A Dark Web: Part Two

Missed the first part?  Go to The Bolingbrook Babbler to check it out!

Connie Herbert slipped the badge between the seat and the armrest, cleared her throat, and pulled at her neck gaiter. They had a job to do, and if she was lucky, no one in Gabriel’s Crest would find out who she was. Not even Mary–the third Mary of Mary’s Meat Shop–who might remember something of Connie’s eyes. Or the eyes that she shared with so many of the women in her family.

“What’s bugging you, Herbert?”

Connie looked over at Mateo at the wheel of the pickup truck. “You think we’ve got the wrong ant hill?” They’d worked a hundred of these parties together over the last twenty years, cleaning up before anyone thought to get their hands dirty on substances the Feds wouldn’t know what to do with. If anyone knew something was wrong, though, with the party or anything else, it would be Mateo.

“So, I think we’ve got the wrong party, confreres,” Kyle said. Except for the way he spoke, he could have easily been mistaken for a bored farm kid from some town thirty miles away but seemingly in the same corn field. Fresh out of college, he landed on their team. “I mean, this rural setting just jeopardizes their contraband commerce.”

Mateo turned toward the back seat. “Small towns like this, they thrive on local legends. Best business is where they believe in what they’re buying.”

“You’d know first hand, small town boy like you, Kyle,” Connie said. Her voice wavered, and she cleared her throat. “Can’t get this dirt road dust out of my lungs.”

“You never get used to that, do you, big city gal like you?” Mateo shook his head at her.

Connie tried not to think about what that meant. Like her, he was from Chicago. She let it lie at that. He was, for all intents and purposes, family to her, like so many on the teams she’d worked on had become. But she couldn’t help thinking about where she came from, if not directly. Story was that her grandmother and great aunt had lived in some small town like this, though Connie’s dad never let slip the name of the place. Connie’s grandfather had gone off under “mysterious circumstances,” that long phrase that sounded like a magic spell. Some commotion around her grandmother’s sister, too. Her dad was so young when they pulled up stakes that he hardly remembered either of them. “Look, I doubt it’s really what they say it is, Kyle. It’s just a name. It’s just a marketing gimmick.”

“Then why are we carrying a metric crap ton of antivenom in the cooler, Connie?” Katie pulled her medic’s bag into her lap. “Did you fall for the marketing gimmick too? Because that’s going to do a giant load of bull plop for anyone who uses it, if I’m getting the big picture right on this.”

“Look,” Connie said to the team. “Here’s the thing. We get in, we get the stuff, and we get out before the Feds get here–especially before the Feds get here. Then we find out who’s making the stuff in the first place. But we worry about that later.” She pulled gloves over her long fingers. “If we’re lucky, we do this quietly.”

“If we’re lucky,” Katie said, her medic’s bag in hand.

If they were lucky, no one in that raucous, dressed-up crowd would know what they were doing.

If Connie was lucky, no one would know what she was doing, in the crowd or in the cab of the pickup. If she was lucky, no one would see who she was.

Or, she shuddered, what.

Read Part 3 over at Impossible Me!


Religion and the Supreme Court Nominee: It’s Not a Cult. It’s Worse.

No word back from either of my GOP senators, both of whom are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, regarding my previous letters about their hypocritical attempt to rush nominee Amy Coney Barrett into a seat on the Supreme Court.

That said, here’s a bit that I might add to my next round of written communication with said senators, from a recent article in The Guardian (“‘It instilled such problems’: ex-member of Amy Coney Barrett’s faith group speaks out“):

Thomas Csordas, an anthropology professor at the University of California San Diego who has studied the issues around communities like People of Praise, said it was wrong to focus attention on whether the group could be a considered a “cult” in the spirit of Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple. It was much more appropriate, he said, to examine what he called the “intentional community” of People of Praise and its nature of being “conservative, authoritarian, hierarchical, and patriarchal”.

“I think they’re potentially more dangerous and much more sophisticated [than a cult],” he said. “It is not the kind of group where submission of women to men means that they have to stay barefoot and pregnant. Instead, they have to be lawyers and judges and submissive to men at the same time. They have to be able to have a career and seven kids at the same time.”

