Saturday, January 29, 2011

As usual, the inability to empathize has disheartening consequences:

Everything about this bill is revoltingly sexist, out-of-touch and cruel. I'm not a fan of Speaker Boehner (obviously) but I praised his eloquence when Congresswoman Giffords was shot. I don't foresee praising him again.

From New York Magazine, "New Bill Reportedly Proposes Restrictions on Federal Funding for Abortions":

Contained: a radical redefining of rape and incest.

A thousand times no.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Egypt's brave writers risk imprisonment, torture and death:

Well-researched and detailed new piece on the pernicious forces battling Egyptian writers who are calling for democracy:

All power to them. And goddamnit, we are so lucky to live here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Nervous Breakdown Literary Experience, Seattle Edition #2!

The Nervous Breakdown Literary Experience, Seattle Edition #2 is Friday, April 8, 7 p.m. in the Jewelbox Theater at the Rendezvous!

Last time, the Stranger called us "a big goddamned deal"; deemed us "the six best authors in town" (a wee hyperbolic but a lovely compliment nonetheless); and City Arts said we were "funny and sharp".

Best not fuck this one up.

The brilliant Jonathan Evison whose latest novel, West of Here, just received a starred review from Booklist and--hold on to your hat!--Vanity Fair christened "a booming, big-hearted epic" is on board and I'll reveal the rest soon.

Five bucks at the door. We had a sold-out house at the premiere in September--hope to see you on April 8!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Seriously, it's got the makings of a Discovery Channel documentary:

I'm fairly certain the emails in all three inboxes are now asexually reproducing. While it's objectively fascinating and, more importantly, the content contained therein is humbling, moving and gratifying, despite returning scads each day, I'm still not caught up. "After the Fire" has, in fact, caught fire and I'm really kind of speechless at the response it has engendered even if--and this goes without saying--I'd much rather write of him alive.

Again, if you haven't heard back from me--and I'm positive your life continues unabated in the meantime--you will very soon.

Happy Sunday, all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A brief catch-up while dinner is in the oven:

  • The Nerve essay (see previous post) generated a volume of letters as large as it was unforeseen. Completely bittersweet, given the piece's topic, and deeply humbling that people have chosen to share their own stories of loss. Each missive deserves a thoughtful response and all three of my inboxes have been overflowing for the past 10 days. I'm nearly caught up, but if you haven't heard from me yet, you will soon.
  • Re Dr. King's birthday on Monday, those who think we live in "post-racial" nation now that we have an African-American President should read the comments on any well-trafficked site whenever said President is mentioned. As one of my friends says, "The only people who think this is a 'post-racial' society are always white."
  • I'm going to concentrate on the astoundingly good news Congresswoman Giffords stood up today and momentarily ignore the House repeal of health care reform, which the Senate, of course, has no intent to take up. The only thing the House GOP understands less than health care reform, apparently, is health.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Hard to know where to begin:

Since first watching CNN's "Breaking News" report yesterday while nestling with the puppy and returning emails, i.e. engaging in unremarkable Saturday morning behavior, I've been incredibly saddened and upset by the horror that unfolded in Tuscon.

I feel awful for the victims and for their loved ones. I send Congresswoman Giffords and each survivor prayers and healing thoughts and wish them recovery with minimum trauma and maximum resiliency. The families of the deceased will always bear the scars and I hope they are able to find as much peace as they can. Found out today Judge John Roll was a longtime friend of a family friend and if we gauge others by the company they keep, Roll was a very good man indeed. And while it's hardly without precedent, I still can't wrap my mind around someone shooting a nine year-old girl. Or the level of hate required to shoot Giffords point-blank in the head.

Much discussion has resulted about the increased political vitriol of recent years and whether the gun cross-hairs Sarah Palin placed on 20 "targeted" opponents, among them Giffords, was a contributing factor to the actions of the deranged Jared Loughner. I'm 43 and those my age who are politically active have frequently commented in recent times we have never seen this kind of hate in U.S. politics. We feared someone would get killed or severely wounded. (For the record, and this should be obvious, but I would be equally horrified had a Republican congressperson been shot. Our elected officials shouldn't have to risk their lives.) Loughner bears the ultimate responsibility but I do think Palin and those who engage in sustained and pernicious "targeting" of their political opponents shoulder some of the blame. A sane person could view Palin's cross-hairs all day everyday and be unmoved to shoot one of the listed. But it's kind of fucking obvious not everyone is sane. And when you have roughly two and a half million Facebook supporters, as does Palin, keeping such a graphic on your page is spectacularly unwise. Whether Loughner was influenced by it remains to be seen; even if he wasn't, well, so what? Said graphic accomplished nothing except the notion it's valiant to dehumanize your opponents. And if history teaches us anything, it's that it's easy to harm those you dehumanize.

Speaking of Facebook, one of its most disheartening elements is the way in which some almost reflexively lunge for the jugular in political discussions. I'm openly, unabashedly lefty on most issues but quite vocal when I think Republicans have a good point (for instance, I'm not a fan of Boehner's and have made several jokes at his expense, but he has handled this tragedy with leadership and compassion). I have Republican loved ones, each of whom is well-informed and carefully considers the issues. On the left, we frequently accuse the right of lockstep thinking and it's often an accurate portrayal, but there's a whole lotta group think on the left, too, and in some ways it's even sadder because we insist we're the intellectuals. I enjoy healthy debate and most of the discussions on my page are just that. But it's assinine how many times in the two plus years I've been on Facebook I've had to chide someone for writing on my page they want to kill Sarah Palin. As I noted three months ago during the '10 camgaign when a colleague said his hypothetical slogan would be, "Kill Dino Rossi", this is the kind of thing that (rightfully) outrages us when some dipshit posts it about President Obama in comment sections everywhere; we can't do the inverse but somehow think it's okay because we have a million reasons we loathe Rossi because the comment section dipshits feel the same about Obama. None of us should advocate killing our opponents. Period. Why isn't this self-evident?

The fact Loughner was turned away from the military but still able to legally purchase a gun will forever baffle me and all sentient beings. This wasn't a question of the Second Amendment but of common sense: if your mental health problems preclude you from carrying a weapon overseas, they preclude you from carrying one to a Safeway parking lot.

We can do better than this. We'll have to.

All thoughts and prayers to those whose lives were ruptured yesterday.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The world grows increasingly interconnected with each passing year and...

...this would be horrible news under any circumstances, but one of my best friends for the past 23 years just moved to London yesterday, so I find this particularly disturbing.

Wishing the Brits best of luck and very much hope this is a false alarm. In particular, I want my friend and his wife to be safe. And holy hell, what fucked up news to receive the first day in your new city: