Links and Notes for the Week of January 7, 2018

* Interesting thought experiment: Roko’s Basilisk. To wit, “The premise is that an all-powerful artificial intelligence from the future could retroactively punish those who did not help bring about its existence, including those who merely knew about the possible development of such a being.” See also: America in 2017.

* For the record, this is what happens when toxic masculinity, white privilege and tech-bro douchebaggery combine to create the perfect American asshole. James Damore is a waste of space, skin, time, attention and oxygen.

* Something wonderful: A large (100+!) collection of writers in their writing spaces.

* I follow a few foreign (to me here in the USA) news and cultural feeds. The Calvert Journal recently ran this wonderful overview of pop music from Yugoslavia, circa 1960 – 1990. The Calvert Journal is a wonderful resource. In particular, their New East 100 is worth a few hours of browsing.

* The always-entertaining John Scalzi’s take on Trump’s ongoing racism.

* For the record, here is my stance on Donald Trump: Trump is a racist. Trump is racist. This has been apparent to the entire rational world for decades. If you want to argue this point, I don’t need to provide you with examples of his racist behavior. The simple fact that you want to argue this point demonstrates that you have nothing useful to say.

Links and Notes for the Week of January 7, 2018

The Record of My Life

I have just added a “Published Work” page to this blog. You can access it through the main menu. It’s kind of threadbare at the moment, but with a little luck I will have some publications to add by the end of the year.

Most of my published work at present consists of editorials written for The 3288 Review, and around three dozen interviews with contributors to The 3288 Review.

The Record of My Life

ConFusion 2018

I will be speaking on two panels at ConFusion 2018! Here is my schedule:

TITLE: Poetry in Novels
DESCRIPTION: Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass include lengthy poems, placing them in a long tradition of long-form fiction that incorporates poetry into the work. How does writing poems for prose fiction differ from writing poems that stand alone? What distinct techniques does it require? Where do poems within stories exist in the landscape of genre poetry today?
PANELISTS: Amal El-Mohtar, Clif Flynt, Jeff Pryor, Josef Matulich, John Winkelman, Mari Ness
ROOM: Isle Royale
DAY/TIME: Sunday, January 21, 10:00 – 10:50 am

TITLE: Analogue Media in the Digital Age
DESCRIPTION: Paper, vinyl, and film, oh my! What are the unique advantages to analogue media, and what’s just a deeply ingrained sense of how media “should” be? Is it not a book without the paper smell, or a song without the soft crackle of a needle on vinyl?
PANELISTS: David Klecha, Gail Cross, John Winkelman
ROOM: Petoskey
DAY/TIME: Sunday, January 21, 1:00 – 1:50 pm

I will, of course, vastly over-think and over-research these topics over the next ten days, and will therefore post my notes.

ConFusion 2018

Links and Notes for the Week of January 1, 2018

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky are holding their annual State of the World conversation over at The Well. Quite worth following over the next couple of weeks, and bookmarking for reference as the world continues to continue.

Charles Stross gave the keynote speech at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in December 2017. Transcript here. Video here. Much discussion about the idea of the corporation as artificial intelligence. As always with Stross’s blog, the comments following the transcript are well worth reading.

* At the day job, I am studying up on React.js. After learning and using many versions of jQuery, Backbone, Bootstrap, Angular, Ember, and a host of other frameworks, my emotional reaction to React can be summed up as “eh”. The ennui of the Javascript developer.

* Over at File770, we learned that Rabid Puppy ally Jonathan Del Arroz has been banned from the next WorldCon due to his extremely bad behavior and threats of disrupting the con. This is merely another in the ongoing trend of Puppy-aligned writers and fans running aground on the cold rocks of the rational, adult-behaving world.

* During a quiet moment I looked around the interwebs to see if any other countries had the misfortune of having a leader like Trump. As it turns out, there is one! Turkmenistan has the great good fortune of being led by one Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow, who has recently outlawed black cars in his country, and who has had made a giant statue of himself riding a golden horse. Also he is a dictator and runs one of the most repressive regimes on the planet.

Links and Notes for the Week of January 1, 2018

2018 Reading List

Welcome to the fourth year of the Reading List. These are all of the books I have purchased and/or read in calendar year 2018.

