What We Talk About When We Talk About WonderCon
Mar 26th, 2012 by Dr Karma

I mean, sure, I’d been to WonderCon before. Regular readers will remember that it was at WonderCon that I got a picture taken with Adam Baldwin and ended up in a commercial for Kick Ass.

But this year was different–this year I was invited, invited to give two presentations at the Comics Arts Conference running concurrently at the festival. This was thus the year that I dubbed myself the geek queen and ended up interviewed for two publications: &

This was the year I dressed up.

What exactly happened at my three full days of geek joy? Well, I packed up the boy, made a couple of powerpoints, brought my zuul costume, and let my geek mojo out. The highlights:

Alexander getting mistaken for my lover (which was not a highlight for him, but was damn funny).

Hanging with Aussies not associated with the conference at the bar. Note how I’m the only one supposed to be in costume, but how Steve, a reporter, still manages to pull one off on the fly:Alexander closing down the bar with the Aussies & I.

Hanging out with our friend Lonnie Millsap ( & having him introduce us to some of his comic friends.

Seeing the other costumes:



Meeting so many of the Bongo Comics (Simpsons & Futurama) people: Terry Delegeane, Max Davison, Art, Jason Ho, Bill Morrison, Carol Lay, and Scott Shaw. Having a nice long conversation with Scott about comics–one that we plan to continue. Finding out how many relatives of Terry’s have gone to UCD.

Walking up to Terry on the day I was dressed up and complaining that no one knew who I was.

Terry: I know who you are.

Me: No–not who I am. No one is supposed to know who I am. My costume.

Terry: Well, I don’t know what your costume is supposed to be, but I know who you are.

Running into some ghostbusters:

Following a former Simpsons background artist back to his unmarked van because he wanted to give me his card. He threw in a Homer drawing to make it worth my while, but I did tell Alexander that under normal circumstances, one should never be lured to a van to see someone’s etchings.

Seeing a preview of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer and trying to convince the boy that the film would work better with period music.

Ordering in a Papa Johns pizza and watching The Simpsons on the last night.

Finding the flirtiest, sexiest bartender ever & getting him to bring in a very large cucumber just to make me my favorite drink (one that no bartender in Davis even knows, btw).

Having a guy at the bar buy me my favorite drink, although I wasn’t sure at first what was happening–I’m not usually as attractive as I seem to be at WonderCon.

Meeting another hardcore and apparently psychic Futurama fan.

Giving two presentations that went relatively well, if I do say so myself.

Meeting Anthony Del Col, the awesome co-creator of the Kill Shakespeare series. Having him say it was cool to meet me & actually meaning it:

The least cool thing about WonderCon? I didn’t take enough pictures.

Quick Finals Week Update
Mar 22nd, 2012 by Dr Karma

I still need to blog WonderCon (though I’m not sure if that will happen here or at
It is, however, finals week. So far this week, I’ve been to WonderCon (where I gave two presentations & made new friends), graded 100 papers, turned in grades for two classes, and prepped one class that’s starting in a few days. Still undone:
about 25 more papers
final grades for two classes
prepping for three more classes starting in a few days
unpacking from WonderCon/making my house look like it’s not actually reflective of my mental state
writing two presentations I’m giving in the next two weeks

rehearsing said two presentations
packing for another conference
various bill paying/life must keep going stuff

Still, in the last blog, I promised you pictures of my nephew, the most adorable child in the whole world (I can say that now that my child is an adult). With the monkey, with me:

With Denise & in close up:

Custom Search
Ah, March
Mar 11th, 2012 by Dr Karma

I usually manage to juggle the various commitments in my life rather well. Last night, however, while trying to fall asleep, I made the mistake of confronting my schedule for the next week five weeks. Three conferences, the end of one quarter, the start of another, a special lecture for the book project, hosting an amazing author, bunches of writing, bunches of grading, and all the rest of life. I’m fearing that something’s going to give–sanity, sleep, something . . .

And that’s why I haven’t had the time to write everything I want to here. I want to write all about my adventures at AWP and about being the nerd queen.

There isn’t really time to do it all justice, but I want to give it a few minutes.

Margaret Atwood was the keynote speaker at AWP this year. I got VIP seating due to my Atwood history and ties.

