The Texas Special Legislative Session vs. the Bathroom Bill

It’s “good news, bad news” time here in the Lone Star State, y’all.  The good news?  The Texas 2017-2018 legislative session has ended without passage of the bathroom bill.

The bad news?  Gov. Greg Abbott has called a special session, and on the agenda is Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s obsession: the bathroom bill.  If certain legislation doesn’t pass during a session, the governor can call the legislators back in order to finish up the job.  Mr. Patrick took advantage of this fact.  From The Texas Tribune: “Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had been pushing Abbott to call a special session on the bathroom issue, as well as property taxes.”

Fortunately, the Texas House doesn’t seem terribly interested in passing the bill.  It’ll be bad for the economy and bad for privacy rights.  Unfortunately, the governor can keep calling special sessions until he deems the work of the legislature complete.

Can You Recycle Campaign Yard Signs?

Yes, or at least around these parts.  I’ve displayed campaign yard signs for a number of election cycles now, and some of the signs I’ve kept (for sentimental reasons?  to clutter the garage?) and some I’ve passed along to our party precinct chair for use at the polling locations on election day.

Alas, the garage is filling up, so after May’s municipal elections, I decided to ask the city in which I reside if I can recycle them.  And the answer is yes.  File under “good to know.”  I’ll be carting a bunch of ’em out to the curb soon….

 

If Senator Cornyn is Appointed FBI Director

On the off chance that Senator John Cornyn is selected to be the next director of the FBI, Texas might just have the chance to fill his seat with a Democrat sooner rather than later.  From The Texas Tribune:

Gov. Greg Abbott would be tasked with a short-term appointment, but several months later the state would hold a special election to finish the duration of the term, which ends in 2021. 

The The Austin American-Statesman floats a couple possibilities as challengers to Gov. Abbott’s appointee: US Representative Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, who has already begun his 2018 campaign against Senator Ted Cruz, or US Representative Joaquin Castro of San Antonio.

That said, the scenario is unlikely to play out.  Again, from The Austin American-Statesman:

While Cornyn did serve as both a Texas Supreme Court justice and state attorney general before being elected to the Senate, he would seem among the least likely picks on the list.

Which leaves us here in the Lone State State waiting for the 2018 election for the next opportunity to elect a Democratic candidate to a Senate seat.

Guns, Girls, and Glory: Part I

At a recent book sale to benefit my local elementary school, I happened to find a copy of Herland near a copy of Nebula Award Stories 8, edited by Isaac Asimov. Both I grabbed, the former because my current copy is an ebook, the latter because the anthology boasted stories by Clarke, Anderson, Pohl, Ellison, and others.

Herland and Nebulas 8

Among those “others” in this 1972 paperback is Joanna Russ; her story “When It Changed” won the Nebula for best short story published that year. In this story, a planet populated entirely by women is visited by men. The men on the planet had died hundreds of years before, so none of the women had first-hand knowledge of men—a parallel to Herland.

What’s strikingly different is that while Gilman’s all-women society is a utopia, the society that Russ created, the planet Whileaway, is not. Children are communally raised in Herland; society conducts itself in a “feminine” manner. On Whileaway, a sense of individualism permeates the culture. The narrator considers her twelve-year old daughter’s imminent coming-of-age: “Some day soon, like all of them, she will disappear for weeks on end to come back grimy and proud, having knifed her first cougar or shot her first bear, dragging some abominably dangerous dead beastie behind her, which I will never forgive for what it might have done to my daughter.” Though men are absent from the planet, a sort of stereotypically male relationship between people and nature—and among the people themselves—remains.

Aside from the obvious differences between these two takes on women-only societies, one notable distinction between them struck me: guns. Guns are conspicuously absent from Herland—they’re not needed in a society without conflict. On Whileaway, they’re a part of daily life. And in spite of their presence, what guns they have are not enough to protect the women there: “Men are coming to Whileaway. When one culture has the big guns and the other has none, there is a certain predictability about the outcome.” Katy, the narrator’s wife, never touches her rifle, because, as she says after she nearly shoots one of the men who do come to their world, “’I knew I’d kill someone.’”

As a Texan following our current legislative session, I’m not surprised that I focused on this difference. A number of bills have been put forth that would make owning and carrying guns far easier than it is now—and that’s not to say that it isn’t already quite easy here. And as a Texan, I hope common sense will prevail and that these bills will not pass. And as a writer of science fiction, I’ve been considering the ways in which state and national bills and legislation will affect us in the future.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing posts about gun ownership and mental health, gun ownership as a signifier of social status among the middle class, and how gun training might be implemented in public and private schools.

In the meantime, y’all, I’ve got letters to write.  From The Dallas Morning News: “Texans could carry a handgun without a license under a House bill that’s stuck in the chamber.”

Regular Love vs Psychic Love?

Flier listing various services offered by a psychicSo, this is a first.  We’ve had our share of Christian proselytizers of various denominations around these parts, but never an advert for our local psychic.

Found this flier hanging on my door this afternoon.  Our yard is a bit of a mess, so I suppose it’s fine to assume that our spirits, loves, and auras could use a good once-over too, perhaps.

Maybe I’m being a bit pedantic here, but I think if I were going in for love spells, I’d like my intended target not to be psychic.  A bit of mystery keeps the magic in the relationship, right?

From Around the Web: 9 May 2017

A few links of interest from around the web:

  • Climate change fiction: Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe talk with Kim Stanley Robinson about climate change and his new novel New York 2140  (Episode 305: Kim Stanley Robinson and the Drowning of New York)
  • Gender and (TV) SF, from The Guardian: “The final frontier: how sci-fi is becoming less male
  • And Robots in Space!, from Astronomy Cast: “When you think of a robot, you’re probably imagining some kind of human-shaped machine. And until now, the robotic spacecraft we’ve sent out into space to help us explore the Solar System look nothing like that. But that vision of robots is coming back, thanks to a few new robots in development by NASA and other groups. “

From Around the Web: 20 March 2017

A few links of interest from around the web:

This is Not a Food Blog: Victoria Sponge Trifle Edition

We’re approaching one of the best times of the year for baking, when many fruits start to come into season.  Victoria sponge is one of my old standby recipes, and it’s a great use for the boxes of strawberries I buy too many of this time of year.

The cake is a bit finicky to cut, so I decided to deconstruct it into a trifle.  Though it could be argued that the layered presentation of a Victoria sponge is a deconstructed trifle in itself? I baked only one layer of the sponge, as my trifle dish is, well, a trifle small.  Turned out quite nicely.

Victoria Sponge Trifle

Victoria Sponge Trifle