As soon as I have the next round of postcards to elected officials drafted, I’ll put them up here.  And I’ll definitely include a question about her ability to see past her belief system, since, as Prof. Csordas says, ‘She already “knows” what to think because of the patriarchal structure she was raised in.’  Which is a structure that we can’t give any more power to.

Texas Governor Restricts Number of Ballot Drop-Off Locations

It’s never a good sign when your state makes it into the international news.  From the BBC, “Texas governor cuts back on voting locations weeks before election“:

Texas’ governor has ordered that voters can drop off their mail-in ballots at only one location per county in the lead-up to the presidential election.

On social media, there’s a push to get mail-in ballot voters to drop off their ballots rather than mail them in to prevent overloading the already burdened USPS.  That Gov. Abbott is putting up this obstacle is disturbing to say the least.  (I do wonder whether this is the result of the push-back he received from his own Republican party regarding his extension of early voting dates.)

Just for a little context, here are a few county numbers (links are to US Census Bureau website; registered voter count is from the Texas Secretary of State January 2020 Voter Registration Figures website):

  • Harris (including Houston, the 4th most populous city in the US), population: 4,713,325 with 2,370,968 registered voters
  • Dallas (including Dallas, the 9th most populous city in the US): 2,635,516 with 1,335,478 registered voters
  • Tarrant (including Fort Worth, the 13th most populous city in the US): 2,102,515 with 1,151,733 registered voters
  • Bexar (including San Antonio, the 7th most populous city in the US): 2,003,554 with 1,125,759 registered voters
  • Travis (including Austin, the 11th most populous city in the US): 1,273,954 with 813,626 registered voters
  • El Paso (including El Paso, the 22nd most populous city in the US): 839,238 with 469,342 registered voters.

The population of Texas is 29 million, 16,106,984 of which are registered voters.  I don’t have figures for how many voters have requested mail-in ballots.

That said, in a state comprising only 254 counties, we’re looking at a serious attempt at keeping voters from having their voices heard.  Which, sadly, is nothing new.

This article from KPRC in Houston provides more population-related info: “New census data: Harris County is the third largest county in the US, but how does its growth compare to other large Texas counties?

Printable Postcards: In Opposition to the Confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett

More postcards, this time in opposition to the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Here are a few links of note:

Also included are postcards that are, I realize, screaming into the void.  But sometimes that void, especially if it’s an ethical void, needs to be screamed into.  Or at, really.

Printable Postcards: Peaceful Transfer of Power and Threats to Voting

In response to Trump’s unwillingness to commit to relinquishing power if he’s defeated in November, ABC News reports that

In a remarkable move, the Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming its commitment to a peaceful transition of power in the wake of President Donald Trump‘s refusal to do so if he loses the election.

Which is all very well and good, but I’m left wondering what something like that means when we’re still seeing attacks on the USPS and on early voting (see my last post for an example, or this story from The Texas Tribune regarding Harris County’s blocked attempt to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the county, which includes Houston).

I’d written these postcards earlier in the day, so they don’t cite the above action by the Senate, but given that the threats to voting still exist and Trump’s continued stance on transferring power, I don’t think they’ve been rendered irrelevant by the Senate’s action today.  Printing instructions on the linked page.

Texas GOP Sues Republican Governor over Expanded Early Voting

The Republican Party in Texas is going after its own to try to stop Gov. Abbott from ensuring safer in-person voting.  From The Texas Tribune:

In July, Abbott added six days to the early voting period, moving the start date up to Oct. 13 from Oct. 19, citing the coronavirus pandemic. In the lawsuit, filed Wednesday with the state Supreme Court, Abbott’s intraparty critics say the move defied election law that requires early voting to start on the 17th day before the election.

It is the latest legal challenge to Abbott’s emergency powers, which he has wielded aggressively in dealing with the pandemic.

Add this one as yet another attempt by the GOP to curtail access to voting….

Printable Postcards: Follow the Precedent You Set, GOP

First, if you haven’t read Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead, and we’re the ones going to hell over at Pervert Justice, I recommend that you do.

