a couple people in from corporate this week, so the Friday doughnuts are back.

Two dozen of them.

You know what I'm going to start bringing to work on Fridays?

A fucking fruit tray.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Evils of Potter

So there's this gabe person who lurks on SF/F boards. He employs the use of words like "putzfucker" to "wake up" his "audience" (all three of them), deletes posts from all but his groupies, and tries to make noise even in the most upstanding of debates where heavy hitters like Robson, M. John and Mieville are playing.

gabe is, unfortunately, one of the many with nothing to say who just keeps on saying it. He's also one of the many - though one of the least eloquent - to state that there's something terribly wrong with the SF/F ghetto and its lurid epic fantasies and endless questing romances, and perhaps young children will be permanently damaged by their exposure to Harry Potter novels.

I pick on gabe's ranting to open this post because he's the easiest target: the rants are prolific unresearched blather that feel to me as if they're spewed out as a rehashing of something said better by a more informed writer (like, say, Mieville), and he tends to pop up all over the place. But then, when Strange Horizons is publishing stuff like this, it's no surprise that gabe's mindless wandering manages to find blogspace (yes, I realize the irony).

The insider "backlash" against pulp SF/F and the rise of bizarre groups like the Interstitial Arts Foundation have fascinated me. There's an interest in getting popular fiction recognized as "literary" fiction - Stephen King recently chided the American Book Foundation for its disregard for popular fiction (during his acceptance speech for their Distiguished Contribution to American Letters award), and I've heard lots of chatter at cons about attemps to separate the slash n' hack from the M. John Harrison. Effectively, the SF/F circles appear to want to cut themselves into at least half: the "speculative fiction" books and the slash n' hack media tie in books.

But, you know...


Epic fantasy is great. I read it. I write it. It's candy. It's where you stop for a breather between the Brontes and Tolstoy.

Because there's got to be a pit stop along that highway.

There is a kind of story laid, not in the world as it is or was, but as - to an armchair adventurer - it ought to have been. It is an adventure-fantasy, laid in an imaginary prehistoric or medieval world, where magic works and the scientific revolution has not taken place. Or perhaps it is in some parallel universe, or in this world as it will be in the distant future, when science has been forgotten and magic has revivied.

In such a world, gleaming cities raise their shining spires against the stars; sorcerors cast sinister spells from subterranean lairs; baleful spririts stalk crumbling ruins; primeval monsters crash through jungle thickets; and the fate of kingdoms is balanced on bloody broadswords brandished by heroes of preternatural might and valor. In such a world, men are mighty, women are beautiful, life is adventurous, and problems are simple. Nobody even mentions the income tax or the dropout problem or socialized medicine. Such a story is called "heroic fantasy" or sometimes, "sword-and-sorcery."

The purpose of heroic fantasy is neither to solve the problems of the steel industry, nor to expose defects in the foreign-aid program, nor to expound the questions of poverty or intergroup hostility. It is to entertain. It is escape reading in which one escapes clear out of the real universe... Heroic fantasies combine the color, gore, and lively actin of the costume novel with the atavistic terrors and delights of the fairy tale. They furnish the purest fun to be found in fiction today. If you read for fun, this is the genre for you....

There are still.. many readers who read, not to be enlightened, improved, uplifted, reformed, baffled by the writer's obscurity, amazed by his [sic] cleverness, nauseated by his [sic] scatology, or reduced to tears by the plight of some mistreated person, class, or caste, but to be entertained.

- L. Sprague De Camp, Introduction to Conan of the Isles, 1968.

So let's have some fun, OK? Frickin' relax. And start writing some fiction, instead of snarling at it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Speaking of Totalitarian Theories...

From: Running Scared @ The Guardian

This is an extraordinary moment in American history. Half the country - including all the people I know best - believes it is trembling on the very lip of outright tyranny, while the other half believes that only the Bush administration stands between it and national collapse into atheism, socialism, black helicopters, and gay marriage. November 2 looms as a date of dreadful consequence. A bumper sticker, popular among the sort of people I hang out with, reads: Bush-Cheney '04 - The Last Vote You'll Ever Have To Cast. That's funny, but it belongs to the genre of humour in which the laugh is likely to die in your throat - and none of the people who sport the sticker on their cars are smiling.

Fat Isn't a Health Issue

From: The Impact of Weight on Your Wallet

A study by John Cawley, a professor of policy analysis at Cornell, found that overweight Caucasian women earn 9 percent less than those with svelte silhouettes. And a University of Michigan study reported that the total net worth of moderately to severely obese women falls as much as 60 percent below average.

