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Posted by Neal Goldfarb

An introduction and guide to my series of posts "Corpora and the Second Amendment" is available here. The corpus data that is discussed can be downloaded here. That link will take you to a shared folder in Dropbox. Important: Use the "Download" button at the top right of the screen.

This post on what arms means will follow the pattern of my post on bear. I’ll start by reviewing what the Supreme Court said about the topic in District of Columbia v. Heller. I’ll then turn to the Oxford English Dictionary for a look at how arms was used over the history of English up through the end of the 18th century, when the Second Amendment was proposed and ratified.. And finally, I’ll discuss the corpus data.

Justice Scalia’s majority opinion had this to say about what arms meant:

The 18th-century meaning [of arms] is no different from the meaning today. The 1773 edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defined ‘‘arms’’ as ‘‘[w]eapons of offence, or armour of defence.’’ Timothy Cunningham’s important 1771 legal dictionary defined ‘‘arms’’ as ‘‘any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another.’’ [citations omitted]

As was true of what Scalia said about the meaning of bear, this summary was basically correct as far as it went, but was also a major oversimplification.

To see that the statement was an oversimplification, we need only look at the definition by Samuel Johnson that Scalia relied on. What Scalia quoted (“Weapons of offence, or armour of defence”) was only one of five numbered senses Johnson gave; the others are as follows (with example sentences omitted):

2. A state of hostility.

3.War in general.

4. Action; the act of taking arms.

5. The ensigns armorial of a family.

Scalia’s omission of these other senses is understandable: he quoted the sense that he thought was relevant and left out those he regarded as irrelevant. But whether intentionally or not, the omission of senses 2–4 loaded the rhetorical dice. (I’ll give him a pass on leaving out number 5.)

You’ll recall that the whole dispute over the meaning of keep and bear arms was about whether it meant merely ‘carry weapons’ (or more specifically, ‘carry weapons for the purpose of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person,’ as Scalia contended) or was instead understood as having what Scalia described as “an idiomatic meaning that was significantly different from its natural meaning”, namely, ‘‘to serve as a soldier, do military service, fight’’ or ‘‘to wage war.’’ If you’re going to rely on Johnson’s dictionary as your authority, as Scalia did, then Johnson’s senses 2–4 strike me as being relevant. Senses 2–4 resemble the idiomatic sense of bear arms that Scalia referred to, in that they were figurative rather than literal. And there was obviously a close semantic relationship between senses 2–4 on the one hand and the idiomatic sense of bear arms on the other.

So Johnson’s dictionary by itself supports my statement that Heller’s short discussion of arms was an oversimplification. But Johnson’s entry is a only vague sketch, compared to the entry for arms in the OED.

By a stroke of luck, the entry for arms was fully updated in 2016, and is now part of the OED’s Third Edition. That’s significant because although the Second Edition was published in 1989, it consisted mainly of the contents of the First Edition, into which were merged the five volumes of supplements that been published in the interim. So the 2016 revision was the first thorough updating of the entry since it had first been published in 1885. Its advantages over the original include not only that it provides more information (especially etymological informations) but also that the information that is carried over from the prior edition is better organized and easier to assimilate.

Whereas Samuel Johnson listed three senses of arms that had something to do with war or the military—“a state of hostility”, “war in general”, and “the act of taking arms”, the OED lists many more, once the many phrasal uses of arms are added in. In fact, it lists such uses going back to Anglo-Norman, the version of Old French that was used in England after the Norman Conquest, from which arms was “borrowed” by Middle English. Among the Anglo-Norman senses that the OED gives for arms (and its variants armys and harmes) are ‘fighting, war’ (dating back to 1155), ‘the military profession’ (second half of the 12th century), and ‘intances of military prowess’ (around 1170 or earlier). And before that, in classical Latin (!), the senses of arma included ‘military service,’ ‘military action,’ ‘fighting,’ ‘armed strength,’ and ‘troops.’

This etymological prehistory is significant (as is and the subsequent history of arms in English),  because it may help us overcome the fact that the English we know is not the English that was spoken in the 1790s. When the Second Amendment was proposed (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights), Americans’ understanding of it was a product of the linguistic environment in which they lived. The more we know about that environment, the better the chances that we’ll be able to accurately reconstruct how those Americans would have understood the text. While we obviously have no direct access to that environment, being aware of the linguistic history I’m discussing here will hopefully help us to at least partly make up for that inability.

For example, it’s easy for us to think that use of arms to mean ‘weapons’ was the word’s “literal,” “basic,”  or “core” meaning, and the senses of the word having to do with war and the military were extensions of that sense. But the fact that the “extended” senses existed in Anglo-Norman suggests that when arms became part of English proper, all of these senses came along with it. If that’s the case, what basis is there to assume that the ‘weapons’ sense is any more basic or central than any of the other senses?

And the OED provides reason to believe that this suggestion is well-founded. The earliest attested use in English of arms (around 1250) is a figurative use, which the OED  gives as “[a]bstract or immaterial things used in a manner comparable to physical weapons.” The earliest known instance of the corresponding “literal” use was from a little bit later, in 1275:

Weapons of war or combat; (items of) military equipment, both offensive and defensive, munitions. In later use esp.: military equipment or weaponry owned, used, or traded by a nation, regime, etc. Cf. arms race n. 1.

Then in the 1300s we see arms being used in additional military-related senses:

Armed combat as a professional activity; the military profession; service as a soldier. [Earliest known use circa 1300.]

Fighting; war; active hostilities. [Circa 1325.]

Brave, skilled, or renowned acts of armed combat; instances of military prowess. [Around 1393.]

(Note, by the way, that all the senses I’ve  mentioned so far, as well as those that I’ve yet to get o, are reported by the OED as having been in use at least through the end of the 18th century.)

I’m going to move on now to military-related phrasal uses of arms. The earliest of these that is listed is bear arms, with the first attested use being around 1325. I’ll discuss these in the post dealing specifically with that phrase. Moving chronologically, based on the date of first attested use, we next see the following relevant uses:

to arms!: “collect your weapons; prepare to fight” [circa 1330.]

to take (up) arms: to arm oneself; to assume a hostile attitude either defensive or offensive; to prepare to fight. [around 1420.]

force of arms: “the use of weapons or arms; military or violent means”. “Usually in by (also with) force of arms. [1529 (and possibly as early as 1430).]

man-in-arms: “a soldier, a warrior; a (heavily) armed man.” [circa 1540.]

to rise in arms: “to prepare to fight for one’s country, a cause, etc.; to join or form an armed force.” [1563.]

to lay down (one’s) arms (and variants): “to put down or stop using one’s weapons; to surrender; to stop fighting.” [1568.]

to turn one's arms against (also occasionally towards, and variants): “to wage war on; to attack.” [1569]

up in arms: “Willing or ready to fight; actively engaged in an armed struggle, protest, or rebellion.” [1576.]

to carry arms (against): “to wage war (against)’” [1580.]

to call (also summon) to arms (and variants): “to summon to prepare for battle or armed conflict”. [1592.]

under arms (and variants): “ (of an army, nation, etc.) equipped with weapons or arms; in battle array; ready to fight”. [1637.]

to lie upon one's arms: “to rest while still equipped with weapons or arms; to remain alert or ready to fight, esp. after a battle.” [1690.]

call to arms: “a summons to prepare for battle or armed conflict.” [1702.]

I’ve omitted the example sentences that accompany each of these entries, but a copy of the entries with the examples here (I may not get to it right away, so if it’s not there when you try to download it, check back in a few days.)

AS WE’VE SEEN, Johnson’s dictionary provided reason to believe that when Justice Scalia said  that in the 18th century, arms meant weapons, he was oversimplifying things. And the the OED showed that the picture painted by Johnson was itself an oversimplification. In addition to giving a more detailed account of the different ways that arms by itself could be used in referring to various aspects of war and the military, it listed more than a dozen idiomatic phrases enabling the expression of an even wider variety of meanings. And when we look at the corpus data, we see even more variety; there is a profusion of phrasal uses that the OED doesn’t list. More importantly, we can get an idea of the relative frequencies of the different uses, something that dictionaries can’t tell you.

The pattern seen in the data is one in which, outside the unusual context of fighting the Revolutionary War, the “nonliteral” military-related uses greatly outnumbered the uses in which arms simply meant ‘weapons.’ And even in the context of fighting the war, roughly a third of the uses conveyed nonliteral military-related meanings.

I’ll talk about the results in more detail, but first I need to take a detour through some methodological weeds.

The data I reviewed came from two corpora: COFEA (the Corpus of Founding Era American English) and COEME (the Corpus of Early Modern English), both of which are part of the BYU Law Corpora.

  • COFEA (the Corpus of Founding Era American English), which includes texts from several sources, dating from the period 1760–1799. Thof which three are significant here: (1) the Evans Early American Imprint Series, which contains books, pamphlets, sermons, and so on, (2) the National Archives Founders Papers Online project, which contains correspondence and other materials from the papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, and (3) Hein, which contains legal materials such as statutes, cases, legal papers, and legislative debates.
  • COEME (the Corpus of Early Modern English), which consists of materials that I think are generally similar to the kinds of materials in COFEA from the Evans collection; in fact, some of the texts appear in both corpora. However, COEME differs from COFEA in that, if I’m not mistaken, COEME includes texts that were published in England as well as the United States, while COFEA is limited to American publication. COEME also includes texts going back to 1475, but I limited my searches to the same 40-year period as is covered by COFEA.

