A Quick Life Update

Good evening, everybody! I don't have a specific outline for this post - I've been focused on NaNoWriMo this month, and so I haven't done much other writing. I just wanted to give you all a peek into what I have been up to in my life.


NaNoWriMo has been fun insofar - I am currently at 2,446 words, which is pretty good for how I have done historically. To be at goal, I need to have written 10,002 words as of last night. However, NaNo is more about the process and the journey! So, even if I don't get 50,000 words by the end of November, I will have at least tried. Also, I am taking the opportunity to focus on a story idea that I have had in my head for a while now. I am posting what I am writing to my Patreon for $1+ sponsors. If I complete stories, they will be available for early download for $10+ sponsors. Check out my NaNoWriMo page here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/justin-grays


I voted before work today - I was #26 at my polling place.

Today is election day! I hope that everybody remembered to vote (if your municipality has an election)! I voted before I went to work today - I was #26 at my polling place.

Local elections are very important, but don't draw as much attention as the primaries and midterms, which is unfortunate. The more local the election, the more immediate the impact on your life - Teen Vogue has a great article that I suggest that you all read about this: "5 Reasons You Need to Vote in Your Local Elections." Be informed, and make it count. If you're not involved, you may find that your city has placed you in, as John Oliver puts it, "the fuck barrel."


Joint Community Police Partnership Logo

The Saint Louis Park Multicultural Advisory Committee has completed our strategic plan and are implementing the strategic directions that we have created. Our goals include building relationships between the police and the community, helping advance equity in our city, and promoting cultural competence in our police department. This is a 2-3 year plan, and we are in the beginning stages of year 1. But progress is being made, and I am looking forward to future developments!


Saint Louis Park Police Department

I have been participating in the Saint Louis Park Citizens' Police Academy. It is a ten-week course that gives people the opportunity to have an inside look at how the police department functions and to form relationships with police officers. We've discussed the mission, values, and philosophy of the Saint Louis Park Police Department, toured the station, discussed hiring and training, learned about traffic stops, K9s, and tactics, and so much more! We also have had the opportunity to participate in a ride-along - being in the front seat of a police car with a police officer while on patrol and taking calls with them to observe routine operations firsthand. It is an amazing experience, and I always suggest that people take the opprotunity to participate if it is ever presented to them.


Discover Saint Louis Park

The Vision 3.0 Report was accepted by the Saint Louis Park City Council last night. As a member of the Vision 3.0 Steering Committee, I was one of the City Council's appointees to act as a liaison between the community and the Visioning Process. It was our task to help the City reach and engage all members of the community, work collaboratively with the consultant and City staff, occasionally meet with the City Council to share key insights or project milestones, and be advocates for the visioning process in their neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, etc. There have been many forms of community engagements, and now that the engagement has completed, the input has been analyzed and will help inform development of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Read the 3.0 Draft.


And that's some of what I have been up to. It is not everything that I have been involved in as of late, but what is life without some mystery? Stay subscribed for more updates - more will come in the future. This is only the end of the first week of NaNoWriMo, after all!


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.



MNSURE Clinics/Open Enrollment 11/07, 11/28 and 12/05

This email was forwarded to me by the JCPP Coordinator for Saint Louis Park. It originated from the American Indian, Asian and Latino Community Liaison for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.


From: Carmen M Bibiano
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2017 5:01 PM
To: Carmen M Bibiano <Carmen.Bibiano@hennepin.us>
Subject: MNSURE Clinics/Open Enrollment 11/07, 11/28 and 12/05
 
Hola :)
 
Our beautiful Mujer Latina Patricia Eibon from Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County (CAP-HC) wants to share this information about MNSure assistance to help clients apply for or renew their health insurance benefits. For more information look at the flyers, they are going to do it in three different locations and dates.
 
You can also call the CAP-HC main number (952) 933-9639. Please let your clients and networks know about this very good information available for them.
 
Thank you so much and Have a nice day :)
 
Carmen Bibiano – HCSO - CET
American Indian, Asian and Latino Community Liaison – Sheriff Administrative Assistant
350 South 5th Street, Room 30
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Desk phone: 612-348-6636
Work cell: 612-807-2449
Carmen.bibiano@hennepin.us

 

2017 Elections Are Even Closer!

As you may have read on a previous blog post (or have seen signs around your neighborhood), it is election time once again. Tuesday, November 7th is the day for elections in the State of Minnesota - not every state has elections this year, let alone every municipality in Minnesota, so please make certain to check out your local Secretary of State (or local equivalent) websites. Minnesotans, for more precise information (including where to vote), please go to our Secretary of State's ballot finder. What I am posting here is very general information, and there will be exceptions. For example, some Eden Prairie, Edina, Plymouth, and Saint Louis Park residents, as well as about half of Golden Valley residents and most of Minnetonka residents will be voting for the Hopkins School Board. At the same time, Minnetonka Schools serves Minnetonka, Chanhassen, Deephaven, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Greenwood, Shorewood, Tonka Bay, Victoria, and Woodland, whereas the Saint Louis Park School District is entirely within the city of Saint Louis Park. So always check the ballot finder first!

Saint Louis Park Residents: after I created the previous blog post, two school district questions were added to the ballot. Please make certain that you understand Question #1 and Question #2 before you go in to vote.

As I said before, it is important to vote and to know who you are voting for, because you are voicing your opinion on how things should be run. Your elected officials work for you - they are not your leaders, but the reverse. You are the leaders, and you need to be informed. From State Governor to District Court Judges, you are deciding what elected officials are enforcing, legislating, and ruling on. Be informed, and make it count. If you're not involved, you may find that your city has placed you in, as John Oliver puts it, "the fuck barrel." So be involved. On Tuesday, November 7th, get out there and vote.


City of Plymouth, Hennepin County (population 77,216)

City of Hopkins, Hennepin County (population 18,105)

City of Plymouth

Logo of the City of Hopkins

City of Golden Valley, Hennepin County (population 21,376

Logo of the City of Golden Valley

Mayor:
Molly Cummings (Incumbent)
Robert Ivers

City Council (Elect 2):
Katy Campbell (Incumbent)
Diana Neidecker
Kristi Halverson (Incumbent)

Hopkins School Board (Elect 3):
Chris LaTondresse
Jen Westmoreland Bouchard (Justin Grays Endorsed)
Fartun Ahmed (Justin Grays Endorsed)
Steve Semler
Kevin Bennett

School District Questions:
Question #1
Question #2
Question #3


Get out there and vote, everybody. The government serves you - you are the boss. Tell them what you want done.


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.



Me Too - Stories, Complicity, and Resources [Content Warning]

Content Warning: This post talks about sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Cowriting this piece is Emaelia Norman: I asked her to write with me because I generally present as male, and sexual assault is most prominently an issue for women, AFAB persons [Note 1], and those who are femme presenting. I do not want to distract from the conversation, but rather add to it in a meaningful and honest manner. Emaelia is the creator of the webcomics Death Child and Rowin Redd.

I am a cisgender, bisexual female. I come from a place of privilege as a white, cisgendered, middle-class person. I have however, like far too many people, been subject to sexual violence from a very young age. I’ve agreed to co-write this post with Justin as much to help others to cope with their experiences as to help me cope with my own.


Found on the internet.

For those of us who have endured sexual violence, movements like “me too” give us a chance to share our stories. This is a way for some people to come to terms with how they’ve been hurt, to heal, or just to feel some relief by sharing these moments that make us question humanity. 

The “me too” campaign was created in 2006 by Tarana Burke to help women and girls (particularly women and girls of color) who had survived sexual violence [6], and then went viral on social media in October 2017 when Alyssa Milano tweeted “me too” [2] and encouraged others to write it as their status. The sheer number of people posting "me too" has been to some an unsettling reminder of the staggering statistics already showing that sexual violence is a commonplace reality: “in the U.S., about 1 in 3 women (36.3%) and nearly 1 in 6 men (17.1%) experienced some form of contact sexual violence (SV) during their lifetime” [9] [Note 2]. Burke’s campaign’s motto is “Empowerment through empathy” [3], letting people know that they are not alone and that it is possible to heal. And healing is possible.

Found on the internet.

But we must also heal as a culture. That requires self-reflection and finding the root of the problem. People have said that talking about sexual harassment and sexual assault at the same time conflates the issue to seem bigger than it really is. And sexual violence in every form contributes to rape culture. The repetition of events and ideas normalizes them and leads to more extreme versions of those same events and ideas, which then also become normalized. Every time a man sexually harasses a woman and other men in the vicinity do not speak up about it, they are giving that man permission to do it again. Every time a man sexually assaults a woman and the people she tells do not believe her, they are giving him a way to avoid the consequences of his actions. Every time someone jokes about sexual violence, they normalize sexual violence. 


Found on the internet.

Now, we want to be clear: SEXUAL VIOLENCE CAN HAPPEN TO ANYBODY. We are not ignoring that. However, if the only time you talk about male survivors is when you are interrupting women/enby/femme persons who are talking about their own experiences, then it is not because you care about male survivors. Rather, it is because the rape culture perpetuated by the pervasive sexual violence in our society has conditioned you to dismiss and silence survivors who challenge the status quo.

There is a definite misogynistic component to rape culture - most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape [5], but many men don’t report being raped because of fear of being outed as gay [1], or out of fear of being labeled as gay [4], or feeling like they have lost their manhood [4]. It comes from the patriarchal idea that men are sexual aggressors and women are inferior to men, which translates into the idea that men who are sexually violated are as inferior as women.


As a society, we need to teach boys and men [Note 3] to not commit sexual violence. We should remember that jokes have great power [8] that reflect what we are thinking and are the basis of the actions that we make. We must stop allowing it to be prevalent in television shows and in pop culture [7]. And we must hold people accountable for their actions.
Children and young men learn by example. 