And women seem to suffer more job discrimination than men. According to Rothblum, while 40 percent of the overweight men in a study group she ran reported that they have not received a job they sought because of their weight, the statistic for women -- 60 percent -- was even more dismal. And how do they know that their weight disqualified them? The hirers told them.

Says Rothblum: "Americans aren't afraid of saying that they hate fat people."

What I'm Reading

So, I have a confession...

I read Conan novels.

Yes, that's right. The old-school Robert Howard Conan books with the lurid covers of gigantic barbarian man slaying Nameless Terror. Now, I know better than to read these books. I occasionally tote one of them with me on the train and giggle my way through my morning commute. Conan books, like Stephen King books and Neil Gaiman's highly entertaining American Gods, are "train books." They're the sorts of books that make for easy reading on the train (if I had to count the number of copies of The Davinci Code I'd seen people reading on the train, I'd have lost count a long time ago). Are these "brilliant" books? Paragons of English literature? Will they join the English canon? Aside from, perhaps, an obligatory King book, no, they probably won't. But damn they're fun.

And honestly, after getting through Women and Madness, several Balzac books, and enough Hemingway to shake a stick at, we all need our candy.

Subsisting primarily on Conan books, with all their sexism, overt or subtle racism, cheesy dialogue, simplistic plots and macho-masculinity, and have I mentioned the sexism? probably isn't good for one's psyche. Am I a fiction elitist? No, I'm a reading elitist. I think you should read as many sorts of books possible -- from Howard to Hemingway; from Morrison to Woolf; and if you're not reading erotica and epic fantasy with your Balzac, well -- you're missing out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


So, you wanna live in a Total Survelliance Society?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Random Linkage

And... Some random linkage:

Nick Mamatas on the latest Nonsensical Drivel

The Daily Show on the Free Democratic Tradition of Election Cancellations via Boingboing

You Know You're About To....

You know you’re about to get laid off when –

1) Your job duties consist entirely of printing stuff out for your boss
2) Everyone shows up around 11 and leaves before 3
3) The accounting girls go missing
4) No more Friday doughnuts
5) You’ve begun tracking your internet usage in Excel
6) Your boss comes in to announce he just got past level 8 of Tetris
7) You become increasingly irritated about those blocked internet sites
8) You’ve checked your private e-mail account 343 times in 4 hours
9) When meetings are actually held, they are more often than not closed-door
10) Your e-mail banter with co-workers becomes increasingly infantile
11) You begin color-coding all of your file folders
12) You’ve caught up on all your clips of The Daily Show

Friday, July 16, 2004


I was watching Girlfight again last night, and enjoying it infinitely more now that I had a conception of what exactly it takes to learn stance, do lots of jump roping, and try and get the combo punches down ("watch your footwork!" "don't overextend, snap out, bring it back against your body," "keep your hand up by your face," "watch your chin," and etc. all suddenly had more meaning for me).
I was paired with a guy on Wednesday who was way more advanced than me (it was the first time I'd been paired with someone who wasn't near my own beginner status - my classes with Sifu Katalin have generally just been strength training and Krav Maga), and the guy was going full-board. Even though we were just doing mitt work (I hold up the mitts, he hits them using punching combos, then we switch) and he was actually smaller than me, I found my teeth on edge -- when you get your footwork down and twist your hips right, you hit fucking *hard*, and this guy was just whailing away. He had to assure me several times, "It's OK, I'm not going to hit you," because I caught myself cringing (as this was mitt work, I wasn't wearing any gear but the mitts). Coach Fernando switched out the pairing halfway through the class, and put me back on bag work, but it was a good lesson in the sort of power you can muster once you get this shit right.  
I love it.
I am going to be scary.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

295 Miracles a Day

In this month's Scientific American, Michael Shermer points out that, per the Theory of Large Numbers, those one-in-a-million miracles happen 295 times a day in America.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


I am such a geek.

The 1/4 Rule

I find the 1/4 rule facinating.

According to my social psychology Ph.D. candidate roommate, people believe that women make up 1/2 of any group when only about 1/4 of the group is populated by women. My roomie and I tested this theory on various movies and television shows. The "token" female anchor or female character generally shows up in groups of four on shows that purport to be paying attention to that sort of thing (we found that those shows that *we* considered to hold an equal ratio of male/female actually abided by the 1/4 rule as well). The one show that seemed to us to feel full of women ("Buffy" of course) was actually about 1.6:1 for main characters and actually male-dominated when baddies were included in the mix (not counting season 7, unless all the ubervamps are male). I think the ratio of main characters likely fluctuated between 1:1 and 1.6:1 throughout the run of the show as characters died off, ran away, or were replaced.

