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Morgan Dhu

Kat Tanaka Okopnik, social justice activist of the first water, is considering offering an online workshop on cultural appropriation. If you know Kat at all (and if you don't, here's a link to a guest blog she wrote on Jim Hines' website -
http://www.jimchines.com/2015/04/what-do-we-look-like-in-your-mind-okopnik/), you know that she's eminently qualified to help those struggling with this issue navigate the murky waters between racialised exotification and imperialist exploitation to find a way of respectfully appreciating the art, culture and traditions of other peoples.

If you are interested, please contact Kat for more information. You can find her on Facebook or at http://shadesbetween.com

Morgan Dhu
18 November 2015 @ 04:15 am

I am saddened and ashamed.

A Muslim woman was picking up her children from Grenoble Public School on Monday when she was attacked. Two men approached the woman and started hurling anti-Islamic and racist profanities at her. Police said the men started calling the woman a “terrorist” and said “go back to your country.” One of the men started punching the woman in the stomach and a second man ripped off her hijab during the assault.

A Toronto couple put a sign on their property, asking Muslims if they were sorry for the attacks in Paris.

Police are investigating a fire deliberately set at Peterborough’s only mosque. Police and fire officials arrived on Saturday at around 11 p.m. at Parkhill Rd. west of Monaghan Rd. to Masjid Al-Salaam after receiving a call of smoke coming out of the mosque. Peterborough police have confirmed that the fire was deliberately set.
Police in Kitchener, Ont., are investigating vandalism at a Hindu temple. Ram Dham Hindu Temple president Dilip Dav says several windows at the rear entrance of the temple were shattered late Sunday night.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants the federal government to suspend its plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.

And this is just what I know about, what has been reported in the news I've read so far. It's not only that responses like this mean the terrorists have won. It's that when we act in this way, it shows that we are lost, lost to the light, lost to humanity and empathy and compassion. Doing evil in the name of good is still evil. We may think that we are defending something, protecting something, avenging something - but in truth, when we respond to hate and fear with yet more hate and fear, we are destroying light, destroying love, and destroying ourselves.

Morgan Dhu
18 November 2015 @ 04:11 am

I want to talk about something that troubles me greatly.

Why do so many white Western people keep insisting that all Muslims actively disavow the actions of a small number of religious fanatics who want to see the world in flames, when we don't ask the same thing of all Christians? Is it because we believe that Muslims are somehow different from us, that they are inherently more likely to choose and approve of violence? That they need to prove they are not bloodthirsty savages who delight in killing and creating chaos? Because that's what this demand looks like to me.

I have heard people say that Islam is a religion of misogyny and violence, but you know something? I've read both the Bible and the Qu'ran (admittedly, both in translation) and they really aren't much different on those counts. Both have passages that speak to love and peace and compassion, both have passages that seem to counsel violence and intolerance and revenge. Yes, in recent years we have seen much violence done in the name of Islam, but we are also living in a world in which much violence was, and continues to be, done in the name of Christianity.

I've heard people say that Muslims are barbaric and uncivilised, but I've studied history and I know that based on every measure of culture and enlightenment that I know of, by art and law and government and the creation of civil, caring societies, Muslim peoples have not been any less civilised, less cultured, less humane, than other groups of people.

Are we saying, then, that Muslims as a whole are not quite like the rest of us, that they do not feel empathy, compassion, horror and love they way we do? That they lack the breadth of emotions that we have? That they are not quite as human as we are, and hence we expect them not to feel as we do when a tragedy occurs?

What does it say about us, that it is so easy for us to think of others as not just different, but inferior? Perhaps it is we white Western people who lack empathy, compassion, breadth of feeling. We certainly have a long history of being unable to feel empathy toward those who are not white and Western. Maybe it's time for us to become more civilised, more humane, more human.

Morgan Dhu
01 November 2015 @ 10:51 pm

Recently I've been going through a rather deep and dark existential depression that results from my response to being pretty much completely lacking in mobility. As this plaint that I posted on Facebook a few days back during an acute attack indicates, I feel pretty damned useless in all things.

Losing my identities
I used to be a lot of things.
I used to be a person who sang, who danced, who played guitar, who drew and painted stuff. I used to be someone who acted in plays, who stage-managed and even did some directing.
I used to be a person who marched in protest and in celebration, who spoke at public meetings and presented briefs. I used to be a person who was active in political movements. I used to be a person who could do things to help make the world a little bit better.
I used to be a person who could work, whether it was with my hands or with my mind. Who could be productive, support myself and the people I loved.
I used to be a person who could be of use to my friends and loved ones, who could actually be a friend to them, a person to turn to, to rely on. I used to have something to give.
I used to make a difference in the world.
There are so many things I used to be, and am not not now, and likely will never be again.
Take all my identities away from me, and what is left? Nothing.

Well, in an attempt to try to change at least one of these "I used to be"s, I have been playing with a program that is supposed to be a way to make pixel art rather than hand-shaped art. Here are a few of my investigative forays into the world of electronic art.

Disenchanted Forest photo disenchanted forest 2.jpg

Blurred Meanings photo Blurred meanings 2.jpg

untitled (cavern vista) photo Attachment-1.jpg

Morgan Dhu
16 September 2015 @ 03:32 pm

it's Wednesday again - how time flies.