The best way to support a survivor when they are talking about an assault or other experience is to listen. Don’t give advice unless specifically asked and don’t compare a third party’s experiences. If you’re a survivor and want to share your story online like others, you can tweet or post on your own rather than detracting from someone else’s posts.

Found on the internet from Lindy West.

While we encourage survivors to come forward, we also must hold them under no obligation to do so, particularly in the public eye. Victims are often held accountable for their perpetrator's actions, whether in their own silence or through critical remarks from the public about what they could have or should have done to protect themselves. It is up to the perpetrators to stop perpetrating, not the victims to stop having to live with the consequences of perpetrators.



Notes:

Found on the internet.

  1. AFAB: Assigned Female At Birth. Regardless of one’s gender or sex, a person who was assigned a sex at their time of birth.
     
  2. The statistic for both women and men was used here intentionally because the Center for Disease Control and Prevention only recorded information as a female/male binary, with no mention that could be found about intersex persons or persons of other genders. Also, it should be noted that the numbers used are for the 50 states and DC, with no mention of the US Territories.
     
  3. “Boys and men” was intentionally used here, as the NISVS 2010-2012 Average Annual Estimates of Sex of Perpetrator in Lifetime Reports of Sexual Violence say that 97% of female victims were raped by male perpetrators alone, while 86.5% of male victims were raped by male perpetrators alone [9] (meaning that 91.75% of all victims reported male perpetrators alone).

Personal Experiences:
As told by Emaelia:

Me too. I’ve been hurt by men I trusted. I’ve been terrified by complete strangers. It has never had to do with how I was dressed or where I was. It usually happens in public places in broad daylight, when I’m doing something on my own like reading or waiting for a bus.

I was sexually harassed online by a man ten years my senior for over a year when I was fifteen and sixteen. The man groomed me. He made me think he cared about me, and then spent months wearing me down until I gave in to participate in his sick fantasies. It took me years to untangle myself from the confusion he caused me. Facebook recently recommended that man as a friend. I almost vomited. 

A stranger put his hand on my leg while I sat reading in a park in the afternoon, asking me what my plans were for the evening. 

While stopped at a crosswalk on my way to class, a man put his arm around me and asked several times for my number. 

At the train station an old man caressed my arm, followed me to the bathroom, and insisted on kissing me before I boarded the train.

Another man pretended to fall while on the bus so he could “catch himself” on my breasts.

A man pinched my butt three times in a row while on a crowded metro, only stopping when I turned around and audibly growled at him, making everyone else stare. 

Me too.

Once, while on the train, riding home one night, a man started to harass me. I had accidentally made eye-contact, which he took as an invitation to talk to me. I tried to be polite. He was a large man and the train was nearly empty. For what seemed like ages but was only about two minutes, this man stood over me and tried to flirt. I tried to oblige, visibly terrified. The only other person on the car was another man. He noticed my distress and intervened. He starting chatting up this other man just as the train pulled into a stop. Relieved, I jumped off. I don’t know that the larger man would have hurt me. I will never know that. But I do know that I felt much more at ease knowing that another person had my back. That other man saw my distress and helped in a way that put no one in danger. 
Men like that give me hope. It was a small act of kindness, but it helped.

As told by Justin:
Me too, and I'm complicit, and I've joined in. All three.

When I was 5, there was the rich white boy in class whose mom wanted him to have some Black Friends. I was nominated. One day, my clothes got soaked (nearly drowned - different story), and his mom gave me some of his clothes to wear. He kept watching me change, which made me uncomfortable, but she wouldn't do anything about it. My options were to change in front of him, or to change in the dark closet.
Me too.

In middle school, some boys were chanting something about one of the girls in a day camp I was at, and I was halfheartedly going along with it because I was afraid.
I did.

When I was in high school, one of the guys called me over to him and asked me to turn around. "See ladies," he said, "that is a Black butt." I was shocked and confused and didn't say anything.
Me too.

In high school, same boy was showing pictures of girls, friends of his, in their underwear around without their permission. I didn't tell him that it was wrong, though I felt uncomfortable.
I'm complicit.

In high school, someone slapped my butt without my consent. I told him that if he ever did that again that I would report him. He did it again, and so I reported him.
Me too - but this time I also had enough energy to stand up, and enough fortune to be believed.

In my twenties, friends of mine were dancing, and strange men started getting close to them. I did not recognize what was happening until other friends intervened.
I'm complicit.

Found on the internet

In my thirties, some guy started touching me because he liked the clothes that I was wearing. I gave him such a look that he instantly backed off.
Me too - though my size and perceived gender had given me an advantage.

In my twenties, I was hurting and reached out for comfort, but I did not make certain that my friend was in a position to help me.
I did.

In my thirties, a drunk fellow whom I had never met before started groping me. He was friends with friends of mine, and I was shocked into not saying anything. And so I didn't.
Me too.

In my twenties, I bore witness to street harassment, and said nothing.
I'm complicit.

In my twenties, I gave consent to sex and later discovered that I only gave my consent under false pretenses. Multiple times.
Me too.

I can't say that I'll never freeze up again. And I can never pay back the pain that I've caused. But I can take forward action and not be complicit. I can use the advantage of my perceived gender and call out harassment when I see it, intervene when people need help. I can continue to believe those who have been harassed, teach others not to harass, and be a force to be reckoned with.


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.



Works Cited:

  1. Eastmond, Dean. “I was raped by another man. Heres why Ive decided to write about it.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 7 Dec. 2015, www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-ive-decided-to-talk-about-being-raped-by-another-man-a6730586.html.
     
  2. Gilbert, Sophie. “The Movement of #MeToo.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 16 Oct. 2017, www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979/.
     
  3. Hill, Zahara. “Black Woman Tarana Burke Founded The "Me Too" Movement.” EBONY, 19 Oct. 2017, www.ebony.com/news-views/black-woman-me-too-movement-tarana-burke-alyssa-milano#axzz4wApw9rR3.
     
  4. Johnson, About Danica. “5 Reasons We Need to Stop Making Jokes About Men Who Have Been Raped By Women.” Everyday Feminism, 24 Sept. 2015, everydayfeminism.com/2015/09/stop-joking-about-men-raped-by-women/.
     
  5. “Marshall University.” Womens Center, www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/.
     
  6. Ohlheiser, Abby. “The woman behind ‘Me Too’ knew the power of the phrase when she created it - 10 years ago.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 Oct. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2017/10/19/the-woman-behind-me-too-knew-the-power-of-the-phrase-when-she-created-it-10-years-ago/?utm_term=.0c9eb6058656.
     
  7. Wahl, Madeline. “How Rape Jokes Contribute to Rape Culture.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 30 Apr. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/madeline-wahl/how-rape-jokes-contribute_b_5240592.html.
     
  8. Weems, Scott. “Why Offensive Jokes Affect You More Than You Realize.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Sept. 2014, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-s-so-funny/201409/why-offensive-jokes-affect-you-more-you-realize.
     
  9. “Welcome to CDC stacks | National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) : 2010-2012 state report - 46305 | Stephen B. Thacker CDC Library collection.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/46305.

NaNoWriMo is upon us!

NaNoWriMo is upon us. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a 30-day event in November where people attempt to write a 50,000 word novel. Their Mission Statement is:

National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.
— https://nanowrimo.org/about

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2011. In that time, I have tried my hand at various Science Fiction and Fantasy tales. This year, as a motivator, I am going to try something different: you all will have the opportunity to see my progress as I go. As I'm writing, I will be posting what I am writing to my Patreon for $1+ sponsors. If I complete stories, they will be available for early download for $10+ sponsors.

I will be dedicating a good deal of my mental resources towards writing for NaNoWriMo throughout November. There will still be blog posts, of course, but they may be shorter than usual. But this will be a fun time! Check out my NaNoWriMo page here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/justin-grays


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.



Sex and Gender Part I: The Structure of Sex

There is a distinction between sex and gender: sex is a categorization that is determined by the  anatomy of one’s reproductive system, chromosomes, genitalia, hormones, and secondary sex characteristics, whereas gender is a social role based off of the sex of a person or their own identification through self-awareness. Both are constructs, malleable, and are subjected to societal standards, but they are not interchangeable. This post will talk about sex and how it is a construct.

Some say that sex is determined by one’s reproductive system, genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics and are immutable, but that argument does not hold together. There are many reasons why it does not hold together - let’s start with reproductive systems. As humans, we generally use sexual intercourse to fertilize eggs [Note 1] and continue the species. However, one may not have a complete reproductive system due to abnormalities due to genetic disorders, removal because of cancer, sexual transmitted infections, or other functional issues caused by anything ranging from environmental effects to physical damage [Note 2].
People can be born with ambiguous genitalia [7], and are assigned a sex at birth (a practice that Americans are slowly moving away from [Note 3]) or can face stigmatization, discrimination, and/or death. But it is possible for one’s genitalia to not match their reproductive system - for example, someone with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome may have undescended testes and no uterus or ovaries while having female external sex characteristics [2].
Secondary sex characteristics are characteristics that appear at puberty [15], namely body hair, breast growth, increased muscle mass, and so forth. These secondary characteristics are not very good indicators either, as almost everybody has breast tissue, there are many factors that play into how body hair grows and where, and humans have the ability to work on muscle mass through activity. Plus, we have the medical knowledge and technology to change genitalia and secondary sex characteristics - we are able to conform them to who we are and what societal constructs we recognize.