In COFEA there were roughly 24,600 hits for instances of arms that had been tagged as nouns, and in COEME there were roughly 51,500 hits from the period I focused on. (From what I saw the accuracy of the tagging was in the range of 99%.) I originally downloaded 1,000 concordance lines from each corpus—a concordance line consisting of a use of arms with a small chunk of the text that immediately preceded and followed it. After eliminating duplicates within each data set and somehow losing 19 lines to gremlins, I was left with 982 lines from COFEA and 875 from COEME. In reviewing the COFEA data it quickly became apparent that it was dominated by results from the Founders and Hein collections (707 compared to 275 from the Evans results), I therefore downloaded additional data, with the source restricted to Evans, so that I had the virtually same amount of data from Evans (706 lines) as I had from Founders and Hein.

In addition to eliminating duplicate concordance lines within each set of downloaded data, I deduplicated the lines that appeared in both COFEA and COEME by removing each overlapping line from one of the corpora. Most of those deletions were made in the COFEA data and are accounted for in the final figures for the COFEA data in the previous paragraph. In the last round of deduping, the duplicate lines were removed from COEME rather than COFEA, resulting in the number of concordance lines from COEME being reduced to 685.

In all cases, the deduped data had confidence intervals below 5.0 at a 99% confidence level and below 4.0 at a 95% confdidence level..

OUT OF THE WEEDS, onward into the results.

In the COFEA documents that did not come from the Evans collection, there were twice as many uses of arms to mean ‘weapons’ (413 concordance lines, plus 13 that I wasn’t sure about) as there were uses that conveyed the broader ‘military/war” sense (213). In contrast, the pattern of relative frequencies in the other documents was reversed, with there being more than twice as  ‘military’ uses than ‘weapons’ uses. In the COFEA Evans documents, the ratio of ‘weapons’ to ‘military’ was 75 to 290, making ‘military’ uses 3.8 times as frequent as ‘weapons’ uses. In COEME, the ratio was 112 to 262, so ‘military’ uses were 2.3 times as frequent as ‘weapons'  uses.

I think that this striking difference is attributable to the fact that of the COFEA results that excluded the Evans documents, more than 90% of the concordance lines came from the Founders collection.  As you’ll recall, that collection consists of correspondence and other materials from the papers of the top six Founding Fathers: Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison. Among those documents was extensive correspondence about the progress of the Revolutionary War—thus my reference above to “the unusual context of fighting the Revolutionary War.” A recurring topic in these documents is (not surprisingly) the procurement,  management, and use of weapons. And the word that was used for ‘weapons’ in these documents was arms. (The likeliest alternative, weapons, is much less frequent than arms in the Founders documents, and my impression is that the when weapons does appear, it occur in the same kinds of documents as arms does.)

Here are some examples of the uses of arms that I’m talking about (all of which are from the Founders collection):

About 4000 besides those in the Field will probably be the Number provided they can get Arms Accoutrements & Tents: but there is at present so lamentable a Deficiency in those Articles that I very much fear Difficulties

he found two men recently killed by the appearance of their blood being fresh with their packs and  arms lying by them, that he proceeded to Gage ’s Hill, from whence he had a good view of the Lake

of those who may be Collected, there will not be more than one fourth of them that will have their Arms, many of them you [ may ] depend have thrown away their Arms with an expectation of getting Home by it

Your application to Commodore Tilly for arms meets our approbation.

18th 1777Sir I have the Honour to enclose all the Accounts we have in the Office of the State of Arms & military Stores.

Notwithstanding the strict and repeated Orders , that have been given against firing small arms, it is hourly practised, All Officers commanding Guards, posts and detachments, to be alert in apprehending all future Trangressors.

And here are examples of uses from the COFEA Evans documents and from COEME in which arms means ‘weapons’:

This man had, in defiance of the king's proclamation, made a practice of selling arms and ammunition to the Indians, whom he employed in hunting and fowling for him [COFEA Evans]

The indictment also charges him with having assisted in procuring arms, which no doubt were to be employed against the government of the country [COFEA Evans]

Suppose a body of Frenchmen to arrive at Boston, with arms and ammunition, which men may carry for their own defence [COFEA Evans]

THE zeal of the tribe of Zebulun was conspicuous on the occasion. Fifty thousand of its citizens, with arms in their hands, marched to the capital [COFEA Evans]

On a day appointed, the inhabitants, by general consent took their arms, and surrounded a large swamp which they penetrated in every direction, as far as it was practicable; [COEME]

they may, by the same rule, oblige them to furnish cloaths, arms, and every other necessary [COEME]

In contrast to concordance lines I’ve just quoted from, here is a sample of those in which arms is used to in one of its senses related to the military and war-fighting:

I will impose upon myself the drugery of saying something about the transactions of the 28th, in which the American arms gained very signal advantages; and might have gained much more signal ones. [Founders]

I have the pleasure to congratulate your Excellency on the success of the American arms in this quarter, in the reduction of fort Slongo on Long Island on the morning of the 3d instant . The [Founders]

enemy are undoubtedly concentering their force, upon a presumption, that there is imminent danger of an attack by the united Arms of France and America. [Founders]

How far there is a moral Certainty of Extending the American Arms Into Canada In the Course of next Campaign [Founders]

How far there is a moral Certainty of Extending the American Arms Into Canada In the Course of next Campaign [Founders]

to Sir Henry Clinton, on the 12th of May. A series of ill success followed this unfortunate event. The American arms in South Carolina were in general unsuccesful, and the inhabitants were obliged to submit to the invaders [COFEA Evans]

Their feeling remonstrance was answered by contempt, while the cords of oppression were drawn still harder; till the arms of Britain appeared on our shore. Their feeling remonstrance was answered by contempt Their feeling remonstrance was answered by contempt [COFEA Evans]

From this period, the affairs of America assumed a promising aspect, aided by the victorious arms of France, and guided by the unerring councils of that accomplished general, consummate statesman, and most virtuous citizen [COFEA Evans]

an opportunity of asserting their natural right as an independent nation, and who were even compelled by the arms of their enemies to take sanctuary in the temple of Liberty [COFEA Evans]

Finally, I want to point out a finding from the data that was I hadn’t anticipated. The majority of the uses that I categorized as expressing the ‘military’ sense were phrasal uses. And the variety of those uses is truly impressive—I previously described those uses as a “profusion”—and most of them aren’t listed in the OED:

able to bear arms, appeal to arms, appear in arms, arise in arms, arms and  arts, bear arms [military sense], bear arms against, bear arms in defense of, call to arms (against), carry arms against, clangor of arms, clash of arms, companions in arms, din of arms, enter into arms, exercise of arms, feats of arms, flee to arms, following arms, force of arms, glory of arms, in arms (against), inequality of arms, into arms, issue of arms, lay down arms, lay/lie on arms, men at arms, profession of arms, recourse to arms, recur to arms, resort to arms, rise (up) in arms, rouse [somebody] to arms, roused to arms, run to arms, rush to arms, science of arms, slew to arms [should probably be "flew to arms,"], sound of arms, stand (forth) in arms, stand to (their) arms, stimulate [some person or entity] to arms, take arms (against), take to their arms, take up arms (against), taken in arms, terror of arms, throw down (their) arms, thunder of arms, to arms, took up arms, train[ed] to arms, try my right by arms, tumult of arms, turn arms against, under arms, up in arms (against), urge [somebody] to arms, victorious arms

Here are examples of some of these uses:

The astonishing Success of the French in overturning every Country into which they have carried their Arms, has not satisfied them, but only proved a new Stimulous to their Greedy ambition of becomeing masters of the World

the British nation , which threatened the destruction of our commerce. The American policy was to negotiate before an appeal to arms was made. An envoy extraordinary to Great Britain was appointed.

therefore the consequence of their attempt to enforce their arbitrary exactions, and Americans indignant fly to arms.

These conquests they have gained incomparably more by intrigue and duplicity than by force of arms. Solemn professions of friendship, and a desire of peace, have been made a shield to cover the dark

the affectionate fears of our friends , to have conducted it prosperously amidst the conflict of a world in arms; is a task , which only the ignorant and thoughtless will deem light . And to have executed this task , without many

How fortunate and happy was it for America that, when she was driven to the dire necessity of recurring to arms in self dcfence, her eyes were directed to this accomplished CAPTAIN, to command her armies and direct the

made toward the bank , the whole party tumultuously crying to order, and, with the directors at their head, rose in arms to defend it

to the dreadful alternative of submitting to arbitrary laws and despotic government; or of taking up arms in defence of those rights and privileges, which thou , in thy goodness , hast conferred upon them as men

are to be carried, and can be carried, only by force of the soldiery, and the terror of arms, it is proof abundant that they are unlawful and unconstitutional.

to cloak his design under the cover of Parliamentary sanction. It may be, he desired to urge America to arms; that being vanquished (which seems to have been taken as a granted point)

COMING NEXT: I previously said that wasn’t going to do a post about keep arms, because I didn’t think I had anything interesting to say about it. After further thought, I no longer think that. So the next post will be a short one about keep arms. That will be followed by a substantially longer post about bear arms and then a post about keep and bear arms. Those two posts will be the most important posts in this whole series, for obvious reasons. And finally I’ll wrap everything up with some general observations.

