Pull the Football

Oct. 16th, 2017 11:44 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower
The "nuclear football" is the nickname for a briefcase of codes the President of the United States can use to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike at any time, for any reason, with about five minutes elapsing from the moment he gives the order until the moment the missiles launch.

I don't care what you think of the current president, or the past one, or any that might come in the future. I care about the fact that no one should have that kind of unfettered power. No one should be able to start World War III on a whim.

And the good news is, we can take that power away.

Courtesy of Rachel Manija Brown, who started the "Pull the Football" social media campaign, here's what you need to know.

Both House and Senate have bills to prevent the President from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. They're both called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) Passing those bills may literally save the world.

How to save the world:

1. Contact your representatives in Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor the bill NOW, before it's too late.

2. Contact EVERYONE in Congress who might want to prevent a nuclear war. Usually people only speak to their own representatives. But with the fate of the entire world is at stake, it's worth contacting everyone who might listen.

3. Promote the Pull The Football campaign on social media. Trump isn't the only one who can use Twitter. Get on it and start tweeting #PullTheFootball.

Share this post on Facebook or Dreamwidth. Put up your own post on whatever social media you use. Ask your friends in person. If you know anyone in the media, contact them to get the word out. If you're not American, you can help by publicizing the campaign on social media that Americans follow.

How do I contact my representatives?

1. Resistbot is a free service that will fax, call, or write your representatives for you. Just text the word "resist" to 50409 to begin.

2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the representative of your choice.

I've contacted everyone. What now?

Contact them again. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. One water drop can be brushed away. Many water drops make a flood. Call, fax, or write as often as possible. Set aside 15 minutes every day to make as many calls or faxes as you can in that time. Relentlessness works - it's why the NRA is so successful. If they can do it, we can do it.

What do I say?

Page down for a sample script. Or speak or write in your own words.

Democrats to contact:

Every Democrat not currently sponsoring one of the bills. Thank them for their courage and service to the nation, and ask them to act now to save the world.

Thank the Democrats currently sponsoring the bills. There are 57 in the House and 9 in the Senate. Especially, thank Congressman Ted Lieu (sponsor of the House bill) and Sen. Edward Markey (sponsor of the Senate bill). Encourage them to step up their efforts to make it pass.

Republicans to contact:

The Republicans listed below are the most prominent who have voiced concerns about Trump. This is not an exhaustive list. There are more Republicans who might be receptive. For instance, all the House Republicans who just voted for more aid for Puerto Rico, and all Republicans who are retiring from their seats and so not worried about getting re-elected.

Sen. Bob Corker (202) 224-3344) warned us that Trump is setting the nation on a path to World War III. If you only contact one Republican representative, contact him. Thank him for his courage and urge him to follow through on his convictions.

Rep. Walter Jones (202) 225-3415 is the only Republican to support the bill. Thank him for his courage and urge him to get his colleagues onboard.

Other Republican senators to prioritize contacting: Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio, and Ben Sasse.

Sample Script

Hello, my name is [your name.] I'm calling to ask Representative/Senator [their name] to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.)

I believe Republican Senator Bob Corker when he says we're on the brink of World War Three. No one benefits from a nuclear war. But we can stop it if we choose to. This may be the most important action Representative/Senator [their name] will take in their entire life. It may literally save the world. I urge them to co-sponsor the bill restricting first use of nuclear weapons. Thank you.

*

Don't tell yourself "it could never happen." Don't rest in the assumption that nobody would really launch the nukes -- it's all just posturing, right? We need precautions in place to make sure we don't wake up tomorrow morning to annihilation.

Or don't wake up at all.
storymaker: Peanuts Me (Default)
[personal profile] storymaker
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Pull the Football

Oct. 14th, 2017 07:41 am
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
Rachel Manija Brown has started a campaign called Pull the Football, which in essence is a grassroots effort to get Congress to take the nuclear football (the ability to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on his own recognizance) away from Trump.

I think Gen X in particular (although hardly exclusively) grew up with a sort of fatalism about nuclear war. It was probably going to happen and because we were kids, there was nothing we could do about it. It became reified (thing-ified), turned from a series of decisions made by human beings into something like the monolith from 2001, unknowable and impervious to anything human beings could do. Many of us were shocked to reach 25, and we've never quite been sure about what to do with the fact that we have survived into adulthood. It would be horribly easy for us to slide back into that same fatalism, to go back to living with one shoulder unconsciously hunched against the monolith just outside our range of vision.

But we aren't kids any longer and there is something we can do. There is specific legislation already proposed in both the House (HR 669) and the Senate (S 200) that would take away the "nuclear football" that gives Trump the power 24/7 to launch a nuclear strike without consulting anybody. (It would take him about five minutes.)

