Sandra Newman Profile picture
Author of THE HEAVENS, THE COUNTRY OF ICE CREAM STAR, HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL, etc. Also invented tape.
The Lady Red- the night is dark and full of terror Profile picture 1 added to My Authors
16 Jun
Ok, this is the most bonkers and weirdly infuriating thing I've learned about racism in a while and that's saying a lot. This is the story of the Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping Car Porters "George".
So, for those who are new to this entire idea, in the early 20th century, sleeping car porters on trains were always Black men, and passengers traditionally called them all "George."
This was naturally depressing for the sleeping car porters, but they earned their money almost entirely from tips, so they generally just put up with it. (They did end up with a very militant union, which was important in the civil rights movement, but I'll come back to that.)
Read 9 tweets
31 May
I'm completely exhausted with the horrible news and scenes of destruction and threats of martial law and plague. So if you need a break like me, I would like to take you away from it all and introduce you to the lesbian (or possibly trans) legend Marion Barbara "Joe" Carstairs.
Joe Carstairs was born in 1900, in relatively humble circumstances: her mother was a mere Standard Oil heiress and heroin addict. (Seen here with ram. No, I don't know why.) All that is known about Joe's father is that his name was Carstairs.
(Joe's mother was best known for her later marriage to Dr. Serge A. Voronoff, famous for experimenting in physical rejuvenation by transplanting thyroid glands & testicle tissue from monkeys into humans; he was the basis for the doctor in Bulgakov's "Heart of a Dog".)
Read 29 tweets
3 May
The creepy thing about the Reopen people is they're not arguing for the Swedish model, or for any plan to reopen while trying to limit infections. Instead it's just: "You shouldn't care if you die. It's fine for the old and sick to die. Real Americans love death. Die. Die."
I mean, a person could be forgiven for thinking they're not really interested in COVID policy, they just get off on trying to cause unnecessary deaths.
Read 2 tweets
18 Apr
OK this is a *very dark* thread in response to people saying it's time to reopen America, and they're not afraid, and you're more likely to be killed in a car accident, freedom, blah blah blah. Please don't read this if you have to go out to work at an essential job.
COVID is now the most common cause of death in the United States. You're now more likely to die of COVID than anything else. If we reopen America too soon, you or someone you know will almost certainly die or have a case that requires hospitalization on a ventilator.
This is what that will be like. First the ventilator has to be inserted. It may be inserted surgically into your throat by opening up your trachea. If it's in your mouth, it goes down your throat and is taped to your face. You can't speak. You can't scream.
Read 12 tweets
11 Apr
Some very ignorant people are claiming UPS and FedEx can suddenly take over from the USPS in a few months' time. This thread will explain some of the reasons that is grossly and obviously wrong.
First, UPS and FedEx are not designed to deliver letters. Currently the lowest charge to send an envelope (e.g. a check) by FedEx is $11; for UPS, it's $12.40. Both rates are for local delivery (for FedEx, within 150 miles, for UPS, in the same state). Prices go up from there.
Also, both UPS and FedEx already rely on the Post Office to complete deliveries for them. It's not economical for them to deliver in more sparsely populated areas all over the country. So they work with the Post Office. Here's FedEx and UPS to explain:
Read 9 tweets
21 Mar
hey everyone, maybe hold off on tweeting ageist comments at a time when older people are dying all over the world and in some places being denied medical help because of their age, it's kinda tasteless honestly
I mean, sorry to be a buzzkill and a scold and all that, but come on, seriously, there are people reading your tweets who are old, and quite possibly some who are already sick, frightened, and about to die in the next few days.
ok I'm sure I'm going to regret this, but I want to explain more about why this is making me furious, partly because I didn't sleep last night so I'm not good for much else. This is about my mother, but it's not a real typical mom story because I only met her when I was 26.
Read 24 tweets
15 Mar
A funny thing about these "We survived the Blitz so we can just laugh at coronavirus" takes is that the Spanish Flu of 1918 killed more people than World War I.
"I survived sausage rationing and now I am one of the Seven Immortals. I will be roaming the depopulated Earth long after you fools are dead."
Sorry, I can't stop laughing at "I stroked a beaver once. I'm not afraid to drink lava" guy.
