mrissa: (Oh *hell* no!)

Kids these days: they are pretty great and you should buy them an ice cream (sorbet if they don’t do dairy).

Nobody ever sells articles that say this, despite it being true–or at least as much true as a percentage as it ever was–and look, here’s another article, this one from Slate, about how horribly broken the youth of today are, especially compared to my day, which was filled with whimsy and wonder, which, as we all know, is way better than fun and excitement. Sorry, kids, that was a quote from when the Simpsons was a TV show instead of a shambling corpse. Sorry, kids, that was an attempt to slam the Simpsons from before zombies were cool. I’m all better now. Point is: back in my day, we had whimsy and wonder and fun and excitement, although of course not as much as in the Baby Boomers’ day, because they invented all those things. Unless you ask the Lost Generation, in which case, hoo! look out Emperor Nero! And so on until you get back to Hesiod, and let’s face it, nobody had a Back In My Day like that dude.

I’m wandering, aren’t I? It happens with age. Especially Hesiod’s age. Aaaanyway.

Point being: this Slate author Rebecca Schuman teaches college students sometimes, and they do not invite her to join in their reindeer games, which proves that no college students have any reindeer games, due to them sucking, but even that is not because of them because young people have no agency ever (LIKE DUH, keep up), it’s because of us because we ruined them (POSSIBLY PERMANENTLY) with our helicoptering. Also, a survey of what people think are the “weirdest schools” is a totally accurate way to find out what weirdness people are having in their own personal schools and free time and stuff. Because, like, college students in Arizona, if surveyed, will know about my college-age friend’s shenanigans in Massachusetts. They are that epic. Oh, the shenanigans she has. They shenan, and then they go back and….

Sorry, right, the point is: I am friends with actual college students. Not, like, tons of them. But some. Enough to know that sensawunda, as we call it with solemn respect in the science fiction and fantasy writing genres, is alive in their lives. Even if they do not display it on command to random people who teach their classes. You can picture it: “Do you, like, have parties where the admission is a can of moss?” she demands eagerly. “Uh, nooooo,” say her students, thinking, oh God, let me get away from this crazy professor, I have to finish my paper so that I can figure out how to get the layers in my hair dye the way I want them before we yarn-bomb the quad.

“Someone‚Äôs got to help these damn kids today goof off more creatively,” she says, and I say: sit the hell down, Rebecca Schuman. The last thing “these damn kids today” need is another intervention from you. They are fine. They are doing their own thing. It is not your thing. Has help with whimsy ever actually helped? Ever? Back. Off.

Oh, and also? I once snapped at a Boomer age friend, “Just because college cost $5 when you went doesn’t mean it does now,” and guess what? The incredibly expensive college costs from when I was in college? That swamped people my age in student loans? Are starting to look like $5 compared to what these damn kids today are paying. So if you’re feeling like these damn kids today are just not doing enough goofing off, maybe hovering over them with narrow notions of whimsy is completely unhelpful, and maybe you should kick in for a scholarship for one of them or buy one dinner so that they have five minutes in which to goof off. Or pay them to do some chores for you or something. Because a lot of the stress you’re seeing is because they are trying to WORK while doing ALL THE CLASSES so that they are not still in debt to the student loan folks when they have to start paying for nursing home care. But yelling at them that they are not doing a good enough job at fitting in their REQUIRED WONDERMENT with their work and classes is not what we in realityland call helpful.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (think so do ya?)
Dear Minnesota Orchestra Management:

Please stop sending me letters badmouthing your musicians. Stop sending them to my e-mail. Stop sending them (in duplicate copy, no less!) to my postal address. Stop calling me to ask for money while you are making this mess with your musicians, but particularly stop badmouthing your musicians. I have asked you this in private several times, and now I will ask you in public.

Do you know what you sell me, Minnesota Orchestra Management? You sell me tickets to concerts played by your musicians. If you succeed in making me think poorly of your musicians, I will not say, "You're right, darn those musicians! I should go to concerts with those crappy horrible musicians, but at whatever pay scale and benefits management wants to give them!" I will instead say, "I live in the Twin Cities area. Why would I go listen to crappy musicians? There are opportunities to hear good ones instead." But in fact I don't believe your propaganda. I've been to Minnesota Orchestra concerts. One of the musicians who is acting as a union spokesman is Doug Wright. Guess who has moved my stoic Nordic self to leap to her feet in spontaneous applause? Doug Wright. Guess what you've done in that direction? NOTHING. I don't even particularly like the trombone. It's not in my top five favorite instruments. And that man can play the trombone to make me jump up and shout, "Bravo!" I am not a shouter of "Bravo." But I shouted it anyway. Do you understand that at all? Have you had that experience of the orchestra you run? Do you remember that that's what you're supposed to be facilitating, at all? What do you think your letters are going to do to override that?