Nobody should have this power. Nobody.

I think it's a sign of how sick the Cold War made all of us, not only that the President was given this power in the first place, but that it's never been rescinded, even though it's been 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down. The cure is simple, and that's the point of Rachel's Pull the Football campaign.

I don't agree with everything Rachel says--I don't think it's worth trying to persuade congresspeople who aren't YOUR congresspeople to do anything because all the staffers I've seen say anything say that non-constituents will be disregarded--but I am in 100% agreement with her goal and in 100% agreement that, while one person pushing gets nowhere, if we all push together, we can effect change.

So, yes. Please call--and keep calling--your congresspeople. If they are already co-sponsoring either HR 669 or S 200 tell them you support them and ask them to speak out publicly about it. (It is SUPER IMPORTANT to tell your representatives when you support what they're doing. They need that data.) If they aren't co-sponsoring their respective bill, ask them to get in the game. AND KEEP ASKING. A lot of people have spent a lot of time this year repeatedly calling their representatives about saving the ACA and that is in no small part why Congress has been unable to pass a repeal bill.

The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. The voicemail system is extremely polite and easy to navigate (and has the only robot voice in America that I actually find pleasant to listen to). If you can't face the idea of talking to a real person, believe me I sympathize. You call call at night, in the early morning, on the weekends, and leave a voicemail. VOICEMAIL COUNTS.

Use Resistbot. Text resist to 50409, and it will help you write faxes or letters to your representatives.

Send email. Your representatives will have contact forms on their websites. Even unresponsive representatives like Senator Ron Johnson are marginally more responsive to email. You at least get a form letter telling you all the reasons why the thing you oppose is a good idea.

Send letters to your local paper. Congresspeople have staffers who compile press cuttings, and they are keenly interested in what shows up about them in public fora. Being a politician is largely about PR, so anything you can do that shows up IN PUBLIC will at least get their attention.

And when you call your reps or send an email, tweet about it or post about it on Facebook or whatever social media platform you favor. Show people that it's easy to make themselves heard. Remind them that their congresspeople are their elected representatives. It is their job to listen to their constituents. Even if you've got nothing but Republican apparatchiks, it is still worth telling them what you think and what you want.

My philosophy about representatives like Johnson, who seem to have been expressly created to embody everything I hate, is that even if I can't teach the pig to sing, I can annoy the snot out of him. I won't change his mind, and don't expect to, but I can make him less willing to, for example, vote yes on repealing the ACA. That's what killed it this last time in the Senate; McConnell decided he couldn't be sure of getting the votes he needed. Too many Republican senators were getting too much pushback.

Pull the Football is a little different, since the goal is to gain co-sponsors and yes votes, but the same principle applies. They're going to bend in the direction popular opinion is blowing, and what we want is to escalate popular opinion from a breeze to a gale. (If you like the image of congresspeople falling over like bowling pins, that's okay, too.)

I don't want nuclear war. I don't think anyone wants nuclear war (except maybe Trump). The nuclear football is a sick hangover from the Cold War, and honestly no president needs or should have the ability to pre-emptively (i.e., without provocation) nuke anyone.

So by whatever method you favor, please apply pressure to your elected representatives. Pull the football away from Trump.

UBC: Presley, The Phantom Killer

Oct. 13th, 2017 05:52 pm
truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
The Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in TerrorThe Phantom Killer: Unlocking the Mystery of the Texarkana Serial Murders: The Story of a Town in Terror by James Presley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



[library]

This is another excellent book like The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America's First Serial Killer, equally local history & true crime. This time, the location is Texarkana (TX/AR) and the true crime is the so-called Phantom Killer of 1946.

I first learned about the Phantom Killer through an indie documentary called Killer Legends, which is about four urban legends & the real life crimes that might have inspired them. (Zeman and Mills investigate the Phantom Killer and The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which really was, for some benighted reason, remade in 2014; the babysitter as target of psychopath (Halloween, Scream, etc.) & a serial killer in Missouri who actually did target babysitters (otherwise, they find, babysitting is a remarkably safe occupation); poisoned Halloween candy and the vile Ronald Clark O'Bryan; and the epidemic of clown sightings in Chicago (which apparently hit again in 2016, after Killer Legends) and John Wayne Gacy.) This documentary is a follow-up to Cropsey (2009), which Zeman and a different research partner filmed about the same idea on their native Staten Island: the link between the urban legends they grew up on and the crimes of Andre Rand.) Presley is interviewed in Killer Legends.