I have completed my reading of Lavinia Collins' The Warrior Queen, Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me (which was profoundly troubling but that's all right because it was meant to be) and the Future Eves anthology edited by Jean Marie Stine.

I also read a fair bit of free-standing short fiction, all of which I have made brief comments on and posted to my book journal. Most of it is freely available on the Net, and my comments include URLs. Some of it is very good.

I am currently reading a number of things - I seem to be in a mood for moving back and forth between several different works rather than reading any one thing in a sustained fashion. Books on the go: Laurie Penny's Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution; Gender Outlaws: the Next Generation, edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman; Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell; Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings; The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Edward James and Farah Mendelsohn; and of course, Metzel's The Protest Psychosis.

Up next? More short fiction, more sff novels from 2015, and likely a few other odd things from my extensive TBR list.
Morgan Dhu
12 September 2015 @ 02:05 am

wordweaverlynn on Dreamwidth asked for my top five favourite foods.

I'm going to answer this in two ways - as top five individual foods or ingredients, and as top five prepared foods.

First, the individual food items.

Cheese (Just about any kind), mushrooms, chocolate, strawberries, freshly baked bread

Now, the prepared foods.

1. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream

2. Thai basil fried rice (with chilis, tofu, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, onions, bok choi, etc.)

3. Lasagne with three cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta), spicy tomato and mushroom sauce, spinach and lots of pasta. And herbed garlic bread on the side

4. Curried chicken - I'll take various styles of curry as long as it's nice and hot, with rice, yogourt and a sweet chutney on the side.

5. Any kind of heavy, sweet chocolate torte-like dessert, with a rich buttery cream filling, if it has almonds and strawberries so much the better.

Morgan Dhu
11 September 2015 @ 06:21 am

Carmilla on Dreamwidth asked me: "Top ​five ​most ​memorable ​TV ​episodes?"

I'm going to limit this to continuing series, and not include anthology shows, because I could fill this list twice over just with Twilight Zone episodes and then what would I do with the episodes from The Outer Limits and Masters of Horror and Black Mirror and Alfred Hitchcock Presents?

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" - the series finale of M.A.S.H, because I will never forget Hawkeye and the woman on the bus with the crying baby.

"Darmok" - Star Trek: The Next Generation, because it does interesting things with the idea of language, and Patrick Stewart as Picard works it perfectly.

"A Late Delivery from Avalon" - Babylon 5, because Arthurian legends are my thing and this did it oh so very well.

"Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow" - Orphan Black, because Helena is Helena in all her glory "Did you threaten bebes? You should not threaten bebes." "I got refund."

"Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" - Doctor Who, because River Song is dying and the man she loves has no idea who she is.

Bonus TV episode:

"Once More with Feeling" - the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because music and dancing and stuff.

Morgan Dhu
11 September 2015 @ 04:18 am
My friend evil_macaroni from Livejournal asked me to list my "Top ​5 ​non-speaking ​animal ​characters ​in ​movies, ​TV ​or ​books?"

And my answers are:

White Fang and Buck. I mention these two characters in the same breath because they are mirror twins. White Fang, the title character of Jack London's classic novel, travels from the feral circumstance of his birth in the Far North to an old age lived in placid domesticity in the gentle south. Buck, the main character in Call of the Wild by the same author, is stolen from his owner's home in California to become first an Alaskan sled dog and then a wild dog among wolves.

Pixel, the Cat Who Walks through Walls. He does say "blert" a lot, but that doesn't count as talking, does it?

Because they belong together, I'm naming them together - Tao, Luath and Bodger, aka Ch. Boroughcastle Brigadier of Doune, the three animals in The Incredible Journey. I refer of course only to their depictions in the book or the first movie, as I understand some idiot made them talk in the remake.

Shadowfax, the silver horse companion of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. Chief of the Mearas, the fastest horse in Middle Earth.

And, because you didn't specify fictional characters, Elsa the Lioness, from the book Born Free, written by Joy Adamson.
Morgan Dhu
10 September 2015 @ 09:31 pm

This is a meme going around on Tumblr, where I have a few friends. If it hasn't made it to Dreamwidth yet, it's here now. :)

Ask me for my top five of anything, and I will try to answer. Those who know me well will expect that you might get more than five. Or an essay rather than a list, but that's how I sometimes roll.

Morgan Dhu
09 September 2015 @ 03:19 pm

I did not make a book post last week. This is largely because we have had two bad and very smoggy weeks, in which my brain took a long vacation and left me incapable of doing much more than playing solitaire on my ipad.

Fortunately, my brain came home again and i have some reading to report.

Since my last book post, I have finished Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Margaret Atwood's Second Words: Selected Critical Prose 1960-1982, and Isabel Allende's Ripper. I have also read India Edghill's Queenmaker: A Novel of King David's Queen, Gillian Bradshaw's Island of Ghosts, and Syrie James' The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen.

At present, I am reading Lavinia Collins' The Warrior Queen, the first volume in her Guinevere trilogy, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. And I'm still working on Metzel's The Protest Psychosis, and am also picking away at Stine's Future Eves anthology.

