About Jim Hines

http://www.jimchines.com

Posts by Jim Hines:

Fake News and Lies: Caravan Edition

Lying Cat

“The caravan of migrants and refugees is burning American flags!”

This came up in the comments on a friend’s Facebook post. Here’s Snopes doing some fact-checking.

“Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” with the caravan!

This comes from an October 22 Trump Tweet. I’m not sure why “Middle Easterners” is supposed to be so scary. (That’s a lie — we all know why Trump thinks it’s scary.) Regardless, this claim is completely baseless.

“The’re attacking, beating police officers!”

This is another widely-shared social media claim, complete with a photo of bloodied police. Among those sharing this lie was Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. Politico debunks this one.

“Soros and/or Democrats are behind the caravan, paying refugees to storm the U.S. border!”

This claim comes, among other sources, from a U.S. Congressman: Matt Gaetz of Florida, who Tweeted video on October 17, suggesting it was, “Footage in Honduras giving cash 2 women & children 2 join the caravan & storm the US border @ election time. Soros? US-backed NGOs?”

  • Snopes describes the Tweet as being, “replete with factual inaccuracies and baseless accusations.” The Footage isn’t from the Honduras, there’s zero evidence or support for Soros or US-backed NGOs having any involvement … you know what? Just check the Snopes page. There’s too much wrongness in this one to summarize it all here.

“Why don’t these people try marching in their own streets and fixing their own country instead of coming to the U.S. to demand handouts and charity?”

This is a question, not a lie, but it’s one I’ve seen come up in a number of conversations. It’s a question that suggests a lack of empathy and understanding as to why people would uproot their families and flee their homes, abandoning everything they know.

Here are a few of the reasons.

  • “People in the caravan cited widespread poverty and gang violence in Honduras, one of the world’s deadliest nations by homicide rate, as their reasons for fleeing. Juan Carlos Mercado, 20, from Santa Barbara, said corruption and a lack of jobs in Honduras had stymied him. ‘We just want to move ahead with our lives,’ he said, adding that he would do any kind of work.” (Source)
  • “One migrant, a 20-year-old Honduran named William, told CNN he crossed into Mexico via a float that carried him across the muddy Suchiate River on Saturday. He left home looking for work, he said, and was ultimately bound for either Mexico or the United States, wherever he could land a job. ‘There is no work back home,” he said. ‘No future.'” (Source)
  • “The migrants told the AP they fleeing a corrupt government, poverty and violence in Honduras. Cristian, a 34-year-old cell phone repairman from San Pedro Sula, said he left Honduras because gang members had demanded protection payments of $83 a month, a fifth of his income.” (Source)
  • And then, of course, there are news items like these: U.N. Blames Honduras Security Forces for Killing Electoral Protesters. Honduras post-election killings: families wait in vain for justice.

In other words, they’re not coming for handouts. They’re fleeing violence. They’re fleeing oppression. They’re fleeing corruption. They’re fleeing poverty, hoping for the chance to work and support their families.

You ask why they don’t march in the streets at home? Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of what a corrupt government will do to them and their family. Because they’re trying to protect their loved ones. Because every day they stay puts themselves and their family at risk.

Whatever your opinions and political beliefs, let’s try to do a better job of pushing back against ignorance and lies.

Upcoming Events

Terminal Alliance - Papberback Cover ArtIt’s going to be a busy few weeks. In addition to the October 30 paperback release of Terminal Alliance, I’ve got three different events coming up: two in-state, and one out-of-country.

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October 20, 2 – 6 p.m.
Unreality Fest. Battle Creek Barnes & Noble. Battle Creek, Michigan.

“This is a festival celebrating science fantasy, science fiction, horror, and paranormal authors and their work. This year’s authors include Jim C. Hines, Danica Davidsion, J. Gabriel Gates, Lindsay Mead, Patricia Arnold, Curtis S. Arnold, Steve Copling, Thomas H. Picard, Corbin Dailey, and Sandy Carlson.”

October 24, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
“Prep-Tober” Writing Workshop/Q&A at East Lansing Public Library. East Lansing, Michigan.

“Attention all current and would-be writers! Thinking about tackling National Novel Writing Month this year? Not sure how to get started? Jim C. Hines, SFF author of the Magic Ex Libris, Princess, Jig the Goblin, and new Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series is hosting a Prep-Tober writing workshop Wednesday, October 24, 6:30-8pm. He’ll talk about the writing process, how he got started, and answer any questions you may have. A book signing will take place at the end.”

