Daily Archives: February 5, 2008

Please Keep Comments on Topic

Folks,

I’ve been noticing an increasing incidence of people going into comment threads and writing something like this: “Hey, I know this doesn’t have anything to do with what this thread is about, but…” and then posting about something that is, true to advertising, completely unrelated.

Don’t do this. I find it more than a little annoying. And if you read the comment policy, you’ll it’s one of the things that inspires me to moderate posts (i.e., expunge them from the site). The reason for it is that while most of you mean well, it’s really an attempted hijacking of a comment thread, and that’s kind of a discourteous thing to do. Unless it’s a stated open thread, comments in a thread should have some relation to what’s being discussed in the original entry.

Here’s a hint: if you find yourself writing (or, really, even thinking) “this isn’t really related to the discussion at hand” — don’t post it. Because it’s just as socially clueless as walking up to a conversation in progress among a group of people, on a particular subject, and then saying “hey, shut up about whatever you’re talking about and start talking about what I want to talk about.” And I know you wouldn’t do that. Because you’re not a dick.

If you want to have a discussion about a particular topic on Whatever, either wait for an open thread or send me an e-mail and ask me if I might be willing to post on the topic. If I’m not wallowing at the moment in a massive deadline (as I did, for example, last week), there’s a reasonable possibility I’ll post about it. Saves me from having to think of something myself.

Alternately, sign up for Whateveresque, the Whatever’s bulletin board, and post to your heart’s content there on whatever topic you like without having me as a mediating presence. That’s right, you can stick it to the man, the man being, of course, me.

But otherwise, keep comments here at least somewhat related to the topic of the entry. Saves me from being annoyed, and also from having to moderate your ass. And that makes everyone happy. Thanks.

In Other Election News

I’m not running for office in SFWA this year.

Here’s why:

1. I just finished a novel, which is good. Now all I have to do are the two novels, at least one non-fiction book, two novellae and several short stories and essays I’ve all agreed to write/am contractually bound to extrude before the end of the calendar year. This not counting a couple of other projects that are in the formative stages but would be very cool if they panned out. In short: Kinda busy.

2. Related to point one, I’ve given up my various “day jobs” (i.e., income that comes in on a regular and predictable basis) to focus on book writing and fiction. Sadly, my mortgage and bills still come due on a regular and predictable basis. Since this is the first year in many that I won’t have a predictable monthly income, I owe it to my family to focus on writing and creating income, and not dissipate my efforts on things which, while laudable, take up a large amount of time and pay nothing at all. Of all years, this is not a good one for me to stand for office.

3. Related to points one and two, recently my wife, whom I adore, came to me, gently put my hand in hers, gazed at me with her warm, brown, inviting eyes, and said to me, “My darling husband, there is no fucking way you’re running for anything in SFWA this year.” Or words to that effect, combined with a gaze that assured me that to defy her would put me on a path that would lead to pain. After careful consideration, I decided to bow to her wisdom.

So these are reasons I’m not running this year.

Which is not to say I have no interest in this year’s SFWA elections; on the contrary, I think they’ll be critical for the direction and purpose of SFWA, and specifically as to whether the organization sees itself as an advocate for active writers in today’s markets, or just a jolly place for people with a bare minimum of engagement in the field to hang out and pretend their little club has any sort of relevance. A lot will depend on who gets elected. I’ll no doubt have more to say when the candidate slates are finalized and official, which as I understand it should happen later on in the month. The good news is that this year, at least, most of the major slots are contested.

I do want to let folks know I’ve appreciated the e-mails asking me if I’m running this year, and offering their support if I did. I really did give the topic some very serious thought, as at least a few people know. But in the end I couldn’t do it. I regret not being able to run this year, but the simple fact of the matter is that this year, I don’t have the time to be an effective member of the SFWA board, and if I’m going to be a member of the board, I need to be able to give the position the time and effort it deserves. I had the time (just barely, in retrospect) last year. I suspect in the future, and possibly sooner rather than later, I’ll be able to have the time again. But this year it’s just not happening.

Obamarama

Patrick Nielsen Hayden explains why he voted for Obama in the primary (he did it by absentee ballot). Key graphs:

I’m for Obama knowing perfectly well that, as Bill Clinton suggested, it’s a “roll of the dice”. A roll of the dice for Democrats, for progressives, for those of us who’ve fought so hard against the right-wing frames that Obama sometimes (sometimes craftily, sometimes naively) deploys. Because I think a Hillary Clinton candidacy will be another game of inches, yielding—at best—another four or eight years of knifework in the dark. Because I think an Obama candidacy might actually shake up the whole gameboard, energize good people, create room and space for real change.

Because he seems to know something extraordinarily important, something so frequently missing from progressive politics in this country, in this time: how to hearten people. Because when I watch him speak, I see fearful people becoming brave.

I’ve noted before that I’m not voting for presidential candidates in the upcoming Ohio primary because I’m registered independent and it’s a closed primary, but if I were, I suspect I would probably end up voting for Obama myself. I’d do it for some of the reasons Patrick notes, and also because I think he has a chance to be a generational candidate — someone who will bring new voters into the process. If this ends up a contest between Obama and McCain (and it’s pretty clear McCain is going to be the Republican choice, which is a whole box of irony that I will unpack some other time), this election has the potential to go down as one of those watershed elections in American history, something that hasn’t happened since Reagan. I could stand a bit of watershed at this point in time.

That said, as Patrick notes, there are worse things than Hillary Clinton. A friend of mine who is voting for her today in a primary was grousing to me last night that Clinton isn’t getting much of a fair shake in the media, which clearly seems to loathe her and which also has a swoon going on for Obama. This is a fair complaint, but it’s also worth noting that life isn’t fair, and that little fact has worked for Clinton in the past; I don’t doubt she could have had a fine political career if she’d never met Bill Clinton, but the fact she did has worked considerably to her benefit to date. Now she has to deal with the downside of all that.

And yes, that does work in Obama’s favor. I mean, Hell. Personally I’d love not to give Fox News a frothy-mouthed gimme for the next 4 to 8 years, and yeah, I’m philosophically inclined against presidential dynasties (look what the last one got us). But as I’ve mentioned before I do think the GOP funamentally fears a Clinton candidacy, because the Clinton crew is the only one on the Democrat side that is fundamentally unafraid of the GOP smear machine; they hit back, and they hit below the belt. Like it or not, that does have value, or will, when we get into the thick of the actual presidential campaign.

I don’t think today is going to be the end of either Obama or Clinton; the race is too close and the Democrats in their wisdom generally portion out delegates proportionally rather than winner-take-all in each state; I suspect at the end of the evening, they’ll both still be in the running. I’m fine with this; it’ll give the folks in my state the feeling that their primary votes will mean something when they vote in March. I do think at this point momentum is with Obama. The longer the race goes, the more likely it is he’ll be the one to finish it.