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Posted by Natalie Zutter

There is no single archetype of the female time traveler. She may be a young newlywed on her honeymoon, or a septuagenarian acting as a secret government weapon. She is black, or white, or from a future less concerned with skin color (but concerned with plenty otherwise). She is a writer, a river rehabilitator, a veteran of a World War. And no two travelers make the same passage through time and space: each of these intricate tales are brought about by everything from futuristic machinery to nanotechnology to magical stones.

Join us under the cut to meet six timestream-hopping women who have left their mark on history!

Note: We’re limiting this list to lady time travelers found in the pages of books—between the Doctor, River Song, Missy, and a delightfully long role-call of companions, we wouldn’t have the time or space for anyone else!


Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon)

While on her second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands, British Army nurse Claire hears a strange buzzing at the standing stones at Craigh na Dun. When she touches one of the stones, it sends her back in time 200-odd years, from 1946 to 1743. As a woman traveling through an unfamiliar time and land alone, Claire has it pretty good as a nurse (and later doctor)—her hard-won skills on the front translate well to saving Jamie Fraser and other Highlanders from what could be fatal injuries, and earn her some measure of respect and worth within her new family. However, standing out like that also gets her branded a witch, kidnapped more times than we can count, and in constant danger of being sexually assaulted. And yet, she lives to save another life.


Alice Payne and Prudence Zuniga (Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield)

Alice Payne Arrives introduced readers to two very different time travelers, separated by a century. In 1889, Major Prudence Zuniga has spent ten years attempting to change the murder-suicide of Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf and his lover—71 attempts at one small triumph in the time war between the “Farmers” and “Guides” in 2020. But she will need to stop obsessing over single points in history and instead consider a strategy that will eliminate the tug-of-war altogether… and that strategy means a new player, in the form of 1788 highway thief Alice Payne, a.k.a. The Holy Ghost.

Then again, considering that Alice’s adventures open the second installment with a kidnapped Arthur of Brittany and smallpox in 1780, and Prudence scrambling to keep these weapons out of “Misguided” hands in 2145, guns-blazing Alice may wind up changing the course of history more than Prudence ever suspected. Then again, while their approaches to time travel vary drastically, Alice and Prudence are surprised to find enough in common with one another that one has to wonder just how tangled up their timelines are…


Dana Franklin (Kindred by Octavia E. Butler)

It’s not a machine that transports young writer Edana from 1976 Los Angeles to an 1815 Baltimore slave plantation—nor secret technology, nor the magic of standing stones. It is simply the pull of the past, in the form of dizzy spells that transport her, again and again, into key points in the life of a boy (and later man) named Rufus; and which also serve as her way back, as each encounter turns increasingly dire. Each jump into the past is an opportunity for Dana to save Rufus’ life—from drowning, from a fire, from malaria—in order to ensure her own existence in the present. But the price for each act of mercy grows increasingly steep, as Dana herself becomes enslaved and must weigh how much to meddle in the life of Alice Greenwood, a free black woman and her ancestor, as Rufus morphs from innocent child to sadistic master. While Dana has little control over what keeps sending her back, she takes control of her past, changing it from something that happens to her and her ancestors, to something on which she exerts influence instead.


Valentina Lidova (Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds)

Don’t let anyone tell you that time travel is a young woman’s pastime; Valentina, a seventy-something schoolteacher futilely teaching Earth’s final generation of children, joins project Permafrost, a group gathered to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. As the daughter of famed (and then infamous) mathematician Luba Lidova, Valentina had a front-row seat to her mother’s audacious discoveries about what would come to be known as Luba Pairs, twinned electrons able to connect over time and space. As it turns out, her mother was on the money: in 2080, Valentina and the other Permafrost “pilots” willingly allow neural nanotechnology into their brains and send time-probes into unwilling hosts in the past—hoping to take over host bodies in 2028 in order to make one small change that will save their bleak future. Becoming time-embedded is not for the feeble-minded.


Minh (Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson)

For Minh, a “plague baby” who repairs rivers for a living in 2267, time travel is a whole bunch of tourism nonsense that stole all of the funding for her projects meant to save the world—the planet that she and her generation left their underground bunkers to try and return to its former condition. But once the Temporal Economic Research Node (TERN) was established, people in Minh’s time stopped caring about reversing their present ecological collapse, when instead they could distract themselves with trips to the glory days of the past. Minh sneers at time travel… until TERN becomes her source of funding, offering up the opportunity to survey the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers themselves… back in 2000 B.C.

Minh and her team’s exhaustive drafting of proposals, slashing through bureaucratic red tape, and dismantling of intimidating NDAs finally pays off with the kind of research project that she could never have dreamed of, but she’s too busy thinking about the rivers to consider what impact their job has on the people of Mesopotamia. That definitely wasn’t covered in the proposal, but this scientist is nothing if not adaptable. Oh, and did we mention that Minh is 80 and has prosthetic legs—six tentacle-like ones, to boot? That’s one badass time traveler who won’t be forgotten soon.


Who are your favorite female time travelers?

'A Form of Tyranny.'

Feb. 20th, 2019 03:38 pm
smokingboot: (anger)
[personal profile] smokingboot
A moment's frailty: I am ill. This cold has destroyed my sinuses and filled my head with snotty cotton. Everything is disgusting.

Everything else? So 7 Labour MPs break away, and they are reviled as traitors and villains. Is it about anti-semitism? I don't understand the state of public opinion which says we must believe a woman who says she has been assaulted, but not if she is a Jewish woman complaining of being harassed in the Labour party. What made her suddenly less believable?

From the little I have seen, Jezzah's no anti-semite. I think he, like many people on the left and everywhere else, are not pleased with the Israeli government's policy re Palestine, and yes, feelings regarding Palestine do sometimes lead to a regretful vehemence. But the people who paint swastikas are not lefties. This sort of this stuff isn't Labour's way, but something has gone amiss, the lady feels bullied, and it hasn't been dealt with. This doesn't surprise me as Jezzah doesn't deal with anything.

I can't believe, among my friends, that I am seeing such anger. Or rather, among friends who know each other and are close. I argued with some friends re Brexit, and though I lost a couple, they were not dear. Where those pre-conditions existed, we agreed to disagree. But this, among people who like each other and supposedly give each other credit for good will? And then just as we are hearing this stuff about Momentum purging out its moderates, Tories leave the Conservative party, and Anna Soubry details the harassment happening in the blue corner.


It's just the same. Each side heading more towards the fringes, trying to remove/deselect/silence those who don't share the Glorious Vision. Over to the Right. Over to the Left. And we are following them.

Today's old cliche, for this new form of tyranny.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I write this and suddenly the room seems very cold. Just a little virus giving me the shudders is all.

Reading Wednesday

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:17 am
muccamukk: Gregory Peck looks up from the book he's reading. (Books: Hello Reading)
[personal profile] muccamukk
What I Just Finished Reading
The Great Cowboy Strike by Mark A. Lause
Unreadably bad, DNF at about sixty pages. I've trudged through a lot of poorly-written non-fiction, but this was something else. Topics jumped wildly between paragraphs, there was no filtering between what details someone needed to know (how the fucking cattle industry worked) and what they didn't (what day a minor character was baptised). I think I got it for free, anyway.

Ike’s Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler by Peter Shinkle, narrated by Grover Gardner.
Robert Cutler was a Republican from a wealthy Boston family who served in WWII as a logistics type (organised soldier voting, mostly, also holy shit, most southern states didn't let soldiers vote at all! In WWII!), on Ike's election campaign, and then invented and occupied the post of National Security Advisor for most of the Eisenhower years. He was also queer as a three dollar bill, very much in the Wildian grand romantic feelings school, only he doesn't actually seem to have been getting laid that much/at all.

The first main thread of the book is Cutler's homosexuality, which largely took the form of what socially acceptable crossdressing he could pull off, pining in an epic way after a variety of (much) younger men, and various manoeuvrers to keep his job with McCarthy and Hoover sniffing at the door. The book laid out a lot of the social mores of post-War mainstream society, as well as gay male culture's methods of surviving them (moving to Paris was popular). Probably more interesting than Cutler was his primary object of affection, who was (unfortunately for Cutler) of the butch screw lots of guys and have as few feelings as possible school. The love interest also wrote a surprising number of sexually frank letters, considering it was 1948 and he was in intelligence work! The endless unrequited love and angst about unrequited love got somewhat tiresome in the last third.

The second main thread was how the White House intelligence apparatus worked in the '50s. The author is arguing that the system that Cutler developed--wherein the role of the security advisor is to gather people and information and present all sides impartially to the president, usually in form of the president sitting in on debates and reading a lot of papers--is better than the later school where the advisor offers advise, having crunched all that info beforehand. This seems pretty sensible to me, but meanwhile on this system everyone thought listening to the Dullas brothers, starting coups in like five different countries, getting involved in Vietnam, and doubling down on the nuclear arms race were totally the best ideas ever. I mean, I guess it's hard to argue a counterfactual, maybe without that kind of council post-War imperialism would have been worse? Or everyone would have just nuked each other?

The author had a pretty good hand at not trying to excuse Cutler when he was, say, advocating for the overthrow of Guatemalan democracy on behalf of United Fruit (who had him in their pocket). He's probably a little defensive of his subject in some other areas, but overall it felt balanced. Could have used about a third fewer diary entries.

What I'm Reading Now
Audio: The Tango War: The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds and Riches of Latin America During World War II by Mary Jo McConahay, narrated by Elizabeth Wiley. Very much by an American, not by someone from any of the Latin American countries, though at least McConahay worked in Brazil for ten years. She references a fair number of memoirs and histories written by Latin American authors, which I should track down. I'm a little over half way through and it's pretty interesting. Fun fact: the US government kidnapped Japanese families from Peru and put them in interment camps in the US in order to trade them to Japan for US civilians.