Coming up soon: it's time to start some serious reading of sff published this year, so that I will be prepared to nominate. I have drawn up a list of books I have seen recommended in multiple places - most of which I was planning to read anyway - and will be starting in on the ones I've already got on my virtual TBR pile. I've also got some recommended novellas lined up. I should start looking at recommended novelettes, short stories and graphic novels, too. And related works.

As ever, if you're interested in my thoughts on anything I've read, check out my book journal:
Morgan Dhu
26 August 2015 @ 09:38 pm

Well, this was a week in which best-laid schemes really went agley.

I had planned to spend a lot of time reading, but it was a very bad no-good week in terms of health issues, and I was far too full of pain and exhaustion and nasty poisonous smog and other crap that insisted on invading my personal sphere that I could barely read. Instead I spent easily six or more hours a day mucking about on Facebook and playing computer solitaire.

I did, however, finish up Sharon Butala's The Girl in Saskatoon and Anya Seton's The Mistletoe and the Sword.

I'm picking away at a few books - Jonathan Metzel's The Protest Psychosis, Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Margaret Atwood's Second Words: Selected Critical Prose 1960-1982, and Isabel Allende's Ripper.

Some may note that it's taking me a very long time to read The Protest Psychosis. There's a good reason for that. You see, unlike most of the books I read, my copy of The Protest Psychosis is a real paper book, not an ebook. For the past three or four years, it's been almost impossible for me to read paper books because they are so toxic. But there are books I want to read that I bought before that happened, or that my partner bought for himself (or I bought him for one celebration or another) and I decided I wanted to read, or that do not have an ebook version. So I put them inside plastic bags and read a few paragraphs whenever I am strong enough to hold up a paper book, and not so sick that I can't tolerate the amount of toxin that comes through the plastic. Naturally, it takes me a long time to read a book this way.

By the way, as I finish books, I post my comments about them on my book blog, in case anyone is interested: http://bibliogramma.dreamwidth.org/

Morgan Dhu
24 August 2015 @ 03:09 pm

I have a few things to say about the Hugo Awards this year and the sadly rabid puppies who did what puppies do all over them. I know that, as puppies, they will keep on doing what puppies do, because they can and because they are full of the bubbling rage of denied entitlement, so I offer this suggestion. If the puppies really want to put the stories they think have been neglected up for consideration against all the other award-nominated works, don't load up a voting slate with crap that ranges from mediocre to barely readable. Because for this year's Hugo's, that's what they did, with few exceptions - most of whom pointedly disavowed themselves from the puppy kennel by declining their nominations.

If puppydom really wants to make a statement about what it thinks speculative fiction should be, then they should lead with their best. Nominate - as individuals, not as a slate - the very best of what they like in science fiction and fantasy. Honour original ideas, good writing, strong characterisation, tight plotting. Because nominating material that is merely competent, or worse, is not the way to showcase the kinds of fiction one loves.

Seriously. I read all the Hugo-nominated works in the fiction categories this year. And rejected the puppy offerings as not worthy of an award, a rejection based on merit, not genre or content. There was a lot of bad to mediocre writing there. There were some competent and interesting pieces, and one or two things that suggested real potential. But nothing that demonstrated the level of skill that merits a
Hugo. And that had nothing to do with the kinds of stories being told, some of which I enjoyed despite the quality of the work.

If indeed there are great works out there being overlooked or ignored, then next year, when we look at nominations for the best works of speculative fiction, let's see the best of all of speculative fiction's many faces, including the genres beloved by the puppies - because work that's good will be recognised for what it is. It doesn't need a slate to support it. And if the Hugo voters as a whole decide that no, the quality expected in a Hugo winner isn't there in the puppies' choices - then if puppies want awards for the stories they like to read, they should demand that kind of quality from the writers of the kinds of fiction they prefer. Whining that they are being shut out purely because they are puppies doesn't cut it.

And that brings me to another point. Not everything that one enjoys is award-worthy. I love Mercedes Lackey's writing, she pushes buttons for me that few others do. But I don't think her work is Hugo or Nebula or World Fantasy Award calibre. And that's all right. Maybe your most favourite authors will never win an award - because they are competent writers who know how to tell a story that you and others think is lots of fun to read, but are not trying to challenge you, or blow your mind, or take you somewhere you've never been before. Writers who lack the special something - originality, skill, perspective, vision, depth, power, insight, whatever - that lifts a book beyond the competent and entertaining. There's nothing wrong with that. Not every book can or should be an inspiration to other novelists, an example of the best a genre can produce.

In the long run, if we take them (or at least some of them) at their word and believe that this fuss is all about neglected kinds of stories and not that they just aren't comfortable with stories that challenge assumptions and decentre privileged viewpoints, then surely the gap between us is not as huge or as unbridgeable as they seem think it is.

