The Extrahuman Union

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Okay, a few updates from me, writing-wise.

Gender Stuff

I write over at 30pov every month, and usually I write about gender stuff (I’m a transgender person. hi!). I don’t write about it much here, mainly because I’ve spent an awful lot of time writing and thinking about it elsewhere. I was starting to be ready to move on to writing about NOT gender stuff, but the topic for this month was, um, gender. So.

I tried to gather all of my thoughts about gender issues, and found that the subject was a lot more elusive than I initially believed it would be. So I threw in a bunch of cartoons! Like so:

The piece I came up with is an exploration of some of the larger issues, and I think it came out pretty well. Here it is: All the stars in the sky.

Politics

I also watched Gov. Malloy’s budget speech to the legislature yesterday, and came up with a quick response. What struck me the most was that this, finally, is a governor’s budget which has a chance in hell of actually being implemented–and what a year for it. The combination of tax hikes, service/program cuts and union concessions strikes a delicate balance; one I think might work:

It’s very easy to say that the budget relies too much on taxes in a state where the tax burden is already high, or, conversely, that it taxes too little and asks state agencies and workers to shoulder an unequal portion of Malloy’s “shared sacrifice.” I’m sure we’ll hear those arguments again and again between now and June, and in many cases there will be concerns that need addressing. By and large, though, I thought the governor struck as good a balance as possible during these difficult times.

Here’s the story: Malloy’s Budget a Good Start

And those are the updates for this week!

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I tried something different with my political writing this week: I used humor.

This is a terrible idea, as anyone who has ever tried to be funny knows.

During the 2008 campaign, there was a moment when John McCain tried to write an editorial for the New York Times and had it sent back for editing. As someone who has dealt with editors and I thought this was hilarious, so I whipped up a piece about John McCain having an angry email exchange with the editor at the Times in which he ranted, typed in all caps, and put random words in quotes. Because he is old, you see! In light of that, I thought the email address I gave him, cactusjack1936@aol.com, was particularly brilliant. I sent it in to the Hartford Courant and they ran it.

It was a total bomb, and looking back on it, I can see why. The humor wasn’t all that subtle, and the ageist jokes were less amusing than they were kind of mean. I don’t think my mother liked it very much, either. The experience did give me a lot of respect for people who can write consistently funny stuff, day in and day out. It’s not easy. I can’t imagine trying to write funny columns or routines all the time, much less try to be funny in a format as long as, say, a book.

Every once in a while, though, I want to try something that isn’t either serious, horribly depressing or dry and analytical. I think we’ll call that “expanding my horizons,” since that sounds a lot better than “plea for attention.”

Let me know what you think!

It’s another morning in Connecticut, which means more roofs have collapsed from the hideous, crushing weight of snow sitting on top of them. This is getting to be a familiar pattern. Get up, check the paper, see the latest list of casualties. Today it was a gas station canopy, which just sort of… fell over. Good grief.

Death Snow


All of this means that, with our usual dose of Connecticut good cheer and optimism, we’re convinced that our own roofs will cave in very soon and kill us all. I was trying to get some sleep during a period of high winds yesterday, which always leads to a certain amount of house-based creaking and groaning. As I lay there, listening, I was convinced that every tiny noise was a harbinger of my own imminent demise.

House: *creak*
Me: Oh god. It’s finally happening. This is it. I haven’t even finished that book draft yet.
House: *creeeeeeeak*
Me: When the roof starts collapsing I’ll leap out and roll under the bed. Maybe I should do that now. Or would that just look silly?
House: …
Me: Or maybe I’m just paranoid.
House: *CREAK*
Me: “AAAAAA!”

I slept lightly, for some reason, which means I’m not in the best mood today. I don’t think anyone around here is, which means that this next week will be a perfect time to hear all about how the state is cutting back on services and raising taxes. If I were some clever editorial cartoonist or had any drawing talent, I could make a cartoon that showed the snow piling up on a building labeled “Connecticut” and label the snow “The Deficit.” Then maybe I could show Gov. Malloy below with a tiny roof rake saying something witty.

Like this but good


So to sum up the state of the state, everything is terrible, we have no money, it’s cold, and our roofs are all caving in. I’d wish for an early spring, but that would probably just mean a flood in my basement.

One of my enduring obsessions is maps–especially political maps. I exercised that obsession this weekend with a piece over at CT News Junkie about Connecticut’s fifth congressional district, which will have no incumbent running in it in 2012! Open congressional seats are the Loch Ness Monsters of Connecticut politics, so this is going to get interesting.

The maps are pretty cool for this one. I’ve put a bunch of Connecticut political maps up on my Flickr photostream.

Maps help me think about a place. I have many maps of various places in the BROKEN universe, as well as several of the fantasy worlds I’ve written about from time to time. I sometimes sketch maps for fun when I’m bored. I also find that when I’m reading a book, maps often help me visualize the world of the story. Christopher Tolkien’s maps of his father’s world are the stuff of legend, not only because of the quality, but because of the scope and style.

Maps also help me think about things politically. Sometimes maps can reveal patterns we didn’t know were there, and tell us something about why people are voting the way they are and how they might vote in the future. The 5th district maps in the CTNJ piece show a volatile district that sometimes–if not always–responds strongly to national political winds. An open seat in this district is really a toss-up, as I think Connecticut’s voters will come to realize more over the coming cycle.

How about you? Do you find maps, political, fictional or otherwise, to be useful? Do you have any favorite map sites (mine is Strange Maps)?


Susan Jane Bigelow’s Extrahuman Union

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THE SPARK

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