Presley patiently untangles a snarl of personal histories: the victims, the investigators, the panicked people of Texarkana, and Presley's choice for the killer, Youell Swinney. Swinney was never tried for the murders (nor was anyone else), which is why they're still considered unsolved, but Presley's research (including interviews with cops who survived long enough to talk to Presley as very old men but were dead before he wrote the book) presents a compelling case for why Youell Swinney wasn't tried for murder; they chose to try him for something they knew they could make stick instead of relying on a witness who they knew equally was telling the truth and not telling the whole truth, which is just asking for disaster in cross-examination, reasoning that the important thing was to stop him. Presley goes back and forth between theory (FBI profiling developed in the years since Swinney's murders) and practice (what Swinney did) to try to tease out his motives. While I'm becoming increasingly dubious of the FBI's organized/disorganized schema, their theories about what sorts of things you see in the early childhood of signature killers does seem to hold up pretty well across the cases I've read about. In this case, Presley does a good job of lining up the reasons why Swinney would go after couples and what was at the root of his overpowering rage.
This was charming as a history of Texarkana and fascinating as criminology.



View all my reviews
swan_tower: (*writing)
[personal profile] swan_tower
In ye olden days of publishing, short fiction tended to have a half-life of about .17 seconds. If you didn't read it in the magazine issue where it was published, too bad; the issue went off the shelves, and unless you stumbled across it later or the story was reprinted in a "best of" or single-author collection, you might never see it again.

cover art for ARS HISTORICA by Marie BrennanBut with ebooks, that doesn't have to happen, because collections are so much easier to do now. I'm pleased to say that Maps to Nowhere has been selling splendidly since it came out last month; next month it will be joined by Ars Historica, which collects my historical fiction and historical fantasy. I have more of these planned, too, but they'll take a while -- I have a wordcount range I'm aiming for in each collection, in order to make them roughly novella-sized, and the other three I've got planned all require me to sell another two stories or so (and then wait for those stories' exclusivity periods to expire).

In the meanwhile, here's the Table of Contents for Ars Historica, which you can pre-order from a variety of places here!

Table of Contents


jimhines: (Default)
[personal profile] jimhines

I have a favor to ask of conventions: please design your badges so that names can be easily and clearly read.


I’ve never been good with names. It’s frustrating as hell, and it’s become a bigger problem as I travel to more conventions. I get introduced to so many people, and within 24 hours, a lot of those names escape my brain like Batman villains from Arkham Asylum.


Most of the time, it’s not that I forget the people — just the names. (Sorry, Darla!) Especially if it’s been a while (folks I see once a year at a given convention, for example) or the context is different. Even when my brain retains a tentative grasp on a name, I tend to not trust myself, and still try to check badges to make sure.


Compare these two badges. The one on the left is from Convergence. The one on the right I made up as an example, but it’s pretty close to some I’ve seen at various conventions.


Convergence Badge Fake Convention Badge


Convergence’s badge is relatively easy to read, with clear black text on white. Even my old eyes should be able to read that at a distance. Whereas the other example uses small type in a non-standard font, and is hard to distinguish from the background.


(This will also give me a better chance of spelling your name correctly if I’m signing a book!)


I know folks like cool artwork on the badges. I know a lot of people are better at remembering names than I am. But please take pity on those of us with older eyes and leaky brains.


Thank you,

Jim and the Society of People Who Suck at Remembering Names






Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Literary cocktails and mocktails

Oct. 6th, 2017 12:53 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower
It's 5 p.m. somewhere, right?

A few days ago the Tome and Tankard blog posted their recipe for the "Lady Trent," a mojito-like cocktail inspired by the Memoirs of Lady Trent. Our first attempt at making it here at Swan Tower was not entirely successful; it turns out we need to be a lot more conscientious about mixing the honey into the gin before adding other things, lest we wind up with a glob of honey stuck all over with mint leaves. :-) But the general shape of the cocktail is a great deal like the "Jimi Hendrix" I asked the internet to help me recreate a while back, so even in less-than-entirely-successful form, I give this one an official thumbs-up.

And for those of you who cannot or do not wish to partake of the booze, I thought I could post the recipe a reader designed years ago for the launch party of A Star Shall Fall. It's called the Winged Serpent Philter, and it's made as follows:


  • Blueberry juice
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Lime
  • Lime infused sparkling water
  • Honey
  • Granulated Sugar


In a small bowl, mix two parts water and one part honey. Coat the blueberries (three or four per drink to be served) in the honey water mixture and immediately roll in granulated sugar. Allow to dry. Dip the rim of a martini glass in the honey water mixture and then into granulated sugar to coat the rim. Mix three parts blueberry juice to one part sparking water with a dash of lime juice (all liquids should be chilled). For a sweeter flavor, omit lime juice. Pour into the martini glass. Put three or four sugar coated blueberries on a garnish pick and hang on the rim of the glass. Add a curl of lime peel. Serve promptly.

Enjoy!

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