Category archive: Improving Society

My first Rapid Response

Back in September, I attended a training to be an observer at ICE raids. I hadn’t heard anything from them... (More...)

On Shane, toxic masculinity, violence, and vicious cycles

I think it’s fascinating to observe toxic masculinity in action in Westerns. (Some quasi-spoilers here for Shane (1953).) In this... (More...)

Underground's metadiscussion of slavery narratives

I'm watching Underground season 2, episode 1, “Contraband,” and I just got to a scene in which one of the... (More...)

Tesla Model 3 info

Several interesting and informative Tesla Model 3 links: Specs and prices, including prices for various options, from the official Tesla... (More...)

They were the dispossessed, reclaiming what was theirs

I've long loved John McCutcheon's 1991 rendition of Leon Rosselson's 1975 song “The World Turned Upside Down” (not to be... (More...)

Nichelle Nichols on naming and being cast as Uhura

Nichelle Nichols on naming Uhura and on getting the part (transcribed by me from a making-of segment on the ST:TOS... (More...)

On the difficulty of recognizing one's own biases

Another lesson for me on the difficulty of seeing outside your own cultural context: In Delany's City of a Thousand... (More...)

Agents of SHIELD political commentary

I've been really enjoying the current storyline in Agents of SHIELD. It's doing a virtual-reality take on a sort of... (More...)

Speeding to a stop

I was driving along in the right lane of a Mountain View street the other week when I passed a... (More...)

Mysterious Island, colonialism, and translators' agendas

The other day, I pulled Mysterious Island, by Jules Verne, off my unread-books shelf. I decided that I didn't really... (More...)

The lifeboat scenario

My 9th-grade English teacher, Mr. Emil, gave us a surprise in-class writing assignment one day in 1983. He told us... (More...)

In defense of Marvel and diversity

This is a long impassioned post in which I try to come to the defense of Marvel comics. The TL;DR... (More...)

Hold the line: How best to contact Congress

Long but fascinating article about the effectiveness of various means of contacting US members of Congress. It contradicts some things... (More...)

Day of Remembrance for the incarceration of Japanese Americans

Today is a Day of Remembrance: the 75th anniversary of FDR's executive order to incarcerate Japanese Americans. A bunch of... (More...)

Easy quick intro to contacting your members of Congress

Yesterday, I attended a really useful-to-me presentation titled "Activism 101: Finding your voice in government," about how to engage with... (More...)

Pete Seeger on helping

Pete Seeger died three years ago yesterday, so my post about him came up in my Facebook history today. It... (More...)

Turning pattern into preparation

Every now and then, I stop at a stoplight behind a long line of cars, and I see a homeless... (More...)

England Swings SF, Judith Merril, and the New Wave

I'm finally reading Judith Merril's groundbreaking 1968 anthology England Swings SF. Here are some thoughts. i probably ought to... (More...)

As a famous ancient human once wrote

Back in 2003, I noted that when future-setting sf characters refer to “an ancient Terran word,” they nearly always mean... (More...)

Misleading graphs

I've seen several potentially misleading graphs in articles lately, so here's a reminder of a couple of common y-axis issues:... (More...)

"How Can We Sink When We Can Fly?"

I'm reading Terry Carr's Best Science Fiction of the Year from 1972, and most of the stories in it, although... (More...)

SH Flashback: "Rapture," by Sally Gwylan

A new entry in my weekly Strange Horizons retrospective: “Rapture,” by Sally Gwylan A slow-building story of idealist leftist anarchists... (More...)

Awesome new forthcoming Ultimates series

I'm really looking forward to the new Ultimates comic book series. The team will consist of Ms. America, Black Panther,... (More...)

Some features I want in a Maps app

On my iPhone, I use Google Maps frequently, and Apple Maps fairly regularly. I love both apps, but I can't... (More...)

Five lawyers

I happened across an article about the aftermath of the marriage equality ruling at WND (formerly known as WorldNet Daily),... (More...)

See cats instead of ads, and support sites you like

Google Contributor is an experimental system that allows you to directly financially support websites you visit. If you sign up... (More...)

Marvel's upcoming diverse comics

Spent way too much time reading comics over the past couple days when I should've been doing other stuff. But... (More...)

Somebody Will, again

I'm having one of those everything-is-deeply-intertwingled moments. On the way home, Ada Palmer's haunting and lovely and sad-yet-hopeful song “Somebody... (More...)


