June 15th, 2010


Podcasts - Sofanauts 35

By sheer coincidence, I started catching up on Sofanauts yesterday and listened last night going home and this morning coming into work to Episode 35. This is the episode where Peter Watts talks about everything that happened when he tried to cross the border out of the US. It is an unbelievably compelling account. I had goosebumps for most of the first 25 minutes of this show. Smith asks for a brief synopsis and Watts takes us through the entire experience, uninterrupted, and for what must be to him the countless time through this story. His account is graphic and scary.

It's scary because this is how he was treated by law enforcement in the USA but sounds more like the kind of thriller that Hollywood would produce and set in some South American country or Cuba or the middle east to tell us how horrible the rest of the world is. It's scary because it could be me or you or anyone who is used to being in a reality where asking a question is a reflex action and is met by explanation and not mace. And it's scary because all he did that was wrong was "fail to get down on the ground quick enough" and that was enough to be guilty of a felony of non compliance with a police officer.

I remember reading events as they unfolded and had a horrible feeling that he might get convicted and have to serve time. Things looked grim for a while and as Watts retells, he spent the last days before his sentencing putting his affairs in order, including writing a will, getting someone to look after his cats and have someone else have access to his financial affairs. He was worried about a tooth abscess - that had he had to go to prison ... It is utterly frightening stuff. And as he recounts, more so because it seemed like the system was rigged to convict him, no matter what they did and how well they responded and so on (the police accounts on the stand conflicted with each other, their lies were exposed, Watts had an eye witness etc)

If nothing else, I think that Watts deserves some beers amongst friends at the bar at Aussiecon 4. I urge you to go check out the Bring Peter Watts to Aussiecon 4 Campaign.

The interview is worth listening all the way to the end where Watts has some really interesting things to say about power dynamics that we accept in society. He talks about people responding to his situation in three ways - 1. Cops are all out of control arseholes and this is outrageous. 2. Watts deserved worse than this. 3. Everybody knows that border control and customs are arseholes and he should have put his head down and not caught their eye and just gotten through it and not drawn attention.

And he goes on to discuss that third group of people, where what he finds troubling is the acceptance of this. That these people know this is not right, that it's an injustice and it's corrupt people wielding their power disportionately and in some (many?) cases unlawfully but the individual has not much option other than to allow these people who want to dominate to do so as long as they leave them alone. And that if he has nothing else, he at least did not do this unquestioningly and in fact all he did was get out of his car and ask the question, "What's going on?" and that he should be able to do so without getting his head beaten in as the reply.

I admit to being a person in group 3. I absolutely refrain from drawing attention when going through customs anywhere. I do not crack jokes and I try to conform to the rules even when they are ridiculous (like showing your passport to enter a room with only one exit and then having to show it again to be able to exit - what happened in that 20 seconds walk through the room???). I didn't know what to do when the customs official in Heathrow tried to joke around with me - was it a trap? Can I be funny back? What's gonna happen if I am?? Depending on which country I am entering, I am sometimes scared because I am Jewish and sometimes because I am a woman. There are countries I will never visit for one or both of these reasons.

Listening to this podcast has gotten me thinking though. A comparative example to the one above is when women who do not self identify as feminists will say things to me that never ever question the gender power dynamic. So examples include, on discussion with a workmate about how I no longer go into moshpits because I get elbowed and jumped on, she responded with, "guys don't see you because you are female." On talking about something to do with my car with my beautician (that's a polite way of saying my waxing therapist), she said something like, "because you are a woman they think they can pull one over you." Both these discussions stand out in my memory because there was just this genuine acceptance both at the lack of power and of the state of things, that can't be changed or rallied against - that we are treated worse *because* we are women, and that that's just the way it is. And I have never been able to just accept that.

And yet, in different situations, where it's not only my gender that is "handicapping" my power dynamic, I don't question, I just accept.

It's more food for thought. Thank you for that, Peter Watts.