Take me as an example. I've been a fan for going on fifty-five years. I read the old and the new with pleasure. I grew up on Heinlein and Asimov and Clarke and all the same folks they did. I read widely in the field now, as I always did. Space opera, military science fiction, planetary romance, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy - I read and enjoy these as much as I enjoy more philosophical, sociological and politically themed speculative fiction. I read for fun as much as I read for challenge and enlightenment. I accept that certain kinds of stories - urban fantasy and milsf, for example - are less likely to be found on the nomination lists for many reasons, some of which are inherent to the nature of those kinds of stories. But that doesn't mean I've stopped reading these kinds of stories, both new and old.

(I'll also note that when works that do draw on the motifs and themes of those "neglected" neglected kinds of stories do get awards, puppies claim they are tainted by the "message" of the work or the "intersectional politics" of the author. John Scalzi and Ann Leckie have won awards with books that sure read like space opera and milsf to me.)

But there is something else that's true of me that may not be true of some puppies. As the years have
gone by, my tastes in reading have grown and diversified. I still enjoy the things I used to, but I enjoy more kinds of things than I did then. The field of speculative fiction has changed, and grown, found new stories to tell and new viewpoints to tell them from. But the traditional kinds of stories are still around, still being written, and shock of shocks, I can read and enjoy them both.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that there is more to this than a desire to restore certain kinds of stories to their traditional place nearer the mainstream of speculative fiction. Reading the pronouncements and conversations on various blogs, full of puppy paranoia, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that the puppies are frightened and confused by speculative fiction that takes the defining question of the genre - what if? - and puts it in the words of people who do not have the same experiences and perspectives that they do. It was fine to ask what-if when the asker was white, American or occasionally British, preferably male, unquestionably cis and straight and binary, and espoused good American values or at least some approximation thereof. Certainly, there have always been those who spoke from outside that narrow vision, asked the questions no one with those forms of privilege would ask. But mostly, in the beginning of the genre, they were not loud or visible or numerous enough to be disturbing. But as more and more "other/ed" voices began to ask what-if, and to challenge all the accepted viewpoints from which what-if had been asked before - well, that's when some people started to find it scary.

And that, unfortunately, is a gap that may be harder to bridge, the gap between those who can only imagine limited sorts of new worlds, in which they can remain the same as they ever were, and those who are willing to go further and question everything, even their own vision of themselves.

Morgan Dhu
19 August 2015 @ 07:07 pm

So.... Have been gorging on crime thrillers. In the past week, I have read Lesley Thomson's The Detective's Daughter, Tana French's In the Woods, Vad McDermid's A Place of Execution, Kathy Reich's Speaking in Bones, Annelie Wendeberg's Holmesian mystery The Devil's Grin, and Yrsa Sigurdardotir's Someone To Watch over Me. Branching out into horror, I also read Sarah Pinborough's The Taken.

And I finished Gretchen Grezina's Black London: Before Emancipation.

Currently reading Sharon Butala's true crime narrative/memoir The Girl on Saskatoon, about the murder of Alexandria Wiwcharuk on 1962. This has a certain amount of personal resonance for me because I was living in Saskatoon at the time of the murder.

I'm also reading Anya Seton's The Mistletoe and the Sword, a sort of young-adultish historical novel set in Roman Britain at the time of the Iceni Rebellion. Not a major work, like the books she's perhaps most famous for, Green Darkness and Katherine, but quite enjoyable. A bit reminiscent of Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth.

Having read a lot of anthologies during my Hugo reading month, I seem to have set Future Eves: Classic Science Fiction about Women by Women, edited by Jean Marie Stine, aside for now. I'll come back to it later.

I plan to spend the rest of August reading the same sorts of undemanding sorts of things - thrillers, historical fiction, maybe some light horror. In September, I plan to start paying serious attention to the novels published so far this year that I suspect may be potential Hugo nominees. I have a supporting membership and I plan to use it.

Morgan Dhu
12 August 2015 @ 04:04 pm

I've been thinking maybe I ought to do this, if for no other reason than to give me something to post about every week. Of course, if you follow my book journal, you already know what I've read, but not what I'm reading or planning to read next, so this should not be too boring for you.

So... I finished my massive re-read of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover post-Contact novels, including the ones written by others after her death. The last ones were The Alton Gift and Children of Kings, by Deborah J. Ross. I'm going to wait a while before tackling a re-read of the pre-contact novels - will likely take that on ad we get nearer to the publication of Ross' next Darkover novel, Thunderlord, a sequel to Bradley's Stormqueen.

And I finished Elizabeth Bear's Range of Ghosts, the first of her Asian/Mongol/Silk Road inspired The Eternal Sky trilogy. I'd actually started it some time ago, but put it aside to do the Hugo nominations reading thing, and then picked it up again once i got through that. A very good read, with some wonderful female characters.

Because I have been reading a lot of sf and fantasy in the past two months, I'm feeling a need to shift genres. I took a glance over the several hundred books on my TBR list and picked out some crime/suspense/thriller books to look at, and maybe some Tudorporn. My first selection was Kathy Reichs' recent murder in the mountains novella, Bones on Ice, which was fun, and also one of the better things she's written lately.

I'm currently reading crime thriller The Detective's Daughter, by Lesley Thomson - a new author to me, and one who has received sone good reviews. I'm not quite as engaged as I'd hoped to be - the author's frequent and totally unmarked switches of POV are a bit disorienting, though part of me is wondering if perhaps this is a case where shifts that were indicated typographically in the printed text in sone way that has not carried over to the ebook. It's not the first time I've seen that happen.

