March 4th, 2009

some days...

They are not disposable.

Warning: RANT!

That movie that won the Oscar - "Slumdog Millionaire" - I haven't seen it. Haven't particularly been drawn to do so. But right now I feel as though I ought to do more than just shrug and say, eh, I probably won't go see it. I feel as though I ought to be standing in front of a cinema that's showing it and handing out copies of THIS article, and begging people to boycott the whole thing.

This... this... you don't DO this to people. Let alone childrend.

Does anybody realise what an Indian slum really is? What these kids were plucked from? The filth, the crowding, the disease, the inadequacy - indeed, the pure and simple lack - of what a Western mind would consider the most elementary sanitary facilities (running water? What's that?) - and from this, two vulnerable and (let's face it) eminently exploitable kids are whisked into... Beverly Hills. Where you use a TELEPHONE to converse with another part of the SAME BUILDING, where the waste of space is so egregious that there are entire areas of the buliding dedicated to a single purpoose (for instance, the kitchen) or for the use of a single person (indoor plumbing is fine but now you have an ENTIRE GLITZY BATHROOM which nobody is using but yourself) - you get a room that's bigger than your entire one-roomed vermin-infested shack back where you came from, and you get the whole thing for yourself and you don't have to share it with six siblings, your parents, possibly an uncle or an aunt and a grandparent or two, and half a dozen rats, and a legion of fleas and flies and centipedes and possibly poisonous spiders or centipedes. You sleep on a bed, with clean linens, and you have it all to yourself - you don't have to huddle on the floor wrapped in ragged covers which you have to fight for with the four people who are sharing the same space. You eat clean and well-cooked food and you drink clean cold water (possibly out of plastic bottles bought in a store, no less). You are then dressed up in clothes the likes of which you've never seen before and taken to the red carpet of Oscar Night.

And then you are given $2500 (apparently it's only $700 for the girl), a promise of more money when you turn 18 (and if you *stay in school*, no less), and you are taken back to the hellhole where they found you and turfed right back there. And your families no longer see you as a child but as a money-making machine, and already the boy has been beaten up by his father because he would not speak to a reporter who promised his father money.

*These are children*. They are human beings. They are not disposable or recyclable. If you could not make your movie without exploiting a human being in this manner, Mr Director, you probably should not have made it. But these particular human beings made your career skyrocket, made your name known, raised your stock in Hollywood - these particular human beings let you make a film that will line your pockets with money - and you think that giving the pair of them less than $4000 and fobbing them off with promises of more contingent on fulfilling criteria which the life that you flung them back to may not enable them to keep, you think that takes care of your responsibilities?...

I'm disgusted. I'm sick and disgusted. If you had the urge to go pay money to see "Slumdog Millionaire", perhaps you should consider spending it elsewhere. If I knew how to do it, I would be setting up a fund right now where people who would have paid $10 or $40 or whatever to go see the movie could send that money into the fund instead and the money would go directly to those poor children who were used and then dumped when their usefulness came to an end. But I haven't the knowledge or the power to do this, all I have is my outrage, and that's what I have to share.

THEY ARE NOT DISPOSABLE. You do not kick them to the curb when you're done with them. You chose them, Mr Director, and now you are responsible - no, you don't have to adopt them, but you are responsible for their future because it is partly an expectation of a future that you have created for them. At the very least that "Stay in school" criterion should be your responsibility, and that means leaving the slums. Get them a place to live so that they CAN stay in school. Make sure their families don't treat them as cash cows, dangling them in front of journalists for payouts - because the interest WILL die down eventually, and the kids will stop being cute and photogenic, and the money will dry up, and the families will take it out on the kids.