Others say that sex is determined purely by chromosomes and by hormones. While we are unable to change chromosomes, we are able to change hormones [9]. Also, everybody has a different hormone balance, and hormone levels fluctuate over time as people age and go through major life milestones. For many reasons, hormones are not immutable - and aside from environmental factors that can damage chromosomes [11], chromosomes are immutable. But most people never have their chromosomes looked at without a good reason [Note 4] - very few of us know what our chromosomal structure is. Though at least 2% of human births are known to be chromosomally intersex [3] [9], the number may be quite higher because of the fact that most people never get their chromosomes checked.

In this video, I make the argument that transgender women are not biologically male (and transgender men are not biologically female) by explaining that sex is a social construct just like gender.

There are many other reasons why sex is a construct. Riley J. Dennis has made a wonderful YouTube video about it - I suggest that you all watch it. Also, you can read more about sex being a social construct on Autostraddle, Paste Magazine, and Sociology In Focus. Stay tuned for Part II where I write about how gender is a construct.


Note 1: I say generally use sexual intercourse, because there are other ways to fertilize eggs, mainly in vitro fertilization [12]. However, there are other forms of assisted reproductive technology, including gamete intrafallopian transfer [10] [14] and zygote intrafallopian transfer [10] [13].

Note 2: Just because someone does not have a complete reproductive system, or a reproductive system at all, that does not make them less of a person, no matter their sex. There is a social stigma that goes along with not being able to reproduce, which is just foolish on its face. I will not go into it in this post, but I want to make it clear that that this unacceptable. 

Note 3: Historically, American physicians would coerce parents to assign a sex to their child at birth or just assign the child at will. This has had disastrous results; for example, the suicide of David Reimer after he was raised as a girl due to a botched circumcision [5] [8] [16]. The practice of assigning sexual characteristics to children at birth has been fought against by the intersex rights movement [7] [16], and is also now being discouraged by physicians [6] [9] [16].

In the 1960s and 1970s geneticists pursued a fascinating hypothesis: Is it possible that a man could be born with a criminal gene? For more: http://www.vox.com/2015/2/25/8103965/genetics-crime-xyy Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjO Produced & narrated by Estelle Caswell Vox.com is news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.

Note 4: According to a Vox report, “in the 1960s and 1970s research scientists conducted dozens of surveys in mental institutions, maximum security hospitals, and prisons across the world” [4], trying to link violent crime to XYY syndrome - while having the extra Y chromosome may have some effects [1], there is no correlation between the extra Y chromosome and criminal behavior.


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.



1. “47,XYY syndrome - Genetics Home Reference.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/47xyy-syndrome.

2. “Androgen insensitivity syndrome - Genetics Home Reference.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgen-insensitivity-syndrome.

3. Blackless, Melanie, et al. “How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis.” American Journal of Human Biology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 11 Feb. 2000, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6300(200003/04)12:2%3C151::AID-AJHB1%3E3.0.CO;2-F/abstract.

4. Caswell, Estelle. “The myth of the "supermale" and the extra Y chromosome.” Vox, 25 Feb. 2015, www.vox.com/2015/2/25/8103965/genetics-crime-xyy.

5. “David Reimer, 38, Subject of the John/Joan Case.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 May 2004, www.nytimes.com/2004/05/12/us/david-reimer-38-subject-of-the-john-joan-case.html.

6. Davis, Jeanie Lerche. “Clitoral Surgery Bad For Babies?” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/news/20030411/clitoral-surgery-bad-for-babies#1.

7. DeMello, Margo. Body studies an introduction. Routledge, 2014, books.google.com/books?id=-XxiAgAAQBAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s.

8. “Dr. Money And The Boy With No Penis.” Documentary Storm, 13 June 2012, documentarystorm.com/dr-money-and-the-boy-with-no-penis/.

9. Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. Perseus Books, LLC, 2000.

10. “Gamete and Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT and ZIFT) for Infertility.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/gamete-and-zygote-intrafallopian-transfer-gift-and-zift-for-infertility.

11. “How Does Radiation Affect Humans?” Bioethics Research Library of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/achre/final/intro_9_5.html.

12. “In vitro fertilization (IVF).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/home/ovc-20206838.

13. Pool, T B, et al. “Zygote intrafallopian transfer as a treatment for nontubal infertility: a 2-Year study.” Fertility and sterility., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 1990, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2397791.

14. Silva, Paul D., et al. “Gamete intrafallopian transfer. A cost-Effective alternative to donor oocyte in vitro fertilization in women aged 40-42 years.” US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9883404.

15. “What are secondary sex characteristics?” What are secondary sex characteristics? | HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 20 June 2011, health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/sexuality/secondary-sex-characteristics.htm.

16. “What's the history behind the intersex rights movement?” What's the history behind the intersex rights movement? | Intersex Society of North America, Intersex Society of North America, www.isna.org/faq/history.

A little self-promotion

Hello, everyone.

Please forgive the bit of self-promotion - I promise you that more regular blog posts are coming soon! If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating. I am looking to expand what I do to include instructional videos and podcasts, and so I will need help in getting the resources to make that happen.

To help me create quality content and have the resources for research and exploration, I have created a Patreon. I would love to be able to do this as I feel that this helps put some beauty into the world. Some of these posts have helped people figure out things happening in their lives. Others have gained a deeper understanding of topics that they were curious about. Some just learned something new. And I find it to be quite rewarding, myself. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

I hope to be able to get to a place where I can do more, but I need help in getting there. If you feel that you are in a place to become a sponsor, please go ahead! If you can't, please share this with people whom you know! As little as $1/month will do wonders to help me keep https://www.justingrays.org/ running and keep bringing quality content to you. Plus, as a patron, you will be recognized as one of my sponsors

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time. Also, you will be recognized as a donor.

By becoming a patron or by donating, we both will be getting something out of this - this is a form of symbiosis. You'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work. Your support helps make all of this possible.

I am confident that some good stuff will come of this. If you can help support this adventure, I will be most appreciative. Stay awesome, everybody!

 


You know, I want to see Cameron Esposito as a starship captain.

I was on Twitter the other day, and I was thinking to myself that I want to see Cameron Esposito as a starship captain - which got me thinking: who else should be in this sci-fi epic? And so I came up with this list:

And Gina Torres as the flag officer aboard whom the exploration group reports to.

Rhea Butcher as the chief engineer, using learned skills from Ohio.

Tig Notaro as the chief medical officer. Perfect dry wit. Has had medical issues, so actually understands pain.

Nichelle Nichols as the President of the Galactic Union. Wise and fair.

Leslie Jones leading as the XO - protective of the CO, commands the respect of the crew. Knows where the good times are at.

Linda Park as the security chief. Can go from sweet to scary at the drop of a hat.

Margaret Cho as the Command MCPO, who knows everything and everyone. All enlisted personnel look up to her.

Emma Watson as the navigator. A polymath and excited to explore.

Zoe Saldana as the helmswoman. Confident, arrogant, excitable, and an ace. Next most senior enlisted after the Command MCPO.

Kate McKinnon as the eccentric tactical officer who loves to blow shit up.

Rosario Dawson as the chief of staff for the flag aboard. The admiral's staff reports to her.

Ariel Winter as the flag lieutenant for the admiral. Young and excited to explore space.

Now, the question is: HOW DO WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN?


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


Another Review of "The Orville" - Spoiler Warning

The Orville on Fox

You may have already read my review of the pilot episode. If not, I would suggest that you do so, so that you can understand why I continued to give The Orville a chance. And I am glad that I did. There will be a spoiler-free tl;dr version at the end of this post.

Once again, Seth MacFarlane has surprised me, for this episode has a very Star Trek feel to it - however, it makes sense. I identified 4 Star Trek alumni in the pilot episode (Penny Johnson Jerald, Brian George, Brannon Braga, and David A. Goodman), and in this episode, I have identified two more:

As I said, MacFarlane got a very Star Trek feel to this episode, and was able to apply some good humor to the episode. It also has some bad humor - before the opening credits, Captain Ed Mercer was making jokes about Lieutenant Commander Bortus’s egg in front of him while they were in Mercer’s office - that seemed to me to be akin to making dead baby jokes while in your office with a newly expectant parent right in front of you. Not cool.

Somehow, MacFarlane also squeezed in a decent idea into the scene - Bortus asked Mercer about the Kermit the Frog that’s on his desk. Mercer said that Kermit is “a leader I admire. Always keeps his cool in a crisis… inspires greatness in his people…” and trails off from there. Kermit is a great character in my mind, and I am glad that he gets recognition from Mercer.

This episode does a couple of things for us:

  1. Shows part of the order of command seniority on the ship:

    1. Mercer

    2. Commander Kelly Grayson

    3. Bortus

    4. Lieutenant Alara Kitan

    5. Doctor Claire Finn

  2. Food synthesizers exist and can create alcohol and marijuana

  3. Star Wars and Dora the Explorer are still known franchises

  4. Introduces the Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Commander Steve Newton

Those are minor things, though - the major points are the two storylines. The first one is Kitan being left in command.

Halston Sage in The Orville (2017) - Image from IMDB

Kitan is very inexperienced - in the pilot episode, it is revealed that she is 23 years old. Saying that she went to Union Point at 18, and presuming that it is a 4-year academy (like the US military academies), and presuming that her age is in Earth years, she really should be an ensign right now, perhaps a lieutenant (junior grade) if she was really good. But the pilot also said that the Xelayans don’t normally join the military, and so when one does they get fast-tracked.

Now, her lack of experience shows as she first panics, tries to hand over command, takes a shot of alcohol to steel her nerves, and vomits. As she must have just very recently graduated from Union Point, the only command experience that she must have had was running her department and perhaps having a bridge watch during normal conditions. She was obviously not prepared for having command of the entire ship with the CO, XO, and 2O all out of commission, and despite the encouraging words that Grayson gave, she does not have the experience needed for her position. And so she goes to the Doctor for advice, following the tradition of Pike & Boyce and Kirk & McCoy - and at the same time, they actually pass the Bechdel test - Kitan and Finn talk, not about a man, but about Kitan being in command and what it means to be in command. And Finn gives some good advice, which Kitan wisely takes.