Atwood is my hero and I wish I could just transcribe the whole talk for you. The highlights: she mentioned the Atwood Society (of which I’m the former President). She was warm and funny. She made one of the best observations about the state of some young writers today: “If you want to be a writer, but you don’t want to read, then you don’t actually want to be a writer. You want people to come sit near you while you tell your sob story.”

Denise and I were able to go see Tiffany, Ben, and the new baby (Jack) while I was in Chicago as well. Now, I’m not really a baby person. I loved my own baby, of course, but I can resist the charms of others most of the time. Jack is different. I had an annunciation dream at the moment he was born. He’s also a particularly adorable and good-natured darling. Thus, I held him for so many hours that my pecks hurt when I got home. Denise kept having to demand him from me. I would post pictures, but a) I haven’t transferred them from the camera and b) I somehow look awful in every shot. Denise looks awesome, though, so I’ll eventually get around to sharing the pics of her holding him.

Finally, I’ll be heading to WonderCon this week. I’ll be giving a talk on The Simpsons on Friday and a talk on Buffy comics on Sunday. My consequent nerd/geek queen status has been verified and immortalized here:

Remember to catch up with me at my column at I’m also on Twitter now (@KarmaWaltonen).

Also, be sure to check out The Simpsons tonight–Homer’s going to say my first name (and call me names, too!).

Imperfect Analogies for Birth Control
Mar 5th, 2012 by Dr Karma

This morning, I heard it again–the new talking point about mandating birth control coverage. A caller to NPR said that mandating birth control coverage for religious institutions that take federal funds was akin to forcing a kosher deli to sell pork.

In logic, that’s what we call a faulty analogy.

There’s no perfect analogy for this situation that I could think of. However, a less imperfect one would go like this:
I work at a kosher deli, but am not kosher. My boss has to give me a break because of the hours I put in. My kosher boss knows that I will totally chow down on some ham. My chowing down on ham won’t de-kosher his business, but he doesn’t like it, so he decides that I don’t get my break. Or maybe he decides that I don’t get my paycheck–he doesn’t want any of his money going toward eating that unclean animal.

He doesn’t get to do that, right?

Especially if he took federal money.

My birth control is covered through work. I work for UC Davis, meaning I work for the State of California, which means that there are some people in this state who are funding my birth control right now. They don’t get to not pay taxes because they don’t think I should have access. Students don’t get to not pay tuition because they object to my birth control. Even if the student is a Christian Scientist and believes that all medication is forbidden, I still get to have my asthma meds and the student and the state still help me to pay for it. Why? Because religious freedom doesn’t just mean you get to worship in your own way; it means you can’t foist your religion on me. This isn’t a theocracy.

And I don’t buy for a second that my pay (in either money or insurance form) violates your worship. Pray for me; pray against me; whatever. But unless I’m forcing you to take birth control against your will, I’m not making you do anything against your conscience by my working a job and getting the benefits I’m entitled to by law.

To think through the fallacy, we need only think about really allowing people’s religious beliefs to dictate how they treat their employees.

Believe, as the Bible says, that women should be segregated at their time of the month? Does that mean that allowing me to come to work and paying me for that work at my time violates you?

Believe that women must be fully covered? Does that mean UCD has to change my dress code for you if you’re a member of my state and thus contribute to my salary?

This all reminds me of all those movements some years ago when pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for medications if they objected on moral grounds. Many states said that was fine. No matter what insurance a woman had, no matter what medical needs, no matter what was legal, no matter what a doctor was recommending.

Let’s go back to the restaurant analogy, because it does work here. Say I don’t eat pork, but I work at a restaurant that serves it. If you order pork, either I bring it to you or I get fired, don’t I? I don’t get to call you names or explain that my religion prevents me from doing my job.

The Bible doesn’t say that I shalt not bring others pork, only that I shouldn’t eat it. But what it says isn’t even germane to the argument, because this isn’t a theocracy.

Even though I think people who want it to be shouldn’t breed, I don’t get to force my beliefs on you–you can keep having babies. Don’t try to force your stuff on me–allow me not to if that’s my choice. (Besides, if you really disagree with what I’m saying, you don’t want me raising a whole mess of kids, do you?)

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