Library: Blood and Daring: How Canada Fought the American Civil War and Forged a Nation by John Boyko. About half way through this. It is indeed just not going to mention first nations after Tecumseh. However, there's a lot of US/Canada interaction in that period that I hadn't learned about before, as well as retreading the Trent crisis and hitting up Emma Edwards again. Seward: "I definitely think Invading Canada and starting a war with Great Britain would help us defeat the rebels!" Lincoln: "...would it tho?"

What I'm Reading Next
Got a bunch of short canlit things on my e-reader, may try those.
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Posted by elgilito

In 1980, Robert Faurisson, the late father figure of Holocaust revisionism, sent fellow denier Jean-Claude Pressac, a Nazism-obsessed pharmacist, to the archives of the Auschwitz Museum. Faurisson wanted him to find proof of his theories, but Pressac, immersed in the archives of the SS Construction management Office, found instead irrefutable proof of the use of the gas chambers as a tool of mass murder. Breaking with Faurisson, Pressac kept on investigating and eventually published in 1989 Auschwitz: Technique and Operation of the Gas Chambers (also), an extensive, meticulously researched monography. In the postface, Pressac chronicles the tormented path that led him from being a "travelling companion" of revisionism to being an authoritative Holocaust historian. He later worked on Russian archives until his death in 2003.

From the postface:
Technically, I wanted to know exactly how the "mills" of Auschwitz were organized and the details of their inner workings. I must admit that I scarcely gave a thought to the victims, not even knowing that the majority of them were women and children. Jews, apparently. What did it matter, I knew none and a good deal of the literature available up to 1945 stated in all manner of ways that they should be thrown out because they, the "cosmopolitans", were destroying our "old France" that belonged to us, Chauvinist French patriots. As I was working on Birkenau, I was obliged to meet these famous Jews. In the end, it was not the Hoess autobiography or the archive documents, the drawings, the original photographs or the ruins of the Krematorium that turned my initial ideas inside out, but the modest and simple testimony of Mr. Zylbermine, as he told me his story in detail during a whole afternoon. For him, it was very painful. As for me, I could never be the same again. He succeeded in injecting his memories, which I now carry in myself. I had the impression of lifting the lid of the cauldron of Hell, a thing I am in no hurry to do again.

As this NYT article shows, Pressac's insistence on relying on documentary proof while discounting testimonies rubbed people the wrong way, including some survivors. He seems to have been abrasive with anyone his disagreed with, butted heads with or disparaged fellow historians, was not exactly humble, and remains to this day a controversial figure. As writes Nicole Lapierre, Pressac's work was "groundbreaking as it was among the first to highlight the technical dimension of the genocide" but offered a "limited view when historical approaches should include both the proven truth and the experienced truth".

All-New Ghost Rider: Vocation

Feb. 20th, 2019 08:02 am
rokhal: Close up view of a python's eye (Default)
[personal profile] rokhal posting in [community profile] fan_flashworks
Title: Vocation
Fandom: All-New Ghost Rider (Marvel Comics)
Challenge: Note 
Rating: PG-13
Length: 5k
Content notes: Cursing.
Summary: Newly-disabled young gangster Guero Valdez tracks down Ramon "El Perro Rabioso" Cordova for an interview for the school paper.

Read more... )
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Posted by Tor.com

Aurealis Awards finalists nominees shortlist

The Continuum Foundation (ConFound) has announced this year’s finalists for the 2018 Aurealis Awards. We’re delighted to report that two books from Tor.com Publishing, Corey J. White’s Static Ruin and Kirstyn McDermott’s Triquetra, have been nominated, as well as Sam Hawke’s City of Lies, which was published by Tor Books in the U.S., and Penguin Random House in Australia. The winners of the 2018 Aurealis Awards, Sara Douglass Book Series Award, and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, which will be held in Melbourne on Saturday May 4, 2019.

Click through for the full list and congratulations to all the finalists!


  • The Relic of the Blue Dragon, Rebecca Lim (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Slightly Alarming Tales of the Whispering Wars, Jaclyn Moriarty (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Endsister, Penni Russon (Allen & Unwin)
  • Secret Guardians, Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Ting Ting the Ghosthunter, Gabrielle Wang (Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt, Rhiannon Williams (Hardie Grant Egmont)


  • Deathship Jenny, Rob O’Connor (self-published)
  • Cicada, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
  • Tales from The Inner City, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)


  • “A Robot Like Me,” Lee Cope (Mother of Invention, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Moon Collector,” D K Mok (Under the Full Moon’s Light, Owl Hollow Press)
  • “The Sea-Maker of Darmid Bay,” Shauna O’Meara (Interzone #277, TTA Press)
  • “Eight-Step Koan,” Anya Ow (Sword and Sonnet, Ate Bit Bear)
  • “For Weirdless Days and Weary Nights,” Deborah Sheldon (Breach #08)


  • “The Offering,” Michael Gardner (Aurealis #112)
  • “Slither,”  Jason Nahrung (Cthulhu Deep Down Under Volume 2, IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • “By Kindle Light,”  Jessica Nelson-Tyers (Antipodean SF #235)
  • “Hit and Rot,” Jessica Nelson-Tyers (Breach #08)
  • “Sub-Urban,” Alfie Simpson (Breach #07)
  • “The Further Shore,” J Ashley Smith (Bourbon Penn #15)


  • “Andromeda Ascends,” Matthew R Davis (Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, Things In The Well)
  • “Kopura Rising,” David Kuraria (Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud, IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • “The Black Sea,” Chris Mason (Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, Things In The Well)
  • Triquetra, Kirstyn McDermott (Tor.com)
  • “With This Needle I Thee Thread,” Angela Rega (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Crisis Apparition, Kaaron Warren (Dark Moon Books)


  • “Crying Demon,” Alan Baxter (Suspended in Dusk 2, Grey Matter Press)
  • “Army Men,” Juliet Marillier (Of Gods and Globes, Lancelot Schaubert)
  • “The Further Shore,” J Ashley Smith (Bourbon Penn #15)
  • “Child of the Emptyness,” Amanda J Spedding (Grimdark Magazine #17)
  • “A Moment’s Peace,” Dave Versace (A Hand of Knaves, CSFG Publishing)
  • “Heartwood, Sapwood, Spring,” Suzanne J Willis (Sword and Sonnet, Ate Bit Bear)


  • “This Side of the Wall,” Michael Gardner (Metaphorosis Magazine, January 2018)
  • “Beautiful,” Juliet Marillier (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “The Staff in the Stone,” Garth Nix (The Book of Magic, Penguin Random House)
  • Merry Happy Valkyrie, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • The Dressmaker and the Colonel’s Coat,” David Versace (Mnemo’s Memory and Other Fantastic Tales, self-published)
  • The Dragon’s Child, Janeen Webb (PS Publishing)


  • “The Sixes, The Wisdom and the Wasp,” E J Delaney (Escape Pod)
  • “The Fallen,” Pamela Jeffs (Red Hour, Four Ink Press)
  • “On the Consequences of Clinically-Inhibited Maturation in the Common Sydney Octopus,” Simon Petrie & Edwina Harvey (A Hand of Knaves, CSFG)
  • “A Fair Wind off Baracoa,” Robert Porteous (Hand of Knaves, CSFG)
  • “The Astronaut,” Jen White (Aurealis)


  • “I Almost Went To The Library Last Night,” Joanne Anderton (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • The Starling Requiem, Jodi Cleghorn (eMergent Publishing)
  • Icefall, Stephanie Gunn (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Pinion,” Stephanie Gunn (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “Singles’ Day,” Samantha Murray (Interzone #277, TTA Press)
  • Static Ruin, Corey J White (Tor.com)


  • Not Quite the End of the World Just Yet, Peter M Ball (Brain Jar Press)
  • Phantom Limbs, Margo Lanagan (PS Publishing)
  • Tales from The Inner City, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Exploring Dark Short Fiction #2: A Primer to Kaaron Warren, Kaaron Warren (Dark Moon Books)


  • Sword and Sonnet, Aiden Doyle, Rachael K Jones & E Catherine Tobler (Ate Bit Bear)
  • Aurum, Russell B Farr (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Mother of Invention, Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Infinity’s End, Jonathan Strahan (Solaris)
  • The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year, Jonathan Strahan (Solaris)


  • Small Spaces, Sarah Epstein (Walker Books Australia)
  • Lifel1k3, Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Catching Teller Crow, Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina (Allen & Unwin)
  • His Name was Walter, Emily Rodda (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • A Curse of Ash and Embers, Jo Spurrier (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Impostors, Scott Westerfeld (Allen & Unwin)


  • The Bus on Thursday, Shirley Barrett (Allen & Unwin)
  • Years of the Wolf, Craig Cormick (IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • Tide of Stone, Kaaron Warren (Omnium Gatherum)


  • Devouring Dark, Alan Baxter (Grey Matter Press)
  • Lady Helen and the Dark Days Deceit, Alison Goodman (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • City of Lies, Sam Hawke (Penguin Random House)
  • Lightning Tracks, Alethea Kinsela (Plainspeak Publishing)
  • The Witch Who Courted Death, Maria Lewis (Hachette Australia)
  • We Ride the Storm, Devin Madson (self-published)


  • Scales of Empire, Kylie Chan (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Obsidio, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Lifel1k3, Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Dyschronia, Jennifer Mills (Picador Australia)
  • A Superior Spectre, Angela Meyer (Ventura Press)
  • The Second Cure, Margaret Morgan (Penguin Random House)

Head over to The Aurealis Awards site for more information!

musesfool: Daisy Ridley as Rey with lightsaber (you were not mine to save)
[personal profile] musesfool
It seems that what I'm reading Wednesday has rolled around once more!