Read 4 tweets
8 Mar
OK, I'm going to say something about the Bernie Sanders campaign. And I'm sorry I'm doing it now but it's taken me a really long time to figure out what I really think and feel about this, and what I've been seeing and why it bothers me.
So about my politics: I was always likely to vote for Bernie because his politics are similar to mine. I also like him as a person and think he's a charismatic and creative politician. I know nobody can really predict this, but I think he's more likely to defeat Trump than Biden.
If you disagree with me, that's fine, but please don't tell me in response to this thread. I understand that people react differently to candidates, and you may be right for all I know. This thread isn't really about that, though. I'm just talking about it for context.
Read 17 tweets
1 Mar
It's a little weird that the coverage of Biden's South Carolina primary win is mostly ignoring the fact that it's an open primary in which Republicans and Independents can also vote.
Given that there's no GOP primary in SC this cycle, I'd imagine a significant number of Republicans voted in the Democratic primary this time, in addition to Independents, and I'd kind of like to know how they voted.
There was actually some talk of Republicans being told to vote for Sanders to supposedly sabotage the Democrats, but I'd imagine in real life Republicans would just vote for the candidate they prefer. Though who knows anymore.
Read 3 tweets
23 Jan
Whenever you see an ad, what's happening is that someone is renting out your mind for money but not paying you. Nominally the media company is selling ad space, but really what they're selling is minutes of your life.
When you've implicitly agreed to see ads in exchange for watching a TV show, for instance, that may be fine—but increasingly we get video ads (which are almost impossible to ignore) when we do things we can't avoid, like walking down a street or taking a commuter train.
So you end up thinking about Apple products or the new Disney film when you want to be thinking about your loved ones or the meaning of life or trying to solve a problem with your own work. A media company is getting paid for your time.
Read 11 tweets
28 Nov 19
Just did my homeless shelter shift for the month & feeling uncharacteristically earnest so I was thinking about a Thanksgiving tweet and all I can think is how the homeless people are so decent and genuine and still trying so hard when society has let them down so badly …
like the guy who'd been getting up every day at 3 AM to commute to Newark for a maintenance job for some fashion company, then coming every day in time to get a shower at the drop-in center and get to his shelter bed for a few hours' sleep, and he was proudly showing us …
the website of that fashion company, these men's jackets and shirts that retailed for $500, on his half-broken phone where you could only see the image on half the screen, and he was so happy because after 2 weeks without a day off, he now had a holiday …
Read 7 tweets
17 Nov 19
When people do that "First they came for the X, but I said nothing … " thing, they always forget to mention criminals. If you can't care about the torture and murder of people who have committed crimes, you're part of whatever comes next.
The truth of most governments is that *anyone* can be turned into a criminal. If you support the idea that someone who commits a crime should lose their human rights, guess what? You've already given up yours.
First they came for the criminals, but I said "Great, serves them right for breaking the law," little realizing that the government was about to reclassify my family as criminals
Read 5 tweets
5 Jul 19
A lot of white Americans want to think of history as being like fiction: you close the book and it goes away. It doesn't have to have an impact on your life. In reality, history is more like physics. Your world is made of it.
I mean, I'm sure this happens among all people but the white American version of it is its own special thing.
Read 2 tweets
3 May 19
This thread is for writers who may sometimes feel insecure about the quality of their writing. It's about some unbelievably cheesy and frankly terrible writing done by one William Shakespeare, in a play that wasn't even his first play, Titus Andronicus.
And, sorry to do this, but this thread is not-so-subtly intended to promote my novel, out in the UK today, which has Shakespeare as a character. Sorry but it's still free content! This is just the part where they attach ads to the free content. theguardian.com/books/2019/may…
OK, so Titus Andronicus has many points of high ridiculousness, but to save time, I'm going to focus on the ending, which has possibly the most concentrated ten minutes of hideously bloody, harebrained, tasteless, unintentional comedy in literature.
Read 24 tweets
15 Apr 19
Just sitting here marveling at what a stupid, awful idea prison is.
I mean, the idea of prison as punishment is to impose psychological pain on people, extended over months or years. We don't feel comfortable physically torturing people, so we impose psychological pain on them for a really long time.