Twitter is down!

Oooooooh too many tweets!!!

So what stuff would I be tweeting right now if I could?

I'm glad i went to the bathroom 5 minutes ago cause now it's raining. This may mean no chocolates in my near future.

And @tezzasaurus had to blog me this link: here to Boing Boing - I would probably have replied on twitter but instead will say, I am refraining from reading the comments and am enjoying these bits:

In the comments section of my post last Friday on women in science, a couple people were confused by the idea that bigotry and discrimination could be something done, for lack of a better word, accidentally ... even subconsciously. ... Most of us were raised understanding that discrimination was a bad thing, done by bad people who thought that they were superior to the people they discriminated against. It's logical to look at the way we learn about discrimination and say, "That doesn't describe me, so I'm OK."

The truth, sadly, is a bit more complicated.

Good people—people who aren't supremacists of any sort—can and do act in ways that support systemic discrimination. We do this, not because we're full of hate, but because we're full of other lessons we learned ... And, if we happen to have been born into a non-minority category, we have the privilege of not even noticing when those old lessons direct us to do things that discriminate—because, from our point of view, the world still looks fair.

My emphasis.

In other words, not setting out to discriminate, or not intending to be biased, does not therefore mean that the results of your actions and words are not so.

She finishes with:

Sometimes, people with the privilege to not think about diversity don't, and they make decisions that leave out people not like them. When that same situation happens over and over and over, the people who don't look like the privileged end upmarginalized. It's simple. And, frankly, it's a lot scarier than big, evil villains, because it's harder to change. In the future, I'm going to try harder to think past my own privilege. And, whether your privilege is based on gender, race, wealth, sexuality, or culture ... I hope this post will remind you to do the same.

Horn Fail :(

Horn was failed to be delivered today but I have rescheduled for tomorrow and they should then be out in the post to the preorders in tomorrow evening's mail.

I'f you've been holding off buying your copy of Horn til they were back in stock, as of tomorrow they will be back in stock and you can buy your copy here. Again, whilst stocks last - I expect to have copies for sale at Worldcon but there were quite a few reservations for this second printing as well.


Twitter Drama

Twitter has not been itself today - Over Capacity for a lot of the day, some of the platforms have been repeating tweets over and over so that it sounded a bit like a Twitter-echo was going on. And it looks like it has temporarily lost all individuals tweets - at least by the loss of tweets in profiles. Cough. So, that means that Twitter has lost *cough* ahem about 14 500 of my tweets - I only have 1000+ at the moment.


I think that's why I have been less prolific here in general.



Another milestone

After working solidly on it for 6 months now, my work as editor on Sprawl was completed today when I send the final to stories to Amanda for layout. It feels odd. I think I have spent so long panicking about whether it will all get done on time that I don't quite know what to do with myself once I actually start reaching milestones and locking things in.

Lucky for me, my job as publisher never ends AND I have 5 novellas and a novel still to go.

Today I also got my first completed block from the quilting circle! My mum finished hers - she did have a bit of a headstart having nabbed hers after helping me put together all the packages (everyone's fabric is different). So my first block:

ball of yarn

Craft Photo Post Day 2

Today's post is a little bit of a cheat - these are the latest finished block from L'Amour quilt project, as I am calling it, and as is the name of the fabric line I am using. This is the jelly roll that I am cutting up into pieces for piecing. And all patterns are via Jinny Beyer. The one on the right which is called Liberty Star nearly did my head in. I haven't been very good at checking is the right side of templates and I cut the whole pattern out back to front so couldn't follow the pattern to piece it properly. I think it still works! 

This one below involved the first real fail as I originally had a dark pink in the place of the red squares and the contrast was not strong enough to bring about the 3D illusion. It wasn't too hard to unpick and replace with the red squares which instantly lifted the block.

As of tomorrow, I'll be posting shots of progress which may or may not be completed blocks etc but will represent progress along the way.