IndieGoGo just canceled Agents of H.A.G, my first comic book in 30 years, AFTER the campaign successfully ended with 150% of goal. I already ordered books from the printer. Now all the money, all the orders, gone. No appeal, just gone.
Lately I am informed that nuclear energy is safe, clean, and the only sensible solution to our climate and energy woes. Opposition is ignorant and parochial, because “the technology is better now.” This is usually said by earnest and reasonable people who are at least a decade younger than me.
When I was a young’un, the idea was that we would reduce our energy consumption. “Technology” would help us do that, by becoming ever-more energy efficient.
Hahaha. Oh, the naiveté of youth.
Today, I live not far from a “solar farm,” acres covered with solar panels. The panels are expensive, took a lot of energy to produce, transport, and install, and will be outdated and obsolete in a decade or so.
My region builds ever-expanding “wind farms,” miles of enormous turbines. These make audible and inaudible vibrations, kill birds, disrupt local water tables and wells, and resemble science-fiction alien invaders. They are expensive, took a lot of energy to produce, transport, and install, and will be outdated and obsolete in a decade or so. Their construction converted many miles of formerly bike-friendly country roads into nightmarish hell-gravel.
Wind and solar would save us, we thought in the ’80’s. Turns out they’re costly, disruptive, rely on fossil fuels and mining to produce, and barely make a dent in supply. People recognize they’re more of a symbolic gesture than practical, and it’s time to stop playing these expensive, silly hippie games. If we’re going to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, we need nuclear.
And so I see popular support, especially among young people and Libertarians, for building more nuclear power plants. The Fukushima disaster was barely 11 years ago, but memories are short. And optimism, so lauded as a desirable character trait, informs points like “the technology is better now.”
The technology was “better now” when Fukushima was built, too. All previous nuclear power plants were new once. They were all the latest, best technology, rigorously vetted for safety.
The Chernobyl Disaster occurred late April 1986, when I was 18. I heard about it on the radio, went back to my university dorm room, and cried. My assigned roommate, a born-again Christian, rolled her eyes and explained that she was “saved” so had no worries about things like that.
When I was 20, I moved from Urbana, IL to Santa Cruz, CA, and immediately volunteered at the anti-nukes community newspaper, The Monthly Planet. A project of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze, it also opposed nuclear power, both for its own sake and its role in supplying radioactive materials to war machines.
When I was 30, my future-ex-husband wrote and performed a one-man play called Deep U, about depleted Uranium. At the time, Depleted Uranium weapons were being dropped on Serbia by the US military. Although prized for their “tank busting” density, these weapons were also radioactive.
Like many children of my generation, I had nightmares about nuclear apocalypse. Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island showed that active war wasn’t the only potential path to this flavor of doom. There were also real reports about real places dealing with real nuclear waste affecting real people, not to mention real other life forms.
I am no expert, but I am reluctant to discard years of concern for the dangers of radioactive waste and nuclear power plants.
“Not a problem now!” cheer younger-than-me people, as they describe spent reactor fuel sealed in concrete and stored at the very plants that produced them. All it requires is our new and improved technology, and money, and for no one to cut corners, because no one ever cuts corners and budget cuts would somehow never touch nuclear plants. We’re in control, we can always be in control, we can do it!
When nuclear goes out of control, it is very, very bad. But maybe I’ve just been “tricked by movies and television shows” to think that. Maybe the young youtubers are right, and “we solved nuclear waste decades ago.” Heck, maybe I’m the dupe. Maybe all the 1980’s anti-nukes propaganda was funded by the fossil fuels industries, who didn’t want the competition. And I fell for it!
Or, perhaps, I remain skeptical because I have seen so much go out of control in my 54 years. Pretty much every well-laid human plan goes awry. The current naive and youthful support for nuclear seems utopian to me.
But my own generation’s youthful hopes that humans could voluntarily reduce energy consumption was even more utopian. Global population is still growing, energy demand still increasing. Today’s optimistic and naive young people need a constant, high supply of energy to mint NFTs, share Greta Thunburg memes, and organize Extinction Rebellion protests. “Green” energy has been shown to be not so green. So hell, let ‘em have nuclear. I’m nearer the end of my natural lifespan than they are; I won’t have to live with the consequences. Humanity will get the power it deserves.
I still feel bad for the rest of life on the planet. But humans are a force of Nature, like earthquakes and asteroids. My mistake was wishing our ability to “think” and “make decisions” meant we could conscientiously change course. We’re like the ancient cyanobacteria that excreted oxygen as waste, driving extinct most anaerobic life and converting Earth’s atmosphere to the highly flammable “air” that drove multi-cellular evolution – leading to us! Perhaps what looks like intractable human stupidity, is the foundation of a whole new radioactive ecology.