January

  1. McKean, Dave and Schafer, William – The Weight of Words (Subterranean Press)
  2. Nguyen, Viet ThanThe Refugees
  3. Atwood, MargaretThe Handmaid’s Tale
  4. Walton, DavidThe Genius Plague
  5. Sterling, PhillipAnd Then Snow (Main Street Rag)
  6. Mitchell, DavidSlade House
  7. Peninsula Poets #74.1, Spring 2017 (Poetry Society of Michigan)
  8. Peninsula Poets #74.2, Fall 2017 (Poetry Society of Michigan)
  9. D’Rivera, PaquitoLetters to Yeyito (Restless Books)
  10. Simo, AnaHeartland (Restless Books)
  11. Khan, Ausma Zehanat – The Bloodprint
2018 Reading List

Issues: Preamble

Before I dive into the mosh pit of American and worldwide events I feel it is important to state my starting position. This will provide context for my positions on topics like politics, religion, economics, environmentalism, and so on.

I am a straight Caucasian male. I was born in June of 1969, which makes me a member of Generation X. Politically, I am a hodge-podge of liberal, socialist, anarchist and Green. Religiously I am predominantly Buddhist, with a strong dash of Taoism and sprinklings of Eastern Orthodox mysticism. I have a college degree and a good job as a programmer. My life is stable enough for me to occasionally feel genuinely bored.

As a straight white dude I am overwhelmingly on the side of hegemony in the United States. Every benefit it is possible to accrue simply by being born white and straight and a dude, I have accrued. In the past twenty years and eight jobs I have only *really* had to fill out a resume once. The only way I could more closely hew to the current odious version of the American Dream would be for me to be conservative and Christian.

Those last two points? Never gonna happen.

I recognize how privileged my life is, and how little I have had to work, comparatively, to make it so. The system is set up specifically for people like me, and specifically against people who are not like me. And that fact nauseates me.

As a nerdy kid in a small farm town I was bullied regularly. Not badly, compared to the suicide-inducing standards of today, but consistently. That led directly to my lifelong practice of martial arts, and to my lifelong–and steadily increasing–hatred of bullies and bullying. For the purpose of any discussion along those lines, I will define bullying simply as punching down from a position of strength. And since this is my blog, I will be the sole determiner in these discussions as to what constitutes punching down.

To go along with that definition, I also have three general rules or guidelines or aphorisms that I try to keep front-and-center:

  1. There is no such thing as an over-reaction to being bullied.
  2. In any particular situation, if you take the side of hegemony, the only direction you can punch is down.
  3. When in doubt, err on the side of compassion.

I agree that the third point is incongruous with the first two. So be it. I contain multitudes. And sometimes pie.

Issues: Preamble

2017 Reading List

Same as the 2016 reading list. This are all of the books and journals acquired/read by Yours Truly in the 2017 calendar year.

January

  1. Suah, BaeRecitation (Deep Vellum)
  2. Klougart, JosefineOf Darkness (Deep Vellum)
  3. Manson, MarkThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
  4. Blasim, Hassan (ed). – Iraq + 100 (Comma Press UK)
  5. The Long List Anthology vol. 2 (Diabolical Plots LLC)
  6. More, ThomasUtopia
  7. Harrison, JimRepublican Wives (novella)
  8. Žižek, SlavojEvent
  9. Volodine, AntoineRadiant Terminus (Open Letter Books)
  10. Chopra, SerenaIC (Horse Less Press)
  11. Anderson, StephanieLands of Yield (Horse Less Press)

February

  1. Athitakis, MarkThe New Midwest (Belt Publishing)
  2. Atkinson, Scott (ed) – Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  3. Wolin, Sheldon S.Democracy Incorporated
  4. Thompson, Hunter S.Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail ’72
  5. Thompson, Hunter S.The Great Shark Hunt
  6. Thompson, Hunter S.Generation of Swine
  7. Thompson, Hunter S.Songs of the Doomed
  8. Thompson, Hunter S.Better Than Sex
  9. Granta #138: Journeys
  10. Du Bois, W.E.B.The Souls of Black Folk (Restless Books)
  11. Weir, AndyThe Martian
  12. Aira, CésarThe Proof (And Other Stories)
  13. Dick, Philip K. – The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
  14. Noll, João GilbertoAtlantic Hotel (Two Lines Press)
  15. Two Lines, Issue 26
  16. Harrison, JimA Really Big Lunch

