Category: Science Fiction

Reality Winner

The woman accused of leaking the NSA document is named Reality Winner. That’s her name. Her real, legal name. It’s not a handle. As far as I know, she was born with it. News organizations are trying to distract us by adding the middle name Leigh whenever they say it, but I’m going loud and proud: the woman who tipped off The Intercept about Russian vote tampering attempts is REALITY WINNER.


Sabitha says: I hope she’s okay but also I’m smiling every time I think about how Neal Stephenson must feel right now.

All the World is Waiting for You

Dyed my hair blueblack today. I may be a little excited about Wonder Woman.


Brian says:  Did you dye it with the tears of men?

Romie: Sort of? I made my husband apply it and he was very stressed out by the fear he might (1) fail to dye my hair (2) accidentally dye several other surfaces (3) or both.

Brian: I’m just referring to the guys who are getting very upset about the all-women screenings of Wonder Woman.

Romie: I have been following the strategy of screening messages from those guys. I throw up blocks like they’re missle-deflecting gold bracelets.


Nic says: I used to do blue-black – kind of miss it.

Romie: It is one of very few colors my hair hasn’t previously been! I’m liking it.


Carrie says: Hoo boy just found out BDS Lebanon is boycotting, so my outfit is changing (adding my purple kafia). I realize this is not enough but my ticket is bought already and I do want to go.

Romie: When you’re a member of (or ally of) mutiple sometimes-overlapping oppressed populations, I suspect it’s somewhat revolutionary to be joyful when there is an opportunity to feel delight—to find hope in the community of other imperfect strivers.

I like the kafia idea.


Acevedo: [tosses back long dark locks] you were saying….?


Angie says: GREAT excuse for a selfie, tbh!!

Romie: INSTEAD I CRASH A MAN’S SELFIE

wonderwoman hair

Angie: SO WOMAN, MUCH WONDER

Summer: Your clothes match. I’m agog.

Romie: Mine isn’t clothes; it’s a blanket. We match on many levels but “comfortable ambient temperature” is not one of them.


Angela says: My purple turned red; am considering spinning in place until am brunette and in satin tights myself.

Andrea: Totally thought about doing this, too!!! Solidarity cloaked in midnight blues!!!

Drawdown, by Paul Hawken

Interesting new book for solarpunk peeps and environmentalists which talks about carbon drawdown strategies (because 100% renewable energy, even if it could be achieved, would not pull out the stuff that’s already in the air)—Drawdown, by Paul Hawken. Haven’t read it yet, but here’s some of what came up in the Vox.com interview.

Top of the list for reducing emissions isn’t cars or planes or making things last—it’s disposing of refrigerators and air conditioners when they get too old. 90% of CFC and HCFC leakage happens when the coolant system is starting to conk out and die. No big loss to get rid of that machine, which was already breaking down. If we can convince people to do that instead of trying to stretch it out (maybe because of cost, maybe because of a laudable but in this case misplaced desire to conserve), and can dispose of it safely, that keeps 90-100 gigatons of CO2 equivalents out of the air between now and 2050.

A carbon capture strategy I hadn’t heard of before is Silvopasture, which is farming trees and grazing animals simultaneously. In other words, your pasture has trees on it (sylvan). This makes you more money if you want to sell the trees. It keeps your animals healthier (cows for instance like the shade) and your land healthier. And it sequesters carbon. If you’re writing optimistic SF, maybe include domesticated animal herds in managed forests. (There are other direct carbon capture mechanisms being explored, but the the only method that is currently reliable is photosynthesis.)

Finally, peace has a carbon dividend. Wars are terrible for the environment, and not just in a “they’re bombing the land to pieces” way. Sometimes cynical people think “well, at least this is decreasing population” and think they’re being analytical and brave to say something so horrible. But they’re wrong. Wars use a lot of energy. Wars destroy ecosystems. Wars grind through every resource you can think of, even to move the soldiers and fleeing people around. Peace is much better for preventing global warming.

When Responding to a Book Review

Hopefully, nobody on my friends list needs to hear this, but just in case:

If you are a man, and you read a book review by a woman that says “this book’s treatment of female characters really bothered me,” and the first three comments are by people with female names and female-presenting photos, agreeing they similarly had trouble finishing the book for the same reasons, and you settle in to write the fourth comment and it starts “we must have been reading totally different books, because…” —you can stop right there.

Your because is because you are a man and you are not sensitive to the presentation of female characters, and so it didn’t bother you. Your lack of irritation doesn’t reflect the reviewer “having a chip on her shoulder.” This is a woman telling other women they’ll be uncomfortable, and she is likely correct. Your opinion doesn’t matter to those women because you were indeed reading a totally different book. Which you enjoyed. Which they will not, because they are not you.

You can substitue this woman/man dialectic for queer/straight, [ethnic identity]/[other ethnic identity], [class background]/[other class background], [ability level]/[other ability level].

You’re not the default. You’re only your own default. And you have no idea how sensitively a character was portrayed who has nothing in common with you. You can say “huh, I really liked it,” and then stop. You can talk about the things you enjoyed. But we all know – YOU KNOW – “we must have been reading totally different books, because” is code for “you read it wrong; you were meant to read it with my identity, even though the character shares your identity.” It’s bullshit. Cut it out.

Deal With the Devil

If you make a deal with the Devil, you lose your soul, but also, you don’t get the thing you sold it for, because the Devil is the prince of lies.

In any case, while we’re trying to exorcise the old boy, I found a list of Satanic nicknames assembled by the Dictionary of American Regional English between 1965 and 1970, which you may enjoy deploying, such as Old Booger Man, Old Lutherfud, and Error.


Incidentally, Jimmy Squarefoot may stand out to you as it did to me: he’s an obscure mythological boar-headed biped from the Isle of Man, associated with the (also obscure) Manx Pig Legend. He’s not particularly a devil figure.


Jeff says: I wish this list included the locations for each name. Papa Legba, not mentioned, is a fascinating Vodou figure who isn’t a devil, but has often been mistaken for one. The Talking Heads and Pops Staples did a song about him, too.

Romie: Seconded on wishing there was a distribution map. I wonder whether they’d give you the expanded data if you e-mailed. Meanwhile, a copy of True Stories has been on my “want” list for a while; I’ve been holding out in hopes there’d eventually be a remastered version, but this is probably foolish.


Edward says: “Most Immediate Enemy” gets my vote for most apropos.


Angela says: Error is so perfect. BRB; writing sci-fi version of “Young Goodman Brown.”

Board Game Review: Tóncc

Played an obscure handmade game last night called Tóncc which is for exactly three players, who are wizards taking control of parts of the universe. I like it. Abstract simultaneous play, about 20 minutes long. It reminds me a little of Nine Men’s Morris. I think it might be possible to get a hold of it outside of Italy by e-mailing the game designer (probably with the help of google translate). It retails for 20 euros.


Jeff says: Love this! I play and collect lots of games. I’ll use Google’s “page translate” feature to read up on Toncc today. (I bought “The Grizzled” on your recommendation, Romie.)

Romie: The Grizzled! I still haven’t won it, which is part of what I like about it. What’s more satisfying than a hopeless collaborative struggle against impossible odds?

Jeff: I haven’t played it yet, but the goals and rules appear well thought out, and the artwork is excellent.