I'm also partway through Future Eves: Classic Science Fiction about Women by Women, edited by Jean
Marie Stine, which features short stories from the early pulps, most of them totally new to me.

Also reading two non-fiction books. Black London: Life before Emancipation, by Gertrude Gerzina, and The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, by Jonathan Metzl. The titles speak for themselves.

Up next? In fiction, probably some more crime thrillers. I have unread books by Nicci French, Maureen Jennings, Kathy Reichs, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Laurie R. King, Sujatta Massey, Tess Gerritsen, Jennifer McMahon, just to mention authors I'm already familiar with, plus some selections from new authors (to me) to try out, including Tana French and Val MCDermid. Also, I need to finish Bear's trilogy.

In non-fiction, I want to read Ta-Nehisi Coates's new book, Between ​the ​World ​and ​Me. Also, there are relatively new books by Laurie Penny, Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Klein that I've been meaning to get around to. Plus the several hundred other unread books on the ipad. Time will tell which I pick up next.
Morgan Dhu

In the wake of the Bernie Sanders Seattle appearance incident, I've seen a lot of white folks on the Net lecturing black folks on how misguided their criticism of Sanders is, because he marched with MLK and he's a good guy who wants justice and equality for all and they should be happy to work with him because he's far more an ally to them than all the other politicians running. And the hard thing for them to understand is that while all they say about Sanders is true, it's not relevant in the way they think it should be.

Which got me to thinking about one of the most insidious aspects of white privilege - insidious because it's primarily found among white people who are honestly trying to be allies, to work for social justice and equality, to fight the good fight.

And that insidious aspect is that we white liberals start thinking that we're doing all this work, all this fighting, "for" other people, and that we deserve something in return - gratitude, a pat on the back, a bit of slack when we backslide, some acknowledgement of what we're doing.

I totally get that. Sometimes I feel that way myself. And then, because I'm a white woman who is therefore lacking privilege on that axis (and a few others, but let's not get complicated here), and have known men who want some kind of acknowledgement for what they think of as their efforts on my behalf, I get myself out of that space of white fragility pretty damn quickly.

Because there's no way I am going to - or should be expected to - thank a man for not raping me, for not harassing me, for not limiting the work I can do, for not thinking he owns me or has some kind of natural rights to my emotional work or sexuality or submission and service, for not doing any of those things that demean, devalue, or limit me as a woman. There is no reason why I should have to be grateful to another human being for treating me, and others like me, as human beings. You don't get accolades for the basic social requirement of not being a total jerk.

It's easy to understand why white people (and indeed anyone in a position of privilege who is working to be an ally and bring about social justice) feel they deserve something in return. It's hard work, coming to understand your own privilege, rooting out all the institutionalized racism we imbibed with the very air we breathed as children. It's difficult, challenging yourself, your friends, your family, your community, your government. And we live in a society where things we define as work - even if they are things that are enjoyable, or personally rewarding, or obviously the right thing to do, receive a return. We are paid for the work we do for employers or clients, and if we do a particularly good job, we expect bonuses or promotions or raises or repeat business. If we do community or church work, we expect to be recognised for it. We want the acknowledgement of our peers for our generosity, our charity, our kindness, for the things we do for others.

But there are kinds of work we don't expect praise or perks or payment for. No one is going to reward us for keeping our house clean, for washing our dirty socks and underwear. We do these things for ourselves, because a house with shit on the floor is not a great place to live, because clean underwear feels better than crusty underwear. We do these things because they are part of the basic life functions we engage in for ourselves.

And that is what white liberals sometimes don't realise, or remember. We aren't engaging in social justice action "for" other people, like a white knight or lady bountiful, we are not saviours who deserve cheers and special considerations - we are doing it because not to do it would be to fail at the basics of being a human being.

There is no reason why anyone should be grateful when I treat them like human beings, because that is the bare minimum to be expected of one human being in relation with another. And there is no reason why I should get a break when I fail to respect the humanity of others, just because there have been times when I didn't fail. It's my own responsibility to behave like a human being, and my own reward when I get it right is knowing that I did.

Morgan Dhu
03 August 2015 @ 04:12 pm

So I've been feeling pretty sick this past week - kind of par for the course - but I think I'm going to try to get out to the living room tonight and catch up on some TV viewing. Lately I've been watching the British SF show Humans, and enjoying it immensely, but last night was the last episode of that. I'm also watching Rizzoli and Isles, Killjoys, and (sporadically, and i'm quite a bit behind) The Lost Ship, and I'm working my way through Sense8.

What shows are other people watching and enjoying this summer? Anything new and good that I might have missed hearing about?

Morgan Dhu
02 August 2015 @ 12:31 pm
In the past year or two, I've become accustomed to posting on Facebook rather than here. It's easier - or at least, I perceive it as easier. On Facebook, all I need do is post a few lines, or a link to an article or picture I want to share. But there's something about a blog that seems to demand a greater degree of involvement with the text, and I often lack the energy for that. Maintaining my book journal seems to take everything I have.

