I spent last week sailing around the Caribbean with Liz (and 3,000 other passengers), which is why it was so quiet around here. We shot a bunch of video, which I expect to translate into one or more video blog entries, but for now I thought I’d share a few highlights because editing video takes a long time, you guys.
- Sailing out of NYC, which meant we skipped airports altogether and took a subway and a cab to our ship. Forty minutes after we left our apartment, we were on the deck of the ship with drinks in hand. Cannot recommend this enough.
- Discovering the wonder that is the chipotle martini, my new favorite. It starts out tasting like pineapple, then turns minty, then finishes peppery. We got the recipe, and this will definitely be something I learn to mix.
- Talking with the bartenders and cruise staff about their home countries; learning about the history of Myanmar from Htun, who lived there through about a half dozen governments; when we asked him his favorite place from all his world travels, he said “home.” He’s been working on cruise ships for decades, but he’ll never afford to take his family on a vacation.
- Finding my perfect vacation hat in San Juan, eating my first (and yeah, probably last) mofongo, exploring Calle de San Sebastian after dark (but sadly before it got really lively) and finding a cockatoo that said “hola.”
- Accidentally breaking up a date-rape-in-progress by drunkenly stumbling into a waiter who spilled a drink all over the poor girl. Subsequently being barked at (literally) by the guyliner-wearing “rocker” who’d been running his game on the victim.
- Acquiring $500-$600 worth of hooch in Saint Thomas for around $220. Yes, we’re those people.
- Discovering that most of Guyliner’s band was aboard the ship, that they were all in full regalia (including heavy eye makeup) at all times, and that the lead man looked like the chubby son of Simon Le Bon and Mark Hoppus. Realizing they spent 90% of their time trying to date rape girls by the pool.
- Walking four miles along the main road in Grand Turk, while every cabbie on the island stopped to offer us a ride, and encountering wild horses, wild dogs, and wild cows. Meeting a guy who repairs ships for a living, and who explained between puffs on his joint how he lived in New York City for a single winter before running back to the Caribbean. “That place was meant for people with fur,” he explained.
- Snorkeling twenty feet off of Governor’s Beach in water so clear you could see twenty feet down, and encountering like, seriously, hundreds of kinds of fish you guys.
- Secretly replacing all the promo cards the band left around the ship with Coach Corky Runs flyers.
- Discovering the ship’s piano bar late in the trip, belting songs terribly, and becoming part of the piano bar tribe.
- Finding out from the piano bar folks that the Guyliner band members were there with their parents.
- Getting home half an hour after disembarking from the ship, because once again we didn’t have to go to the airport. Seriously, you guys, we didn’t have to go to the airport.
In the end I’d say Grand Turk was my favorite port. It’s tiny and underdeveloped and quiet, and in a lot of places you could almost believe you were alone on the entire island. I’d also say that date-rapey cover bands from Connecticut who think wearing eyeliner still makes musicians look cool are just the worst.
The Watchers in the Dark is a Lovecraftian homage that people tell me is actually pretty scary. It’s about a guy who gets only a glimpse of a misshapen creature in the back yard of his antique farmhouse, and how that vision drives him sort of crazy. Read free at Jersey Devil Press.
Nainaine of the Bayou is about a young girl named Nell and her zombie grandmother, searching the swamp in a flooded post-apocalyptic New Orleans for the witch, Nainaine Laveau. It’s free at Black Treacle.
If you really like those, you can also pick up my first short story, Toll Road, for less than a buck anywhere eBooks are sold.
Russia’s persecution of LGBT people is ample reason for the IOC to pull the Olympics out of Sochi, even with only six months to go before the Sochi games. Here’s a response to the bullshit rationalizations for keeping the Olympics in Russia.
LOTS OF LINKS TODAY:
IOC says it will punish athletes who make shows of LGBT support: http://instinctmagazine.com/post/olympic-committee-confirms-it-will-punish-athletes-who-support-lgbt-rights-russia
Dmitry Kiselev speaks about “burying the hearts” of gays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2NlayCtujlU
Russian authorities confirm anti-gay propaganda law will be enforced in Sochi: http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130812/182723811/Russia-Confirms-Anti-Gay-Law-Will-Be-Enforced-at-Olympics.html
RUSA LGBT, Russian LGBT activist group, asks allies to boycott Sochi Olympics: http://rusalgbt.com/
Cost of Sochi Olympics, including those covered by Putin’s wealthy backers: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/21/us-russia-sochi-idUSBRE91K04M20130221
Wikipedia’s list of LGBT athletes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LGBT_sportspeople
Chris’s Blog: http://www.christopherkeelty.com
I want to talk about the Sochi Olympics. But first I want to talk about status quo bias.
I have a theory. It says status quo bias is one of the most powerful influences on Americans’ decision making, if not the most powerful. Status quo bias, for the uninitiated, is the bias toward things as they are right now. I’m not alone in my suspicion about its power; there have been studies.
Status quo bias is powerful, and particularly in nationalist societies like ours, because people want to believe that all the stuff they’ve grown up loving is good. They want to believe that our heroic forbears built the best possible society, and assume the alternatives must have been explored and discarded for a good reason. Status quo bias is, I think, the reason many white Americans couldn’t understand the uproar around Trayvon Martin: They didn’t want to believe the United States has built a racially biased system of criminal justice, and unlike their dark-skinned neighbors, their privilege means they’re never confronted by the truth.
