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Author orangemike

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Recent entries from Orange Mike's Bemusements - the blog of orangemike

NOTE: This blog has been rated FR15 by the author. Blog content is not moderated by TtH

It was 19~~~. Daddy was editor of the Daily Corinthian, so we were living in Corinth, MS. Mom, we were informed, had had to go to the hospital, which conveniently enough was right across the street. We all went over there: me (5); Patrick (3.5); and Suzy (1.5). We were taken to a room where, behind this big glass window, were rows of cribs. From one of them, a nurse extracted this... thing. It was pink mostly, with bluish bits, and my memory insists it was slimy; but we were assured that with a bit of time it would grow into a sister, like Suzy, but smaller. We were a bit dubious, but eventually it came into our house and grew up, into what is now known as Dr. Mary Lowrey Hamrick, sports psychologist. Nothing like a big brother for embarrassing memories, right, Mary?
Posted: 12 Dec 14 00:00 • Comments
I'm a juror, for The Speculative Literature Foundation's 2015 Working Class/Impoverished Writers Grant! The SLF Working-Class / Impoverished Writers' $750 Grant
Posted: 23 Nov 14 15:36 • Comments
Since I couldn't sup with Illustrationparkingprincess(who is off doing fiber-agitprop with Char in Iowa), I betook my lonely self to a place where I devoured my first dish of poutine. It was, as they say, yum.
Posted: 14 Nov 14 19:44 • Comments
An excellent science fiction writer asked me offline, "...what's the counter-argument for the conservative/libertarian position of 'Look, if you raise the minimum wage, the employer will raise their prices to compensate, this will ripple down the chain of goods and services, and pretty soon Mr. Minimum Wage is right back where he started.' I reply:

For most businesses, especially the giant ones, the portion of costs which go to wages is quite small. When you add that to the less-obvious point that a large portion of the social services budget in the U.S. goes to pay for programs like the one I work for every day, which pays people's childcare costs out of general public revenues, so that they can "afford" to work at minimum-wage jobs... well, it's to me a no-brainer.

I'm not kidding: my program pays for childcare for people who make low enough wages to qualify. That means if you make a half-ass decent wage (say, $30K a year) you don't qualify. But if you are trying to support your family by driving school buses part-time at $9/hour for a contractor, and working as a Wal-Mart greeter part-time, and maybe flipping burgers at Mickey D's on weekends, we pay for enough daycare that you can leave your kids with strangers in order to further enrich your bosses. (And at these wages, paying for daycare comes ahead of everything including clothing and dental care.) Similar strictures apply to WIC, and food stamps, and what little is left of the old AFDC/welfare programs.

And not least of all: the working class notoriously spends its income, often with small businesses. The increased money being paid to the folks at the airport bookstore where my wife and I work part-time to supplement our state clerical wages, will mostly go back into the domestic economy, in the form of purchases of books and clothing and books and wool and books and donations to my Friends meetinghouse fund and books and trips to SF cons in the States and books bought at th...
Posted: 11 Sep 14 21:50 • More • Comments
I got a call today from the bank that issued one of my credit cards. It turns out that last Wednesday, I am reported to have bought C$210 or so worth of stuff at a Target Canada store in Brampton, Ontario.

Brampton? Seriously: Brampton?

I can assure you, not only was I not in Brampton then, I've never been any closer to Brampton than Toronto.

And they couldn't even be bothered to shop Canadian! Nothing from Hudson's Bay or Holt Renfrew or Canadian Tire? Target Canada; not even a lousy snackbox of Timbits... pfaughh. Personally, I blame the ReformaTories. The scamsters probably have a little shrine to Stockwell Day in their back bedroom and a "Stop Elections Canada" poster in their window. Maybe they're clueless landed immigrants from the States fleeing the horror of Obamacare.

The card's been cancelled, and I've been disappointed. Sigh....
Posted: 10 Sep 14 20:39 • Comments
Forty years ago today, that embarrassment to all Quakers and Irishmen alike, Richard Milhous "Actually, I AM A Crook, But You Can't Prove It! Nyahh!" Nixon, resigned as President.