We get to see character development, personal growth, fear, uncertainty, indecision - a great array of emotion and events surrounding her storyline. A well-crafted story.

Though I did find it odd that Doctor Finn, being the Chief Medical Officer, was next in line for command. Perhaps she is like Doctor Crusher and is an unrestricted line officer. I mean, has taken the Bridge Officer’s Test.

By Rmkane - SVG trace of the logo from the YouTube trailer., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59084473

The second storyline is Mercer and Grayson being stuck in some sort of menagerie, a cage. They are zoo specimens and we, as an audience, get to reflect on the treatment of those whom we currently keep in zoos while they are held captive: “wasn’t intended to be cruel - we just felt as the higher species that we had the right,” Grayson says. “We are not your Shamu!” Mercer shouts. We get to see a new take on “The Cage” (TOS 0x01), and also have a commentary on Reality Television, “the best exhibit we ever had.” Take a moment to think about what our reality television makes us look like to extraterrestrials. This was a much smaller storyline, though, but still good.

TL;DR Version - Spoiler Free

This was another great episode. Reminiscent of the Star Trek episode “The Cage” (TOS 0x01), but less cerebral. It was much smoother than the first episode, and I highly suggest watching it. I would also suggest watching Captain Foley's spoiler-free review on Trekyards. Trekyards is fantastic - I love watching it.


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


2017 Elections Are Upon Us!

Hello everybody.

While midterm coverage is largely focused on the parts of Congress that do very little, vital (and bizarre) midterm elections are going unexamined. State legislators pass a lot of bills, and some of that efficiency is thanks to a group called ALEC that writes legislation for them. It's as shady as it sounds!

If you are a Minnesota resident, it is election time once again - Tuesday, November 7th. Minnesota is one of those states that has an election every year, and it is important to vote in those elections. And as John Oliver reported, local governments get more done than the federal government - unfortunately, people tend to not focus as much on what is happening locally. So I am here to help you find out what is on the local elections. For more precise information, make certain to go to the State Secretary of State's website to look at a sample ballot. If you know your address, this will give you all of the information on the ballot itself, including a PDF to download to bring with you.

The vast majority of US judges are elected, forcing many judges to pander to the electorate and accept campaign money in order to keep their jobs. This seems slightly troubling... Connect with Last Week Tonight online...

Now, Minnesota has 87 counties and 854 incorporated municipalities - also, 1,785 governmentally functioning townships, 56 unorganized territories, and many other areas [4] that I will not get into here. Now, I am not going to go into every single election happening - I am just going to do a few municipalities that people have requested that I look into. These will be in order of city population - however, if anybody wants me to make an addendum, it’ll be first come, first served. The cities that have been requested are Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Edina, and Saint Louis Park - the 1st, 2nd, 12th, and 20th largest cities in Minnesota.

It is important to vote and to know who you are voting for, because you are voicing your opinion on how things should be run. Your elected officials work for you - they are not your leaders, but the reverse. You are the leaders, and you need to be informed. From State Governor to District Court Judges, you are deciding what elected officials are enforcing, legislating, and ruling on. Be informed, and make it count. If you're not involved, you may find that your city has placed you in, as John Oliver puts it, "the fuck barrel." So be involved. On Tuesday, November 7th, get out there and vote.

Flag of the City of Minneapolis

City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County (population 413,651) [1] [5]

Mayor:
Captain Jack Sparrow (Basic Income Guarantee)
Gregg A. Iverson (DFL)
Betsy Hodges (Incumbent) (DFL)
Jacob Frey (DFL)
David Rosenfeld (Socialist Labor Party, Socialist Workers Party Endorsed)
Troy Benjegerdes (Farmer Labor)
David John Wilson (Rainbows Butterflies Unicorns)
Charlie Gers (Libertarian Party)
Tom Hoch (DFL)
Al Flowers (DFL)
Raymond Dehn (DFL)
Nekima Levy-Pounds (DFL)
L.A. Nik (Independant)
Ronald Lischeid (People Over Politics)
Ian Simpson (The Idea Party)
Aswar Rahman (DFL)

Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board:
Park & Recreation Board At Large (Elect 3): Devin Hogan (DFL Endorsed), Bob Sullentrop (GOP Endorsed), Londel French (DFL Endorsed), Mike Derus (DFL), Russ Henry (DFL Endorsed), Charlie Casserly, LaTrisha Vetaw, Jonathan Honerbrink (GOP Endorsed), Meg Forney (Incumbent) (DFL)

Park & Recreation Board District 1: Billy Menz (Green Party Endorsed), Mohamed Issa Barre, Chris Meyer (DFL Endorsed)

Park & Recreation Board District 2: Mike Talley Tate (DFL), Kale Severson (DFL Endorsed)

Park & Recreation Board District 3: AK Hassan (DFL), Abdi Gurhan Mohamed (DFL), Charles Exner (Green Party Endorsed)

Park & Recreation Board District 4: Jono Cowgill (DFL Endorsed, Labor Endorsed), Tom Nordyke (DFL)

Park & Recreation Board District 5: Steffanie Musich (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed), Bill Shroyer (DFL), Andrea Fahrenkrug

Park & Recreation Board District 6: Brad Bourn (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed), Jennifer Zielinski (GOP Endorsed), Bob Fine, Robert Schlosser

City Council:
Ward 1:  Kevin Reich (Incumbent) (DFL), Jillia Pessenda (DFL), John Hayden (Independent)

Ward 2: Cam Gordon (Incumbent) (Green Party Endorsed)

Ward 3: Tim Bildsoe (DFL), Steve Fletcher (DFL Endorsed), Samantha Pree-Stinson (Green Party Endorsed), Ginger Jentzen (Socialist Alternative)

Ward 4: Barbara Johnson (Incumbent) (DFL), Phillipe Cunningham (DFL), Stephanie Gasca (DFL), Dana Hansen (Libertarian Party Endorsed)

Ward 5: Blong Yang (Incumbent) (DFL), Jeremiah Ellison (DFL Endorsed), Cathy Spann (DFL), Raeisha Willliams (DFL)

Ward 6: Abdi Warsame (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed), Mohamud Noor (DFL), Fadumo Yusuf (GOP Endorsed)

Ward 7: Lisa Goodman (Incumbent) (DFL), Janne Flisrand (DFL), Teqen Zea-Aida (DFL), Joe Kovacs (GOP Endorsed)

Ward 8: Andrea Jenkins (DFL Endorsed), April Kane (DFL), Terry White (Green Party Endorsed): David Holsinger (Libertarian Party)

Ward 9: Alondra Cano (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed), Mohamed Farah (DFL), Gary Schiff (DFL), Ronald Peterson (GOP)

Ward 10: Lisa Bender (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed), Saralyn Romanishan (DFL), David Schorn (DFL), Bruce Lundeen (GOP Endorsed)

Ward 11: John Quincy (Incumbent) (DFL), Erica Mauter (DFL), Jeremy Schroeder (DFL)

Ward 12: Andrew Johnson (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed), Will Jaeger (Independent), Harrison Bullard (Independent Health Labor)

Ward 13: Linea Palmisano (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed), Bob Reuer (Independent)

Board of Estimate & Taxation (Elect 2):
Carol Becker (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed)
David Wheeler (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed)


Flag of the City of Saint Paul

City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County (population 302,398)

Mayor:
Sharon Anderson (GOP)
Melvin Carter III (DFL)
Trahern Jeen Crews (Green Party)
Elizabeth Dickinson (Green Party Endorsed)
Tom Goldstein (DFL)
Pat Harris (DFL)
Chris Holbrook (Libertarian)
Tim Holden (Independant)
Dai Thao (DFL)
Barnabas Y'shua

Saint Paul Public Schools School Board At Large:
John Brodrick (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed)
Jeanelle Foster (Incumbent) (DFL Endorsed)
Luke Bellville
Greg Copeland (GOP Endorsed)
Andrea Touhey
Marny Xiong (DFL Endorsed)


Saint Louis Park, Hennepin County (population 48,747) [3]

Edina, Hennepin County (population 51,350) [2]

Flag of the City of Edina

Discover Saint Louis Park

City Council:
Ward 1: Margaret Rog (Justin Grays Endorsed), Brian Shekleton
Ward 2: Anne Mavity (Justin Grays Endorsed), Noelle Racette
Ward 3: Rachel Harris (Justin Grays Endorsed), Jim Leuthner
Ward 4: Tim Brausen (Justin Grays Endorsed)

Saint Louis Park School Board:
Bruce Cantor
Anne Casey
Christine M Johnson
Mary Tomback
Karen D. Waters

School District Questions
Question #1
Question #2


More videos to watch:

Special districts spend more public money than all city governments combined. That's odd considering most of us don't know they exist. Connect with Last Week Tonight online...
Every American deserves an equal vote. But in some states, access to voting is becoming less and less equal. Connect with Last Week Tonight online...

If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.