I just watched the movie Tomorrowland, and I'm surprised I haven't seen more people posting about it. It's the story... (More...)

Randomized Dystopias

Want to write a dystopia, but you're tired of dystopias that abrogate the same old rights that dystopias always abrogate?... (More...)

Lack of condemnation doesn't equal approval

I still haven't finished writing any of the real blog posts I want to write about the Hugo situation. For... (More...)

That which does not kill us can still hurt

The other day, I saw yet another article that conveyed the very common narrative that difficulties and hardships make us... (More...)

Talking to people who are going through tough times

This post is something I've been meaning to write for years; I'm finally writing it as a starting point/background for... (More...)

Chocolate produced by slaves

A lot of the world's chocolate supply is produced by child labor and slave labor. I've been trying for a... (More...)

Torture apologism

In the wake of the US Senate report on the CIA's use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” plenty of prominent people... (More...)

Oakland encounter

Yesterday evening, after leaving Kam's place in Oakland and putting a bunch of stuff into my car in the dark,... (More...)

Excellent feminist movie: Made in Dagenham

I just rewatched the 2010 movie Made in Dagenham. It's even better than I remembered it: feminist, laugh-out-loud funny, occasionally... (More...)

Lucy and the Guardians at the box office

When I saw the trailer for Lucy a few months back, the movie looked pretty bad to me, but I... (More...)

Stop it with the all-white panels on diversity

At WorldCon in Glasgow in 2005, there were two panels about cultural appropriation in writing. In my memory (which may... (More...)

WisCon: be brave

Here are links to this year's WisCon guest-of-honor speeches, plus a couple of other items that seem to me to... (More...)

Italicizing "foreign" words in English text

On Facebook recently, Jackie asked a question: Jackie: Conversations in languages other than English: italicized or not? Do we have... (More...)

Sturgeon's "Granny Won't Knit"

In my Complete Sturgeon reading, I just read his 1954 story “Granny Won't Knit.” Spoilers and an entertaining anecdote follow.... (More...)

Diversity ads

I feel like there's been an amazing spate of pro-diversity advertising in the past week. Some links: A new Cheerios... (More...)

R.I.P., Pete Seeger

I've been trying to figure out why Pete Seeger's death yesterday, at age 94, is hitting me so hard. Part... (More...)

Donations 2013

Here are the organizations I'm donating to in 2013. I used to post such a list every year, but haven't... (More...)

Strangers making connections

Jhayne points to a fascinating and odd 3-minute video about a photographer who gets strangers to pose with each other... (More...)

"What a Good Boy" and gender expectations

I've had several interesting conversations about gender roles in the past few days. Not gonna write a real entry about... (More...)

Giving money to people who ask for it

A discussion on Facebook about giving cash and/or food to homeless people (specifically sparked by someone describing having given food... (More...)

Happiness study, happiness video

There's a lovely 7-minute feel-good video that purports to reproduce a scientific study that, the video says, proves that the... (More...)

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Yesterday someone linked to Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail, and I realized that I had never read it... (More...)

"You don't owe prettiness to anyone"

I think I linked to Erin McKean's excellent 2006 post “You Don't Have to Be Pretty” at some point, but... (More...)

The historical accuracy defense

Fairly often in discussions of sf, especially in discussions of epic fantasy, fans use the idea of historical accuracy to... (More...)

Body autonomy

Here's a simple guideline that I wish more people in our society would follow: Don't touch other people without their... (More...)

Some notes on harassment

I just happened across a 2012 chat among female Rookie magazine staffers, discussing and listing a few dozen instances of... (More...)

The scariest threats are the invisible ones

Three items that feel thematically related to me: I've been concerned for a decade or so about the possibility of... (More...)

Some notes on Card

Some notes toward the blog entry that I'm probably not going to manage to write about Orson Scott Card and... (More...)

Hidden speech of the powerless and the powerful

A while back, someone pointed me to a book called Domination and the Arts of Resistance, by James C. Scott.... (More...)

Group discussion can result in extreme views

In 2000, the Yale Law Journal published a fascinating article by Cass R. Sunstein titled “Deliberative Trouble? Why Groups Go... (More...)

How to help fix the "American novelists" problem on Wikipedia

The “American novelists” category on Wikipedia is apparently theoretically supposed to be just a list of subcategories, but it currently... (More...)