His hand-picked successor, Warren Commission veteran Gerald Ford, immediately pardoned him. We'll never know what all he did.
Tricky Dicky
Posted: 8 Aug 14 19:26 • Comments
A quote from my memo to a fellow office worker and union steward (who is in a different office than my own), about a particularly silly management idea:

"this sounds like a delusional attempt at herding cats by creating a spreadsheet and Powerpoint of where the cats are supposed to be for the next ten years."
Posted: 7 Aug 14 16:59 • Comments
I've spent the past week as a delegate (unreimbursed) from my local to the 41st International Convention of AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), of whose Local 91 I am president, and to which Illustrationparkingprincess also belongs. (The only reason I've been able to afford to be here was that Illustrationtrinker has been letting me crash on her couch here in the Chicago area.)

One of the saddest things we have had to do at International this year was to pass a resolution withdrawing all support from the United Negro College Fund, and urging all affiliates and allies to do the same. Tragically, the UNCF has in the past year sold itself out to the Koch Brothers, agreeing to push their lying agenda in return for a grant said to exceed 30 pieces of silver ($25 million). Their president even spoke at a Koch-funded "summit" where that scumbag Charles Murray of BELL CURVE notoriety was being honored.
Posted: 18 Jul 14 10:56 • Comments
I believe this is the first WisCon in well over a decade where there has not been a LiveJournal party.
Posted: 25 May 14 01:58 • Comments
Illustrationdelkytlar seems to have trouble with uppity women he can't control. He has now threatened to sue The Daily Dot for paraphrasing his hateful rantings in a way he doesn't care for, and to sue anybody who links to the article which has put his knickers in a twist. He never seems to have heard of the Streisand effect.

Go ahead, Sean Fodera, sue me: make my rep!
Posted: 17 Feb 14 14:09 • Comments
This came to me while attending a panel here at ICON with Glen Cook:

Small-town kid from repressed respectable but impoverished background in the sticks has a cold and controlling father, leaves home to serve his nation, fights bravely but suffers in The War against The Enemy, goes to the Big City, becomes a charismatic leader and unites his People in a new empire with himself as beloved, charismatic leader against the secret evil cabal which seeks to destroy his Nation.

Fantasy novel, or life of Adolph Hitler?
Posted: 16 Nov 13 18:50 • Comments
I've just been re-elected without opposition to another two-year term as President of Local 91, Wis. State Employees Union, AFSCME.
Posted: 23 Oct 13 21:55 • Comments
Some guy named Brian Penny decided that he needed to have an article about himself in Wikipedia, so he attempted to pump himself up, then create and pad an article about himself. It's been deleted so often that we have "salted" his very name to make such puffery harder to repeat.

He wrote an article that's been reposted elsewhere titled, "Why Wikipedia Should Be Your New LinkedIn" (a title so repugnant to Wikipedia's ethos that it makes my skin crawl). When we refused to restore his self-advertisement, he sneered at the Wiki-nerds and violated Godwin's Law. When I blocked him from damaging the project further, he tweeted a declaration of war: I tell ya, I'm just trembling in my boots.
Posted: 7 Sep 13 18:50 • Comments
William Dunbar. 1465–1520?

Lament for the Makers

I THAT in heill was and gladnèss
Am trublit now with great sickness
And feblit with infirmitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Our plesance here is all vain glory,
This fals world is but transitory,
The flesh is bruckle, the Feynd is slee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

The state of man does change and vary,
Now sound, now sick, now blyth, now sary,
Now dansand mirry, now like to die:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

No state in Erd here standis sicker;
As with the wynd wavis the wicker
So wannis this world's vanitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Unto the Death gois all Estatis,
Princis, Prelatis, and Potestatis,
Baith rich and poor of all degree:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He takis the knichtis in to the field
Enarmit under helm and scheild;
Victor he is at all mellie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

That strong unmerciful tyrand
Takis, on the motheris breast sowkand,
The babe full of benignitie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He takis the campion in the stour,
The captain closit in the tour,
The lady in bour full of bewtie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

He spairis no lord for his piscence,
Na clerk for his intelligence;
His awful straik may no man flee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

Art-magicianis and astrologgis,
Rethoris, logicianis, and theologgis,
Them helpis no conclusionis slee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

In medecine the most practicianis,
Leechis, surrigianis, and physicianis,
Themself from Death may not supplee:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.