Orchestra patrons are not stupid. We know that an independent financial valuation is a reasonable thing for musicians to ask, and is the road to them knowing what kind of specific counterproposal they can make. Without one, you can just keep repeating, "That's impossible, do it our way," no matter what they say, no matter the facts. We also know that you are a great deal more replaceable than the musicians. So hop to it with the independent assessments. And stop harassing me about how it's all the musicians' fault. It's not true, and it would be counterproductive even if it worked.

In frustration,
[ profile] mrissa
mrissa: (and another thing!)
(At the culmination of a long and rambling discourse about W. H. Auden, Lord Byron, Robert Frost, [ profile] pameladean, and the deficiencies of the new library catalog system)
Me: But I thought it might amuse her, and so I shared.
[ profile] timprov: Can we make that your Latin motto? And put it in a coat of arms?
Me: I'm fine with that. I will tell livejournal. Some of them know Latin.
mrissa: (and another thing!)

Cc: copy editors.
mrissa: (Wait -- what?)
This winter we bought tickets to take my grandmother to Cinderella at a local theater.

Just now a fundraising monkey from the local theater called me.

"Is this Marissa?"

I allowed as how it was.

"This is X from the Y, you know, the lovely theater where you saw Cinderella this last Christmastime?"

"Yes, I know who you are," I said. They are large. They are connected to my beautiful palace of (very bad) hockey. It would be difficult not to know who they were.

"Did it make you feel just like Cinderella?" she gushed.

"I don't require that of a theatrical performance," I said.


I am what we technically call a grown woman. And what. WHAT. DID YOU FEEL JUST LIKE CINDERELLA WHAT. No, I felt like the phantom who burns down the theater and what do you mean that's the wrong musical. It's the right musical now, lady. I didn't at the time. But now I do.

I am not a sparkly princess. I was my Grandpa's princess. I was the kind of princess he gave his compass and protractor to and all his maps and stamps and stuff with math and knot-tying. That kind of princess. Nobody else in the world gets to try to make me be their princess. The only person who did that is gone, and I am 33 years old. STOP. Not every little girl dreams of a tiara, and I am not a little girl. Little girls do not have credit cards to buy tickets to your theater. Guess who else doesn't buy tickets to your theater? STOP COOING, LADY. GO AWAY.
mrissa: (scold with Lilly)
There is a thing I say when people are being snobs from one part of fandom towards another, and that is: "If the Klingons were good enough for Mike Ford, they're good enough for you, buddy."

Occasionally I even mean this literally. I don't know anybody in serious Klingon fandom very well, but the Klingons I have met briefly and casually have seemed like awfully, awfully nice people, and...look. How different do we really look, from the outside? I don't have a prosthetic forehead that I wear on my real head. But at least half of you knew exactly what I was quoting with that last sentence, and friends, that is plenty nerd enough. If I go to my high school classmates on Facebook and say, "I am going to spend my Easter weekend at a science fiction convention," all the defensiveness in the world about how I write the stuff, and serious thoughtful stuff at that, how I R Srs Arthur, how I am not like the Klingons and the Slave Leias and the Sailors Moon will not stop them from thinking that I am like them.

Because I am like them. Because we are nerds who fixate on blue-sky ideas without regard to how crazy and silly they are, or sometimes because they are crazy and silly. And hey. Go that. Srs Arthur hat or prosthetic forehead, whichever. You have to know who you are, and I am, in fact, a nerd who stopped making stuff up about a teenage spy girl from Atlantis for awhile this morning in order to make stuff up about a family who lives on a space station in the Oort Cloud. I could posture about how I have had stories about quantum mechanics and yearning published in Nature, Nature!, and it would mean nothing to anybody who wants to sneer in the first place, unless they are anxious about their own place in the nerd hierarchy. Why bother. I have also written steampunk about an intelligent monkey. I get by better without clutching to myself a firm sense of my own dignity. People are messy, ideas are messy, and science fiction is about both. Better to wear something that washes easily.

