Thursday, August 8, 2013

LGBT School Survey, and Brain Full

First, a signal boost:
The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network is conducting a National School Climate Survey in order to gather data on which to base realistic platforms for educational policy on gender issues in schools. I'm pretty sure all of my 16 followers are too old to take this themselves; but I bet they know people who aren't.

And second, I have been boning up on Mexican history to prep my brain to be on an Alternate Texas,Alternate Mexico panel at WorldCon (with Harry Turtledove, no less, so my chief goal is not to embarrass myself completely). Like most Americans my Mexican history is spotty, but reading Texas history at all gains you a peripheral awareness of events in Mexico. I imagine this works in reverse, too. In practical terms, so much of Texas is Northern Mexico, and so much of Mexico is Southern Texas, that you can't study one without picking up bits and pieces of the other. Details, however, get lost in the compost pile of the brain.

I had meant to keep my nose in the book till my husband came home, but I got to Porfirio Diaz in the overview text I'm reading, and my brain choked. All research afternoons have that moment of saturation - when your brain is physically as full as it can get and you could keep reading, and even try to take notes, but it won't do you any good.

Unfortunately, my brain always does this when it gets to Porfirio Diaz. He sits in the middle of Mexican history like a boulder in the middle of a fruitcake.

Okay, that's got to be the worst simile I ever wrote in my life. It's accurate, though, as a representation of the effect of the name on me. The man's completely indigestible. I can't bite him into small chunks, I can't see around him, the mere sight of his name makes my brain numb.

The obvious question to pose on the panel is, What if Porfirio Diaz hadn't happened?

But I don't think most Americans have more than the vaguest conception of who he was, so posing the question without having something more to throw out there, the stories and details and dramatic incidents of which history is made, would be futile. I have to make my brain absorb something tangible about the man; something to bring across to a casual listener.

Tomorrow. Not today.

And on the day of the panel, I have every reason to hope that telling the story of Lew Wallace's offer to Rip Ford will fascinate enough people that there won't be any time to get to Diaz.

But overpreparation is necessary.

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