Main title characters, through show's entire run:

Buffy Summers------------Rupert Giles
Willow Rosenberg---------Xander Harris
Cordelia Chase-----------Spike
Dawn Summers-------------Daniel 'Oz' Osborne
Tara Maclay--------------Riley Finn
Joyce Summers

When women make up 1/3 of any given group, men (and women) generally believe that there are "a lot" of women in the room, and believe women outnumber men (as soon as I find this study, or a mention of it, I'll post it here...). This gels with the African National Congress's law reserving 1/3 of its parliment seats for women -- women campaigned for 1/2 of the seats (women make up over half the population, after all -- shouldn't women have representatives filling just over half the seats?). Eventually, a comprise of 1/3 was reached. Look at any government body in the world, and I think you'll find that 1/3 of said body being populated by women "seems like a lot." Because, well, what are we comparing it to? In the US Senate, women hold a miserable 14% of the seats. And let's not even try and break that down into women of color -- it'll get more depressing.

However, the real reason I was reminded of this factoid was because a Clarion compatriot of mine forwarded me this picture. And I then discovered the list of final nominees for the Campbell award:

2004 Finalists

Max Barry, Jennifer Government
Philip Baruth, The X President
Greg Bear, Darwin's Children
Greg Brotherton, Star Dragon
Michael Flynn, The Wreck of the River of Stars
Kay Kenyon, The Braided World
James Lovegrove, Untied Kingdom
Jack McDevitt, Omega
Syne Mitchell, The Changeling Plague
Linda Nagata, Memory
Robert Reed, Sister Alice
Justina Robson, Natural History
Sheri S. Tepper, The Companions
Amy Thomson, Storyteller
John Varley, Red Thunder

Going purely by the "gendering" of each name, that looks like about 15 nominees, 6 of them women, which sounds really good (yet... still about 1/3), until you look at 2003 (1/5 of nominees are women), and the actual winners -- 1 winner, two runners-up - Justina Robson was the only woman to place. That's about 1/3

Looks about equal to me...

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

And you put one foot in front of the other...

Exhausted. Lots going on this week. The boxing classes are kicking my ass, and work is ramping up into something like... actual work.

In other news, it's the same old battles.

Makes me feel even more tired.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Ah, China

And, I just have to share an almost blistering review of China Mieville's latest, Iron Council. As the SF/F genre has a terrible tendency to overhype/overpraise their own, it was nice to see somebody take China to task for some of the purple prose.

He's got some great stuff, fantastic ideas, and I fully intend to own all of his books. But yes, having a hard core editor would likely do his work some good.

Matthew Cheney has some critique and discussion of the review at the always good Mumpsimus.

Pro-choice feminist vs. Pro-abortion Femi-Nazi?

According to this article 52% of Republicans polled believed a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion was a personal choice, and Roe vs. Wade should not be overturned.


Substantially fewer Republicans than Democrats defined themselves as "pro-choice" even when they articulated pro-choice values, responding that they believe women "should have the full range of reproductive choices such as abstinence, contraception, motherhood, adoption and abortion."

Slightly more than half of the Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats called themselves "pro-choice," although, 70 and 92 percent, respectively, support a full range of reproductive choices.

I find the use of labels fascinating. The side-stepping with the above reminds me of the "I'm not a feminist, but..." line that many people who support women's rights/equality will parrot in that divine dance around the scary word "feminist." Like the confusion over "pro-choice" meaning "pro-abortion" (which is does not), I think there are still a number of people who become confused with the term "feminist": Does that mean you have to hate all men?

Choice and equality are not either/or scenerios. We've already proven that "seperate but equal" is just spin covering up deeply rooted biases. Maybe it's time to look past labels.

Same Story

I've just finished reading Susan Faludi's Backlash (yes, I know, it's a classic I have no excuses for not getting to sooner). It's a fantastic, slightly exhausting and anger-provoking book about the backlash against women's rights in the 80s.

Now I'm reading about the latest on the mess of sexual harrassment against women and blatantly unequal pay and opportunities for advancement for women at Wal Mart (the US's biggest employer, according to the Guardian).

I'm not sure why it's so difficult for men to treat women like people. Does that mean they'd have to go back and redefine themselves? If women are "people" what does that make men? Just people too, I guess.

Friday, July 09, 2004

What's on my Plate...


As many as one in ten college women suffer from a clinical or nearly clinical eating disorder, including 5.1% who suffer from bulimia nervosa.