Some harassment and rape links

I've been meaning for a long time to write something coherent about some of the stuff I've been reading about... (More...)

The transparent society: arriving soon?

I read only an excerpt from David Brin's 1998 nonfiction book The Transparent Society, but the gist of its argument... (More...)

Mary Anne on graceful exits

Good stuff from Mary Anne about how to leave room for a polite no when flirting or otherwise expressing interest... (More...)

Half-amusing juxtaposition

I get spam now and then from the IGN Games website. I think I tried to unsubscribe at some point... (More...)

Frye on oppression

Back in 2009, Liz H pointed to an essay that I liked: “Oppression,” by Marilyn Frye, from Frye's 1983 book... (More...)

Darkness into light

Sometimes around this time of year, we need a little hope to carry us through to brighter days. Here are... (More...)

Talking Union

In the version of “Talking Union” that's on Pete Seeger's Greatest Hits, Seeger explains the origin of the song. I... (More...)

Donations 2010

Here are the organizations I'm donating to in 2010. (I had this all set to post a week or two... (More...)

Catastrophic flooding in Pakistan

I've seen surprisingly little in the news about the floods in Pakistan. Granted, I've been mostly not reading the news... (More...)

Rebuilding in Haiti

Back in January, my finances were not in good enough shape to donate to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. There... (More...)

Telefund: threat or menace?

A few weeks ago, I got a bunch of calls on my land line whose caller ID identified them as... (More...)

Everything is amazing (and nobody's happy)

I forget who linked to this recently: a clip of Conan O'Brien talking to Louis C.K., in which LCK points... (More...)

Privilege and allies

I've been thinking for a long time about some stuff I want to write about trying to be a good... (More...)

Potentially urgent info for small nonprofits

An AP article suggests that many small US nonprofits that make under $25,000 a year could (at least temporarily) lose... (More...)

More about awesome women

I read through all of the awesome women proclaiming their awesomeness thread yesterday (having previously only looked at a couple... (More...)

Awesome women

Karen H posted a great entry recently in which she invited women to post about their awesomeness. She writes: Too... (More...)


Just heard Bernice Johnson Reagon on NPR, talking about, among other things, her experience (as part of the Civil Rights... (More...)

Assorted Haiti items

Things in Haiti continue to sound hellish. I'd heard about the really big aftershock on Wednesday (magnitude 5.9), but it... (More...)

People helping people

Two items that give me some hope for humanity: Portland dry cleaner Plaza Cleaners offers free dry cleaning for unemployed... (More...)

Yet another whitewashed book cover

Ari at Reading in Color blogs about the latest YA fantasy novel with a whitewashed cover. Yep, it's yet another... (More...)

Donations 2009

Did most of my end-of-year donations in mid-December, but finished the last few in a mad scramble at the end... (More...)

How to help out Haiti

Google has posted a page with info on some ways to support disaster relief in Haiti, including a couple of... (More...)

Designing for a physically diverse audience

A few things that seem kind of related to me: HP's face-tracking webcam apparently doesn't detect black faces as faces.... (More...)

Waterboarding, torture, and Reagan

Two worthwhile pieces about torture: Former FBI agent Ali Soufan speaks up about the ineffectiveness of waterboarding and other related... (More...)

Belief and bias confirmation

I've observed for a while now (or perhaps I should say "believed") that people generally tend to notice evidence that... (More...)

Donations 2008

I just finished (most of) my end-of-year donations; here are the organizations I'm donating to. Almost all of this is... (More...)

O beautiful, for spacious skies

For anyone who missed it, Mary Anne posted a very nice piece the other day about nationalism, homelands, and becoming... (More...)

Nice week

Here's what I would like as a birthday present, from as many of you as are willing to participate: Be... (More...)

Donations 2007

I just finished my end-of-year donations; here are the organizations I'm donating to. Much of this is repeated from two... (More...)

Clean drinking water for children

I really am on my way to bed, but wanted to post this before I forget: I heard today about... (More...)

Jane Addams and Hull-House

At the end of Kriti, there was a music concert next door; I walked over with Mary Anne, but when... (More...)

Items: Technology and society

These and the Bussard stuff in the previous entry seem to sort of fit into a general theme, something to... (More...)


I just finished my end-of-year donations; not quite as last-minute as usual. In case anyone's interested, here are some of... (More...)

Freedom of speech

I think most Americans are unaware of the existing limitations on freedom of speech. I used to think that freedom... (More...)