What I've just finished
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw, which starts out slow and clunky, but picks up once the plot kicks in for real. I enjoyed it, and I'll probably read the next one eventually, but it didn't grab me (see again, my lack of interest in vampires).

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole. Which was a free Tor ebook download, and I almost always download free books without looking to see whether I'll actually be interested in them. I recognized the author's name - I thought he wrote military SF, but this is straight up fantasy and didn't imo, live up to the cool cover image. It wasn't what I was expecting and that is on me, so it's probably says more about me than the story that I didn't enjoy it much.

I also read a very long fic that I ended up not caring for because the initial premise was super interesting, but there were some serious off notes in the characterization and then it got to the climax of the story and I was like, "who even are these people?" because the characters I know and love would never do this*! So that was a lot of time spent reading something that just made me go WTF? and not in a good way. Sigh.

*Not to go into a big long thing on characterization, but I can believe a multitude of different things for many different characters but some things for some characters I just can't believe, and at the climax, this story hit that point for multiple characters.

What I'm reading now
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie, which was recommended by one of you? I think? I'm enjoying it so far. Cooking and the mafia and bantery romance! Three of my favorite things to read about!

What I'm reading next
It is, as always, a mystery. But not necessarily a genre mystery? Just...I don't know okay. I don't know why I leave this on here every week!

In other "File under: Cool things" news, Lightsaber dueling is now an official sport in France. C'est incroyable! En garde! (and that is about the limit of my French.) Thanks to [personal profile] tsuki_no_bara for the link!

caveat_lector: (Default)
[personal profile] caveat_lector posting in [community profile] fan_flashworks
Title: Pretty Like a Girl
Fandom: The Libertines
Pairing: Peter Doherty/Carl Barât
Reader's name: [personal profile] caveat_lector
Author's name: Cobblestoner
Link to text version of story: Pretty Like a Girl
Rating: Mature (for sex and language)
Length/file size: 26.58 min, 24.9Mb mp3
Content notes: Lots of swearing. Implied open relationship.
Podficcer's notes: No sound effects or drastic volume changes. Short intro music (simple keyboard) and a tiny bit of singing. Also for the 'one night only' square on my bingo card.
Summary: Set in current day. Carl has a breakthrough.

'Pretty Like a Girl' at Dropbox.

4theWords? + mishmash post

Feb. 20th, 2019 11:28 am
umadoshi: (Jessica Jones 01 (bangparty))
[personal profile] umadoshi
I'm trying to decide whether I should finally give 4theWords a shot, since right now (until tomorrow) creating an account gives an extra fifteen days on top of the regular free trial. I did the demo the other night, and it seems possible that the site has the kind of elements my brain seems to latch onto, which would be such a perk if it's something I actually want to be doing instead of something I repeatedly discover I've sunk hours into with nothing to show for it.

I know some of you use the site, but I don't remember who. What do you like about it? And on a practical note, a) is it as simple as C&Ping to extract your new text out into your own files? and b) do you have to leave copies of the new words on the site so they'll keep counting towards games/rewards/what have you, or does it just track the words as you write them and not need to otherwise count them?

--This morning I hurried out of bed when the doorbell rang, and the delivery person who'd rung it was driving off by the time I got down to the front door. That's annoyingly typical, but whatever. But oh, this poor package has clearly been through the wars--the box is bent out of shape and covered in tape. And it's not for us. *facepalm* So at some point one of us will have to go drop the poor thing off with the neighbor it actually belongs to, and hope for their sake that the contents are intact. ("It was like this when I got it, I swear." *sighs*)

--I'm not surprised that Jessica Jones has been canceled (along with The Punisher), but I'm heartbroken and worried about season 3, even though the articles I've seen claim that S3 will still air. *frets angrily*

--Last night [personal profile] scruloose and I went out so I could finally get blood taken for (not-urgent) tests that were requisitioned at the beginning of October. >.> just a bit about blood draw--and mostly about tattoos )

So that just leaves one outstanding medical thing I need to look into, which is sleep apnea testing; I have to get in touch with the clinic my GP recommended and ask if I need an appointment to set up testing (which I gather is done with equipment they send home with you) or if I can just drop by with my doctor's note/prescription. Will I get this last thing done before Casual Job revs up a week from tomorrow? TENTERHOOKS.
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Posted by James Davis Nicoll

For various reasons—mainly the use of sexual assault as plot parsley—I haven’t been following HBO’s Game of Thrones. That’s not, however, going to stop me from suggesting other SFF book series that might survive the transition to television. After all, everyone else is doing it…

The candidates should be series of at least three books or more—preferably complete. I mean, we wouldn’t want the TV writers to have to imagine their own ending. (Nor would we want the writers to re-imagine the ending. Just to make that clear.) Here are a few that more than fit the bill…


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from television it is that one should under no circumstances move to Midsomer everyone loves a good mystery. People also seem to like unusual detectives: best-selling authors, nosy spinsters, gardeners. Or priests. It seems to me that if Father Brown can carry a series, so too could Acatl, High Priest of Mictlantecuhtli, protagonist of Aliette de Bodard’s Obsidian and Blood trilogy: Servant of the Underworld (2010), Harbinger of the Storm (2011), and Master of the House of Darts (2011). Acatl serves the Aztec god of Death; it’s his duty to deal with the dead. Mysterious deaths require closer attention. Acatl often finds himself playing detective. Unlike most modern-day detectives, Acatl must sometimes suspect the gods themselves.


Rebecca Ore’s Becoming Alien trilogy—Becoming Alien (1988), Being Alien (1989), and Human to Human (1990)—focuses on Tom Gentry, an American teenager who is in the right place at the right time to aid Alpha, a covert alien observer. Unfortunately for the alien envoy, Tom is a troubled kid on the fast track to prison; his older brother is worse. By the time Alpha’s co-workers arrive, Alpha is dead. The aliens replace Alpha with Tom, drafting him as a junior Federation diplomat. Tom must reinvent himself or die trying.


Joan Vinge’s Snow Queen Cycle—The Snow Queen (1980), World’s End (1984), The Summer Queen (1991), and Tangled Up in Blue (2000)—is really two intersecting series. One focuses on Moon, a young woman whom the planet Tiamat’s ruler, Arienrhod, has groomed to replace her as ritual sacrifice. Things do not work out as Arienrhod had planned. The other series focuses on BZ Gundhalinu, a dutiful policeman best described as “fate’s chew toy.” The two protagonists, Moon and BZ, reshape galactic politics and find true love. Eventually.


The plot of Jo Clayton’s Duel of Sorcery trilogy—Moongather (1982), Moonscatter (1983), and Changer’s Moon (1985)—is set in motion by Ser Noris, a formidable magician who has achieved all the power he had ever desired … and is bored. Tired of reshaping worlds, Noris decides to destroy them, instead. The only thing standing between Ser Noris and the end of the world(s) is one green-skinned mutant sorceress named Serroi. As a girl, Serroi was traumatized by a first encounter with Ser Noris. Yet she persists in her defiance and saves the world. Again, eventually.

If this series were to be produced, and if viewers were to like it, a possible second Clayton series might build on the Dancer Trilogy.


Melissa Scott and Jo Graham’s Order of the Air series—Lost Things (2012), Steel Blues (2013), Silver Bullet (2014), Wind Raker (2014), and Oath Bound (2016)—is a secret-history series set in the years immediately prior to the Second World War. Unbeknownst to common folk, the world is rich in occult relics—all of them sealed evil in a can. Dig one up and DOOM! But fools keep digging them up, leading to interesting plot complications. Our protagonists (a whole slew of them; they are both a company and a family of choice) fly aeroplanes. (“Aeroplanes” because this is the 1930s, kids.) Imagine the spectacular scenery and edge-of-your-seat air races! Plus polyamory, queer love, consensual BDSM, and more! Hollywood, this one has your name on it…


Finally, Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura encompasses five novels and two collections: seasons and seasons worth of material. Set in a secondary world with a forgotten history and a bewildering abundance of intelligent tool users, the series begins with a seemingly straightforward question—Who or what exactly is the protagonist, Moon?—before blooming into an exotic bouquet of plots that should keep viewers glued to their screens for many episodes to come.


Yo, Hollywood execs, you hear me? Load up the money truck and let’s make some television magic…

In the words of Wikipedia editor TexasAndroid, prolific book reviewer and perennial Darwin Award nominee James Davis Nicoll is of “questionable notability.” His work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times as well as on his own websites, James Nicoll Reviews and Young People Read Old SFF (where he is assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and web person Adrienne L. Travis). He is surprisingly flammable.

Johnson and Roosevelt Democrats

Feb. 20th, 2019 10:04 am
dpolicar: (Default)
[personal profile] dpolicar
Regular readers have heard me discuss at great length over the last decade or two my model of the partisan schism the U.S. is in the middle of. (1)

One thing I've been thinking about lately is the relationship between what I'll call the "Johnson (J) model" here, where the important voter split is largely defined by support for/opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its spiritual descendents, and what I'll call the "Roosevelt (R) model", where the important voter split is largely defined by support for/opposition to the New Deal of the 30s and its spiritual descendents.