Works Cited:

  1. “Candidate Filings - 2017.” Candidate filings - Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services, vote.minneapolismn.gov/candidate/filing. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017.
  2. “Edina Public Schools.” School Board / 2017 Board Election, www.edinaschools.org/Page/5041. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017.
  3. “St. Louis Park, MN.” Elections | St. Louis Park, MN, www.stlouispark.org/government/elections. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017.
  4. Stewart, Carolyn. “US Census Bureau Publications - Census of Population and Housing.” Census of Population and Housing - Publications - U.S. Census Bureau, 19 Aug. 2011, www.census.gov/prod/www/decennial.html. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017. Downloaded the PDF Census of Population and Housing, 2010 - CPH-1. Summary of Population and Housing Characteristics - Minnesota PDF Location: https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/cph-2-25.pdf
  5. “What's on the ballot?” What's on the Ballot? - Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services, vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/ballot. Accessed 23 Sept. 2017.

Review of "The Orville" - Spoiler Warning

On 10Sept2017, The Orville premiered on Fox. Personally, I rather enjoyed it. This post contains spoilers. Spoiler-free tl;dr version at the end of this post.

The Orville on Fox

Now, I do not like Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, American Dad) himself - I find him to be incredibly transphobic (for example, the Family Guy Episode “Quagmire’s Dad”), sexist (the song “We Saw Your Boobs” during the Oscars), racist (the Family Guy episode “Baby Got Black” - especially the song “Thank The Whites”), homophobic, ableist, anti-semitic, and a litany of other things. Just type into Google “Seth MacFarlane” and add in any one of these modifiers, and you’ll see many, many reasons and references behind why he is such a problematic individual. I cannot like him as a person, and I will never be able to like any of his comedies. Seth MacFarlane is not a great satirist.

There are two things that really twists my ‘locs, however, that made me give The Orville a chance. The first thing is that Gene Roddenberry, the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself, was a highly problematic individual (a topic for a different post). The second thing is that MacFarlane is a huge fan of Star Trek and knows it very, very well. He was in two episodes of Enterprise as Ensign Rivers, frequently has Star Trek cast and crew members on his productions, and has brought in many people from Star Trek to work with him on The Orville, including:

It is because of all of this that I gave The Orville a chance - that, and the advertisements that came across my screen were very good (targeted advertising really works well). They calculated what I find to be interesting, and hit me with the appropriate adverts.

By Rmkane - SVG trace of the logo from the YouTube trailer., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59084473

MacFarlane created a science fiction show that felt very realistic while being futuristic. From Lieutenant Alara Kitan’s youthful inexperience and eagerness to show that she can be counted upon, to Captain Ed Mercer’s weak attempts at humor to break the ice with his new senior staff, to Doctor Finn being the experienced physician who goes where she feels she is most needed, the feeling of actual human (or humanoid) interaction felt very natural. And the banter - Lieutenant John LaMarr asking Lieutenant Gordon Malloy if he saw the dog licking itself in the background. “First thing I saw,” he replied; the kind of thing that I imagine starfleet crews doing behind the backs of the captain and XO. It all felt like we were watching the crews of an actual starship, not a hero vessel (the Enterprise or Defiant or Voyager being super serious and bigger-than-life at all times), living their lives.

Also, for the most part, everybody seems capable at their jobs. Kitan carried handcuffs with her (as a security officer, why wouldn’t you have restraints on you while on away missions) and made certain to have her people secure the Krill who was left on the shuttle (granted, they forgot to check the shuttle for any Krill, but I’ll give them a pass as they were in a hurry). Lieutenant Commander Bortus attempts to keep a semblance of formality on the bridge, while at the same time being willing to accept unorthodox methods and encouraging his subordinates when it is best for them and for the ship.

O'Connell, Michael. “Fox Sets Fall Premiere Dates, 'Orville' Gets Post-NFL Push.” The Hollywood Reporter, 22 June 2017, 11:00am, cdn1.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/scale_crop_768_433/2017/05/Orville_group_build_ss12_hires2H2017.jpg.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed some of the nods to Star Trek that came up in the course of the episode. Mercer and Malloy’s shuttle ride to the Orville was very reminiscent of James T. Kirk and Montgomery Scott travelling to the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the opening speech that Mercer gave his crew was much like Kirk greeting his new crew (again in ST: TMP), and the Orville leaving Dockyard much like the Enterprise departing Spacedock in The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan. Even the Orville being sent on a false supply mission was similar to the Enterprise being diverted to Planet Q under false pretenses in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Conscious of the King." The gathering of the crew was much like the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Encounter at Farpoint” and the crew trying to get a feel for each other felt like first season TNG. Everything was kind of shaky in the way that first season TNG was shaky - everybody and everything was new, and nobody quite knew what they were doing yet, but they were working on getting there.

The Technology:

The opening scene has many futuristic items - flying cars, tall skyscrapers, apartments with single-vehicle parking. The flying cars in particular reminds me very much like The Jetsons, a huge dome with minimal controls that appears to be flying on autopilot. The buildings are a mix of angular and futuristic with blocky and modern, and all of them have green spaces all over them, as if our modern efforts to preserve life on this planet became a part of the future architecture. Even now, we are incorporating green roofs, solar panels, and miniature wind turbines into our cityscapes and homes.

A holodeck by any other name (this name being “Environmental Simulator”) is a holodeck nonetheless.  “Justin the Ogre” was a wonderful addition - a program being written, with a giant “YOU WIN” added for when you defeat your enemy. It speaks to how humans have been interested in making things fun and giving themselves a reward, and will continue to do so - taking anarchisms and fantasy and playing with them. Right now we play “Dungeons & Dragons,” read Lord of the Rings, and even Game of Thrones is a hit TV-show. We probably will be doing similar in another 400 years.

The computer that Mercer uses in his office is frosted on the backside. So many futuristic computers use hard light technology, but are totally transparent so that the person on the other side can whatever you are typing - this time, one cannot read what is being written. That is so perfect! A portable computer that emits light that is also one-sided so that you can keep private information private.

The com-scanner appears to combine a tricorder and a communicator. It is something that I have always wanted to see - we in the 21st century have our smartphones that do everything while making calls; why not have a scanning device that also calls the ship and other members of the away team? This is a logical progression from the communicators that we have seen in Star Trek and the communications and scientific technology that we have in real life.

And then there are the more mundane things - deflector screens instead of shields (they are pretty much the same thing, but won’t get the name mixed up with Star Trek) and having restraints in the shuttles (literally seat belts - something that Star Trek keeps neglecting, except for the latest movies).

The Uniforms:

Miller, Liz Shannon. “‘The Orville’ Review: Seth MacFarlane’s ‘Star Trek’ Rip-Off Is Creatively, Morally, and Ethically Bankrupt.” IndieWire, 8 Sept. 2017, 11:13am, www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/orv101_promo_stills_2017-05-10_005_r_hires1.jpg?w=780.

From the very first trailer, I was able to readily identify the meaning of everybody’s uniforms and accurately figure out almost everybody’s positions at a glance. Purple is Admiralty, Blue is Command, Green is Science/Medical, Red is Tactical/Security, and Orange is Support Services. Gray is most likely enlisted/NCO. The officers ranks on the shoulders clearly indicate what ranks each person is. Also, they have pockets. Star Trek is famous for lacking pockets, but The Orville decided to not go that route and include them anyway (plus, it helps resolve the first episode while keeping in-show continuity). Plus, the uniforms are very clean, very smooth, very much Star Trek like without being a complete ripoff of Star Trek.

The Characters:

Commander Kelly Grayson is the perfect executive officer - knowledgeable, compassionate, and gets people to improve themselves without them even knowing it. Malloy reminds me of certain friends of mine who are flippant about things that others take seriously (like one’s job). “I’m worried about my job! Alright? This is very important to me.” Gordon then proceeds to act like an idiot - I’ve known many people like this (I will not name names), who will put your job at risk for their own amusement. Mercer is very inexperienced but earnest, finally getting what he has dreamed of since he was a child.

Dislikes:

MacFarlane leaned way, waaaaay to hard on the ex-wife trope. While Mercer was bringing up the divorce in inappropriate situations, and in the most unhealthy of ways, Grayson handled it like a professional - even the one time he used it as a tactical advantage instead of ignoring his duties, she went ahead and used it as a tactical advantage while making her point. But MacFarlane also fell into the trope of having the female lead being more capable than the male lead, and yet she is the XO while he is the CO.

“You got wood” is not better than “happy Arbor Day” as a catchphrase when you win. Only Mercer, Grayson, and Doctor Aronov knew what Arbor Day was, and that was a minor disappointment. This is just a personal gripe, though - very minor.

TL;DR VERSION - SPOILER FREE

I liked The Orville - it reminded me of first season Star Trek: The Next Generation, from everybody being new and uncertain to the fantastical technology to the going somewhere new and not being sure what will be there. Even down to having to wait for commercials (I watched it on broadcast TV while sitting on a couch with friends), I felt like I was watching TNG again. I am looking forward to seeing more episodes.


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I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

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I'm still here - things have just been hectic!

Good evening, all! Just a quick note to you all before I head off to bed.

My apologies for not posting more regularly as of late - things have been incredibly busy. I have ended one job, started another job, gotten reacquainted with some old friends, helped other friends with their kids, and dealt with a multitude of other things. At the same time, I have begun drafting two blog posts as well as worked more on a science fiction story, so I have not been totally idle on the website end of things! I can't say with 100% certainty when I will have the next post up, but I hope that it is very soon. I am getting settled in on this job, and other aspects of life are smoothing out.

In the mean time, I have done a few things to the website, which some of you may have noticed. First, I have made it possible to subscribe to blog posts! I'm still working out the web formatting, but one step at a time.

Secondly, I have a Patreon now - I created it to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. For those who want to make a one-time donation, I also have PayPal and SquareCash.

Thirdly, I have created a calendar to show when I am going to be on panels at future events. If you are planning on being at one of these conventions, please feel free to come and check out the panels!

Take care, all. Another post coming ASAP.


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.



The GOP is not the Party of Lincoln - A Brief History. Part I: Whigged Beginnings

Note: Due to the length of the topic, this will be a multi-part post.