I see that makaris amang the lave
Playis here their padyanis, syne gois to grave;
Sparit is nocht their facultie:—
Timor Mortis conturbat me.
Posted: 30 Aug 13 10:53 • Comments
Science fiction is unique in that it is a literary genre almost invariably judged by ignorant people (including critics) unaware of the contents of the actual genre, but instead vaguely and a-historically confusing it with a hodgepodge of hazy memories of comic strips, cartoons, films and TV shows (many of them defunct and disdained within the field) which use SF tropes but are not informed with a science-fictional consciousness, not even of 1939 John W. Campbell vintage.
Posted: 26 Aug 13 20:01 • Comments
Remembering Jim Dandy Lowrey, 1922-1963. Younger son who picked cotton in the summer and dropped out of high school, left home after an inconvenient accident, banged around the country and ended up out West, did a stint in the C.C.C., joined the Army and then went A.W.O.L., ended up working in a defense plant (under the name of "Lucky Brocius").

He turned himself in after Pearl Harbor, fought in the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese imperialism (Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, injuries that decades later left him 100% disabled) and acquired a new respect for people of color as he fought alongside them. He married Sybil Blondell "Butch" Scarbrough while still in the hospital in Athens, GA recovering. They were the original bikers: post-war kids (the guys mostly vets) on Harleys, roaming around the country with their friends. Dad floundered around a bit, eventually became a newspaperman (reporter, photographer, outdoors writer) on a string of Southern dailies (he was editor for a while of the DAILY CORINTHIAN in Corinth, MS.).

They raised four of us kids, but his heart was weakened (not that the cigarettes and whiskey helped). His first or second heart attack got him fired (so they wouldn't have to pay health insurance); his third or fourth killed him. He was realistic enough to have prepared all of us for the event, but you never think it's gonna happen.

He was a flawed man (ain't we all?) and a harsh disciplinarian; but I never doubted and don't doubt his love for us all. Love you, Daddy! I only wish you could have met Kelly and the rest of your grandkids.
Posted: 16 Jun 13 14:03 • Comments
Any system that claims that no protection is the same as equal protection is really a system for protecting the privileged. - Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
Posted: 13 Jun 13 09:26 • Comments
Well-meaning, smugly self-congratulatory college-educated upper-middle-class intellectuals at a WisCon? Gee, that NEVER happens....
Posted: 26 May 13 15:52 • Comments
Posted: 14 May 13 00:19 • Comments
I wake up late and bleary a little before 10:00 a.m. local time (9:00 a.m. my body's time); but discover there's no programming until 11:00; and nothing I want to attend until 1:00 p.m. I type and post the first installment of this series, and head for the con suite. The Krispy Kreme donuts are all gone, but I grab some cereal and milk, and a few Little Debbie snack cakes, to go with my Dr. Pepper. I wander around aimlessly, greeting acquaintances and smiling at children. As has been happening all con, I get folks shaking my hands and saying things like, "I know it's Chattacon now: the orange guy is here!" I do take advantage of the free massage offer from the local chiropractor trying to drum up business; it aches afterwards, but in a good sort of way.

I drift over to the programming building (the Centennial Center) and wander the hucksters' room, which is more populated now (although a couple of tables will go unclaimed throughout the con). The Larry Smith operation has oodles of new books; there is one person selling "vintage" (i.e., used) books for excessive prices, and a few smaller publishers and self-publishers pushing their own wares, plus artist GoH William Stout selling a tempting array of collections of his own work over the years. Otherwise: dealers in clothing, glassware, jewelry, weapons, steampunk props, and t-shirts, plus one guy (apparently Japanese himself) selling an extensive array of anime- and manga-related stuff. I politely ignore the Dragon*Con booth.