Any bets on whether my local bike club will survive beyond this season? Emails lightly edited for brevity, all names anonymized except my own.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022
I was able to renew my membership with the link to the Website. I noticed that the application requires a “gender” designation that only includes male or female. This is now very out of date. I identify as Female, but there are many who find this restrictive. We need to replace the gender with more options for our gender-queer or LGBT or other gender options friends. I can recommend a consultant for language, or we can reach out to the UP Center.
Better yet, get rid of the “Gender” check box!
What is the purpose of the gender check box?
There is no reason to have a gender checkbox.
If there’s a reason to know someone’s sex, there can be a checkbox for Male, Female, and Prefer Not To Say.
No boxes for me, I’m out! And, please take me off the mailing/e-mail list.
I agree with A and B.
I will be happy to renew my membership after BIKECLUB has spoken with Uniting Pride of Champaign County about how to be non-binary in the membership form and how to be a LGBTQ+ Affirming organization.
If you do away with the gender box, that might solve a small part.
Thank you A!!
(she/her) but related to people who identify in many other non-cis, non-binary
I’m one of those self-unemployed introverts who is adjusting quite well to our pandemic lockdown. I feel especially peaceful because forced quarantine has temporarily quieted many of the garden-variety “alpha” humans, the ones who thrive on dominating others. They have to stay at home too, and haven’t been able to conduct their usual bullying and stirring up trouble. Under “normal” circumstances, they have power over other people, and the other people just aren’t available to lord it over right now.
But that will end. I don’t dread getting sick as much as I dread what the alphas will start doing. Of the lockdown, they warn us, “this is not sustainable!” and “people will start going crazy!” I know they are right. At least half of Americans are expected to get COVID-19 before a vaccine is available (if one ever is) so I’ve made my uneasy peace with that. But human beings have always hurt me more than any disease. Humans have always been the biggest danger to humans. I appreciate that, in this brief moment, the human threat is made visible, and keeping distance is the rule of the day. I sense on the horizon the impending doom of our newfound boundaries being violated by angry, entitled, self-righteous alphas.
They are already abusing whoever is unlucky enough to be quarantined with them. Wife-battering and child abuse is on the rise. (I am immensely grateful I live only with my Momz, an excellent woman of 78.) Their rage and sense of impotence is building, and soon more will leave the confines of their homes to violate others. Then all the “nice” alphas will up their social policing, virtue-signaling, tribe-forming, scapegoating, and witch-hunting in response. The COVID-19 coronavirus is “novel,” but human behavior is not. I have enjoyed my little respite from it.
A year or two ago my friendBrewster Kahle told me he had been asking people, “when is the last time you read a book? Cover to cover?” Predictably, the answers were discouraging. In the age of the Internet, people still talk about books, praise books, and condemn books; but actually reading books is rare.
When I first heard of feminist authorAndrea Dworkin, in the early 1990’s, I was told she said all heterosexual sex is rape. In popular discourse, “het sex is rape” was considered the gist of her work.
Well, I could easily form an opinion about that, and I did. Of course all heterosexual sex isn’t rape! What a dumb idea. I didn’t have to read any books to know that! So I didn’t.
It was a few decades before I finally read Dworkin’sIntercourse. I had been seeing endless condemnations of “TERF”s – “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists” – online, and was constantly admonished to “educate myself” because I had asserted that transwomen are male. Since I had spent my 20’s and 30’s immersed inSan Francisco Sex-Positive and Kink and LGBT culture, and therefore had known many transwomen (including a few lovers), I wondered where my education was lacking. I was well versed in Queer Theory, but I realized then I had never actually read one of these “radical feminists.”
And so I learned Dworkin never wrote “all heterosexual intercourse is rape.” Her thoughts about sex were a lot more nuanced. I was surprised by how passionately and sensitively she wrote about it; clearly she was heterosexual, in spite of (or along with) declaring herself a Political Lesbian in her activist years. I was also persuaded by many of her other radical feminist ideas. Dworkin had been unfairly maligned, and because I fell for it, I had missed out.