An iconic photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.

Alexander Gardner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Back in June, a friend of mine said “I really think it's time for the Democrats to reclaim Lincoln from the Republican Party.” It was quickly pointed out that Lincoln was indeed a Republican [4], which is factually correct, but ignores the differences in the politics and policies of the Republican Party of the 1860s and the Republican Party of the 2010s. When looking at political parties of any era, especially when comparing parties of said eras, it is important to take into account the political realities of the time, the stances of the parties, the viewpoints of the members of the parties, and what the parties were voting for. For example, in my blog post about Minnesota’s voting history, I brought up that Minnesota overwhelmingly voted Progressive (Bull-Moose) in 1912 [1][6][9], while the Republicans had the majority in 1972 [2][7][9] and the Democrats in 2012 [8][9][10] - in each case, the candidate who won Minnesota happened to be the more progressive candidate. The same goes for Lincoln.

Depending on one’s point of view, the United States is currently either in the Fifth or Sixth Party System [Note 1][Note 2], however, Lincoln and the Republican Party of his era were in the Third Party System. As the Second Party System came to a close, the Whig Party was collapsing - slavery was a major issue that split the party. In the northeast, Whigs cared about national unity but didn’t care about slavery. In the north, Whigs thought that slavery was incompatible with the (then) modern economy. In the south, Whigs supported a strong textile industry and often found themselves aligned with the northeast as well as supported a stronger fugitive slave law. Anti-slavery Whigs and some Free-Soil Democrats joined together to fight the Kansas-Nebraska Act (the act that opened Kansas and Nebraska territories to slavery, repealing the Missouri Compromise) [21] [Note 3]. Eventually, the South attempted to secede from the Union, the Civil War was fought with a Union Victory, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed [20]. This was the period of the Republicans being the progressive party [Note 4].

This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice. Unless its author has been dead for several years, it is copyrighted in jurisdictions that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for US works, such as Canada (50 p.m.a.), Mainland China (50 p.m.a., not Hong Kong or Macao), Germany (70 p.m.a.), Mexico (100 p.m.a.), Switzerland (70 p.m.a.), and other countries with individual treaties.

Like the Whigs before them, the Republican Party had factions: Radical Republicans [14][16][17], who wanted Blacks to have the same freedoms as Whites and to have harsh punishments for rebels; Moderate Republicans[14] (with Lincoln as their leader), who wanted to reintegrate the Confederate States back into the Union as quickly as possible, and the Conservative Republicans who opposed the Radical Republicans.

Enter the Fourth Party System. After Reconstruction happened in the south, Republican power waned as Democrats reasserted themselves in the Solid South. Great wealth has come to the North because the Republican leaders had become plutocrats - high tariffs and high spending, which did not help the southern plantations but was a boon for northern industries. Also, the Panic of 1893 [11][Note 5] led to a major Republican victory in the elections, which restored the confidence of businesses. The Republicans were seen as the friend of business, while still holding the mantle of being the progressive party. But this also caused friction within the party, as progressive members became concerned that party leaders and businesses were getting too comfortable with each other.

TO BE CONTINUED.


Note 1: To quote Wikipedia, “a party system is a concept in comparative political science concerning the system of government by political parties in a democratic country. The idea is that political parties have basic similarities: they control the government, have a stable base of mass popular support, and create internal mechanisms for controlling funding, information and nominations” [12] - that is to say, how many relevant parties there are, how fragmented they are, and how effective each party is defines a party system.

Note 2: The contention between whether we are in the Fifth or Sixth Party System comes from whether or not one sees the Civil Rights Era and the Reagan Era as a continuation of the New Deal or as separate events. Those who agree that we are in the Sixth Party System generally cannot agree when it began, however - either the Civil Rights Era or the Reagan Era was the beginning of the Sixth party System. 

Note 3: At this point, the American Civil War comes into play, after the election of President Lincoln. The short version is that the Southern States wanted to keep slaves, and the Northern States wanted to abolish slavery. I am not going to get into this, because the Civil War is a whole post of its own, with ties into current events (Klu Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Criminal Justice System, and the events happening right now in Charlottesville, Virginia).

Probably a good idea.

This is not true. At all.

Note 4: During the 2016 election, there had been a meme going around indicating that the Republican Party was a third party, and that Abraham Lincoln was a third party candidate [3][18] - this is a fabrication supported by supporters of Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party [18][19][22]. The third parties of the era were the Greenback Party [5], the Populist Party [13], and the Prohibition Party [15], while the main parties were the Democrats and Republicans.

Note 5: I am not going to get into the Panic of 1893 here, as that is another story unto itself. Here’s the short version: a wheat crop failure and a coup in Buenos Aires caused European investors to be concerned that problems might spread, causing them to make a run at US gold reserves in the US Treasury. This caused Grover Cleveland (D) to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which caused people to run to the banks to withdraw their money, which caused bank runs. At the same time, there was a financial panic in London, a drop in European trade, and foreign investors selling American stocks to get gold. After banks closed, businesses failed, and farms shut down, a bunch of finger pointing happened and the Republicans swept the 1894 elections. [11]


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


1. “1912 Presidential Election.” The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/showelection.php?year=1912. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

2. “1972 Presidential Election.” The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/showelection.php?year=1972. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

3. Anne, Libby. “Abraham Lincoln Was Not a Third Party Candidate.” Love, Joy, Feminism, Patheos, 26 Sept. 2016, www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2016/09/abraham-lincoln-was-not-a-third-party-candidate.html. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

4. Freidel, Frank, and Hugh Sidey. “Abraham Lincoln.” The White House, The United States Government, 8 Mar. 2017, www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/abrahamlincoln. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017. The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.

5. “Greenback Party.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Aug. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenback_Party. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

6. Leip, David. “1912 Presidential General Election Results - Minnesota.” Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/state.php?year=1912&fips=27&off=0&elect=0&f=0. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

7. Leip, David. “1972 Presidential General Election Results - Minnesota.” Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/state.php?year=1972&f=1&off=0&elect=0&fips=27&submit=Retrieve. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

8. Leip, David. “2012 Presidential General Election Results - Minnesota.” Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/state.php?year=2012&fips=27&off=0&elect=0&f=0. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

9. “Minnesota Elections: Dates and Vote Totals.” Election Results - Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/mngov/electionresults. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

10. “MN Election Results.” Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, electionresults.sos.state.mn.us/ENR/home/1. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

11. “Panic of 1893.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Aug. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1893. Accessed 16 Aug. 2017.

12. “Party system.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Aug. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_system. Accessed 12 Aug. 2017.

13. “People's Party (United States).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Aug. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Party_(United_States). Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

14. “Presidential and Congressional Reconstruction Plans - AP U.S. History Topic Outlines - Study Notes.” Study Notes, www.apstudynotes.org/us-history/topics/presidential-and-congressional-reconstruction-plans/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

15. “Prohibition Party.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Aug. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_Party. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

16. “Radical Reconstruction.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, www.ushistory.org/us/35b.asp. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

17. “Radical Republicans.” Ohio History Central, Ohio History Connection, www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Radical_Republicans. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

18. Rouner, Jef. “Dear Libertarians: Stop Saying Abraham Lincoln Was a Third Party Candidate.” Houston Press, 20 Oct. 2016, www.houstonpress.com/arts/dear-libertarians-stop-saying-abraham-lincoln-was-a-third-party-candidate-8713006. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

19. Stanley, T L. “Abe Lincoln Trashes Clinton and Trump in This Insane Ad for Libertarian Gary Johnson.” Adweek, Adweek, 29 Aug. 2016, www.adweek.com/creativity/abe-lincoln-trashes-clinton-and-trump-insane-ad-libertarian-gary-johnson-173174/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017. Harmon Brothers strike again

20. “The Civil Rights Bill of 1866.” US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives, history.house.gov/Historical-Highlights/1851-1900/The-Civil-Rights-Bill-of-1866/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

21. “The Origins of the Republican Party.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, www.ushistory.org/gop/origins.htm. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.

22. Wilson, J. “Johnson Super PAC's 'Dead Abe Lincoln' Video Is 2016's Most Viewed Ad.” A Libertarian Future, 15 Sept. 2016, alibertarianfuture.com/big-government/propaganda/johnson-super-pacs-dead-abe-lincoln-video-is-2016s-most-viewed-political-ad/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.


To Survive, Persons of Color are Taught Differently.

Back on 10March2017, I was pulled over by the Saint Louis Park Police Department. The light over the rear license plate was burnt out - the person whom I had borrowed the vehicle from knew that the light was burnt out and told me that she was going to replace it. I was under the understanding that she was going to replace it before I borrowed the vehicle, but she did not get around to it. She's a white ruralite who does not understand the importance of having every part of a vehicle being up to specs at all times. Fortunately, I only received a verbal warning.

Shoulder patch for the Saint Louis Park Police Department

I was driving a friend of mine home. She's a white suburbanite who has never had to deal with the police before. As we were driving, I noticed a car quickly turn a corner and get up and personal to the rear of us. From the driving style and the way that the headlights were partially blocked, I knew that it was a police car, and I could tell immediately that we were going to get pulled over by how the police officer was following us (speed, distance, starting out with headlights off when turning the corner and then intensity of headlights when they came on). My passenger and I were talking about something, and I said, "we'll continue this after we get pulled over."
"Okay?"
*police lights come on*
"Oh."

When the officer was asking us where we were going, my passenger started providing too much information about where we came from. My tension level went up. One thing that we have always been taught is to never give the police too much information - it will always be used against you. There are seven words that we all have to know: "yes, sir," "no, sir," and "thank you, sir." Keep it to a minimum.

