A Clockwork Clarion

(Trigger warning: rape fantasy stories, stalking, gang-rape prank, misogyny, sexism)

I’ve been reading the #YesAllWomen twitter stream (a backgrounder is here, for those who haven’t been following it), and decided I needed to share my own story. I tweeted about this earlier today under my handle @MorganJLocke, but decided to go into more depth here, because it is, yes, outrageous and appalling, and I haven’t really talked about it since it happened, except to a couple of people closest to me.

This is going to make some people—people I care about—uncomfortable. The internet might fall on my head. So be it. The #YesAllWomen thread reminds me that we don’t get past the misogyny that is (STILL! WTF!) endemic in the SFF community, by sweeping the nasty stuff under the rug. It’s time to clean house.

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Posted in Feminism, NSFW, Science Fiction, Society | 26 Comments

Traveler seeks home; speaker seeks voice; leaper seeks faith

The spousal unit recently shared on Twitter a post I wrote back in 2007 about surveillance, privacy, governmental overreach, and Cory Doctorow’s wonderful book, LITTLE BROTHER. It got me to thinking about who I used to be, and who I am now.

image source: istockphoto.com

I have found it hard to speak publicly, since leaving the day job–both in my fiction, and here on the blog. That didn’t used to be the case, and my post about Cory’s book reminded me of this.

Part of it was learned behavior. As a consultant, you can’t afford to be noisy and opinionated. Tact is critical, if you want to keep your job. Now I don’t need tact! Yay! So I’m having to unlearn that habit.

But there’s something deeper going on, as well. To be a good writer, you have to be both entertaining and truthful about important things. Yeah; OK. But I don’t know anymore how to boil my experiences and observations down into good narrative. My thoughts feel disorganized and interdependent and nonlinear, and the twined coils of multiple humiliations and disappointments run through them. It’s hard to expose these to the air.

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Posted in Ecology, Feminism, Parenting, Race, Science Fiction, Society, Technology | 2 Comments

Spacesuits, lingerie, and the heroes hiding in plain sight

Check this out: Playtex—yes, that Playtex; the company famous for its bras and girdles—outcompeted a host of military and space contractors in a bid to design and develop the NASA spacesuit that went to the moon.

Last September, Brian Abrams in Hollywood magazine The Credits introduced us to Nicholas de Monchaux, whose nonfiction work Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo has been picked up by Hollywood. Playtex’s founder, Abram Nathaniel Spanel, a former TV repairman and self-taught engineer, created a design that was so immeasurably better than all the others submitted that they won the contract.

…without the technology behind that brassiere (or girdle), the moon landing would have been impossible. It turns out that the 21-layers of gossamer-thin fabric in the Apollo spacesuits that kept Armstrong and Aldrin from “the lethal desolation of a lunar vacuum,” as Nicholas de Monchaux puts it in his remarkable book “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo,” was created by the same people who made your grandma’s bra. Playtex. And now, Warner Bros. has hired Richard Cordiner to adapt De Monchaux’s book, which is a story so good you almost believe it was scripted by a Hollywood scribe, not part of historical fact.

Main-ImageEven better, the story showcases how crucial the contribution of the seamstresses was. Our first lunar spacesuits were built by a team of women.

Yeah, even more important than the material story is the human story, because it was of course made not by men but by women, and the seamstresses who were literally taken off of the bra and girdle line and, instead, asked to create a spacesuit that had to be sewn to within a sixty-fourth of an inch without any pins that might puncture the bladder. So it was kind of a super-human feat of sewing, and on the same regular sewing machines that they used to assemble underwear and undergarments they were sewing 21 layers of fabric together to a sixty-fourth of an inch tall, and, on that seam, the life of the astronauts depended.*

How big is 1/64 of an inch? To illustrate, here is a ruler:

277622

Those little marks on the uppermost level are not even reproduced clearly in this image. That’s how tiny it is. Imagine the effort and dedication it took to make those suits.

History is riddled with heroes, hiding everywhere. Right in plain sight.

I hope the movie is made, and I hope they do right by the story, Spanel, and the dedicated women whose efforts ensured the spacesuits’ success and safety of our astronauts.

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*To clear up any misunderstanding, as the article is a bit confusing in this regard: the 1/64th inch refers to the error tolerance. They didn’t have to make the spacesuits 1/64th of an inch thick. They had to follow the suit design specifications without deviating more than 1/64th of an inch from the pattern. As someone who sews, myself, it’s mind-boggling to me, how they could have managed to achieve such precision, by hand. Seriously impressive!

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Updates – 12 Apr 2014:

Here is another good article on the subject.

Here is the book’s website. F*ing brilliant! I love this!

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Posted in Feminism, Science Fact, Space, Technology | Comments Off on Spacesuits, lingerie, and the heroes hiding in plain sight

Kicking up dust

You’ll notice changes occurring on my blog over the next little bit, as I update and make it user-friendlier…soon I plan to kick up a different kind of dust. Just wait and see.

Meanwhile, speaking of which, enjoy this NASA photo of a polar Martian dust storm. Heck of a dust devil!

duststormmars011

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Posted in Miscellany | Comments Off on Kicking up dust

Howling at the moon


blog pic answeringHere’s one for you to ponder. This morning I answered a call on the house phone. Like many families, we all have our own cell phones, but we’ve kept the landline for emergencies, so mostly what we get there are calls from my family members (who are used to reaching us there from decades of experience), and solicitations.

A male voice on the phone asked for my older (21-year-old) daughter by name. It sounded like a young man, and (while this isn’t a sure thing), his accent was Midwestern white guy. She is currently away at college, and all her friends know this. It’s almost unheard-of for her to ever get calls on the landline, even when she is home. It seemed unlikely he was someone who knew her.

Here is (approximately) how the conversation went.

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Posted in Ecology, Feminism, Race, Society | 4 Comments