Second, I’ve written a couple postcards that I’ll mail out to my Republican senators tomorrow.  They’re up at my website: http://www.tdwalker.net/postcards/  If you’d like to use them as is, please do.  Or update them as you’d like.  Printing instructions are included on the linked page.

Contact information for senators can be found here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contacting.htm   Usually, I just send postal mail to their local offices, since it arrives sooner.

I’m off to make a couple phone calls to their offices now.

FtB Fundraiser: Creativity Coaching Session Auction

As part of FtB’s September fundraising efforts, I’m auctioning off a half-hour creative coaching session via Zoom. What’s that, you might ask? Here’s the idea: if you’re having trouble with a creative issue, say determining your short- and long-term creative goals, finding more time to work on your projects, or figuring out which projects you want to work on, I’m here to help.

Okay, that sounds good. But who are you, you might also ask?

Hi, I’m T.D. Walker. And I’ve had a lot of creative problems. Problems like, oh, determining my short- and long-term creative goals, finding time to write, and figuring out which projects I want to work on. And even bigger ones, like not writing poetry, my main genre, for eight years…. So, I’ve been there, and I’ve done that. What helped me get past my blocks was taking a long, hard look at my free time, getting together with other writers to talk craft, and figuring out ways to bribe encourage myself to sit down and write. Which worked, I’m happy to report.  Talking about ways to make things work with other creatives was a big part of that.

Here’s what I’ve done, in third person, as you do:

T.D. Walker is the author of the poetry collections Small Waiting Objects (CW Books 2019) and Maps of a Hollowed World (Another New Calligraphy 2020). Her science fiction poems and stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apricity, The Future Fire, Web Conjunctions,The Cascadia Subduction Zone, Abyss & Apex, Kaleidotrope, and elsewhere.  She curates Short Waves / Short Poems. After completing graduate work in English Literature, Walker began her career as a software developer.  She draws on both her grounding in literary studies and her experience as a computer programmer in writing poetry and fiction.

So that’s me.

Basically, I’m open to helping you with anything in the realm of solving creative issues. That said, I can’t, for multiple reasons, critique your writing or other creative work, tell you whether I think your book/painting/taxidermy armadillo will sell, or participate in anything unethical or illegal. But if you’re a creative of any sort and you’d like to talk out a challenge you’re facing with an objective third party, I’m here!

If you’re interested in chatting with a published author about anything creative, you can put in a bid in the comments.  Or you can place an anonymous bid by emailing me at info@tdwalker.net. The winner will be the highest bid as of Sunday September 27th at 11:59pm CST.  (That’s Monday, September 28th 4:59am UTC.)  The winning bidder will submit payment to FtB’s PayPal account and then contact me to set up the session.

Please note: I have set a minimum bid of $30, which is pretty good for this type of thing. Plus, it’s for a good cause!  Have any questions?  Please feel free to contact me or leave a note in the comment.  Thanks!

Monday Mailings: 15 June 2020

Since I’ve been writing postcards to elected officials, I thought I’d share them with those who might be interested in sending out similar messages to their elected officials: https://www.tdwalker.net/postcards/

The templates on this pages are .doc files, and you can update them with your information and the information of your elected officials.  You can send them as is or update the text as you’d like.

I’m putting the postcards up on my personal website, but linking them here because a.) these cover many of the issues I’ve wanted to blog about but haven’t,  b.) they’re probably of interest to readers here, and c.) I wanted to put these out here to make things quick and easy for those who want to write to elected officials about these topics.  Some of the language is specific to Texas (see my “oh, hey, you like business!  the HEROES Act is good for business!  so go vote for it!” to my senators), but for the most part, these can be generalized for audiences across the US.

Instructions for printing and postage are on the page as well.  The /postcards page isn’t linked through my website menu, so if you go to the front page, you won’t find it there.  (Also, there’s an annoying popup on my front page asking if you’d like to join my email list in exchange for a near-future political feminist science fiction novelette, so don’t go through there if, like me, you don’t like pop-ups.  (Seriously, if you want the novelette, and you’re a reader here, just email me.))

If you have any suggestion for future postcards, please let me know.