October 12th, 2009


The Edible Deer

I was researching deer anatomy and butchering tonight. Of the resources I found, these are the best:

Diagram of meat cuts and photos of finished cuts

Descriptive list of meat cuts with a few photos

Cutting chart with marks for several types of steaks

Book with photos of processing and chart detailing meat cuts from most to least tender

Gloriously detailed full-color photo-essay of processing a whole deer, with lecture notes

Sadly I couldn't find one of the things I was looking for: a detailed anatomy guide to deer showing the names of individual muscles. (Different butchers sometimes use different terms for the same cut of meat and/or divide a deer carcass into different sections. I thought it would be useful try identifying which muscles were supposed to end up in which cuts.) If anybody knows of a good one, please share a link.

You can now buy "The Worth of a Shell"

The speculative novel The Worth of a Shell by M.C.A. Hogarth ( haikujaguar ) is now available in electronic and hardcopy formats. This site features an excerpt, artwork, a page for reviews when they arrive, and links to purchase copies. I have already requested a review copy and hope to review this book soon. (I read an early draft, which is why I'm pimping the heck out of this terrific story, but that was a long time ago and there has been revision since.) If the book sounds good but you're broke right now, you can still help by spreading the news so other folks can explore it.

Sexism in Science Fiction

I found this post today, a thoroughly misogynist rant about how women and gays are destroying science fiction.

The War on Science Fiction and Marvin Minsky

Science fiction is a very male form of fiction.  Considerably more men than women are interested in reading and watching science fiction.  This is no surprise.  Science fiction traditionally is about men doing things, inventing new technologies, exploring new worlds, making new scientific discoveries, terraforming planets, etc.  Many men working in the fields of science, engineering, and technology have cited science fiction (such as the original Star Trek) for inspiring them when they were boys to establish careers in these fields.

I'll just fly a destroyer through a few of the more obvious holes in the post.

"Science fiction is a very male form of fiction."

It is? Oops, sorry, I didn't notice the "No Gurls Aloud" sign. Or a little XY chromosome dangling from the genre. I've been reading SF since I was little, and writing it for nearly as long. My current body is female. Oh wait, my personality is more masculine, maybe I don't count. (And if my soul was as small as this guy's, I would be embarrassed to walk around with my emotional fly open like that.) But I guess nobody told Lois McMaster Bujold, Octavia Butler, Anne McCaffrey, C.J. Cherryh, or Ursula K. LeGuin, because they all write science fiction too. Not to mention Mary Shelley, whose novel Frankenstein is sometimes counted as the first science fiction novel.

"The current generation of boys will not have this inspiration from science fiction, at least from science fiction on television and in movies."

Gosh, I missed the lunatic with the blaster running around vaporizing all the classic books, videos, and DVDs. *glance into living room and library room* Hmm, no, my collections of SF dating back several decades are still perfectly intact. So the libraries are probably intact also, and last I heard, they weren't banning boys from entering.

"Many of you might not be aware but there was an original Battlestar Galactica series shown in the late 70s."

I loved that show. I was appalled by the description of the remake, and when I actually saw some episodes, I was further put off. If other people want to watch it, fine, but it's not to my taste just because I happen to be female. Gah. This doesn't mean that women can't write great SF (or that men can't write lousy SF).

"Minsky has said, “General fiction is pretty much about ways that people get into problems and screw their lives up. Science fiction is about everything else."

I can think of very few SF stories, including classic ones, that don't involve both of those things in the plot -- and even fewer that involve neither. Marion Zimmer Bradley once mentioned that all plots boil down to something like "John gets his fanny in a bear trap and has all kinds of adventures getting it out." No problem, no plot.

"With women killing science fiction on television, the current generation of boys won’t have this opportunity to be inspired to work in these fields."

Because, you know, god forbid they should pick up a book. Or read their way through the list of Hugo or Nebula winners. They might figure out that girls don't have cooties.

"However, many boys who would have gone on to make scientific discoveries and invent new technologies will not do so since they will never be inspired by science fiction as boys."

Well, the girls who are going into scientific fields will have no trouble picking up the slack:
Science Club for Girls
Girls Math & Science Partnership
Girls and Science Summer Camp
Girls Go Tech

And of course, to see what women and queers have contributed to the field of science fiction, go explore:
James Tiptree, Jr. Award
Gaylactic Spectrum Awards

So there you have it. Poke a sexist in the eye today: go buy some science fiction by a woman or a queer, write some yourself, donate to any of the above organizations, or take a girl you love to a science museum.

EDIT: I have decided to Poke a Sexist in the Eye by designating the January 2010 poetry fishbowl theme as "Hard Science Fiction." That was the next open slot.

I'd tell the author where to put his spearhead, but I'm pretty sure he couldn't find it with both hands and a map.

EDIT: fayanora notes: "It is made of failmantium. It fails so hard, the gravity of its fail captures light and warps the spacetime continuum."

Culligan Fail

My parents are buying a Culligan reverse osmosis water purifier. Okay, this sounded cool to me. I went to look it up online. None of the several Culligan websites I browsed had detailed product information -- like, the name and model number, size, quantity and speed of output, a photo, price, description of what it is and how it works, etc. They seem to want you to call a local salesman. I expect to be able to read about a product; I only want to talk to a salesman if I've decided to buy something or I have a question that cannot be answered by a decent catalog entry. I even clicked the "customer feedback" button on one Culligan site, and it routed me back to the salesman form! It really irritates me when companies are cagey about their products. I usually wind up not buying anything from them.

I did eventually find this page on someone else's site that had some useful information. But I'm still peeved at Culligan's lousy websites.

So if you are selling stuff and you have a website, for the love of sense please put the details on your website so that interested people can actually find out about your products. Otherwise you are losing sales.