And then there's the fact that really, not much happens to me except that things get more painful and more difficult to achieve. On Facebook, I mostly post articles dealing with current affairs - issues I feel strongly about. But I'm usually too tired to write extensively and coherently about those issues.

So perhaps I'll just blather on about my odd thoughts, as I'm doing now, and perhaps that will justify my keeping this journal active.
Morgan Dhu
15 December 2014 @ 01:23 am

Yes, I am still alive. As anyone who follows my book journal (bibliogramma on Dreamwidth) as well probably knows. But in increasingly more difficult circumstances. Health still sucks, life is pain, finances remain tenuous as I look into the future, etc.

But I am so far finding ways to keep going. Books help a lot. So do various mindless computer games. Anything that takes me away from my body a little bit.

I find myself sort of resurfacing after two years of not really communicating much. I don't know if this is simply due to some weird holiday season euphoria, or if I'm moving into a longer-term phase of reconnection with the world via this electronic medium. But there is some possibility that I may start posting stuff again from time to time.

Morgan Dhu
23 April 2012 @ 07:44 pm

So fucking tired.

My body's latest plan to torment me consists of not letting me sleep. Persistent dry cough that either keeps me from falling asleep or wakes me up soon after I fall asleep. Plus a very overactive bladder that wakes me up far too soon on those rare occasions that I do manage to sleep through the coughing. At least some of this is, I believe, due to the meds I'm on - or possibly due to going off one of them.

Today I actually managed to accumulate seven hours of sleep - haven't gotten that much sleep in at least a week. Almost feel human.

I am so fucking tired these days that I am not really able to keep up with posting here. I read journals, and comment, but most days it seems like such a mountain to climb just to marshall my thoughts in order to post.

For anyone who actually might be interested in occasional updates, I am thinking of trying to post a sentence or two now and again on FaceBook. I'm Morgan Dhu on FB too, if you are there and want to connect with me.

Morgan Dhu
12 February 2012 @ 06:09 pm
So, the last time I posted, I told y'all about how much my life sucked.

It still sucks. Only much more so.

My general state of health continued to deteriorate during the summer and fall, and between all the things that are wrong with me, like the joint pain and the increasingly intolerable edema and other stuff (which I will address in another post, because it's too complicated to put here), it was kind of getting obvious to both me and my employers that I really just was no longer able to perform my work in a satisfactory fashion. Not so much a quality dip, as not being able to spend enough time sitting up at a computer to actually do my work on time.

So we started taking about the company's Long-term disability plan (LTD) and how because my health conditions are not exactly the normal kind of stuff it's not certain I would qualify but my employers assured me they would to be as supportive as they could be once I reached the point where I simply could not longer work at all.

So that day has finally come. Friday was my last day of work. Now I'm on medical leave for four months until I've waited out the qualifying period for LTD, and then I get to apply and wait and see if they will pay me benefits. But of course, benefits don't come anywhere near covering household expenses. I can also apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits (CPP-D) - which, again, I may not qualify for because my medical situation is so weird - but not before six months have passed.

Even if I do manage to qualify for both, I will still be almost $1,000 a month short of what's needed to pay all the bills (mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance, food) each month. But... I can't give up the house, because no rental situation is going to give me an environment that is free of toxic stuff and thus safe for me to live in. Any apartment we rent would share walls with other people and their perfumes and stuff would seep in and leave me in a situation that I'm not sure I could tolerate for the full length of time it would take for all that crap to kill me. I mean, we bought this house in the first place because I was getting so very sick from breathing other people's laundry exhaust, soap, perfume, air-fresheners, and so on.

So that sucks. Assuming all goes well and I do qualify for the LTD and the CPP-D, where do I get another grand a month? We have no debt except for the mortgage, so I can't reduce expenses by consolidating debt. We may be able to switch to a variable mortgage, which might lower the interest a bit. Not only am I pretty much not able to work, but the few things I could do - if I tried to do any of them, I would immediately become ineligible for both the LTD and the CPP-D. My partner is my full-time caregiver, he can't work either because he can't leave me alone.

So I really don't know at all how we're going to survive this. There are no relatives who would be realistically able to help (I have no relatives, period, and my partner's relatives are few and in difficult circumstances themselves, for the most part).

So... We're basically fucked. There's enough in savings and inheritance to carry us through the qualifying period (when I am not getting any money from anywhere), and what's left over will carry us through several more years (four or five, depending on various possibilities) IF I qualify for both LTD and CPP-D, and maybe one year if I don't. After that... things look bleak. Really, really bleak.

If anyone has some bright and original ideas, they would be welcome. Just...

Budgeting is not a solution. All we spend money on now, aside from the aforesaid mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance, is food (which, because one of us has major food sensitivities and neither of us can tolerate chemicals, dyes, preservatives, etc, in our food, pretty much has to be what it is), household necessities (toilet paper, washing soda...) and books. Clothes when the old ones wear out. Replacing things that are broken or dead (we just bought a new TV because the old one is losing its ability to show images that are decipherable in any way whatsoever). We never go out, not even to see a movie. So please don't talk about cutting out non-essentials. We are by nature non-consumers. We don't buy shit we can do without anyway.