March

  1. Eco, UmbertoThe Name of the Rose
  2. Xue, CanFrontier (Open Letter Books)
  3. England, AndreaOther Geographies (Creative Justice Press)
  4. Robinson, Kim StanleyNew York 2140
  5. Hines, Jim C.Revisionary
  6. Sterling, BrucePirate Utopia (Tachyon Publications)
  7. Castillo, AnaPeel My Love Like an Onion
  8. Castillo, AnaBlack Dove (Feminist Press)
  9. Blackburn, PaulThe Collected Poems (Persea Books)
  10. Castillo, AnaWatercolor Women Opaque Men (Northwestern University Press)
  11. Li HeGoddesses, Ghosts and Demons: The Collected Poems of Li He
  12. Kicknosway, FayeWho Shall Know Them?
  13. Vallejo, CésarPoemas Humanos

April

  1. Condrescu, AndreiAlien Candor (Black Sparrow Press)
  2. Cope, David (ed) – Song of the Owashtanong (Ridgeway Press)
  3. May, JamaalHum (Alice James Books)
  4. Wright, C.D.The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All (Copper Canyon Press)
  5. Poetry Magazine, April 2017
  6. Pitol, SergioThe Magician of Vienna (Deep Vellum Publishing)
  7. Gnarr, JónThe Outlaw (Deep Vellum Publishing)
  8. Adams, John Joseph (ed.) – Cosmic Powers
  9. Conversations with Paul Bowles (University Press of Mississippi)
  10. Conversations with Chinua Achebe (University Press of Mississippi)
  11. Patterson, Jorge ZepedaMilena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World (Restless Books)
  12. Fresán, RodrigoThe Invented Part (Open Letter Books)
  13. Garréta, AnneNot One Day (Deep Vellum Publishing)

May

  1. VanderMeer, JeffBorne
  2. Springer, FilipHistory of a Disappearance (Restless Books)
  3. Jaeggy, FleurI Am the Brother of XX (And Other Stories)
  4. Segaloff, NatA Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison (NESFA Press) #165 of 500
  5. Dostoevsky, FyodorCrime and Punishment
  6. Dostoevsky, FyodorDemons
  7. Jussawalla, Feroza and Dasenbrock, Reed Way (eds) – Interviews with Writers of the Post-Colonial World (University Press of Mississippi)
  8. Granta #139
  9. Miéville, ChinaOctober
  10. James, D.R.Split Level (Finishing Line Press)
  11. McGookey, KathleenHeart in a Jar (White Pine Press)

June

  1. Carroll, JimLiving at the Movies
  2. Rulfo, JuanThe Golden Cockerel & Other Writings (Deep Vellum Publishing)
  3. Nowicki, WojciechSalki (Open Letter Books)
  4. Glossolalia, Issue 3
  5. Jodorowsky, AlejandroWhere the Bird Sings Best (Restless Books)
  6. Martin, George R.R.The World of Ice and Fire
  7. Hopler, JayThe Abridged History of Rainfall (McSweeney’s)
  8. Walsh, JoannaWorlds from the Word’s End (And Other Stories)
  9. Laurel, Juan Tomás ÁvilaThe Gurugu Pledge (And Other Stories)
  10. NDiaye, MarieMy Heart Hemmed In (Two Lines Press)
  11. The 3288 Review, Issue 2.4 (Caffeinated Press)

July

  1. Schafer, William (ed.) – Best of Subterranean (Subterranean Press)
  2. Alexie, ShermanThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
  3. Alexie, ShermanReservation Blues
  4. Alexie, ShermanYou Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
  5. Oliver, MaryWhy I Wake Early
  6. Open Palm Print #7
  7. Eggers, DaveZeitoun
  8. Hammond, Rose L. – Just a Poor Country Girl (Run With It)
  9. LeBel, SteveThe Universe Builders: Bernie and the Lost Girl (Argon Press)
  10. LeBel, SteveThe Universe Builders: Bernie and the Putty (Argon Press)
  11. Davis, JeanThe Last God
  12. McClure, Patricia M.Losing a Hero to Alzheimer’s
  13. Payne, J. ScottThe Green Hell (Argon Press)
  14. Compton, Deanna J.Freecurrent: The Legacy (In God’s Hands Publishing)
  15. The Best of McSweeney’s (McSweeney’s)
  16. Torres, FernandaThe End (Restless Books)
  17. Bergsson, Guðbergur – Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller (Open Letter Books)

August

  1. Dickie, TenzinOld Demons, New Deities (O/R Books)
  2. Carroll, JonathanThe Crow’s Dinner (Subterranean Press)
  3. Sterling, BruceHeavy Weather
  4. Sterling, BruceGlobalhead
  5. Russell, Mary DoriaThe Sparrow
  6. Blas de Roblès, Jean-MarieIsland of Point Nemo (Open Letter Books)
  7. Kenny, TimothyFar Country (Bottom Dog Press)
  8. Steadman, RalphExtinct Boids
  9. Steadman, RalphNextinction
  10. Shrestha, RomioGoddesses of the Celestial Gallery (Mandala Publishing)
  11. YossA Planet for Rent (Restless Books)