For God's sake, show some backbone. You made your choices, now live with the consequences. You don't owe them Beverly Hills, but you owe them clean beds and clean water. You owe them that. You owe them much more than $700 - that's what you would spend taking four friends out to dinner at a Beverly Hills restaurant. Do two less dinners a month and send your "stars" the money instead... at the very, very least. What you did to these children you wouldn't do to a dog, and they are not dogs. They're people. They are people to whom you gave hope. Well, Mr Director, hope isn't something you merely lend until you demand it back (and the people you lent it to had better not have damaged it). YOU started this, and if you didn't you know who did - and the people who started this now need to stay the course with it. These children are not disposable. You had no responsibility for them before you chose them to help make you rich - they were India's problem, their parents' problem, anyone else's problem but yours. But you CHOSE them. You picked them. You MADE them your problem. Now you owe them more than just a handful of AMerican dollars and a pat on the head.

Go take care of your responsibilities.

End of rant.

But... unless the right thing is done and done fervent hope is that everyone hwo gives a damn will boycott the movie.
Jin Shei Cover from sgreer


Remember that online anthology I was blogging about a little earlier, the one about the short stories inspired by real astronomy, the one where one of my own rare science fiction stories appears, inspired by real science as exemplified by the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop which I was privileged enough to attend last year?

Mike Brotherton, the astronomy professor-slash-science fiction author whose brainchildren both Launchpad and this anthology were, was hoping that the stories might be used in the classroom to get some of the fundamental astronomical principles across in a more user-friendly way.

Well, guess what? It's happening.

It's happening RIGHT HERE. There's a timetable of events which are to happen in an actual classroom, and on it there's this:

"Thursday, March 5 we’ll have a quiz in class that replaces the SkyQuiz. You’ll get
a quiz form that asks about one of the three short stories we had for homework over the weekend. The question(s) will be in regard to the analogies with reality that the authors were trying to make. Short (one paragraph) answers are expected and hoped for (I have to read all 53 of these papers). Grading will obviously be subjective. This is an experiment to try and find a more interesting means of making some fundamental astronomical concepts clear."

The stories they were assigned to read? That came a little earlier on the program - take a look at this:

Feb 26 More about “The Stars” Web Assign #6, The Stars

“In the Autumn of the Empire” Jerry Oltion
"End of the World" Alma Alexander
“The Freshman Hookup” Wil McCarthy

I am ridiculously pleased at this news - that Mike's idea is working, and that my story is one of those chosen for the actual curriculum.

New Worldweavers Icon courtesy of Jim Hi

Really REALLY hated it... for all the wrong reasons...

Remember that Shortcovers experiment?

I had a comment on the "Spellspam" excerpt by somebody pseudonymous whose profile was "private" on the site, and now apparently the same dude (same language, same kvetches) has taken the trouble to trawl for the book on the Net and has left the following 1-star review on Amazon:

Ugh, not worth reading. , February 28, 2009

By Literate1 (IN)

Ugh. Mindless drivel, and a knock-off of Harry Potter combined with a poor imitation of the cyberpunk genre. Not worth the time to read. I threw it away after the first chapter, seriously. If you want to read Harry Potter or Christopher Paolini-type books, stick to those. And if you want cyberpunk, stick to Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson. But don't waste your time on this steaming pile of words.


Do you KNOW what steampunk is?...

Do you know how utterly silly it makes you look when you use it as a yardstick for a YA FANTASY novel which has no pretentions to be cyberpunk at all...?

[shrug] them's the breaks, you can't please all of the people all of the time, but REALLY now - saying that you hate a piece of work because it isn't something that it never aimed to be in the first place seems a little... out there...

Oh, and PS - if anybody out there who has actually read more than one chapter of the book, and it doesn't matter if you lurve it to death or have issues with it, would you consider adding some (more coherent) reviews on Amazon...? I'm not looking for backpats and sympathy, but a build-up of word-of-mouth would be great...
Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Calling my crafty friends.... any of you know anything about quilt hangers, are they better than just using a rod and holders or worse, I have this tapestry, see, that I've been working on for over ten years (on and off) and it's finally been finished and ready to hang and now I'm exploring options on how to get it on my wall with the least possible damage or drama. Pictures when it's up, promise!