But anything else? I would love to hear any creative ideas or sources of funding that might apply to someone living in Toronto, Canada. Because any thought you have might just save my life.

Morgan Dhu
22 January 2012 @ 06:07 am

I am not happy with the direction that LiveJournal is moving in, and am shifting more toward Dreamwidth.

I am dropping from my friendslist here anyone who is in my reading circle on Dreamwidth. If There is anyone on my friendslist here who is also posting to Dreamwidth but who is not in my reading circle there, I would appreciate it if you could let me know who you are over there so I can add you. Thanks.

I will also no longer be crossposting from the Dreamwidth morgan_dhu account - not that I post all that often anyway, but there you go. I haven't made up my mind about the bibliogramma account yet.

Morgan Dhu
14 July 2011 @ 02:32 pm

What is your favorite foreign film? Do you think there should be an American remake?

Oh, writer's block, how you love to tempt me these days!

The unconsidered answer is that yes, there are many, many "foreign" films that I have enjoyed,in fact, far too many to name just one, and no, American remakes should never be made of any foreign film just because they are "foreign."

Of course, the whole issue of labelling a film as "foreign" begs many questions. Are we talking about films that are produced in a country other than the country of the speaker's origin or films that contain subject matter that is foreign - that is, unknown - to the speaker? And what is the speaker's origin assumed to be? Indian, perhaps, where more films are produced per year than in any other country in the world? Or is the speaker from Nigeria, the world's second-largest film-producing nation? As for subject matter, well, someone much wiser than I once said, "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto" - so perhaps the only films with truly foreign content are those about non-humans, such as some science fiction, and nature films that do not anthropomorphize their subjects.

I know, of course, that in the English-speaking parts of the world, the term foreign film usually means a film in a language other than English, and carries an assumption of being an American-produced film. Films from Canada, Great Britain. Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are often put in some kind of Schrodinger's box, sometimes considered as foreign, and sometimes not. Because America is of course the centre of the universe. (I am sure Constant Reader knows me well enough to understand this is sarcasm.)

But let us pass on from considering this concept of "foriegn," to examine the other issue raised in this question, the unfortunately wide-spread practice of remaking works from other countries for American audiences. Here, of course, even other English-speaking countries are not spared - observe how many American television shows of note have been remakes of British productions, for instance.

Now let me make one thing perfectly clear - I am not at all opposed to the idea of someone returning to the same source material to make a new film - even if the original source material is an earlier film. A new eye, a new interpretation, can bring much enjoyment and highlight new ways of considering the source material. In fact. I myself own several different film treatments of a number of Jane Austen's novels, because each creative team highlights different elements of the source work and interprets it in different ways.

But what annoys me is the idea of remaking a film simply because it is not American. Must the whole world be translated for the comfort of Americans? A subtitled original work allows one to broaden one's horizons, see material treated in ways that one might never see from a filmmaker of one's own cultural milieu, appreciate cultural and artistic traditions that are not one's own. Watching films from countries other than one's own is, I have found, an enlightening and enriching experience. How much would I have lost by watching an American remake, with an American perspective and sensibility?

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Morgan Dhu
04 July 2011 @ 04:10 pm

For those interested in the short version of what's been happening for the past couple of years, it find of goes like this:

I got sick, which involved a bed-rest of several months, during which I discovered an addictive MMO called Travian, which I played intensively, being sick and bored and in great need of diversion. I got better but my mobility didn't, so I kept playing, when I wasn't working. I started running out of spoons for anything except basic living and holding onto my job. This lasted a year or so.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year. My father-in-law was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Then I developed a very bad case of shingles which still has not wholly cleared up. Then my niece developed a severe form of auto-immune anemia which did not respond to standard treatment and she almost died, but managed to pull through but only with chemotherapy and immunosuppressants, which have kind of put a wrench in her ability to conduct a normal life. Then my father-in-law died. Then my mother died - intestate, and in another province. I, as sole heir, have a whole lot of bureaucracy to deal with which is made ten times more difficult by the fact that my mobility issues are now such that I cannot travel to where she was living to handle any of the estate settlement issues in person.

I am not really bothering to comment on my emotional response to any of this, nor on my current emotional state. Y'all can probably make accurate guesses anyway.

So that's where things are right now.

Having broken the ice, I will probably continue posting now and again. But don't expect too much. It's hard to find free spoons around here these days.

Morgan Dhu
04 July 2011 @ 03:33 pm

How do you celebrate Independence Day in your country?

This seemed just the thing to cause me to break radio silence, as it were, and start posting again.

You know, I'm not surprised that there are Americans who are arrogant enough, stupid enough, or ignorant enough to pose this as a question of the day. So many Americans appear to be arrogant enough to think that the world revolves around their country, so naturally the whole world would celebrate the day they declared independence from Great Britain. So many other Americans just don't think about what it means that there are other countries in the world with completely different histories. And I'm sure there are some who don't actually know enough about this holiday they celebrate to know that it is particular to one place and time, and not to every other country on the globe.

What boggles my mind is that the LiveJournal administrators would actually choose such an inherently insulting question as the Question of the Day. Have they forgotten, as so many Americans seem to do on a regular basis that there are other countries in the world - some, indeed, which would welcome independence from the economic imperialism of the U.S.?