Shoulder patch for the Edina Police Department

The officer went back to the squad car to run my license. My friend dug through pockets to look for her phone. I said, "don't make any sudden movements." My tension level went up again - one false move could get us killed. All it takes is one police officer who fears a person of color to see a sudden move from anybody, even an imagined move, for another one of us to die. She was surprised. "I thought that he was far enough away," she said. Sadly, if you are in visual range, you are not far enough away.

Fortunately, the police officer just returned my license and sent us on our way. My passenger thought that the police officer was being demeaning when he sent us on our way (he had said to me, "do me a favor - get her home safe," and I promised that I would). I, on the other hand, was glad that he did not ask me to step out of the vehicle, or worse. Normally, I'm not afraid of the Saint Louis Park Police Department because I've been working with the Multicultural Advisory Committee, because I'm on a first name basis with the Chief, Deputy Chief, and some of the Officers, and because I know that our Police Department is working hard at equity and cultural competence. It's not like we were pulled over by the Edina Police Department or the Minneapolis Police Department. But I had a passenger who was doing the things that should never be done around police officers, and so instead of merely being nervous, I was actually afraid.

Badge of the Minneapolis Police Department

The next morning, I went to a local mechanic to get the light on the car replaced. The person whom I had borrowed the car from did not understand the sense of urgency of having that minor light replaced. For her, it was nothing. For me, it might be an inconvenience, or it might be my life. 

I, as a person of color, have been taught how to deal with the police in such a way to maximize survival - to live another day. My friends have not had to worry about police encounters. Such a concept is alien to them. We, as persons of color, are taught different because we live in a different reality.


An emotional scene from ABC TV's "black-ish" (A sitcom about the everyday lives of an African-American family) - Season 2, Episode 16 - Wednesday, February 24th, 2016. A remarkable episode about the realities and fear of police brutality. A very serious topic for a sitcom.

The ABC-TV show blackish has an important scene that talks about the world in which we live - how persons of color are treated differently by law enforcement, how the deck is stacked against us. They reference the death of Freddie Gray, the death of Sandra Bland, and that even if we do what we are told, that is not any guarantee that we will come out alive. And they have another importance scene that talks about how the deck is stacked against us.

Junior schools Dre on the judicial system. black-ish - Subscribe: http://goo.gl/mo7HqT

We get told again and again, do not talk to the police. Do not talk to the police. Do not talk to the police. Black people make up 13% of the US population, and yet 40% of the incarcerated population. Hispanic/Latinx people make up 16% of the US population, and yet 19% of the incarcerated population. And numerous studies show that Hispanics/Latinx and Blacks tend to receive harsher sentences than whites, even with comparable backgrounds and crimes.

So we are taught differently. We have to be taught differently if we want to have a chance at living. From racial profiling to stop-and-frisk, from having to deal with mandatory minimums to hoping to get a jury of our peers, we get taught differently from an early age just so that we can survive another day.



If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.

CONvergence 2017 - Two Weeks Later

Since I have returned home, I have not had a change to down the notes that I took on the the other panels that I attended at CONvergence - "Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender and the Comic Book Medium" and "Latinx Empowerment Through Latinx Heroes" (I also attended "Don't Go There: Taboo Topics and Triggers In Art," but I did not take any notes) - but now I have a moment to get some thoughts down. These two panels do tie into the other panels that I was on (read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4), and I plan on writing out detailed thoughts about these as time permits.

Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender and the Comic Book Medium

The concepts of race being gendered and gender being raced:
Artemis in Wonder Woman being described as "brutish"
Other persons of color who have been described as brutes: Venus and Serena Williams
See "Cult of True Womanhood" and CONvergence 2017 - Day 3

When writing characters, be certain to avoid tokenism. See CONvergence 2017 - Day 1 and On Tokenism.

We as a people need to remember that not all women have vaginas, and not all men have penises.

One of the difficulties of being a person of color, and especially a woman of color, is ending up representing one's entire race when among a group of people. See White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack and On Tokenism.

Rosario Dawson -> is she in everything?

Code-switching -> AAVE, why we do code-switching, and the social significance.

Race-bending versus whitewashing - also, listen to 50 Shades of Blackface

Panelists: Bri Donovan (mod), Morgan Strickland, AlysshaRose Jordan

 

Latinx Empowerment Through Latinx Heroes

Latinx characters to learn more about:
El Diablo -> DC Character, created by Jai Nitz (one of the panelists)
America Chavez
Blue Beetle (Young Justice)
Zorro - especially the novelization written by Isabel Allende
Elena of Avalor
El Dorado (Super Friends) - didn't show up in comics until Jai Nitz put him in
Cisco Kid
Desi Arnaz

Tejano - a Mexican-American inhabitant of Southern Texas.
People in general need to learn about cowboys (Spanish roots, Vaqueros, and the lie of the "American Heroes of the West")
Passing Privilege -> the advantages of looking White
Colorism -> a subset of racism, where having lighter skin is viewed as "better"

Fixers in the community - to whites, criminals; to members of the community, Robin Hoods.
"Criminal doesn't just mean bad."
Lack of representation adds to ideas of monstrosity
"If the only person of color is a villain, I'm; gonna gravitate towards her." - Bri

Stories to check out:
Bitch Planet - Vita Ayala
Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo and Amanda Waller - Vita Ayala
High Aztech
Cortez on Jupiter

Panelists: Bri Donovan (mod), SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE, Jai Nitz, Andrea Peraza, Clarissa Goldsmith


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


CONvergence 2017 - Day 4

To catch up on the weekend, here are Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

"Steven Universe as Queer Space Opera" was the final panel that I was on - we had great conversations about queer shaped relationships, gender and gender roles, polyamory, and how having a child-orientated cartoon that features these subjects is important.

Some of the things to think about that I plan on expanding on in future posts that came out of this panel include:

  • What is Space Opera?
  • What is Gender?
  • Toxic Masculinity
  • Caste Systems

Also, the importance of Fusion and what it represents - Intimacy, Sex, Friendship - and how it can be perverted by coercion and toxic relationships. 

Lastly, I had promised that I would put up what I imagine the caste hierarchy to look like. I created this after I watched "The Zoo," so I will have to make some adjustments as we get to see more of the new gems whom have been introduced. If you have any thoughts on how the heirarchy should be, please comment - I would love to hear from you.

Panelists: Justin Grays (mod), Ryan Alexander, Bri Donovan, Jesse Haller, Lara Richardson


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


CONvergence 2017 - Day 3

If you haven't read CONvergence 2017 - Day 1 or CONvergence 2017 - Day 2 already, I would suggest that you read those two entries first - the four panels that I was on, "Speculative Fiction Against Colonialism," "Avoiding Tokenism in Comics & Sci Fi Characters," "Diversity, Class Systems, and Equality in Science Fiction" and "50 Shades of Blackface," all relate to tonight's panel: "Androids, AI, And Gender Theory."

This post will be in three parts: First, a couple of definitions and points - these definitions will be without citation, as I jotted them down in a notebook for reference for the panel, though I do plan on revisiting them in a future post. Second, a listing of media that has to do with stories about Androids, AI, and/or Gender. Third, free-form notes that were taken during the panel that I plan on elaborating on at a later date.

Definitions and Points

  • Race is gendered, and gender is raced
    • Asians are seen as more feminine
    • Africans are seen as more masculine
  • The concept of gendered racism
  • Non-gendered pronouns:
    • Xe (Rickter, c. 1973)
    • Ze, hir (Bornstein, n.d.)
    • Ze, zir (Unknown, c. 2013)
    • Singular they (14th century - didn't start becoming frowned upon until 19th century)
  • Cis - from the Latin, "on this side of"
  • Trans - from the Latin, "across from" or "on the other side of"
  • Android comes from the Greek root word ἀνδρ-, "man" (male, as opposed to anthrop-, human being) and the suffix -oid, "having the form or likeness of." 

Media to Read/Watch

Dark Matter - Science Fiction Series based on a comic book
Saturn's Children - novel by Charles Stross
Humans Need Not Apply - documentary by CGP Grey
A.I. Artificial Intelligence - Science Fiction movie
Forging Hephaestus - novel by Drew Hayes
Westworld - Science Fiction Series based on a movie
Bicentennial Man - Science Fiction movie based on a book
Lock In - novel by John Scalzi
Mass Effect - video game trilogy
Ancillary Justice - novel by Ann Leckie
Person of Interest - Science Fiction Series
Adventure Time - Animated Television Series
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 - Anime Television Series (must be watched in Japanese to get the gender identity contexts)
The Lunar Chronicles - tetralogy by Marissa Meyer
Questionable Content - webcomic by Jeph Jacques

Notes

Gender Identity and Gender Presentation are two parts of one's gender. One is implicitly stated, and the other is how one expresses themselves.

English, Spanish, and Portuguese are invasionary languages.

Virtual Intelligence is not quite at the level of what we perceive Artificial Intelligence to be. Yet.

Humans Need Not Apply discusses how AI is progressing in such a way that we will have to change what it means to be a productive member of society.

HitchBOT, a Hitchhiking Robot that successfully traveled across Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany, was murdered in Philadelphia in 2015.

What purpose is there for an Android and/or AI to have gender? Could an Android/AI be trans, gender-fluid, and/or non-bindary? Is agency involved, and to what degree? 

Panelists: Jamie Riedesel (mod), Susan Willson, Nat Morse-Noland, Justin Grays


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I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

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CONvergence 2017 - Day 2

If you didn't read the previous post, CONvergence 2017 - Day 1, I would suggest checking that out first. The panels that I was on, "Speculative Fiction Against Colonialism" and "Avoiding Tokenism in Comics & Sci Fi Characters," were both directly related to today's panels, "Diversity, Class Systems, and Equality in Science Fiction" and "50 Shades of Blackface."