September

  1. Hernández, CarlosThe Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium Publishing)
  2. Merwin, W.S.The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press)
  3. Merwin, W.S.The Essential W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)
  4. Two Lines, issue 27
  5. The Paris Review, issue 222
  6. Powers, TimMedusa’s Web; signed #462 of 474 (Subterranean Press)
  7. Gallagher, StephenThe Authentic William James; signed #279 of 1000 (Subterranean Press)
  8. Carroll, JonathanThe Crow’s Dinner; signed #312 of 1000 (Subterranean Press)
  9. Egan, GregThe Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred; signed #669 of 1000 (Subterranean Press)
  10. Grant, MiraFinal Girls; signed #1161 of 1250 (Subterranean Press)
  11. Bujold, Lois McMasterPenric and the Shaman  (Subterranean Press)
  12. Kiernan, Caitlin R.Dear Sweet Filthy World (Subterranean Press)
  13. Resnick, MikeVoyages; signed #911 of 1000 (Subterranean Press)
  14. Reynolds, AlastairBeyond the Aquila Rift (Subterranean Press)
  15. Shepard, LuciusFive Autobiographies and a Fiction (Subterranean Press)
  16. Silverberg, RobertEarly Days; signed #626 of 1000 (Subterranean Press)
  17. Pugliese, NicolaMalacqua (And Other Stories)
  18. Boullosa, CarmenHeavens on Earth (Deep Vellum Publishing)
  19. Lahens, YanickMoonbath (Deep Vellum Publishing)
  20. Brandt, Per AageIf I Were a Suicide Bomber (Open Letter Books)

October

  1. Suah, BaehNorth Station (Open Letter Books)
  2. Neruda, PabloBook of Twilight (Copper Canyon Press)
  3. Chamoiseau, PatrickTexaco
  4. Bishop, K.J.The Etched City
  5. Akhmatova, AnnaSelected Poems
  6. Navarro, ElviraA Working Woman (Two Lines Press)
  7. Unnikrishnan, DeepakTemporary People (Restless Books)
  8. Cruz, Victor HernandezRed Beans (Coffee House Press)
  9. Michigan Quarterly, vol. 56 No. 2
  10. McSweeney’s #50
  11. Jemisen, N.K.The Fifth Season
  12. VanderMeer, JeffAnnihilation
  13. Oomen, Anne-MariePulling Down the Barn (Wayne State University Press)
  14. Cooper, WynPostcards from the Interior (BOA Editions, Ltd.)
  15. Cooper, WynChaos is the new Calm (BOA Editions, Ltd.)
  16. Holden, CraigThe Jazz Bird
  17. The Sutra of Hui Neng (H.K. Buddhist Book Distributor)
  18. Dobbs, David & Ober, RichardThe Northern Forest
  19. Watts, AlanPsychotherapy East & West
  20. Kapleau, PhilipThe Three Pillars of Zen
  21. Lopez, Donald S. (ed.) – Religions of Tibet in Practice
  22. Baghramian, Maria (ed.) – Modern Philosophy of Language
  23. Liu, Ken (ed.) – Invisible Planets
  24. Ward, JesmynSing, Unburied, Sing
  25. Schnurr, RyanIn the Watershed (Belt Publishing)
  26. McLelland, EdwardHow to Speak Midwestern (Belt Publishing)
  27. Nickels, Ashley and Vilella, Dani (eds) – Grand Rapids Grassroots: An Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  28. Sedegy, Jason (ed.) The Akron Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  29. Cleveland Neighborhood Guidebook (Belt Publishing)
  30. Piiparinen, Richey and Trubek, Anne (eds.) – The Cleveland Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  31. Atkinson, Scott (ed.) – Happy Anyway: A Flint Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  32. Boyd, Eric (ed.) – The Pittsburgh Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  33. Clark, Anna (ed.) – A Detroit Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  34. Foley, AaronThe Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook (Belt Publishing)
  35. Foley, AaronHow to Live In Detroit Without Being a Jackass (Belt Publishing)
  36. Bayne, Martha (ed.) – Rust Belt Chicago: An Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  37. McQuade, Zan (ed.) – The Cincinnati Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  38. Biehl, Jody K. (ed.) – Right Here, Right Now: The Buffalo Anthology (Belt Publishing)
  39. Marino, Jacqueline and Miller, Will (eds.) – Car Bombs to Cookie Tables: The Youngstown Anthology (Belt Publishing)