Outsided the dealers room are tables for local cons, the local SCA barony, the AAA(!), and an anthropology undergrad doing a survey about "geek fandom". She explains that her professor said that fandom was about more than science fiction nowadays, so she shouldn't call it "science fiction fandom"; I lecture her about respecting the customs and self-definitions of the culture in which you are doing fieldwork, and tell her the old reservation joke about the basic Native American ...
Posted: 27 Jan 13 20:58 • More • Comments
(For those of you who don't know the story: I was membership #3 at the first Chattacon, which was attended by less than 100 people; so when I moved from Nashville to Milwaukee, I vowed not to break my streak. For probably a decade now, I'm the only person left who has attended every single one. Illustrationparkingprincess (Cicatrice) understands, and has occasionally come with me, with or without Kelly, when finances permitted. This, alas, was not one of those years.)

Up at 4 a.m., with the temperature approximately 4 degrees (F) outside. Cicatrice bids me a farewell that does NOT embrace getting out of a warm bed in this kind of cold, and I drive to the airport. (She'll pick the car up later.) I get on my redeye flight and sleep through most of it, as well as the connecting flight out of Detroit (I was up late the night before, proofing her MilwApa zine and doing preparatory stuff for my trip).

In Chattanooga's tiny airport, I encounter a local fan who is on his way OUT of town, since he's got a paid gig; he expresses his regret at missing Chatta this year (it doesn't help that he no longer lives in East Tennessee). The shuttle driver and I discuss the hardships of civil service (he used to drive tanker trucks for the city's vehicle fleet, which can be a really fun gig during a major snowfall event). I learn that everybody locally is dreading an announced "freezing rain" storm, which can leave quarter-inch thick coats of frozen ice on every road, wall, pine needle, twig and power line in the region, and mere fear of which has already caused cancellation of schools, etc. [Anti-climax warning: it didn't happen, and I expect the usual clueless mockery by people who think weather is not a chaotic a system as it is. The hysteria, however, may cut i...
Posted: 26 Jan 13 11:29 • More • Comments
Illustrationparkingprincess sat patiently and waited for us to finish being tapped. The stick was pretty easy for me (given the needle phobia thing); they had to tourniquet Kelly's arm with the blood pressure cuff in order to get it full enough with blood to do a good draining.
Posted: 1 Jan 13 12:53 • Comments
Last Thursday, right after Christmas, we had a mother come into our office to get her authorization for subsidized childcare renewed. She’d recently started working again, and we’d given her a provisional authorization until the checks started coming and we could set her up permanently. This was vital: the daycare provider, to whom she already owed $Xk, was going to refuse to take the child the next day if the mom didn’t get reauthorized.

Normally, this would be easy-peasy; but the complication arose: she didn’t know the FEIN for her employer, so that we could verify employment on the online databases. “Oh, I work for Alpha Corp.” but no “Alpha Corp.” or “AlphaCorp” had an FEIN, at that address or any other. The mom called her colleague at work (she’d had to take off work to come do this), and the colleague didn’t know from FEINs. “We have a ‘tax number’ of xxxxxxxx”; but that was useless (hint: if you want to hinder a bureaucrat AND make it difficult for them to help you, refer to any and all of seventeen different identifying numbers from FEIN to Sales Tax Exemption Number generically as your “tax number”). “Aren’t we part of Beta Holdings or something?” (no “Beta Holdings” or “Beta Corp.” with an FEIN, at that address or any other). The colleague suggested that the mom call “payroll” at different location.

When the mom reached “payroll”, she was stopped cold: “We don’t divulge that number! What do you want it for? I know you need childcare, but we don’t do that!” (this, about a number which will be right there on the mom’s W-2 within the next four weeks). The mom was getting panicky now, but “payroll” was deaf to her pleas. When she hung up, she started to cry, since if she couldn’t take her child to daycare, she couldn’t go to work, and she’d lose the new job she is so desperate to keep. From the little tables by the window, a small voice piped up, “Mommy, are you o...
Posted: 30 Dec 12 18:45 • More • Comments
Call their bluff. Don't back down. Don't extend the Bush tax cuts for the 2%, not even temporarily. Don't agree to the gimmicky "chained CPI" as a way to cut Social Security on those who need it most; or to raising the Medicare eligibility age; or to cutting Medicaid funding in any way. You were right; YOU WON; they lost. Don't surrender our country's finances to these bluffing Norquisters and Randroids, Barack Obama: be a Harry Truman Democrat, not a Taft Republican!!!!
Posted: 14 Dec 12 11:38 • Comments