Diversity, Class Systems, and Equality in Science Fiction

The comic Ten Thousand by XKCD was brought up - it is a reminder to not make fun of people for not knowing something. Let us remember that not everybody knows what people think that everybody must know.

List of media to check out:

"Take My Wife" - TV Series on Seeso by Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher
Kindred - by Octavia E. Butler
Lilith's Brood (previously collected in the now out of print volume Xenogenesis) - by Octavia E. Butler
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - by Robert A. Heinlein
"Steven Universe" - Cartoon Series on Cartoon Network by Rebecca Sugar
The Neanderthal Parallax - by Robert J. Sawyer
"Firebringer" - Musical on YouTube
Lifelode - by Jo Walton
The Tale of the Five - by Diane Duane
Heralds of Valdemar - Mercedes Lackey
Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements - Compilation of works
The Dancers of Arun - by Elizabeth A. Lynn

Quote in Octavia's Brood: "For those of us from communities with historic collective trauma, we must understand that each of us is already science fiction walking around on two legs. Our ancestors dreamed us up and then bent reality to create us." - Walidah Imerisha

Panelists: Lana Rosario (mod), Emilie Peck, Justin Grays, Peregrine Johnson, Gregory Parks

More Reading: "Why Include Disability Diversity In Sci-Fi?" by Emilie Peck


50 Shades of Blackface

Audio recording provided by Jason Thibeault. This is the rough cut - not normalized or trimmed. Enjoy it in the raw.
And this is the cleaned up cut - Jason cut off the ends pre- and post-panel, normalized, noise reduced, and a little leveling so you can hear the audience questions better. Enjoy it here.

Panelists: Justin Grays, Stephanie Stensland (mod), Sarah Molasky, Morgan Strickland, Charlene Holm


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


CONvergence 2017 - Day 1

CONvergence is an annual convention about Science Fiction and Fantasy, held at the Doubletree Hilton and the Sheraton in Bloomington, Minnesota. This year's theme is To Infinity and Beyond: Epic Tales of Space Opera. Today I was on two panels, "Speculative Fiction Against Colonialism" and "Avoiding Tokenism in Comics & Sci Fi Characters" - in both of the panels, I said that I would gather the books and/or sources that were discussed and put them up on here.


Speculative Fiction Against Colonialism

Avoiding Tokenism in Comics & Sci Fi Characters

List of books and comics:

Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Buffalo Soldier by Maurice Broaddus
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction
Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture
 by Ytasha L. Womack
Sioux Falls by Z.M.Thomas

Panelists: Gabriela Santiago, Rob Callahan (mod), Justin Grays

Sources for helping write without Tokenism:

Writing with Color
Writing the Other (Website) (Twitter)
Talk to program officers at foundations or philanthropies that have a track record of establishing equity.

Panelists: Justin Grays, Nat Morse-Noland (mod), Kerry Peterson, Jim Soos, Ian Truitner


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


On Tokenism

Token. Noun. "An item, idea, person, etc., representing a group; a part as representing the whole; sample; indication" [4].

Tokenism. Noun. "The policy or practice of making only a symbolic effort (as to desegregate)" [5]; "the practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly" [5].


This post talks about my experiences with tokenism as it pertains to race. It does not reflect gender identity, sexuality, or orientation. I may write about those aspects of being a token in a later post.


As far back as I can remember, I have often been the token member of a group. Not always, but often. When I was five, the parents of the rich kid at school wanted him to have a Black friend, and I was elected - he was a jerk to me, and I hated him for being a jerk. I never really thought about it again until high school - that's when I noticed that I was one of the very few persons of color at my school [Note 1] and started noticing the racial disparities in my life. Things that didn't occur to me when I was younger started becoming easier to recognize.

Some time later, while I was working for Minneapolis Parks [Note 2], it became even more apparent - the director at my park retired, and a new director came in. The new director brought her staff with her [Note 3], and alienated the kids, families, and the old staff - it got to be the point where I was the only member left from the previous staff, and the only person of color. In the community paper, the new director would wax about "our diverse staff" - I was the diversity up until I finally left.

I mention these things from my educational and professional life because of the symbolic effort that was given to show that there was social inclusiveness in those circles, but I often was not fully accepted. Sometimes I was the tool to try to generate a certain view, and sometimes I was the expert on how all African Americans view certain things, and usually either (or both) of these overshadowed me as a person.

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura on the set of Star Trek: The Original Series
By NASA (Great Images in NASA Description) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And then there were the stories and adventures that I enjoyed - Dick Tracy, Batman, Star Trek [Note 4], Sherlock Holmes... all stories with either predominately white or entirely white casts and characters. I had grown up watching these stories, but seeing very few people who looked like me, except maybe background characters. There were characters such as Lieutenants Uhura and Sulu, of course, and one-off characters such as Commodore Stone, but there were very few leading stories with persons of color that captured the attention of a young geek. And so I played along, and wished that there were characters out there who resembled me.

George Takei as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, from Star Trek (1966)
By NBC Television (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As I got older, I felt more and more isolated: at jobs, I started to feel that I could not get any further because I had a certain role to play; in social situations, I became hyper-vigilant of my actions, for I was the representative of my entire race; in public, I was on the defense, because I was often contrasted against others of my race. Though I cannot say for certain that I was held back at any jobs because I am African American, I have been passed over for promotion a number of times in favor of white colleagues who were less than qualified [Note 5], and then offered a lower pay raise after finally achieving the promotions that it took longer for me to earn. It is pretty clear to me that I was held back because I am African American, but I did not have any solid proof of it.

Percy Rodriguez as Commodore Stone, from TOS: "Court Martial" (1966)
By Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Studios [Fair Use], via Memory Alpha

In public, I am seen as the representative of my entire race. The first time I noticed this was in high school - one of my religion teachers asked for me to be the one to give the Black perspective of things in my class. There was only me and a Latinx as the persons of color in that particular class. Outside of school, at social gatherings, I always have to be extra respectful and extra polite.  When one is a token, one "may feel they are constantly being examined or evaluated" [6], which I often am, while perceiving "that others pay a disproportionate amount of attention to people who feel like tokens and are hypervigilant concerning their actions and behaviors" [6]. At many social gatherings, I am held to a higher standard than the guests around me - my actions are under the watchful eye of those around me.

Stories are becoming more diverse now, but it is a slow process. And people are starting to see that we are not a monolithic group, but it is still a slow process. I still get the offensive "you are so well-spoken" or "you are so articulate" - someone is amazed, even bewildered that an African American can speak in the Standard American English dialect [7] instead of AAVE or Ebonics [Note 6]. Just never say that (along with these 11 Things White People Should Stop Saying to Black People Immediately). But, as I said, it is a slow process, and it sometimes reinforces the idea that "a person is forced to play a role based on stereotypes of their group" [6] - it is painfully slow.

I'd like to be beyond it already. We're not there yet. Perhaps we'll be there in time for the next generation, or the one after.

 


Notes:

1. I went to Saint Thomas Academy for high school (9 - 12). Saint Thomas Academy is 88.9% - 91.5% white [1] [2] [3]. As I recall, I was 1 of 3 African-Americans, and 1 of 5 persons of color, in my graduating class.

2. I only worked at Painter Park specifically, and not at MPRB in general. 

3. The new director and her staff came from Lynnhurst Park, which has a very different demographic than Painter Park.

4. I had initially known only Star Trek and Star Trek: The Animated Series, as Star Trek: The Next Generation did not premiere until after I was a toddler and into the beginning of my primary education years.

5. When I say "less than qualified," I mean either their training was incomplete or they were fired for either being grossly incompetent or stealing from the company.

6. AAVE, or African American Vernacular English, and Ebonics were once considered the same dialect of American English, and then for a period considered two different dialects, and now is considered the same dialect again. However, there are many negative connotations with the term Ebonics [8], and should be avoided.


If you like what you read here, and would like to show your support, please consider donating.

I am on Patreon to help fund the work that goes into maintaining a website and creating researched content. Also, it will give me some financial relief as I am also endeavoring to complete a number of science fiction and fantasy stories, and hopefully compile them into zines or collected works. As a sponsor, you'll get quality blog posts, early access to completed stories, and the knowledge that you are helping me fund the creative process. I will get the benefit of some stress reduction as I won't have to worry about finances as much anymore, and that will help me be free to create more work.

It's not always possible to sponsor on a monthly basis. If you would like to do a one time donation, please feel free to use PayPal or SquareCash. Producing content takes time and effort, and any support would be most appreciated. Your donations help me cover expenses and eventually will let me be able to create quality content full-time.


References:

1. Rate Limited. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 July 2017. <http://private-schools.startclass.com/l/120188/St-Thomas-Academy>.

2. "St Thomas Academy." N.p., n.d. Web. 04 July 2017. <https://www.greatschools.org/minnesota/mendota-heights/2399-St-Thomas-Academy/>.

3. USASchoolInfo.com. "St Thomas Academy Mendota Heights, MN Enrollment & Demographics." USASchoolInfo. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 July 2017. <http://www.usaschoolinfo.com/school/st-thomas-academy-mendota-heights-minnesota.108527/enrollment>.

4. "Token." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 04 July 2017.

5. "Tokenism." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 04 July 2017.

6. "Tokenism." Psychology. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017. <https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/counseling-psychology/multicultural-counseling/tokenism/>.

7. Clemetson, Lynette. "The Racial Politics of Speaking Well." The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Feb. 2007. Web. 05 July 2017. <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/weekinreview/04clemetson.html>.

8. Green, Lisa J. African American English: a linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press, 2009. PDF.