Team C/D disputes are often framed in J/R terms, where team C condemns team D for "ignoring racial injustice," and team D condemns team C for "prioritizing identity politics over economic justice".

And I thought I had more to say about that when I started, but I guess I just wanted to clarify my categories for myself.

So, OK... there we are.


(1) As a quick refresher, I model voters as falling into four buckets:
- team A, what some people call "reactionaries" (2)
- team B, what some people call "conservatives" (2)
- team C, what some people call "liberals" (2)
- team D, what some people call "progressives" (2)

Since the CRA, U.S. politics have been defined by the Republican party, supported by A and B, and the Democratic party, supported by C and D.

When I was younger, team B controlled the Republican party and formed a transactional coalition with team A to win elections. Since Reagan, team A has grown increasingly powerful, which creates conflict in the Party. That process has become more readily visible now that they've elected Trump, a team A candidate par excellence... that seemed inconceivable five years ago.

When I was younger, team C controlled the Democratic party and formed a transactional coalition with team D to win elections. Over the last decade or so team D has grown increasingly powerful, which creates conflict conflict in the Party. That process has become more readily visible now that Sanders is attracting team D support.

And the way I expect this process to play out over time is that team A will increasingly dominate the Republican party; team B will increasingly become alienated by the Republican party and find more and more common cause with team-C Democrats; team D will increasingly become alienated by the (B-C) coalition that controls the Democratic party and form its own political party, and ultimately we'll find ourselves with a two-party system where Democrats are the conservative party.

And the process of getting there will be heartbreaking.

(2) There are dozens of other labels, of course.

Team A are "Trump supporters" or "Tea Party Republicans" or "the white working class" or "white supremacists" or "Nazis" or "real Americans" or "the Far Right," depending on who is speaking to whom.

Team B are "moderates" or "centrists" or "Republicans" or "sensible Americans" or "neoliberals" or "ordinary Americans" or "the white working class" or "Nazi collaborators" or "the Right," depending on who is speaking to whom.

Team C are "centrists" or "neoliberals" or "Democrats" or "sensible Americans" or "socialists" or "Republican-lite" or "communists" or "the Left," depending on who is speaking to whom.

Team D are "the Left" or "the Far Left" or "Bernie Democrats" or "socialists" or "communists" or "democratic socialists" or "sensible Americans" or "radical extremists" or "the people," depending on who is speaking to whom.

Old Media

Feb. 20th, 2019 02:00 pm
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Posted by Annalee Newitz

The story of a freed slave and a robot professor, trying to figure out what it means to be in love while they watch old anime from the 21st century.



August 2, 2145

They were in the back room making out. What else were they supposed to do on a slow afternoon when nobody came into the store? Michael had taken his goggles off and John was kissing the soft skin of his eyelids while simultaneously groping for some kind of access point into Michael’s extremely tight pants.

Out front, Bella was reading the music feeds in her goggles and not even remotely pretending to ignore them.

“You sound like rutting moosen!” She’d taken to using a fake plural form of “moose” for her own whimsical reasons. “Don’t get any fluids on the goddamn merchandise!”

For some reason, John could not stop laughing at the moose plural joke. Every time he caught his breath, another fit of giggling would rob him of it, until at last he sank dizzily to his knees. He steadied himself by hooking fingers into Michael’s waistband and looking up at his friend, also laughing, amused by John’s amusement.

Michael was studying paleontology at the University of Saskatchewan, and had been trying to grow authentic dinosaur feathers on his head for weeks. Thick red and white down stuck out of his pale blond hair on flexible quills, perfectly framing his wide blue eyes and the short puff of his beard. John thought the full effect made him look almost comically Western, like an English barbarian from the old anime feeds he liked to watch.

But it was also kind of sexy. And here he was, right in the perfect spot to unlock the grippers holding Michael’s tight pants in place. Even when Bella started making extremely realistic moose noises, John was undeterred in his quest to make Michael tremble with more than laughter.

Afterward they both slid to the floor, resting their slightly damp backs against the wall. A languid sense of goodwill spread from John’s extremities upward to his brain. He liked it back here beyond the Employees Only sign, staring at the dusty, half-biodegraded boxes of recent arrivals. Bella bought most of her merchandise from estate sales and warehouses on the prairies, but a lot came from customers in Saskatoon too. Tuesdays and Thursdays were buyer days, and there was always a boisterous line of what seemed to John a completely random assortment of people: aging hipsters with party clothes from the ’20s; college students wanting to trade armor for shreds or vice versa; grandmothers with unbelievable treasures like the ash pleather 2090s boots he was wearing right now; and people from far up north who’d heard the kids were obsessed with old all-weathers and wanted to make a few credits while their families loaded up on supplies at the farm co-op.

It made John think of times before he was born, long before his shit life, or at least the shitty parts of his relatively okay life. Last year at this time… he didn’t want to think about it. Every night he told himself he was safe now, gone legit with a name and a franchise. Nobody owned him anymore. He stared harder at a box overflowing with self-repairing scarves from indeterminate time periods. Maybe they were made yesterday. Maybe sixty years ago.

Michael was nuzzling his neck, dinofuzz tickling John’s ear. He tugged John’s collar down to get a better angle and made a murmuring noise when he saw the brand.

“I like your sexy scar. What do these numbers mean? Zed-nine-one-four-three-zed?”

John pulled away and felt every muscle in his body stiffen. The familiar numbness oozed down his neck into his torso, killing contentment as it spread.

“It’s nothing. Just from when I was young and stupid.”

“Is it a special date or something?”

“That was my identification number when I was a slave, sweetie. Didn’t you know?” John made his tone so sarcastic that Michael snorted out a chuckle. Sometimes the truth, told right, was the best lie.

Beyond the door, John heard the sound of customers—a big group, their voices merging into a wave of indistinct, excited sounds. Probably party shopping. Bella might need help. He stood up abruptly and left Michael lounging among piles of textiles that proved the world had existed long before John was in it.


August 3, 2145

Until this past year, John never had access control over his own room. He and the other boys lived in the indenture school dormitory, and bedtime was when the supervisor wiped his hand over the lock and let them in. If he let them in. Sometimes there was a just-in-time job on a batch of engines, and they worked for twenty-four hours straight. He still sometimes felt an ache in his fingers from doing post-production on each part as it came out of the extruder in the icy 3-D printer room. Still, when they were back in the dorms, John usually figured out how to escape again. He wanted access to the public net, and there was one particular admin who had a weakness for brown boys from down south. John spent a lot of nights writing in the admin’s cramped cubicle, mostly naked, focusing intently on comments in his journal feed so he could tune out his benefactor’s creepy gaze.

But now he was here, sharing an apartment in Saskatoon with the only person on Earth who knew his old names: Threezed and Slaveboy. When he met Med last year, he confessed that he’d been writing a journal on Memeland under the name Slaveboy. It turned out she was a fan. He’d never actually met one of his followers in person, and decided impulsively that they would be friends forever. It turned out to be the best decision he’d ever made in his roughly twenty years on Earth.

The door clicked open as he arrived and whistled its “hello” tune. He and Med were supremely lazy about programming the place beyond the basics, so he kicked the wall to turn on the lights and start the kitchen. The warm indoor air smelled faintly of fish sauce and frying garlic from somewhere else in the building.

Maybe one day he’d get tired of the contours of this apartment with its minimal furnishings. But it was hard to imagine ever getting enough of its safe shape, the kitchen booting up alongside him and a slice of his bed visible beyond a mostly closed curtain. It was only when he was alone like this, in complete silence, that John allowed himself to believe he was still alive. The quiet was like one of those silver emergency blankets he’d seen in twentieth-century American movies. It was the way the fantastically kind police wrapped you up after they’d rescued everybody from the monsters, the fire, the tidal waves, the buildings falling from space, the evil robots, the shadow animals, and the ghosts of every dead person wronged by the living.

A memory invaded him, unbidden, like a hiccup of pain.

Last year, he’d found sanctuary in Saskatoon. John’s new master wasn’t like the other ones, at least in some ways. She was a scientist, and she was working on some kind of secret project with Med. He didn’t understand everything about what they were doing, but he knew they were trying to help people who’d gotten addicted to corporate pharma. After the project went live, his master went into hiding. She left him behind with Med—but not before buying him a franchise that granted him full rights in the city. That night, he kept activating the readout from his chip on the mobile’s login screen: Enfranchised. The English word morphed in his mind as he tried to feel its reality. Enfranchised, enchanted, ineluctable, incredulous

Maybe the warm feeling in his back was actually a lack of feeling. A lack of fear. He had a vivid recollection of how the lab smelled in that moment of unburdening, a mixture of crushed grass and coffee.

That’s when Med sat up rigidly, hands flat on the lab bench. She turned to him, her eyes blank. “Get out of here, now!” And then she stood, grabbed him with a shocking strength, and dragged him to the back exit. “Go!”

He glanced back to see what Med had sensed wirelessly: agents arriving, the ones who’d been chasing his old master. A man and a huge, armored bot from the property police. He turned back just once before he fled, and thought he saw Med transform into an avenging angel. Only she was better than an angel. She was real, made of carbon alloy and flesh, not feathers and faith. She’d saved him. Possibly she’d even saved the world.