But more importantly, I would rather dress up like a Slave Leia Klingon Sailor Moon* than neglect a brilliant idea related to it because I was afraid of looking stupid. You can't be afraid of the trappings that come with your crazy brilliant ideas. I don't want sparkly vampires, I don't want an adventuring party chance-met in an out of the way tavern, I don't want any of a number of silly-looking tropes--but even more than that, I don't want to talk myself out of writing things I actually believe are interesting because I'm afraid of looking stupid in front of the cool kids.

And so we get to Christopher Priest judging Sheri Tepper for her book having a talking horse in it. Seriously? Seriously? Of all the reasons to get judgy of a Sheri Tepper novel? The woman writes with substance. She writes things you can argue with. She writes things you can dislike with a vengeance--I know, because I have. But not Christopher Priest! No, he has to dislike the presence of a talking horse, not anything anybody might say or think in the context of this book except for one single pun. (God forbid we should pun. Piers Anthony punned once. Enough said.)

What is the problem with SF today? Is it that we don't spend enough time making sure not to embarrass each other in front of our cool brilliant genius friends? Bullshit it is. I have cool brilliant genius friends. You know what cool brilliant genius friends have in common? They are more interested in cool stuff than in making sure they never look mildly stupid or embarrassed. They will always ruin their metaphorical shoes wading in to see the slimy interesting thing. (Have you ever seen [ profile] jonsinger wearing Manolo Blahniks? I rest my case.) They are more interested in whether the horse has anything interesting to say than in whether someone sees them reading a book with, oh noes, a talking horse.

Problem with SF today, if in fact there is one other than people fussing too much about problems with SF instead of getting on with it, is not insufficient time spent making sure not to embarrass each other in front of the Srs Ppl, but insufficient exuberance. Solution to this is not whining about somebody else liking a book with a talking horse. [ profile] timprov has been listening to an online philosophy course, and the fellow who is teaching it was trying to do a gedankenexperiment, and he was mentally transplanting Napoleon's personality to modern-day Michigan. Fine, he said, and then made it New York instead. Fine, he said, and then tried to make it one of each, and then he said, no no that's too ridiculous. And we said, "What? What? This is your line, this?" And that's where I am now with Christopher Priest. You were willing to write the novelization of Short Circuit--SHORT bloody CIRCUIT with the Indian guy who is NOT EVEN INDIAN and the robot who sings the who's Johnny song--and you cavil at talking horses? This, this is where you feel we have Gone Too Far? Napoleon in one place was all right but two is just too many, and if it was Napoleon in the body of a talking horse, well, not for the Clarke Award? Particularly not if he then had any kind of quest to achieve?

If he draws the line at talking horses, he has almost certainly not gloried in Digger. And then there's Beasts of New York and a dozen other things, not to mention the quests that have something interesting to seek. And that is not the way to a thriving and exuberant science fiction genre. If we can't articulate any problems with Twilight beyond the fact that there are vampires and they sparkle, we need to hang it up, because the fact that there are sparkly vampires is a mild matter of individual taste compared to the things that have gone wrong in that book. Is the talking horse an idiot? Is the talking horse a fascist, a nihilist, badly plotted? Is the talking horse boring? That's criticism worth talking about. Pointing out that it is, in fact, a talking horse is being a child at the zoo: yes, Christopher, horsey, well done, next week we'll teach you what a puppy looks like, since you seem to still be having trouble with that one.

*Those of you now picturing me as a Slave Leia Klingon Sailor Moon: you had better not be enjoying it, or you're now fired.
mrissa: (loathing)
I have a different question than [ profile] timprov does about this Star-Tribune article in which teenagers are claimed to be inserting vodka-soaked tampons rectally in order to get drunk. The key line for me is, "Although no students have been caught in Minnesota as yet, no one doubts that kids are soaking Gummi bears with booze or finding other creative ways to get drunk."

We have no actual examples. But no one doubts that it's happening anyway.

Why not?

No one doubted that "teenagers these days" were having "rainbow parties" a few years back, either, and yet no one could find anyone who was doing it or even could make it work logistically.

We do not live in the Dubious Hills, people. Doubt is not a cuss word. Doubt is healthy. Doubt is, in fact, A JOURNALIST'S JOB AUUUUUUGH.