Of course, there are a great many countries where a national day celebrating independence from a colonial power is observed; but none of them celebrate America's independence, but rather their own. Perhaps the questioner wanted to ask: Does your country have a national celebration of independence, and if so, what does it mean to you and how do you celebrate it? That's a question I would have enjoyed reading some answers to.

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Morgan Dhu
06 August 2009 @ 06:43 pm
What does this Rorschach blot look like to you?

Two flying pigs (from Hogtown, aka Toronto, of course) trying to abscond with the Stanley Cup.

Morgan Dhu
01 June 2009 @ 05:13 pm

David Gunn, March 10, 1993, Pensakola Florida
George Patterson, August 21, 1993, Mobile, Alabama
John Britton, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
James Barrett, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
Shannon Lowney, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Lee Ann Nichols, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Robert Sanderson, January 29, 1998, Birmingham, Alabama
Barnett Slepian, October 23, 1998, Amherst, New York
Steven Rogers, July 16, 2001, Melbourne, Australia
George Tiller, May 31, 2009, Witchita, Kansas

These women and men were murdered by anti-abortion terrorists because they offered, supported and defended reproductive choice. In addition, there have been over a dozen attempted murders, hundreds of assaults and hundreds of arsons, bombings and major acts of vandalism, primarily in the U.S., but also in Canada and Australia. In the face of these acts of terror, the people who continue to provide abortion services, and those who protect them, their clients, and their offices and clinics are nothing short of heroes.

Lest the sacrifice of those who have died and the courage and dedication of those who continue to face the threat of violence in order to provide this necessary medical service be in vain…

Support reproductive choice.
The decision to have an abortion is a personal decision between client and doctor.
The state has no place in the uteri of the nation.

Morgan Dhu

... and thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, have died because of his religious mania.

I always suspected this was what was really going on in his mind - after all, Bush had some pretty close ties with all sorts of millenialist evangelicals - but I simply am boggled by the fact that he came out and told world leaders that they should join in the invasion of Iraq because he was on a mission from God.[1]

Some exerpts from the article:
In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France's President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.


The story has now been confirmed by Chirac himself in a new book, published in France in March, by journalist Jean Claude Maurice. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush's invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and "wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs".

In the same year he spoke to Chirac, Bush had reportedly said to the Palestinian foreign minister that he was on "a mission from God" in launching the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was receiving commands from the Lord.
You know, this is almost enough to make one think that prospective heads of governemnt should be required to affirm, with their hand on a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species, that they will not in any way allow public policy to be influenced by their personal religious beliefs before being allowed to take office.

[1]And yes, I am totally trying to keep myself from seeing GWB in my mind's eye wearing dark sunglasses and an ill-fitting black suit, singing the Blues while Ackroyd plays harmonica and Belushi does backflips, because that would not only be wrong, but also so disresepctful to the people who have suffered from this man's delusions of divine inspiration.

Morgan Dhu

A Thunder Bay woman is demanding an explanation after a teacher's aide at her son's school cut his long hair — an action her lawyer says is clearly assault while the Crown insists there are no grounds for charges....

The seven-year-old boy had chin-length hair before the incident last month. His mother said staff at McKellar Park Central Public School were aware her son was letting his hair grow so that he could take part in traditional First Nations dancing.

I've heard more detail on this in TV reports. The boy reported that the teacher's aide took hold of him bodily, placed him on a stool, cut off his bangs, then took him down and made him walk to a mirror and look at what she had done. In what world is that not a physical assault - to say nothing of an act powerfully and revoltingly evocative of the way that Aboriginal children were shorn of their hair when they were taken to residential schools.

Oh, I forgot - the boy is First Nations, and that means it's just fine for a fucking teacher's aide to grab him and do anything he/she wants to him to make him look "acceptable" to white eyes.

TV reports are also saying that the same person has done this before, cutting the hair of an older First Nations boy becasue his hair was too "feminine."

Gah. Not just physical assault, but continuation of cultural genocide - imposing white North American cultural assumptions and standards on Aboriginal people. Forced assimilation all over again.

And all the school had to say was that it was a "regrettable incident." And the Crown says this isn't assault.

Fuck that. I hope the family's lawyer takes this as far as they have to, to get recognition of just what was done to both of these boys (and I wonder how many others at this school, and others, have been treated the same way).

Morgan Dhu
18 May 2009 @ 06:39 pm


I post this not because I think fans and writers of colour need my help, my acknowledgement, my recognition, my approval, my white-assed whatever, in order to declare and celebrate themselves. They don't.

I post this because I want to hear their stories, and keep on hearing their stories. I want white publishers and white editors and white agents and all the other white gatekeepers of the white-dominated mechanisms of publication and distribution to know that I want to hear their stories, just as much as I want straight male cisgendered non-disabled publishers and editors and agents and gatekeepers to know that I want to hear the stories of women and PWD and queers of all kinds.

I grew up believing in IDIC. I still do.
Morgan Dhu
17 May 2009 @ 03:18 pm

I have four. Let me know if you or someone you know wants one.