Status quo bias is the reason many Americans oppose Affirmative Action: “Everyone already HAS an equal opportunity!” It’s the reason we don’t have a massive public demand to rename the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, and Atlanta Braves: “Those names have been around for years. They’re historical, not discriminatory.” Status quo bias is the reason people get offended by so-called “political correctness.” The words they’re used to, in their minds, are more important than courtesy and consideration toward the people they hurt.
Status quo bias, I think, is the reason Conservativism and the Republican Party are even viable. Change is probably the most frightening thing to any human. The status quo is safe and familiar and, to many people, worth fighting to protect.
So why do I bring up status quo bias? Because I’m watching a lot of reasonable people, including personal friends, celebrities, and the President defend the continuation of the Sochi Olympics, and I’m reading their long list of bullshit rationalizations for their positions:
- “A boycott hurts the athletes, not the nation.” Bullshit. The loss of billions in revenue sure hurts Russia more than it hurts athletes, not to mention the international embarrassment of losing an Olympiad.
- “Russia has assured us the athletes aren’t in danger.” Bullshit. What about all the LGBT Russians? We don’t care about their lives or their human rights?
- “The athletes have trained too hard to miss an Olympiad.” Bullshit. With all sympathy to the athletes, some things are more important than sports. I realize that’s an unpopular opinion in the United States, but it’s true. This also leaves aside the possibility of relocating the Olympics so that competition can proceed, outside of Russia.
- “Sponsors have invested too much money to pull out now.” Bullshit. First of all, I can’t believe people actually make this argument, but then again there does seem to be a consensus these days that money is more important than people. Setting aside ethics, however, those sponsors better realize the message they are sending: “We support gay rights…sometimes. If there’s money in it, we support imprisoning and murdering gay people.”
- “The Olympics aren’t contingent on human rights.” Bullshit. Tell that to South Africa, who was banned for 50 years by the IOC because of apartheid. I’m not suggesting Russian athletes should be banned; just that the Olympics, and their revenues, should no longer be given to Russia as a nation.
There is no good argument in favor of holding the Olympics in Sochi, and the only motivating factor (besides money) is status quo bias. People have been fans of the Olympics for a long time, and they don’t want their fandom “tainted” by cynicism. They want to watch the competition with a guilt-free conscience, assuring themselves that if there really was anything wrong with this, it wouldn’t have been going on for so long.
[Nevermind, of course, that the Olympics as we know them have a whole lot more to do with Nazi propaganda than with any Greek tradition.]
It’s an understandable, natural, and human way to think. But it’s entirely wrong. I fully realize the IOC is being confronted here with a near-impossible problem. Sochi was awarded the Olympics years ago, and the anti-gay propaganda law and its associated war on queers is a recent development. The IOC and sponsors have invested millions, perhaps billions [I could look it up, I know, but I’m lazy] into these Olympics, and to cancel or relocate now would mean losing much of that investment, and would constitute an embarrassing international incident. By proceeding, however, the IOC and every member nation send a clear message to the world’s LGBT population: You are not a priority.
It’s time to set aside cognitive bias, consider the reality of what we are doing, and pull the Olympics out of Russia. While we’re at it, we might consider where else status quo bias is preventing us from improving our world and our society, and reconsider.
NAINAINE RELEASE DAY! Also, why I couldn’t film at the New York Public Library. You get bonus points if you walked past me filming in Central Park.
I’m thrilled to announce the publication of another short story, Nainaine of the Bayou, which you can read for free right now over at Black Treacle magazine. Not only can you read the story free via your browser, the kind folks over at Black Treacle will even let you download a free ebook version of their magazine for your tablet or eReader!
Nainaine of the Bayou is set in Murka, which means it shares a world with Toll Road, though the two take place thousands of miles apart. The story follows Nell, a young girl wandering the swamps and flooded ruins of what once was New Orleans, accompanied only by her zombie grandmother. They are searching for the witch Nainaine Laveau, whose magic Nell hopes might bring Grandmere back from undeath.
Black Treacle is a magazine of horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction, which means I fit in just fine. While you’re there, you can read other great work by authors Mike Rimar and Christian Riley. I confess I haven’t read their stories yet (I’ve been too busy promoting my own…) but I intend to, and I’ll post reviews once I have.
I know of no further publications coming until 2014, but there are a few things brewing behind the scenes here at Keelty Labs, and I may have a few surprises left in store. For now, go check out Black Treacle, and let me know what you think.
I am engaged in a search for good poutine. I’m not sure what initiated this, but I know when it hit me, the hunger. It was in Boston, a few months ago. Perhaps it was triggered when I crossed a certain latitude. All I know is, I wanted poutine.
We found a bar called Bukowski’s, which served cheeseburgers topped with peanut butter and something called “poutine tater tots.” They were good, but they did not sate my appetite, they merely softened it.
I did a test at work the other day. I asked each of my colleagues if they knew what poutine was. Only one of them had even a rough idea. Two of them thought the word might violate HR policy.
There are, apparently, a few places in NYC that claim to serve poutine. Pommes Frittes on the Lower East Side is in my crosshairs. Today might be the day.
If they can’t get the job done, I may just be going to Canada.
Last week everyone was talking about SDCC, and I wanted to be there.
This week, everyone is talking about VidCon, and I want to be there.
I wonder where I’ll want to be next week.
Don Lemon seems to have made a hobby out of victim blaming recently. The CNN anchor confuses the symptoms of a societal problem with its causes when he argues Black Americans could solve all their problems by dressing differently, speaking differently, not littering and getting married.