John breathed shallowly, trying to make himself as soundless as the room. Nobody could hear him. He was safe. It wasn’t like last time; the agents were long gone. He held his breath for five serene seconds before the Yummy Pan made an irritated noise and he knew he should start making dinner.

He was scooping protein-flecked porridge into a bowl when Med opened the door. She looked like a textbook example of the absent-minded professor, blond hair perfectly pinned back and lab coat perfectly rumpled.

“How nice that you’re eating tissue from extinct amphibians.” Med could identify almost anything by smell, though she rarely mentioned it around humans. It made them too self-conscious, especially when they realized her abilities extended to smelling where they had been—and sometimes even their emotional states.

Still, for all her robot superpowers, Med couldn’t really master the art of sarcasm. Partly that was because she wasn’t a very sarcastic person, and partly because John always did something silly to undermine her deadpan cool.

“I love fake frog.” He took an exaggeratedly large bite. “Mmmm, the taste of synthetic biology.” He posed with the spoon and bowl next to his face, like the preternaturally cheerful kid in the ads for Yummy Pan. For some reason, it never failed to make Med grin. Her goofy expression hovered briefly over his memory of that long-ago divine fury, and John had to pull himself back sharply from giving a name to what she made him feel.


August 4, 2145

The library’s Media Experience Lab was the result of some big grant the university got back in the 2120s, and it hadn’t been updated since. The signs were all done in those old animated fonts that switched back and forth between puffy rainbow letters and classical serif typefaces. Foam chairs, once luxuriously padded and tricked out with knobs for adjusting everything to ergonomic perfection, were mashed into submission, stuck in awkward positions that only worked for really tall people or really short ones who wanted to sit bolt upright. Somebody had made the streaming cubicles out of fake recycled materials, so you could watch twenty-first century immersives while surrounded by biofibers imitating plastic imitating wood. John thought the saddest part of the whole retro setup—but also possibly the most adorable—was the dusty Innerfire cube, installed when everybody thought full-body experience implants were right around the corner. In all his months coming here, he had never seen anyone go inside.

John slid into his favorite booth next to the back wall. He could watch everyone coming in while also keeping an eye on his monitor, currently streaming a century-old comedy anime called Ouran High School Host Club. He liked the story, about a girl named Haruhi pretending to be a boy, learning all the bizarre things boys do to make themselves seem more attractive. Haruhi was so charming in her suit and tie that all the girls requested “him” at the host club. She had no choice but to keep up the charade, because she was a poor scholarship student at an elite high school, and she owed the other hosts money. John swept a few of the episodes onto his mobile, stashing them to show Med later as yet another example of weird human culture.

After two quarters auditing classes, John was going to matriculate as a freshman. It still didn’t feel real. The city franchise got you more than he ever imagined he’d have, back when he was slaved to the factory. Free education, free medical, free net connection, and freedom to live and work anywhere in the Saskatoon metropolitan area. A new implant that broadcast his new identity: John Chen, normal free boy from an exurb called Lucky Lake. No indenture record. No record at all, other than a secure enclave bioprocessor that verified his identity to the city co-op.

Out of the blankness of his digital past he’d made an entire imaginary history for himself, in case anyone asked. Homeschooled, he would say. Mostly worked on agricultural bot repair, keeping the sensors, planters, and harvesters updated with the latest patches and hardware tweaks. At twenty-one, he was older than average for a student, but he fit the profile of a farm kid whose family needed a little extra time to raise the credits for his Saskatoon franchise.

So far, nobody had questioned this story. In fact, the most awkward moment he’d had was when Michael wondered about the brand that contained his slave name: Threezed, for the last two numbers in the sequence.

John should have gotten the scars smoothed out a long time ago. But he wasn’t ready to lose the familiar sting of seeing those numbers in the mirror when everything else was so different. Nothing had been normal for three years, after the factory sent the whole indenture class across the Pacific. Supposedly they had maintenance positions waiting for them on the Vancouver docks. The motors they’d been assembling back in the Nine Cities Delta were used in all kinds of industrial bots, so it made sense. But when they arrived, it turned out the contracts had fallen through in a way that only made sense to bureaucrats. John and his classmates were confiscated by the Free Trade Zone Port Authority, then confiscated again by Vancouver’s child welfare agency. In practice, this meant they spent a few months sleeping in familiar-looking dormitories where they tried to perfect their northern Free Trade Zone English accents.

For probably the fiftieth time, one of the hosts in Ouran High School Host Club was reminding Haruhi that she was low class. She’d brought instant coffee to their elite party, and the rich kids were physically repulsed. They’d never had anything but whole beans ground by indentured servants. John loved the exaggerated faces they made, their features growing bulbous and abstract as they squealed in dismay. Haruhi shrugged it off, but John thought the audience was supposed to understand that her feelings were hurt too.

A new librarian came in and sat behind the help desk. Her presence activated a sign overhead in that absurdly morphing font: “Yes, I’m an actual human! Ask me anything!” John imagined what Med would say to that. Just a little anti-bot sentiment, brought to you by some designer in the 2120s. Not the librarian’s fault. John noticed that she had two thick black braids and her eyes were slightly distorted by a pair of goggles made to look like twenty-first century glasses. Something about her looked familiar. Maybe she’d been in one of his classes?

He kept watching the stream in his cubicle until it was almost closing time.

“Do you want to check that out?” The librarian peeked over the top of his cubicle. “I have to start shutting the workstations down.” Then she glanced at him again. “Weren’t you in Social Media History with me?”

“Yeah. What did you think of that class?”

“I loved it. I’m actually doing a research project with that professor about anti-robot representations in the late twenty-first century. So much video from that time was basically anti-automation propaganda, designed to make humans fear bots. It’s so weird to look back on all this old media and see how it’s still affecting us now.”

“Like that sign.” He pointed over her desk.

“Exactly!” She grinned.

He liked the way she described struggles in the past as if they were still happening, unfolding at some layer of reality just beyond conscious perception. They started talking about what classes they’d be taking next term.

He was about to escalate into flirtation when a man raced into the library, out of breath. He ignored John and put a hand on the librarian’s arm. “Can you find me some videos of people playing games in the twentieth century? I really need them for tomorrow.”

She stiffened and pulled back from his touch. “Do you have a catalog number?”

After he’d made a big show of sighing and pulling out his mobile and searching, the student flicked a number to her tablet.

The librarian walked back to her desk to look up the videos and the man leaned heavily on John’s cubicle, still catching his breath. Finally, he seemed to notice that he wasn’t alone in the universe.

“Oh, hi, sorry to interrupt.” His voice betrayed no hint of apology.

“No worries.” John started to pack up.

The man looked at him more closely, his pale blue eyes like flecks of aluminum-doped glass. “Where you from?”

“Farm outside Lucky Lake.”

The man gave a big-throated laugh that vacuumed geniality out of the air. “No. I mean, where are you from originally?”

It was a menacing question. John grabbed some videos with a cupping gesture, dumped them onto his mobile, and left without a word.


When he’d first arrived in the Zone, people were constantly asking him where he was from. John and his classmates tried to explain, but nobody could hear anything after the words “Asian Union.” Their words bounced off an invisible, soundproof barrier of sympathy and disgust. Worried-looking officials kept telling the boys that it was illegal for children to be indentured. They never should have found themselves in this situation, sold by their school into contract at the docks. They could rest assured that Vancouver would sponsor them into foster care, with limited franchises that would allow them to work for the city. The Zone would never mistreat them the way the Asian Union had.

Then a caseworker “discovered” that they were over 18. John thought that was pretty amazing detective work, considering that none of the kids actually knew how old they were, and all their identity records were missing. Still, it was probably close enough, give or take a couple of years. Now it was obvious what Vancouver should do with them. They were shipped down to Vegas for auction. Profits would go to pay off the debt of some corporate entity whose name John would never know.


He was definitely going to convince Med to watch Ouran High School Host Club when she got back from the lab. Bots never slept, so she was pretty much always up for binge watching on their apartment projection wall.

After he kicked the lights on, John saved the videos to their home server with a tossing motion and collapsed on the springy sofa that dominated the room. He couldn’t decide whether to activate the Yummy Pan or spark some 420 or run around screaming. That guy in the library had really pissed him off—not so much as an individual, but as the representative of an entire genre of dickbags who had never once been asked to produce an origin story for someone else’s amusement. It reminded him uncomfortably of Michael’s questions the other day. Obviously Michael had asked out of friendly curiosity, but the sentiment was the same. Where you come from is who you are.

The chime of the door interrupted his increasingly tight rage spiral. Med flopped on the sofa next to him and sighed. “That was a very long day of department meetings.”

Med had been begging the administration for money to cover an update to the lab’s protein library. John sat up to face her. “Did you get that funding you needed?”

“Ugh. No. They don’t understand why we need new protein data when we already have a library from five years ago. Plus some bullshit from the dean about how I should make the students discover new folds themselves, and not just copy from a database like a bot would.” Med rolled her eyes but John knew she was genuinely upset. The dean never missed a chance to make insulting comments about bots around Med. She was the only bot professor at the university, and the dean liked to remind her where she came from. Or maybe where she didn’t.

“Well, I have some good distraction for you.” John flicked the air and the wall opposite them displayed a menu of recent downloads. “It’s this crazy anime from the 2000s about an indentured student who has to earn her way out of contract by pretending to be a hot boy at a café for high school girls. You have to watch it. It’s so incredibly weird.”

“You’re lucky that the media library gets more useful the more out-of-date it gets.”