October 31 – November 5
Les Utopiales. Nantes, France.

“Fortes du patrimoine laissé par Jules Verne et du passé surréaliste de Nantes, les Utopiales se sont installées dans le paysage culturel nantais au tout début du nouveau siècle, en l’an 2000.”

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Unfortunately, this means I’ll be spending much of Terminal Alliance day on planes, but you know what? For a trip to France, I’m okay with that.

This also means I’m trying to get everything ready and/or finished now, because the next few weeks are going to be hectic. But once I get back home, that’s it for me until ConFusion in January. Nothing to do but sit around and relax while I finish page proofs for Terminal Uprising, work on the third Janitors book, write those other pieces, like an anthology introduction and a solicited non-fiction piece… Not to mention getting ready for the holidays. And my wife’s birthday. Plus the dog needs knee surgery. And we have to finish clearing stuff out of the garage.

…and if I keep listing things, I’m going to end up running away from the computer and hiding in my Protective Blanket of Fear.

Happy Wednesday, all!

Local Teacher Arrested for Criminal Sexual Conduct

Content warning for discussion of a teacher arrested for sexual touching of students.

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Earlier this month, as I was sitting in the airport getting ready to go to ICON, an email popped up from our school district superintendent. He was writing to let parents know that a fifth grade teacher had been arrested on five counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of assault with intent to commit second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

This was my son’s teacher a few years ago.

My wife spoke with my son while I was gone. He says Mr. Daley never did anything like that to him, which was a relief. He also talked about how disappointed he was in his teacher.

You and me both, kiddo.

My son is in eighth grade this year. If you’d asked me who his best teacher was in the decade he’s been going to school? I would have said Mr. Daley. He was patient, supportive, encouraging, and seemed to genuinely care about his students.

And now, every good thing he did is tainted by the question, Did he really care about his students? Or was it all some sort of grooming behavior, laying the groundwork to see what he could get away with, and with whom?

I trust and believe my son when he says nothing happened. I know fifth grade was a good year for him in many ways, and a relief after a rough time in fourth grade. Mr. Daley was a big part of that. But I also know at least four boys have come forward with these accusations — accusations the news reports claim are corroborated — accusations that were enough to justify an arrest and formal charges.

I’ve worked with rape and abuse survivors. I’ve observed groups with convicted abusers. My wife is a licensed therapist, and has way more experience than I do working with both survivors and abusers. Mr. Daley was one of our favorite teachers for either of our children. Neither one of us had the slightest inkling.

And I start thinking about other, more publicized accusations of harassment and assault, and the denials that follow. People coming out to proclaim the accuser must be lying because the accused is a “very fine man,” and they’ve never seen anything to suggest he (or she) would do such a thing.

Well, yeah. Predators don’t have neon forehead tattoos labeling them rapists and harassers and abusers. The soundtrack doesn’t shift to a minor key when they enter a room.

I understand feeling shocked. I understand not wanting to believe. I was so much happier thinking of this guy as just a great teacher instead of an alleged sexual predator.

I understand wanting to bury your head in denial. But every time someone proclaims, “The victim must be lying, because the accused is such a good man and he’d never do that,” not only are you hurting the victim — not only are you calling them a liar and adding to the burden and pain of speaking up — you’re also providing cover for predators. You’re saying all they have to do is act like a good person around you, and you’ll actively support them and help them to discredit their victims.

Sometimes it’s people you never would have expected. Sometimes it’s people on your “side.” Sometimes it’s people you really liked.

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for late November. Daley will have his time in court, and is legally innocent until proven guilty. It’s possible he is innocent. But given that false accusations are statistically unlikely, given that there are multiple, corroborated accusations, given that enough evidence exists for multiple charges to have been filed, I find that very unlikely.

No matter how much I might want to believe otherwise.

Mental Health Awareness Day (Another Post About Depression)

October 10 is Mental Health Awareness Day. If you’re a regular reader, you probably already know I’ve been dealing with depression for a while now. Got the official diagnosis back in April of 2012. Started on antidepressants the next month. Began seeing a counselor shortly after that.

The depression had been there a lot longer. I remember feeling suicidal as a kid, and getting close enough to scare myself at least twice. Looking back, I can see stretches where the brain weasels got the best of me in college too, and they had a good old time messing with my head the year I spent living in Nevada.

Lucy: Psychiatric HelpThe pills helped to stabilize my mood and get me back to a healthier baseline. The counselor helped me make some changes with my life. Neither of these things actually fixed or cured the depression. Like my diabetes, it’s still there — I’m just doing a better job of managing it.