Okay. Okay, I'm okay. Really. Vodka-soaked gummi bears, whatever, this is not that different from Jell-o shots. So y'know. I hope the kids don't damage themselves too much with them. But seriously, gummi bears--how many of those would you have to eat to get drunk? Even if they're soaked in Everclear? That's kind of looking like a lot of gummi bears to me, and I have a really low tolerance for alcohol. But that seems reasonable as a thing people who are much more committed to alcohol than I am would do. So maybe the rest of the article is fine also!

Okay, maybe not. So here is their source for the vodka-soaked tampon thing: an emergency-room doctor in Phoenix has a nurse who has a daughter who has a friend who totally did that once and totally like passed out.


This is journalism? Seriously? They describe this ER doc as familiar with this behavior. But he doesn't claim to have seen even one case. Ever. He worries about vaginal walls (so apparently it's only boys who are inserting them anally), and about if the people doing this do pass out. But he cannot point to a single one. And honestly? I know teenage boys are more comfortable with tampons than they once were. They already were when I was a teenager more than my parents' generation had been at that age. But seriously, unless you can point at even one actual teenage boy who is willing to shove a tampon up his ass under any circumstances, I think that this is what we in realityland call not a big problem.

Also also also--and this is probably too graphic for some of you--but I am willing to admit it: I have in my life used a tampon. And I have flung it in the toilet after. And what happens to tampons when they get thoroughly, thoroughly soaked, such as being immersed in a fairly thin liquid rather than doused with a more viscous one? They expand. They do not magically stay the same pre-insertion shape when they are sopping wet. This is physics, people! This is, in fact, how tampons work at all! It's like people are faced with an object for dealing with menstrual blood, and they lose all sense of practicality relating to the thing.

It frustrates me because it's emblematic of journalism not doing its job. (I would love to say "any more," but we can all point at examples of various scares perpetrated by the press over the last hundred years.) But it also frustrates me because the attitude is that teens are dangerous and horrible in completely foreign and unfamiliar ways.

I'm having my favorite 17-year-old over for dinner tonight. Is she an angel, pure as the driven snow, with never an unkind or unpleasant thought in her head, much less deed in her life? Of course not. (Seriously, I already said I liked her.) But what she is? Is a good kid. And her friends--some of them are really together, and some of them have no idea where they're going and what they're doing, and you know what? That's okay. They're teenagers. They will screw up in utterly predictable ways, and they will come up with new ways to screw up, and both of those are part of life. But what they don't need is to have wacky teenage rumors supported by adults going, "Oh yeah, that's totally true, I absolutely believe what Britney's friend Aidan told her Josh's girlfriend's cousin did. I mean, Josh's girlfriend's cousin! That's reporting gold! Put that in the newspaper!" We need to teach them better standards of skepticism than that. They will have natural doubts. Sometimes it's our job to reinforce them.
mrissa: (think so do ya?)
Byerly's has started to have store brand candy bars at the checkstands, and I looked, and one of them was "dark chocolate with berries." Hurrah! I said on impulse, and I threw one into my cart and home it came.

I decided just at random, before opening the thing, to check what berries were in it.

Friends, there are no berries in it. There are beet flakes dyed with natural raspberry flavoring. There is natural blueberry flavoring. There is natural blackberry flavoring. And do you know what the FDA requires of "natural [fruit] flavoring"? Absolutely nothing. No berries were harmed in the making of this candy bar. It is perfectly legal to write, "dark chocolate with berries," as the label on something that is only mildly dark chocolate with no berries whatsoever.

This came up before when [ profile] markgritter and I went to Vancouver, and I got granola bars for travel breakfasts, and I found out that "blueberry almond flax seed granola bars" contained no blueberries whatsoever. They had put in dried cranberries that had been dyed and flavored with blueberry juice. Guess how much that tastes like a blueberry? Hint: not very. (It may taste enough like a dried blueberry that people who don't eat many dried blueberries could mistake them, in the way that someone who has been a vegan for four years will tell you that that cut of seitan totally tastes like beef, while someone who had a steak for dinner last night will say, really, not so much. I, however, have a bowl of barley porridge with dried blueberries, dried apricots, and pecans for my breakfast the vast majority of mornings. I am significantly composed of recycled dried blueberry parts at this point.)