“That’s not exactly true. But yeah, I know what you mean.” He decided not to tell her about the librarian sign. “Want to watch the first episode?”

Fifteen minutes in, and he could tell Med was feeling better. He watched her watch the screen, smiling faintly, her hand resting on the charger in the sofa arm. He wondered whether she was smiling for his benefit or if she really thought it was funny. Then he started obsessing about whether the subtitles really did justice to what was happening. Were they missing something? Maybe Med could help.

“Could you learn Japanese if you wanted to? Like just download it or something? Then we’d know if these subs were good.”

“It’s not like I would instantly know Japanese. I could get all the rules and vocabulary—enough to do a really basic translation. But I’d still have to learn how to use it. And some things just can’t be translated with words at all.” She gestured at the wall and the action froze on an image of light bulbs turning on. “Look at that. What does that mean? You only know from context that those light bulbs represent members of the host club, and each time one of them turns on it’s the guy figuring out that Haruhi is a girl. I couldn’t ever figure that out from a translation program.”

John thought about that as the action started again and Haruhi tried on the fancy school uniform that made her look like a beautiful boy. There was a lot of confused swooning.


August 5, 2145

After three more episodes, John paused the action for a bathroom break. When he got back, Med was flipping through movies on the server idly. An urgent message blinked at the corner of the projection: “Streaming to unknown device.” That meant Med was streaming previews straight to her mind. The humans who made the streamer hadn’t thought about how robots might use their machines, so Med remained an “unknown device” on the network.

“How’s job going?” Med divided her attention between John and whatever she was previewing.

“Pretty good. I keep hooking up with Michael, but he’s starting to annoy me.”

“I can’t even keep track of your hookups. Which one is Michael, again?”

“Dinosaur hair guy.”

“Oh yeah!” Med stopped streaming and took her hand off the charging pad. “He sounded nice?”

“He’s nice but he’s just… I dunno. He asks too many boring questions.”

“Like what?”

John tried to come up with a good way to explain it. “He asked about my brand. Which—why would you ask somebody about that after fucking them? So rude.”

Med didn’t pick up on his sarcasm, or she chose to ignore it. “I can see why he might be curious. Why do you keep it if you don’t want to talk about it?”

“Why do you tell people that you’re a bot if you don’t want them to make snotty comments about it?” His voice rose in anger he hadn’t intended to express.

“You know why. Because fuck those fuckers.” Delivered utterly without sarcasm. John had to laugh. She put a hand on his arm, and he felt an unexpected, shocking surge of love for her. Her skin felt just as soft and warm as a human’s, but beneath the biological tissues were metal actuators and processors. He liked knowing that she wasn’t human all the way through. Looking into her face, he never flashed back to the faces of his masters.

Yet he was still terrified. She was going to disappear. He’d wake up from this dream of student life in Saskatoon to find himself adrift with that psycho who bought him in Vegas, starving in the cargo hold of a boat whose engines were always on the verge of death. Tied up if he refused to go quietly to his master’s bedroom. Or maybe he’d awaken to discover that Med hadn’t made it out of the lab alive after shoving him out the door.

He needed to banish those thoughts. His skin was prickling. Med still had her hand on his arm, and a badass snarky look on her face.

“Med, why don’t you ever hook up with anybody?”

The bot shrugged. “I haven’t installed any programs related to sexual desire.”

“Why not?”

“Just not interested. A lot of my siblings installed them, and they seem happy. But it never caught my attention.”

“So you could install them now and start wanting to have sex?” John was fascinated.

Med looked a little annoyed. “As I said before about learning Japanese, it’s not like a bot can just instantly know something or feel something. You have to interact to get context.”

This was starting to sound kind of sexy. John wrapped his hand around Med’s arm, so that they gently gripped each other’s wrists. “You should do it. We should do it.”

“I just said I wasn’t interested.”

“How can you know you’re not interested if you’ve never tried it?”

She removed her hand and scooted back a few centimeters. “Can you explain why you don’t like that series Evolution’s Dark Road but you do like Ouran High School Host Club? It’s a matter of taste. Sexual desire just isn’t my taste. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

“You love me?” John’s heart was pounding all of a sudden, in a way that was both amazing and terrifying.

“I wasn’t planning on blurting it out like that, but yes. Yes.”

He thought he was going to cry, and then he thought maybe he wasn’t going to be able to stop himself from kissing her. “I’m pretty sure I love you too.”

Illuminated by dim, white light from the text menu on the wall, they looked like artificial versions of themselves. John crumpled his hands into fists and jammed them against his thighs uncomfortably. He wasn’t sure what to do next.

“So you can be in love but you don’t want to try having sex?”

She chuckled. “I’m not a media history major, but even I have watched enough media to know that love and sex aren’t the same thing.”

Of course that was true, and he’d had plenty of sex that didn’t involve love. But how could she be feeling the same way he was, if she didn’t want to grab him hard and throw him down and just… take him? A feeling this strong had to be translated into something physical. It begged for literalization.

“I just don’t understand. Do you mean the kind of love you would have for a brother? Or for a super good friend?”

“I do love my siblings, but this is not that kind of love. I mean, I can’t be sure it’s exactly the same thing you would call love, but it’s a feeling of…” She paused for a moment and went still, as if she were streaming data. Then she spoke slowly. “It’s like there’s some part of you that fits perfectly inside my consciousness. It’s a feeling that goes beyond trust or friendship. Some kind of emotional infrastructure. Even if I were to isolate every single utility and program I use to think about you, I don’t think I could explain all the ways you occupy my mind. It’s… an emergent and ongoing process. Does that make sense?”

John wiped his eyes and looked at her openly, following the lines of her neck and cheeks, the perfect lab-grown pink of her lips. But she’d given him permission to look beyond that.

“Is there something we could do together… something you’ve always wanted to do with somebody who loves you? Not sex, obviously, but something like that? Or not like that? I don’t know…” He trailed off and Med looked bemused. “Please don’t say watch videos.” They both laughed.

Med put a hand on top of one of his fists, and he laced his fingers into hers.

“Actually there is something.”

“Holding hands?”

“No, although that’s nice too.” She let out a nervous titter. “I’ve always wanted to try sleeping.” She dropped her eyes and shifted uncomfortably, as if she’d just revealed some secret, transgressive kink.

“I didn’t know you could sleep.”

“I mean, I can go into sleep mode, or I can shut down. I can crash. There are a lot of sleep levels, but you’re not really supposed to go into them unless it’s an emergency or you need maintenance.”

“Why aren’t you supposed to do it?”

“Well sometimes it can damage memory to crash unexpectedly, but honestly I think the sleep taboo is mostly about security. Humans might steal a sleeping bot.”

John understood that fear all the way down to the most inaccessible parts of his consciousness. “Nobody can get you here. Not in our apartment. It’s completely safe.” His words came out hot and intense, the same way they sounded in his mind.

“Do you want to try it?”

He said yes and let her lead him to the bedroom.

They lay down on their sides facing each other, giggling as they found comfortable positions in the awkwardly small space. “Okay, so I’m going to try. I should wake up in four hours so I can get to work in the morning. Are you ready?”

She looked so beautiful that John thought his heart would crack open like the space eggs in a kaiju movie, full of lava and lightning and life forms that had never walked the Earth. He took one of her hands. “I’m ready.”

Her eyes closed, and she shuddered slightly. Then her hand relaxed in his. He listened to her breathe. He looked at the shape of her skin over the carbon alloy of her bones. He wondered if she was dreaming. He thought of all the questions he wanted to ask her about everything. He almost started to cry again when he remembered what they’d been through last year, after they’d escaped. After they’d almost died. If he were ever going to talk about all that shit, Med would be the only person he’d want listening.

Watching her sleep for a while made him sleepy too. She never shifted around or made noises like a human, and it was deeply comforting.

John rolled onto his back and closed his eyes. He was still kind of horny, partly from the emotional overload with Med, and partly just from life. At least he was working in the shop tomorrow, so there would definitely be an interlude or two with Michael in the back room. Also, maybe he would ask out that librarian from his Social Media History class. He wasn’t sure he could love anyone else, but there were definitely a lot of people he liked in a sexual way. That wasn’t a bad thing.

As he drifted off, his thoughts began to buzz pleasantly with half-feelings and fragments of the day’s noise. Just before he joined Med in full sleep mode, he saw a flickering image of Haruhi in her host boy clothes, the subject of a desire that existed only in the lacy cracks that form at the edge of what we’re taught is acceptable. Even after a century of storage on media devices whose sophistication far outstripped the technologies that hosted her birth, she was still radiating beauty into the world.

Old Media, copyright © 2019 by Annalee Newitz
Art copyright © 2019 by Soufiane Mengad

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Posted by K. Imani Tennyson

It’s time to announce our first book discussion of 2019, and since next month is Women’s History Month, we thought it would be wonderful to talk all about the feminist novel Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan. I received an ARC of the novel at the NCTE conference and I inhaled it in about a day – it is just that good. Our contributor Crystal saw Renee and Ellen speak last week and had a great time listening to these two amazing authors talk and share poetry. To further hear their own words, click on the links to hear them in conversation talking about the novel, writing, and other things.

Renee & Ellen in Conversation – Part 1

Renee & Ellen in Conversation  – Part 2

We’ll be posting our group discussion on March 20th! Be sure to grab a copy so you can jump into our discussion. We’re looking forward to hearing what you think of the book!

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan

Bloomsbury YA

Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.



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February 2019

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