Part of the punishment, of course, is that being institutionalized for long periods in a place *designed* to make you mentally ill has a negative effect on a person's ability to control their behavior, function socially, and do useful work.
Read 8 tweets
2 Apr 19
Anyone who has lived with a sociopath is familiar with this tendency to tell dumb transparent lies that are certain to get the liar in trouble later, with the apparent intention of impressing or making friends with whoever happens to be with the sociopath.
I know it seems like an extreme suggestion, but I've lived with a sociopath (someone diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder by a psychiatrist) and this kind of lying and inability to think about the future—even the next 5 minutes—is really familiar.
I know I'm not a medical professional and I have not examined Trump, but if he is not diagnosable as having anti-social personality disorder, I'll eat my hat. And it's a pretty big and unappetizing hat.
Read 4 tweets
1 Mar 19
I really think the Democrats should put forward a Prevent Abortion Act, which instead of punishing people for having abortions or making them hard to get, is a range of measures to improve access to birth control, especially among teens and lower income people …
… and then spend the next year talking about how such measures are the only effective means to prevent abortion, since criminalizing abortion makes abortions less safe and makes them happen later in pregnancy but basically people just get illegal abortions.
I mean, in reality it is the Democrats who have successfully prevented abortions in the past few decades. The Republicans, by restricting birth control access, have caused more abortions.
Read 3 tweets
21 Feb 19
These hideous dishonest people always insist that redistributing wealth must "solve poverty" and make inequality go away completely. By that standard, we already know your evil system is garbage, lady.
It's this kind of thing. "Oh, it grieves me to say it, but simply giving people enough money to buy food & shelter for their kids won't make inequality vanish overnight" AS NO ONE SAID IT WOULD. Where did this bullshit standard come from? Are you five?
I think there should be a tax on bad faith arguments, and unlike every other tax, the money doesn't go to anyone because god forbid your money helps an undeserving poor, so instead the person who made the bad faith argument has to eat it.
Read 8 tweets
15 Feb 19
I was once married to someone whose Dad was Hungarian and he used to tell me how strange & gloomy Hungarians were, AND THEY WERE, and I always mention this to people and they don't know what I'm talking about, so this is a little thread about Hungarianness.
So first, there was the time my husband was in a bar and he noticed the bartender was Hungarian, so he said to the bartender, "My father was Hungarian," and the bartender said, "Oh? Did he beat you?"
Hungarians are extravagantly negative, like my husband once mentioned to a Hungarian guy that his dentist was Hungarian and the guy said in disgust, "NEVER go to a Hungarian dentist." Our Hungarian friends would serve us dinner and say politely, "I hope it is not too disgusting."
Read 7 tweets
8 Feb 19
OK, this will be a historical thread about Emilia Bassano Lanier, thought by many to have been Shakespeare's mistress. She was also one of the first published female poets in England, a courtesan, a courtier at Elizabeth's court, and an Italian Jewess from a family of musicians. portrait of Emilia Lanier by Nicholas Hilliard
And, sorry to do this, but this thread is not-so-subtly intended to promote my novel, which is partly about Emilia. Sorry but it's still free content! This is just the part where they attach ads to the free content. Free content resumes after this tweet. groveatlantic.com/book/the-heave…
Emilia's family were musicians brought from Venice to work for Henry VIII. Their ancestors were probably silk makers, a traditionally Jewish profession; their coat of arms had three silkworm moths over a mulberry tree. Their motto was "Grace me guide."
Read 32 tweets
1 Dec 18
People who believe in trickle-down economics generally seem to believe that, if you give money to poor & middle class people, it vanishes from the economy. As if the poor people eat the money and it turns into poverty, but if you give it to the rich, it turns into wealth.
In reality, money given to the poor becomes consumer spending: it goes instantly into the coffers of enterprises and individuals that provide things people need. Money given to the middle classes can also become investment—just as it would if given to the rich.
So when you give more money to the rich, what you're really giving the rich is more power over where to invest the extra value in the economy; broadly, over our economic future. Basically, "Trickle-down" theories assume the rich make better decisions.
Read 4 tweets