I'm just not okay with this. I'm really not. I feel like if it says "berry-flavored chocolate," you cannot expect there to be berries, because "flavored" is a weasel word. But when it says, "WITH BERRIES," really, the expectation of berries has been produced. If you came to dinner and I said, "I have made chicken with dill and almonds," and then I produced chicken with oregano and tomatoes, I think you could justly claim that I had not only misled you but flat-out lied. I bought this chocolate bar on the understanding that while I might prefer that it was filled with the pick of the Oregon marionberry crop, or tiny little dried cloudberries--ooh, now I want that--or something of the sort, I would be willing to take really whatever cut-rate berries they were willing to shove in the thing. But actual berries. That part is key. Shavings of third-best cranberries: fine. Beet flakes--beet flakes! Why do I even need to say that this is not fine?
mrissa: (loathing)
1. Another brick in the road to official crankdom: I have written the newspaper to complain, and not even about their lack of copy editing. (Add to to-do list: write to newspaper to complain about lack of copy editing.) The Vikings lose another game. The Lynx win the first game of the national championships. The former of these is not news, and yet it takes up the entire front page of the sports section. The subject line of my letter was, "Your Sexism." Jerks. They should write the Whalen family an apology letter. I mean, the other women, too, but the Whalens are Minnesotans, for the love of Pete.

I don't even like basketball. Actually I hate basketball. (Note to Seimone Augustus: not you, you're awesome.) But this is just wrong.

2. I bought some cutting boards at Ikea. I put them in the dishwasher, as one does with a dirty plastic cutting board. The plastic melted. There was, it turns out, a cheerful little Ikea icon of a scrub brush in a hand on the corner of the board. We suspect that this is their notification that these boards are hand-wash only. (Or alternately that clean things are nice. Ikea icons, who knows.) Because everyone buys a plastic cutting board at Ikea because they want to put the time and energy into lovingly handwashing the thing. I realize that not everyone has a dishwasher, but a high enough proportion of people have dishwashers that it seems relevant, and also if I wanted to handwash a cutting board I would get a wooden one. I mean really.

3. I fell on the stairs this morning. Only two of them, did not break the glass I was carrying, did not appear to break the [ profile] mrissa either. Still and all: I cannot like it.
mrissa: (and another thing!)
[ profile] markgritter and I watched Watchmen last night and today--it was the director's cut, so it was three full hours of Watchmen. If you were underwhelmed by the theatrical release, I can't honestly recommend the expanded version, although I've never seen the theatrical release, so maybe it was awful enough that this was a vast improvement. I don't know. Not thrilled, is the short version.

The thing that really annoyed me about it, though, was after starting with a fight scene set to Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable," which was awesome, the people who put together the soundtrack apparently said, "Right then. That's enough interesting use of music for us," and proceeded to phone it in with every single other musical selection for the rest of the movie. The 99 red balloons song? "Halleluia"? Really? "All Along the Watchtower"? Really? Memo to apparently everyone on the planet: there are songs in existence that are not, in fact, "All Along the Watchtower." You can use them in things. What are you people, 15? It's not that I have anything against 15-year-olds. I'm very fond of one. But the nature of being 15 means that she has not had enough time to read things and watch things and listen to things that she's always clear on what's an awesome new thing and what's the same "wouldn't it be awesome" idea that thousands upon thousands have had before her. This is not anything against this particular 15-year-old, who is wonderful and smart and very much loved. It's just that before I let her do the entire soundtrack to a major motion picture, I would have somebody who was not 15 look it over. Just in case they had a perspective on the utter original awesomeness of using "The Times, They Are A-Changin'" for a credits montage. (I hate to bag on the opening credits, because they belonged to a much better movie, one I am much more interested in watching. But seriously: in case we were wondering what the times, they were a-doin'? Was anybody unclear on that?)

For me the "I have used up my cell minutes for the month with all the phoning it in I am doing" moment came with the Wagner. It is not cool, it is not funny, it is not meta-funny. "The Ride of the Valkyries" was used for meta-funny in The Blues Brothers. Which came out in 1980 a few weeks before I turned 2, when Ronald Reagan had not yet been elected President. The meta-funny there: it is over. People who use "The Ride of the Valkyries" in soundtracks: you are like the guy who shouts, "Free Bird!" at rock shows. There is no way to make shouting, "Free BIRRRRD!" awesome at a rock show. Its awesomeness has been used up for several generations now. By the time it regains any awesomeness, it will be like shouting, "Twenty-three skiddoo!" at someone, which is I guess sort of the bee's knees, but for awhile there, not so much. "But I was referencing--" No. Just stop. Find another song. Do something else.

