Sunday, June 24, 2012

Links for a Sunday afternoon

Summer officially arrived in the northern hemisphere this week, but Seattle's weather continues to be Spring-like, as though we've settled into mid-May weather for good. Which is all very pleasant, but I worry about my tomatoes and other hot-weather vegetables. (The lettuces and spinach and kales like it just fine, of course.)

I still haven't managed to write anything about WisCon for this blog. (Getting a bit late, I know...) I still hope to do that. In the meantime, here are some links.

--Versification has posted a review by Francesca Forrest of The Moment of Change. "Lemberg," she writes, "has chosen poems that represent the unruly, ungeneralizable expanse of human female experience."

--Electra at Starlady reviews Andrea Hairston's Mindscape-- and does so adopting the narrative form Andrea uses for character Lawanda Kitt's sections of the novel.
This is, in a way that I suspect many people would not want to really acknowledge, a truly American science fiction (science fantasy?) novel, and probably one of the few that I have read. Though there is a lot of Afro-futurism in here, there is also a lot of specifically American history, particularly the history of U.S.-Indian relations - born-again Sioux Ghost Dancers are central to the plot, and the final scenes take place at Wounded Knee. Furthermore, movies and a lot of Hollywood permeate the characters' lives and worldviews, as well as the fact that many of them are involved in movies as directors or actors or unwilling Extras. I liked the way that some of the characters were explicit about the fact that they didn't want to be co-opted into mainstream narratives, and probably my favorite character overall was Lawanda Kitt, a loud and proud ethnic throwback who shakes up the corrupt and rotting zone of Los Santos without fully realizing her own power, even though we only get her viewpoint in transmissions to various people. I didn't like Elleni quite so much, but by the end I understood her - indeed, one of the awesome things about this book is just how many awesome female characters there are.
--I've discovered a fantastic blog for high-quality local bird gossip: Union Bay Watch. Not only does the author, Larry, post his (and others') observations of avian life in Seattle, but he also provides spectacular photos (currently of eaglets and ongoing crow harassment of eagles, ospreys, and other larger birds) and very brief videos (for instance, of a Northern Flicker performing a mating dance). If you're at all interested in  birds, it's well worth checking out.

--A battle is under way at the University of Virginia between the board that governs the university (all of them--excepting the student representative-- the governor's political appointees who have contributed huge sums of money to political campaigns) on one side and the university's administration, faculty, and students on the other. To kick off its grand plan of turning the university into an online, for-profit diploma mill (explicitly, like Phoenix University), it fired the president of the university. I've been told of similar agendas at work on other campuses, but I've never heard of such a full-frontal assault quite like this one. The corporate-speak board members apparently conceive of themselves as enacting something known in the business world as "strategic dynamism." It's basically an embrace of instability as a way of ramming through measures of massive change before anyone has a chance of questioning much less thinking through the potential consequences of those measures. (Sort of like what happened in the US Government after the Supreme Court installed George W. Bush as POTUS.) The board has also hired the notorious Hill+Knowlton Strategies to manage public perceptions of their machinations. Although the protests at the UVA campus are tremendous (as seen by the refusal to serve of the person the board appointed as the president pro-tem), the fact that it is summer makes it seem unlikely that the protests can be sustained. I also wonder how far the main source of protest-- the faculty-- will be willing to go in the struggle. Of course it is their jobs (and their workplace) that will eventually be on the line. But since lost jobs aren't imminent, and almost all notions of personal interest tend to be located in the short-term, my hopes aren't high.

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