- Posada December 20, 2014Yesterday there was a Posada celebration at a local church, and I went with my Spanish class. Posadas are traditionally about Joseph and Mary going from house to house looking for lodging, but at this church they turned it into a drama about undocumented immigrants.It was incredibly terrific, and very moving. At the end of the play the family came to the border and asked to enter, and an Anglo, playing the part of an immigration official, refused them entrance and said, "What would you do if I wanted to come into your house?" "Invite you in!" someone in the audience yelled, and someone else shouted, "Cold as ICE!", drawing out the "s" sound. (ICE is US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.) Kids carried signs saying things like, "Jesus Was a Migrant Child."Then the pastor at the church invited everyone inside. We listened to a Ugandan immigrant talk about being attacked in Uganda for being gay and escaping to the United States. And then, much to my surprise (I'd thought there wouldn't be anything in the service I'd recognize), a man lit candles for the third night of Hanukah. Yeah, it's one of those churches that tries to be all-inclusive, and I have to say I really did feel welcome.Then we went to dinner, the kids screaming, and then -- finally -- the kids lined up and got presents. (I didn't have time to shop, but I brought some deviled eggs (huevos diablos?) for the dinner.) We ended up talking in Spanish to some of the parishioners who'd immigrated from Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras and listening to their fascinating stories. There was one woman there whose daughter writes fantasy, which I thought was incredibly cool.Well, I said I'd thought there wouldn't be anything in the service I'd recognize, but in fact my mother was an undocumented immigrant, something I wasn't allowed to talk about while she was alive. (I did, of course, usually to someone complaining about "illegal aliens.") Our immigration policy in this country is so stupid, so counter-productive -- no one works harder than immigrants, no one is more appreciative of the United States than people who literally risked their lives to come here, and no one knows more about this country, because to become a citizen you have to take a test about history and government that most people born here wouldn't be able to pass. But at that church, at least, there were people doing what they could to help. We all left heartened, and high on human fellow-feeling.
- New Review at LOCUS ONLINE December 17, 2014I look at Catherine Asaro's new book:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2014/12/paul-di-filippo-reviews-catherine-asaro/
- Release Date for Weighing Shadows December 15, 2014Just found out my book Weighing Shadows will come out in October, 2015. This is actually sooner than I thought, so Yay!
- New Review at LOCUS ONLINE December 14, 2014I look at a debut SF novel:http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/2014/12/paul-di-filippo-reviews-jennifer-marie-brissett/
- New Review at the B&NR December 11, 2014I look at that SF novel from China that's been getting a lot of good press:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/the-three-body-problem/
- Helicopters December 10, 2014For the past few days we've been hearing helicopters flying overhead, mostly at night. We can even see them sometimes, flying slowly in a circle or hovering over a single spot, as stationary as if they've been set on a table. The sound of the rotors stopping for a few hours and starting up again is disturbing, intrusive, like a dull headache, and that's even before you remember what they're doing up there -- watching, keeping track of the people protesting against police shootings of unarmed black men.You'd think that Berkeley, with all its experience of the student protests in the sixties, would know how to deal with mostly peaceful demonstrators, but for some reason the police here have reacted all out of proportion, as this article shows. They bottled protesters in with no way of escaping, released smoke bombs and flash bangs, beat people with batons, shot rubber bullets, and even, according to this tweet, "raised their guns at ppl who weren't even involved in the protest, just lived in the neighborhood and were trying to get home." They also hid their badge numbers from the protesters, never a good sign.And yes, protesters did break shop windows. But it's hard to believe that broken windows call for this kind of response.And then there's the helicopters. Why do they need this kind of 24-hour surveillance? What are they expecting is going to happen? And it's not the first time helicopters were brought out -- they also used them for Occupy Oakland, and at that time too Oakland was one of the only places in the country that reported violence. Like I said, shouldn't the Bay Area know how to deal with protests by now?Please, stay safe, everyone.