November

  1. Abani, ChrisThe Face: Cartography of the Void (Restless Books)
  2. Piglia, RicardoThe Diaries of Emilio Renzi, Formative Years (Restless Books)
  3. Keni, NiyatiEsperanza Street (And Other Stories)
  4. Quin, AnnThe Unmapped Country (And Other Stories)
  5. McDermott, John J (ed). – The Writings of William James (University of Chicago Press)
  6. McPhee, JohnDraft No. 4
  7. Subterranean Press Bibliography 1995 – 2015 (Subterranean Press)
  8. Hilbig, WolfgangOld Rendering Plant (Two Lines Press)
  9. Nielsen, JoanesThe Brahmadells (Open Letter Books)
  10. Diaz, Junot (ed.) – Global Dystopias (Boston Review)
  11. Long List Anthology vol. I
  12. McClung, Laren (ed.) – Inheriting the War
  13. Stoppard, TomPlays 5

December

  1. NaivoBeyond the Rice Fields (Restless Books)
  2. Silveira, Maria JoseHer Mother’s Mother’s Mother and Her Daughters (Open Letter Books)
  3. McSweeney’s #51
2017 Reading List

Drowning 2016 in the Bathtub

Events good and bad happen all the time and follow no particular cosmic order, but the calendar allows us to group them into convenient clusters around which we can allow narrative to congeal. A great many influential artists of all genres passed away during 2016. They were perhaps particularly influential for people my age because the artists were at the height of their power when we fans were at our most receptive ages. I became a fan of David Bowie, Prince, Umberto Eco, Jim Harrison, Elie Wiesel, Carrie Fisher, Harper Lee and Leonard Cohen all in about a ten year period.

This is a small sampling of the “notable deaths” of 2016. These were the ones who had the greatest emotion impact for me. Though the circumstances of their deaths varied, none of them were young, and none of them died in any unusual fashion. The world was better for their contributions, and though I never met any of them–though Jim Harrison glared at me briefly at a book signing in 2009–I miss their presence in the world.

That being said:

2016 sucked, and I am glad it is over. Politically it marked a gigantic step backward as bigots and bullies and dominionists convinced foolish people to vote for a fool. And the fool will be president for the next four years, or until he is impeached or otherwise loses his office. I would cheer wholeheartedly at the prospect of Trump losing the office before his term is up, were it not for the fact that Pence is markedly worse. All possible forms of Christian dominionist rule of this country are no different from fascism.

It is pure coincidence that all of these notable people died in the same year that Donald Trump was elected. But they did all happen in a single calendar year, and the narrative that has built around 2016 is that it sucked. Hardcore. If our calendar went from, say, November 1 to October 31, we could say that 2016 sucked and then 2017 got worse in its first week. It would not change the level of suckage. And since one of the first notable planned events for 2017 is Trump’s inauguration, we can safely assume that 2017 is going to totally blow chunks.

Pinning the bad mojo on 2016 is voodoo of a sort. When 2016 recedes into the past it will take its load of shit with it, and leave the slate clear for a fresh start in 2017. We are human beings. Going with the flow of narrative is what gives us meaning in our day to day lives. If 2016 ending means things will get better, then so be it. There’s a reason placebos work so well. That they are placebos does not diminish their importance or their potency.

With about six hours remaining in 2016 (EST) and the positive feedback loop of zeitgeist in full effect, now would be an excellent time to make some New Year’s resolutions. For me, it will be a pledge–to the best of my ability I will protect those who are being punched down upon. And if you are on the side of hegemony on any particular issue, and are punching down on those not, I will do my level best to make sure you have a very bad time of it.

Selah.

Drowning 2016 in the Bathtub

Issues: Introduction and Apologia

Rather than constrain myself to snarky memes on Facebook and the (regrettably) unmoderated comments sections of the various news websites, I will post my position on the Various Issues which make up the Frankenstein’s beast that is a “political position”. These will be wide-ranging and subject to updates as I clarify my views based on new information. I will contemplate things like gun rights, empire, capitalism, politics, religion, energy, sundry current events, technology and so forth. I make no pretense that this is objective work. I also make no pretense that this is scholarly work. These are my views based on my life experiences.

  1. Preamble
Issues: Introduction and Apologia