According to Washington Post writer Shankar Vedantam, women are over-represented in ads for psychiatric drugs and "are usually shown as being submissive, sexy or asleep." Nothing sexier than a sleeping, drugged up lady.

Some brief easy-reading articles on queer history and literature. I haven't looked at these in depth, but they're a nice primer for identifying interesting topics I might want to look further into. My rant on my abhorrence at the use of "gay" and "gay history" will have to wait for another time. Suffice to say the term "gay history" or "queer history" is about as offensive to me as the term "women's history," as if the royal "we" only refers to Old White Hetero Boys. But, alas, I'm at a lack for terms...

In other news, please, please at least vote in November. The least you can do is vote every four years for a president. It's been a long, hard road to get to that place.

I'm sorry...

I'm sorry. I laughed. And laughed. And laughed...

Here's the deal: I don't think it makes you gay just because you beat off to images of Brad Pitt.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


Turns out Cory Doctorow has a new book coming out. The cover art kicks ass.

I survived another boxing class last night. I think I'm getting addicted to it. Trying to figure out how to up the number of classes I take every week. Ha.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Another Day Another Dollar

My long weekend came and went. And look, I'm still here.

Not much going on in the real world -- Kerry actually has a VP that I might have considered voting for alone, so in tandem, well... (the election this year -- as in the last whirlwind around -- is a "lesser of two evils" contest populated by Old White Men. Still. How does this happen?). I love how Bush and Kerry are being toted as "down home" rich old boys, which they are. Nobody's even trying to pretend to be a real person anymore. They have young children wandering around, like a brood of Young Kennedys. Ah, America.

Things I'm more interested in?

Legalized prostitution in Berkley

How to write a Bestselling Fantasy Novel (it's all true)

Thoughts on Ugly Women

And... I've got a whole list of fem history stuff I need to post from another terminal. Catch ya in a few.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Black Russians

It's the beginning of a four-day weekend.

Sitting here sipping black russians, going over agent query letters. Things at the day job are fantastic. Looks like I might be moving into writing bid proposals, which is a fantastic step. I'm excited.

Life is fantastic. I am blessed.

Enjoy every minute.

A Fun Little Drug Addict

One of my favorite new characters for my latest novel, Over Burning Cities is Saronia. I wanted to make a POV character out of a drug whore -- and make her a "hero" in the classic sense, as opposed to a villain. She's going to be lots of fun:

Chapter Three: Songan

Saronia Chazhis Anaar stepped off the Shardin Rose and into the tepid heat of an Arnaldian afternoon. She pulled her hat down over her eyes and spit a bloody pulp of sen on the planking at her feet. She squinted up at the sprawl of the reeking harbor, and decided there were far worse places an outcast novice could end up. She could be dead, for instance.

She stood around with a rude cluster of Gift-less Drakes, terrible specimens, all; skinny, spotty, sickly, with the glazed look and hunched posture of sheep.

“Have you seen any Arnaldians before?” one of the twittering nitwits next to Saronia asked, nodding out at the buzz of male bodies plowing around the docks. His eyes were wide.

“Met one,” Saronia said, “never fucked one.” She crammed another pinch of sen leaves into her mouth. Her fingers were numb.

The boy twittered away, just as well. Saronia had done some rumor work at the Wayfarer Inn before she headed out. Her and her sisters had spent the winter sitting out on the pier all day smoking Thordonian cigarettes and plying sailors with free drinks. The sailors would spend more, later, once they’d loosened their tongues and trousers. From what she gathered of Arnaldia, it wouldn’t be much different than any place else. It might be better than Khindarak, even, for someone like her. Women were bartered around a bit like herd animals, but every shepherd had his favorite sheep, as the Coris said, snickering over their beer in the evenings, and she could wear a sheep’s skin for as long as she needed to hide the wolf underneath.

Fight Club

Tyler Durden is alive and well...

I love people.

Boxing Stance

So, I've been working on learning how to box for about four weeks now. There's been some learning, but it's not quick, and it's not easy. I chose boxing because I liked the raw power of it. It's brutal as opposed to beautiful. It's taken me a long time to get used to the fact that I'll never be a delicate, fine-boned creature -- so instead, I'm conspiring to be an even more intimidating one.

I'll be beginning sparring next week, which should be cool. I have an aversion to hitting people -- I'm always afraid I'll hurt some one, or worse; I'm afraid I'll *like* hurting someone. Getting hit has never been a concern. I don't mind taking hits. I don't mind blood or pain or any of that. I'm afraid I'll knock somebody down who won't get up again.

Suffice to say, however, that I expect to be getting my ass kicked for the next six months. Hurting other people shouldn't be an issue.