September 26th, 2011


Framing Alcoholism

This article questions the usefulness of framing alcoholism as a disease.  A proposed alternative is "allergy."  In one sense, an allergen is something that causes an unusually promblematic response in a few people but not most people. However, it does that by triggering one of the body's self-defense mechanisms, and that's not primarily how alcohol tends to work (though it might be interesting to see if it does mess with anything the way allergens do, which is probably not something that has been looked for much if it all).  One thing that particularly intrigued me is that the goal was to reach people who are not easily reached by the disease model, in hopes of finding something that would be more helpful to them.  I am generally in favor of people thinking outside the box in an attempt to do more good.

The way I tend to look at safe use vs. substance addiction is this:
1) Is it causing any significant drawbacks?  If no, it's not a problem.
2) If yes, can the user choose to stop consumption, lower consumption, or make other changes to mitigate or remove those drawbacks?  If yes, it's still not a problem.  It's normal for people to make mistakes, learn from them, and move on.
3) If no, are the drawbacks of substance consumption less than or greater than some other problem the user is handling by consuming this substance?  If less, this is damage reduction rather than addiction.  It would be preferable to find some other less-troublesome means of damage reduction, but sometimes there isn't one and frequently  it is out of reach to people who need it.
4) If it's doing more harm than good and can't readily be abandoned, then it's a serious problem.  It may stay like that permanently.  It may become more manageable, which usually though not always requires help.  It may even go away eventually, if circumstances change enough and the user works through any causal issues, although that's rare.

What Writers Should Earn on Ebooks

The Writers Union of Canada argues that authors and publishers should have an equal share of profits.  This makes sense to me for most cases.  Projects where one side or the other is doing massively more of the work -- say, a book with extreme art/layout demands, or a book that's already been formatted and just needs launching -- may swing profits in that direction. But most of the time, the workload is close to even, and it's not okay to hog more than your fair share of profits just because you can.  Also if your business model is disadvantageous to people, they may abandon you in search of something more favorable.

Poem: "The Rockhound"

This poem came out of the September 6, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by siege and sponsored by janetmiles.

The Rockhound

The field of geozoology
was invented by accident
when an expedition's lapidary
pocketed an extra sample of alien stones

and a few days later,
her roommate said,
"Um, your pet rock seems to be
purring  and wagging its tail  at us."


Monday Update 9-26-11

These are some posts from the later part of last week, in case you missed them:
Sunday Fic Meme: "The Bones of Need"
Understanding Native American Art
What I'm doing with my Kajones_writing credits
Making Cover Art Happen
What is "Poke a Bigot in the Eye" ...?
Poem: "What Matters" (now revised)
Poem: "New Eden"
Poem: "Hawk in the Night"
Updates from Kajones_writing
Read "Fireworks" by Ellen Million
Wildlife at Fieldhaven
Read "The Symbolism of 'Stained' " by The_vulture
Actual Representation Would Look Like This
Read "Prosy: A Conversation of Thought & Mind"

The October Poetry Fishbowl is coming up next Tuesday, with a theme of "Ghosts."  I'll make the detailed announcement tomorrow.

There are five epic poems in microfunding.  "From the Free City" covers the aftermath of a siege on Fermo as it affects Fiorenza's village.  "Will Not" follows Johan as he contemplates the conflicts of his past and present.  "Restoration" tells how the radiator dragon came to live in Monster House.  "The Accidental Hero" follows Aldornia and Zenobia when one of Aldornia's relatives unexpectedly appears in the Temple of Golden Light.  "Igor's Creature" is a mix of horror and science fiction with a large helping of sociology and a wry twist of humor.  I'd rather not open any new epics until at least one of these concludes.  "Restoration" is closest, with just $15 left until it's fully funded.

I posted a new verse, Sulphur, in the retired epic "A Periodic Table of Elementals."  This catches up with where the donations were, so I have at least met my outstanding obligation there.

Torn World writing update:
Approved as canon: "Squiggles: Excerpts from Nleimen's Journal," "On the Rocks," (fiction).  Back to me for edits: "Catch and Release," (fiction), "Seafoam Fashions," "Hide Away," "Red Glass, Green Glass," "Bitter Herbs" (poetry).  Currently in front of the canon board: "Pull Your Ropes," "Jugglers," "The Majestic View" (poetry).  Drafted: "Cutting Cords and Clasping Hands," "Like Ash Before the Wind," "Breaking the Ice," "From Dark to Bright," "Beached Fish," "The Bones of Need" (fiction) and "The Hearsay Cafe," "The Colors of the Rainbow," (poetry).  In revision at home: "Water Dance," "The Green Speech," "When the Wind's Teeth Sing," (fiction).  Currently writing: "Raining Kittens," "Catch of the Day," "Reaching for the Moons" (fiction).

Fall weather continues to be temperate with occasional rain.  I finished planting the bulbs that I had, though there's still time to pick up more if the budget allows.  The goldenrod is blooming all over the butterfly meadow.  The monarch butterflies are starting to migrate; we saw a small cloud of them today when we went outside.  I'm hoping for a sunny day so I can try photographing them.  A fair bit of the local corn has been harvested, and the soybeans are starting to come down too.

Banned Books Week: The Queer EditionQ


Nina Paley's New Project: "Seder-Masochism"

Nina Paley has a Kickstarter page for a new project she wants to do, "Seder-Masochism."  This would involve splicing live conversations into something entertaining -- a technique some of you may remember from parts of Sita Sings the Blues.  Currently the project is at $3,080 pledged of $3,600, so it's pretty close to funded, with 11 days to go.  A $25 donation gets your name in the credits of the new movie, if it gets made.


Striking for Health Care

I'm encouraged by this report about a strike among California nurses.  I believe that everyone has the right to a decent job, fair pay and benefits, and that sick or injured people have a right to the care they need to regain health.  I don't believe that anyone has the right to hog so much of the wealth that they take those very basic things away from vast numbers of other human beings.

CNA Joins NUHW In Biggest Healthcare Strike Ever

By Cal Winslow
BeyondChron September 26, 2011

California healthcare workers have now taken their
fight to another level - on Thursday, September 22,
some 21,000 struck the huge Kaiser Permanente chain, 24
major medical centers - while more struck Sutter,
Kaiser's healthcare partner in crime, also a giant in
the California hospital business. It was the biggest
single strike in healthcare history!
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Speculative Poetry News

I found some good tidbits about speculative poetry today.  There's an interview with Corrine De Winter.  There's also a discussion about what makes a poem speculative.

In my mind, a speculative poem deals with things beyond ordinary reality.  This can be tropes typical of science fiction (starships), fantasy (unicorns), horror (monster), etc. but may also deal with parts of our own world that we barely understand and thus may describe in phantasmagoric terms.  To put it a different way: if the only way you can rivet a topic to a bulkhead is to put it in a basket first and put the rivet through the rim, it's probably a speculative poem.