I have just been saying, over on [ profile] sartorias's lj, how much more interesting it is what people like than what they dislike. But I am tired and unable to refrain from the snarking here, because this was just sloppy and pathetic.


Dec. 3rd, 2009 12:45 pm
mrissa: (winter)
+ Tiny dusting of snow!!! I will take it. It's better than no snow.

+ Concert last night: good good good. Antje Duvekot opened, and WPA was the main act. Definitely worth my time and energy and money to see. Also it was a grown-up concert at the Cedar, which means chairs to sit in and a concert that starts on time. Hurrah. Duvekot said it was her worst set ever. If this is the case, she is a candidate for best worst set ever.

+ Pepparkakor dough in a minute. Cookie Day tomorrow. Yay! First Cookie Day with Grandma in town to share it! Yay!

- People. Nobody is tone death. Some people are tone deaf. Tone death would be some kind of superpower; I'm pretty sure you only wish that the person in your office who cannot sing but does so anyway would die a tone death. One problem with teaching children to spell phonetically is that some of them do not enunciate for sour owl crap, and spend their time around other people who do not enunciate for sour owl crap.

- Online clothing retailers, seriously: size first, color second. When does anybody ever say, "Well, I totally want the purple one, but I don't care which of the six sizes is available?" This is an instance where size very much matters. You do not buy your 2XL aunt or your XS aunt an M sweater because M is what the retailer has and you like that sweater. If you do, you are being stupid and should stop.

- DVD manufacturers: stop putting an infinite repeat sound loop on the menu screen. It makes perfect sense to put the DVD in and go somewhere else to do laundry, put something in the oven, etc. while the warnings and disclaimers are playing. Nobody who is up to their elbows in clean, dry towels finds the experience enhanced by the same thirty seconds of your theme song over and over again. Just stop.
mrissa: (frustrated)
1. Baby powder
2. Crushed-up Pez

Fail fail fail fail fail.

And now the three unopened bottles I bought last night, when I was steady, will go to the local women's shelter, and I will have to ask my mom to haul my wobbling self around Target on my big PT day so I can do the ensniffening all over again and pick a new body wash that does not smell like baby powder (which is at least reasonable, just not me) or Pez (not a reasonable smell for body wash! just not!).
mrissa: (think so do ya?)
Hey, look, everybody! It's the angriest day of the year! I should just not read commentary by people I don't already know and like on July 20. Uff da.

I wasn't there, so I want to know: when did it become teenagers' fault that we don't have a more robust space program? Seriously, it's a great strategy. Now that I'm 11 years (okay, okay: 10 years and 359 days) from the last year in which I could be considered a teenager, I'm really coming to appreciate it. I don't have to own up to my choices as a voter! I don't have to acknowledge where my own charitable contributions or volunteer time or lack of same are going! Instead of it being partly my fault for having a variety of political and social concerns and making choices based on balance there, I can simply blame the only people in our society who could not possibly have played a part in creating the situation. Hey, thanks, people who reached adulthood before me! You thought this one out really well! And teenagers are so used to being blamed for things their little brother or that jerk in their second period class did, what's one more? I mean, it's kind of a big one more. But they're already so irresponsible for not getting the jobs our system doesn't have for them--and selfish and small-minded for worrying about paying for college instead of Dreaming Big Dreams the way we did when college was cheaper--so it's sort of like a training program for taking the space-related blame. Neat how that works out.

The only drawback I'm seeing here is that I am young enough that I will never be able to claim, as some people shooting their mouths off today seem to feel they are able to, that the Apollo program was created of my inchoate childhood or teenage longings. See, I thought it was created of engineering. But I see now that that would make any lacks in current space programs the fault of people who decide how to fund engineers and for which projects, rather than the fault of kids these days not dreaming big enough. So clearly that doesn't work. Probably it's my own fault for aiming my inchoate teenage longings at getting out of the school system I was (of course) fully teenage-responsible for creating. Let that be a lesson, teenagers! Stick close to your desks, and never go to sea, and you all may be rulers of the Space Navy. Do not attempt to escape the system personally! We need that dream fuel to create space programs without funding engineers! Dream harder! But never for yourselves, because that would put you back in the wrong! Where you are anyway! Great deal, huh?