Unlike the diabetes, I can’t take a drop of blood and measure how Depressed I am today. Wouldn’t that be nice? “My Depression Level is 193. Better watch a half hour of kitten videos.”

A big difference in my pre- and post-diagnosis life is that I now know the brain weasels are there. I’m better at recognizing when I’m just having a lousy day vs. when the Depression is getting the upper hand. Being able to identify the problem, knowing it’s real, helps a lot.

But it doesn’t make the problem go away. I know it’s there, and I know there are cracks in my mental health the brain weasels can sneak through. To choose a totally hypothetical example, say a book I’m working on is going a lot more slowly than I want…

One of the best things I’ve learned over the past six years is that I’m not alone. Since I started talking about the depression, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who are fighting the same disease. Others are battling different mental illnesses. And none of us are alone in that fight, even though the brain weasels will totally lie and try to make you think you are.

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Lesson One: Depression lies. It says you’re alone, you’re unworthy of love, your failures are deserved and your successes are flukes, your happiness is fleeting but sadness is eternal, your problems are inescapable, and things will never get better. It’s all lies.

Lesson Two: Mental illness is real. You know, I had zero problem going to the hospital for my diabetes back when I was diagnosed. My blood sugar was over 600 at one point. It didn’t matter how strong or determined or optimistic I was if my pancreas was taking early retirement.

Mental illness is just as real and valid as any other. Willpower won’t make my pancreas start working. Willpower also won’t rebalance the chemical makeup of my brain. There are things I can do to help — exercise can be a useful tool for both diseases — but it won’t cure the problems.

People get sick. That doesn’t make you a failure, and it’s not your fault.

Lesson Three: Getting help is … helpful. Going to the doctor and the counselor was hard. Really hard. But it made a huge difference. It may have saved my marriage. It helped my relationship with my kids, and with the other people in my life. It helped my writing.

It may take time to find a doctor and/or therapist who’s the right fit. If you go on medication, it may take time to find the right dosage and the right med or combination of meds. And some health insurance plans can be a nightmare.

But if you can, it’s worth reaching out for help.

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For those in the U.S., Mental Health America has what looks like a good set of tools for getting started, including screening tools and steps to find help. MentalHealth.gov has some resources as well.

Be kind to yourself. You deserve health and happiness.

Back from ICON 43

Got home around midnight last night, collapsed into bed, and was immediately pounced upon by one of the cats. I guess Chewie felt I owed him four days’ worth of scritches, and he meant to collect RIGHT NOW. Cats, you know?

ICON was a great deal of fun, as always. We had a delightful set of guests this year: Mike Mullin, Daniel Mohr and his hetero life mate Wolfie B. Bad, Mike Miller, and Joe and Gay Haldeman. I love that my Toastmaster duties give me the chance to hang out with and get to know our guests each year.

And of course, I got to spend time with so many other great ICON friends. I emceed a silent film narration challenge for the first time, and also joined in the round robin storytelling, which I’d never done before. I won’t even try to recap the two stories we came up with, but the fire-spider erotica subplot was all Mike Mullin’s fault!

I ended up taking a lot of pics this year. I’ve got most of the good ones posted in their own Facebook album. If you’re Facebook-averse, you can also check the Flickr album.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Joe Haldeman and Gene Wolfe Wolfie B. Bad gives CPR to Mike Miller Author Mike Mullin Batgirl and Bane

And now, having pet the cat enough for him to leave me alone, I’m off to catch up on everything else from the past few days…

ICON Schedule

I’m off to Cedar Rapids again this coming weekend, where I’ll be Toastmaster at ICON 43. That means I get to introduce this year’s guests of honor, Mike Mullin, Daniel Mohr, Mike Miller, Wolfie B. Bad, and Joe and Gay Haldeman.

Here’s my schedule, for anyone who might be there and wants to say hi.

Thursday

Friday

  • 7 p.m. Opening Ceremonies
  • 9 p.m. GoH Challenge: Silent Film Narration

Saturday

  • 9 a.m. Representation in SF/F
  • 10 a.m. Author/Artist meet and greet
  • 1 p.m. Speaking to Paradise ICON writers
  • 4 p.m. GoH Interviews
  • 9 p.m. Round Robin Storytelling

Sunday

  • 9 a.m. GoH/Benefactors Brunch

I’ll also be doing author photos again this year. I believe there should be sign-up information at registration/check-in. (And you’re allowed to sign up even if you’re not an author.)

Jim C. Hines