I am part of the moderation team ofSpinster, a woman-centered, radical-feminist-leaning social media platform founded half a year ago, in August 2019. A few weeks after our small team had formed, one of the moderators started denouncing Lesbian Feminist authorSheila Jeffreys, and publicly wishing her harm. She explained it was because Jeffreys advocated Political Lesbianism. A young lesbian, this mod considered Political Lesbianism lesbophobic, homophobic, and dangerous. As far as she was concerned, Jeffreys said sexual orientation is a choice, making her no different from fundamentalist Christians and conversion therapy advocates.
Well, I could easily form an opinion about that, and I did. Of course sexual orientation isn’t a choice! What a dumb idea. I didn’t have to read any books to know that!
Over the next couple days, the young moderator accused Spinster’s founders, other mods, and many of its members of “lesbophobia.” If one doesn’t vocally condemn Jeffreys and Political Lesbianism, the logic went, one supports it, and therefore hates lesbians. She was joined by others, and a rift formed, with some Spinster users canceling their accounts in protest.
Time has taught me to be skeptical of the condemnation of authors and their ideas, so it was only a few weeks before I read Jeffrey’sThe Lesbian Heresy. Just as Dworkin never said all het sex is rape, Jeffreys never said sexual orientation is a choice. I was especially surprised – and moved – that so much of The Lesbian Heresy was about the very same Sex-Positive and Kink and LGBT worlds I had been immersed in in my youth. Jeffreys helped me piece together events of the 1980’s and 90’s I had never connected; connections that help explain the condemnation of Andrea Dworkin, the replacement of Radical Feminism with Liberal Feminism, the academic acceptance and promotion of porn, and the near extinction of Lesbian Feminism.
That left me with a different understanding of Political Lesbianism and the movement from whence it arose, Lesbian Feminism. I could not in good faith condemn it. I recommended The Lesbian Heresy on Spinster, where arguments about Political Lesbianism rage on. As far as I know, no one condemning it has actually read The Lesbian Heresy; and by the logic of Social Media, or social groups in general, they don’t have to, because the issue has already been summarized for them as Political Lesbianism = Sexual Orientation Is A Choice = Homophobia.
The fact that I had read and was recommending a book angered some women even more. “Oh she read a book and now she’s straightsplaining lesbianism to lesbians!” I was surprised to be resented for reading, and wanting to discuss, a Lesbian Feminist book. I am surprised that Sheila Jeffreys, as lesbian as any lesbian who ever lesbianed, and an excellent writer to boot, is so maligned by women who haven’t actually read her words.
I am open to nuanced arguments, but those don’t happen on social media. Everything gets distilled into soundbites, phrases like “born that way” and “trans women are women!” These thought-terminating memes are effective political cudgels, but anathema to understanding reality. Good books are the opposite.
There are also bad books. I recently read one called The 57 Bus, which resembles an extended Tumblr. But even it was more nuanced than online discourse. I read it for a nonfiction book group I’m part of. I found it agonizingly sexist, and it made me angry; I read it anyway, because I am a grown-up and capable of reading things I disagree with. And it wasn’t completely without merit: it discusses some important issues, in spite of being spun for a target market of white Liberal virtue-signalers. Reading the whole book allowed me to make reasoned arguments, and better understand the intellectual pablum that is the main diet of schools right now.
Some books are overlong. Some books contain important information, but are poorly written. We can’t read everything, certainly not every book that is recommended to us.
But perhaps we can acknowledge that Internet memes, denunciations, and simple summaries of entire books might be missing a world of nuance.
I recently recommended Lierre Keith’s book The Vegetarian Myth to a couple vegan friends, because they told me they’d never heard even one reasonable argument in favor of carnivorism. I personally don’t eat birds or mammals, and I very much appreciate vegans, and I don’t want to convert anyone; but The Vegetarian Myth makes compelling arguments, and expanded my ideas about eating, life, death, and my own motivations for eschewing meat. (The book had no effect on my dietary choices, proving that it is possible to appreciate arguments without capitulating to them.) Still, my friends refuse to read it because they are certain they already have already heard anything it could contain, plus they read a Wikipedia summary which was easy to condemn.They told me they won’t read the book, but invited me to sum it up for them in a sentence or two. I said I’d try.
But I can’t. The reason good books exist is some things can’t be summed up in a sentence. Or even a paragraph. Or even an entire blog post.
I used to pride myself on being able to distill complex ideas into simple one-liners, an essential skill for a cartoonist. Refining messages into easily digestible memes is a crucial tool of propaganda and advertising, and I’ve employed my talents in many an ideological battle. Increasingly, though, I don’t want to do battle. I just want to have a conversation. I am lonely, I am tired, and I want to discuss the world, not argue you into compliance, or dazzle you with my clever memes.