Well. There's my quota of exclamation marks for the year. And a serious and non-sarcastic thanks to those of you who were alive 40 years ago and manage to remember a great feat of engineering without casting aspersions on those who never had the chance to see anything similar.
mrissa: (reading)
Our library paid somebody to come up with a slogan, and now they're putting it all over everything: "Dakota County Library: Come to Know." As far as I'm concerned, the only slogan they needed was, "Dakota Country Library: we're the library that's in Dakota County," or possibly if they wanted to get fancy, "Dakota County Library: books you already paid for."

I am already skeptical that there's any value in most kinds of marketing/branding people seem to take for granted. I don't believe it's automatically worthless or automatically morally suspect--the best of advertising brings people to realize that there is something they actually do want or need, possibly at a better price than they had hoped to pay. But really, how will the library benefit from having the slogan, "Come to know"? It's not like it sparks a million ideas about programs and groups they could host at the library. Mostly at my house it prompts snarky remarks about coming to no good. Do they hope that this will make people think, "Oh yes, we must continue to fund the libraries at previous levels or higher, they're where we come to know things!" Or alternately, "Oh yes, we must continue to fund the libraries at previous levels or higher, they have such a nice slogan!"

Can anybody tell me why this is not a stupid waste of time and money?
mrissa: (grandpa)
[ profile] markgritter has labeled me Chaotic Good, which is a little strange considering that I am the force of organization in this house. (Anybody agree/disagree with him there?)

Here's how it came up, and I think this is important: yesterday I encountered someone who was not sure she was "family enough" to count in the "family only for ICU visits" rule for someone close to her. She definitely is, but I was boggled that this even came up, and frankly it was pretty upsetting. Important life lesson, people: you do not have to follow rules simply because someone else has gone to the trouble of making them.

If someone you love is in an ICU where they have a "family only" rule, and you know they want to see you, and you can be quiet and respectful of the other patients, congratulations! You are now their Cousin Cynthia. Or their Uncle Frank. Or whatever the hell else you want to be. Because the family only rule is not there because ICU patients benefit only from seeing people with specific blood or legal ties to them. It's there to keep the number of visitors down so the staff can work and the other patients aren't being disturbed by wild ICU parties. The first night my grandpa was in the ICU, my aunt Kathy came up to stay with him and my mom, and when I say "aunt," I mean "person who has no legal or blood relationship with me whatsoever." And my mom, without turning a hair, said to the night nurse, "This is my sister-in-law." Here's what this semi-fib did: it gave the night nurse a leg to stand on if anybody administrative challenged her on who was in Mr. Adams's room and/or the family lounge, and it expressed the closeness of my aunt Kathy to Mom and Grandpa without giving the night nurse the impression that she was someone who should be consulted with my mother equally on Grandpa's care. And on Grandpa's last Saturday with us, it was Grandma's "niece" Vicki (again, no relation) who stayed with her while we drove into the wee hours of the morning to get there. Was that rule there so that a person whose husband was dying would have to sit alone and wait? No. Hell no. And if it was, I don't care; that is not my problem. I had a dozen or more really major problems that night, and strict adherence to hospital guidelines was not anywhere on the list.

You know what else? Grandpa had c. diff., and I took off the gloves to hold his hand on the day he was dying and the day before that. You bet your ass I did. I didn't touch anything else while I had the gloves off, and I washed up like crazy after, but did I make my grandpa's last contact with me come through latex or nitrile? No. No. A thousand times no, a million times no. I am not high-risk for infection, I followed the anti-infection procedures better than some members of the hospital staff in that regard, and I am a competent adult human being with my own judgment. They can make their rules. I make mine.

I know some of you are facing medical issues. Do not let them intimidate you pointlessly. Things are bad enough when you're dealing with a crisis without deciding that a spirit of legalism must inform your doings. Your first obligations are moral and interpersonal, not regulatory.
mrissa: (think so do ya?)
"It works as long as nothing goes wrong," translates into real live English as, "It does not work."
mrissa: (memories)
This article made me proud to be a Gustie. The other college presidents quoted in it are treating their students, not just as children, but as stupid children. Their fears about the risk of misreading, for example. I will give you two sentences, and you see if you can spot any differences:

1) Perhaps we should discuss the legal drinking age and how it interacts with American culture and the subcultures of American colleges.

2) Do not worry about legalities, just PARRRRTAYYYYY -- WOOOOOOOO!

Was that hard? Do you think that college students, most of whom are of voting age and theoretically literate, ought to have difficulty parsing the differences? Earl Potter, president of St. Cloud State, said, "With there being so much tragedy in Minnesota around binge drinking and student deaths, I'm not going to take any step which deviates from my core message: We want our students to behave within the law, and we want the ones who are of age to drink responsibly." Think about that: he thinks that any discussion of the law is equivalent to encouragement to behave illegally. He thinks that if we do not lie to our college students and tell them that our laws are universal and eternal, they will not follow them. That we can buy student safety by repressing free discourse; that subtlety is impossible and will lead to irresponsibility, lawlessness, who knows what social ills.

This is not a fit attitude for someone who is educating citizens of a democracy -- though it's sadly not a surprising attitude for American authority figures at the moment. Discussing the laws we have, whether they are working towards or against the society we want, is one of our jobs, collectively. It's one of our big jobs. And 18-year-olds are not junior voters, who somehow count partially or are just so cuuuute when dey fink dey can make a diffwence! Awww! No. No. This is unacceptable. So go President Ohle.
mrissa: (Default)
Oh hair conditioner manufacturers:

Why why WHY did you have to change the formulation of your conditioner so that it smells exactly like the "Barbie and the Rockers: Diva" doll I had when I was 8? What could possibly have motivated this behavior? And how did you pick that particular doll over Malibu Barbie or Skatin' Fun Skipper? Or Cabbage Patch dolls or Strawberry Shortcakes? Was there a contest? Because I'm pretty alarmed at a contest for which this is the result.
mrissa: (Default)
(applicable other days as well)

1. It turns out that legality is not the only standard of behavior required in civilized circles. If pointing out that you have broken no laws is all it takes for your circle of acquaintance to approve of your behavior, you need a better circle of acquaintance. This is true of presidential candidates, of Harry Potter RPGers, and of any other circle you care to name: it being legal to do something does not make it kind, tasteful, interesting, or a dozen other things that a person might wish it to be.

2. Until nanotechnology progresses further than it has to date, neither soaps nor linens are traps for the young or unwary guest, nor should they be treated as such. If you don't want someone washing their hands with something, don't put it in a soap dish by the sink. If you don't want someone drying their hands on something, don't hang it on a towel bar in the bathroom or set it on the bathroom counter conveniently close by if guests are on their way. If you suspect that you have left something unsuitable in the bathroom because your guests have caught you unawares, for heaven's sake dart in and check.

3. If someone is clinging to someone else's arm in a public place, please consider that she may not be doing it for affection's sake, and do not attempt to bully her into letting go. Your failure condition if you navigate around her is that you may have given leeway to someone who is fluttery with new romance: not necessary, certainly, but not catastrophic. Whereas your failure condition if you attempt to bull through her is that you may cause great inconvenience and further suffering to someone for whom walking around in an ordinary fashion is already more difficult than she would like it to be; anticipation of this problem may keep her from useful or enjoyable activities when she's having a difficult day. If you feel the need, you may glare discouragingly in case she's doing it for fun, because by this point she does not give the proverbial rodent's hindquarters what you think as long as you don't try to knock her down.
mrissa: (Oh *hell* no!)
Okay, fellow SF writers: Asian-Americans have been a part of America's rich tapestry since before their contributions to the railroads in the mid-1800s. They are us. They are totally normal Americans. Get used to it.

What does "get used to it" mean? It means that you be extremely careful in describing Asian-American female characters using the following words and/or references: exotic; inscrutable; dragon lady; or any martial arts metaphors. When you hit all four in less than ten pages, I will put the book down and gape like a fish. Why? Because the technical term for this is racist bullshit.* And if it's because of a character's viewpoint rather than the authorial viewpoint, you need to show us that fast, lest everybody run screaming from the racist bullshit.

When I pick up a Kim Stanley Robinson novel -- published in this decade, for heaven's sake -- I am totally not prepared for that sort of thing. It caught me completely off-guard. "We need to fix climate change!" -- that I expected. "This inscrutable dragon lady would be a great person to work on that problem!" -- uh, no. Nononono. Seriously, just -- no.

I'm going to give this book a chance to get past this, but it's a worse mismatch than "think of these characters as if they were movie stars!" for me to have such a relentless message that I am to think of this character as foreign and other -- even though she's clearly "good other" rather than "bad other." There is a lot of getting past to be done here. Uff da.

Seriously, "exotic"? No American in ordinary American clothes is exotic, whether her ancestors were from Yokohama or York or Yola. Just -- not.


*You do not get bonus points for avoiding geisha and porcelain doll references; that avoidance is elementary civilized behavior.

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